Chosen Family Open Thread

Yesterday I celebrated WifeDay, a roving holiday where my friend T. and I go to lunch and otherwise love on each other. (Commander Logic and I also have this holiday, we just refer to it in text messages as “Doug’s?” “Doug’s!” until such time as I can create a powerful sausage-shaped beacon to flash in the sky.)

The “Wife” designation comes from when T. and I were roommates during her divorce and my last year of grad school/Darth Vader detox. We were broke and miserable – ย “Ok, we have potatoes, onions, oil and $3.50 in loose change between us. Should we go soup or latkes this time?” – but we took fierce care of each other while respecting the other person’s space and autonomy in a way that I’d really never experienced before in any kind of relationship. One of my funniest memories of that year is the two of us commuting downtown, standing on the Belmont platform and realizing that we were both dressed in black turtlenecks/olive/khaki pants/cat-eye glasses/dark hair in ponytails and carrying camera equipment. When did we turn into cartoon copies of each other? We were both in the sort of “DUDES, UGH” headspace that made the prospect of signing up for “domestic partners” health insurance from her job at the S*bucks and registering for nice dishes seem like a good idea, and somewhere in there we started referring to each other as “Wife.”

Last time my folks came to visit we hung out with Logic and Wife, and my mom expressed marvel that I had such good friends. She isn’t someone who has a lot of close friendships or does much socializing, though she is very close to her sisters, so I said: “I didn’t grow up with sisters, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have sisters. They are to me what Aunt B. and Aunt M. are to you” and the lightbulb went on.

I know many of us are strongly drawn to “chosen family” narratives (I just mainlined a shitload of Fringe* on Netflix for just this reason), and I also know many of us have felt the power of re-defining family in a way that supports and nurtures us as adults or are looking to do that. So I’d love to hear – Who is or would be in your chosen family, if it were yours to choose? Real-life people, fictional characters, qualities you admire and desire and search for = all are welcome.

Moderation Note: I am going to ask very specifically that people keep stories of rape & abuse out of this thread. I don’t want to silence victims, but I also cannot read about these topics right now. To clarify, “my actual family is/was abusive, so I look outside them for love and support…” = TOTALLY OKAY. That is factual and gives context. Elaborating on and describing details of that abusive experience = I really can’t. This is not the thread where we bond over the horrors we’ve survived; this is the thread where we’ve survived them, or soon will have, or believe we’re going to.

Mad love and happy weekend to all of you.

*Totally enjoyable if you just repeat to yourself that “on this show, science is the same thing as magic.”

153 comments
  1. ona555 said:

    When I moved across the country to (in part) create distance between my immediate family and my FOO, I unfortunately put distance between myself and my chosen family as well. Ten years and I’ve yet to find suitable replacements because there’s just no replacing them.

    My chosen family are a family unit themselves: my former house mate and fellow young single mama friend, her son, her sister, her sister’s husband, and the sisters’ mom. My chosen family accepted me without condition at a time in my life when my FOO had nothing but conditions, they gave me emotional and practical support at a time when I had plenty of obstacles but no one to help me navigate around them, they encouraged me during a period of time in my life when most of what I faced was harsh criticism, both internal and external. I miss them so much and I wish I could have brought them across the country with me.

    In about a year or so, my spouse, kids and I are going to return to that part of the country to visit for the first time since we moved away. I will see my FOO, but while visiting the family I grew up with feels like an obligation, the prospect of seeing my chosen family again is what gives me the most excitement.

    My spouse and kids are also my chosen family but I see them every day. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • JenniferP said:

      FOO = Family Of Origin, yes? Heading off 10,000 questions at the pass.

      I’m excited that you’ll get to see your people soon.

      • ona555 said:

        FOO = Family Of Origin, yes. Thanks for the clarification nudge, I sometimes forget that acronyms are not universal.

        I am really excited, too. We have been planning this trip for two years. Who knew that taking six people 3000+ miles by plane was so everloving expensive?

      • Hahahah. I was totally all like, FOO? WUT?

        My chosen family is my in-laws. They are so wonderfully respectful of my person and boundaries, completely unlike my obliterative FOO.

      • mintylime said:

        And here I was parsing it as Family Of Obligation.

        • ona555 said:

          That’s probably more apt. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Do kids count as chosen family? You get to chose whether to have them, but you don’t get to choose who they are when you get there.

      • I don’t think so…chosen family is more like, people you aren’t related to and have no blood obligations for that you choose to have as part of your family, or treat like family, not people who actually are blood family.

    • Bittybird said:

      For a moment I thought this was a really epic story about moving across the country to escape your Foo Dog. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. My chosen family definitely includes my best friend. I met her at a time when I was hideously depressed, in a university program that I hated and ultimately dropped out of. We met at uni and I truly believe that she was the best thing I got out of my degree program. We started chatting randomly and she told me about her plans to become our national broadcaster’s first blind radio journalist and we totally hit it off and I walked her to the station and didn’t think anything more of it. About a week later, a uni-wide email came around asking for info about a girl with my name saying she wanted to go for coffee. So we did and ever since that coffee date we’ve been best friends.

    We’ve shared a bed and she’s held me while I cried about being terribly depressed, at a time where I couldn’t talk to anyone. We’ve gone on a “honeymoon” together to Bali – she had a trip for work which was cancelled, but still had the flights booked, so we went off at last minute and all other packages were booked out except the honeymoon suites. So we went around a quite traditional country with porters giving us the side-eye while they scattered rose petals on our pillow and offered us shared massages and baths. She doesn’t know if she can have kids and I’ve offered my eggs. Etc.

    She’s a tough (but not hard), down-to-earth, savvy, ambitious, laidback, bright person. She’s completely blind and yet sees way more than pretty much anyone else I know. She always knows when I’m bullshitting her (and she could tell from that very first coffee date, the second time we ever met, when she called me on it because “your voice sounded weird”). Being around her has made me a happier, more stable, confident, loving person, and in being around me, she learnt not to squirm when she tells people she loves them, something she initially found awkward. Now she tells me first, pretty much whenever we end a phone call. She also DID achieve her goal of becoming our national broadcaster’s first blind radio journalist – and the first time I heard her on air, I stopped in my tracks and tears gathered in my eyes, I was so proud of her.

    • I forgot to say: she also calls me “Wifey” and we joke that whatever happens in our romantic lives, we’ve already got our love lives sorted for life.

      • JenniferP said:

        ๐Ÿ™‚ She sounds fantastic.

        • Jennifer, you are not wrong: she is a total BAMF!

          • Brandelle said:

            This. โค

  3. My chosen family is so perfect I can’t even words. Their hair is insured for $10,000 and they do car commercials in Japan.

    My sister-from-another-mister BFF is this dynamic genius who magics happiness out of her kitchen, armed only with a potato masher and a wooden spoon. We met at a White Feminist(TM) discussion group where we shocked everyone around us by agreeing that marriage should be abolished, then ended up hanging out every day for about three months. And my foundling baby sister came to stay with me last summer after escaping her House of Badness and is such a smart, kind person who has gone from looking like a scared kitten to.. Well, to looking like a particularly brave kitten.

    Both of them have been dealing with large helpings of Life this past year, and every time I see how much happier they both are now, it brings a tear to my eye.

  4. I’ve realized that my partner and I gravitate heavily toward underlying family-of-choice narratives in, like, ALL of our entertainment. Harry Potter? Yes. Hunger Games? If you squint at it. Firefly? I’d move onto Serenity in a heartbeat if I was allowed to have a stern talking-to with everyone about how they treat Simon and River. That book we’re writing together? Pretty much the entire underlying foundation.

    The unfortunate thing is that we both have a bad habit of ending up with people with the same traits as our family of origin when we try to build that family of choice in real life. She tends to move in the direction of people who aren’t as actually toxic as her mother and aunt, but have a similarly needy, extremely self-centered approach that triggers her martyr complex (and with great shame and discomfort, I include myself in this category. We’re working on it). I bond with people who are goal-oriented and ethically centered … so much so that they end up looking at me and going “Wait, how did I get saddled with this person on the way? Oh, she must be here to achieve my exact same goals with me!” I’m less bitter than I sound. I’ve learned to laugh about this, but it’s a distinct trend.

    We’re slowly starting to break out of that box. The primary element that’s helped, beyond a nearly annoying level of communication about the people we engage with, is realizing that when you’re a same-sex couple in the South, there’s something to talk about and something in common with practically every other same-sex couple crazy enough to live in the South, so there are a lot of candidates to build that family-of-choice structure.

  5. Latkes are awesome.

    I’ve sort of been adopted by my best friend’s family. Including family birthdays, a couple’s name (we spend so much time together that invites are often sent to our nickname) and knowing where everything is at their house. I’m really the oldest sibling, but I’ve borrowed her older brothers for the chance to feel little for a chance. I can relate to dressing alike, we do the same thing. Only I’m in blue, she’s in green, otherwise wearing the exakt same thing.

  6. Jane said:

    Let’s see . . . I have a handful of very close friends, who are mostly not on the same continent as me at the moment ( ๐Ÿ˜ฆ ), who would certainly be members of my chosen family. I would even settle for being about an hour’s train ride away from all them, actually! (Argh, U.S., build some nice train lines to places I want to go.)

    I am not totally sure what makes someone part of my chosen family Some of it is — boundless curiosity, wanting to know about lots of stuff, being interested in the world and reading and watching movies and learning in general. Some of it is a sense of humor that meshes well with mine — I am exceedingly silly, but not very dark or edgy. A lot of it, unfortunately, is patience with my particular sort of insecurities and hang-ups. Willingness to communicate and similar expectations of frequency (I definitely chat/Skype/email with my closest group of friends at least once a week and sometimes several times a week.) Generally I find that my very closest friends and I have neighboring but not really the same interests, so what we individually spend time doing provides a great deal of fodder for conversation, because it’s close enough to what I care about to be really interesting, but not close enough for me to have an extensive personal knowledge of it. Certainly a particular level of kindness and consideration for all people, even if they grump about it later. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I have lived with three of these people as housemates, and while we have rather different housekeeping styles, I love having someone to share my pineapple juice with and go on spontaneous trips to art museums with and watch late-night TV with. And have late-night cooking parties with! And eat sushi with! . . . sorry, just remembering various pleasant roommate customs.

    I also wanted to comment — I wonder if that’s sort of a generational thing, with having a much narrower circle of friends? My mother for most of my young life pretty much had my dad and her older sister (though that group expanded a bit to include the mother of one of my chosen-family peeps, one of my teachers, and some people she met through a class, and others I’m not thinking of right now.) I was actually just thinking about that today, that I think one of the sort-of confusing things I saw modeled for me growing up was getting all of your emotional needs met by a veeeeery small group of people. Which I think worked okay for my mom, and probably is easier to make work in a situation where you live in a stable situation fairly close to most of your family, but turned out to be a bad model for me to imitate, as the last few years of my life have been rather mobile (in a good way! mostly.)

    • JenniferP said:

      I think it is for sure generational, and also she is extremely introverted. Fortunately she has actual sisters who live close by.

      • Jane said:

        Yeah, I sometimes forget to include introversion/extroversion in my reckoning — both my parents work in a service profession, but they are both veeeeery introverted, which means they mostly spend evenings (and frequently weekends) quietly reading/watching TV/bicycling/doing other alone-type activities to recharge after a whole day of being cheerful and making pleasant small talk. I imagine other, slightly less introverted people might go out and meet new people during that time. (I spend most of my days doing research alone on my computer, so I guess I still have some energy for people left by evening. ๐Ÿ™‚ )

      • Eeeeka said:

        Interestingly enough, my mom has a bajillion friends. She and my dad stay with random people all over the country and the world because they met them once and hit it off. It’s at least partly due to the fact that my mo is an extreme extrovert. She’s also an astrophysicist, and competing in the sciences (especially back in the 60s and 70s) was not easy.

        • JenniferP said:

          My mom was an introverted army brat, so her sisters were continuity and stability and not having to start over everywhere.

        • Jane said:

          Actually, that’s why I realized I needed to take personality type into account — my mother’s mother has a HUGE group of friends that stretches into several neighboring states and into a couple other countries (she had penpals in Japan from the time my mom was in high school.) And this is in spite of being a farm wife for fifty years, an arguably very isolated position — she just always has organized lots of events through church, looked for places she could volunteer, joined activity groups she thought were interesting, and made a point of staying in contact with old friends.

          • M Dubz said:

            Interestingly enough, I am a huge introvert who has a quite wide circle of friends, mostly because I have been single for a long time and tend to develop quick and deep friend emotions for people. I’ve grown more distant from many of my more extroverted friends as they move away and we can’t keep up as much (mostly because I hate the phone), but every so often I’ll find a fellow introvert where we don’t speak for months, but when we do speak it’s like we were never apart.

          • Jane said:

            @ M Dubz — well, personality type has a lot of variables. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m frequently surprised by people I have pegged as more extroverted/outgoing than myself having seemingly “smaller” networks than I do, or people who seem more introverted/reserved having many more friends. I think what form one’s personal nebula of emotional support and connection takes probably has as much to do with personal history and particular life circumstances as anything.

