Friendships and family, the differences and similarities is a theme that is pretty prevalent in a lot of my writing. That is for a lot of reasons, most of which I won’t post here hahaha, but the short of it is I am not on good terms with my “blood family” or even adopted family. In fact, really only my half-brother and 2nd cousin talk to me.
As a child I was insanely jealous when I’d go to my friends’ houses and their parents were nice, or loving, or supportive, or showed up to their school events. I wanted nothing more in the world than to hear “I’m proud of you” or a “You did such a good job”. Today if someone says either of those things to me I tend to get teary-eyed because I just craved hearing them so much.
I am grown now. I moved out of my mother’s at 17 to go to university and visited sometimes, mostly to make sure younger brother was OK. He was my primary concern, being eight years younger than me he had to make it longer than I did. However, my mother and his father were (I hope) always good to him. At 22, 10 days before my university graduation ceremony I was on a plane out of America and haven’t looked back since. You would not believe the guilt I felt though. I had left my brother, my friends, and my dog. I was abandoning them. I had nightmares for years about this the guilt was intense. Especially, regarding my younger brother. I’d ask friends to make sure he was doing OK on the down low and I knew as soon as he went off to university himself I would be able to breathe.
So, family has never been this warm, fuzzy thing to me. The theme of “family” is still something I struggle to portray as positive, because I have very little basis for that, although TV and friends’ helped. However, growing up, probably around age 16 or 17 a friend called me their sister. It was probably an offhand remark, but oh gods, it felt so good.
Here was this person I loved, a dear friend, and they had called me a family term!? It hit me like lightning that I could make my own family then. I had been surrounded by them for years. They had protected me, and sometimes we fought, but they always had my best interests in mind when it mattered. I had a family. They were my friends.
Now, I did, I am ashamed to admit go through a phase where I referred to two older friends as Mom and Dad, but it was all in good fun, and I think young me just needed to have something positive to associate with those words, naively. Now, I have lovely, caring in-laws, and while I have NO idea how to interact with them because they are actually my parents now, and I their daughter, we get by.
“Friendship” is a theme seen time and time again in my work. All kinds of friendships and bonds. I would say friendships outweigh romantic relationships in most of my work. Even if something ends up romantically it most likely started off as a friendship.
If you are at all familiar with the manga/ anime Fairy Tail by Hiro Mashima it very much addresses this idea that a group of strangers can become family. As a child that changed me. So, even to this day I am fiercely protective of my friends (I almost got into a drunk guy in a public park for hitting on my friend… stupidly, fiercely protective), I will listen to their problems (no matter what time of day it is for me… usually 2am… my friends are so far away), and I love them so fucking much I will usually do anything for them. This last one has led to being taken advantage of by people I think are my friends, but I have pretty high friend standards and I expect as much out as I put in. So, if I feel like they don’t care the way I do I tend to pull back. A lot.
It isn’t the healthiest, I know that. I grew up emotionally stunted for a very long time and I acknowledge that. Even friendship was something I didn’t think I needed until my eyes were opened (Thanks Sailor Moon). Honestly, it took me a good seven years I think before I opened up to my first and best friend. Communication is still something I struggle with, over-sharing or under-sharing, it’s a difficult balance.
Days like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day mean nothing to me, and actually I don’t really like them. People don’t automatically get respect and love because they made a baby, they shouldn’t. Making a baby, adopting a child, it doesn’t make you a parent, and it doesn’t make you family, in my terms. Family is about how you treat one another, not whether you share blood or a last name.