Certain inquiries about my divorce amaze me. One such question would be why I still consider my ex husband's family to be mine. As in, "why do you call his dad your father in law?" or "why are you attending that first cousin's event ?". These questions make me sad in their narrow mindedness. I have never seen why all those relationships should cease to a halt because of signatures on a stack of papers. Why draw such harsh lines? I have had to redefine my definition of family many times over the course of my life, and that will continue as I hopefully add to my personal family tree.
What's so liberating is that I am choosing and deciding which branches remain attached to my trunk. Some branches dried up and cracked off pretty darn quickly, and I was ready to shed them. However, there are many others in the form of extended family that I'm keeping. It feels very evolved, open minded, and open hearted, which is how I'm living my life overall. I was recently asked what I'd call my current in-laws, should I one day acquire a new set. Easy; I'd just have two sets. Who said there can only be one? My heart is certainly big enough to keep including more people of value into it. I'm quite proud that I have maintained connections to so many of the cousins, aunts, uncles, and second cousins. Ten of them stayed in my home last weekend for a family event, and I was thrilled to have them. Love and connection defines family, not black and white guidelines.
Last night I went to the wedding of one of those cousins, and admittedly I was a tad curious how I'd feel. Would it annoy me if I felt people were staring and speculating? Would I feel like the odd man out? Nah, there was none of that. I had a wonderful time, and felt even more valued and welcome, since it's no longer a set given that I'm under obligation to go. Which makes these occasions more special; I'm there because I truly want to be there and participate in the joy. I have always loved these particular hosts and their family, and that hasn't changed. I actually felt a bit like the belle of the ball, since so many of the relatives wanted to catch up with me. It feels good to be wanted and appreciated, to have my presence mean something. I'm grateful to all the family members who have made it clear that they still want me in their lives. It's a testament to a number of things, most of all the connection we've shared over the years. Last names, coupledom, and "rules" are all a stupid technicality I have no use for. It's in keeping with my decision to lead with my heart and do what feels good and true, not what's phony, obligatory bullshit.
As I reflect on my new life, I'm so proud of the family tree that has grown tall from roots I have worked my ass off to plant. I am a planter, and so I will keep on doing that. From seed to branch, from trunk to fruit, I will water my family. It's how it's always been, and it's how it will always continue to be. 🌳🍂🌿🍁. Some things change, but not everything. Change is a choice you do not always have to make.
Love, Lady Branches