    • Jane said:

      Oh man . . . you know, it’s actually really nice to think about the awesome people you are friends with? One of the things I forgot to mention is that in general my chosen-family peeps have lovely families-of-origin themselves, who I feel very comfortable around and close to. My oldest friend’s mother has mentored me with regards to developing my art, while another friend invited me home with her every Thanksgiving during university (when it was sort of a pain to get home to my blood family for a short weekend.) Her *immediate* family consists of one sister and four brothers (and three sisters-in-law and one niece now, though that was not the case at the time), and she also has a ton of aunts and uncles, so her family gatherings are loud and busy and very cheerful, and because she is the youngest they are quite in the habit of having stray lonely college students over for holidays at this point.

      Do family friends that you forget to mention because you forget they’re not actually related to you by blood count for this thread? . . . because if so, I have a couple other “chosen family” folks who filled the older sister/young auntie role in my life. Admittedly, these people (two sisters who babysat us when we were little and later worked in my father’s business) were sort of chosen by my mom and dad and me and my brother all together to be an extension of our family, but I’m not complaining. (My genetically related brother is a very nice person, but due to vastly divergent interests we spent almost no time together growing up, so we have never really had an older sibling/younger sibling relationship. There’s just not a lot we can give each other advice on — he farms, is married, and has a baby, whereas I am, for all intents and purposes, a globetrotting academic.)

  7. Christy said:

    I have to say, I LOVE my stepfamily, especially my stepbrothers. My dad basically has no family (a brother on the opposite coast), so holidays at his house were kind of lonely. Now that he’s married my stepmom (when the kids were 16-30something) his house is bustling just from the immediate family. There’s 3 of his kids, 3 of her kids, 2 of her stepkids, and 5.5 grandkids. It’s its own destination. And that’s awesome. It’s like going to a big family party, but it’s really only the immediate family there. (Also it’s my dad’s 50th birthday today and we’re going up to see them!)

    I hope this family is chosen-enough for this thread; if not, I understand.

  8. Ellen said:

    I’m a sort-of-only child – I have three half-siblings from my dad’s first marriage, and they’re all lovely. However, we have never lived in the same country and our age gap is measured in decades rather than years, so we don’t see each other a lot, and I grew up as an only child with no siblings in the house – without meaning to be mean about my lovely half-siblings, I call myself an only child (and I have a lot of the classic ‘only’ traits).

    And I live in a country where it’s very unusual to be an only child!

    So I have some chosen siblings. Of my 3-4 closest female friends, one is also an only child and we have an agreement that when we no longer have living parents, we will always be invited to spend Christmas with the other one (we are both Christmas-loving in the extreme way that makes other people say ‘Erm, okaaaay. . .’ when we get started). My partner has been made aware of this. Basically as only children (or in my case, almost-only), we have said that we will be each other’s family once we don’t have an immediate biofamily left.

    I have 3 other girlfriends and a few guy friends whom I consider chosen family but they all have their own siblings so it’s not quite as explicitly stated! But I love them no less.

    My partner is chosen family too, not least because his response to ‘When the time comes Friend MUST be included in our holiday plans unless Friend says she does not wish to be!!!’ he said ‘OK. Cool.’

    (Aside: I once mentioned to my partner that if we were to get married, I want 3 bridesmaids – my 3 best friends. He smiled and said ‘You are misunderstanding the meaning of the word ‘best.” I said he was misunderstanding the nature of friendship. They can ALL be the best!).

    I’m not aware of consciously looking for qualities in chosen family, but I know them when I meet them. To borrow one of the Captain’s expressions, I’ve found my people. I hope to find more!

    • JenniferP said:

      They can all be the best, for sure.

      • “Best friend” isn’t hierarchical, it’s a category (defined by a set of feelings and behaviors). It only SOUNDS hierarchical because it was made up by eight-year-olds, who don’t know much yet.

        • Ellen said:

          Thank you. That is exactly it.

    • unlurking said:

      Word, they can all be best. I bypassed this by not having bridesmaids or bridegrooms. Woot!

      • Ellen said:

        Great solution! I hope you had a lovely wedding ๐Ÿ™‚

    • My parents are both only children, and don’t have large extended families in our region, so my aunts and uncles are all their best friends and my cousins are all those friends’ children. Actually, our nuclear family has been thoroughly absorbed into the family of one of Dad’s friends from high school – the friend is one of six siblings, one of his sisters has become one of my mom’s best friends, and we get invited to all the weddings and birthday parties and other major shindigs. It’s awesome. I hope it works out that way for you and your best friends!

      There’s also a great line from The Mindy Project where someone tells her she can’t have multiple best friends and her response is “Best friend isn’t a person. It’s a tier.” YES INDEED.

  9. staranise said:

    My chosen family is KIND OF TERRIFYING. In the very best way.

    When I was 16, my SCA fencing teacher agreed to be my onsite guardian at medieval re-creation events because my parents weren’t into it, so he and his wife adopted me into their household. I slept in their encampment, ate at their table, fought in their army, and so on. The SCA was the kind of place full of weird and geeky people, kids and adults alike, that let me believe that there was going to be a place for me when I grew up. I finally felt like I belonged there.

    Our household ended up having a lot of people who didn’t have great families of origin, so we turned to each other. We hung out outside of events, had stitch’n’bitches, movie nights, stuff like that; when one of my “sisters” needed a job, she joined me doing landscaping for a summer. When someone else needed to get out of an abusive relationship or was being evicted or whatever, we helped move them. There’s still a core group of about 15 of us that use familial titles like “Dad” or “sister” for each other. And they fit the mental space I have for “family” in my head: I have some SCA-family I don’t know as well or have as much in common with, but we acknowledge a mutual bond, which means I’m happy to do things for family members like offer my spare mattress to one of them if they’re in town. My parents and siblings know that I have this second family and accept it, and treat it, for me, the same way they do my brothers’ in-laws. One Christmas my mom got drunk and started being awful to be around (not without reason, but I Could Not Deal) so I got in a car and drove out to my lord-father’s and lady-mother’s place, where about 20 people from the household were finishing up a midday Christmas dinner, and hung out with them until I heard it was safe to come home.

    The coolest part to me is that as well as all that, we share a hobby that can kind of eat your life if you let it, and we work together as a household to do things like build houses to sleep in at events, or run a tavern, or train tactics together for war scenarios, or make simulated rifles and pistols and cannons. My lord-father and lady-mother recently decided they want to get into jousting–not jousting themselves, but finding the space and equipment to let the people who want to learn do so.

    Oh, and we keep growing and adding people. There are about… 70 of us now. So when I go there (I moved to a different province for school) I’m surrounded by dozens of people who are totally willing to be creative and follow their enthusiasms, who have a huge variety of backgrounds (military, fine arts, healthcare, teaching, trades…) and who are all committed to raising each other up. Sometimes it’s like I’m in an entirely different reality from most people I meet, where chosen family means as much as (and demands to be recognized as equal to) biological family, where people boldly pursue their dreams and work together really interdependently. The family just helps us be so much braver than we could be alone.

    • JenniferP said:

      We talk about the Awkward Army, but you have a literal army at your disposal! Awesome.

    • So cool! I’m also in the SCA, but I’m not yet part of a household (though I’ve got a lot of strong ties with individuals). That’s brilliant.

      • staranise said:

        We’re a bit odd even for a household, but households in general are awesome. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • This is amazing and wonderful! I am happy for you and for all of the other people in your household. The support you have for each other makes me go all gooshy inside. Yay!!

    • Wow….how I wish I could find a family like that, even a real one if someone were willing to adopt me (going by how no one was willing to when I was a kid, and I’m nearly 23 with boatloads of issues…eh, probably not going to happen)! It sounds awesome. I love ren fairs and things like that, though I’ve never really gotten to go to one. The clothes, the booths, the skills and crafts…what I wouldn’t give to be a part of that! ๐Ÿ˜€ Your family is super awesome.

    • M Dubz said:

      That is the coolest thing, to have a chosen family that is so invested in your interests and building awesome for you. Yay!

    • Another SCAdian representing here – greetings from Insulae Draconis! My username here is actually my SCA name hehe. My chosen family are also mostly SCA or people I met through the SCA – including my wife, who was introduced to me by SCAdians even though she isn’t one herself. It’s our first wedding anniversary today ๐Ÿ™‚ There is some talk of turning our chosen family into a household, too. The SCA is a wonderful place for us waifs and strays.

    • ordinarygoddess said:

      “The family just helps us be so much braver than we could be alone.” That’s what family should BE, isn’t it?

      I’ve talked a little in various comment about the great new hobby-based circle of friends I’ve made in the last few years, but I’m not sure I’ve ever specifically mentioned that I’m talking about the SCA.

      When I moved cross-country abruptly and cut off contact with virtually everyone I’d ever known (under the influence of Darth Vader, it was complicated) the only two people who knew where I went, never judged me, and stayed in touch with me afterward were the Knight who brought me into the game, and my best friend, who I met about five minutes after I joined and whose household was virtually my entire SCA experience for a long time.

      A couple years later, after the divorce, the only people in the city I’d left who were still important enough for me to get back in touch with, apologize to, and rebuild friendships with, were all SCA.

      When I rejoined in a new kingdom, after several unbelievably lonely, destitute, and difficult years out of the game, I built an entirely new and treasured family within a shockingly short time, and I found out just how small a world it really is. A year ago, over a thousand miles from home, I sat and drank beer with a group of people I’d never met who have been friends with my Laurel for twenty years; we knew the same stories, we connected like old friends who hadn’t seen each other in a while. “40,000 of your closest friends” is no joke.

      When my partner (who had been playing for less than a year) was diagnosed with cancer, it seemed like the entire kingdom stopped in tracks to support us. (The community where we live and work, in very public jobs – not so much. It was really kind of astonishing that the people who called us, who offered us every imaginable kind of tangible and intangible help, who eventually celebrated his recovery with us, and who still, every day, are actively involved with his putting his life back together, are not our neighbors but the people from, mostly, a hundred miles and away and more that we see on Facebook and on weekends. Our shire, who are of course both our SCA friends and our neighbors, are a very special exception.)

      I love the SCA SO MUCH. *a little weepy* Sadly, I don’t have a household of my own right now. (I have a little mini household – my Laurel and my apprentice-sister and our various partners – but they each have bigger, established households that they were part of before we all became connected, which I hang on the fringes of sometimes, but it’s not quite the same thing.) I have many very loved and treasured individual friends, and various circles of friends, some of which overlap, and I identify very deeply with my home group and my kingdom, but I’d love to have that particular flavor of deeply close-knit inner circle again.

    • Quinapalus said:

      >> So when I go there (I moved to a different province for school) Iโ€™m surrounded by dozens of people who are totally willing to be creative and follow their enthusiasms, who have a huge variety of backgrounds (military, fine arts, healthcare, teaching, tradesโ€ฆ) and who are all committed to raising each other up.

      Until I read this sentence I literally had not noticed a resemblance between the SCA and Burning Man. Obvs there are lots of differences as well, but… working on projects for months that you then pack up to show off at camping trips? Really, self, you could be a little more observant.

  10. Catherine, my best friend in high school, lived across the state. We wrote each other thousands of letters (back before the internet, during the era of Greyhound bus rides and mixed tapes). We kept each other sane.

    I visited Catherine at her big city college after we graduated, and I met a friend of hers, Sarah, who was moving to my little city college in a few months. A few weeks later I shaved my long hair down to the scalp. She arrived in the little city, searched for me, found me, and said, no wonder I couldn’t find you! We were good friends for a couple of years, and I always thought we’d be best friends. (Catherine lost touch with both Sarah and I years ago.)

    Sarah got married, and disappeared. I was sad, but let it go. I got married to an awesome guy who is still a great husband. Ten years later, Sarah emailed me. She was done with her marriage. Could we please hang out? Over the last five years, we have become the best friends I always knew we would be. Her support, love, and understanding has helped me become, literally, a new person. I’ve changed my name, cut contact with my non-supportive, narcissistic, abusive blood relatives, and gotten out of a heinous work situation. When I need to gain more backbone, I just ask myself what she would do.

    There is nothing I wouldn’t do for Sarah. And she has shown over and over again that she values me for who I truly am, not despite who I am.

    She even taught me how to shop for clothing without getting seriously depressed! This may seem like a small thing, but it has been instrumental in allowing me to define my personal space, and become the person I really am, out in the world.

    My husband and my best friend are my real family. (Plus my five kitties.) They’re the people who love me for who I really am. No hiding necessary.

    • zombiegreen said:

      Oh my god please tell me how to shop for clothing without getting seriously depressed. THIS IS KNOWLEDGE THAT COULD CHANGE THE WORLD.

      • Jinian said:

        It kinda depends on why you do get depressed. For me, thrift shopping fixes everything, because in regular stores I would perseverate until I found something (and not find much because clothes are not made for a lot of the shapes people are). Now, if an item doesn’t fit, OH WELL, it doesn’t fit. I don’t have to try different sizes or anything — they’re not there.

        Plus, when shopping is less awful, I feel okay to stop in more often, which means I don’t go in absolutely unable to escape until I have replaced my only unwearable pants. Nothing interesting is there today? Okay! Bye!

