To Be a Family

Sometimes, we need to break ties to get the best out of life.

I wrote this post a few weeks ago when I was really pissed. Actually, I was pissed AND upset. I was disrespected over, and over again; taunted, teased, laughed at, and talked about. By those I trusted. So yeah, I was beyond pissed. Beyond words, really. So I did what was best for me. Some call it “selfish,” but most call it smart.

Remove yourself from jealous negativity if you’re surrounded by it.

I did. And my life has never been better.

Here’s what I wrote in my “Pissed Off” emotional state:

I’ve heard the word “family” thrown around loosely over the past couple of weeks, and many of its “uses” sparked a bit of curiosity within me. So I spent some time looking into the definition of what “Family” really means.

by rachel_pics

First of all, Dictionary.com gives several basic meanings of family and the first seven reference parents, children, and/or blood relation. To be exact, definition number one states, “A basic social unit consisting of parents and their children, considered as a group, whether dwelling together or not.”

And definition number two says, “A social unit consisting of one or more adults together with the children they care for.” I could list all seven but it would be pointless–they all say roughly the same thing.

After definition number seven, Family starts to take on some new meanings: here’s where things get interesting.

Family goes on to be defined as “A group of related things or people: the family of romantic poets; the halogen family of elements.” This says to me that a bushel of apples can be called family. A pile of New Kids on the Block cassette tapes from the 90s? Strippers? I totally see “family” here.

Next is “A group of people who are generally not blood relations but who share common attitudes, interests, or goals and frequently, live together.” I love this one. Basically it’s saying if you’re a jackass and I’m a jackass, because we have similar attitudes, we’re family. Or it’s saying that because you like to eat wings every Tuesday night at your local wing-ding dive, and your college psych professor likes to eat the same flavor wings you do at the same bar on the same night, that YOU two are family as well! Love it. I hope he gave you an A, by the way. Since, you know, you’re family and all.

How about “A group of products or product models made by the same manufacturer or producer.” Does that mean that all chicks who lift weight, cut to 800 calories a day, and get boob jobs are all family? I mean, if they go to the same gym and see the same local doc for their implants? OMG, are all my Lululemons family because they’re made from the same manufacturer?!!! Oh I knew there was a reason I loved them so much! Seriously people, who’s koolaid are you drinking?!

by ramsey everydaypants

Even Biology offers us a definition of family: “The usual major subdivision of an order or suborder in the classification of plants, animals, fungi, etc., usually consisting of several genera.”

by KdB1-2

Family.

And definitely not last but finally on my list of best picked definitions, the slang: “A unit of the Mafia of Cosa Nostra operating in one area under a local leader.”  This one’s great. Who are you operating under? Who tells you what to do day in and day out? Do you call that person family? Did you also know that one of the original uses for “familia” in the 1400s was for a servant? Hmmm….maybe those “uses” I heard muttered sheepishly under breaths this past week make sense now after all.

by b3d_

These are my favorite definitions out of the 20+ provided. Why? Because these are the ones that get misconstrued and re-worded, used to suit one’s own well-being, and twisted into serving the needs, wants, and guilty pleasures of others. My point is, don’t throw around words just because you think your definition and your usage is the same one that everyone should believe and follow. Or better yet, don’t call me “family” unless you’re prepared to understand my definition of what the word means to me. When I hear the word “family,” I think of several translations:

A family cares for my well-being, no matter what I do, where I go, or who I do it with.
A family understands my decisions without hesitation or questions.
A family respects me for the individual I am, and respects the person I want to be.
A family challenges me to become even better because they believe in me.
A family accepts my flaws without criticism.
A family accepts my success without jealousy.
A family doesn’t gossip or talk about my choices to others.
A family supports me; a family does not set out to destroy me.
A family accepts my friends, my decisions, my life: ME. Just the way I am.

by akunamatata

Even still, perhaps the best definition of family isn’t mine. Maybe the best one of all is the one that I found all the way at the bottom of the website under Cultural Definition:

“Humans belong to the same biological family of hominids.”

I know that in this world, this time period, this society, and this culture, we cannot all live happily ever after. But dammit, we’re all human beings. We all make mistakes and we all learn from them. We all make decisions, and we all have our own unique definitions that we use within our lives. But if we could all take a step back for a few short seconds, take a breath, and think about what it might be like to be in the shoes of someone else for a brief minute, maybe–just maybe–we would understand each other a little bit more. Maybe my sense of family would mean a little bit more to you, and maybe you would understand me a little bit more. Maybe I wouldn’t feel so hurt because I thought those who were my family, proved otherwise. And who knows, maybe one day we may forget the other even existed, while in the grand scheme of things, life goes on.

Bottom line?
Who are we to judge one another? Who are we to inflict hurt upon those who are only trying to help? Once you’ve grasped the true understanding of what it means to call someone your family, then you can start answering my questions. I know that I’ve learned many lessons over the years, and I’m still learning. But one thing is for sure: family does and does not have to be blood. And those who are true family are few and far between. Once you do find them, hold on to them, treat them with respect and understanding. And love them…exactly as they are and for who they choose to be. by KdB1