My country is very catholic, traditional, and family-oriented. The most standard and encouraging scenario for life has always been — get an education, get a job, and start a family. That’s pretty much all that is. In a country with limited opportunities and such values, I guess it makes sense that it would be this way.
Being a free spirit myself I always wondered if there was more to life than that, as I never saw that path for myself. I’ve been blessed (and resourceful) enough to travel to many countries over the years and have met people from all over the world who had different ways of living, viewing life, forming relationships, and even definitions of what a family is.
Suddenly I saw options and choices I was looking for and decided to design my life my way, under my own terms.
The thing is if you come from a dysfunctional family, especially one that is abusive, hearing that “family is everything” kinda sucks. It means that you are basically stuck with whomever you’re related to and you have to like them no matter what. I have always felt it was a bit unnatural to form this kind of co-dependent and often toxic relationships with people you don’t even like or want to associate with, just because they’re your relatives.
Growing up in this kind of environment can also mess up your ideas about what a family is and make you wonder if you want the same.
Knowing that you have options can be quite liberating and give you hope.
I personally don’t like many members of my family because some are narcissists, some are nationalists and racists, some misogynists — generally quite judgemental and narrow-minded — so I don’t feel obliged to like people whose values don’t match mine. I respect their free will and the right to make their own choices as human beings, but I don’t necessarily need to participate in the drama they create, which is my personal choice and a choice we all have.
On the other hand, I do appreciate my life and the fact that my parents chose to have me. For that, I am eternally grateful and I want to honor them in any way I can because I truly feel blessed to be here.
However, my love goes beyond blood connections. My family is so much bigger than that.
People I connect with on a deeper level and share mutual values and interests I consider family, too. These kinds of connections are more evident when you are an ex-pat, as many of us don’t have family in our chosen countries. We support each other and we are there for each other in need. It’s quite beautiful actually and I have found this kind of connection is sometimes even more powerful than ones you’d expect from your family.
My chosen family is equally as important as my given family.
I choose to love and honor both and hope to extend my compassion and kindness to all beings, as I truly believe we are all one big family.
No separation. Wholeness.
It’s sometimes difficult with those that don’t share our values, family members or not, but I like to keep that door open for mutual understanding and growth.
To answer the question of whether “family is or isn’t everything” I would say — it depends on how you define family and what is important to you. You have a choice — you can design your life under your terms and in alignment with your values, who you want to interact with, what you want your family to look like, and what you want out of life in general.
I believe that connection with all beings is important and love shouldn’t be exclusive. To me, a family is about connection, mutual respect, and unconditional love. If we can achieve that beyond our given family and extend it to more beings, then maybe our world stands a chance.
You may call me a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.