  11. I’ve got a joke that I adopt brothers, except that it’s not entirely a joke. ๐Ÿ™‚ I don’t have any biological brothers, so I tend to collect men around my own age. I’m asexual, which I suspect makes this easier.

    My favourite “little brother” (in the sense that he’s younger than I am; he’s about three times my size) is an absolute cuddlebunny, and he’s got a wonderfully strange sense of humour. On one occasion, we were doing some shopping together, and he suddenly burst into song in the middle of the supermarket. Now he’s a semi-pro countertenor, so everyone heard this amazing alto voice and turned round and looked at us. What they saw was one average-sized female-looking person with a hat, and one very tall, very heavy, bearded, male-looking person… so obviously they all thought it was me singing.

    It was so much fun watching the penny drop twice. First of all they realised it was him singing, not me, and then they realised he was incredibly good at it. ๐Ÿ˜€

  12. Bonnie said:

    As a Parentified Oldest Sibling of four children (2 much younger than me), one of the best decisions I ever made was to “adopt” an older sister. I’d love to say it was all my idea, but it was hers! We grew up together – since we were both in elementary school – but had never really talked about the level to which our lives were intertwined until about 7 years ago when we were spending many hours together while her father was slowly dying. At one point, we were discussing the Relationship-Definition Talk I was planning with her brother-in-law, when she proposed making our relationship “official” because she was worried that if this talk went badly, I would avoid her as well as the guy she happened to be related to by marriage. (The RDT did in fact lead to a fair amount of awkwardness with the guy in question, but yay for using my words!)

    It has been lovely to gain additional nieces and nephews, a place to go “home” to for the holidays when my parents up and moved continents, and a sister who worries about me. (My other sibs tend to assume that I am the stable, secure, competent one…no matter what the actual facts of life are… we’re working on that!) My sister is biologically an only, and both of her parents are gone now, so while her husband has a rather large family, on my sister’s side, I’m the only close “relative”. (She *is* also in relationship with all of my bio sibs… but I think she’s happy most of the time being one step removed.) We have also both really benefited from having someone in our life who knows the inside workings of our families without having the same emotional baggage and triggers. =)

    These days, we just refer to each other as sisters without feeling the need to explain anything, and funnily enough, we are often told that people could tell we were sisters because we look alike (or in the case of hairdressers, have the same hair!)

  13. Ve said:

    Semi-random, but next time you only have potatoes, onions, oil, and a few bucks, buy some eggs and make a “tortilla espanola.”

    Seriously, I got excited when I read that list of ingredients, I wanted to post this now lest I forget once I get to a computer.

  14. datdamwuf said:

    I have only a brother/his family left as FOO and he lives over 3000 miles away. My very best friend is staying at my house the next couple of weeks to take care of my two cats (who are also totally family). She is my rock even though we don’t get to see each other in person alot, we talk on the phone a few times a week. She has issues with conflict that sometimes frustrate me but mostly we don’t have any conflict due to straight talk :). If I were a lesbian I would totally want her to be my wife, I’m very happy to have her as my sister. My neighbor is a good friend, she is full of drama over things I find silly and sometimes I’m not understanding enough to her, but we love each other and talk it out when we hit those things. So my family of choice has issues but they are easily dealt with. I’m trying to connect with more people to form a larger family but it’s slow going. Nevertheless, I am very happy to have two people I can love and be loved by without changing who I am.

  15. Jessica said:

    When I was 20, I made a lifetime commitment to my cockatoo, whose life expectancy is around 50-80 years, and he’s as smart as a 3-5 year old. I feel like he’s kind of a special needs child, more than a pet.

    Coming from a totally dysfunctional family, it took me a good long time to figure out human friendships and “chosen family”. I’m 33 and only feel that fairly recently I’ve started to make better choices in who I become “good friends” with. I’ve always had a better sense when it comes to meeting people online, though.

    In a way, the Internet has been more “family” to me than most of my in-person relationships. People I met online were pivotal in encouraging me to graduate college (I did), helping me get over breakups with losers, and in freeing me of the repressive Southern small town mentality that I grew up with. In my early 20s, I heard, and listened to, such healthy messages from Internet acquaintances and chat buddies!

    I’m still in touch with a few folks I met online in the early 2000s, and a few of those who I never met. One online friend, who I first met off Myspace and then in-person just once in NYC, I called regularly at 2am while I was getting over an abusive relationship and having nightmares. In my worst moments, I’ve always known about 3 or 4 people online who I could reach out to at any time, and get emotional support and positive regard from, and even drive a few hours to crash with if things got really awful (things never got that bad).

    I have a few female friends online who I’ve felt similarly sisterly towards, and to whom I’ve given advice, support, and 2am chats of listening to their venting… As I get older, I strongly feel compelled to give back to that wonderful magic connected Goodness that the Internet, and online friendships, have the possibility to be.

    Despite all the mess ups and misplaced trust that I made with “real life” friendships, I’ve never had those kinds of issues online, even when my online friends have known more personal details about me than my “in person” friends. A few of the online friendships have transitioned quite naturally to “in person”, only to be broken by moving to different physical places and resumed again online.

    I think I am probably a better judge of character thru writing than I am of figuring out someone’s character in person thru talking…. and there was nobody like the folks in Chicago or NYC in my small town who I could have run into socially, back in the early 2000s! The Internet allows you to meet such people you would not normally socialize with… and I love that.

    I wouldn’t say that I currently have any other “chosen family” than my cockatoo, my current boyfriend of 3 years (who I met via FaceBook), and a small handful of local “in person” friends; but I have some very unexpectedly “tried and true” friendships with people I’ve met online over the past 15 years or so.

    It’s family enough for me.

  16. I have a sidekick. I refer to her as such. This really disconcerts people. Often they start out thinking that I’m sort of running her over, as my “social functioning mode” is much louder than hers — store clerks talk to me and waitstaff automatically give me the check no matter who’s actually paying. She may be the only person I’ve ever met who genuinely and fervently wants to stay in the background, deriving great pleasure from feeling like she’s pressing buttons and pulling levers quietly but madly in the shadows, to make the machinery of life run.

    We live on opposite ends of the country right now. I’m working on importing her. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’m also sometimes quite disconcerted to realize I have good friends that I’ve been talking to for literally half my life now. After the lengthy litany of “no one but us will ever love your weird, broken, socially-inept ass” from the family, that still startles me.

      • Dunno! I refuse to watch GoT until it’s done, because cliffhangers drive me bonkers. ๐Ÿ™‚ I regularly refer to her as my Watson, though.

    • Some people work better that way! Rock on with her (quietly) bad self. And yours, especially since you seem all kinds of chill about letting her push buttons and press levers in your background. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • It did bother me for a while — I spent most of my childhood being told to STFU and stop being so damn SMART at other people already, so I was a bit paranoid about accidentally rolling right over people with all the chatter. I got a lot better once she’d spoken up a few times. If she has opinions, she’ll interrupt me with them if she has to; she’s just terribly laid-back about most things, and prefers to watch other people interact rather than go overtly push buttons herself. If I suggest something she can give me a yes or a no that I can trust, and very occasionally when I’m too tired to make a decision I can just tell her “develop an opinion” and she rolls dice or flips coins or something, and picks a random place for dinner.

        She has an anthropology degree to my sociology one, and we have a running joke that if two social scientists are observing at a party, the anthropologist will be the one getting quietly drunk in the corner with a notebook, and the sociologist will be the one going, “I wonder what would happen if I started dancing on the tables?” ๐Ÿ˜€ I am apparently an excellent distraction for when she wants to get something done without interference, as well.

    • I can understand how she feels…I am socially anxious to the point where I can’t talk to people over the phone without having a mini-freakout in my head, so working retail…well, let’s just say I’m a very good actor, and it’s a good thing my shifts tend to be short so they end well before I have to get home and decompress a bit.

      When I go out with my…friends, I guess, though we’re not very close…they’re always the ones who decide where we go, how long we stay, what we eat, ect. I’m rarely asked for my opinion, and if someone does ask I generally don’t know how to answer, so I just say it doesn’t matter or I don’t care. I’m pretty bad at forming or voicing opinions when I’m in a group…I wouldn’t want to lead them somewhere they don’t want to go, or to go somewhere I like to eat only for them to dislike it…what if they get mad at me? Or, if I really take part in what’s going on, what if…what if someone talks to me?! GYAH!

      I’m introverted to a painful level. I rarely get lonely, but when I do it’s fairly crushing…thank goodness for animals and the internet! Still, I’m used to very little contact with anyone, so a lot of contact makes me uneasy, and if I do go out somewhere with anyone else, I’ll be in sidekick mode, and whatever they want is what will happen. If I’m by myself, then of course I’ll do what I want because I don’t have to worry about anyone else, but if I’m even with only one other person, and they ask me what I want to do, I’ll always be too afraid to actually suggest something and just go along with what they want, even if it’s something I hate or that scares me. For instance; I hate pizza. Loathe, detest, ABHOR it! I don’t even know when exactly I started hating it, since I used to like it, but I don’t like it anymore. Most of my friends are gamer geeks that fit neatly into the stereotypes (including negative ones) and live off pizza, so when we go out to eat as a group…pizza. I usually just end up not eating, even if I pay a good chunk of the bill. Some of them know I hate pizza, but they don’t care, they figure I’m just being picky, even if I’ve told them that just the smell of it makes me physically nauseated, and the thought of eating it gives me dry heaves. The only time I put my foot down is as far as movies go…I will not go into a movie theatre. My brain is…what’s the term? Atypical neural…something. How some people can taste color or hear smells or whatever? I physically feel sound. Low grade white noise is usually fine, AMSR stuff can be AWESOME, and certain music is just plain wonderful, but loud noise is physically painful…even being yelled at physically feels like being slapped (I’m familiar with both sensations) so the sound systems they have in theatres…particularly for the giant-robot infested adrenaline fests that these guys frequent…yeah, that’s flat out torture, and will induce panic attacks and worse. I just plain won’t go to movies, no matter how much wheedling or calling me a pansy goes on. I just can’t take it, and I will not pay twenty bucks to end up with a seven hundred dollar hospital bill AGAIN from those freaking sound systems.

      Anyway, I know how she feels about preferring to be in the background…I’m one of those too. I like to hide in the shadows and go unnoticed for the most part. I’ll generally only be okay with being even somewhat paid attention to if someone I know, trust and feel 100% safe around is there and won’t mind me coming to them and possibly clinging to their side the entire time if something spooks me or sets me off is there to keep me company, and since that person doesn’t exist…well, yeah. I am sidekick, hear me…squeak quietly in a dark corner.

      • Yeine said:

        I don’t know you (obviously) but if we were in the same place I would love to have the sort of friendship where we sit quietly in a room, each using our own computer or occupying ourselves, and companionably ignoring one another (and never forcing anyone to eat or be around pizza, oh my goodness, your friends kind of suck when it comes to pizza).

        • I would enjoy that. ๐Ÿ˜€

      • I don’t think she’s quite as anxious as all that about people, although that is some of it. She just has a fascination with hidden mechanisms and dark places. She thinks it’s much more fun to watch things unfold than to go about yanking levers and hammering on buttons to see what happens, then take a few discreet, well-timed actions, and observe the results.

        She’s not a complete shrinking violet, though she does have a strange talent for being invisible. People ‘lose’ her all the time — she can be standing literally RIGHT THERE and she’s so quiet and unobtrusive that people will look right past her and ask where she’s gone. Her high school went on a class trip to Cairo once, and the chaperons were constantly overlooking her extremely blonde, blue-eyed self in a sea of Egyptians. One of our favorite tricks is for me, talking a blue streak, to suddenly point straight up in the air and holler “SIDEKIIIICK!” I always know where she is, but other people are so unaware of her that when she intentionally and obviously steps to my side she effectively materializes out of nowhere. Other people’s faces are a sight to behold.

        • I tend to teleport too! Even if I try to make my presence known, if I walk up out of someone’s frame of vision, if I step into their line of vision they’ll usually hit the ceiling with a “GAH WHERE DID YOU COME FROM?!” It can be quite fun. ๐Ÿ˜€ I can also vanish when I want usually, which is good because there have been times where the ability to vanish has kept me from being severely hurt or killed.

          • Mine used to vanish entirely while walking around wearing those Tripp bondage pants that are full of chains and D-rings and jingle constantly, and nerdy t-shirts stretched across a 36DD+ rack. If you can do that, I salute you as another master of invisibility. ๐Ÿ˜€

          • Well…dude, so the rack part clearly not XD But I’ve had chains and stuff on! My roommate’s mom has told him that he needs to get me a belled collar and make me wear it everywhere, since that’s the only way I won’t give someone a heart attack. He’s sworn to get one, but so far has not. It doesn’t help that his mom suggested it after my roommate started calling me “Kitten” because of the high squeeping noises I make when distressed or startled that sounds like a newborn kitten.

      • question from a loud extroverted person, do you like being in sidekick mode? are you having fun?

        sometimes I do sidekick mode myself, but I am more the Pinky to my short friend’s Brain than somebody who fades into the background and although I try to be mindful when I am out with my more retiring friends I always worry if they are having a good time.

