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Approaching my fourth decade on this planet has led to lots of discussions about how to celebrate this first of “F-word” birthdays amongst loveys and friends. And as the auspicious date crept upon me I began to feel somewhat melancholic in turns. It’s unlike me to suffer depression, but I have struggled with bouts of lacking direction. That is the closest I think I ever get toward any nagging sadness. I’m much more likely to be feisty than to despair over anything, so this melancholia took me with a bit of a surprise. In truth, it was only fleeting and came in waves relating to celebrating my birthday as an extension for a celebration of my life as a whole. This of course led me to pondering my beginnings, my Family of Origin, if you will.
That turn of phrase packs a punch, doesn’t it? Not, “my family;” not, “my loveys” but rather, those other people that I originally came with; like separate from me now. This phrase, “family of origin” has a history of it’s own in the family therapy movement. And it’s use is really about the disconnection of those relationships that you were born into. It is of particular use in those intergenerational relationships that perpetuate abusive or negative family dynamics. For children of these problematic families establishing some distance is a key component to breaking those cycles of violence that can go on in perpetuity. And unless there is a significant will and effort toward challenging or even changing those abusive relationship patterns, they won’t, they can’t change.
So I am child of a broken family arrangement. I am the lone wolf in the pack who has struck out on my own and made a specific and determined effort to challenge my familial patterns and to furthermore intentionally break apart the family to break the cycle of abuse for my own children. And as my readers will know, I haven’t always been so successful at that. So breaking cycles is no small feat. It is a daunting task that attracts negative attention from just about everyone I meet. That ol’ saying that, “blood is thicker than water,” is an important component for keeping a child in their role as a victim, it is one that I am ever so tired of hearing because of course – I am well aware that blood is thicker than water – but I am also keenly aware that blood can also be an unhealthy disease carrier and frankly, that’s exactly what I liken my family of origin to.
As I am turning 40, and all I can think about is my whole life as being this running away from, overcoming, and living as a challenge to my family of origin. It didn’t feel overwhelmingly celebratory. But now that the day has come and gone and my loveys came to toast my presence on this planet, I got to celebrate the laughter, love and joyfulness of my Family of Choice. Though I am still left with a nagging sadness that I can’t be “normal” (whatever that really is), to have had lots of extended family about to enjoy this moment with me. However, I am overcome with the love and caring displayed by my loveys and friends and that is something my Family of Origin could never do.
Thank you, thank you, thanks a bunch to my tribe – my Family of Choice – for helping me to embark on my fourth decade. And to the friends who took me out for a wild nite on the town…. PLEASE don’t post any drunken debauchery pictures of me on any social networking sites after my check-in at the Amersterdam, coz I’ve got a contraband drag queen’s wig at my house and I’m not sure why or how I nabbed it! Oh what a nite!
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