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I have long since come to terms with the fact that I am, in my family, the odd one out. I do things differently, in my own way and in my own time. I march to the beat of my own drummer. The good Italian Catholic family who plays by all of the right rules has an alt rock atheist as a member who has piercings and tattoos and does what they want rather than what they think they should do.

I’m sure my grandparents are rolling over in their graves in shame.

The other side of my family… well, my father has never even acknowledged my existence outside of court-ordered child support even with a birthday card when I was growing up. As far as I know his wife probably knows about me, but the rest of his family doesn’t – or, at least didn’t – including his children. But for all I know they might by now. I mean hell, I’m almost 40, they’re probably in their early 30s or late 20s. I have no bond or ties to them to the point where I don’t consider any of them to be family. I have no desire to meet him; my mom has brought it up a number of times going so far as to tell me that she found him on Facebook. At this point, even if we were to meet, there would never be any kind of bond. He – and they – would just be people. Shared genetics aside, I have no desire to have anything to with any of them.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bitter about the situation. He made his choice, and now everyone has to live with it. And I’m fine with that.

I see people have really close relationships with their parents and their families, but I just don’t feel that way. Most of my relationships with them are very superficial. Sure, I talk to my mom most days, but unless there’s something going on (normally within the family), the conversations tend to be very one-sided and without a lot of substance.

We’ve all done this —created our mix-and-match families, our homemade safety nets.

David Leviathan, Two Boys Kissing

The people I consider to be family? My close friends. These are the people that get me, accept me, and love me for who I am, not who they want me to be. And those feelings are mutual. I wholeheartedly believe that you make your own family once you become an adult. The people that you chose, rather than the people that you’re given. And these relationships can run so much deeper than blood. These are the people that you’re real with, the people who you show your truest self to, the people that are in your corner because they want to be, not because they feel like they have to be. These are the people that tend to be on the ground floor of my mental illnesses, providing support and comfort and sometimes just an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on. Often times both.

I feel many different kinds of love for my chosen family – romantic in some cases, the love of friendship, the love of shared interests that creates a special kind of bond. Philia. Pragma. Storge. Eros. Ludus. (Not Mania.) Agape. And sometimes a little bit of Philautia with the help of everyone and their support. I feel a different love for each person in my circle. And obviously Mike and I have different circles, but they overlap a fair bit. Maybe less so as we’ve gotten older and have formed our own friend groups independent of each other, but I also know that the vast majority of my friends would rally around Mike just like they would me, and I hope that the same could be said of his circle.

There’s been a lot going on in my family recently, and the way in which things are being handled I believe are the wrong ones. But the family is content, even after my discontent is brought up. My friends, and Mike, on the other hand, totally see where I’m coming from and completely agree that not only are my points valid, but it’s a disservice to everyone involved that they’re not even being heard.

And I’ve found family in very unexpected places. A number of them come from work – both current and old jobs. Others completely randomly. Some I’ve been friends with for 20 years, some less than a year. Some it took time to get close, some just slid right in like they’ve been there the whole time.

But you know what? As fucked up as it is to say, for most of them, I would chose them over most of my family any day.

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