        • Sometimes I like it a lot! It can be fun to be someone’s shadow and watch everything that’s going on without being dragged into being a big part of it, or any more than I’m comfortable with. Sometimes I like to pretend I’m a spy or assassin or something and see how close I can get or what I can do without being noticed at all.

      • Siobhanon said:

        My brain isโ€ฆwhatโ€™s the term? Atypical neuralโ€ฆsomething. How some people can taste color or hear smells or whatever?

        I think you are talking about synesthesia.

        And I agree with Yeine that your friends are being wankers about the pizza. My husband has a very strong ick reaction to any kind of cheese (it smells like rotten to him) so we don’t force him to be around things that smell strongly of melted cheese. Why would we make him do something he won’t enjoy?

        • Exactly! It’s like when I turned 22 and my ex wanted to throw a birthday party…He knew that I’m anxious, don’t like large groups, I don’t like parties, and certainly don’t like being the center of attention, but he wanted to have a big party and invite all his family and friends over, and his family is not only huge but very boisterous and loud, two things that I also don’t handle very well, so the combination of all those things in one was bound to be a disaster. I asked him not to have any party for me, and explained to him again how I felt really uncomfortable in large groups or being paid a lot of attention to, and I really didn’t want a party or anything like that. He got mad at me and bit my head off about it, then went off and sulked for a long time. I think that was when I realized how little he cared about me…he turned something he claimed was for me into something that was all about him, planning to do something he knew I couldn’t possibly enjoy and that would probably give me a panic attack, then getting angry with me when I asked him not to, because it was what HE wanted to do, and how dare I not let him do whatever he wants, even if it’s supposed to be for me?

          Guh.

  17. Quixoticcat said:

    I currently have no living close birth family. There’s probably distant cousins or something, but I am the only child of two only children and both my parents are deceased. Dad died suddenly when i was 15 and Mom died suddenly when I was 26. I never knew my Mom’s parents, and my Dad’s parents also died when I was young.

    Whenever people who are just meeting me hear this, they always express sadness; that I must feel so alone. For a while, this was true. I had (and have!) very close friends who took care of me when I needed it, stepped up and made plans for the things I couldn’t (like my Mom’s memorial – all my friends knew and loved Mom), made sure I was ok, etc. They did the stuff that “family” does.

    And then I saw Lilo & Stitch. It hit me right where I live (still does). It is now my litmus test for people that I want to let into my family. If they get it, they’re in. If they don’t… well that hasn’t happened yet ๐Ÿ™‚

    I feel incredibly fortunate to have been able to choose and build my own family. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t miss my Mom, that I don’t think “Wow, I wish she could have met my husbands – she’d have loved them.” or something similar.

    I honestly wish that more people understood that blood != family. Family of the heart (which can be your blood family too!) is, to me, far stronger as these are the people I *chose* to love. We take care of each other because we want to, because we choose to, not because of societal obligation due to blood.

    (That all said, I have a very dear friend – who is family to me – who is very close with her blood family. I think that’s wonderful and I also find myself wishing that more birth families were similarly close and loving.

    Maybe I just think there needs to be more love in general, though.

  18. Beth said:

    I think a big turning point in my relationship with my romantic partner was when we got a dog, started referring to said dog as our “kid” and started calling ourselves a family. I feel like Partner and Dog are my immediate, nuclear family. Then my extended chosen family is a weird (but good) mix of long-time friends of mine and friends that my partner and I have made together in our local BDSM community. And luckily we are both on good terms with our FOOs, as well.

  19. MargoVictorious said:

    I’m thinking about this a lot right now. My dad passed away five days ago, so family and friends are on my mind.

    My story is perhaps different from some people in that I don’t have chosen family as a replacement for a biological one. My parents gave me a great childhood with a huge extended family. I grew up with big, joyous family reunions with hundreds of people and a family history, lovingly documented by my grandmother, rooted in the founding of our town. (Italians and Polish, represent!)

    But along with this gift, my parents also gave me this one: a strong belief that family is the people you love, whomever that may be. As I notify people of my father’s death and plan his memorial, I am calling as many or more chosen brothers and children as I am biological ones. Friends and biologically distant relatives my parents thought of as uncles, brothers and sisters, children. My life-long best friend, who they welcomed into their life as their own daughter, and my brother’s three closest friends from high school (three fatherless and adrift boys, all of whom lived with us at one point or another) who they considered their sons.

    My parents chose their family, and they were themselves chosen by others. Seeing the love and strength that brought to their lives, and how important a part of their lives it was, has instilled the same in me. My family is as much chosen as biological, even more so in recent years, and my chosen family is so intertwined with my biological one that I often don’t even see the distinction unless I stop and think about it. We’re sometimes messy and imperfect, just like all families are, but we are family.

    It may be the greatest gift my parents gave me, other than their own love and support. At this moment it is almost unfathomably hard to think about moving forward without my dad. But I also know that I will always have a family, because family is something I create for myself. Sometimes by choosing to accept what biology has invited and sometime by choosing to do the inviting myself. But always by honoring and nurturing those choices. My mom and dad taught me that.

    My best friend, her parents and siblings who are like my own, my three additional brothers, my “uncle” Mike — the people who are as much a part of my life and my heart as the parents and brother biology gave me — they are my family as surely as the hundreds of people I share blood with on this planet. I will forever be grateful that my parents didn’t limit my definition of family. Family is the people you love, period. Whomever that may be.

    • I am so, so sorry for your loss.

  20. Toestands said:

    When I was in the local equivalent of high school, I made friends with an amazing group of people. When they gratuduated, my gift to them included telling every one of them that I love them (which is a huge deal for me). Some of us have since drifted apart a bit, but I still consider two of them more family than my actual family. I have a standing Skype-time with one out of the two, and am preparing to move in with the other. (We’ve done the whole roommate agreement-thing, and I’m fairly certain that it’s going to be great.)

    I’ve also known my dance teacher for more than ten years now, and she’s become kind of a mentor to me. We’re not very close outside the subject of dance, but I have so much respect for her. When I was going through a bad spot of depression and just couldn’t handle attending class regularly, she never once bugged me about it, just welcomed me back when I actually made it to class. Even though I don’t actually take any classes that she teaches anymore, she is still the one I turn to for advice with choreographies, and although I’m far from her best student she regularly promotes things that I have made. I consider her a honorary aunt, and she has attended a number of important events in my life.

    And then there’s my dog, of course. My sweet tiny dog who I paid for and took care of on my own even though I was an unemployed teenager. I think people sometimes underestimate just how important animals can be, but I can honestly say that my dog was the first living being whom I really truly loved, without any reservations. She is now a glamorous older lady, currently recuperating from a fairly major surgery, and I swear on all that is holy that I will look after her and make her happy until it’s time for her to move on.

    • BayTree said:

      I too have my high school crowd of chosen family. Over the years several have drifted away from the group due to relocating, but when we do get back together it’s like they never left.

      I tend to think of my chosen family the same way as I’d think of blood relatives: you don’t have to be close to be family. There’s the chosen family who are like sisters to me – I live with them, skype daily, tell them all about my life. Then there’s chosen family who are more like cousins or uncles – available to talk when you want to, but not a big deal if you don’t, the people who’d put you up for a night when you’re in town and who you share a lot of history with but aren’t very close to. And there’s also the cousin’s-husband’s-brother type family, the people that you don’t really know except through others, but who nevertheless form part of your personal community.

      Pets are definitely family! My cat is a classy, independent lady who needed some help out of a tough spot. I took her and her kittens in… gave away the kittens, but mama cat decided to stay. I honestly don’t know what I’d have done at some points without my cat to keep me grounded.

      • Tallulah said:

        I really like this, how chosen-family can come in different shades and levels of closeness. This thread is really positive and lovely, but I was feeling kind of bad that I don’t have that level of closeness with many people (a few, but not many). Your comment here helps me rephrase it in a much more positive way.

  21. TheJackdaw said:

    My chosen family is my family – I’ve been estranged from my FOO for almost ten years. My in-laws are my parents and they treat me as one of their children.

    My BFF and I call each other sisters in everything but DNA – it’s the longest relationship I’ve ever had. We’ve survived living together, uni and overlapping breakdowns and have plans for when we get old and our husbands die (we’ll go on continuous cruises, take up smoking again and start drug habits).

    The guys I train with are my brothers. The way they treat me is a continuous source of amazement – the atmosphere of respect, of knowledge sharing, of affirmation, of teasing and of not treating me like an outcast if I burst into tears is a thing of wonder.

    And my husband and my cat are my immediate family. We are mama and papa and she is a recalcitrant teenager who treats this place like a hotel and fucks off to Topshop with the housekeeping.

    I am incredibly, heart-bustingly lucky.

  22. My FOO is sort of averagely disfunctional, in the sense that we still spend some time together, and I can stand a couple of days of it, and only want to assault two of my four immediate family with blunt objects. We disagree but love each other. I know this makes me very lucky by Awkward, and probably regular, standards.

    However, chosen family. Sadly I had one of these once, for most of my twenties, which was great until it wasn’t. People moved away, and them I got friend dumped (passive version of not getting in touch for two years) by the last couple of people. That was really painful.

    So, get back up and start again, like so many other times in life. Build new friendships, build new family. My cancer party was excellent in the end.

    If anyone was wondering, Awkward meetups are a great way to meet cool purple, as well.

    • Marie said:

      Awkward meetups are absolutely a great way to meet cool purple ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • I know! Only the coolest purple allowed.

        (I was cursing my auto correct, but then I admired it.)

  23. i have an amazing family of choice…and just like a real family we are somewhat dysfunctional at times…but always have each other’s backs when the chips are down…i found most of them through the Renaissance Faire in SoCal…Clan MacColin is one of the best family units i have found…we don’t all like everyone and we don’t all always get along…but when someone gets hurt (even if we don’t like that particular someone) everyone steps up and we ROCK in an emergency…i have some of the best aunties and uncles and the most wonderful siblings

    Through faire i also found my “booth” family…they were like a group of brothers stuck together…some got along and others wanted to punch someone in the face…but they still loved each other deep down…i’d go to the booth to escape the grumpy afternoon clan guys and then head back to clan when the booth guys got grumpy as the day was winding down…it worked out really well for me…they are my brothers too and they treat me like the little sister they never got to be so overprotective of…and through them i met my Uncle and Auntie who make the most amazing swords and period clothing…i learned so much from them and get to spend my birthday with them every year ^_^ i love them so much

    most of that chosen family is in the 10-40 years older than me group…my chosen family that is my peer group is equally dysfunctional but in a less dramatic way because we don’t have 20-30 years of history built up yet…we all met either during high school or first years of college and have become pretty inseparable even though i’m in another country now and a few others are scattered around the states…we still connect via the wonders of the blagosphere and get together whenever we can…we even crowned one of our friends the king of us because he is the one who looks out for us and makes sure everyone is doing okay…he would give us the shirt off his back (even though he is incredibly uncomfortable with being shirtless) if we needed it…that is why he is our Thane and we celebrate Coronation day every year ^_^

    I also have a few “siblings” that i adopted before finding the faire and my other group…and a smattering of people who aren’t associated with anyone else but who i consider family nonetheless…my best friend growing up is still my “weekend sister” because i would spend so much time at her house her family practically adopted me…one of my high school friends is my little brother…and my best friend from jr high is my mom’s honorary daughter…there isn’t enough time in my summer vacation to see all of them when i am home but i see as many as i can as often as i can ^_^

  24. SarahBot said:

    My parents moved two times zones away from their biological families long before my brother and I were born, so the only people that I really think of as my “extended family” are all chosen family – the group of families that my parents chose as their own chosen family long before my brother and I were born. I really think that showing us that chosen family is a thing, and that people who aren’t related by blood can be just as important and close and loved, was one of the best things that my parents ever did for my brother and me.

    I’m glad and lucky to have continued that tradition – I have my three closest friends (we call ourselves “the QuadFecta”), as well as a larger gaming group that I got to be a part of thanks to my husband. And these are the people who visited me in the hospital when I had surgery, and who brought me meals when I was planning my wedding *and* working 50-hour weeks, who encourage me when I’m trying something new and scary, and who let me help them, which makes me feel capable and confident.

    I do like imagining about real-life people and fictional characters that I would include in my chosen family if I could – I read a self-help book once (I’m pretty sure it was Wishcraft by Barbara Sher), and there’s a section about how, a lot of times, people don’t believe that they can pursue their dreams because their families don’t know how to encourage dream-pursuing. So she has this exercise where you construct your own family out of people you connect with, and imagine those people encouraging you, etc. So my Imaginary Family is Ana Matronic from Scissor Sisters, Lenny Briscoe from Law & Order, Ina Garten the Barefoot Contessa, and Julia Child.

    • Fucking hell, I love this idea. Excuse me while I go build an imaginary Family of Choice out of every creative oddball I adore.

    • Epiphyta said:

      I do this, too! After the latest “Okay, and now we are taking a break” with the FOO, I decided that Lionel and Jean from As Time Goes By were going to stand in for my deceased grandparents: on the really bad days, I’d imagine myself in the kitchen with Jean making me tea and saying kind and sensible things, and Lionel wandering through loudly bemoaning the lack of any usable pens in the house, and then saying the perfect thing to get me past the bad spot.

