When I was a little girl I had a family. I had a sister, and a grandma and a grandpa…..and for a couple of years I even had a mother, and man that was a father to me. I had aunts and uncles that I saw occasionally, and around the holidays. People that I laughed with, and threw a football around with. I had cousins that played with me as well on those big holidays. I loved Thanksgiving and Christmas. They were my favorite times of the year. I loved all the food that my grandmother made us, and I loved the way everyone treated each other on those days. The man that was a father to me was Randy, he was a light in my life, I hold him in high regards in my memories. I think I lived an entire lifetime with him in just 4 or 5 real time years. And my step sister…..she was a pain in my ass for the couple of years we lived together. We used to beat the crap out of each other with hair brushes, and our teeth. But man is she special. And my grandmother she was my mentor, she was strong, beautiful, kind and hardworking. And she loved me more than anyone could. She played my games, and she bought me lots of powdered donuts, and tator tots. She let me stay up late to watch Bewitched and Designing Women with her while she crocheted late into the night. She was my favorite person in the world.

I remember those years as being very special. But everything changed as it does. Everything changed when I was 10 years old. My mother had not been around early on in my life but had come back for me when she fell in love with my father. For a couple of years she, my father, my step sister and I were a family. But then my father died of Cancer, and my sister was taken away by her other family. I didn’t see her again for almost a decade. My grandfather and grandmother were living with us and taking care of me, but then my grandfather got very sick and passed away. My mother left, and decided to come back once in awhile, but had completely lost her heart, and her mind. She was never the same. My grandmother and I spent a lot of time together but she was really sad without my grandfather. She was my best friend, and she passed in her sleep next to me one morning. She looked so peaceful. But I knew once she was gone…..everything would be different. And then the family just kind of dissolved. A few good years, and everything just kind of fell apart. At 13 I was very much alone, and that word….family had taken on an entirely new meaning.

My aunts and uncles had their own lives to lead and did so. And I just didn’t seem to fit anywhere. I lost touch with everyone, and I held a lot of hatred in my heart towards the rest of the family that did survive because I thought they had forgotten me. I decided I was alone. And I was for a very long time.

I was a different person for a good part of my youth. I was a bit weak, and overly emotional, and attached to an unnecessary pain. I wanted so much to be included, to be loved, to be attached to something… a family. I felt so lost, and so sad, and so pathetic. I was very self pitying.

The reason I am writing this is not for sympathy, but for clarity. Those years that I spent in the dark, were wasteful. Family is just a word. And for some of us that word brings about warmth and light, and for some of us it brings about a lot of pain.

Decades after my biological family dissolved, I found myself in an entirely new family. A big family, with lots of kids, with lots of love, with lots of power, and a lot of knowledge. I saw them with beams of sunshine in my eyes. I thought they were the answers to my prayers. I thought the universe was providing a place to call home again.

And since becoming part of this family, I have learned many lessons. No matter your situation….people are people. You can be linked to them by blood, or not….but people are just people. And I learned a whole new thing about family. About expectations, and doubt, and differing perspectives, disappointment and sadness because of those feelings. I still felt like I didn’t fit in. Because I created my self image for standing out, for being alone. And I was still doing everything in my nature to fit that image. I felt judged, I felt less than, I felt detached, I felt like an outsider.

I realized families can be just as painful as being alone. Sometimes you feel even more alone when you are part of a family, because you think you do not fit in.

But here is the perspective. It’s all a choice. You get to choose how people make you feel. No one has the power to hurt you, or make you feel less than ….unless you give them that power. And people are people. Your family is all around you, each and every person you come into contract with shares the same basic human structure as you. We are all built up on the same skeletal system, we all have a nervous system that makes us react to certain things, we all breath the same air, we all eat the same food….we all live lives but in different languages, wrapped in different colors, spoken with different accents. Our stories are all the same, the gift wrap is just a bit different.

I was going to a dark place again when I became part of the family unit. Because it reminded of all the bad things. Instead of all the beauty. And the truth is any group of people, placed under the same roof….are going to have differing opinions. We all want to the best for one another, we all think we know the best, we all think we are the most knowledgable. But the secret is…..only YOU know your story, only YOU can write your story, and only YOU can make the decision on how you are going to let other’s affect you.

Your family can make you stronger than you have ever imagined. Because their fears, their doubts, their judgements are the reflections of the world you live in. And wouldn’t you rather face those fears by the people you love and who love you back? Let that doubt make you strong. Let that reflection remind you that every single person you meet has a similar story.

Live all the stories, see all the worlds, love all the people. Because they are on their own journey, but so are you. Instead of separating yourself from the world as you know it, realize that you are more part of it than you will ever understand. And be part  of it. Let go.





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