Boyle McCauley News

Since 1979 • Spring-Summer 2021 • Circulation 5000

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True Family Ties

Most of us are familiar with the saying that we can choose our friends, but we can’t choose our family. While that may be true, it is also fair to say that often our friends can become like family, especially if our actual family members leave much to be desired. And even when our families are great, our close friends can be like siblings or surrogate parents.

In a close-knit community, neighbours can also become like a chosen family. Together, they share the joys and accomplishments that come from working together towards common goals. But like a blood family, sometimes close friendships can also become dysfunctional and require efforts to heal, or even the people involved to gain distance from each other to prevent further harm.

All relationships require open communication, clear boundaries, and honest intentions from all parties involved. When any of these elements break down, so does the relationship. I’ve witnessed a number of situations where people who should be on the same side with similar values turn on each other and things become incredibly nasty. In the activist community, we call this “lateral violence.”

Sometimes stepping back and letting go are the best things to do under such circumstances. It’s difficult especially when the people are ones that have to be dealt with regularly, whether actual family members or co-workers, teammates, or neighbours. This doesn’t mean we should avoid getting close with others in order to avoid future pain. It does mean that we need to know when it’s time to cut our losses and move on. Our true friends and family will be the ones with whom we walk no matter how dark the road grows.

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