My history is different than my husband’s and some of my closest friends’ in that, family has never been a comfort for me.
I didn’t grow up with the loving aunts, one of which I’ve become, or fawning grandparents. I never had protective uncles or teasing cousins. Partially, it wasn’t possible. Most of my extended family lived enormous distances away.
More than partially, I didn’t have family. I had roommates. Of whom, I spent lots of time being terrified.
My childhood oscillated between the simple and the complex, the picturesque and the horrific. A delicate monster that was never quite satiated.
I spent my development in fractured, chaotic, unpredictable fits of the terrible and the tender; being held and being beaten, hearing loving coos and hearing piercing screams.
A suffocating dichotomy that left my mind and heart a raw and bleeding mess that followed me to adulthood.
But, slowly, even the word family is being redeemed.
In Doug’s family, there are no, “in-laws”, just family members. I am not safe from the eye rolls from my teenage nieces or the sibling ribbing from my brother-in-law and sister-in-law. There is no hesitation to be fretted over by Doug’s mother or be smothered by bear hugs from his father. At the bookstore’s first children’s story hour when I told my nephew Maverick it was time to read the story, he crawled into my lap because, well, that’s what you do when your aunt is reading you a book.
I’m not safe from being loved and to love in return.
I can’t coast along as “Doug’s Wife”. The family into which I married is one that demands participation and wouldn’t leave me alone even if I asked.
It is a brand new experience for me. One that can make me dizzy with attention and discomforted by comfort.
I’m not waiting for a hammer to drop, all the egg shells are broken already; I don’t have to be afraid.
When you’ve spent most of your life being afraid it can be a little bit of a challenge to accept the love of a new family. Especially if the only condition is to show up.
But there is a gathering amount of anecdotal proof that I’m doing just fine.