I receive so much love, I have to acknowledge it. Familes of Choice are something talked about in the LGBT community, where so often we are tossed out on our keesters by our blood relatives. But it's not just LGBT people, it's all of us who try to be ourselves, who try to follow our inner voice that says:
"be an actor... share those stories with people"
"be a free-spirit... let people see you live with joy"
"follow god... love with everything you have"
"hug a tree... feel the earth move below you"
"fight for the earth... even if it pays nothing"
"love her even if she never loves you back..."
"fight for justice, even if it means you'll never have a 401K or a sports car..."
"laugh, laugh, laugh..."
"make love to people, share their energy and their spirit, and their godliness"
I know there are parents out there who don't love their children, but of those that do, so often they forget how far encouragement, support, faith, a hug can go.
But Families of Choice are not necessarily a substitute. I have friends who love me, but we have not necessarily shared 30 years of experiences, and would they drop everything if I needed them to? That't not to criticize, just to notice. My family would drop everything to come to my aid if I got hit by a car. But if I felt despair that ripped at my heart, if I felt a depression and deep sense of self-loathing so strong I wanted to kill myself, they would find me irritating, a burden.
What am I saying? I don't really know. I guess Families of Choice are wonderful, and I am grateful for them. But I know they are not the same as those relationships that form us. However, of those formative relationships, I have two parents and one brother and a sister-in-law and a two-year-old niece and an aunt: That's five and a half people.
But of those who love me, I cannot cannot begin to count them: I have Sara, Michele, Sari, Elizabeth, E., Renee, Shiv, Kate, Artie, Laura, Steve, Vince, Chris, Christina, Julie, Elaine, Robin, Sara, Mark, Marylin, German, Sumathi, Sujani, Alana, Kelley, Bohman, Chris, Trese, Toisha, Susan, Leslie, Elizabeth, Rachael, the list goes on and on. So much love and it wraps around me like a cloak of strength.
I have lately been thinking about something Jesus supposedly said: 'Leave your families and follow me.' I think there is much to be learned by working at a relationship for years, and growing and changing and learning how to work through the hard times. But at some point, I have to realize that I can't change people. I can only be the best person I can be, and at some point I have to walk away from a hurtful situation. I have to value myself that much. No one else will if I don't. And as E. helped me to understand, it's not that I'm walking away from something (my parents, my brother, whoever), but instead, I'm walking towards something: Towards my future, towards the love in my life, towards the truth, towards god. And they can come with me, or they can remain where they are; the choice is always theirs.
And by 'god' I don't mean Jesus or the bible or any dogmatic religion. When I say god I mean the Truth; and when I say Truth I mean Love.
I love my Family of Choice. My Family of Blood is welcome to be a part of it, it's up to them.
(Please do not think that the names I mentioned are in any order, or are conclusive. There are many more I hold near and dear to my heart.)