My Other Family

My Other Family

By Sue Ellson

As a career development practitioner, I work with a variety of people from different backgrounds although most appear to be well educated, very capable and over 30 years of age.

In the last week, I have met two people who appear to have spent many years regretting something that happened when they were younger. One person did not complete formal studies in their profession and one gave up a very successful business when their marriage ended.

As a sensitive person myself, I could feel their pain, and in these particular cases, it appeared to be very deep. It seemed to be something that both of them had been carrying for such a long time and I found myself wondering, what could I possibly do to help them realise how valuable their life has been?

Someone else recently said that after spending time with me, they felt that the experience had been ‘healing.’ This is indeed a great privilege and it really got me thinking about all of the books and articles I have read and courses I have been to related to self-help and personal development.

It also helped me realise that after overcoming some of my own challenges, I am in a much better place. I have been through various processes with several different professionals over the years.

However, I have also been very fortunate to have the love and kindness of four very special friends, who I think of as ‘my other family.’ They are especially important to me as I live away from all of my own family members.

One of those friends is like my favourite cousin. He has known me for many years, like a cousin would, and knows my idiosyncracies well and is very good for discussing some tricky topics with a different perspective.

Another is like a brother. There to pick me up when I have a weak moment and willing to turn up with a tasty treat or a single flower just to brighten my day. He accepts the ‘less than pretty’ aspects of my life.

The next person is like a sister. Tremendously encouraging and supportive in both words and deeds. As another person who has known me for many years, it is so wonderful to have her as a witness to my life and that of my children.

The fourth person is like a favourite aunty. The one that reminds me of what I know I need to do, yet always said with love and kindness. She is particularly helpful in a moment of panic, but she is also strong enough to tell me how it really is.

After my health, the next most important thing in my life is my children and these four special people. Without them, I would not have a sense of my own worth and value. It is all well and good for people to tell you to be positive and optimistic, but sometimes life just simply doesn’t feel that way.

Fortunately for me, ‘my other family’ extends beyond these four people. It also includes several other friends that I don’t see quite as often as well as treasured clients and business-related friends. These are the people that even when I ‘mess up,’ they still believe in me. There are literally too many to name, but I would like to publicly acknowledge them as part of ‘my other family.’

As a person who doesn’t have a ‘normal job’ or a life partner, I rely on ‘my other family’ to give me a sense of who I am.

When I work with clients who struggle with significant challenges that they have carried for many years, I am again reminded of how important ‘my other family’ has been to me. On reflection they have:

  • allowed me to deal with issues as they arise
  • encouraged me to take action to move past issues
  • supported me by listening unconditionally
  • spent time with me without looking at their phone or the clock
  • kept in contact even when I haven’t contacted them
  • given me a gentle push when I have needed it
  • accepted me, warts and all (as the saying goes, I don’t have any warts!)

Obviously, when I am working with a client, the most practical way I can assist is by recommending an appropriate action that empowers them to take some positive steps forward. I have to hope with all of my heart that they will be able to complete those steps.

However, I also know how difficult that can be if they do not have people like ‘my other family’ in their life to give them that daily sense of their own value and worth.

If you are reading this blog post and realising that you do have these people in your life, I encourage you to pause for a moment and then send them a message (or talk to them) about how valuable they are to you.

If you have a sense that these people are not in your life right now, I want you to think about all of the little kindnesses that you encounter each and every day. An unexpected smile, a generous gesture or simply the presence of a colleague, friend or family member.

These kindnesses may not be in the ‘form’ or ‘style’ you want right now. However, I truly believe that most people do want to be able to help others, and perhaps you may need to ask a few people for some help. I did this for the first time in my life recently and it was an incredible experience.

Lastly, I would like to suggest some ideas for some ‘immediate’ relief. Like many other people, I have become overwhelmed at times, especially as I live in a busy city and seem to spend way too much time in front of a computer screen thanks to the nature of my work.

For me, finding a way to decompress and reconnect with the real me takes on many different forms:

  • laying on the ground to re-ground myself
  • making sure I have enough sleep
  • eating well so that my body can function well
  • dancing to move the energy in my body
  • yoga to improve my balance and flexibility
  • walking to connect both sides of my body
  • massaging a friend so that I can have physical contact
  • spending time outdoors near the sea or trees so I can breathe
  • being as present as possible in every moment so I can be present with myself

There are times too when I feel the need to ‘escape.’ I know this is a universal aspect of human nature as so many people choose to move when they want to change their life (after setting up in 2001, I have learnt a lot from these people over the years).

I choose to do short ‘sabbaticals‘ when I take the day off and go to the country or just have a change of scenery. The reality is that we cannot ‘escape ourselves.’ So often I have seen people move many times and yet still not escape what they wanted to leave behind. For those people, the best I can do is give them my best prayers that one day, they will find the strength to resolve those past disappointments and find a contentment that is within that is not dependent on a specific location or ‘destination.’

I have been so fortunate to discover this place I call home from the love and acceptance of my other family. Through their love and acceptance, I have learnt to love and accept life. I couldn’t be more grateful.

Every day, I develop a greater sense of contentment. A knowledge that there will be good and bad, a wisdom that there is happiness and darkness and a belief that there is so much more abundance than I had ever imagined possible. My sincerest wish is that you can develop this too (or be part of an ‘other family’ for someone else). With love, Sue Ellson 🙂

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