Every time someone wants to make a case for why you should forgive and accept the people that are your blood relatives, no matter how horrible they may have been or are currently to you, they use the phrase “blood is thicker than water”. Blood may be thicker than water in the literal sense, but then blood also literally leaves your body when your body is damaged, whilst water does not. The common phrase might make sense to the individual saying the phrase because they have not experienced the extent to which a blood relative can betray you more than someone you have just met. However, that is no reason to push someone to accept blood relatives if they don’t want to. One’s own experience is no reason to force a belief on another. Rather it is more important to understand another’s perspective and respect that they may have good reason to hold the belief they do. In this case, you never really know what someone’s family is like and the reality is that even within family there are people you are closer to and then there are those who you’d rather not engage with. For some, their entire family may fall under the latter and so their chosen family is more reliable than the biologically related ones.
The actual quote here that people misquote all too often is “The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.” It has been misconstrued over the years to make people believe that you should stick to your family over your friends. The phrase was originally intended to convey that the blood shed on the battlefield forms a stronger bond between soldiers than the bonds of biological relationships. I have experienced this first hand, not as a soldier in battle, but as a warrior in life who has experienced life-threatening adversity repeatedly. Those who have followed my story know that I speak often of loving the family I choose rather than just my family in its most commonly accepted sense. I speak as such because I have found people in my life – some that have been with me for years, and some that were complete strangers I’d never thought of bonding with – that have been far more supportive in every aspect of my life, and especially during adversity, than those who I am biologically related to.
In fact, I have been able to rely on my bonds of friendship and chosen family far more than I ever could with my biological family. When my life fell apart, my biological family was as much or even more opportunistic than my enemies were (some were even the cause). They took advantage of my pain and displayed their pride and ego to belittle or isolate me instead of supporting and lifting me up. They victimized themselves from the adversity that had befallen me, declaring me as the reason for all of that had happened, instead of helping me know with confidence that I wasn’t the problem, my abusers were.
Instead it was my friends – my amazing, god-sent friends – that rushed to my side, picked up all of my shattered pieces, and brought me back to life. Some I hadn’t spoken to in years, some I wasn’t even on talking terms with at that moment in time, but when I reached out – broken and in need – they came running and ensured that I never felt alone. We hadn’t gone through war together; we did not go through adversity together, but we somehow bonded as soul friends along our journeys, and proved that our covenant of friendship is much stronger than the forced assignment of family.
This is not to say that there are not family members that I have incredibly strong bonds with, there absolutely are, but the bond is not simply because we are related. The bond I hold with the family I still have with me is because we have built it on the basis of respect, trust, and friendship. My mother always told me that friendship is the basis of every relationship – parental, familial, even marital. I didn’t fully understand that until my life fell apart and I saw that the bonds based on true friendship stayed strong, while the rest easily withered away. The family that truly respected me and honored the trust I had in them, are the ones I have close to me today. They are part of the family I choose, as are my dearest friends. That is why when I refer to my family, it is the group of people that are my chosen people in life, irrespective of biological relations.
My adversity showed me how wrong it is to force relationships, when that is not their purpose. You enter this world with the people you do because that is your fate, not your choice. Once you have the awareness of choice, you have the personal responsibility to discern whose bond should remain and whose are unworthy of your spirit. If someone does not or cannot respect you, then you have no obligation to maintain the relationship. Being cordial is not the same as having a bond. It is important people understand the difference.
For example, in South Asian cultures, it is expected that you respect your elders, even if they are overtly disrespectful (as many of them often are). South Asians should not accept this disrespect, but they do in the name of family and culture. I am South Asian, and I have elders that are disrespectful (horribly so), but I absolutely do not accept or condone their actions. I respect them as humans, am cordial in their presence, but I will not act beyond that. If you have disrespected me, you have no place in my circle. Even if your presence is one that I cannot avoid because of the relationship we have, I hold no obligation to engage with you beyond acknowledging your existence as I acknowledge the existence of all humans, and engaging with you only when and where necessary. If that comes off as disrespectful, you will absolutely hear exactly why my actions are justified. Every time you are disrespectful, you will also be informed of and held accountable for your actions. You may choose to ask me to leave or tell me I’m disrespectful, and I will respond accordingly. You get what you give in both respect and actions, irrespective of your age or relationship to my life. It’s high time more people lived like this, too.
You have to respect yourself and your life enough to make the choice of who is allowed to be a part of your circle and gets access to you. You are valuable and it is in knowing that value that you will realize the people that don’t see that value are just leeching off of your spirit. Even if those people are family, you are not bound to them. Being related does not qualify them as being trustworthy or respectful. It just means…you’re related. As much as society and culture want to tell you to keep biological relations closest, you have to remember that your circle is your choice. And your circle impacts your life in a big way – in happy moments and in adversity. The choice doesn’t mean you have to be unnecessarily disrespectful or inhumane, for you can still be cordial, but it does mean that you limit the burden these undeserving individuals place on your life.
And choose your life.
Choose your circle,
For celebrations and for strife.
For you are not bound by blood.
Your covenant is not for life.
Those that respect your value should remain
The rest are just for you to know,
To remember they are human,
Respect them, but let them go.
Your life is far too precious
For you to remain bound
To those that hold blood against you
But in adversity won’t make a sound.
’Tis true that blood is thicker
But what of the covenants you choose
Those covenants are always stronger
Because your bond they will not abuse.
So look at those around you
The relations and friends whose
Bond with you is truly valuable
The rest you can afford to lose.
– Akiti –