“Blood is thicker than water.”
“True friends will never forsake you.”
“Family is the most important thing in the world.”
“Friends are God’s way of apologizing to us for our families.”
“The family you come from isn’t as important as the family you’re going to have.”
It seems that we like to wax poetic about family and friends. They are both “there for us” through thick and thin. We can gripe to one about the other, and vice versa. We should nurture them both because they’ll be there when the other runs out. Right? But what happens when they don’t treat you well?
If a boyfriend or girlfriend, treats you poorly, you dump them. When a friend continually hurts you, eventually you let them go. But what about family? So many of us continually accept criticism from family members, joking about crazy aunt Sue’s antics at Christmas, or writing off what our brother might have said at this year’s reunion. After all, they’re family. But how long do you take it? How many times can you turn the other cheek until you become codependent instead of ever-forgiving?
I’ve struggled with these ideas for the last few years, having bought into the concept that kinship somehow compensates for poor behavior. But I’m done now. I’m tired of accepting actions on the part of family members–behavior I wouldn’t tolerate from any other relationship–simply because of blood. It doesn’t make a lot of sense and it doesn’t feel very good either.
And so I find myself having self-shrunken my family tree. While symbolically saddened, I think I’ve made the right decisions… the decisions to keep myself whole… the decisions to keep myself sane… the decisions to set an example for others struggling with family issues. We shall see.