Not every family is Ohana: leave them behind

Photo by Marco Pedri

There’s a commonly used phrase that always irks me whenever I hear it: “blood is thicker than water.”

It’s thrown around in movies and on TV shows as a humbling way to teach values about familial bonds.

In real life, it’s often utilized as a backhanded form of misplaced guilt.

Proverbs like this tend to be bullshit anyway, but the actual meaning behind it has been completely blurred into something entirely different than its original intent.

This philosophical nugget of false wisdom that’s been flaunted as a bad tattoo on the hairy back of one too many means the exact opposite of what most people assume.

It doesn’t take much internet digging to discover that the original words of this phrase were actually “the blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.”

Referring to literal blood spilled by soldiers on battlefields and the blood mixed through “blood covenants,” these words make more sense when read the way they were intended.

This hard core, Viggo-Mortensen-actually-breaking-his-toe-in-a-Lord-of-the-Rings-scene stuff basically implies the reverse of what we’ve come to accept the definition to be: that friendships are stronger than family.

Family is portrayed to be the glimmering beacon of light that will be at the end of every tunnel waiting for you, regardless of how they treat you.

I personally recognize the privilege I have as someone who is very close to my own family. Our relationships have been built on a foundation of trust, respect and love that has always been present.

However, I have been the direct witness of familial bonds that are entirely unlike my own; that aren’t so much like The Waltons but more reminiscent of the unsettling dynamics demonstrated by the destructive parents on Riverdale.

Friends and close loved ones have been my eye-opener into lives that are continually made more miserable because of the seemingly inescapable genepool they share with the people directly responsible for the turmoil they’re forced to endure.

We’re led to believe that we have to accept all levels of treatment, from kind of shitty to really bad, if it involves family.

As we get older, we tend to forget that we have the option, the free will and the right to cut ties with the people who treat us poorly, even if they’re related to us.

Someone I care deeply about has gone through the process of realizing the kindness they truly deserve as a person and that they had never gotten it at home.

They’ve pulled away from their biological family, despite the guilt that’s been issued against them because of it, with the knowledge that they’ve made the right decision.

Funnily enough, they’re far happier now than they ever were before.

They’re surrounded by people who genuinely care about them and show it, a concept which seemed unattainable to them before.

Life (at least for most of us) isn’t like a mafia movie where the ties you have amongst your “family” mean the most.

Tony Soprano isn’t blowing cigar smoke in your face with the looming threat that if you decide to leave the family and pursue a different path, he’ll break your legs with a golf club.

I watch too much HBO, but you get the point.

Sometimes, the people who give us the most in our lives aren’t the ones who brought us into this world.

They’re the ones we meet who have no other connection to us other than the fact that they were meant for a greater purpose: to show us how worthy we really are.

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