I have struggled with feelings of worthlessness and loneliness for most of my life. I’ve never really fitted in anywhere except at home with my husband. It is no secret that I have a very broken and fractured relationship with my family, we are not close and it has been a constant source of emotional pain for me ever since I was a small child. There is a saying about how friends are the family that you choose for yourself, and it is so very true.
I have often looked around at many of our friends and acquaintances and felt envious of their large happy families. It has often caused me to feel deep loneliness and pain, especially when at our place of Christian worship, as the majority of the congregation which we attend are related to each other in some way or another – a point that I notice and feel both covetous and alone because of.
Yet recently I’ve come to realise something wonderful, I have a family who I love, and who loves me. This family is not founded with blood, but we are bonded by heart and friendship, which is even better. I have made a family of friends – we have found Uncles and Aunts, Brothers and Sisters, Mothers and Fathers, and all sorts of other family. Most importantly, this family is there not because of some distorted sense of entitlement, but because they want to be.
These are not the people I imagined becoming best friends with, most are older than me, but let me share something – older folk make the very best friends, they have so much to give, and they are so thankful to receive. I love them with a fierceness that is hard to explain, and I know they feel the same back.
I feel so blessed to have this support network of true and real friends. It never crossed my mind that this would be possible for me, to feel like I fit in somewhere, but slowly and surely, I am feeling it. The feeling of being accepted is one of the best things, these are people who I can answer truthfully when they ask how I am – I can tell them my pain is bad, or my mood is low. I can tell them when things are good, and they will celebrate the wins with me, and they will tell me their highs and lows, and let me help them too.
I know that when things were really bad for me mentally I had given up on ever feeling like I could trust anyone or would be wanted and needed – this is not a rare emotion for those of us who struggle with our mental health to experience. So if you are feeling like this right now, please keep battling on, you will find your “family”, if you have no one right now, it just means that you haven’t found them yet. They are there waiting for you.
It took so long for me to realise that I could have a family at any time, it was just a case of changing my own expectations of what a family is and is not.