Most precious things…

A few days ago my sister wrote about family, and I’ve been pondering the same subject myself, at about one in the morning when sleep alludes me. My family are extremely important to me but I have found my definition of ‘family’ doesn’t always line up with other people’s.

I have gone through, and continue to live with, a difficult mental health situation; without my family I wouldn’t have survived it. I certainly wouldn’t be in the position I am now, finally living in my own home and with a new, interesting, job. I have a chance of fulfilling a few of my dreams now.

While, generally I agree with my sister (on this subject at least), there are things we disagree over. I consider certain close friends as family-of-heart, and equal in importance to family-of-blood. I don’t feel it diminishes either that I have an extended network of ‘not conventionally considered’ family to support me and whom I love and support in return.

My sister says in her own blog post that she feels the biggest betrayal of family is putting your friends before your family. I know she was partly aiming at a certain family member, who she feels has been ignoring his own family in favour of his new wife’s family. I get where she’s coming from but, in general terms, if the love I have for people others consider friends is as strong as the love I have for more conventional family, how can I choose one over the other? To me they are family.

We have a long standing friend, SN, who has been our ‘adopted sister’ for more than ten years; is she any less family because we aren’t blood relations?

No, of course not.

We have second cousins (maternal side) who don’t really have anything to do with us, despite living in the same town, and who I’m uncomfortable around, that, in all honesty, I have less love for. They really pushed it when they insulted my Dad’s entire family and expected me to laugh it off. I was the only Cawkwell at the meal…

I was actually very upset about it; that they thought insulting me was fine, and that I’d ignore defamation of the people I love, really stung. Some time later I had a rant on Facebook about it, because I was going through a bad time and ruminating. My Dad’s family were the ones who listened and supported me through that particular episode and months later checked in to see if I was still struggling with it. Those other relations ignore or denigrate my illness.

The people we first bond with are usually blood relations; my cousins are anything between five months and eleven years younger than me, they are also the people (not including my parents, their parents and our grandparents) that I have loved the longest. They are my brothers, because I love them as much as my sisters; nothing hurts worse than being separated from them, such as when my uncle and his ex-wife divorced I didn’t see my cousin for years, or when one of my other cousins got caught up in someone else’s fight and went to prison. Gods was I pleased when he came home safe. I still haven’t forgiven the other people involved and I have no problem telling anyone who asks what pieces of horse dung they are.

Seriously, do not mess with my brothers/cousins. I will hunt you down and eviscerate you, probably in fiction for all the world to see.

That’s not to say I won’t argue with then or criticise them; like my sisters and myself, we all love to argue, because we are intelligent and opinionated people. But, and this is the important bit, we do not take it to heart. Certainly, we might hold a particularly nasty comment against each other for all of thirty seconds, but then someone will step in and translate, and everyone goes back to normal. (I say translate because sometimes we miss words and such out and then people missunderstand; this is why Facebook is bad, no visual.)

Family is not blood; it is love and shared experience. If those bonds are strong enough then the social convention of separating ‘friends’ from ‘family’, and declaring one less important than the other, can and should be ignored. It is up to each of us who we call family.

BTW shortarse, I’m not having a go, I just needed to write down what I was thinking. I had to find a way in to the subject and you provided it.
Cuz (plural), if any of you are reading this, when are you coming round to see my new house?

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4 thoughts on “Most precious things…

  1. I wasn’t actually aiming my comments at the person you think I was. I feel I addressed that as much as I am willing to publicly but I was referring to an incidemt earlier this year with someone I love who was betrayed by someone who is family. You don’t choose your cousin’s partner over your cousin, for example in an arument, was my point there. I realisr your idea of family is differemt to mine but friends are friends. You choose them and you can choose not to have them. But family is always family, you can stay away from them but they never stop being a connection. Once again we disagree. But here’s the key as we both recognise. It’s okay to disagree on these things as long as you don’t expect me to share your adopted family.

    • I did wonder who you were referring to which is why I thought you meant that other person. I know now, and yes their betrayal was inexcusable, but given their mentality we can hardly be surprised. We had such hopes for them as well.
      I have never expected you to accept my friends, but I do expect you to respect and trust my judgement about them. I don’t have many but the ones I consider family are so for a reason.

      • I respect that they are your friends and trust you’ve invited them into your life for a reason. I disagree that a friend is essentially the same as family but that’s my choice. You and the clan will always come first for me as far as family and friends are concerned. That doesn’t mean I don’t get that sometimes we have to keep certain family members iut of our way or that friends aren’t incredibly important only that friendships can end but blood is always family even if estranged, sooner or later you bump into the bastards and have to exchange meaningless pleasantries.

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