For a number of years now, I’ve been actively disengaged from my biological family. They’re back east, in Maine, distant and apart from me and my life way over here in Oregon.
In the last year, since starting therapy, I’ve been wrestling with the fact that my childhood, no matter how idyllic I’ve painted life on that 65-acre New England farm with rolling hills, fields, a river, and two trembling brooks, it was also full of deep, dark trauma.
I still need to plumb the depths of all of that, and come to more solid terms with it, as I heal and grow into the next half of my life. It’s because of that need in my own life, that I’ve actively and thoughtfully created my own Chosen Family here, in my actual life, where my own rubber meets the road. It’s why I keep those who share my DNA at a long-ass distance. We might share blood and bone, but we share nothing else.
I’m okay with that, after years and YEARS of feeling guilt and pressure to not be okay with being away.
This is the start of the holiday season, with it’s manufactured “come home” vibes, with all of the pressure to supply food and gifts to your family members, with the silly Hallmark holiday movies, nostalgia wrapped up in tinsel and Victorian decor, and all the rest. If this time of year brings you joy, and you have a solid, loving connection to those who raised you and brought you into this life, by all means, go hog wild, enjoy your thing, and share it wide and far. Even this old Hermit loves a bit of sparkle and joy in the deep darkness of winter.
But if you are like me, and you struggle with all of that, and hate the feelings that this time of year can generate inside you, I want to let you know that I’m here. Your Internet Dad is here, arms open wide, and willing to listen and comfort as you parse out how your feeling and how the winter holidays affect you.
I definitely challenge you to find your Chosen Family – those you keep close, that you lean on, that you think of on bright sunny lovely days, and want close on the darker, deeper, more challenging days. Even if you are close to your bio-family, it’s vital that you have some support outside of that framework. Perhaps, make it a resolution for yourself going forward. As an Old Man, I’m telling you, it matters. Deeply.