      While I’m at it, I think I’ll add Kira Nerys and Jadzia Dax as the cousins I wish I’d had, the ones who’d haul me out for a backrub or a workout, and scold or console me as needed.

      • Nerdlinger said:

        OHEMGEE. I think you just described my perfect fictional fambly!!!! How are you in my head?

  25. Since I’m a total comics geek…probably Wiccan and Hulkling, since they’re both really sweet guys and wouldn’t judge me for being trans* or gay (Is it called gay if you’re a FtM trans who’s into guys?) and they seem like they’d be fun to watch movies with or just hang out around, and they’d probably be really good for a hug or a shoulder to cry on when you needed it….I’m a huge fan of the Batman, but he doesn’t seem like the kind of guy you can really sit and talk to, and he’s so closed-off so that’s probably out…Supes probably, he seems pretty easy to go to for advice, though he’s such a boy scout he’d probably be a little iffy on some subjects; “Hey Clark, can I ask you something?” “Sure, what is it?” “Well, my boyfriend and I were getting intimate the other day, and he has this thing he really likes to do with his fingers but I really hate it because it feels so wei-” “OH MY, do you hear that?! Someone on the other side of the planet is in danger! UP UP AND AWAY!!!”

    MAAAAYBE the Flash, since he’s laid back and easygoing, but he can be serious when the situation calls for it, and he seems like a cool guy…Wonder Woman would be cool too, but she doesn’t strike me as being very approachable and easy to talk to. Aquaman’s more boisterous, friendly incarnation from the animated series (not the one with the harpoon hand, the gigantic one who was always grinning and hugging teammates) seems like he’d be an awesome person to have around when you needed a hug. Most of Supergirl and Stargirl’s incarnations seem pretty ditzy, so not sure about them…Raven would probably be good to hang out with sometimes, but not so much to talk to about a lot of stuff unless it was really deep and meaningful, not the kind of person you can just chat with…Starfire would probably be the more chat over cocoa with type of friend. Martian Manhunter has acted therapist for the other supers in a few incarnations, particularly the animated ones, so he’d probably be awesome to have around even if he’s not all that approachable…if you really needed him, he’d be there and probably know just what to say. Same with Black Canary, who acted as therapist for the kids in Young Justice (the tv series).

    Deadpool could be a hell of a lot of fun, and if you were really close with him and one of his real, true friends, he’d probably go all-out to protect you…but then again he’s totally nuts and might skin your cat just to see how high pitched you could scream, so. And there was that time he dressed up like Marylin Monroe (complete with wig) and did the skirt over an air grate thing just because….him doing that sort of thing might be a little off-putting. In small, controlled doses, he’d probably be cool though.

    • Mer05 said:

      Batman and Deadpool are both awfully hard on their friends, in totally different ways… maybe Thor? Not my favorite character overall, but he seems like a fairly stand-up guy.

      Off-topic, but on the off chance that you’re interested in comic books… ๐Ÿ˜‰ Have you run into “Transposes” by Dylan Edwards? It’s a graphic-novelization of a series of interviews with queer trans-guys, and a pretty good read if you do indie comics at all. (The author is a friend-of-a-friend, which is how I heard about it. I think the first chapter is downloadable at http://northwestpress.com/shop/transposes/ )

      • Hehe, on the off chance!

        I haven’t heard of that one before, sweet! I’ll have to check that out! Have you ever read Khaos, the webcomic? It goes through the viewpoints of several college kids as they find out that they are gay, their friends are gay, or trans, and how they and the people around them dealt with the situation from the very start. It’s a pretty good read! The art isn’t the best, but I still like it overall.

        • Mer05 said:

          Khaos! Yes, I have, and I liked that one a lot too. I’m fairly picky about art (Silver Age, not my thing), but thought it was fine in that one.

  26. mamacitaconpistoles said:

    My parents’ kitchen table is the kind of kitchen table where, I’d come home from work or something, and a friend would be at the table having dinner while waiting for me.

    My FOO are great. One of the great things about them is they invite my friends and my brothers’ friends into the mix and welcome them when they can be around. The weekend my bro got married my parents hosted several out of town friends in their house. Lots of folks call them Mama and Papa [Our Last Name], or refer to themselves as “one of the [Our Last Name Adoptees.]

    The friends and partners who feel like the family of my heart are part of my parents’ chosen family, too. I feel really lucky for that.

  27. My family of origin is pretty good, overall, and my in-laws are also great. But I live far from them. My best friend, she is closer than a sister, closer in some ways than my spouse. We’ve known each other for most of our lives. We’ve been dozens of different roles for each other, over time, as needed, you name it. She’s got other ladies she calls her wives, but I’m not them. I’m BFF. Although together, those women and I are officially Team Awesome. Now she’s got kids and I’m there every week. People comment about how great a friend I am and I’m like “no, I’m being selfish! I get to see the kids!” They’re mine, too, although not by blood.

    This lady, she is a pillar of my soul. She is beautiful and kind and generous and inspires me and then tells me she learned it from me and I say what? I’ve been trying to emulate you! She is gorgeous and graceful and strong and when I falter, no matter what else she is carrying, there she is. Somehow. And I’m like, how are you here? How do you have time? Is that really spinach quiche and homemade cake you’re giving me?

    But I am one of the two people in the whole world who is home for her. If she stands in a room between me and her husband, she can do absolutely anything. The best part is how I am the safe special person that she gets to tell the real truth to, that she can flare off frustration at. I love her beyond words.

  28. SisterCoyote said:

    I love my FOO to death – and, with a few awful massive noticeable exceptions, they are good people. But when I was in high school, tensions were bad and it was a bad time and I was very much alone. Home was not restful, not safe, and basically not much of a home.

    Getting a job, somehow, changed that – there was a slightly-larger crew that came and went, but the owner, the manager, myself, and two other girls who worked there became very, very close. When I moved away, I do not think I cried harder than when my boss came by the house as I was packing to say goodbye, and I tried to tell him how much his love and acceptance had meant over the years. We still text, and he is the person I miss the most, right alongside my little sister, stepmom, and cat.

  29. Cait 482 said:

    You guys, GREAT NEWS. Family of choice can pass on to the next generation.

    I inherited a family of choice. That’s right, my mom (with whom I do get along) developed a family of choice to make up for being an only child by befriending 2 women in her med school class. These ladies became my aunts and their children my cousins and very good friends.

    Their older daughters (my age) have been my closest friends/ surrogate sisters for my whole life and are now going to be in my wedding. Awesome people rear awesome children. Just saying.

  30. CodaSammy said:

    Oh, man, this thread was made for me! I have collected families throughout my whole life ๐Ÿ˜€

    My mum raised me (an only child) as a single parent, and had lots of friends supporting her. When her best friend’s daughter and I realised we weren’t ACTUALLY cousins, we cried. I remember going on a residential school trip, and my friend’s dad came along as one of the chaperones. When he called register, she would reply, “Here, Daddy!” and I copied her, so for years after that he was “Daddy” to me. Later, after she and I had drifted, my mum’s friend had kids, and when talking to them I would refer to their father as “your daddy”. Slowly, the “your” got dropped, and he is still my Daddy to this day. By extension, the three kids are therefore my siblings, and they call me their big sister ๐Ÿ™‚

    I think I’ve always understood the fluidity of family. Mum’s adopted, so I always had two sides of her family: birth and adopted, and i think that helped me to understand that just because people arent blood related, it doesnt mean theyre not family. Dad’s family weren’t around until I was 10, so I think that got me used to the idea that even people you haven’t seen in years can be family.

    When I finally met my dad, I was 23, and my half brothers were 13, 12 and 9 (the same age as the “siblings” from “Daddy”, funnily enough). We hit it off immediately, and my brothers are very, very dear to me. The eldest, now 17, is actually coming to stay with me for 3 weeks – he arrives in 16 days and we are SO EXCITED! It’s his first trip to England; they all live in Canada.

    Just as awesome is my stepmother. I adore her, and she has totally accepted me into their family. AND, so have her family! Her mother and stepfather are actually coming to my wedding. My English wedding. FROM CANADA. They are flying all this way, at a cost of thousands of dollars, to come to their step-grand child’s wedding, even though I’ve only been to Canada 4 times. Amazing.

    I am very blessed ๐Ÿ™‚

  31. Jake said:

    I have kind of a huge family of choice that sort of revolves around a lesbian couple and their two children. It started off smallish, when they were trying to conceive and looking for a donor (I introduced them to my then-partner, who ended up being Spunkle to their two little ones) and it has kind of grown out of control since then. They’ve added two more adults and three more kids to their household/immediate family, and the extended family numbers easily 50+. As many of us as possible get together at their house every winter to celebrate solstice and reconnect, since many of us no longer live in the same city.

    My foo isn’t terrible or anything. I get along with some people better than others, but I can stand a few days with any of them over holidays and I see my parents quite often (and my sister and I are total bffs), but my chosen family are really _my_ people in a way that others aren’t. And they are nourishing and loving and supportive in that unconditional way that makes it safe to do the things you’re scared of. Finally encountering that as an adult has been so freeing for me.

    • Gator said:

      “Spunkle?!” I die laughing. I have somehow never heard this, despite being a lesbian mom.

      Queer parenting has contributed to my chosen family, too. There is a baby dyke living in our basement while she saves up some money; she’s in our lives because long ago my partner used to date the baby dyke’s mom. My partner also has a young-adult stepdaughter (daughter of an ex) who is sister to our 5-year-old. I don’t have a word for what either of these young women is to me, but they’re definitely family.

      Though our kid was conceived via sperm bank and not a Spunkle, all we need is a donor number and an internet connection to get in touch with families who have children from the same donor. Though we haven’t done this yet, it’s possible that in time some of them will become chosen family as well. In addition, the donor is anonymous to us, but our daughter can learn his identity if she chooses when she’s an adult.

      I love reading all the different ways people make families for themselves!

  32. My original family sucks. Without going through too much detail, they stood up for an abuser instead of the child.
    My chosen sisters are amazing- one crunchy-hippy musician’s wife, one amazing jewelry artist/mom to adorable kids, one hilarious band nerd.
    I also have chosen brothers, who happen to be my boyfriend’s best friends. One brother almost punched our a guy who was hitting on me! The rest of the family is all my boyfriend’s family. His parents treat me like theirs, his grandparents look in on me constantly, and his sister is amazing.
    My “real” parents are going to be blown away when they find themselves not invited to our wedding. Boyfriend’s dad is giving me away, and his stepdad is doing the father/daughter dance with me. I’m actually really happy with it.

  33. Lonespark said:

    ‘Tis a good thread as I sit here, heading into divorce and calling on Team Lonespark to assemble…

    Had a nice day with Spousal Unit’s new SO and her kids. No matter our romantic configurations we will be there for each other.

    Most of my chosen family is chiefly accessible online these days. I’m trying to find a way to strike a balance between having enough of Team Me available in offline life and putting in the effort to meet up with the awesome close online friends I already have. Transporter technology, hurry the hell up!

  34. M Dubz said:

    I have two chosen sisters. I acquired one in pre-school and one in kindergarten, and we’ve been like blood ever since. We’ve supported each other through career, grad school, living abroad, family health problems, weddings (yay one of them just got married a month ago!!!!) breakups, and basically everything that comes before kids. What’s most important is that we are all three of us VERY different human beings with different interests, priorities, and ways of looking at the world, but we all love each other fiercely. I am close with my blood family, but at times, these two ladies love me more unconditionally than my blood family does. In their eyes, I am beautiful and perfect exactly the way that I am, and in my eyes they are beautiful and perfect as well. And that is a rare thing, to feel that much unconditional love for other people.

  35. Ste. Germaine said:

    My FOO is pretty awesome, but kinda small and far off, and I need lotsa people. I guess I have a hungry heart!

    My longest-time chosen person is my chosen brother. He doesn’t have sisters, I don’t have brothers, why not? He’s smart and funny and viciously honest– but also completely partisan. His Team is always Team Me. His partner has also become a part of my chosen family, a cuddly listening wonder I love.

    Of course my own partner is a chosen family member! We choose to make a family together, and make a little cocoon of comfort and shared loves around ourselves. We make a home together, and support each other hard.

    I have some other sort of…cousins? People who are helping me a lot and feel very close but we haven’t settled in quite that far yet. But the last major chosen family member is my other love, who is a really wonderful, loving, creative person. One of the things that burns me about having to keep having two loves a secret is not getting to acknowledge publicly how important we are to each other. But that isn’t the main thing about having a chosen family– except for little celebrations like this one by people who Get It, usually they don’t get acknowledged by the world at large. There’s no Chosen Family day like there’s Mother’s day! What’s important is that we have these people, and we make sure they know how crucial and chosen and special they are. We know and they know.

    • Vicki said:

      I’ve taken to telling random not-especially-close people that I am visiting “family back east” when it wouldn’t be appropriate or might take too long to explain that the family back east is one of my other loves (and possibly their spouse) rather than a sibling, parent, or such. A lot of our friends know what the relationships are; I’m fortunate to be in a place where we can be moderately open about it.

