I left my biological family (Family of Origin) behind when I decided that enough was enough. It was time to stop tolerating abuse, 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.
Family of Choice is made up of people who confirm the saying that family isn’t always DNA. These are people who you have chosen to be in your life, and who want you in theirs. Cracks, bumps, and idiosyncrasies included. These are the people who love and accept you exactly as you are, and also encourage you to grow as a person. They give you space to heal, make you laugh when you need a break from the gravity of your circumstances, and celebrate even your smallest victories with youbecause they’re proud of how you choose to handle life
I’ve learned some 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’re on your best behaviour, or make a good enough impression. It isn’t something quite so easily gained or lost. My Family of Choice have 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 (*cough* my mother *cough*)
I could go on, but I think you catch my drift.
2. I’ve learned what help is.
I’ve learned that Family of Choice wants to help without adding to whatever drama you’re already going through. 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 a helping hand in this way after living through the prolonged experience of a Family of Origin who mostly offered assistance if it served their interests and judgments. My parents and sisters only helped me as a way to gain entrance into my life, and—ultimately—exercise control over me or a situation. Or as a build-up to a bigger con they had fermenting away in the background. Whatever their motivation, it was never simply out of love for me.
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’s about taking worry away from you. It’s about fixing something practical that has been adding stress to your life—or giving something that will take stress away from it. In essence, if someone is helping you from a genuine heart, they won’t try to take your power of choice away. They’ll want to give you better options to choose from.
3. I’ve learned what support is.
In the absence of jealousy and envy, a Family of Choice sees you succeed, and is ecstatic over it. It’s incredible to feel someone be genuinely happy over your happiness. And what’s more, these people help you celebrate your achievements, even when—especially when—you can’t see them yourself.
Since finding my Family of Choice, I know there’s a safe place to land; a sanctuary where people look out for me, want to keep me safe, sane, and healthy. It’s so grounding and empowering to experience this feeling—or, rather, that knowledge. There is trust that these people have my 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 damaging consequences. But we’re there for each other when life circumstance’s or the aftermath of trauma knock us down. And building this support system around me is one of the greatest acts of self-care I’ve ever done.
If you’re reading this, and you’ve had to distance yourself from your Family of Origin, I’m sorry for what you’ve been through. But take it from me that there are people out there waiting to embrace you as one of their own.
And If you want to learn more about how you can self-care, we actually have a module in The Healing Academy specifically devoted to the topic. So click here to enroll now.