With the holiday season in full swing, the stress of travel, gift buying and extended family time can make this part of the year seem almost unbearable for some people. Over the past few weeks, my Looking Glass Counseling colleagues have talked about how to set boundaries with family members during the holidays and how to practice gratitude. Both have mentioned elements of chosen family or, in popular culture, the reality of “found family.”
A person’s family of origin is often touted as one of the most important connections one can have. Countless hours of research are spent dissecting how one’s internal family system, attachment style and physical home environment impacts their growth and development from infancy through adulthood.
The reality of the world we live in means that there are many family groups that are not as comforting as others and the eventual result is countless people feeling disconnected from their families of origin. However, humans are social creatures, so we are constantly seeking connection and safety within communities and others who understand us.
Enter the found family.
While found families are common in television, movies and books the tenets of mutual respect, shared experiences and interpersonal connections are the bedrock for many found family groups across the country. Ultimately, the guiding principle of the found family is choice. The act of choosing who you spend your time with, who you pour your energy into and who you allow into your closest circles is an act of radical self-love.
Consider the phrase “blood is thicker than water.” While this saying has its roots in 12th century writings, it has been interpreted in different ways throughout time. A modern interpretation reforms this phrase to be “the blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.” The people we choose to surround ourselves with and make bonds with will always be stronger than the facts of who we are related to biologically.
For people who are estranged from their families or who have long struggled to fit in with others, the found family reality is a powerful one. Finding ways to elevate and choose who you surround yourself with is particularly important during times of celebration and community.
So, whoever you are celebrating the holiday season with this year, know that you always have a choice in who you choose to spend your time with and who you find comfort being near. Celebrate the choices you’ve made for who has access to your light, life and the blood of your covenants.
Alanah Hodges is a second year Masters in Social Work candidate at Boston University. They have
experience working in public schools, early childhood education and non-profits that led them to pursuing a career helping people solve problems. She is a compassionate and driven transgender woman who believes that all her clients have the knowledge and ability within themselves to handle life’s greatest stressors. Alanah views her therapeutic work as a tool for helping clients understand more about themselves, their connections and the world around them through humor, empathy and creativity.
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