I have been surrounded by this theme most of my life. I don’t know how it came into existence (perhaps I will research it someday), but I’m sure the intentions behind it were pure. The concept of a family loyal to each other is actually sort of sweet. I myself tend to be an extremely loyal person, even to the point of letting myself be hurt.
However, as I’ve grown and matured over the years, I’ve come to question the validity of this old saying. I’ve noticed, for many people, there is this underlying idea that because you are connected to another person by blood―by DNA―it means you should give them your unconditional loyalty. No matter what. No questions asked. In many cases, this phrase is even used to coerce you into doing whatever another person wants, regardless of how they treat you, simply because you belong to the same family.
I understand we all have moments where we mess up and say things we might regret. Maybe we are having a bad day, or we don’t feel well. We lash out at those closest to us, most likely because we feel safe with them and know they will forgive us. When we come to our senses, we apologize and work hard to avoid doing the same thing in the future.
Yet, there are some people who treat those in their family poorly on a regular basis. Maybe they never apologize when they do something to hurt your feelings. Or perhaps they show little interest in what is going on in your life. When you talk to them on the phone or when you visit them, they only want to talk about themselves and what’s going on in their life. Maybe they make no effort to truly know you and what makes you tick, or worse yet they belittle you for who you are or what you’re passionate about. Whatever it may be, you’re always left feeling like something is lacking in the relationship, or something is lacking in you.
I began to question the reasoning behind this. If family is so important, why would you treat them so terribly? Shouldn’t the fact you are related by blood encourage you to strive that much harder to make your family feel loved and cared for? Why would “blood” cause someone to take those they should feel closest to for granted?
Unfortunately, I don’t have a good explanation for these questions yet. I’m not too sure I’ll ever find one. What I have discovered, though, is it’s okay to let yourself off the hook. Blood doesn’t have to be thicker than water. As a matter of fact, sometimes water is better.
I think many times the Universe places special people in our lives to fill in the holes people in our family leave inside us. We love our family members, even when they are less than loving toward us. The loyalty we have toward them allows us to still love them. We do, however, need to be sure to have healthy boundaries so we can live a life of peace. When we make this choice, many times we then find a friend, or several friends, who soon become as close as family to us. They build us up and encourage us to be who we are meant to be.
More importantly, they help us to see we are worth more than what we’ve been made to believe. That void we feel inside, the one our family should have been able to fill, can now be healed by those who were once “outsiders”.
Water can be just as thick as blood, if you are willing to let it be. Family does not have to be only those who share your DNA. Family is truly anything you want it to be. Those who are willing to love you for who you really are in the very core of your being. Family stands by you, loves and supports you, and pushes you to be the best version of you, regardless of the DNA you may or may not share.