The free "prize" that goes with purchases usually looks okay on the surface. And it will usually serve its purpose in a pretty basic way. You might find yourself wishing it was the model with this option or that one, a few bells and whistles, and boy, if you could have chosen which one you wanted in that line, it would have been one of the upgraded versions.
You eye that nicer model somewhat wistfully, thinking "Mmmmm, I wish..." and going over the list of options that are so appealing. It does this and it does that, and then it does this, too! Wow... yours only does this and that.
"Ah, well. It works," you tell yourself in an attempt to feel satisfied with what you were given.
We slide out of the universe, landing straight into a pile of people who are pretty much your standard issue family. Maybe a bell and a whistle, perhaps a few extra options, and most of them have some cracks, dents or broken bits. They still work but for the most part, they are not the upgraded versions that you'd really love to have.
Many of them will be in your face, jamming their noses into your business with every other heartbeat. Some of them might not give a rat's @$$ what you do - or don't do.
Your mother may drive you absolutely mental. She calls it love and nurturing. You call it suffocating and neurotic.
Your sister steals your make-up, your clothes, your boyfriend. You want to chuck her off a bridge but you don't realise that she admires you, looks up to you, wants to be just like you.
You might have landed in a blended family, or one that is missing various members, probably for a variety of very painful reasons. Perhaps it's an extremely toxic family and it makes you sick right through to your soul.
But whatever it is, warts, poisons, neuroses and all, it's your family. And you might well be wishing you had one of the upgraded versions you've seen in other people's homes.
In a way, you can have one of those models. You can do a sort of Mr Potato-head thing, taking several parts and putting them together to create your Potato-family. This can help to heal the parts of your own that are missing, broken, dented or damaged.
I was given a bunch of mothers in this life (in an assortment of birth, foster and adopted). Yet I never knew what it was to feel "mothered". This caused me a lot of pain for a very long time and my agonising attempts to win that motherly love I craved were utterly futile and self-destructive.
But I've had the extremely good fortune to be given mother-substitutes throughout my life, women who were very maternal, nurturing, soothing and comforting. They gave me a taste of what it's like to be mothered and it's really delicious. Many times, I've been moved to tears by the ease with which these women offered their beautiful mothering gift to me - one in particular, a lovely woman with the biggest, most nurturing and maternal heart I'd ever been blessed to know.
As for my adopted family, my parents and only sibling are dead. I have no relationship with anyone else, apart from a beautiful aunt who lives thousands of miles away (thank God for internet).
Luckily, I have some very loving birth family members in my life, although at a distance. I hope to develop closer relationships with them someday.
Then there are a bunch of informally adopted family members, my 'Mum', sisters, a brother or two. There were even a couple of grandparents thrown into the mix, too, a long time ago but they died some years back.
There have been so many wonderful people with whom I've shared loving connections and bonds that have felt more like family than most of the people to whom I've been related by blood or by law. The beauty of these family members is they don't offer the same kinds of dysfunctional, enmeshed, crazy-making interference and emotional upsets that "traditional" families do. Bonus!
"Family" most certainly does not have to mean the prize that comes with the purchase, although some of those basic models are quite good and if you're one of the lucky ones who is happy with yours, I'm thrilled that you were so blessed - and no doubt you are thrilled, too.
And if you weren't one of those people, if the word "family" conjures up pain and heartache, or loneliness and emptiness, I hope you've been able to create your own upgraded model, adding the bells and whistles, choosing specific options that allow you to feel loved and supported, welcomed and valued, the way a real family is intended to be.
It doesn't matter what shape or size it is, or where it comes from, or how you stumbled into it, as long as you have a group of people in your life who feel like your family in all the best ways.
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