Family?

I recently woke up in a reality that was not my own. The shields I have used to protect my heart and sanity for years were turned to smoldering ash with one simple action. It seems that the fire that finally destroyed my fortress had been burning beneath me for quite some time.  The fire existed because I refused to see beyond my blind loyalty.

As a child, I was raised to believe that the love of family was a given. Your family would always love you regardless of your faults unless you truly betrayed their love and trust. I grew up with this belief and turned it into a loyalty so fierce that I would risk everything to ensure I always did my part for the world around me. You could say that the message of family and love was genetically encoded into my identity. No matter what happened in the past, I always found a way to push through by suppressing grudges or responding without emotion.  “I am not an emotional person so I can separate myself from this and move on”.  It was this thought that helped me build a fortress of blind loyalty.  As the years went on, I amassed an army of friends who tilted their heads at my life, but still supported me without question. They never asked me to change or expected more than I could give. While I loved them fiercely, they were not family.  They didn’t understand that love and family took sacrifice and pain. They were just friends.

I continued to move forward with my life while separating loving friends from the idea of family.  What our family and culture never teaches us is that genetics and loyalty do not determine family.  Your family says, “You will let me know if you need anything right” knowing you may be too strong to lean on them. Your family will cook dinner and force you out of the house just to share laughs even if they know you don’t feel good or want just to pout. Your family will force you to keep writing and stalk you via phone and text on a daily basis just to give you a laugh.  Your family will drag you out of town for a much-needed break knowing you will kick and scream all the way there and all the way back. Your family will always try and play server even when you are at a family gathering because they know you need a little more attention and love than most. Your family will love you even if you speak once in a blue moon. They will even let you hold one of their fancy drawing pens and pray silently that you hold it the right way.  They will sit with you at lunch and talk about nothing at all. In their minds, your children won’t starve because they belong to them too.

Loyalty will walk away from you the moment you are not as strong as they thought. Loyalty will see you as a means to an end even when you are down. Loyalty will know you will always be there even when they are not. I woke up realizing that misplaced loyalty is the equivalent of being naked in a field full of mosquitos. The mosquitos will always feed, but you will be left with bites that can lead to disease and a deadly case of suppressed rage.

Here is my lesson for every woman and man who has been washed by the fog of loyalty. If you are disposable to someone, no amount of loyalty will change your situation. Every single interaction will be a test of your loyalty to them.  Unlike football, your previous wins do not amount to your overall standing. It is the deed of the moment that counts.  Love the family who wants you and stop trying to find love through your loyalties. Genetics gives us a scientific explanation of our origins. It does not the only definition of family. Open yourself to the people who see you and your faults as a blessing. I want my family to know that my love is freely given without the expectation of anything in return.  Love in its purest form cannot be measured or confined by loyalty alone. My friends are part of my amazing and diverse family.

Be true to yourself  and stay naughty because you are good at it.

R.M. Garry

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