Define Family

There is saying out there that states “You can’t choose your family”. I agree with this to a certain degree. Obviously, I am a product created from my parents. At the end of the day, all the branches lead towards the roots. A bloodline… We have similar physical characteristics, some diseases can be passed down and oddly, some hobbies tend to be shared by a lot of my family.

First, some background knowledge is needed. My biological family tree is a tangled mess due to drama, marriages and divorces. (It’s too much to fully explain in one post, so I’ll save it for another time.) I don’t have much communication with my biological father’s side of the family. They are honest and kind individuals, we just don’t get involved with each other. It’s complicated. My mother and I are close. We have had our fights but we always work things out. My stepdad is a phenomenal man and I’m truly grateful that my mom has him in her life. They are some of the happiest married people that I know. My grandparents are stubborn and loving. I’m truly blessed with that. My family (the exception being my Grandma) really struggles with communication. It’s something we have really focused on correcting during this deployment. I’m proud that we recognized the issue. Most families never figure it out and hold in all the resentment.

Earlier, I said that I didn’t fully agree with the saying “You can’t choose your family”. I can’t fully agree with this because of what the military has shown me. The military picks a random place on the globe that has a opening in your career field and just sends you there.

[Side note: You can submit a list that is commonly referred to as a “Dream Sheet”. That sheet is submitted online to the personnel folks and its sole purpose is to tell the Air Force a couple things. The first thing is if you volunteer to go on a remote tour. (A remote tour is orders to move to a place like Korea or Turkey. You can NOT bring your dependents with you.) The second thing the list does is tell the Air Force where you would prefer to be stationed. When you first enter the military, you will be told that what you put on this matters. It’s a lie. Unless you list “Worldwide Volunteer” or a remote tour location, and you update it every day that the overseas listings drop, they ignore your requests. If you happen to get orders to a place on your list, you are lucky. You won the Air Force lottery.]

When you arrive at your duty station, chances are you don’t know anyone. You eventually meet people at work, the gym or through the various programs around base (like the honor guard or intramural sports). These people become the people you turn to for the holidays when you are unable to take leave or when work just beats you down. They become this loving, at times drunken, adopted family. Sadly, I am closer to some of my coworkers then I am to a member of my own bloodline.

It’s easier sometimes. They understand my job, the isolation of deployment and just the general stress that comes with being a military member. My stepdad served honorably in the Army for 30 years but our experiences are dramatically different. My mom was only an Army wife for 3-4 years. They understand that I can’t always call or come home for the holidays. They just don’t understand the actual work stuff. I have to admit, that my mom is really good at just listening. Sometimes that’s all I need.

In conclusion, I believe that family are the people that are truly there for you when you need them the most. It’s not limited to your bloodline. It just can’t be. Some folks have big families but when you are geographically isolated from them, you will adapt and make new meaningful connections. I don’t think humans were designed to be alone.

I apologize for all the skipping around, it’s 3:43 AM here in Guam. I just had to write down some of my thoughts.

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