I’m really scared to write this, but I think it’s important.

I’ve never been close with my family, save for before I was six, before a horrible event broke us apart before we even knew how to be together. We stuck like caked-on glue, together in the same house for years, unsure of what to do with ourselves and the strangers we were supposed to call family.

We yelled, we fought, we did unspeakable things to each other, and after years of chaos, I moved away. I went away to college and a few years before that, started to make amends. My mother, specifically, sought to mend our broken relationship. She begged me for forgiveness and a second chance. I gave it to her, unwillingly at first.

My first year away from my family was one of my best. I barely kept in touch with them. I would come home for family events: Christmas, people’s birthdays; put on my fake smile, and suck it up. I hated them all, immediate and extended. Why? A bunch of reasons, too many reasons to make the excuse that “of course we fight, but we’re family.” If anyone were to remark on my negative comments about my family, my heart would sink. They had no idea what we went through. They had no idea that these feelings had meaning.

Eventually, my mother kept reaching out. I would respond, starting with once a week. Then it became twice a week and so on until we were speaking every day. I started contacting her with a few phone calls every now and then. She seemed so ecstatic every time, more than she ever had been to hear my voice. It was like my moving away made her miss me, appreciate me. It did the same for me with her.
It was still hard to hang out with my family members when I came home. Everything seemed forced. Of course we couldn’t actually enjoy spending time with each other, no way. It took us some trial and error and a purchase of two kayaks to finally break that barrier. We were starting to become friends.

My brother and I started hanging out more too. As my friends from home moved away one by one, my brother was still there and he eventually became the main person I hung out with.

It’s crazy to think that I can now call my mother and my brother two of my best friends. If you had told me six years ago this would be the case, I would shrug it off, laugh a little in disbelief. I had no idea that working hard at a relationship that seemed permanently broken would be so rewarding.

I am so grateful for the relationship I currently have with my family. Although I still live a safe distance away from them and I will always be on guard, I miss them from time to time. I feel bad that we didn’t get to spend as much time with each other in this new symbiotic relationship, like when I was a kid. I regret not getting to know them better when we used to hate each other. Facebook shows me friends who still live with or near their family and I get a little jealous, wondering if that could be me, wondering what it would be like to be that close with my family. I know better than that.

We’ll never be as close as those families out there who have always loved each other unconditionally. I’ll never be one to call either of my parents “my hero.” No, we have something different. We’re not afraid to tell each other how we feel, hurt each other’s feelings, because we’ve done that already, tenfold. We have a friendship that we worked extremely hard to form and that, I think, is more beautiful than a lot of familial relationships out there.
Thanks, Mom and Dad. Thanks, broski. Thanks for never giving up. I love you and I miss you so much.