When Your Friends Become Your Family
My friends are my family.
They are relationships based on a choice and not by an obligation. They are connections built on trust and honesty, not because we happen to share relatives.
When I was little I spent all too many nights crying myself to sleep because I couldn’t make sense of having a stepfather that rejected me or a father who would not admit I was his child. I found peace from my friendships. Even when it was not convenient my friend’s parents would let me stay for dinner or a sleep over because they could see how much I wanted to feel loved. Small gestures like allowing me to tag along on a trip carried me through dark times. Somehow they were able to separate their concerns about my home life from me as an individual and see my own potential even when I had trouble seeing it for myself.
I spent the ages of 14-18 at a boarding school isolated from relatives and the friends I had known since childhood. When I tried to accept my mom’s decision to send me away to school instead of getting a divorce I would turn to them for comic relief, distraction, and understanding. In college when I was overwhelmed at the idea of taking a full course load and working enough hours to pay my rent they would assure me that my hard work would pay off one day. When I made the mistake of getting married at 22 to someone I barely knew they stood behind my decision because they trusted me when I said I was happy. Nearly two years later when I admitted the sad reality they assured me that it was not a failure and just part of a journey. They were my counsel when I moved across the country to start a new job in a new city with no friends. A few years later they were happy to fly across an ocean to see me marry my true love.
It has been my friends that have helped me work through the death of a boyfriend, a best friend, and a beloved uncle. It has been their encouragement that has sustained me through periods of self doubt. They have been my motivation when I worry I am not giving enough to my husband, my kids, or my job. They have assured me that asking for help does not mean letting anyone down or that saying no does not make weak.
They stood beside me when my children were born even though it was in the middle of the night and they had jobs and their own families to tend to because they knew I need their help to push through. They have answered the phone late at light even if they were tired and I just wanted to vent. They have delayed trips or moved around schedules because they didn’t want to miss a party or an event.
On the days when I get quiet and wonder why they remind me that pain is sometimes part of the process, I am never alone, and they are proud of me. And it doesn’t matter if it’s been two days, two weeks, or two years since we last spoke. Sometimes the deepest and most meaningful conversations are the ones that come after a long period of time.
They have taught me I can use my humor to heal others and myself along the way and that you are in charge of your own story.
My friends are my children’s aunties and uncles. Some of them are fairy godmothers.
So tonight before you shut down your computer or send your last text remind yourself to reach out to a friend you have not spoken to in some time. Try to mend the friendships that may be broken but are worth it to repair. Say thank you to the ones who may not know how much they have meant because friends are our chosen family.
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