Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of close friends. I had a few, but trying to survive my childhood between abusive parents and life threatening medical conditions were both full-time jobs. I didn’t have the time, or perhaps I just didn’t put enough into it as I should have. After escaping from my hazardous childhood where being homeless was preferable (safer) than living at home, I started to connect to myself and then connect with others. Such is the college experience. It was then that I started making lasting connections to “my people”.
There is family, and then there is blood. I’ll admit I have expectations of family: unconditional love; support regardless if they agree with you; trust; loyalty; dependability; acceptance for who you are and not try to change you. I know, can you imagine?
My sophomore year of college, I met my first family member. I added a few more before college was over, and then it was grad school where I added more still. Since then, I have added even more and I’ve either been luckier, more open, or the Universe decided to smile because I know my standards did not slack or waver.
I have a larger network, maybe of fifteen or so people who are my family. They may actually be friends, neighbors, old school acquaintances, fellow activists and writers, but regardless of where they came from or how we met, they fit the criteria above. And I’m grateful to have such a wonderful and diverse family full of wonderful, amazing people.
Then there are a few people that are a part of my family, but also more than that, they are “my people”. If this is an unfamiliar reference, then allow me to explain. Everyone has a “person” though most have a few. These are the people that are bound to you as you are to them; like you make up pieces of each other. This doesn’t have to be romantic, and often isn’t. These are the people you reach out to when you don’t know how to go on anymore. They’re the people you think of when a dream comes true and you’re like, “OMG! I have to tell X!” They’re the people that you feel no shame around. If you screw up monumentally, you want it to be with them instead of someone else. You never question your relationship with them; what they mean to you or what you mean to them. In a way, they’re your non-romantic soulmates.
I have had a difficult life and overcome a lot, but the trade off of all of that muck, seems to be that I have a larger amount of “people” than I think most people have, because again this is a step way past “family” where someone is more a part of you, one of your better parts, just like you are for them. I have six people. Yeah, six. And for someone who doesn’t have family in the traditional sense that is quite a number.
These are the people that I’d go running to if there they ever needed me, just like I know they would drop everything and come running to me. They’re the ones I would fiercely defend, and more, avenge if they were wronged because I can be petty when someone hurts one of my people. They’re the ones I trust without hesitation or pause. They’re the ones I think about and reach out to when I am hurting beyond words (and I don’t ask for help or reach out to anyone so that’s kind of a big deal). They’re the first ones I want to share wonderful news with. They’re the ones I can be myself with. I never worry about how I look, or how I’ll come off because I know that they know me better than I know myself. They’re the ones I can be silly with. I’m not going to name them because of privacy, but I am so very grateful for each and every one of my people. I wouldn’t be me without them, or more accurately I would be a different me, a lesser one.