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Blood doesn't make a family

It doesn't have to matter on its own.

By Noah MadrigalPublished 3 years ago 9 min read
Credit to Roger Brown via Pexels

"Blood is thicker than water."

We've all more or less heard a variation of that saying at least once in our lives. It's said to convey the belief in thinking how family bonds will always be stronger than anything else. You don't choose your family, so family is special, untouchable, and above all.

"Blood is thicker than water," no, you know what? Who cares? I'm here to say that family doesn't have to mean anything in and of itself alone. There are countless, innumerable examples of exactly why. It's time to set the record straight, and from my own perspective.

I've wanted to write something like this for so long, but just have put it off because I prefer to write fiction & stories. Fiction, stories, they're both nice, they're both usually happy. This topic however, isn't necessarily a happy one for so many people out there. Yet still, I've also held back on this because I feel even if a lot of people could relate to this, it's unfortunately still a controversial perspective and one people want to suppress.

But, here I am, sharing my piece. For anyone who may agree, relate, or understand.

Family isn't everything. Just because they're related to you shouldn't mean that much on its own. No.

"Blood is thicker than water."

Well, so is mercury. And tar is thicker than blood, as well. Both can be dangerous, bad, and toxic to you--have a negative impact on your health. Family, relatives, can be exactly the same. There's always exceptions. In fact, I think it's way, way more common than people would want to admit.

How many people have that one relative who is all around bad news? Sketchy, an alcoholic, unpleasant to be around, a criminal, abusive, obnoxious, annoying, confrontational, not quite right, ice cold, heartless, an egomaniac, holier-than-thou, are dead to you, a menace, any of those things.

How many people have family members they're not close to? Who pretend to tolerate or like them?

How many people have grandparents or parents who are very hard to get along with or who never seem to approve of anything you do?

How many have siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins who you don't talk much with either, or have distanced yourself from intentionally? What about distant relatives who you only hear from when they need something from you? Those who are problematic or who are bad influences?

Admit it. In some way the majority of us, it doesn't matter where from, can relate with at least one of those instances. Family can be great, family can be everything, yes--but in some cases it can also be everything wrong.

Family can be a mess. Family can be toxic. Family can be unbelievably dysfunctional. Family isn't everything.

Why is it so controversial of a belief? To say? Well, I say, no more. We shouldn't have to put up with it, deal with it, be fake for people just because they're related to us, pretend to like them when in truth we absolutely cannot stand them. It can be so extremely frustrating.

So much stress, trauma, pain, etc. can come from those who are supposed to care the most for you. And it's arbitrary, at best. Blood doesn't prevent people from despising or absolutely hating each other. Genes don't stop people from mistreating, abusing, hurting, neglecting, or dropping each other.

A ton of people subject themselves to lifetimes full of struggle & unneeded complications because of family. All due to just feeling like they need to, that they should. Everyone says so, society says so, that's the environment they live in. So many hard, unbearable visits and holidays, counting the hours until relatives leave & then there'll be peace again. Fed up with the arguments, hypocrisy, lies, bragging, drama, insults, politics, and general awkwardness. Choking it all down with drinks, food, and complete with shallow conversations & or fake smiles.

"Blood is thicker than water." Yeah? And the wrong blood type can kill you. You need the right blood. If it's the wrong kind, the wrong fit, there will be consequences. Being blood alone doesn't mean anything, it does not matter. In the wrong instances, it can definitely do more harm than good.

What about step-siblings & step-parents? Do they matter less? Are half-siblings any less family because they have a different parent? And don't forget how many of us have people not related to us who serve as parental figures, be it friends or otherwise.

Now, what about those who were/are brought up in the system? Who grew up in foster care? Adoptive families? You know, when the blood family possibly gave them up and abandoned them. I know it's not always the case, and the people who gave up their kids could very well have good reasons, but this isn't about that. My point still stands, and those kids who have been through it can understand my perspective better than most.

People who had their parents or other family disown them can too. People who unfortunately have homophobic or transphobic parents or family. The LGBT+ community could likely understand unfortunately better than a lot of people also, not just ones who were in the system or who were adopted.

Family is not the end all, be all. It's not an automatic guarantee, and it is not a promise. It's one far too many often break or treat as if it were nothing, if it was. It can be such a pointless venture, meaningless, unrequited. Enough is enough.

Should you really have to keep trying if it isn't worth it? Why is it a no-no to cut people from your lives who don't have a positive impact on it, only because of them simply being related to you. You cut out friends, acquaintances, coworkers, partners, spouses, significant others, you should be able with family too.

If people treat you like garbage, walk all over you, take advantage of you, merely use you, only seem to take & never give back, belittle you, mock you, are hostile towards you, cause more trouble than good, cause you grief or anguish, exhaust your emotional health, take a toll on your overall mental health, why shouldn't you be able to remove them from your life--without exceptions?

Normalize that. Make that the rule, not the exception to a tired one. Make family important if it's worthy of it, don't put a broken family on a pedestal and worship or glamorize it just because.

