I left a family behind when I decided that enough was enough. It was time to leave tolerating abuse behind me, and forge new relationships built on respect and trust. Since then I’ve gathered a group of close friends around me, all of whom I consider my True Family, my Soul Family or my Family Of Choice—something we talk about a lot here at SwanWaters.
My Family Of Choice is made up out of people why confirm the saying that family isn’t always DNA. These are people who I want in my life, and who want me in theirs. Including all the cracks, bumps and idiosyncrasies. These are the people who love and accept you exactly as you are, and still encourage you to grow and become better. The people who give you space to heal, laughter when you need a break, and who celebrate even your smallest victories because they are so proud of how you are handling life.
I’ve learned some very important lessons from my Family Of Choice. There are too many to list them all, but here are the best ones:
1. I’ve learned what love is.
I’ve learned that love isn’t what you get if you behave well enough, or make a good enough impression. That it isn’t something quite so easily gained or lost. They’ve taught me that making a mistake isn’t a problem when you’re around people who genuinely love you.
Neither is losing your temper.
Or dropping the ball.
Or being forgetful.
Or making questionable wardrobe choices.
I could go on, but I think you catch my drift.
2. I’ve learned what help is.
I’ve learned that family can help you without adding to the drama. There are people in this world who offer help without strings attached; a help motivated only by the desire to make your life a little better, easier. It’s amazing to receive help like that after experiencing a biological family who mostly offered assistance if it served their interests and judgments.
Whether helping me to exercise control over me, over a situation or as a build-up to a bigger con… there was always something my family members were trying to achieve through the offer of help. Help with strings attached really is the only type that we experience in a toxic dynamic, I call it manipulative help. But real help? It is about taking worry away from you. It is about fixing something practical that is adding stress, or about opening a door and welcoming someone in when they are in need of a bed. Real help does not take your choice away, it simply gives you better options to choose from.
3. I’ve learned what support is.
I’ve learned what it feels like when someone is genuinely happy for your happiness. When they help you celebrate your achievements, even when you can’t see them yourself. It feels so different in the absence of jealousy and envy.
Since finding my Family of Choice, I know there is a safe place to land. A place where people look out for me, want to keep me safe, sane and healthy. It is amazing to have that feeling, or rather that knowledge. To know, wholeheartedly, that there are people in your life who have your back (and I don’t mean for knife practice).
Having a family that functions without drama, gossip, and strings? It’s incredible! Each member of my Family Of Choice has had to deal with their fair share of painful, toxic relationships that resulted in life-altering consequences. But we have each other’s back, and support each other when trauma knocks us down.
My Family of Choice is the greatest blessing that has come from distancing myself from my Family Of Origin.
Thank you to all of them for finding their way into my life!