Building Upon Your Family of Origin

March 11, 2009


We adopted a chick.  And though usually I have a NO pet policy because my heart is so quick to fall and latch on, we began naming her Olive, Violet, until finally settling on Rosie, though I usually called her Peep.

Rosie had been abandoned by her mother. She had found C out on the patio, locking her sights on C’s feet and running full speed towards them chirping. She was small, sort of pathetic, and swarming in mites, but we recognized her as our own and brought her into the house after making her a box up in the corner of the kitchen.

Long story short, as Rosie began adopting our – lets say – quirks and neurosis, she became less like a chicken and more like a baby every day. She was scared of the grass. She wanted nothing but hamburger. She cried at us, running at our feet, and hopping at the foot of our bed until we held her. And I became increasingly worried about what Rosie would do when we left, so after much sadness we brought her to the humane society and she was adopted by a nice looking woman in a pick-up truck who claimed to have many chickens (“and what’s one more, ha ha”).  (***UPDATE: At the produce stand this morning, woman said Rosie was doing fine.)


But I’ve been thinking about family a lot, especially since being in Florida but also being down here.  I’ve been consumed with thoughts about the families we are born with and then the families we create after our families of origin create us. In the queer community, this kind of familial creation is common-place, as many queer people have found themselves cast out of their families of origin for their sexual preferences, or less traumatic, perhaps, have wanted to move on to create a family that better understood their lifestyle and choices.

When I was in Florida, I spent a lot of time talking and thinking about my relationship with food and my body with C’s “family”, and I got to thinking about the multitude of ways that a person can repair the damage and trauma (or simple facts) of their childhood by forming bonds with others who had similar experiences.  As if we recognize sameness in one another, and through our created bonds we are able to nourish those painful (and happy) parts of ourselves.


Now, this does not mean that you wish away your family of origin. I feel particularly blessed with having an amazing family that I, in absolutely no way, have any desire to run away from.  It’s simply that the family you create for yourself in adulthood is entirely predicated by what came before in your family of origin, for good or for bad, because it was that experience that molded you during your adolescence.

I grew up in a house where there was a communal unstable relationship with food and money, but where I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by unconditional love and instilled with the ability to communicate honestly and seek self-improvement and healing.

And now, as an adult, I am lucky to be able to take those gifts and revisit my relationships with both food and money, and surround myself with those who either had similar issues growing up and/or were raised with particular strength in those areas, from whom I can learn new ways to adapt and reform my patterns and weaknesses.

It’s funny because I spend so much time thinking about trauma and pain, and the initial source of both, and the ways best to absolve hurt (or better yet, prevent it from ever occurring in the first place).  It does feel as though this type of kinship and recognition goes a long way in terms of reversing adolescent misunderstanding and pain, it cannot attack the hurt at the source, because it is entirely contingent upon our beginnings.  Then again, something is certainly better than nothing, and it has helped me leaps and bounds in terms of better accepting and loving myself.  And for that, I’m really grateful.