Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Adopted Family

I am back. I don't know why. Maybe because Spring is in the air and I feel more hopeful and energetic. Maybe because I was nudged to return by others who keep checking my blog to see it stuck on the same old day in February. Whatever the reason, I decided it was time to make an appearance again. Maybe I waited so long that my audience will never return?

In any case, I was wondering if any of you out there have as strong of a need as I do to create their own family? That is, find people in your life that give you the sense of security and love that we hope to get from our biological families and bind yourselves together to get those goodies in a newly forged biological family. I do this. I don't necessarily have an awful "biological" family. I get along well with most of my family. But, I have always lived so far away from my family and I tend to get lonely without friendships that feel like family.

I guess I am thinking a lot about this because I am about to move away from the home I created here. I have colleagues in the department whom I think of as brothers. I have my senior colleagues that I feel like dear aunts and uncles. I have lots of women friends whom I have met that I rely on to get through many days. I share myself with these folks fully and I get so much from having all of them in my life, that I cannot bear to imagine what my life will look like in a few months when I pick up my stakes and move on.

My thoughts turned to adopted families today when I started reflecting on one particular work relationship I have with a professor in Religious studies. I used to think our work relationship could be characterized as the Office Husband/Work Wives dynamic, but I don't think this anymore. I see my need to have him in my life stemming more from a profound need to have a big brother. We had a falling out and we have never talked about it. I was pushed by someone to reflect on why we never talked about it. I don't really have an answer, but I think it is because I just don't want to sort out anymore the complicated emotions that led to that freeze. I have just found myself falling back into a dynamic with him that I had before.

I couldn't help but analyze why I really needed this friendship. After all, I cut him out of my life for a long time. But, the only explanation that I can come up with is that I desperately need a brother. Someone you can tease, joke around with, confess the most embarrassing details about yourself too, count on to be a good uncle and to be there to back me up against bullies. I used to have this with my biological brother, but we moved apart so many years ago. Maybe when I left for college? Maybe when I left for graduate school? Who knows. But, there it is, and so I have adopted a brother to fill this deep need.

So, what I wonder is do any of you have this deep need to adopt family members? If so, where do you think it comes from and, more importantly, why does it seem to manifest in a way that makes up for the loss of an actual relationship? That is, why don't I want to adopt a sister as much as brother? I have dear friends who I love like sisters, but the need to have them in my life seems to fulfill a more general need to have an adopted family. In the case of my adopted brother, it is a very specific and urgent need. Do any of you have this sort of imperative as well?