Sunday, February 8, 2009

Family of Choice

I love this phrase. It describes the people in my life who are second mothers to me and who are like sisters (both older and younger) to me.

My mother has worked for the public library for well over 30 years and has had many many colleagues who have become wonderful friends over the years. I look up to some of these women and and thankful that they have been such reliable and special friends to my mother all this time. Some were at my wedding, some gave me handmade baby gifts when FRU was born and some have held my mother up when my father and I weren't enough.

A dear friend of mine and I just reconnected after a 10 year hiatus. She gave me the sad news that her mother passed away about 8 years ago. This woman was someone that I could always turn to, especially when I was "at war" with my own mother during my tumultuous adolescence. She gave me one of the most valuable pieces of dating advice I ever got: You can always live with a man's good, you have to see if you can live with his bad. If I had only listened to that advice more often, I might not have made a few regrettable errors.

I have this other friend who I met on an on-line book club and she calls me her big sister. We are as close as you can be to someone without seeing them all the time. Jaxie asks for help, she likes to talk about her sweet nephews and nieces and I really miss her when I don't get a chance to log in and chat.

I have a friend who is as different from me as she can be. She was born in Haiti, raised in Montreal, is a gifted doctor, speaks two languages, and has probably lived in 7 or 8 countries so far. Yet, we never run out of things to talk about. She is one of the least judgmental people I have ever known. Maybe that's from being a compassionate doctor, but honestly, I think it's because that's just who she is at her core.

I haven's spoken to my mother's side of my family in over two years. There was an incident I refer to as The Nastiness of Christmas 2006." I won't go into details, but suffice it to say, I'm down 8 family members. I really miss only one, and that's the one that breaks my heart. My cousin, K, also broke the heart of my mother and that's what is most unforgivable. My mother and I have loved this cousin like no one else ever had. She went through the ugliest abuse that anyone can ever imagine at the hand of another family member and we helped her confront her "demons." But since this same family supports her and pays her bills and college tuition, they get to call the shots. It is obvious to me that she has been told not to have contact with us. I wish her well, but you don't get to turn your back on me and then waltz back in when it's convenient. Money can cure many problems, but not broken hearts.

As a member of Al-Anon, I picked up the phrase "Family of Choice" from a long-time member with many years of recovery under her belt. She had a crazy, dysfunctional childhood and made the difficult choice to detach herself from her family and surround herself with beloved friends, her family of choice.

I loved this phrase. It reminded me that while I am missing a part of my blood family, I have many, many people who can fill my life with joy and laughter and love. FRU has countless aunts and uncles who step up to the plate, ask about her well-being and want to see her often.

I know I have said it before many times in this blog, but I consider myself so lucky. I don't have a job that pays tremendously well, I have a failed marriage and I don't recall ever winning at slots. I have my luck in other ways: I have a support system that I can count on whenever I need them, I have great medical coverage and job security and I have a Family of Choice to turn to when things get rough or when I'm overwhelmed or I want to cry.

I'll take that over a bucket of quarters any day.

1 comment:

Jaxie Fantastic said...

I'll take it over the bucket of quarters any day too :)