Friday, July 17, 2015

Family is a Fluid Word

This is my son (not the furry one), commonly referred to around here as "the boy." And that is his tattoo. You can't see the whole thing, but it reads, "Family is Forever." That got me to thinking about family, and what that word means. I think it can mean different things to different people.

The other day, I read an article about how so many of the cliches and proverbs we all throw around these days have actually been bastardized from their original phrasing. This often results in a complete 180 of the original intent of the quote. For example:

Blood is thicker than water.

This is one that people just love to toss out there when they feel like a family member is treating them unfairly. The actual quote (as adapted from a German proverb) is "The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb." This literally means the exact opposite of what people generally think it means when they spout the old "blood is thicker" crap. The original intent of the statement was that the bonds made by choice, as in friends and companions (covenant), is much stronger and more meaningful than those thrust upon you by birth (womb).

I think the original meaning is much more accurate. I love my family. But I also love my friends. I chose my friends for a reason, because I like them and I enjoy having them in my life. Sometimes family...not so much, but that's another story. The people that are your family by blood (or marriage, as in steps and in-laws) are in your life be default; it wasn't your choice. Under best case circumstance, you will always love those people and care about them deeply. You may not always agree or get along, but hopefully when things arise, they can be settled and your relationship can return to its former glory.

But I'm here to say that it doesn't make you a bad person if you make a choice to distance yourself from someone, blood relative or otherwise, if they aren't a positive influence in your life. If someone is consistently making personal choices that make you sad or disappointed or angry...I say cut 'em loose. Alright, maybe not right away. People make mistakes, have lapses in judgement. It happens to everyone. And when it does, if you're on the receiving end of the fallout and hard feelings, speak the f* up and tell that person how you feel. It then falls to them to react. Sometimes it takes time, but if that person genuinely cares about you and feels that you are an important piece of their life, they will reflect upon what you've had to say and take action to make sure it doesn't happen again (or at least talk it out in an attempt to explain the why's and why not's).

If you never say anything, nothing will ever change.

The moral of my story here is that family is what it is to you. No one else has the right to define that term for you.

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