In the steps I have been taking on the journey towards myself, I have been affirming what my beliefs and values are. More and more I realise, however, that what has driven my beliefs and values has been my family. In fact, “family” is one of my most passionate beliefs and I have come to realise that without my family, I would not be who I am today.
As a child, ‘family’ to me meant not only my nuclear family of my parents and siblings, but also my large extended family of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. It was here where I learned kindness, empathy, dependability, compassion, integrity and above all, acceptance. It was that sense of belonging, that feeling of the family as the base, the knowing that the family would always accept me; that brought me meaning, peace and comfort. There was always a sense of belonging forged by the coming together of the family at meals, holidays, and special occasions. Rituals, schedules and clear communications provided a further sense of stability.
Clear family values empowered me to make decisions that I could live by.
As a teenager and young adult I extended my wings and tried to become independent from my family, I tried to exert my own identity. However, try as I might, I was inextricably entwined and the bonds could not be broken. My extended family remained forever in the background of my life.
As a mother, I appreciated the values instilled in me and I sought to become the same source of strength to my own children as my parents were to me. I tried to lead by example of living by high principles and values. Although we lived apart from the rest of my extended family, we forged ahead as a strong nuclear family with an undeniable unconditional and unyielding bond, that was so ingrained and so deep that it just was. It was the source of much love, respect and trust; as well as being our support system of protection and comfort.
As a mature now separated woman, I turn again to the solace of my extended family for support and realise once more that they are there for me. The whole big picture of ‘family’ has now changed for me, and yet remains the same. Family is where I can be who I am without question, without condemnation. This is where I will always be accepted, where I can always be ‘me’; even as I am trying to fathom out who that person is. My family remains my most crucial source of love, support, protection and comfort.