In our lives we go through a lot, mostly to know where we are in our own lives and more importantly, who is traveling with us.
…”‘Ohana” means “family.” “Family” means “no one gets left behind.” But if you want to leave, you can. I’ll remember you though…” (Lilo Pelekai, Disney’s ‘Lilo and Stitch)
The importance of the people in our lives boils down to NOT what someone, anyone, is willing to do on our behalf, but down to who is always going to be there, even when things are awful. We learn about the things that are most important to us via the things that we go through that call for us to let go of things and ways of being, rather than sacrificing them, because sacrificing anything means that we have to have control of the way someone else feels about what it is that we have or have not done for them or on their behalf, with little hope that the energy will be reciprocated. By “sacrificing,” what I am saying is that there are people who we have known, the each of us, for the entirety of our lives, and in order to be “loved” and accepted by them, we have to sacrifice little pieces of ourselves, meaning that we are not the whole of our Selves, at all, and it is all because we believe that they need to love us, and worse, we actually believe that we need their kind of Love.
Most of the time, we know when and where we are being accepted by those who we most love to be with, by those who we love the very most, and those who we trust very dearly with our selves and our lives. This is who we are, we human beings – we are the people who need one another, and the people who, for all it is worth, meant to be with one another, specifically with those who are most like us.
Those who are most like us
There are several different schools of thought, many different theories and views about what is and what is not family, and what is and what is not a community, and what is and what is not one’s own ethnic values system.
Your Ethnic Values System is NOT the same as a cultural one, because when it all comes down to the end of the thoughts we think, an ethnic values system can be thought of as being the way that you think and behave according to your locality. I am in Southern California, and this means that my ethnic values are combined with my cultural ones and voila – you have this version of a human being who is the Los Angeles Kahuna. You have this person who is tied to the shared past she has with others who also ancestrally hail from the islands known as Hawai’i, and this person who was born and raised in Los Angeles, with a ton of other people who are not like her, but just like her in that we are all one ohana. All one human family.
It might be a cultural thing, though, in some cases, that we are expected to not get along, expected to hate, for no other reason than that it is a cultural thing. When we fail to what is the past, and we carry on those traditions of hatred and ignorance, all for the sake of not having to uncover and deal with our own feelings of collective inferiority, not only are we failing in and with who we are, but more, we are allowing someone else’s issues to be our issues and allowing those others to have a tiny bit of control, not over our lives, but, over who we are to ourselves in terms of how we feel about us.
We are taught how we are supposed to feel about ourselves from the people who are within the boundaries of our lives. We are taught who we are to them from a very young age, and we are shown how to behave in terms of what is expected of us.
The issues arise, though, when we are shown and taught, but are not seeing a good enough example of what is expected of us. This is where we are first shown how to be dishonest with ourselves about who we are. Other people, no matter what they say is their reason for anything, are going to damage us. We cannot make it not happen, and we are not able to stop other people – it happens and is a part of life that is unavoidable unless we are able to come away from that which we have been told is our truth according to anyone else at all. The most that we are able to do when it comes to our not being able to stop certain others from harming us emotionally is to simply just no longer be around them. In terms of our blood relations when we are children, this is a problem. Our parents tell us that they used to get along with their cousins, but they do not tell us that there were certain ones who they used to despise or that the feeling was very mutual. Still, even though we tried very dearly to not act on what we were feeling, it was hard on our little souls to fake liking someone else just because it was expected that we did.
A person may have lost what they have considered their life for the majority of it, as I am finding out right now with this injury that is more of an emotional bother than an actual physical one. We can work our lives long towards one thing, only to have it be that very suddenly and without warning, that one thing can change, and when it happens, we are lost and have no idea of what we can do about the thing that we perceive as a loss. The reason that we will see it as a loss is because it was something that we felt defined who we were and are. When I was growing up, I was told that I was a phenomenal dancer, that I was bright and bubbly and all of those other wonderful things that the word “dancer” has always had attached to it.
However, just as there is this…energy…within me, which is the very same feeling and energy that has always been there, for the entirety of my life on this planet and an energy that does not stop me from loving being that same dancer. The energy is still there, even though the knee is still healing. I write a lot about my dancing, and about why it is that I dance, but I do not go on to tell a person that within my Ohana, it is the thing that most know me for, and is the thing that is the essence that is Me. This is not to say that my Hanai (adopted) Ohana has seen my Dance at anytime in the recent past of our shared memories, but it is to say that those who know me best, know this as my essence and my energy, and those who see me most often can tell that this is my Soul coming through to them, that the reason that it seems that I can navigate through any chaos, either tangibly or in the realm of the mind, is because I have spent my life, even as I realize it now, living to a count of 8.
