Thursday, March 10, 2011

I belong to a family

Day 8

I think a lot of the time we define ourselves by who we surround ourselves with and the relationships we involve ourselves in. Last week at this time I had some ideas about this...I wanted to reject the idea that our relationships define us. I am not sure why I rejected this idea. I had an idea that our identity should be of an internal origin, but I know see that it is impossible to be exclusively inward. Being a part of a social or family system is our lifeblood, what can keep us going in the darkest of times. Last week I wrote about being a relater. I have to have connection with others. I also believe that family relationships are the most important connections we can have. For those of you not aware, my area of personal and professional interest is foster care. When you experience such a system, ideas of family are completely changed.

Last year I took a family therapy class. On the first day we learned the definition of family. And I thought it was complete bullshit. Our book said that a family consisted of something like the following (not verbatim): 2 or more people related to one another by blood or contract (marriage, adoption). A quick Google search turns up such definitions as "two people living together with children", or "a group of people sharing common ancestry". I beg to differ.

I have a background and a passion that totally contradicts this idea. I have grandparents, an aunt and an uncle that are parents; I have cousins that are siblings; I have siblings that I love so deeply they seem to be an extension of myself. I have best friends that are sisters; I have "boyfriend's kids" that I love like they are my own. I have a boyfriend that I love as much as any wife loves a husband. And I am not alone in the unconventionality. I know people who don't have any family, and people that have two or three families; and the conventional ideas that surround family can make us feel like outcasts.

I have decided that tonight, for me, this is no longer the case. Tonight I had a great dinner with my family. And although there are no legal contracts that make it so, no one can tell me otherwise. I am a girlfriend, a sister, a niece, a daughter, a cousin, and a best friend. All the people who I have such relationships with are my family.  And those relationships define me as much as anything else, because being connected to people is what makes me whole.

I think family is what we decide it is. And my family is as conventional as any other because I have decided it is.

About me:
1. I am a rightionist who is striving to wing it every once in a while.
2. I am inspired by others; I am on this earth to relate to others. I am a social worker.
3. I love stuff, until it turns to shit.
4. I am aware of extraordinary growth, even on ordinary days.
5. I embrace change, if it's my idea.
6. I am willing to commit to the smaller stuff; I will find strength in pain.
7. I have to find my own way. I have found my way to loving writing, and am on my way to loving myself.
8. I am a daughter, a girlfriend, a sister, a cousin and a best friend. I belong to a family.

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