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[Day 20] Redefining Family

Redefining family

It’s Day 20 of the 30 Day Blog Challenge. Here are my two topic choices:

1) Family of Origin vs Family of Choice. How has this affected your life? Do you still speak to your family of origin, or do you just “put up with them” when you have to?” How does this fit on your Spiritual Path? Who do you consider to be your family?

OR

2) Forgiveness and Reconciliation. How has this affected your choices about the people you surround yourself with, especially your family of origin?

Redefining family

Sometimes I forget it’s possible to be in a healthy, happy and fulfilling family.

There’s this part of me that wants to fight it.

Sometimes out of fear. Sometimes for the sake of familiarity. And sometimes I’m so stressed out I simply forget.

“Family” when I was growing up, meant constant screaming battles, fighting over who was right, possessiveness, control, manipulation, fear, blame, shame and judgment.

I literally cannot recall one moment of peace from my entire childhood. I was frozen in fear. I hoped and prayed I wouldn’t screw up or displease anyone. Everyone’s happiness depended on it. On me.

So I suppressed my emotions, my thoughts, my opinions. I believed what others needed me to believe. I spoke how others needed me to speak. I lost myself. Or more accurately was never given a safe space to find myself.

My time and energy were consumed by being forced to side with one parent or the other. It was “your mother this” or “your father did that.”

I felt invisible.

I grew to despise my family. I pushed everyone away to survive. In my mind, family wasn’t a source of joy, laughter and good times described in books and movies, it was the origin of my pain and deepest wounds.

And yet I longed for family, for connection, for belonging. It is, after all, a basic human need. So I spent years seeking out approval, validation and wholeness from outside sources.

I call it “looking for love in all the wrong places.”

Looking for someone to rescue me, love me. Someone who could save me from myself. My relationships were short-lived. And the ones that weren’t, I sabotaged.

I’ll spare you the horrific details of these lost years of my life because they don’t matter all that much. I simply wanted to paint a picture of my starting point and give you an idea about the way I was programmed to interpret family.

But most importantly, I wanted to let you know…

It’s never too late to forgive.

It’s never too late for a fresh start.

You are not your wounds.

You can:

  • Create a new family dynamic
  • Have healthy communication
  • Be respected and heard
  • Have your needs met without sacrificing who you are
  • Have supportive relationships

These shitty situations showed me all the things I didn’t want, which gave me the gift of knowing exactly what I did want instead.

I do slip back into default. I do get reactive sometimes. But I don’t  beat myself up about it. I just have to look to see where I’m not taking care of me. Or acknowledge I’m not coping.

That’s when I know it’s time to reach out to my other family: my friends, coaches, mentors, books, my journal.

family

This is a post-it note pasted to one of our kitchen cabinets. I do need reminders to act consciously and from love. Because like I said, sometimes I forget. And it’s okay. The concept is still relatively new and I have to recommit to what I want consistently.

Clarity, commitment and compassion (for yourself and others) are the three most important factors.

  1. Know what you want.
  2. Commit to doing whatever it takes to make it happen (don’t be afraid to ask for support).
  3. Be compassionate and forgiving if and when you get off track.

Repeat. Come back. Make it a habit.

Families love each other no matter what.
They take responsibility for their own feelings.
They support each other’s decisions.
They honor each other’s personalities.
They don’t try to change the other person.
They listen.

When I started digging deep into my healing and the work I do, my dad moved away. It wasn’t a conscious choice to not talk to him. He just wasn’t in alignment with my new picture of family. I still love him with all my heart, but I believe everything that happens is for the highest good of all.

I have a great relationship with my mom – she’s made so many positive changes over the years.

My relationship with my new little family changes and grows more beautiful every day. Just yesterday my son said with all of his heart “You’re a nice parent.” And I received it.

When you start doing the work, people will either change with you or the relationship will fall away. I’m now surrounded by people who love and accept me for who I am. Just as I love and accept them for who they are. If something isn’t working, we talk about it. We don’t stay upset. We sort it out.

Your concept of family has its roots in the past, but starting today it can be whatever you want and need it to be.

Family to me is connection, acceptance, appreciation and of course love. It’s not limited to blood relatives, or even the human race (my kitty is family). It’s the idea that we’re all connected and we all play a role in each other’s lives and on this planet.

Journaling prompts
  1. How has my idea of family changed over the years?
  2. Who do I need to forgive to move forward?
  3. What are my top 5 favorite moments with my family? Why?
  4. What are my 5 least favorite moments? How have they helped me grow?

What does family mean to you? Leave me a comment down below.

Would you like to improve your relationship with yourself and your family? If you’ve  been looking for this kind of support and know you don’t want to go at it alone, I’d love to help you. Go here to sign up to chat with me for free.

2 replies
  1. Harriet Stack says:

    Thank you for your honest and moving post. Family for me has, in the past, meant a trap and a sentence to live out a role that I didn’t choose. At times it has even meant abuse. But I have had the opportunity to choose my own new family, which does include some people I am related to. I have my own family consisting of me, my son and my dog, and the occasional approved visitor. We are unconventional and we are inventing it as we go along. This way I have more freedom and more love than I have ever felt before. Thanks for the prompt.

    Reply

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