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Sometimes in a split-second, implusive decision you can pick up a book that is exactly what you are supposed to be reading at the very moment in your life.  Sometimes you find a book that you are ready to listen to, even though you wouldn’t normally be open to what it has to say to you.  You don’t, as usual, ignore the importance of the messages it contains.  You find the book just when you can use it most.

For me, now is that sometime.

Families are something we all struggle with, not matter how “good” or “bad” our upbringing and current situation.  There are conflicts and tensions so tightly interwoven with our psyches that some never know what are their own ideas and what is their reaciton to their family.  Creating our own families is likely the only thing scarier than dealing with the ones we already have.  Particularly if we feel insufficiently prepared, as most of us do.

Delving into these issues, this book addresses the question what is family?  And not surprisingly it does not give any answers.

A big premise of the book is that there are no answers.  However, if you’re on a journey to ask the right questions or are striving to find the meaning of your own doubts about family then the stories in this book will open up the avenues you seek. 

For me, the most important part of reading this book was that it helped me keep my own family tensions in perspective.  These are heartbreaking stories of abuse and neglect.   In comparision my own family, though not faultless, began to look pretty idyllic to me.  It even allowed me to forgive someone I had been very mad it for a long time. I finally saw how insignificant my reasons were.

With families there is a constant push and pull between what is good for the family and what is good for the individual.  We all have own own mores about how far to go with family; each of us has our own unique quitting point.  Having a healthy family isn’t always about forgiveness.  It’s about creating a unit that is healthy and functional – one that works for everyone involved.  Sometimes to do that, we need to amputate a diseased limb.  AND THAT’S OK!  (sorry, for me this needs emphasis).  I have spent many years thinking I wasn’t doing enough since things obviously weren’t working.  Though a small part of me said it’s not you – it’s them, I’m not sure I ever really believed it.  I am finally accepting that I need to (nay must) allow myself freedom from toxic relationships.  Strengthening a family does not have to mean equal ties with everyone.   If you let go of the fruitless efforts with some you can open up satisfying ones with others.  Building a family does not mean reaching out to everyone, but rather holding on tight to those you need with you.

Without answers to these questions, we are not left afloat in a sea of confusion, but rather we are set free to choose what works for us.  For each individual.  And by doing that, we can all build the families we want and need.