Family I Thought I Wanted Vs. The Family I Needed
We've all heard it before that family isn't always the people we are born to, but the ones we choose. But what about when the family we are born to abandon us, and the one we choose betrays us? How do we find 'family'? Can we ever trust again?
For me, my biological family is what most would call 'dysfunctional.' My mother divorced four times, my father is on his third marriage, I was placed in a mental institution at six years old and then into foster care. The 'family' I knew was deceitful, damaged, hurtful, and cancerous.
The family I chose as a young adult was very similar to the one I was born to. Every relationship I got into, romantic or platonic, was just as treacherous — lies, betrayals, and negativity at every turn.
We don't know what we don't know. I chose the same kind of friends for family because those were the only kind of relationships I knew, which were abusive. Have you ever felt like you can't escape the negative people in your life? Like the bad ones keep finding you? Like, "What did I ever do to deserve this kind of treatment?" I know I did.
So I isolated myself. I used to have my own form of affirmations, "You are alone. You don't need anyone." I thought that in the end, everyone will leave, so if I never let anyone in, I would never have to worry about getting hurt. I was wrong.
You see, humans are born with two hands. One to be led and one to lead. We are meant to reach out and touch others. We are not created to be alone, because heck, if we were we wouldn't need another person to reproduce.
I got to a point where I knew I didn't want to isolate myself anymore. I didn't want to be alone, but I didn't know how to pick the right kind of 'family'. Over time, as I grew and I found healing, I was able to see the difference between the 'family' I needed and the 'family' I thought I wanted. Here are three significant differences I found that you can use today to evaluate your own 'family'.
1. I thought I wanted VALIDATION, but I needed HONESTY.
I thought that the people I spent time with needed to agree with everything I thought and felt. I thought I wanted validation for the people around me to give me a sense of identity and purpose. I later found that I actually needed people who would be brutally honest with me, tell me when I needed to change. I needed people who would push me to be better, not keep me stuck in my current circumstances.
2. I thought I wanted SECURITY, but I needed to be UNCOMFORTABLE.
People who make us feel comfortable aren't helping us grow. That safety was good, but it's a dangerous place to be in life. Safety doesn't challenge us to grow, and it doesn't make us want to be better people or change the world. Being uncomfortable is what moves humanity to growth and greatness. I needed people who would challenge me to grow.
3. I thought I wanted FRIENDS, but I needed MENTORS.
The main difference between friends and mentors is that mentors lead you while friends keep you stuck. I thought I wanted people who would fill the void in me that only I could fill. Mentors taught me that being led and leading is way more fulfilling than the temporary high of allowing others to fill my void could ever be.
I challenge you to take a look at your 'family', both the ones you were born to and the ones you choose, check if they are the kind that are leading you towards greatness or if they are keeping you stuck. Above all else, make sure that you can lean on them when you can't lean on your own strength.
You are loved, accepted, and adored.
Casey Nicole Fox
Casey Nicole Fox is an author, speaker, podcaster, and serial entrepreneur. Casey is the CEO and Editor-In-Chief of Life By Design Entrepreneur Lifestyle Magazine, San Diego’s ONLY print entrepreneurship magazine. She has four for-purpose businesses while also being the COO of the 8 figure empire of Stegela Partners International Incorporated, the umbrella company of Stegela Success Mastery.