Choosing Your Family

To forget one’s ancestor’s is to be a brook without a source, a tree without root
~ Chinese Proverb

There are many people who believe the above quote.  While I agree that one’s genealogy is a foundation for who we are and where we’re from, I don’t think it necessarily defines who we are, or even who we become.  There are those who do, and they cling strongly to the connection of their blood relatives.  I prefer to focus on what I call my “heart family”.

My mom was the first person I ever heard coin that phrase, back in the 80’s (maybe even the 70’s, I’m not sure), though the phrase is much more common now.  She hadn’t felt that close to many of her blood relatives, and instead found that special kinship in the friends she’d met throughout her life.

As I was growing up, I also felt the disconnect with her blood relatives, and even with my father’s family.  In fact, I haven’t heard from anyone on my father’s side since my Nana died back in 1983.  Some people might find that sad, but I honestly don’t feel that my life is missing anything for the lack of connection.  Even when Nana was alive, we only saw my dad’s side of the family at holidays or family reunions.

I subscribe to the tenet that friends are the family we choose for ourselves.  These are the people who will be there for you, no matter what.  They don’t judge you for not meeting up to expectations.  In fact, they don’t expect you to be anything except yourself.  Some might say that blood is thicker; and maybe that’s true in some families.  But in mine – except for a select few – there aren’t many people from my family tree that I would turn to in times of true need.  I have no faith that they’d be there for me.

There was a time in my life when I actually wanted to “disown” most of my relatives (except for a handful that morphed into my heart family), but I know now that’s because I was angry and hurt by the treatment I felt I endured.  Abandonment can be felt in many ways, regardless of whether there was actual abandonment or not, and I often felt that my blood relatives found who I was unacceptable or lacking in some fashion.

But before you go feeling sorry for my familial situation, let me tell you that I have at least nine people who would (and have) give me support and strength in the lowest times of my life.  Three of them are actual blood relatives, which is great, but the rest are people I’ve met through different phases and locations in my life.  They span the globe, and while I might not get to speak to them as often as we used to when we lived near each other, ours is the kind of friendship that is still strong, regardless of the distance.

And now that Craig and I are getting married, I know there’s at least three more people I can add to my list of heart family.  That makes a good dozen people who love and like me enough to offer their support should I ever need it.  I feel so lucky and blessed, that there’s no need to feel badly about not having more of a connection to those I’m related to by blood.

Yes, our ancestry is the base for our lives; a jumping-off point, if you will.  But it’s the friends that we choose to surround ourselves with that make up our real family.

How about you?  Is your heart family stronger than your birth family, or are you equally blessed in both?


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Dolly Chamberlin
    Feb 17, 2012 @ 02:14:51

    I like your heart family tree. I hadn’t seen that before. LOVES :}


  2. cminichino
    Feb 17, 2012 @ 09:00:19

    You’ve written my story, Alyx! Except it’s nice that you have your mother on your list; mine is not, but a dear cousin is. I’ve always wondered whether it’s because I didn’t have the support of the people at “home” that I managed to find the most wonderful people outside of it.

    Thanks for the touching post. I’m going to make my tree . . .


    • Alyx Morgan
      Feb 17, 2012 @ 10:28:15

      I’m so glad the blog spoke to you, Camille! Yes, I believe that the lack of support in the birth family does prompt us to find our dear heart family. I’m guessing your tree will be gorgeous when you get it finished. 🙂

      Thanks for visiting today!


  3. cminichino
    Feb 17, 2012 @ 15:13:09

    When I see a mother being loving toward a child, I I still find it tempting to wonder what I would have become if I’d experience that as a child. But I try to focus on what I have, and what you’ve given a name to.


    • Alyx Morgan
      Feb 17, 2012 @ 15:15:36

      I’m so sorry that you didn’t get the support & love of your mother, Camille; I’m sure that must’ve been quite hard. I think you’re a pretty awesome person just the way you are, so yes, that would be the best thing to focus on. ❤


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