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Family first. Family over everything. Blood is thicker than water.
Phrase it however you’d like, but growing up this family-forward mindset was at the top of my priority list.
I come from a large, loud, dysfunctional, always-in-each-other’s-business, codependent, but super loving extended family. And for most of my life, I couldn’t imagine what my world would look like without them.
But as I got older, I started to see the cracks in our foundation. The disrespect. The talking behind each other’s backs. The hurt feelings that never got addressed. The tension during get togethers. The judgement and jealousy. The boundaries constantly being crossed.
Yes, there was still love and a desire to remain close. But, for reasons we’ve addressed and reasons we still haven’t faced, we went from family first to family fractured.
I haven’t spoken to almost half of my extended family in about three years. And our last few conversations were anything but cordial. And even though once upon a time I couldn’t imagine going through life without them, the truth is that my life without them is good. There’s more calm and less drama. More respect and less toxicity. More genuine connection and less staying quiet to keep the peace.
There are days the loss still hurts. There are more days when the loss makes me grateful for the family relationships that have survived.
Earlier this year, I asked our readers “What’s one thing you believed as a child that you no longer believe as an adult, or realize was unhealthy or toxic?” Their answers changed so much about how I view my life and the lessons I was taught growing up.
This week I asked a similar question—I hope these 13 responses help change a few beliefs in your own world:
1. “I was taught that life is hard. It’s not; it’s fun, sweet and beautiful. I don’t have to live my parents reality.” ~ Becky
2. “Hard work brings financial success.” ~ Gina
3. “When I was young, I legitimately believed in how exceptional we are as a country in the USA. I believed that it was undisputed that we are number 1 in everything. I’d like to still believe that, but too many things these days show me how untrue that is.” ~ Greg
4. “Old Belief: I would be wise when I’m older. Reality: Wisdom has always been with me.” ~ Barbara
5. “That there is good in everyone. That every apology deserves forgiveness.” ~ Apryl
6. “That you can do anything you want if you work hard enough toward your goal. We got limits. It’s okay to realize that, and change your goals instead of living the rest of your life in frustration.” ~ Mari Ann
7. “I would have my parents forever…” ~ Jane
8. “That the world is a dark and dangerous place full of bad people who want to hurt me. Took me almost 4 decades to understand that was just my childhood. Now I look for the heroes…the helpers. They’re everywhere.” ~ Amy
9. “As a teen, I believed a guy having long hair somehow indicates he is interesting and has an engaging personality. (Who am I kidding, my brain still jumps to this conclusion and I’m nearly 40. Why am I like this. Its awful. Somebody help.)” ~ Heather
10. “That all it takes is hard work and dedication to get somewhere. Nope. You need generational wealth and/or connections. If you grew up poor you have a tiny chance of getting yourself out of that situation unless you want to work 70 hours a week and/or have a massive amount of loan debt.” ~ Lindsay
11. “That drinking alcohol is how you have fun, how you celebrate, how you grieve, how you relax, how you spend the weekend, how you be sexy, how you be tough, how you be normal.” ~ Steph
12. “That ‘God’ made me fall off of my bicycle because of something ‘bad’ that I did.” ~ Christina
13. “As a child, I truly believed that no one would ever say they loved you unless they really meant it.” ~ Lori
And a few funny ones, because it helps to not take life so seriously:
14. “That there were little people making music inside the radio.” ~ Dhani
15. “That if I drank coke and ate pop rocks at the same time my stomach would explode!” ~ Rebecca
16. “That my mom had eyes on the back of her head.” ~ Julianita