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family

I told myself today that I need to write more. I used to write a lot. Writing has been a form of expression and solace for me since fifth grade. Usually when I was at my lowest, if I turned to writing, I was able to start healing. Between writing and music, I have found a cheaper way to vent and mend than therapy. I am highly disappointed in myself for not turning to writing more in the recent past. I need to challenge my writing skills and need to bring more creativity into my life.

I asked my Facebook family to give me ideas today so that I may begin writing once again, as I felt a block when it came to what to write about. Also, what better way to find out what people would want to read about than to ask the very people you’re trying to reach out to. Two of my friends responded. One wants me to write about encouragement, faith, hope, love, and the like and the other wants me to write about family. I am going to do my best to write about both. Let’s see how this develops.

My experiences with family have been all over the board. Growing up, I saw most came from the stereotypical perfect family: Mom, Dad, a couple of kids, and maybe a pet or two. For me though, it was my mom and I for so long. Enter in a boyfriend now and then, but most of my childhood it was just us. I met my dad when I was 10. Then, I found out I have a step-mom and three younger siblings. At 13, nearly 14, I was put into foster care and learned about yet another family dynamic. I have come to learn that families come in all shapes and sizes. There isn’t a perfect type of family. I have also learned that no matter how happy a family may seem, there’s always struggles. You may see happy faces on the walls smiling at you, but there’s often sorrow, strife, hurt, and more behind those happy faces.

Family should be close knit, bound by blood first, but by love even more. Even when it is, it will face issues over the years. I have felt love and loathing within my family. I have known kindness and treachery. Sometimes the ones that hurt us the most are those we’re related to and sometimes the ones we’re closest to are our friends, who form yet another family dynamic. Not all families are bound by blood. When asked what a family is, I don’t have a concrete answer. I will tell you what I think a family should be though.

A family, whether bound by blood or not, should encourage one another. A family should lift its members up and not tear one another down. A family should have faith in one another, feeling in their souls the love and loyalty from one another. A family should not dictate who is worthy of love and instead if they see a member struggling or going down a path they ought not, reach out and try to help. Sometimes people can’t or simply don’t want to be helped and sometimes you need to distance yourself from another, but to outright turn your back on one without even trying to understand, without trying to be there just seems wrong to me. I have had family members turn their backs on me and on others simply because of the mistakes we made and deeming us unworthy of their love, help, and support. I think that is why it is hard for me to walk away from anyone, family or otherwise. I know how it feels to have people turn their backs on me and it hurts, so I try with all I have to be there for others. Families are not and should never be expected to be perfect. We all, as individuals and groups, fall and make mistakes. It should then be our desire, when one falls, is to help one another back up. I have, perhaps too grand, big ideas of what family should be, but I don’t believe any of it is unobtainable, not when people are committed to working together. No one should let any of the weight fall on one or a few members, but let it be upon us all.

How to survive family life may sound easy to some and extremely difficult to others. For while family should be a force that bands together, sadly, it’s often not. Sometimes we tear one another down and make life extremely difficult for ourselves and those around us. Some do stick together and make family look like something amazing. But having known some of these wonderful families, I see that they too need to work to make their relationships with one another work. Any relationship needs to be worked on. If ever we feel that we’re at a good place and stop, then it will begin to fall apart. We need to keep at it. Marriages, friendships, working relationships, family ties, and the like all require work, effort, time, respect, communication, and loyalty. For me, I have found that I survive my various family dynamics by knowing every individual is just that, an individual. Every one of them is different and I can’t treat each person the same. But, I do try to give each person in my life respect, loyalty, kindness, and love. I also try to communicate, to keep in touch, to let them know when there needs to be something worked on, and when I am very happy by how things are going as well. We face issues, but I try to face them head on and together. If we try to fight through our struggles alone, how can they be fixed? One sided effort fails, but when people come together, so much is possible.

Family isn’t perfect, life is far from it even more so. But, united we stand and divided we fall. My goal is to keep working on the bonds I have formed and to form even more. I plan to never stop working on my relationships, but also plan to get better at knowing when to walk away from something, knowing when to keep trying and when enough is enough. I am far from as wise as I can possibly be, but I feel I can let the wisdom I have gained in 38 years guide me and to help me learn more, about myself and those around me. I hope to grow my faith, both in God and in others. I hope to learn how to encourage others more and learn to accept it from others better as well. Family can show us so much, if we’re willing to see it and learn from one another. We all have our ugly sides, but together we can open our eyes to the beautiful ones as well.

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