All you need is family — no matter who they are

By Annie Madden

Family: one word, two syllables, five letters, and infinite meaning. Family is the best and worst part of my life.

I have learned that family can reach beyond blood relations. Some of the most important people in my life, people that I call family, do not share the same genes as me. My family definitely bothers me at times, however, they are also the most inspiring and trustworthy people in my life. I realized the importance of my family the day my parents got a divorce. A short time later I decided to pack up and move to California with my dad.

The day I learned my parents were getting a divorce I felt as if my world was crumbling to pieces. I believed our family was going to fall apart and things would never be normal again. However, I could not have been more wrong. My parents’ divorce was one of the best things that could have happened to my family. My relationship with my dad and siblings flourished in a truly positive way. Although, my relationship with my mother deteriorated. My mother is selfish and treated me in a way that I knew had to end. When I made any contact with her I would  always feel angry, sad, guilty, ungrateful, and was always looking for revenge. My dad and I knew that the relationship between my mom and I was becoming toxic. He did everything in his power as my dad to help me become a better person and get rid of all the anger I had bottled up. Therefore, I am very grateful for his presence and guidance in my life.

My parents fought throughout their divorce and that lasted about two years then my dad suddenly lost his job. That was when Dad and I made the difficult decision to move to California to live with my stepmom and her family. Leaving behind my three siblings was painful. The day I walked off the plane I gained a whole new appreciation for family. My stepmom’s family welcomed my dad and me with open arms. Family is made up of the people who encourage me, accept me, and in the end make me most happy. The friends that I made in my new town are also another example of family. They have been there for me since the first day of soccer tryouts, when I walked onto the field alone and scared. I love my siblings and miss them everyday, but I have also learned that family goes beyond blood. In fact, in my experience sometimes blood relatives may be the first people to turn their backs on you when times get tough.

1462996_10202725185915558_302048845_nBefore I moved to California I experienced the two hardest years of my life. I went from losing half of my family to gaining another family. They have taught me that generosity and love are given without strings attached. Currently, I still have to deal with mom issues, however, the two people that have stuck by my side every step of the way are my dad and my stepmom, who I now consider to be my new mom. I still argue with my dad and stepmom just like any teenage girl would do. In addition, I argue with my siblings, but I know they love me and I hope they feel my love from 2,000 miles away.

I have learned many valuable life lessons from my family. My dad and stepmom are great role models to everyone around them and they convey this by example. By going through emotionally tough times and making mistakes I consider myself to be wiser, less judgemental, more caring. I am happy.  Family: it’s only one little word that means so much to me. I would have never guessed purchasing a one way flight to the Golden State  would open my eyes the wonder of what family really means.