Family… Born or Earned?
Ok, I know this is going to be considered highly controversial for some who read it but I’m just sharing my honest views and opinions. They may change over time but this is how I feel about it right now…
I know what the typical idea of the family unit consists of and I myself am a part of a “traditional family unit”, with my husband and our son, our dog and ferret. Ok, so not everyone considers a ferret as a part of a typical family but we have always been black sheep! LOL! Family is SO important!
Kids need that feeling of belonging, of being loved by their parents, of being supported and cared for. We all do, even as adults. The family unit feeds those needs and satisfies these emotional and psychological longings so we can focus on other productive parts of our lives, as long as the family itself is healthy: the parents actually DO love, care for and support each other and their kids and don’t abuse.
Unfortunately, this “ideal” family isn’t in the lives of SO many people today. I didn’t have it until I became a part of my own family as an adult. I think that knowing exactly what it feels like to NOT have that family security is a big reason that I go above and beyond to make sure that my son doesn’t grow up feeling like I did, with the emotional baggage that I had, and with the same problems that I had as a direct result. There are literally thousands of broken families, just in the US! Some have divorced parents, some have widowed parents, some are just orphans trying to survive to adulthood all alone. I want to send a message to all of you: you aren’t alone!
My sister-in-law passed away on June 1, 2017. She was only 38. She left behind her daughter, at the time 6 years old and a recent survivor of leukemia. My husband’s parents are taking care of her… they are 62! They had lived in a multi-generational home and we all talked about it at length. We decided that as long as they are okay with taking care of her, it was best for HER to stay in her home that she already knew and felt comfortable with, being cared for by her grandparents whom she was always around anyway. So far, so good. But there is a lot of family support that happens: babysitting, help with household stuff and overnights at other family homes to give her grandparents a little break. When the time comes, she will end up with my husband and I but for the time being, she is happy and healthy right where she is, feeling a strong link with her Mother and grandparents.
My best friend is a single mother, divorced and going through a real heck of a time with her ex-husband. She is so incredibly strong and wise way beyond her years… she has had to be! I have great respect for single parents and all they do for their kids. It’s really amazing! At this point, my husband works very far away and he is gone for months at a time. Then when he is home, it is for 3 weeks then back on a plane to go back to work! I’m staying at home as a full time “temporarily single mother”, and homeschooling mom. IT’S HARD! It would be even harder if I didn’t have my husband’s income to rely on and had to go work one or two jobs just to try to scrape by!
This is where the importance of family comes in. We live a 6 hour drive away from our closest blood relatives. BUT I don’t believe that blood makes family! It is HEART, not blood. I have friends who I consider family, 100% and without a doubt. Just because you don’t have the support of your blood relations around you doesn’t mean you don’t have family around. It doesn’t mean that you don’t have anyone to turn to or to lean on. You just have to be brave enough to bring it up. If they truly care about you, they will treat you like family and be there for you. On the same note, look around at those you know who may be feeling alienated, lonely and in need of their “family” and BE THAT FAMILY for them. This is how you can MAKE your family, GROW your family and community.
It goes without saying that the family circle needs to be strong, unbreakable and all-encompassing. What does need to be said is, “as far as I am concerned, YOU ARE FAMILY to me.” Sometimes, that little statement showing someone that you care, you will listen and help, is the difference between a happy, loving person and a suicide victim. Remember that. Say it. Do it. Accept it from others. Some family are blood… some are not!
This is the entire premise behind “Essential Spirit Tribe”. There is such a huge feeling of hopelessness among people of all ages today, a disconnected hopeless feeling that comes from the loss of our family spirit. We are slowly losing all sense of what community is supposed to be. We are losing our feeling of being deeply and truly connected to other human beings and to our planet. This is something that we need to STOP losing! A lot of farmers will understand what I am talking about right off the bat. They seem to be able to maintain that feeling of being connected to the Earth through their daily work. They work WITH the Earth and understand, deep in the core of their being, that we need to be connected to the Earth. They do their best to pass that to their children along with some wonderful old-fashioned values that we would all do good to listen to! Even among farming communities, this “broken” feeling seems to seep in anywhere it can. All I can think of to describe it is “broken”. We as humans, have broken. Our family spirit, our value system, our morals, our connection to each other and the earth. Broken. The first step to healing is to recreate those bonds. I’m not saying we should all move into the wilderness and live in self-sustaining communities (though it would be nice! LOL!), but we should take those small steps to rebuild our feeling of family, of connectedness. BE THERE for each other. Just be present. Reach out to those who need us. Don’t be pushy, just let them know you care and you are there for them when they are ready. Take off your shoes and walk in the grass. Feel the earth under your feet. Grow a micro-garden in your apartment window. Feel the joy and beauty of the first spring blossoms opening. Play together on Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. Huddle together and tell stories on Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year. Bond. It isn’t hard and the results are well worth the effort.
If you don’t have anyone around that you feel comfortable with, click on the link to the right of the page to go to our Facebook Group and join. It is a safe space for lost birds just like you and we are here for you if you will let us be. You don’t have to be alone so come join our digital family, online community and spiritual tribe. You are welcome and wanted!