Without this recollection of who I am, a lot of people would not know that this is me, that those who know me best and most are the ones who I consider my family, my ohana, regardless if whether or not there is blood, there is Aloha...and within the unit of the ohana, blood is less important than heart, soul, and Love.
While this is the very truth, what is also the very truth is that the Love that we have for our families is the love that we have for the family that we create, and the family we create might not be the one that we physically create in the biological sense, but, is the one that we create that we know we are an important part of. Without our own presence in that familial bond, and without the presence of those closest to us, we really haven’t the tiniest clue of what it means to be Ohana in the manner that is not blood, not DNA, not a same Grandmother, but, the kind that is nurtured through the ties that bind us willingly to these others who we feel as though they indeed were placed in our lives so that we would each and all know this reality called Ohana.
Unconditionally, we Love
When it comes to the love between two people, it is unmatched by much else or by much else that can be considered the Love energy prevalent within the confines of human life. We love those who we call “family,” and I know that within the confines of my own Hanai Ohana…my own adopted family…there is nothing but Love of the unconditional sort.
Sure, there are those within that familial energy who we get upset with, who irritate us, and piss us off, but, without them, we feel like our family is incomplete (hey – every family has a couple of weird cousins, a very eccentric auntie or two, at least one mahu uncle, and many elders….haha…please, keep reading…). Without those whose hurts are obvious to us, whose broken state is apparent, who are part of our lives and who need us in theirs as much as we do not realize that we need them in ours, we have no idea what the truth of compassion is. Without these broken people in our lives, and especially since way down deep inside, we know how broken we are for real, we have no mirror, and we have no one to give this hope and this honor of being part of a group whose love energy is unlike that of any other on the planet. It is the energy that is produced by this group, this energy of Love, of loyalty and of being able to depend on any one of them, sometimes at a moment’s notice, for no other reason than that we might simply need an ear (Maestro…Amber…Scott…Dannie…April…Noreen…hi guys…you know I love you )and most of the time, unless they are busily trying to heal something of their own, they are there for us.
This is the reason why I have such a hard time, have had such a hard time, for the majority of my life, trying to think and accept the idea that the only family that any one of us ever truly has is the one that we are born into. I have always had the question in my head, the one that also and always asked if it were the truth that we were family, and that we were meant to love one another unconditionally and if it were that we were acceptable to them in the very manner that we are, even if the manner that we are in at any given time is one of a disheveled human being…then why was it that I always felt like I did not belong?
A lifetime of Pain…
It is not a secret – I have never truly felt like I belonged with anyone other than a very certain few within one side of my extended family. Because I do not personally want to live through that pain of remembering how I was treated by many of them from the time that I was a small child, I will simply just state here and now that there are some who I know that I can relate to, because those few and I have something in common. Whether it is hula (Hui…Kawai…pe he’a ‘oe, cousin? How are the babies?) or perhaps my intellectual pursuits (Kapiolani…Kaiulani…Ku’uipo…hi guys!) or maybe it is that we share a very strong, very unique bond, and one that is unmatched to any others and is more akin to being siblings (Eh…Pio…Wai…Mary…Kisha and Gina…Drew…Jimmy, Jeffrey and Jason…Micah…Anela…Lance…Howzit you guys?)…My entire point is that we are gifted, every single one of us, with this…radar…within, and one that never fails us.
It is the radar that, when I was a child, told me, even then, that what I was in for with at least one side of my family was not going to be very kind, told me that on some level, because of who I have always been, there would always be those people who were not able to wrap their heads around how strange and eccentric I have always been. I was not told that this would or could happen. I was told that family loves us no matter what. In my case, with exception to the very few, given how large my combined family of both sides has always been, it was something that went completely against everything that I was told was the truth. I was hurt most of the time, not for anything other than that more times than not, I was not included in a lot of things, and this was because of everything that people felt about my dad – sad, right? Sad that the way that they felt about him would trickle down to me, and sad that some of them could not see just me as me.
