Family Matters: Yesterday, Today And Always

Family Matters: Yesterday, Today And Always

How college has taught me that family has your back no matter what.

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Friends and boyfriends will always come and go, but family is forever. My family has always been close, but I never truly valued their unconditional love until I moved four hours away from home.

Being the youngest sibling has more benefits than I realized.

I was raised in a family with three siblings and while I love each one dearly, there is a huge age gap between us. There are 15 years between my brother and me, and 9 and 10 years between my two sisters and I.

Needless to say, I spent most of my life feeling overshadowed as they approached milestones within their lives while I approached puberty. As my brother graduated with a master's degree, I was deciding on what colleges to apply to. As my sister prepared for her wedding, I had yet to graduate high school let alone think about marriage.

We have each always been at different stages in our lives and I felt as though this prevented a close-knit relationship at several points in my life.

What I failed to realize was the beauty in the age gap. Now that I am four hours from home, trying to figure out how to do laundry and to eat vegetables per my mother's request, my siblings have become my biggest support system.

There have been grudges held and names called, but that will never deny the fact that my sisters are my best friends. We have witnessed each other love and laugh and cry, creating an unbreakable bond that, as an emerging adult, I truly realize the value in.

While growing up we would go on sibling dates, an escape from the parental unit as we liked to call it, and in those moments is where, despite our differences, we laughed and talked and left a sister sized impact on each other that has, personally, shaped who I am today.

My brother and I share a 15 year age gap, and while my angsty teenage self-saw that as a reason to stray away from him, it really meant he had 15 more years of wisdom to offer me. As a family, we would always joke about how he is the 'Golden Child' because of both his accomplishments and his kind nature.

In reality, though, he truly is someone whom I admire and strive to become. Even within his adult life he makes a conscious effort to check in with me and offer a helping hand.

Though I thought being the youngest prevented me from ever being close with my siblings, it actually created memories and relationships that I wouldn't exchange for the world.

My mom knows a lot more about life, love, and drama than I ever thought.

My mom and I never had the closest relationship as I was growing up and that was due to how similar our personalities turned out to be. We're passionate, and opinionated, and stubborn and many times our clashing morals and opinions would create arguments and tension that lasted all too long.

Since moving to college my mom has become my ride-or-die best friend. I'm sure she doesn't always love to hear about the drama, the parties, the boys, but she offers words of advice that heal the heart and soothe the soul. Admittedly, I was homesick for the first month or so of college and hearing her voice over the phone offered me a little slice of home I knew I wouldn't have for another few weeks.

One thing I truly admire about my mom is the way in which she gives me advice. She never talks down to me or lectures me, but instead, she speaks from experience and uses situations from her own life that she believes will impact my decisions here at school.

She is the strongest woman I know and has been through love and loss in her life that I could not fathom experiencing. Though our differences seemingly got in the way of our relationship as I grew up, I cannot imagine being able to grow and thrive in college without her. Four hours away may not seem like an overabundance of distance, but when all I want is a home cooked meal and a meaningful hug, she feels a world away.

Even my extended family will drop everything to make sure I'm okay.

I received a text the other day on the way to the library and it was from my aunt. I speak a lot of love and loss, and in all sincerity, I have never met a woman who can overcome adversity with such a positive mindset like her. Without going into over extenuating detail, her life recently has been filled with the chaos I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.

In her chaos, though, she takes the time to send her love from states away.

Every morning she sends words of encouragement that have brought positivity to the start of every day. No one asks her to do so, no one insists that she checks in, but in her selfless, beautiful nature she has the ability to make my day and make me miss home a little more.

Not just in college has she looked after my well-being, but since I was a child with no worries in the world. She is the life of the party and the light at the end of the tunnel. If anyone is so lucky to meet my aunt, she graces those around with her presence. I am so incredibly fortunate to have her in my life, today and every day.

The truest love you will ever experience in life is the unwavering love of family. I wish I realized this a little sooner in life, but nonetheless, the realization came just in time. College may be the hardest adjustment I have experienced thus far, but the support of my family back home gets me through the hardships each and every day.

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To The Dad Who Didn't Want Me, It's Mutual Now

Thank you for leaving me because I am happy.
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Thank you, for leaving me.

Thank you, for leaving me when I was little.

