Dedicated to all the people who never loved me even when they were supposed to.

What Binds Us

Just because bonds are given pretty names, does not mean they are in themselves pretty.

We are told, as all children are told of fairy tales, here is your mother – love her for she bore you. Here is your father – love him for he will protect you. Here is your sibling – love them for they share your parentage. Here is your family – love them for they are blood. Blood bonds, supposedly defined by love, time after time are proven to be ineffectual. Blood does not guarantee love, just as it does not guarantee to inspire the associated feelings of protection, belonging or even pride.

Blood guarantees very little. There is no definite that you will be associated or recognised by your blood clan. Adoption has seen to this. And there is no way to be assured that your family will function in the fairytale sense. Abuse has seen to this. While there is assumed to be an all encompassing feeling of responsibility for family, it does not apply in every case. As it is, if familiar bonds were really as strong as they are made out to be, such a thing as the abandonment of children would never have been thought of, let alone put into practice.

It can be guaranteed in the scientific sense that blood is thicker than water and little else.

There are the more fanciful bonds, spoken of with reverence, as a thing to be desired. Soul mates. Thought of in conjecture with love and life long bonds, soul mates are really not the fairy tale they are believed to be. A soul mate is someone who shares a strong affinity with you, but who is to say that will be love for each other? Perhaps you and your soul mate are only peculiarly suited to be enemies. Perhaps to love the same person fiercely, but not each other. Perhaps you both hold the same qualities in high regard. Perhaps a shared passion for reading, for cooking, for rare forms of wine. An affinity does not equate love.

The words themselves can be heavily debated on. The philosophy behind the soul – Does it exist? If it doesn't, does that mean there is no such thing as soul mates? Is it just an assumed knowledge of the essence of the word? The soul is a soul and we can create our own personal view on that. But 'mate' known in the carnal sense and as a term of endearment for a friend, even used to address strangers in some cultures. The words do not imply an everlasting bond, nor do they imply a strictly pleasant one either.

Well, here is my soul mate, they share my love for words and a hate for poetry – take them away from me for I am offended.

Then we come to the bonds of choice such as marriage and friendship. Bonds which you would think live up to their legend where others failed. But we have seen over time how these bonds fall apart. From distance, from change, from deception and from betrayal – not even chosen bonds are guaranteed in such a fickle thing as life. Friends can be outgrown, tossed away for any number of reasons and gained just as easily if you know how. But that has come to be somewhat expected.

Whereas marriage should be the bond of all bonds. The wilful choice of a person to spend your life with, who you vow to love, protect and promise to be faithful to. Until the divorce is finalise and you take half of their assets. No, that's harsh. What was meant is that these bonds, that are seen to be a sacred thing, rely on the loyalty of the individual. If loyalty was assured betrayal and divorce would not be words.

So as a choice: I am as loyal as the next person, unless the next person is better.

I am not saying that none of these bonds are possible. I have seen the fruition of many bonds of all types. I have watched success, seen and felt love. But in that same vein, I have seen the failures have experienced the hurt. I know it can go right, just as I know it can go wrong.

So, what binds us when there are no guarantees in bonds and no bonds are guarantees? Loyalty, love, protection, responsibility – all learned qualities that do not need to apply. And despite a known chance of failure, or perhaps because of it, bonds of really any nature are passed like fairytales to our children. What is it that compels us to cling to these ways of defining our relationships, or even aspire to these bonds? A longing for something we never had, the continuation of something we did have, the social expectations of some form of belonging? Well, strive for family if you wish – quest for a soul mate and have a blessed union. Just be aware that bonds are not fairytales. Fanciful ideas do not equate to love, just as pretty names do not mean that the subject itself will be pretty.

The binds that we believe to tie us are woefully bereft. What binds us, indeed.