Family: I love them, but their status of “family members” does not allow them to speak to or treat me unkindly. Additionally, if they are not encouraging or accepting and do not add to the joy of my life; then a boundary must be put in place. If they are toxic, then I will decide that no contact is best. There are some family that will commit to their bias, prejudice, racism, emotional, mental and physical abuse. Those people lose the privilege of being in my life – family or not.
My father was adopted after living with his biological family for more than five years, resulting in having a different last name than his siblings. When I started high school, my father adopted the two sons of his new wife, giving my sister and I the chance to experience brothers. After I was a single mother for five years, my husband adopted my daughter, so I have experience with having biological and non-biological family. These experiences have taught me that you can love people like family without a biological connection.
It took me a long time to give myself permission to love my family without visiting or speaking often; sometimes not at all. Brene’ Brown says, “Boundaries are a function of love and respect.” I take this to apply to both the person setting them and the people for whom they are being set. After reading her book, Rising Strong, I committed to my own well-being, happiness and mental and emotional health by setting boundaries with anyone, family included, that does not add to the essence of my life.
Choices that involve doing what is best for yourself are sometimes the hardest, especially when they affect people that you love. However, neither someone’s love nor their title of family are an excuse to allow them harmful access. As someone who has lost friends and family due to my sexual orientation and having a transgender partner, I have filled in those losses with my logical family.
Logical family are those who you create family kinship with based on the support, encouragement, acceptance and love they provide. A lot people in the LGBTQIA+ community have a strong logical family that is usually larger than their biological family. Losing family due to your identity/ies seems unfathomable to most. But it is a reality for so many, and it makes redefining family essential to building the support you need to thrive.
My logical family is vast, fierce and without a doubt how I continue to rise in the face of unacceptance, adversity, discrimination and prejudice! Yes, I am fortunate to have biological family as well, albeit quite a small one. Looking at my family as whole – biological and logical – I realize how fortunate I am to have so many people beautiful people in my life.
Choose you – always, every time – and you are choosing authenticity. Create a logical family to fill in or replace any space your biological family may have created. That space is your opportunity to fill your life with meaningful relationships that celebrate you. YOU are enough. You are worthy of love, acceptance, support and celebrating!