This blog is going to be a little different from most of mine. Usually, I plan them out ahead of time and they set on a to-do list for a while before they see the light of day. This one has been brewing in my mind for years not as a blog, but as a concept.
Readers of my books will know family is something I examine and work with a lot. My Hemlock Wolf Pack Saga circles around the Hemlock Wolf Pack and their struggles to hold a large territory safely together while looking for their true-mates. It’s not always easy and there is a lot of drama that can and does happen. Families aren’t always perfect and I get that.
That’s not the sort of family I want to talk about today. Fiction families are easier to deal with. I assign their traits and give them their complicated back stories. I’m talking about flesh and blood today. That’s what most people mean when they say family. I live in a region where this is supposed to be more important than anything else. You’re supposed to be willing to do anything for your family no matter what they do. I’ve called bullshit before and I’ll do it again, because I know I’m not the only person who deals with this.
Before anyone says but what about X? X is usually cancer, disabilities, mental illness, etc. I’m not talking about things people can’t control. If someone I loved got hurt or cancer or something I’m a ride or die bitch, okay? But there’s a difference between those X arguments and someone who is a constant toxic presence in your life. That family member who’s an addict that refuses to get help and shows up high at 3 AM looking for a place to crash and steals from you when you let them stay. That aunt who puts you down for everything. The parent who always finds fault in everything you do even in your successes. That abusive partner, parent, sibling, grandparent. No, we don’t owe them anything because we share a blood line.
I know there’s a lot of talk about being the bigger person, but that doesn’t mean you continuously put yourself in those situations out of some abstract family obligation. This comes from tribal days where being alone meant certain death in a harsh wilderness. Sure, we still need people, but we can choose not to let those we’re born with drag us down. We don’t owe them our happiness or our sanity.
Family isn’t defined by bloodlines. It’s defined by those who lift us up, call out our bullshit, and want to see us succeed in life. It’s those who are there in our darkest moments and never hold it above our heads. Family is the group of people you can’t wait to tell good news to. It’s those you want to see win and they want they same for you. Keep those people in your life and never live down to a toxic person just because you happen to be related.