I did not grow up with a lot of family. My dad only had one sibling and my mother was the only child so any “family” we did have were not blood and just really close friends of the family. It certainly didn’t help that we moved a lot due to my dad’s position in the Navy or that his sister waited until late, late in life to have a child (in her forties), so my dad did feel any obligation to have his kids get to know his side of the family. Not only that, he was raised in South Carolina in a time where racism was rampant and he just did not want to expose his children to that, so we basically had very little, if any ties to his side of the family.
With that in mind, we learned to make family. What I mean by that is I don’t consider someone who has a blood relation with me to automatically be family. Blood is not thicker than water in my eyes because it certainly does not make an individual that less likely to hurt, betray or use you. Blood to me are the ones in my life that I can rely on, that are present, that I can call in the middle of the night and know they will be there without the expectation of something in return.
Basically to me family is more than just sharing blood. You have to earn the right to be called that.
And that of course is where Robby and I clash. Family to him is blood relation or proxy blood relation (spouses, specifically). He grew up in a household very different from me and with parents who had several siblings, which meant aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. He also for a time was raised Mormon so that also fed into the whole concept that blood automatically equates to family.
As a result, we often have conflicting views. I do not feel obligated to extend our home to someone who has barely shown any interest in our well-being over the course of 10 years, whereas he does. I do not appreciate said individual trying to insert herself into our lives, for instance, wanting to come to the baby shower, because she’s suddenly decided we are worth interest, and I’m sure now worthy of gossip that she can pass around to other members of the “family”, whereas he does.
He often claims that he cares more about family than I do, which is infuriating, because of my view. I often have to remind him that isn’t true, I’m just not willing to let blood relation define any type of relationship I have with someone, especially when that person has a history of taking advantage of the people who’ve allowed entry into their lives.
As much as I adore him for how much he does care about family, as he’s shown it time and time again with mine, I also can’t help but begrudge him for not understanding where I am coming from. I had a mother who walked away when I was a very young age and would only reach out when she wanted something, so I do not have the capacity to welcome or entertain any type of relationship with individuals who seem to have the same track record.
I make no apologies for how I chose to repair what was broken by the one person I should have been able to count on the most, and I certainly won’t let my family suffer for the ideals and naivety of a man, regardless of how much I love him, who doesn’t understand that the 90% of world is populated with people who wouldn’t hesitate to bleed you dry, blood relation or not.
So I guess when it boils down to it, we’ll just have to agree to disagree.