We made it past Thanksgiving and my clients and friends shared mixed feelings on time spent with family over the holiday.
For some it was what it was meant to be—a time to be with loved ones who they felt thankful for. For others it was quite different, and that is why I want to again say, “Your family is who you choose it to be.”
My friend Kim turned 58 this week. I was trying to remember how long I have known him and I was reflecting on how we met.
I lived in the burbs with my partner. We had no gay friends to speak of, and despite having great people in my life, I wanted to connect with others who were more like us.
I was at one of my son’s ball games, sitting by his friend’s grandmother dishing on the passersby, as we always did. She mentioned out of the blue that her lesbian neighbor had been at a party nearby with her group of gay friends.
“What!” I exclaimed. “And I’m just hearing about this now?”
“It’s not like you have a shortage of friends, Warren.”
I gave her a look and made my expectation clear, “You call her when you get home, give her my number, and tell her I want to meet these people!”
Later that week I got a call.
“Hi. My name is Kim. I got your number from Jan and she said you wanted to meet some of us who live out this way. I thought I would have a little get together and we could all meet and get acquainted.”
My first thought was, “Who does that?”
My second thought was, “Cool, I hope these people aren’t crazy!”
Thankfully they were not, and Kim and I became instant friends. He treated me like family. We spend holidays together, and share in birthdays. And my daughter, without prompting, called him “Uncle Kim” from the start, because she, like me, could see his heart.
Here is the thing about Kim. From that day on, he has been a brother to me.
He has been by my side in good and bad. He has seen me at my worst, and cares about me anyway. He has been loyal to a fault and I know he always has my back. He has been what my own brothers could not be for me. When people comment on how sad it is that my brothers have judged me, and excluded me from their lives because I am gay, I smile and tell them, “No worries. I have a brother! In fact, others should be so lucky to have a brother as great as he is!” When I say those words, I mean it, because what it comes down to is Kim loves me for who I am, and his actions demonstrate that, year after year.
Take a moment to assess those in your life that fill the role of others who might have left you, rejected you or judged you.
Embrace them through the holidays and know that there is no reason to subject yourself to situations where you leave feeling badly when you are surrounded by others who love, respect, and appreciate you for you! And if you do not have people who fill that role, start looking! There are potential brothers and sisters, moms and dads, aunts and uncles at every turn.
The universe will fill the voids in our lives. We simply need to approach life—and people—with an open heart and mind!
Happy Birthday, Kim.
Thank you for demonstrating the power of love and acceptance in the healing process. What I have lost in my life is inconsequential to what I have gained by having people like you, who fill the voids that life creates! I know I will always have the love of my brother, as he will have mine!
Warren Matson is a professional counselor working with individuals, families, and couples. For more information regarding counseling services, workshops or publications, email firstname.lastname@example.org.