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The Roads That We Choose

This year has been one like no other.

What feel like should be once-in-a-decade historical events seem to come and go each day, and with two months left in the year, it would appear that 2020 is not done with the surprises yet.

With the ongoing pandemic, increasingly divisive politics that ebb ever closer to violence with each passing day, and the current election cycle that seems poised to go on without end, it goes without saying that people are stressed.

With the holidays coming up, and the pandemic still raging, the ever-increasing anxiety that this world is facing might not be alleviated anytime soon.

Considering that this month’s theme here at LYF is choice, I have decided to tackle the meaning of family, the role that choice plays in defining family, and how our family affects our journey toward self-love.

Sometimes the journey begins with an ending.

I once had someone tell me, after I had a pretty severe fight with my father, that blood is thicker than water. Nothing else matters, she said, you have to forgive him.

And, for the sake of the family, I did. I wasn’t happy about it, then or now.

Years have passed, and there have been many arguments with my father since, usually triggered by gaslighting on his part. One question continually comes to mind, time and time again since being told that I had to forgive the man who calls himself my father.

Did I, though? Did I have to go on with an abusive familial relationship because of blood ties?

The “blood is thicker than water” quote I was spun on that day kept coming back to me, gnawing away at my brain like a dog with a bone. In line with my usual response to most things, I did some reading.

There is a quote that has been circulating on the internet for some time now, and while it is frequently attributed to the wrong sources, I still find it to be prevalent in this situation: “The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.”

This new quote inverts the meaning of the original “blood is thicker than water” and I like it more because it allows for a deeper conversation about what family actually means.

When I hear this quote, I imagine soldiers gearing up for a great battle, one in which the bond of their brotherhood (or covenant) makes them closer than the families that they were born to.

In essence, the family you make can sometimes be more important than those related by blood.

Your definition of family belongs to you.

Blood, as it turns out, is not always thicker than water. Defining terms like family can be tricky, especially in the ever-changing landscape of 2020.

While ties should not be severed over superficial differences, it is important to remember that you do not owe yourself to anyone. A blood relation to someone does not always have to mean they are family.

Self-love and growth can be stunted by toxic relationships, and sometimes these relationships can be difficult to recognize as toxic; this is especially true when dealing with relatives.

In my own experience, gaslighting was often used as a method of suppression of thought. I was made to feel as if I was going insane by those that would call themselves “family.”

This is why it is important to remember, above all else, you are worthy of love, even if it doesn’t come from those it should.

Your definition of family belongs to you and no one else. Whether your family consists of the people you were born to, the community you are in, the friends you have made on your journey, or some combination of every part of your life, it is important that you stay true to those who stay true to you.

Don’t let others dictate your place in the world.

One of the most important things I would come to realize on my journey to healthier self-love is that I am the ruler of my own fate.

Just as only I could make the decisions I would have to make to survive, you will inevitably have to evaluate your life in the same way: audit the choices you have made, and the relationships you have now.

Are these healthy relationships? If not, does the relationship have the capacity to become healthy? And if it doesn’t, what does this mean for the relationship?

Going it alone, for a time.