Anyone who has hung around my blog at all most likely knows that I have had a life long hardship with family. For as long as I can remember, I have felt like I was stuck to my family like biological counterparts. Related by blood and dysfunctional relations. Sure, there was love. And misunderstanding. And pain. And being unable to relate.

I moved out of that house with them when I was 17 years old. I knew theoretically I was young, but I never felt it. I always felt old. I still do. Now as I look back and some of the other 17 year old girls that I know, I see their creativity, their beauty, their seeking, their growing, and their humor. I also see that 17 years old, is an awfully young, yet capable age for a person to trek out on their own. I look at the other girls that age, and I see their youth riding along with their growing maturity in their adolescents. And it just takes me back to the 17 year old me. Always strong, yet hardened in my own walls of defense mechanisms. I was always responsible and always taking care of business. By the time I transferred and settled into APU after two years of doing undergraduate college work at a community college, I for the first time, let lose.

By the second year of APU, I was disillusioned with the Christian faith, but never with God. I was lost within myself, and was going through identity crisis. Usually that is something you experience in your adolescence, but I was always too busy taking care of myself. My roommates were around for this, and were concerned. But I didn't know what to tell them. I wasn't connected to myself, so I couldn't explain myself at all. It was just a phase of disillusionment that came, was lived in, and eventually passed.

Now, years later, I am a more stable, centered and connected. I know what I want, but not how to get there. I know that my passion is people. I know that I love humanity in the myriad of forms it presents itself. I know I have a heart bent towards justice. And I know that I have a lot of expectations for myself as a responsible human being, and for my son. I also know that what keeps me stable, is a God of love, who remains always.

After I had Caleb, this feeling of a frayed family never left. I didn't even think of myself and Caleb as a family. It didn't fit the picture I had in my head of parents and their child, and of that warm family home of strength and stability. I knew we were, but I didn't truly view us as such.

I am finding that now, finally now, the perception of my heart towards this is changing. It has changed not just towards Caleb and I, but towards my biological counterparts of a family. I've always refereed to them as family, but it wasn't in a warm or positive way. It was just a reality. That is not to say they have not been there for me before. They have and they are. When I was pregnant with Caleb, they did not once waver in their support of whatever choices I made. I recognize that and appreciate that very much.

We are a crazy, dysfunctional, broken bunch of people. We are vastly different, and we don't particularly bring out the best in each other at all. But at the end of the day, as much as we can be, we are here. My family has not been a place of refuge, but of a ruined childhood etched with memories of abuse. And I never desired healing with this. I never desired to forgive. I just needed to get away. I needed to have healthy space. I still need that space. But I am noticing that my heart is changing towards them. And I am using more family oriented language in the way that I speak with them and about them. It's just a shift that I am noticing within myself, and I think it's a good thing. Caleb and I, we are a family. While that is an obvious statement, it is just not something I felt in my heart. I felt like while we were together, we were missing pieces that were just not there. And that together as a whole, we were an incomplete family. But I see that we are a family comprised of bits and pieces from all over. We have love beaming in from all over the world. And best of all, we have each other.

I look at the 17 year old me. I didn't really understand how young that really was. I just lived what felt like an old, hardened life. I was ready to embark on my own to defrost from that, and I did. Seeing other girls that age now makes me pause sometimes. I remember myself. I see their vibrancy and wonder what might have been. I remember me at 17, and it looked a whole lot different. Still, I wouldn't trade this life.