Think about how you’ve gotten used to certain situations or people in your life and just took it because you’ve adjusted your vision, lowered your standards, accepted the unacceptable behaviors.
I remember when I tried bringing up my frustrations several years ago with my mother, and, like she always would when she refused to engage in meaningful discussions, would say “you can’t choose your family” – with the underlying message that we were supposed to tolerate bad behavior and smother our own hurt simply because we shared DNA. That somehow, because you were a blood relative, that there was no more accountability, no more expectations for people to do the right thing, that new paths could never be created because there was no choice.
My answer: bullshit. I choose my family every day because to me, the definition of family is not DNA. Sometimes those who feed your heart are not sitting on a family tree. And as someone once told me to ask myself, if they weren’t your family, would you be friends with them? Would you tolerate their behaviors? Would you allow yourself to spend time with people who, after a day with them, usually leave you feeling worse instead of revived? Sometimes it just doesn’t work out like we wish it would – and that’s okay.
The term family is derived from the Latin word famulus. Know what that means? Servant. It wasn’t until the mid 1600’s that the term began being used to refer to parents and their children.
The dictionary definition of family also includes the scientific meaning to be a collection of things sharing a common attribute. And this is what my family is. My friend who is like my sister where I feel so wholly myself with and accepted, warts and all. My sweetheart who loves me unconditionally. My close friends who give that special combination of support, honesty, wisdom, and humor that feeds me. Our common attribute is that we genuinely like each other’s company. Not everyone gets this from their DNA.
And that’s okay. That’s our story, and each of our stories are okay…and being written every day.
Iyanla Vanzant talks fast, she talks with passion…and she’s spot on when it comes to making us remember that we have get clear about what makes us happy, what holds us back, and what we really want out of life. Here’s what she said that I loved…