C is for Chosen Family.

500 Words On…. Chosen Family

I was born into a family. I loved them, as best as I was able, and I believe that they loved me as best as thety were able.

But the best we are able is not always what others need from us. Sometimes, they need more from us.

What gets in the way?

I think it’s a variety of things. Shared history, and the stories each of us tell ourselves and each other about it. Ideas about who each other is that may have little to do with who they really are. Expectations and rigid roles in the relationships. Volatility, abuse, humiliation, and manipulation.

Damage.

For many years, I was compelled, through a sense of family obligation, to accept treatment from members of my family or origin that I had long since refused to accept from others. For many years, all of my other relationships were affected by the unhealthy and unhappy dynamic that this family lives by.

And then, gradually, I came to understand that there were underlying patterns and reasons for the occasional outbursts of hostility, fury, and shaming that punctuated each of those relationships.

People who do not know peace within themselves cannot be peaceful, and are not.

Eden and I, circa 1986, Senior Choir picture.

People who do not love and accept themselves, with all their beauty and ugliness, cannot love and accept the beauty and ugliness of others.

Those who refuse to face and move through their own pain cannot see when that pain is hurting those close to them.

Those who only want rigid relationships won’t allow a relationship to change and evolve in a fluid manner.

Once I understood these things, I tried to broach them within my family of origin. Rather than an open hearing, my reward was retaliation for my crimes of haughtiness and arrogance, and I was furiously and forcefully reminded of all the deficits in my character or behavior, whether real or perceived.

Gabriella and Annalise, 7; Jeremiah, almost 10, and Harry, 5. August 2011 at NEUC - basically, a huge sprawling chosen-family reunion! =D

What was lacking was exactly the thing I most needed – to be truly heard, and to engage from that point forth in relationships based on honesty and equality.

That was a heart-rending time, and one I needed to pass through – the rejection and hostility, the withdrawals of love, the public attacks and anonymous schemes alike….

They were the labor pains of my rebirth into a family I choose for myself. It has little to do with genetics; it is a thing of kinship of soul, dedication to discovery, a propensity for peace, intentional living.

It is being with people who delight, inspire, amuse, heal, nurture, open, and appreciate me.

It’s about being with people I love to be with, because, when we part, my soul is tingling in a body warm with their energy.

It’s about being where I am wanted and accepted as-is, by people I accept as-is.

It’s about learning and growing, each in our own fashion, but yet together, in a spirit of mutual support that lifts everyone up.

And there’s always room for laughter, but never a place for warring.