What is family

Back to true family

What is family?  In years past I would have pretty much said it is my mother and my father, my siblings, my aunts and uncles, my cousins and so forth. Regardless of whether I have a relationship with them, whether they are estranged, exiled from the family – or not. There is a bloodline relationship, and therefore family it is. I held a sense of pride and loyalty for my family. They were my go-to ‘unit’, my own tribe, where I would feel safe.

This safety seems to be a theme. I would often question how the word family has been used – and what does family really mean? In my mid-twenties I left my family and moved to Australia, which was the other side of the world. I missed them a lot but at the same time, it was relatively effortless to find a sense of family where I lived. So who, and what, is family?

Corporations these days are increasingly using the word family. We are a family, and these are our values. We expect you to adhere to these values because we are a family. It’s kind of a chicken and egg thing.

The thing with this notion of family is that it’s embroiled with conditions, that is, it is ridden with expectations, the call of duty, and demands. You are my brother, my mother, my sister, my aunt and I have the right it seems, according to the standards set in our society today, to have a gripe at you, moan and get irritated, and issue the odd, and often just regular, terse remark.  Hellos at the end and beginning of the day can be perfunctory, with naught to little actual connection or care, because that’s just the way in this busy and stressful world of ours we seem to say hello and goodbye these days.

I would see time and time again how in our so-called ‘family’ workplaces, polished niceties would cover up the immense tension and resentment. Come 5 o’clock or whatever time was finish time, there would be a bail like no tomorrow, full steam ahead towards to exit door, not looking back, until really, we have to in the next working day.

Growing up there were many fallouts in my own family amongst aunts and uncles and other seemingly reasonable adults, who would get very angry and upset about something. There would be tears most often over a bottle of whisky and lots of emotional conversations about what could have been and should have been. Ultimately, it was a tight-knit family world thick with those expectations and conditions.

It became strikingly clear to me that this model of family does not have a great dose of love or care in it. That instead of being at ease and open with each other, we would walk about on eggshells – amongst those seemingly closest and dearest. Which did not make sense.

It does not make sense until we realise that this model of family is bound by contracts. Contracts to fulfil those unreconciled needs, those empty spaces we haven’t wanted to look into and deal with within ourselves. It’s the certificate we don’t get told about that more often than not we have signed up to from birth, and one that we take into every other relationship thereafter – effectively raping the notion of family and closeness again and again.

But … there is another version of family, another model altogether.  I know this because I have witnessed and experienced it in students of The Way of The Livingness, a religious way of life that encompasses family in its true meaning to its very core. Having seen it in others, I quite literally remembered what is possible and I have now made this other version of family – the true version – my own. It is not based on bloodlines, culture or sameness of any kind, nor is it based on the fulfilment of expectations and on the fudging up of each other’s empty spaces. This model is based on energetic integrity and energetic responsibility – and far from this being in any way a serious and heavy-going deal, it is nothing short of glorious.

I’ve come to see and experience that family is about offering each other space and understanding to be ourselves, without expectations and pressure from the other. That it is about supporting each other to shine and expand, to bring more of our spunk out, and to let the world feel the gorgeousness of true family when it is lived.

It is not bound or restricted by geography, language barriers or differences of any kind. I now can honestly say that I have family everywhere. Our family connection is not informed by time and how long we may have known each other. There is no test to pass.

In true family there is a beholding. It is a beholding quality that lets us melt into the love we long for and deeply know within us.  True family is all about celebrating that love and letting it be enacted in activity, with others. It is the vibration of brotherhood, which family, really, is meant to be. From one family ‘unit’ as it were, to another where that quality of being and relating is the standard – that is how brotherhood comes to be. That is the purpose of family.

I used to believe that I needed my tightly knit bloodline family regardless of whether there was tension, acrimony or indeed, quite simply, abusive behaviour. I would not let them go as it were, because I did not want to be alone.

So there was a trade-off. A trade off of my integrity and of a depth within that knew this contract for a false sense of safety and security was not the way to be. There is no love in accommodating and in the exclusivity of one group over another. And in that trade-off of course I was more alone than ever.

In true family, we are never alone because we are with the vibration of our Soul.

I’ve now come to realise that when we make our standard nothing less than the willingness to be honest, to look at our stuff, to get underneath it, and to be open, understanding and transparent with ourselves and with others – that then the world is our family. That family is not physical alone, but a vibration. It is what I am a part of, what I belong to, by virtue of my alignment.

More and more as I quite literally surrender to this simple but vast realisation, I am embracing the sheer glory that true family is. And more and more as I do this it is becoming clearer that when family is about integrity and quality, it is not something outside of me. It is a standard I set for myself.

There is nothing more enriching than its vibration. I am now truly at home.