      I have other chosen family, most notably the woman I call my sister; every so often I have to remind myself that it’s not transitive, and that without footnotes people are going to be confused if I say “my sister’s mother did thus-and-such” or refer to her annoying brother.

  36. Drew said:

    I’m very lucky, in that my FOO is also part of my Chosen Family (even if they piss me off sometimes, certain members more than others). My sister is one of my best friends — and it’s through her and her spouse that I acquired a big Chosen Family, because my sister’s stepson’s mother and her husband have a BIG passle o’ kids, and I’m Uncle Drew to all of them despite being blood-related to none. (Kinda hoping at least one decides to come to college where I live, because I hate being far enough that it’s an expedition to get to them.)

    I also have several friends who have adopted me as an uncle for their kids, which is frankly pretty awesome, because I like kids but as a perpetually single guy (mostly by choice), I doubt I’ll ever have any of my own.

    Having a Chosen Family, of whatever size, is one of the big perks of growing up and realizing you get to define your own relationships. The people who tell me my sister’s stepson and his brothers and sisters “aren’t real nephews and nieces” get ALL the stinkeyes.

  37. birdprints said:

    My actual, nuclear family are a difficult bunch (grew up in an abusive household, etc etc) who I don’t tend to go to when I need stuff, because they tend to make me feel worse, although my sister and I have a better relationship now. My family of choice consists of close friends, who are just brilliant and wonderful and amazing and who accept me for who I am, unlike my blood(y) family. Two of my closest friends in particular are fairly new friends (a few years) but they just ‘get’ me and add so much to my life. They bring me so much joy, hope, support and love, and it’s totally reciprocated: we hold each other when we cry, give each other space when we need it, and more importantly don’t judge whatever the other is talking about. I’ve spent my entire life feeling judged, whether it’s for relationship choices or whatever…but these friends tell me what they think without making me feel shit about it. Doesn’t mean they agree with everything I do but they have so much compassion and acceptance that they have greatly helped me feel better about who I am and my place in the world. (We call each other wife too…and one of my friends and I even have a pretend gift list. It’s so much fun.)

    This is great post ๐Ÿ™‚ Have been re-evaluating everything recently since hitting 30 and have come to the conclusion that to have this much love and fun in my life must mean that I’m doing something right, even if a lot of the world doesn’t agree with me. I always knew that friendships were important, and have always valued them, but these are like friendships I’ve never known, really. Probably because I actually have boundaries now and therefore they’re healthy and don’t carry around a lot of the resentment that they used to. And because we treat each other with care. So many reasons.

  38. Jake said:

    I love it too!
    If you’re interested there’s a book called And Baby Makes More about various families headed by lesbians and their journeys to parenthood. My chosen family wrote an essay for it but there are lots of other families’ stories as well. It’s published by Insomniac Press.

    Regarding “Spunkle”, we spell it with a ‘c’ for the kids and tell them it just stands for “special uncle”. And cackle maniacally anticipating the day they get old enough to realize the other thing it could stand for.

    • Jake said:

      Um… this was supposed to be in response to Gator up at 11:15. Not sure what happened.

  39. DameB said:

    This is so timely. My primary care physician is big on mental health and as part of my yearly physical last week, she asked me “Tell me about your family.” I stared at her for a mo’ and then said, “My blood family is okay, kinda a stress on my life. My family of choice is awesome and supportive.” She smiled and nodded, totally got it.

    I don’t know if I could improve upon the Family of Choice that I have — together, they make my world a very lovely and colorful and beautiful place. Every time I have to leave my circle of My People and deal with my blood family, I am reminded how lucky I am to have found them and had the good sense to hold onto them.

    My BFF and I didn’t find each other until about 15 years ago. I’d say we were like sisters but we’re way closer to each other than to our siblings. My BMF (Best Mom Friend) and I found each other at a Nursing Moms D&D Gaming Group about 7 years ago. I don’t know if everyone involved would be still alive without her as we muddled through those first two years when my daughter didn’t sleep. My BCF (Best Couple Friend) is a college friend of my husband and his wife. They are so important in our lives I can’t imagine untangling them. Ditto with my Not-A-Coven.

    And there’s my husband, who I chose. He is my rock and my sun and I wake up so happy that we chose to be with each other every day.

    That said, they all support different aspects of my life. My BFF lets me be me — not mom, not wife, not worker, just…. me. My BMF really helps me with parenting. The BMC supports my marriage in many ways, and the deeply geeky side of me. My Not-a-Coven supports my spiritual side. All of them help me out with the day-to-day logistics of life.

    I’m so damned lucky! But, for those younger folks on this thread, I’ll also mention that I’m 40. It took a looooooong time for me to find, cultivate, and grow these relationships, one at a time.

  40. GrouchyABD said:

    My family of origin is mostly pretty good, and my parents have done a lot of the emotional support-work for my husband that his parents aren’t capable of.

    And then there’s my work spouse–we met in grad school and got work-married when my husband read an article about the concept and decided it applied to us. She keeps me sane and makes me laugh, especially when I think sanity and laughter are things I can do without. She fed and sometimes housed me when I was living in a dorm that should probably be condemned. She’s super awesome about all of my disability stuff, including when I get all rage-y at people who make stupid assumptions or are patronizing. And because she believes so strongly in fairness and justice and feeding people, she often refuses to see any of those things as exceptional. (I kind of love that about her, and try hard not to be too crazy with the gratitude).

    Her awesome wife and I became friends too, and she’s so awesome she never minded when I was pretty much always underfoot. I love that both of them love my husband and worry and fuss about him as much as they do me. About four years ago all four of us started having huge Life Crises that lasted for over a year, and somehow we all got through the other side. It was bumpy and terrible, but I am so proud of everything we’ve done since. My work spouse and her wife have been living overseas this year, and I am so excited for them to get home.

  41. Sarah B said:

    What a well-timed thread; I’m just back from the annual Paper Anniversary of Friendship celebrated by myself and one of my friends.

    The logic goes thuswise: Christmas isn’t in the summer. Ditto Easter. Or Halloween. Or either of our birthdays. Plainly this long break between festivals needs fixing. Thus, every year, in the middle of summer, we go to Forbidden Planet and buy each other piles of books.

    I may be an only child, but my chosen family is huge and beautiful. People move around and drop in and out of one another’s lives, but the New Year parties and weddings are like big family reunions. I have a whole /bunch/ of sisters, and a few brothers, and they kidnap me and feed me wine when I need a break, and send me emergency care packages of Earl Grey tea and Green & Black’s chocolate, and…

    Y’know, I’m the luckiest person in the universe.

  42. Just read every comment in this thread, and it is very uplifting! Which I needed today, as my FOO has been intruding viciously on my serenity the last few days.

  43. My FOO was always good about encouraging chosen ‘siblings’ with me. My close friends when I was a kid were often disadvantaged and had kinda dysfunctional FOOs themselves. one had a single, distractable mom and lived in a small apartment . She slept over at my house a lot, and treated my parents like her own. When she came out with one of them and me, my mom.would buy us *each* a toy or book; my dad would ask her opinion as well as mine. One of the most profound moments I recall was when she came over to stay the night during a time when I guess her mom was really busy and maybe neglectful. She said in this small voice that she didn’t want TV dinner(like usual; she loved them and I went along); that was all she’d had recently and she wanted a home cooked meal. I think we were about 7. Probably broke my mom’s heart a bit.

    My neighbor when I was 10a practically lived at our house. My middle and high school bestie was like my sister, which did her good since she had a screwy FOO. My mom paid for her prom ticket so she could go with me. We took her to plays and nice dinners and baseball games. I think my nuclear family was the primary source of stability for her, and she was a very troubled girl.

    Now … I have a wonderful sister/cousin/? who isn’t related by blood and who lives in Minnesota. We met in.college in Arizona where I live and have been close since. I don’t talk to her as much as I’d like, but when I do, it’s like we never stopped. We were mistaken for sisters a lot in college, twins at one point(even though she’s pale and I’m olive skinned) because of how we interact. In a few weeks I’m going to meet her for a week of awesomeness in Montrรฉal . We both speak French. I forgot how much I miss her.

    I also have the best little sister on the planet. She’s ten, her name’s Kira, and we do a lot together. But she isn’t blood related. We met through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program a year ago. Now I can’t imagine being without her in my life. For the program, I take her out about twice monthly(more lately because of her summer break). We’ve been swimming, to.museums, and to parks. She… pretty much adores me, which confounds me, makes me tear up, and melts my heart into a pile of goo. โค When we found out we could 'write' on a velvet wall at a children's museum with our fingers, she wrote "Kira and Amanda, sisters forever". She's smart, is responsible, gets sarcasm at 10, is wise for her age, and is pretty much the best kid ever. I love her just as much if not more as if she were my blood sister.
    (She actually has a lot of chosen family, which I think is cool. Her mom is an only child and single, but Kira and her blood brother have a boatload of aunts and uncles)

    I am so dang lucky to have my sisters. โค

  44. Impasto said:

    My chosen family is in London. I met C in 2004 when we were in grad school together in Scotland, and ever since she’s opened her home to me for weeks at a time. We’ve settled into a pattern where I visit her for a month every other year, and it’s wonderful. London is the city of my heart, and staying with C makes it so easy to potter about at my own pace, heading out to see West End shows and museums or just staying in for the day drinking tea. She likes to cook and hates to do dishes, while I am the opposite and am more than happy to do the washing up. We have had many a marathon, from Lord of the Rings to Harry Potter to Sherlock and Torchwood, but we’re also happy to hang out “alone together,” reading books or surfing on our iPads. She’s seen me through a devastating car accident and I’ve helped her move. She and her husband now have a beautiful little boy, and we had a marvelous visit last fall. C actually invited me to live with them for a year (!!!) if I went back to grad school, so now I’m saving and planning to head over the pond in 2014, and I cannot wait.

  45. gmg said:

    A couple of the comments about difficult FOOs and the pitfalls of finding that you’ve re-created the same patterns in your chosen family really resonated with me. My dad’s family is large and quarrelsome and grudge-loving, and while in many ways I love them (we are a sharp, funny crew who know how to have a good time and have each other’s backs when the chips are down), in many ways I don’t (we have a bad tendency toward dividing up into factions, and it is WAY too easy to push somebody’s angry button without even meaning to).

    When I moved back to the city where I attended college after nine years away, I fell back in with my college crew and their extended circle. For awhile, that chosen family — and we had a strong image of ourselves as such — felt like everything I’d been looking for in the years since we graduated. We were a sharp, funny crew who knew how to have a good time and had each other’s backs when the chips were down. But … wait for it … we also had a bad tendency toward dividing up into factions, and it was WAY too easy to push somebody’s angry button (including, I admit, sometimes mine) without even meaning to. It turned out that my chosen family, just like my FOO, was large and quarrelsome and grudge-loving.

    The latter stuff didn’t come out for the first year or two I lived here. Then over the next several years it came out with a VENGEANCE. It didn’t help that we had chronic cases of several of the Geek Social Fallacies, or that several members of the gang, when they started having kids, turned out to be the sort of parents who believe parenting is VERY. SERIOUS. BUSINESS. and that anyone without kids JUST. WOULDN’T. UNDERSTAND. Fast forward another five years and of the 10-12 people in this onetime supposedly diehard crew, 3-4 don’t talk to ANYONE else and the rest of us are not in touch with or on speaking terms with at least 1-2 others. And it ain’t like my FOO when if someone is sick or needs help, the bonds grow tighter again. This group is dunzo.

    I still live in the same city and have a lot of dear friends here (I only ended up actively not on speaking terms with one person in the “old gang,” though am in touch with several others — the VERY. SERIOUS. PARENTS. — only intermittently). And I’ve got four friends I grew up with (three still live in my home state) whom I do, if I think about it, see as almost like sisters. But in the same way that I have to tread carefully a lot of the time with my FOO to keep myself from getting hurt, I’ve been awfully, awfully cautious, maybe too cautious, since all this about thinking of any of my peeps here as my “chosen family.” I know the beauty of a chosen family is supposed to be that you, the individual, get to choose each member of yours and don’t have to Geek-Social-Fallacy it up with a bunch of people someone else chose for you. But the lure of a big group that’s “always there” is so strong, and I definitely got sucked in by it, and it hurt a lot when it turned out not to be a lasting thing.

    tl/dr: Chosen families can break your heart, too.

    • Epiphyta said:

      Yes, they can. I’m sorry that happened to you, too.

      I had one, and then I didn’t, and at nearly 50 I’m trying to decide if it’s worth the work to build a new one. We’re trying to move to the coast, and we’d be closer to some of our friends, but I don’t know if those friendships can carry the weight of Family of Choice — or if I even want them to.

    • Ali said:

      Me, too. I’m sorry you’re struggling with the patterns of your FOO spilling over into your FOC. It’s happened to me 2 out of 2 times, now, and makes me really scared to try to build up another FOC at this point.

