Friday, May 27, 2011

Friends as family

Well meaning people often ask why I can't just make my own family.  Why can't I just find some amazing people that I love and love me back and count them as my family?  Why can't I just count my friends as my family?  The people who say this are always those who have grown up in a family and just can't understand what it's like to grow up alone.  You will never see or hear a foster child or someone else without a family say this.  The reason it hurts when people tell me to just make my own family of close friends is because it's not that easy.  When you grow up being bounced from home to home, school to school, you learn not to attach to anyone--adults or children.  You learn not to rely on anyone.  You learn not to trust anyone.  You never learn how to make or keep friends so creating this family of friendships is difficult.

What makes friends different from family is that your family is kind of stuck with you no matter what you put them through or at least they are willing to put up with a lot more from you than your friends are.  You can put your family through a lot and still trust that they'll stick around because well, they are your family and that's what family does, or so I've read.  I've had plenty of people promise me that they will never go away, but ultimately they always do because they are not attached to me in a way that is unbreakable like a family would be.  Our bond is not unbreakable no matter how much we pretend it is.  There are always more conditions and less toleration of stress and hurt feelings with friendships than with family relationships.  If your sister is a complete jerk for a long time, you're more likely to keep some kind of contact or relationship with her because she is your sister.  If your friend is a complete jerk for a long time or does something hurtful to you, you're more likely to end the relationship.  If your friend has a mental break down, there is a limit to how much you are willing to be there for them even if you are the most well meaning, supportive person.  Eventually you'll tire of supporting a friend.  If a family member has a mental breakdown, most people work harder to help that person and be a support to them or at least make sure they have the support they need from some other source.  Maybe it comes down to obligation.  You are obligated to your family in some way that you are not obligated to friends.  You are bonded to each other in a way that you are not with friends.

I've never had a person who has always been there for me.  Don't get me wrong, I have a great supportive girlfriend although I wonder how much more she's going to be willing to deal with before I exhaust her too.  I also have another supportive friend who is being there for me a lot right now and I've had friends be there for me in the past, but I've never had someone that is always there, that I know won't go away even when it gets a little insane for a little while or if I end up acting stupid and hurting feelings.  I don't have anyone that I don't have to worry about exhausting, like a mom or a sister or a brother that I grew up with.

I'm a human being and a pretty wounded one.  I make a lot of mistakes and I have a few challenges that make life and relationships pretty difficult for me.  I don't have anyone that I know will put up with that no matter what.  People always say they will be there for me, but ultimately they change their minds when things get a bit difficult or they realize that they can't save me.  I don't want people to save me.  I want people to accept me, wounds and all, and love me anyway.  That's not to say they can't push me to better myself or disagree with my choices.  I just want someone who says they love me unconditionally and mean it.  I've never had that and I desperately need and want it.  I desperately yearn to be good enough for that.  I desperately yearn for a mom.  I'll never get one, but I need a network of supportive people in my life in order to survive and heal and become a better person.  How can I do that when people keep going away when things get hard?   I tried to make my own family of friends over and over again but it never works.  I don't know where I'm going with this ramble.  It's been too many hours without sleep and I'm awake, ruminating about the family I never had.  I guess all I'm saying is I know I'll never have a family and I don't know how to survive without one.