I've long been a proponent of the idea that Family is Chosen, while Relatives are a trick that the gods play on us to see how well we handle conflict resolution. I still believe this. What I'm finding though is that sometimes, the two aren't really so different.
My relatives are, without a doubt, some of the biggest pains in my life. At least those who aren't already dead or who haven't already been specifically cut out of my life for being such a pain in the rump, are still some of the biggest pains in my life. I really don't have all that many Relatives left in my immediate family. Most of them are dead from either old age or chronic illness. C'est la vie, life is one of those games that nobody wins, and nobody makes it out alive. I've still got plenty of cousins amongst the living, but I haven't had a whole lot of contact with any of my cousins in the decade since my mom died. After all, they're all cousins through that side of the family - mom is dead, grandpa is dead, and I removed the bat from the attic and sent her packing quite a while back - so there's really not much left in the way of connectivity there.
My chosen Family, on the other hand, has for years been the SCA "Household" that I'm a member of, and have been a member of for closing on 2 decades. That "family" has grown by leaps and bounds over the past 2 decades, and now has branches in pretty much every state of the US, as well as folks overseas in several other countries. It is comprised of an amalgamation of people from practically every walk of life, with a wide range of hobbies, vices, educational levels, incomes, and preferences. Some of us know each other only rather vaguely, having met perhaps once or twice at an SCA event somewhere along the line, but considering each other Family in that we are both part of Thunder as a Household.
Now, like every conglomeration of folks who have little in common except a single mutual hobby, there are those amongst my Family who are rather dear to me. I love them as much as if we had been born of the same mother, rather than having met as adults. And then there are those who, quite bluntly, I view in the same light as I view my Relatives - I detest them, could happily live the rest of my life never seeing or speaking with them again, and frankly can't stand to be around them (although for the sake of good manners I'll be socially polite to them when I absolutely Have to be.) These are folks that I don't particularly consider to be part of my Family, despite the fact that we're both part of the same Household, and ostensibly everyone in the Household is considered to be "Family" via membership.
Frankly, though, I have to admit that I find it difficult at best to consider some of these people (and I use the term "people" here rather loosely in a few cases!) to be part of my extended family of choice. I didn't chose them. I didn't even have a say in the choosing process when they were given entrance into my Family. Granted, they didn't have a say in the choosing of ME, either - but I was there before a lot of them were, so I was simply part of the package deal that they signed on for, like it or lump it. The ones that I really despise the most are conniving, manipulative, backstabbing, emotionally abusive, two faced domineering control freaks who have no compunction about lying or cheating to get what they want, typically to a personality politics end - everything that I hate in my still living Relatives that made me cut them forcibly out of my life.
Right now, I'm considering sending a few more folks to the chopping block - folks who are only nominally family, who act more like relatives, and who - quite bluntly - I would rather not have to deal with any longer.
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