  46. Dorth Vader said:

    My husband and I recently moved 300 miles from home for his job. I couldn’t really care less about leaving my FOO (they weren’t “that bad” growing up, but I’ve come to realize that some of my issues regarding perfectionism and other things stem from them), but not being around my Chosen Family is destroying me. The only person I know here until I get a job is my husband. He wanted us to go home next Friday but I can’t bear seeing my CF right now because I want to be back with them so. bad. We’ve been supportive of each other from afar. They all showed me love when my dog died a week ago, I’ve been helping them buy glasses and deal with living at home with abusive FOOs. We will be seeing each other at some point in the next month and I can’t wait to show them our new place and hang out again.

    And now I’m crying because this month is the absolute fucking worst.

    • Baytree said:

      Aw, Dorth, I know where you’re coming from and it sucks. The only thing that helped for me was writing letters – for some reason that felt like a much more tangible connection than phone calls.

      Hugs and cookies, if you want them!

  47. nonnymouse said:

    My parents are not just my family of origin, but my family of choice, as are significant portions of my extended family on my father’s side. And I’m grateful for my parents because they have also modeled family of choice for me. They have beloved friends who they spend holidays with and travel with and who they lean on for support and who lean on them for support.

    And so I’ve added to my FoO and my FoO’s FoC a rather large (for a dedicated introvert, anyway!) family of choice: the girl that I shared a crib with in daycare; my high school best friend, where we are close enough that I also share her slightly nuts FoO; my college buddies, where we travel together and love together and hold each others’ hands through grad school. I feel unbelievably blessed to have all of these people in my life.

    You know what else I’ve learned? Family of choice can be hard. Just because we chose one another doesn’t make us perfect human beings or perfectly compatible. And the hard times with my family of choice has made me closer to my family of origin, some of whom I held at a distance for awhile, because I developed those skills to love through the hard times.

    • “Family of choice can be hard. Just because we chose one another doesn’t make us perfect human beings or perfectly compatible.”
      +1

  48. SarahTheEntwife said:

    I’m fortunate to have an actually pretty awesome family of origin, but I’ve accumulated Families of Choice that understand parts of me my FOO doesn’t. There’s the online knitting group I’m on staff for, where one of the senior staffers once said that if someone gave her the opportunity to put all the staffers and their families on a generation ship to the stars, she would take it no questions asked. And then there’s the more in-person FoC (which overlaps somewhat with the knitters) who when my life fell apart two years ago were right there to pick up the pieces.

    • I forgot to mention my extended FoC that I mostly see on the internets. You are part of that. โค

      • Not sure if my original comment posted, actually… Maybe it went to spam.

  49. Marie said:

    I have a chosen big sister on the other side of the world. We skype every six weeks. We greet each other with “good morning!” and “good evening!” and we can talk freely about a lot of things I can’t feel I can talk about with other people. We can talk about boundaries and how we handle our relationship in explicit detail. I’m very lucky to have her in my life.

  50. ambyr said:

    I don’t have any siblings. I do have a friend I’ve known forever.

    “Oh,” people say, “someone from high school?”

    No. Forever.

    “So, like, since you were kids?”

    Forever. Since he was born, two months later than I and four doors down the block.

    Twenty-nine years later, we live in the same city as each other (I got a job here after college; he moved because I live here, and this is the part where people truly start giving me blank stares, because–“So you’re dating?” “No.”–there is no cultural script for moving thousands of miles to be with Family of Choice) and see each other at least every other week. I have other friends who I am, in some ways, closer to, but he is the one who knows me, the one I don’t have to explain myself to. And my life would be so much poorer without him in it.

    • “there is no cultural script for moving thousands of miles to be with Family of Choice”

      There really isn’t. I’m trying to import my Sidekick — I moved across the country because the town we lived in was driving me out of my damn mind, and she was starting to consider being anywhere but there, so I told her to come out here and share an apartment with me again. Neither of us is the perfect roommate, but I can be extremely introverted at times and she’s the only person I’ve ever been able to live with that I at no point wanted to throttle for being too present and breathing all my air. We have been known to have conversations over IM from adjacent rooms, and we see no problem with this.

      I seem to have her mostly convinced, but we shall see if everything works out She’s waiting to graduate with her second degree right now, and tangling with university bureaucracy.

    • Baytree said:

      “There is no cultural script for…”

      Thank you for bringing this up. I’ve had some social/cultural difficulties with people understanding chosen family. Like how people are so sympathetic if you explain that your boy/girlfriend is living a thousand miles away, but if it’s your best friend ever who’s more family than family is…. “that sucks, but don’t you have other friends?”

      • ordinarygoddess said:

        True story: my very best friend ever who’s more family than family does indeed live a thousand miles away, and most of my current coworkers think she’s secretly my girlfriend. They just cannot wrap their brains around the idea of that much emotional intimacy without SEXX. Okay, whatever. ๐Ÿ˜€

        I am actually in the process of changing directions in my career to move 200 miles to be closer to my friends. It’s complicated – I’m leaving some very good friends behind, and moving farther away from others, which is upsetting, but I’ll be moving to closer to the Gravitational Center of the Friend Galaxy, and also to a bigger city with generally more opportunities, which means more money and the ability to visit distant friends more often. One of the good things about this move is that it puts me MUCH closer to an airport that reliably has cheap flights to BFF’s city; I’m hoping to be able to see her two or three times a year, instead of once every sixteen months or so.

        I’ve been pretty upfront about that in job interviews – “My social support network is HERE, I am already visiting frequently, I actively want to be HERE full-time, in this city, I am emotionally invested in this place and this community.” The reverse would be very hard, I think.

      • Ellen said:

        One of my chosen family is an only child like me (mentioned upthread, no other details needed here!) and she once worked in a job that offered an employee discount that could be extended to one family member only – strictly family, not friends.

        My friend argued that her parents were hundreds of miles away, she had no siblings and her aunts, uncles and cousins were all in another country, and managed to get her discount extended to me. I was pretty impressed that a large, faceless corporation was willing to see reason, although of course it would be nice if she hadn’t had to explain her geographical isolation and could just have used a cultural script for ‘actually, [in this situation] please consider my best friend my family.’

        Still, that employee discount was niiiiiice.

  51. Penprp said:

    I have… well, my roommate. She moved up to live with me mainly because this area is economically a bit more sound than any of ther other options, and… Well, we clicked really, really well. My FoO is awesome, and nearby, so I took her home for Thanksgiving and Christmas. (Her FoO is in Houston, we’re… not, and plane tickets are fricking expensive, even if you can get time off work.) She gets along well with my family, and we’re.. I’ve never had a sister? But I think this is sort of what it’s like.

  52. Tara said:

    Anyone else feel like getting over an unhealthy family dynamic is like getting over a habit? My family of origin is not all bad. I would say overall there are a number of good people in my FOO, unfortunately most of them are ruled and terrorized by an emotionally abusive minority. When things are good itโ€™s always slightly uncomfortable at family gatherings. Like everyone is holding their breath. When things are bad there is always at least one person who will make it worse for control, attention or untreated mental illness. And the majority of my family just takes it and suppresses anyone who tries to talk it. So while I love my FOO, most of them I have to love at a distance. Coming into adulthood I unwittingly formed friendships that were similar to my relationships with my FOO. Those didn’t last of course and I was always heartbroken when they failed. On some level I knew I was trying to rebuild a family that was better for me than the one I was born into. And each time a friend group broke apart because of Reasons, I was heartbroken. Eventually I realized that I kept falling in with people who were like members of my FOO, because it felt normal. I started to recognize the patterns I was repeating. I started to see how x best friend who always made any issue into a huge screaming fight about herself acted the same way my abusive grandma that I only see 2 times a year. Then I started making different choices about who I put my energies into. It wasn’t easy; not forming connections with the manipulative, emotionally abusive types was like giving up junk food. Even though I knew the relationships were bad for me in the long run they were initially comforting or normal. I would find myself in them before I even knew what happened. It took A LOT of conscious thought, attention and action to break that habit. Now I am happy to say I have an amazing and large FOC. I have sisters and brothers and parental types. I have life partners that are romantic and not romantic. We have cared for each other through weddings, divorce, breakups, births, graduations, new jobs, layoffs, deaths, moves. You name it we have been through it. We donโ€™t all live in one house but we do live together. We raise children together, feed each other, vacation together, support and encourage each other. There are so many of us that we are always in flux, but somehow we donโ€™t drift apart. When we fight there is no passive aggression, manipulation or huge dramaful terribleness that is common in my FOO. These are people I know I can trust implicitly with the most important parts of my life and they trust me with theirs. So while we are not always going to be in the same house, city or state I never fear of distance setting in with them. I do occasionally fall into old patterns; immediately connecting to a person who behaves like my FOO, so I know I am not 100% free of that habit. However, I can say that with all of the knowledge I have gained from making good connections, I am a lot better at recognizing when someone is not a good fit for me earlier on in the relationship and shutting it down. So yeah, I love my tribe they help me be a better me and I hope that I give as good as I get.

  53. wondering said:

    This is so cool! I have a tendency to turn a lot of relationships into chosen family relationships (but on a spectrum, not everyone is BFFs). In high school I had a complete other family, including a mom, and grandma, and several aunts and uncles. I still see them when I can, even if I live a kilomile away now.

    If you have ever been my roommate, you have been inexorable pulled into my chosen family. There have been times when that has been dysfunctional though. Chosen family blow-ups are awful. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  54. Eeeeka said:

    My FOO is pretty cool. They help me out when I need it (though it usually includes a lecture on how I’m doing it all wrong, but…) and I can ask for advice and have it be useful.

    I will be moving away from most of my FOC, in two weeks, which fills me with fear. I know I can talk to them, but it won’t be the same. I will have my darling husband, my kids and my best friend and her husband. But I won’t have everyone else. And thinking about it makes me cry.

  55. My FOO is awesome in some ways and not in others. They somehow developed this very strange idea that you don’t have to be nice to your close family members. I pointed this out to my sister and she said “Well then who do I get to be mean to?” Point made. So I love them, they can be awesome, but because I am also a person who likes mutual respect, they can be hard.

    My FOC is vast and varied. I have a group of friends at home that I’ve had since HS, (None of us went to school together, so weird.) They are like the people I go home to see in many ways. We can just hang out and chat, and watch their kids play, and it is awesome. I also have a best friend since I was like 5, she lives far away. So we talk when we can and keep each other up to date as much as possible. Like family I just know that when I need her, or she needs me, we’ll be there.

    It’s hard for me generally because I do not live near either of my families. I keep in touch with both via weekly e-mails and phone calls, but that’s not the same as just having dinner together or hanging out playing board games all night. Making new friends as an adult is hard and it sucks, as has been covered before on this blog.

  56. I don’t really have much family-family — and have been making families of choice since my early twenties. Then, the year my younger brother died, my BFF got pregnant with twins — terrifying pregnancy as she’d lost the previous one at 9 months (stillbirth). Those twins are mine! My chosen babies (I don’t have any kids of my own) … I spent a bereaved two years holding an extra twin, since they refused to sleep if they weren’t being held. I love their older and younger siblings to bits as well … basically, we all adopted one another. I was just at a party, introducing my stepmother (who has been divorced from my dad for 20 years but we kept her — more chosen family) to the twins grandparents — “Look!” I said. “I have some family!” And they replied “but you have us! you’re part of our family.” Like all long term relationships we’ve had our ups and downs and hiccups, but we love one another, and are nice to one another, and show up for one another. What more could you want?

  57. I most definitely made a family of my friends (which can feed into the Geek Social Fallacies at times – hey, you’re all my family, why aren’t you clicking?) because my FOO is so very small and now so very distant. And then many of my friend-family is ALSO distant, so I have all these layers. My dad plays well with my friend-family, too, for the most part.
    One upside to choosing your friend-family is that you can excise them more easily when they do turn out to be toxic or abusive or whatever negative vibe can occur between people. I can’t ever not be my mother’s daughter (even if I don’t talk to her), but I can totally stop being that friend’s friend when she stops being, you know, a friend.
    I’m not saying I divorce my friends lightly, but the folks I consider my friend-family have gone through a Lengthy Process of Assimilation To My Heart, and so to separate from them is considerably more involved and sad than just the slow drift from a social friend.
    I like what a poster said above about finding oneself drawn to narratives with found-families – it definitely makes me want to look at my favorite media comforts (Harry Potter an excellent example) and those of my partner and see if there is a theme there. He has done a marvelous job separating from the toxic FOO and from the toxic friends and we have been building a new wonderful friend-family as a couple to supplement our smaller friend-families-of-origin.
    AND – to me – marriage is not just marrying that person, and their biological FOO, but also their friend-family, and so when I imagine my wedding ceremony, we are surrounded by those truly family-style friends who love me and love him and love us and support us as we unconditionally do for them as well. Bonus: family style BBQ buffet, just to drive the point home.

