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Most of us experience strife and struggle in our families of origin. It’s not uncommon, but upsetting nonetheless. Unfortunately, personality issues and clashes do not always quiet and clear, as we hoped they would, even though decades pass. Sigh…

We are not related by blood, but we are inextricably tethered together by choice and devotion over the years

It is hard, but worthwhile work, to keep hanging in there in an ongoing effort to reach out and connect (provided there is no abuse) past the divides, the roadblocks, and the misunderstandings. We all could benefit from learning to work with our individual quirks, emotional quarks, and our black, unhealed holes. Personally, I am grateful to and for my siblings—they keep me grounded in my own reality show (whether I like it or not).

As I grow older, I become more acutely aware of the sweet relief and refuge I derive from my “chosen” family—friends who have become family. This past weekend I visited with several friends who live thousands of miles away from me, but who remain in step with my daily life and experiences. We are not related by blood, but we are inextricably tethered together by choice and devotion over the years, through the good times, the bad, through the births and deaths, the gobs of laughter and copious tears. They never had to stay—they chose to stay and I chose to stay. Our mutual love has trumped obligation, and like a precious jewel, it has grown deeper over the many years. We handle each other carefully but not dishonestly. We tell each other the truth, especially when it is hard to hear, but also never withhold the equally honest truth of praise, and the perspective of genuine adoration. We are liberal with our compliments and stingy with our corrections. We gleefully recount our shared history, and we continue to be interested and involved in the unfolding present.

It takes time and energy, but the reward of our sweet companionships is worth it. We find, as the Irish say…“shelter in the comfort of one another.” My chosen family calms me and renews me. They generously offer me the sustenance and strength I often need to return to my family of origin with renewed compassion and determination to hang in there and trust the ride.

Do you have a “chosen” family and how do they help you through life’s ups and downs?

Contributed by

Mimi O' Connor
Group Support Specialist

Hearts linked, together we heal…

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