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The Stigma of Family

Updated: Jul 3, 2023

What does it mean to you when someone says, "You're like family to me."? That question probably means something different to everyone, but for right now, we will go by the dictionary definition which is: a group of individuals related by blood, marriage, or adoption.

Now that we have the dictionary definition out of the way, lets talk about what family really means. As I stated before family means something different to everyone, but it also means the same. For me, family doesn't have to be blood. Being in the military, and my military peeps will agree, we have our own dysfunctional family that is often closer and better than our blood family. I won't even get into or try to explain how that is possible, just know that in the military, we form bonds, most of the time, unbreakable bonds, with our brothers and sisters in arms and we are connected by more than blood. My military family has been there for me more than my blood family, and I absolutely do not say to be mean or aggressive towards my family. The biggest reason that is, is because of distance. I am 1,124 miles away from my family. So it makes sense that, to an extent, that they cannot be here for me. Now, my parents and my siblings are a completely different story, especially my mom. No matter what, she is always there, either jumping on a plane to come, or FaceTime or a phone call or text. The rest of my family is a different story, that I'll get into in a minute. I say this with my whole heart, my parents and siblings (to include my awesome sis-in -law) are my foundation. My military family is the rock on top of that foundation, they kind of fill in for them and fill in the gaps. Especially these past few years, my BFFs, my coworkers (most), all have gone above and beyond for me and my kids and to say that I am blessed to have them in our lives would not be giving them enough credit.

Let's get into the stigma that surrounds blood family. There is a saying that "blood is thicker than water", which, technically is true, is a physical sense, BUT, that isn't always true when it comes to blood family. For example, my blood family is ridiculous. I have actually disowned members of my family and feel absolutely no guilt or regret for doing it. To be more specific, two of my aunts, one on each side of my family. Here is a little back story on the worst one, and man is it a doozy.

(For the record, this will be the ONLY time I will call her aunt)

My aunt is an absolute nightmare. Growing up, I was never close to her, I was closer to her husband, my Uncle (RIP) and my cousins. They lived right next door, hence why we were close. We have a family orchard which I love and we spent a lot of time there. Fast forward to when my uncle died, it was hard, on all of us, and to be honest, I dont think we expected it, I was 10 or around there I think. It hit my cousins hard though, and when that happened, my other aunt (her sister and my favorite) dropped everything and flew down to be here, I remember picking her up from the airport. Fast forward a few years and the, well, lets call her "the wicked witch" gets married to a guy that responded to an add in the local paper (I am pretty sure I got that right). First impressions, we all like him. Fast forward a few years, they kick her son, my cousin (the one I was closest too-Mark) out of the house when he asks for help-there is so much more to this story, but I wont get into it here, lets just say they did him dirty and he came to my family for help. As time goes on, "the wicked witch" and her husband, lets say cause a huge rift in the family. My Favorite aunt is doing her best to hold everyone together, but the wicked witch's husband is enabling her to be vindictive, manipulative and her true colors are shining bright. Then Mark dies and I get told, by the wicked witch (ps.s my family doesn't know this) that I am to blame because I am the reason he joined the Navy and our pack was stupid and if I hadn't made that pack with him, he wouldn't have gotten killed.

Quick back story, Mark and I were struggling in college and we made a pack that if we couldn't do it, we'd join the military, but we couldn't join the same branch. Well, we both dropped out (more like got kicked out), he joined the Navy and the next year I joined the Army. Mark was murdered on January 15, 2007, he stepped in front of his best friend and took the bullet.

She pretty much stopped talking and acknowledging me at that point, a few times she would send me facebook messages or share stories of the trial with me, and a few times after that she would say hi to my kids when we visited my parents. But that all stopped once Aunt Mary died. And this, in my opinion, is when the worst of her came out. Her own grandkids wont talk to her, mainly because of her husband, but still. As the years progress, tensions really start to rise. Suddenly, the trust that my grandmother had for the orchard became a will, then changes kept being made and every time it was brought up my grandma would say "that isn't what I want" and "that's not what it says". We all know that the wicked witch was manipulating my grandma. My grandma lived to be 105, she had her hip replaced at 97, and right around age 99 is when she started getting confused and showed signs of dementia. Which, conveniently enough is when the manipulation really started. To make this story short, she put my grandma in a home when my dad went on a trip, lied to him about why she was in a home and for how long, she started the selling process for the house, had an estate sale (and added her own crap to it to sell as well-illegal), the orchard, everything, but when my grandma died March 16, 2022, everything stopped. The will had kicked in, which gave my dad a chance to buy the orchard. That, well, started the current drama. Apparently her and my dad are not brother and sister, and she even told me via text that she didn't have a neice, when I tried reaching out to her.

The drama with all of that is still unfolding costing thousands of dollars in legal/attorney fees for my parents and she is just being a downright vindictful bitch. She even had to audacity to demand my parents stop the audit due to "them being brother and sister and my parents losing their neice and her a granddaughter". Of course my dad flipped his shit, and so did I when I heard that. (We literally just buried her-see my grief blog)

That story is all over the place because I wanted to highlight the important parts of the story to justify this comment, IT IS OK TO CUT TOXIC FAMILY MEMBERS FROM YOUR LIFE. This stigma of "they are blood, you must forgive them", is bullshit. Why do we push forgiving blood family so hard? I know some who's blood family is in jail for pedifila, convicted and sentenced and they are still being told "they're blood, you need to forgive them", ummm, yeah that's a big fat no. Unfortunately, in 2023, blood family doesn't have the same meaning as it used too and the older generations (mine and older) are still expected to enforce blood family over everything. I do believe in making amends with your blood family (depending upon the situation of course), BUT you are not required too and that is 100% OK.

You need to maintain the peace within YOU and if that means cutting out those toxic family members, then absolutely, 100% do it. Youre happiness and peace is more important that hurting that toxic family members feelings. If you have children, it is the absolute same. I will NOT allow my children anywhere near the wicked witch and I absolutely will be vocal if I need to be. My children do not need to be around or told that they have to forgive toxic family just because they are blood. My children need to be shown that their happiness should not revolve around the happiness of others or be expected to put their happiness aside to forgive a toxic family member.

You are allowed to choose your happiness over a toxic family member and if your blood family doesn't accept that, or wont accept it or whatever, YOU ARE STILL ALLOWED TO CHOOSE YOUR HAPPINESS!

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