  58. WHAT A GOOD THREAD. I read all the comments and I kept tearing up.
    I got lucky with my excellent FOO, and even luckier in finding a few people that I just click with in my mid-to-late teens. My partner A and I have been together almost five years, and are having our (non-legal) wedding next month. We’ve been there for each other through some hard times and some great times and mostly times that were in between or a mix of both, and I’ve learned and still am learning so much from our relationship. Being around hir makes me feel like I can accomplish anything, and when everything is too hard to deal with zie always hits on the best way to help. We appreciate each other’s infodumping, mess around with archetypes, craft together, keep an eye out for each other’s codependency issues, and talk through and analyze EVERYTHING significant that’s going on in our lives together. I think the biggest difference between my relationship with hir and my non-current relationships is that I don’t feel like loving and being loved by hir limits me or my options in any ways except for the ones I choose, and I make the choice to be as much a part of hir life as I am freely, over and over. A’s other partner is also worth mentioning; I consider him part of my family even though we don’t click the way I do with A, both because he’s A’s family and because he is just so supportive and wonderful.
    My other partner W also helps me feel like I can accomplish anything, but at the same time reminds me that it’s not the end of the world if I don’t. W doesn’t allow themself to care deeply about a lot of people, but when they do, they are so kind and nurturing and understanding. W also has been instrumental in helping me overcome my hangups re:sex (a work in progress), and their patience with my general brain weird is monumental.
    I talk on the phone with my best-friend-person every couple weeks-to-months, but despite the time lapses it never seems like we get distant. Their perspective always helps shine a light on whatever issue I’ve been gnawing on in my own life, and vice versa–somehow we always seem to be dealing with similar things. I can’t quantify why we get along so well, since on paper we’re so different, but I love them so dearly.
    There’s another couple who I sometimes forget about, because my friendship with them is so low-maintenance, but I feel very safe and at home with them.

  59. Raygun said:

    This thread makes me a bit sad. I haven’t had good luck with people who have claimed themselves as my chosen family and I’m really leery of groups with that dynamic now:
    –Cultlike group in college centered around horror fandom and one particular alpha nerd with erratic and self-centered behavior, broke up suddenly after the alpha nerd revealed himself to be a completely abusive lying asshole and moved away suddenly
    –ACTUAL cult based on a popular late 90’s sci-fi movie
    –LARP group who relentlessly scorned “mundanes” and patterned their real-life interactions after the interactions of their characters
    –Little brother’s “punk family” which I was “adopted” into by virtue of being physically related to him and kicked out of after I started asking people for gas money for driving them out of state
    –LGBT support group which lasted in a “found family” form for two years and then suddenly dissolved over two months in a flurry of drama and sexual jealousy
    –Polyamorous kinky social justice inner-city commune which started making fun of me for my class status after I was hesitant to engage in group sex
    –The entire steampunk populace of my metropolitan area. It’s weird to hear your closest friend refer to the 500 goggled people around you as her “true family” and then realize that out of the 500 people there, there are three you actually want to talk to and 497 who are vague acquaintances you see on a weekly basis
    –Several friends from primary school I considered sisters at the time, who my parents considered surrogate daughters, who have now moved to hipper and more economically viable cities and have not responded to my attempts to reach out to them beyond saying “move out of Detroit and we can hang out”
    –Two ex-boyfriends who are very dear to me and are like brothers, both of whom hate each other immensely and who have systematically alienated every one of my friends except for an ex I increasingly dislike

    I really wish I could say that I had a close and supportive found family. I want one. But I don’t think I’ll ever have one. The friends I do have are dear friends, but I can’t look at them and think, “Yes, this is my family.” My family is great and supportive and has never imploded in a shower of drama and always gets together for holidays, even if we don’t have any time to talk to each other in the interim. My family has known me since I was a baby and known me when I was an awkward child and a depressed adolescent and still loves me and would never dump me for no longer being interested in the same things as they are. My friends are great, but none of them have known me as anything but the extroverted, charmingly quirky person I apparently became less than five years ago.

    • JenniferP said:

      I’m glad you have good friends and FAMILY-family that has your back. Not everyone has that, and they look a little wistfully at you around holiday time or certain life rituals when it’s expected family will be there. And not everyone grooves on the “chosen family” narrative.

    • Marie said:

      I’m sorry that you have such terrible experiences with being run out of groups every time. It really sucks. I have a string of broken friendships, too. For a long time, that was very painful to me, because I thought I couldn’t keep a friend to save my life. I obsessed over the broken friendships, wondering what went wrong, and what I could have done right. And then I took a step back, and it occurred to me that I have friendships that have never broken, even though as life happens they go through times when the friendship bond is more extended than others. It may very well be that one day the fog will have lifted enough that you can turn around and realise that you have friends who have been there all the time.

      There’s this narrative that when you get bullied or abused, you start attracting abusive people, or you start to unconsciously want relationship dynamics to be abusive and there’s nothing you can do about it. That’s complete victim-blaming BS. I think it’s perfectly possible to be a very vulnerable person with no sense of boundaries whatsoever and go through life without ever being abused (it happens to lots of babies and they don’t know anything about red flags). You just have to be surrounded by non-abusive people. You don’t exude some weird pheromone that lets abusers know a likely victim is near and makes them go wild and break down your door to suck you dry and drive away all the good people in a 5-mile radius. Getting into an abusive relationship is bad luck, nothing more. It doesn’t mean you can’t develop healthy, respectful an affectionate relationships at the very same time.

  60. Jules said:

    Wherever I end up, I seem to collect one or two women friends who are like sisters to me. (An odd little only child.) Now I’m in my thirties and even if I don’t see them for months, or even years, at a stretch, when we get together it’s like we pick up right where we left off with each other.
    There are members of my family that I broke with, so I know that blood isn’t thicker than friendship, or whatever it is. My friend family, on the other hand, are the ones I chose, and who chose me.
    I’ve had many satisfying, deep romantic relationships, including the one I’m in now, but I know that when I’m on my deathbed and I think of “the love of my life” I’ll be thinking of the woman I played SimCity with when we were fourteen.

    • Jules said:

      Oh, and of course I refer to my best friend’s offspring as “my first nephew”!

      Got to spend a few days with her in my new (far away) city last week, and it was all the awesome.

      • I refer to my best friends’ spouses as my best friends-in-law. When they divorce, if it’s not super awful hostile, I try and stay in touch, since I adopted them too. I understand if they want to separate, but I don’t want to unnecessarily initiate hostilities.
        My college boyfriend’s mom was a real mom to me when I needed her, even after he dumped me, and for that she always has a little candle burning in the altar of my heart.

  61. My family is made of part FOO and part chosen family, and I’m still trying to discern how exactly I want/need that to work for me. Things I do know: my dad isn’t getting any younger, so making a point of spending more time with him is a priority. Also, people who I want to spend time with who also want to spend time with me are a huge boon.

    I’m feeling rambly and lovey, but also a little uncertain and small.

    I also just moved in with my Bear, and we have his daughter half the time, who is 13. She’s a pretty amazing kid, overall. Trying to be the best stepparent I can be to her.

    Family is important. Family is often the people I miss the most and see the least because of time, distance, location, etc. Family is often those who I can count on to respect my boundaries as long as I let them know what they are, and those who will defend me and bolster me.

    Ramble, ramble. Thanks for having this thread today.

  62. I just celebrated my 16th year with one of the friends I call sister. I feel very, very lucky to have a circle of other queer femmes of color, and that some of them are relationships that have lasted more than a decade. I met this one in 1997, in the basement of a housing project in Toronto, watching a play by a radical, working class Sri Lankan theater collective. We’re both girls with working class South Asian dads who married Irish, working class mums in the 70s, and even though we hate it when white folks ask “Are you sisters?” in the way that folks that are vaguely the same kind of Black or brownish get asked sometimes even when we don’t really look alike, it is true that we both have curly hair, glasses and similar fast rates of talking and sarcastic takes on life, and we are sisters. (But she’s six one and all of our facial and other features are completely different ;)) We’ve seen each other through a lot- law school, relationship breakups, abusive relationships, transcontinental moves, depressions, and just plain growing up from the early 20s to the late 30s. I value the depth of knowledge and trust we have in each other, how we can finish each other’s thoughts or riff off each other’s words in an instant, and how deeply and immediately we know each other- when something’s wrong, or right. When we were going to the Frida Kahlo exhibit at the AGO for her birthday and I casually mentioned that things had been a little rough lately, what with this community angry patch and that difficult accountabiltiy process to mediate, and without turning around or missing a beat, she said, “Frankly, I’ve wondered why you haven’t snapped.” I might not be capturing it well, but it meant a lot- that I’d been downplaying a lot of really hard stuff I’d been enduring and normalizing it and not thinking anyone else saw it, and she was letting me know she’d seen, and was looking out, and was concerned but trusted me enough to find my own way. Mostly, I’m glad that we found each other, and we’ve stuck by each other.

  63. SparrowsMom said:

    Ummm…how do i get a chosen family? honestly, i’ve left my foo behind, but i’m having trouble finding another family. due to major trust issues and introversion, i’m super shy. :S i’m kind of jealous of everyone here who has a lovely and stable chosen family. i’m just adrift in the gulf between. it makes it heard because the lonelyness makes me want to go back to my foo just so i’m not alone. the little voice says ‘it’s better to be abused than lonely’.

  64. Aunt Vixen said:

    I’m fortunate that my own immediate and extended family of origin are not the sorts of families I need to escape, but that because they were far away when we were growing up we had chosen-family locally as well. Last fall when my father died, I was giving one of the chosen-family moms some information about the cemetery and burial arrangements, and asked her if she could come. She said “Wait, I thought you said there’d be a memorial service in a couple of weeks, and the burial would be just for family.”

    I said, “Right. So can you make it?”

  65. fairylogic said:

    My two best girlfriends and our respective spouses at the time decided to buy a big house and start an “intentional community” for our chosen family. We jokingly referred to each other as “sister-wives” when we combined households. When all three of our marriages fell apart, we were no longer wives but will always be sisters. We’ve seen each other through three terrible divorces and all of the painful transitions, stayed together as roommates until the community house sold, and basically were there for each other as the dreams we had built together fell apart. Now we we still all live in the same town, have celebrated new relationships and are happy aunties to a new baby. It’s wonderful to have two best friends who have literally gone through the same hell together. We get each other and the events of the last few years in ways that no one else could.

  66. duaecat said:

    I’ve cut off contact with most of my family of origin. Which wasn’t hard, they are convinced Baptist is the only true religion and Episcopalians like my father are “heathen pagan satanists”. So they weren’t horrible or abusive, just… a lot of attitude at family gatherings towards my father and extending to his kids that ranged from smug superiority to outright mocking and shunning.

    Really.. my only chosen family is my husband. My father’s a chosen acquaintance-friend because he’s fun to be around. But I know the minute I call him with a crisis he will leap into action and ask if there’s anything he can do…. next week, because today he agreed to meet with friends for lunch, and tomorrow he’s taking his GF’s kids to the lake, and the day after he works late, but as soon as he’s got a 100% clear schedule he will rush to my rescue, no worries.

    I have friends, I mean I spent the last weekend driving three hours and back to hang out with friends I only get to see a couple times a year and we’ve made plans to visit the zoo together. I have LARP buddies, and con buddies, and so on, it’s just… kind of alien to me sometimes, to think you can actually count on other people, and I read stuff like this with the sort of bemused skepticism as someone reading alien abduction stories.”Oh sure, I am sure that’s how you THINK it works, but here in the real world…” and I have to stop myself and remind myself that there really are people you can count on.

    For me, I had three LARP events where two dozen people got down on their knees and swore to god and country and on anything they could think of that they would help out in the kitchen and wash dishes for me. They’d cut out their hearts with a rusty spoon before they let my hands touch dishwater. And then game on happened and I spent all event washing dishes with no help from them and a barrel load of excuses. After that, we switched to paper plates and plastic cups. Worse for the environment, but reduced the workload to something my husband and I could cope with.

  67. onion said:

    i, uh. i’m kind of leery of people who claim that i’m their “chosen family,” given last time that happened they turned out to be abusive and creepy as fuck? but an old friend of mine, who i hadn’t been that close to before, who i hadn’t talked to in a couple years, came back into town recently and we started talking again around the beginning of the year, and it’s pretty good. like we can talk to each other about a lot of things, he’s one of the (very few) people i feel safe around, and we respect each other’s boundaries. lol, this site actually helped me realize that that’s what a healthy relationship looks like, that i am in fact capable of being in healthy relationships because our friendship is healthy. he and his gf (who’s also been one of my friends forever) and i are planning to get an apartment together, and i’m pretty excited about it.

    they’re not my family, but we’re pretty close and i’m happy they’re here, for however long they want to stay in my life/i want to stay in theirs.

  68. kjc said:

    Eeheehee, let me tell y’all about my roommates because they are lifesavers right now. Due to various reasons I just cut cords with one of my more prominent family members and they have been amazingly supportive the whole way. They’ve just been super accepting and loving and okay with listening when I need an open ear and okay with venting to me when things are going wrong for them. One of them is for defs one of my best friends in the world and she’s really been helping me draw more and get reconnected to more healthy, good aspects of my personality. It’s been wonderful. โค I'm going back to college in the fall and they both graduated so I won't be able to see them as often anymore, but thank goodness for Skype. I will miss them dearly. I don't want this summer to end.

    My other friends at school are also great, it just changes things a little once you've actually lived with someone for a while and they still accept all your little idiosyncracies and still choose you. โค

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