I love to watch The Cosby Show. The love clearly shown between all members of the Huxtables speaks to me deeply. The sweater patterns soothe my soul. The swingy door they have between the living room and the kitchen? So fun! I want one! But my favorite part is the depiction of the giant, happy, messy, fighting, loving family. That’s what I love to watch, even if it’s just from a TV show from a decade or two ago. Even if it’s just pretend.
Not everyone has a happy childhood. We’ve all suffered somewhere. We’re children of divorce, of mixed families, of multiple step-siblings/parents. We can all swap war stories of fights we’ve been in, of family members who hurt us bad. I’m sure every single one of us can claim “My family puts the ‘fun’ in ‘dysfunctional’!” with complete sincerity.
I had a great childhood, in many ways. It helps me to focus on the positive aspects of it, on the happy memories. I loved playing in the rain, slinging mud at my siblings, sliding down dirt hills turned into veritable rivers on pieces of cardboard. But there were, as with anyone, a lot of really difficult aspects. I coped with a lot of physical and emotional abuse, and once you throw the whole fundamentalist church/cult thing in there, we can all guess that things did not end well. I do not have a relationship with my parents today.
It’s kind of weird, being out here in the world on my own. I know it’s not a particularly unique situation to have poor family relations, but mine is a little bit outside of the norm. All the issues aside, one of the things that’s really hard for me is that I really miss having parents. I miss having someone to help me through all the weird events, messy relationships, and tough decisions of my life. I miss being someone’s daughter, that tendril of connection that consistently tethers me to someone else’s heart. It’s undeniably healthier for me to live as I am now, and I’ve never been in a better place. But I still miss that sense of family.
Sometimes, life deals you a sucky hand and you have to go and deal yourself a new one. But it doesn’t mean you can’t have a family, or a team of friends who surround you and help you out with those messy relationships, weird events, and tough decisions. I’ve got a group of people in my life who are instrumental in my sense of being connected to someone else’s heart. They’ll help me figure out if an old friendship that’s fading is worth saving. They’ll laugh with me ’til we cry about that time a boy broke my heart and my bed simultaneously. And when I’m stuck with a decision that seems completely unsolvable, they’re the ones I turn to for help to break it all down. When you find those people, open up your heart, let them in, and love them. Because they’re your family too.
My advice is obviously to just go out and stalk the most awesome people you know and never leave their house and eat out of their pantries ’til they’re forced to admit that you’re there to stay. If you don’t have a friend group right now, pop up in your best friend’s bedrooms at three in the morning screaming “LOVE ME!” until they do. Or you could just figure out those people that want you around, and stick with them through thick and thin. It’s okay to walk away from a situation that is constantly hurting you, and it’s okay to allow yourself to be loved by a new set of faces.
Photo Credit: NorthLowell