This past week, I had the chance of reconnecting with my cousin, whom I had not seen since he was a toddler. In the meantime, he has grown into a charming, smart, incredibly funny, brilliant teenager, who, like all teenagers, needs a safe and loving environment in which to expand, learn and embrace all that he is, as a social individual, as a young man, as a sexual person, as a romantic partner.
Before his arrival, I had a short-lived moment of panic, worrying about the logistics of hosting him, about the way in which each of us would manage to keep their autonomy and personal space, while sharing my flat for a few days, about the activities that we would be able to pursue together, given the age gap and different interests.
As you are well aware, the past few months have been an excellent occasion for me to get to know my desires and limits, and that has made me very protective of my private space, I do not like unwelcome guests, very few people have come over, and I have kept my house off-limits for people whose energy felt intrusive. Therefore, this new experience was challenging to my understanding of home, of family ties, of duty versus pleasure and of the way in which I respond to novelty and to the unknown.
Turns out, once your heart is open, things run a lot smoother course than you could possibly predict. I had a great time with my cousin, learning about who he is as a person, about his interests and tastes in music, fashion, food, travel destinations and lovers, his extra-curricular activities, his aspirations and life plans. We discovered we had so much in common, which was fantastic to see; we discovered we also disagreed about some things (namely, my fashion choices) and most importantly, we discovered that we were ready to get to know one another by sharing new experiences and pushing our limits beyond our comfort zone.
I was never one to put much emphasis on family ties, to me, the definition of family stretches as far as my sister, my mum and my granny, everyone else falling under the category “people whom I share the same bloodline with”. Nevertheless, I was always excited to hear my granny’s stories about her childhood home, parents, grandparents, siblings and extended family and always happy to be her fellow companion in her trips down memory lane. That way, I got to know a lot about my ancestry.
My friend is doing Family Constellations, and while I never really felt that the concept of family and particularly ancestry are more than simple storylines that we happen to find ourselves in, I have great appreciation and interest in knowing how sharing a bloodline and a family tree affects the day-to-day experiences of people.
I learned that traumas can be hidden in decisions made by some family member several generations up the line, that someone’s life choices can affect the whole system; that genetics are more than just skin-deep and understanding family dynamics can unleash one’s full potential, by setting them free from a paradigm, from a matrix of behaviour that is kin-specific.
There are cultures around the world that cherish their family ties to such an extent that ancestors become guardians of the family, having godly traits and manifesting themselves in the lives of the living, through protection, guidance and the inheritance of a governing principle of life and behaviour, to which the successors must comply.
Nevertheless, I am one to believe that “the vibe attracts the tribe”, and I am convinced that I share more common visions and life principles with my dear friends, that I have chosen after careful consideration, so we may guide each other, rather than with some great-great-great-great-grandfather I have never met. Although, wherever his soul may be, he probably has the best intentions that I strive and fulfil my potential. Furthermore, he is probably guiding my path; although there is no guilt and no responsibility attached to it, for, in my definition of “family”, you come together with the people who want the best for you.
Having gotten to spend time with my cousin, I realised that not only are we related, but also, I choose him as family. The sharing of love, of care, of thoughts, of experiences, of food, of laughter did not come from a sense of duty, did not come from my urge of being hospitable, did not come from trying to impress or comply to specific standards which are expected when being around family members. It came from a shared view of the world, from a shared approach to life, from shared principles and interests. It came from a deep understanding that bloodline is a matter of unconditional love and choosing what is best for one another.
Therefore, my fellow friend, I hope you choose the family that makes your soul bloom, the family that wants to see you happy, the family that allows you to manifest your spirit freely, the family that gives you the freedom to err, the family that forgives you unconditionally, the family that supports you no matter what, because they know you’d do the same for them. Shall you ever find yourself in doubt, choose love, knowing that a man is not where he lives, but where he loves.