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The Thing About Family ...

We all come into this world having a father and a mother. It is something which we all have in common. Whether we get a say in who these individuals are, I will leave it up to the philosophers and those more spiritually aware that I am. After that, things get a little more complicated. Nobody asks us who we would prefer to have as grandparents, aunts or uncles, or siblings. And, as one gets a little older so this dynamic gets less certain.

We are told that family is everything. We are told that they are the ones that will be there for us when everyone else abandons us. It is a nice thought, but sometimes things don't quite work out the way we would like. We may have that emotionally unavailable sibling, that overbearing aunt or uncle, or a parent that, if one were being honest, shouldn't actually have had children to begin with. Most of us gets a mix of the good and the bad, the happy and the sad. And that's okay. At the end of the day, direct family is a bit of a lottery.

In my experience, the best family is made up of individuals you choose to include. Your friends. Your significant others. Yes, at times you get it wrong, but when you get it right those people add so much to the experience of what we call life. That is not to say that they won't let you down from time to time. We are all human. We are imperfect. But, when you find that person who is of a mind to put themselves second and be there for you, no matter what, you should hang onto them and never let them go. You should be the same person for them as they are for you. Ultimately, actions speak loudest.

In my life I have experienced both love and betrayal, both selflessness and selfishness, as well as honesty and duplicity. It is important to forgive those who wrong one. Second chances, as it turns out, are things which we all will need at some point. We make mistakes. Often, we make these without even knowing it. How do you tell someone who has been the victim of Munchausen syndrome that they have hurt you more deeply than they can imagine? How can you hold that against that person when they are ignorant of the concept entirely and do not recognise the manipulation exercised upon them by someone they hold most dear? It is at times like these, that it is better to be kind than to be right.

Loyalty is a big word in my life. However, I have seen first hand how this notion can be twisted and made to serve another persons narcissism. When someone believes that edification is their right, when that person demands adulation for, what they would say, are selfless acts of kindness, it is often difficult to say to them that the toxicity which runs so deep in them is so clear for everyone else to see. And yet, all the while, one has to remind oneself that what one may observe in another may be equally true in oneself. How can I hold it against someone else for not recognising their own blind spots, when I might have so many myself?

Ultimately, I revert back to the Bible. Ultimately, it is all about love. I believe that 1 Corinthians 13: 4 – 8 says it best:

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.

If I'm certain of anything, it is this: it is imperative that we let our family know how we feel about them as often as we can. This is to say, you need to use those three words that come with so much difficulty to most people – I love you. You only get to say these things in the living years. After that, it'll be too late. And regret is a terrible thing to have to live with.

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