When people hear the saying, people automatically assume that family means blood relatives. It’s taken me a long time to discover who my family really is.
A little bit about myself: I was born in a really loving household with an absolutely wonderful mother and father. I have three older brothers who are quite a bit older than me, so it was almost like I was an only child, but I loved it! I was the apple of my daddy’s eye & I was everything to my mom. I just have so much love for my parents.
I also once believed that I had amazing relationships with my 3 brothers. I would always try to imagine that they were these great relationships. That they were happy for my success and were always proud of me, because that’s what I wanted to believe. That’s what I wanted to feel. For so many years, I fought for that feeling, only to have situations happen where I was constantly disappointed. I would still put on that smiling face, “Yes, I have the most amazing brothers! They love me so much! They want the best for me.” But as I grew up and went through life, and as many of you know, hit my cancer journey, I faced some of my challenges and some of my demons from my childhood.
From the family that I thought held me up and were proud of me and happy for my successes, situation after situation occurred where I was constantly disappointed from my brothers. They constantly put in a position where I was torn down. I was constantly put in a position where I was belittled, my family was belittled, and my husband was belittled. I finally got to a point where my husband would always look at me and say, “Sweetheart, when are you going to start accepting the relationships for what they are?”
Once I started to accept the relationships for what they are and started standing my ground, my family, who are the people who I thought again would hold me up, started not wanting to be around me. They would tell me that I’ve changed. They started telling me that I’m different and telling me that my career change changed me. They would say that the people who I hang around with changed me and that I was different.
Well yeah, I was different. I was happy with who I was becoming because I no longer was looking for that approval from people who I would never get approval from.
As my business grew and I became extremely successful, as I beat cancer and faced so many challenges with it, the people who I saw that were happy for me and were proud of me were not my brothers, the people that I wanted them to be. And then it came to when my father passed away. When that happened, I saw how the entire situation was handled and how once again I was in a manipulative situation with people that I absolutely adored.
I said to myself, when am I going to start living my truth? When am I going to start being who I know I’m meant to be? When am I going to start setting those healthy boundaries?
Healthy boundaries can mean: I don’t need to return your phone call! I don’t need to return your text! I don’t need to go to this family event! Why? Because if I’m going to put myself in those situations, I walk away feeling like I have to be smaller, that I have been squished, that I have been diminished.
I don’t need to feel that way.
Boundaries are not returning phone calls and texts. When I started doing that and I let that image go of that utopia family that I so much wanted to believe that I grew up from. I accepted reality for what it was. And you know what? I never felt lighter in my life.
My reality is my brothers called me ugly growing up. My brothers were disappointed for when my wedding was because it was “interrupting their camping season”. My reality was when my children were sick and I wanted my brothers there to help me, they weren’t there. When I wanted help from my sister-in-law’s, because I never had a sister and I wanted that sisterly love, they weren’t there.
I was told things like, “Your kids aren’t really that sick. You have lots of friends you don’t need us. Don’t make things up. Don’t be dramatic.” That was my reality. When I accepted that and let it go, it was the first time in my life after my dad passed away and an awful situation occurred, I finally felt free.
My dad would always look at me because he would see the way that my brothers treated me. He would say, “Don’t let them manipulate you. Don’t let them treat you that way.” So, after I let them go and from the advice of a really good friend, I focused inwards to my little beautiful family of 6 and I removed that pressure of what I thought was my family. I started appreciating the family and the people that were praising us and wanting us to do better and be better. The people who wanted us to do more and were happy for us. The ones that celebrated our successes. They were there for me when I failed, too. Those are the people that are my family.
I hope any of you that this blog may resonate with: if you’re struggling to set healthy boundaries or struggling with letting family go because of their blood, let them go.
I have a saying that I always say:
I love you, I honour you, and I let you go….
I love you, I honour you, and I let you go….
I also have a meditation that I do that I learned in my travels to Bali at a retreat center there and I use that often. Celebrate your family. The people that are always there for you. The people that hold you up. The people that you know when you need help, they will be there. The people that love you. The people that love your children, that love your husband, that love your family. The people that don’t expect you to dim your light when you’re around them. They want you to shine brighter. That is your family. Those are the people that you love. Those are the people that you focus on.
Family are the people that hold you up, not tear you down.
And family does not mean blood.
Set healthy boundaries, live the life you want, surround yourself with people that make you feel good.
Life is too short. Celebrate the family that you know loves you and supports you.