In childhood, family was a group of people placed together by marriage and biology. My parents provided food, shelter, education, boundaries, and safety from the world outside. My family contained four people, very little time with other biological kin, and the occasional guest for New Year's Eve. My father used physical and emotional violence with us to keep his world orderly and controlled. My mother survived through submissiveness and passive aggressiveness. My brother fled our little pod because it was too painful and overwhelming to stay connected.
My definition of family has changed throughout the years. I left my fractured childhood home after high school graduation to find my own way in our world. I learned to create personal boundaries and to be a good friend. I made many friends who were finding their own paths. My parents and I mended our connections and I found safety in my own gentle strength.
Then I met my M, a loyal, supportive, family-centered young man. He moved from Taiwan to the U.S.A. as a preschooler and was very connected to his Taiwanese culture, family, and practices. Having spent a summer in France caring for my cousin's children when I was 17, studying three languages, and loving travel, it was such a blessing to connect with such a network of loving, extended family.
M became my family. To my delight, he was a package deal, bringing with him his extended family. It is so comforting to have the healthy love and support of M's family. To know how much they love my children is priceless.
I miss my brother deeply, though I rest in knowing he is aware of my love for him and where to find me when he is ready to reconnect. One day in this lifetime I look forward to reconnecting with my beloved brother, to seeing my children enjoy their uncle, my mother hugging her son. As we all move to the beat of our own drums, I release expectation of specific outcomes and send love to my family near and far.
As I look back on my own evolution of family, I give the greatest of thanks for where I've been. My own story has helped me feel deeply appreciative for where I now stand with this loving family by my side.