Thank you, for not putting me through the pain of watching you leave.

Thank you, for leaving me with the best mother a daughter could ask for.

I no longer resent you. I no longer feel anger towards you. I wondered for so long who I was. I thought that because I didn't know half of my blood that I was somehow missing something. I thought that who you were defined me. I was wrong. I am my own person. I am strong and capable and you have nothing to do with that. So thank you for leaving me.

In my most vulnerable of times, I struggled with the fact that you didn't want me. You could have watched me grow into the person that I have become, but you didn't. You had a choice to be in my life. I thought that the fact that my own father didn't want me spoke to my own worth. I was wrong. I am so worthy. I am deserving, and you have nothing to do with that. So thank you for leaving me.

You have missed so much. From my first dance to my first day of college, and you'll continue to miss everything. You won't see me graduate, you won't walk me down the aisle, and you won't get to see me follow my dreams. You'll never get that back, but I don't care anymore. What I have been through, and the struggles that I have faced have brought me to where I am today, and I can't complain. I go to a beautiful school, I have the best of friends, I have an amazing family, and that's all I really need.

Whoever you are, I hope you read this. I hope you understand that you have missed out on one of the best opportunities in your life. I could've been your daughter. I could have been your little girl. Now I am neither, nor will I ever be.

So thank you for leaving me because I am happy. I understand my self-worth, and I understand that you don't define me. You have made me stronger. You have helped make me who I am without even knowing it.

So, thank you for leaving me.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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Blocking Toxic Family Members Can Be Just What You Needed

It isn't an easy choice but it can be the most rewarding.

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I haven't written for the Odyssey in quite some time due to this large issue in my life that I feel some people may also need to hear. Watching your parents go through a divorce can be difficult in itself, but what about having to remove one of your parents from your life at the same time? It's something I don't think many people could imagine doing. However, sometimes you are forced into the position between choosing what is best for your mental health or what is expected of you. For me, I realized that I needed to put myself first.

I realized that I am my own person. How I present myself and how I act and what I choose to believe in is how the world perceives me. I was faced with a parent who did not let me be who I am. The way I thought had to be in line with theirs. What I openly spoke about had to be in line with that parent's thoughts. This also, in turn, meant I had to revolve how I was perceived to the world around that parent's family. I had to abide by these societal norms and do what someone else expected of me. I realized that was ludicrous.

This parent was also abusive. They were toxic and manipulative and I could not stand idly by and just take that from them while also trying to become an independent young adult. I was forced to sit and watch one of my parents transform into someone I didn't recognize anymore. I had to watch them ignore any kind of reality checks and continue to feign innocence. I watched one of my parents mentally manipulate people I once called family into believing lies. I kept my head down and shut my mouth and kept taking the abuse. Now I'm at a point where I can confidently say that I am no longer afraid.

I was forced to cut ties with a parent that raised me, cared for me, attended school functions, fixed toys, bought me my first phone. I was forced to chuck out priceless memories for my own sanity. I could not sit idly by and allow myself to endure one more second of lies or abuse. I had to stand up for myself for once in my life and I blocked most of my family. I blocked cousins, aunts, uncles, and godparents. I changed my phone number that I had since 6th grade. I gave no warning and disappeared from my family's lives. Do I have regrets? No. I would do it again if I had to because I am so much stronger than sitting there and taking it.

I will have one less parent at my college graduation, which I am fighting so hard to achieve. I will have one less parent at my wedding. My future children will have one less grandparent. I mope in these thoughts but then I have to remember the other side of things. I will not have an unsupportive parent at my graduation and instead will have those that were there every step of the way. I will lack someone who was toxic at my wedding. My future children will never have to face the same abusive, toxic situations that my parent put me through. It was a difficult decision to make but one that I know in my heart is worthwhile.

Cutting a family member out of your life is difficult enough but cutting a parent is unimaginable. However, no one deserves to go through abusive situations. It shouldn't matter who the person is; if someone is treating you less than you deserve to be treated, they have no use being in your life. You should always be your first priority. You should never have to endure something for the sake of others. I am here to tell you that you are more than that and that cutting out a family member could actually be the best thing for you, even if it's incredibly difficult. I did it and I'm still here. It made me realize who my real family was, and there will never be enough thank you's in the world to show my mother just how much I appreciate her.

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