Then one day it hit me – they indeed WERE seeing me as me, and even they knew then what I have only known for a few years now…we were just not each others’ kind of people, and because of this, it caused me a lifetime’s worth of pain that these days, have become the thing that has actually served me better now than it hurt me then. I did not know this then, because as a child, I was learning what I needed to learn, a long lesson in what is the truth of being part of a family biologically, versus being part of a family that you know you belong with, part of a family that loves me as this me and loves me even though I am the person who can wear permanent “bitch face” if I had to.
I suppose that what I am trying to say is that we are taught, and rightly so, to have respect for our families, and to love them, but what no one tells us is that there usually comes a day in each of our lives where we are able to choose what is and what is not our personal definition of being part of a family really is. We are taught that our blood is absolute, which it is, but what no one tells us is that we are not bound by our blood to one another, but rather and only by our souls and our similar energies – even though it is blood and DNA that ties us biologically forever. We are not told that it is okay to not like our mom’s brother or our dad’s dad, and we are also not told that one day we will know the reason why we did not like them, but that when we understood, we would love them, even if it meant loving them from a distance.
We are not told when we are kids that we are allowed to like who we like, are not told that Love does not mean that someone is always going to be nice to you. We are not told that while we may well Love these other people, that we might not like them, or that it is okay that we don’t. We are not told that when we get older, the people who are the closest to us might not be those who we share DNA and a grandmother with, but will be people who we share the most memories with, people we have the most in common with, because we have spent a lot of quality time with them. We are not told that when we are able to see these things, that the pain will be monumental, and that even though it hurts and might hurt for a very long time, it will be the pain that will actually be what saves us from having to deal with that same pain, again from these very same teachers who brought it to us and kept bringing it to us.
We, instead, are told, at least a lot of us were, and even now, there are still a lot of people who think that Love between family members is automatic, is a requirement, and that the requirement is ours when it comes to “making” anyone else feel differently about us. We are forced through guilt and coercion, and if we should disagree with that guilt, that coercion, that obviously, we do not deserve the “Love” from others within our actual biological and extended, or even nuclear, families.
Then one day, it happens…
It took me a very long time to retrain my brain so that I would know who Loves me and who is only in my life to teach me the harsh lessons that I am meant to learn. It took me along time to learn that I am not bad, just different. It took me a long time to figure out that I am not worthless, because at least one person on this planet finds my presence in their lives to be a very good thing. It took me a long time to get over the things that I was taught was the truth of me, that I would have to just deal with until one day, I just chose to no longer deal with people of a shitty, hurtful nature.
It takes all of us a very long time to choose to relieve our own selves of the pains that others brought to us. And it is an arduous task at best, and the most …heart breaking thing…that any one of us will humanely give ourselves – a break, permanently, from allowing other people to be awful to us. By “allowing” I do not mean that you are purposely walking into a situation, knowingly open to being abused, and then ultimately being harmed by someone else, and then choosing to go back and do it again and again, without good purpose or without knowing this much – that people are going to take the opportunity to be horrid to us, and because of this, we know to keep ourselves guarded against those who have this energy.
Then, one day, it happens…we end up looking at ourselves, and of course, our phones, or our emails, or photos taken recently, and realize that we actually have family to call our own. It is evidenced by the people who reach out to us, almost daily, just to see if we are okay…
We find out that all along, the people who we called our friends, at least some of them, were there and present in our lives because at the same time that we needed them, they needed us, too.
We figured out that while we might not have held any major importance to anyone with whom we share a grandparent with, we were being ourselves, and no one is at fault for that one. We figured out that what we were not given by our blood relations, our friends have been there all these years, taking care of our hearts and our souls, cradling our spirit in their arms, making sure that we know just how much we are very dearly loved.
We figure out, eventually, that our life matters to these people who do not look at all like us, but, they are just like us where it matters most, which is in the heart and soul, and especially within that boundary called Hanai Ohana, called the family we do not know we have until someone comes along one day and makes it clear to us that we are special, that we matter to them, that who we are is a needed part of who they are. We find out that what it is that they give to us is also the same thing that we give to them.
Mostly, though, we find out that we belong…and this is the most precious, most life giving and priceless gift of all.
We are given this same gift, every single day of our lives.
Indeed…I Love My Hanai Ohana…my adopted family…
You know it… I Love You All !!