I’ve had a lot of time to sit and think about what family means to me. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again. In the following blog.
My whole life people have talked about blood = family. And I agree, biologically. But family are the people who have your best interests at heart, who love you unconditionally, and prioritize you over themselves. So how can being related by blood be the criteria for defining family? Many times, blood doesn’t even prioritize you over themselves, many times love is conditional – which can be as simple as “If am your sibling or parent, then I have to do xyz things for you”. See how that’s transactional and not from the heart? What if an individual was a horrible sibling or a horrible child? Or even if the individual is an amazing person – if blood “family” just does the “basics” aka food, shelter, education, discipline… that’s no different than what a caretaker would have done anyway.
Family goes one step further. Family has an emotional bond. Family tries to go out of their way to sustain a relationship by emotionally being there for one another, at the expense of their own needs. Family listens. Family understands when someone is looking out for them and is appreciative of it. Even if it doesn’t align with their own desires. Family understands. It doesn’t take long for true family to know a person inside and out. If an individual been alive for 25 years, and despite being blood “family” you’ve decided to create your own impression of that person rather than truly getting to know them – then no you’re not family.
Often times this pseudo “blood family” will try to be controlling, and when an individual tries to find real family – they try to control by saying things like “only we are here for you, all your friends are just outsiders”. When they say these things – they further isolate you emotionally. They’re not there for you, and they don’t allow you to feel comfortable with an “outsider” either. Which by the way is really toxic for emotional health. Feeling alone can lead to depression, suicidal behavior, or anger, frustration, and more aggressive behaviors.
It’s really not fair.
The truth is, sometimes friends are just as much family if not more. In my own life – friends have sacrificed their sleep to be with me during my lows. They sacrificed going to work (when they could) to sit with me, they driven long distances to be there with me. Amongst many things. And I’ve done the same for them. Blood related family may (if you’re lucky) always be there for you – but contrary to common belief, true friends can often match them step for step.
My husband (from since when he was “just” a boyfriend) – he has listened and heard me. He has (time and time again) understood what I needed without needing much help. It only took him less than 2 years to understand what makes me tick, and how to tackle it (albeit the same is true vice versa).
My best friend has cried with, and for me. She has been mad at people despite not even knowing them, because I was mad at them. She has felt my emotions when I was feeling them. This girl has had my back 200% because she understand the definition of loyalty. And honestly I’ve never experienced loyalty like that before. Only given it.
None of these people are blood – but they don’t have to be. They’re bound to me by the heart. So how can anyone say they are lesser family than blood family?
The 2010s have helped me realize this. Blood family is always there for the most part, at least for most people (however, keep in mind when interacting with people, this may not be true for all). But friends, and spouse are equally a part of our hearts. They cannot be excluded. Not all friends of course, but you know when someone has crossed that threshold of just friend vs family.
Cheers to friends, and cheers to my husband for also helping mold me during my 20s. For keeping my emotionally and mentally healthy when things could have easily gone the other way.
You are also, 100% my family. And anyone who says otherwise – is wrong.