For more than 10 years, my life has been guided by this mantra: “Teach people how to treat you.”
I thought that by translating this mantra into the proverbial “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, I would have them do the same to me. I was wrong, especially where my blood family is concerned.
But all that changed when everybody was home for the festive season. I took some time to re-evaluate how much my family and close friends treated me.
Sadly, I found them wanting. Since my late teenage years I made it a point to visit my uncles, cousins, aunts and friends to check on them on weekends and over school holidays.
I am not a big fan of sleepovers, so I did day visits.
Some of my high school friends lived about 4km from my house, so I would walk to their homes and back just to hang out with them. All that I was doing was to try to teach them how to treat me.
I though if they saw me make time to visit them, they would do the same for me.
If any cousins or friends needed my assistance, I always availed myself and my resources (be it money or time).
Things got even better after I completed my degree and started working. I eventually got a car and continued being that family member and friend who would visit, help out, drive them to airports, and take them to funerals or weddings.
I would cancel some of my important appointments all in the name of “family comes first”.
I had hoped they would treat me the same way when the tables were turned.
But the blood is thicker than water belief has never pulled through for me. There were occurrences last year that I easily let go of.
When my mom was admitted to hospital, they knew about it but I didn't even receive a WhatsApp message, a text or a phone call.
I was in need of someone to drop me off or pick me up from the airport, and none of them made themselves available.
As for the Gautrain, the fares from the airport were quite expensive.
The turning point was when my father passed away at the end of November, with his funeral on the first weekend of December.
Even though he had been absent almost all of my life, he was still my father.
I thought that with all I had done to show them that we must be there for each other, support each other, be reliable, and having gone the extra mile for them, they would return the favours.
Unfortunately, I was proven wrong. They were nowhere to be found.
An old friend, and new friends I had made over the past two years, were there for me.
They are like-minded people. So I was not surprised by their overwhelming and constant support.
I told my sister Tebogo Chabalala about my pain and hurt. She warned me: “I understand your pain, but please don’t let people’s behaviour drive you to a dark place. Remember that God is watching, and only He can give judgment.”
I agree with her totally. However, it does not mean I am going to continue to move mountains for these people when they failed to lift a finger for me.
To my surprise on December 29 and 30 I received calls from some of my cousins saying I have become too scarce, and they were wondering if I was okay.
Their message translates to: “We didn’t see you throughout December, and that is unlike you.”
I have had a change of heart.
I am surrounded by too many takers who fail dismally to give. All they do is take, take and take.
From now onwards, I will invest my time and energy in people who invest their time and energy in me.
The parasitical and non-mutual relationships are not going to cut it out for me.
It is sad that, all my life, water has been thicker than blood for me.
Family are not only blood relations, it is the fundamental understanding and upholding of family values which count.
So, for 2018 and beyond, I want peace, harmony and progress in my life.
I am tired of the betrayals, the inconsistencies and the selfish ways of family and friends.
Happy New Year!
* Kabelo Chabalala is the founder of the Young Men Movement. Email him at [email protected]; Twitter: @KabeloJay; Facebook: Kabelo Chabalala
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.