July 8, 2010

Redefining Family

We've all heard the saying "You can pick your friends but you can't pick your family." I can even see some of you nodding your head. Lord knows almost everyone has someone in their family that is... well, just not quite right, and an equal amount of people saying they just "don't fit in" with their so-called loved ones. So yeah, maybe you can't "pick" your family but maybe you can redefine what a family is.

Stereotypically, a family is a group of blood related people but psychologically, I think most assume that same group of people ought to come complete with unconditional love, support, and anything else that sounds real rosy. It's not an unfair assumption. It's just not a given - those haunting child abuse statistics aren't there just for shock value, they're real. And even if you have been one of the fortunate ones to have escaped such physical statistics, there's still those family members that slide right into emotional abuse. Sometimes that can be what scars the most. 

I believe some families forget even the basic rules like friendship, for one. Some even use their family status like a "get out of jail free" card which generally means they can do or say or act anyway they want and in ways they would never even dream of doing to an acquaintance or friend. All in the name of love. Bizarre.

Redefining what a family is means having to let go of those labels - father, mother, sister etc., because then, and only then, can you see these people as ...just people. 

They don't have any more 'rights' over you than the next stranger in the street. They get respect when it is earned, like anyone else. They are invited into your life as opposed to demanding you remain in theirs and in a way that suits their agenda. And like with anyone else, if they betray your trust, they are either ousted for life or at the very least, held rightfully at bay until the can be trusted again. 

We all only have one life to live. It would be shame to waste that on trying to be the person others think we should be or remain with people who refuse to accept you for who you are and a dead loss to spend your life trying to prove you ought to be a member of a family that rejects you, simply because they're better than no family at all. 
There's a lot of orphans in this world and a lot have living parents, siblings etc. - you just need to look around. 

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