It was about a decade ago that I realised something that had been nagging at me for a number of years – I wasn’t truly a part of my family. I had never really fit in, never been “one of them”, and it took a decade, ten years, for me to remove them from my life completely.
Why did it take so long?
Because I felt guilty.
These were my family! I owed them!!
But when I realised none of that was true I made the decision to say goodbye to family.
This quote implies that the blood, our family, is more important than… friendships? relationships? Search the internet and you will find infinite interpretations of what family is more important than.
However, there is also the quote “The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.” Whether this is the original quote, or perhaps a retort to the aforementioned, this one means that the relationships we make, the pacts and bonds we choose are more important than those imposed upon us by genetics.
The relationships we choose to have, choose to maintain, are the relationships that are far more integral and important. These are the people who complement us, contrast and complete us, whether they are related or not. If a relationship feels forced, if it feels like an obligation, how is that healthy?
Every relationship we have – genetic or not – should be positive.
We should never be made to feel as though we have no choice in whom we associate with, that because someone is genetically similar to us, they are somehow more important.
Remember: You don’t owe anyone anything emotionally, spiritually, psychologically, or socially.
“But I’m your mother.” “I raised you.” “You are my child” “I gave you life.”
The above are nothing more than attempts at emotional manipulation. Yes, they raised you but that doesn’t mean you owe them your adult life. They made the choice to have a child, to make an 18 year financial commitment to you, to raise you, feed you, clothe you, put your through college. For them to then hold that over you once you are an independent adult is no more than a manipulation, as if asking for a return on an investment, as opposed to a commitment.
As an adult you have formed your own opinions, morals, and made your own lifestyle choices, and although they may have raised you that doesn’t mean the ideals you have come to own agree with the ones you were raised with. You don’t have to agree with everything your family says, and at the same time you don’t have to accept it – you don’t owe them acceptance or understanding, especially if it comes to such things as homophobia, racism, sexism, lying, theft, violence!
We regularly remove negative people from our lives – that sexist friend who believes silence is consent, that racist friend who makes islamaphobic posts on Facebook, that friend who attends pro-life protests (let’s be honest, those people are pro-birth not pro-life) – so if we can remove these people, why not our family if they’re no different?
This is not something you should ever be made to feel guilty about. It’s about choice, your choice to live a happy, fulfilling life.
My family and I have hugely incompatible ideals and ideas in life. I am an extremely tolerant, positive person who identifies as bisexual, and who is surrounded by creatives, eccentrics, people of all colours and cultures. So having a family who is not only intolerant of my lifestyle but those with whom I choose to associate, a family who is incredibly vocal about their bigotries and prejudices, it was clear who I had to remove from my life.
Not my friends, but my family.
Some things shouldn’t be accepted, forgiven, tolerated, no matter who speaks them.
At the end of the day you don’t have to love your family just because you’re related. You should love them for who they are, not what they are.
You don’t owe your family your love, your time, your money, your acceptance, your understanding, your tolerance just because you share a blood type, a genetic code, a home, a womb. You should love them because they’re beautiful people who bring positivity to your life, like your friends. If they don’t then don’t feel afraid, or guilty in saying good bye.
Saying goodbye to your family is difficult not only emotionally, but psychologically. It is a tough decision to make, and each and every one of us who decide it needs to be done has their own, unique reasons. No two stories are the same, though they may have similar plot devices.
Ten years ago, I realised I was my own family. I changed my name to reflect this. After all, why wear a name that never truly belonged to me, but to people I had no familial affection for?
Be strong, don’t allow yourself to be bullied or manipulated, and be your own family, and surround yourself with strong people who support you and love you.
You deserve to live a positive and happy life, and that all starts with you.
Be your own family.