Our society teaches us that family always comes first. This is so ingrained in us we are shocked when some of the people next to us behave like scumbags. Unfortunately, this is a fact of life, for we didn’t get to choose our family members. As author Harper Lee aptly stated in To Kill a Mockingbird,
“You can choose your friends, but you sho’ can’t choose your family”
One thing is certain, just because someone is a member of your family does not mean they are good for you.
The role of family
I believe a Higher Power put us on this earth to learn and evolve. Some modern spiritual thinkers claim we are participating in an earth school where we have been assigned customized curriculum. This is a great metaphor that puts into perspective, not only the purpose of our experiences, but also the role our family plays in our lives. This implies that every member of your family, regardless of how abusive they have been, had a purpose in developing the basic agenda of your life journey.
Some will view this as I am providing a rationale for the unthinkable acts adults committed in your life. Rest assured I am not arguing that you should justify these acts; they have no justification. I am asking you to reflect on how they helped shape the fears and negativity you battle with today. This is the existential challenge for every human being, overcoming our fears and traumas so we may emerge as our authentic selves. Family (or lack thereof) has played a similar role in every human life.
Choosing your family
We all need a family, but this does not mean you must stick with the one you got. There may come a point when their presence in your life is no longer constructive. In fact, it may be toxic, and you have to move away from them.
This is where choosing good friends as their replacement comes in. I am the beneficiary of such a choice, my friend Steve has become my brother. He is family to me and I to him. It is said it is unusual for men to build such friendships. Men develop drinking or sports buddies, but we rely mostly on our romantic partners to fill all support roles.
My female friends taught me the value good friendships can have in a person’s life. Women have no qualms about developing close friendships with other women and men. Men should learn to develop friendships like these with other men and women. If you want to do so, become the friend you would like to have.
A good start to picking your family is to take inventory of those around you. Here are the ones to avoid;
He/she who engulfs you into their drama every time you see them or who makes you feel uncomfortable or puts you down. Nix anyone who is trying to change you.
Here are the ones to choose;
The ones who have your back and supports you to be you. They are the ones you trust will tell you the truth. They make you feel happy to be yourself and you can have fun with no matter the occasion.
Doesn’t it make you happy to know you can choose the family you want? Start by releasing the toxic people in your life, even if they are family. Then shower those you know love and support you with that same love and care.
Remember, paying gratitude for your life forward fills you with joy and contentment.
Previously published here and reprinted with the author’s permission.