You know what, too? Friends can be family as well. Why can't they be? It's common to consider very close friends as family, even if they're not necessarily related to you. They can be like siblings, who cares if they aren't because of that arbitrary distinction. Do you love them any less?

And what about when it comes to spouses and significant others? They're obviously not related to you, aren't they your family, in a way? They're among the absolute most important people to you, are they not. See?

Do you think of people who are married into your family automatically any less just because they aren't, "actual family?" Your spouse's family? The significant other of any of your family members or their family members?

Yes, it's known that in-laws are hated a lot, and that's exactly it. Why is it so easy to admit that, meanwhile, no one necessarily likes talking about difficulties with relatives? It's always hard discussing mom, dad, or sibling troubles. We need to change all that.

We should change all that.

No more thinking a person is automatically the problem just because they've decided it was best for them to distance themselves from or cut ties with a family member completely. Enough with looking down upon those who have complicated family history. Not everyone wants to share their stories freely because of utter fallacies & toxic mindsets when it comes to matters of biological relations. No more putting family on this high pedestal when it doesn't deserve it.

I'm rather intimate with this topic myself. I have a hugely dysfunctional family, and you know what? I'm not ashamed to say that out in the open. Why should I be, it's not my fault. I know it isn't, that didn't stop me from blaming myself as a kid in a very unhealthy way because of it, though. Sometimes there really isn't anything you can do, and in some cases, should you?

Really, should you have to do something? Should you have to go through the effort of trying to fix or solve a messed up family? Why? Why go through that headache, and possibly the heartache. It shouldn't be on you. It should be on the problems, if anything. People should look at themselves, and maybe be self-aware enough to see how screwed up they are. How much harm and chaos they cause.

My family isn't a great one, hell, it's arguably not a good one at all--I'm trying to grow past them. I will. I will cut all the ties, say the goodbyes all in time. That's what's best for me and my mental/emotional health in the long run. I've long realized, accepted, and understood that. More people should be able to become aware of that for themselves, too. You should well be free to make decisions about if anyone deserves to be in your life, no matter who.

I was brought up having little contact with my father's side of the family because of strained relationships I was born into. My mother's side is, well, a mess. I have an uncle who is an alcoholic, and who is downright obnoxious--along with being borderline verbally/emotionally abusive whenever he feels like it-- who still lives with my grandma. I have an aunt who's gone down the wrong path like my uncle, except probably worse, who I haven't really seen all that much.

I wouldn't say I'm all that close with any of my family, immediate or otherwise. We just aren't much alike, and don't really have a lot in common. My parents have never been perfect, far from it. My childhood was pretty difficult because of the way they are, and of how they were. I could go on, and I really--really mean that. I don't have a wonderful family. That's my truth. It's the raw, honest, brutal truth. My family sucks. And that's okay. They aren't my family.

Blood being thicker than water doesn't mean anything. You can choose your family. Family is what you want it to be. Family is how you make it. It's something complicated, it's something that's different for everyone. There should be no strict rules about who anyone's family is because it's not that simple. No one should be able to dictate that, especially if they don't even understand. Not everyone was born into a desirable family.

So yes, normalize it. Normalize choice. Normalize that awareness. Normalize being able to cut people out who don't have a good impact on your life, if they're related to you. Normalize healthy relationships. Normalize putting yourself, your sanity, and your well-being first.

We should be able to talk about this. We should be open and honest. Most people probably know the struggle of exactly how going through what anything mentioned feels like. We should also feel able to do something about it, and maybe seek therapy if we feel we need to for it.

You shouldn't have to give up pieces of yourself like that, putting yourself into horrible situations, constantly having to bear outrageous things/mistreatment from anyone--only because they're--you should get it by now. Think, choose who your family is. Biological relation is arbitrary. Domestic abuse is real, it's rampant. Toxic people are everywhere, no matter who or what they are.

Why should you have to keep people in your life who only bring you down, who are not good people, simply because of genes? DNA? Why should outdated, old-fashioned, problematic thinking be the way? Why can't you want nothing to do with a family member if they've committed terrible crimes?

Family isn't blood, it's a concept, it's an idea, family is who you love most of all. Life is too short, and people who don't make yours worthwhile aren't worth the time.

"They're family.." "Family sticks together." "Family is forever." "Family is the only thing that will always be there for you." "Family before anything."

Can all be lies or untrue. This isn't anything new. And maybe, if family is anything less than love, then maybe it isn't actual family?

Control who's in your orbits, whether related or not. Your family is exactly up to you, not what anyone else says. It can look like anything. You shouldn't have to owe anyone the world just because they're related to you.

I thought this was good to get off my chest right now, especially because of the times we are in at the moment, and what we all have been dealing with. It doesn't have to be so hard if we don't let it be.


About the Creator

Noah Madrigal

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Comments (1)

  • Remy G.2 months ago

    I can attest from personal experience that biological family can be horrible, and there are plenty of examples in fiction, like Darth Vader, the Dursleys from Harry Potter, and Homer Simpson. I won't give people free passes anymore since they're family. Wrong is wrong, no matter who says or does it.

Noah MadrigalWritten by Noah Madrigal

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