Family

Family.

Nothing but a double edged sword, when you really think about it. They’re these people, these random people you’re bound to in some way, shape or form forever because of one thing – blood. Under any other circumstances they’d be nothing but strangers to you that you’d never bother with. Family helps shape who you are, who you grow to be. The good and the bad all go back to where you come from, the family you were born into. They’re the first people you know and supposed to be the ones who stick by you till the very end. Sometimes, you hate them with every god damned fiber of your very being. Where you wish they would vanish for good and leave you alone, stop trying to drag you back down with them. And then, there are other times.

When you love them so much, so freaking much, and with all your heart.

Nothing I say will ever help my family believe that. No matter how true it is. I’m sure the world has a grand idea of the Carters. Even before I wrote my self-help book. Because I know there are others out there, just like me, trying to beat back what their childhoods have done to them. My siblings’ problems aren’t completely their own fault. I’ve always known that. And in their defense my parents raised them to this crazy belief that I’d always be the one to provide for them. Didn’t matter if it was money, food, shelter, safety, you name it. I was the one who was supposed to be sure everyone had it. Even for my parents. Started when I was ten years old and to this day it hasn’t stopped, that golden lie still lives on for them. It’s not fucking fair but all I can do is say no.

Now, I’m far from innocent. For the longest time I was just as shitty example as my parents were. I’m far from innocent. I’ll never pretend to be an angel. The only one I know I never have to worry about is Angel. Why she has her feet on the ground, I’m not sure. I’m simply happy she does. I’ll probably spend the rest of my life trying to help save Aaron and BJ from themselves. That feeling, that horrible parental protective instinct that was never supposed to be there, yet still is because of everything, drives me to it. Someday I’ll find a way. But for now, I simply just don’t know how.

I’ll tell you a secret. Sometimes, I still feel like what happened to Leslie was my fault. That BJ and my mother were right in yelling it at me over the phone when I got the news. But most of the time, I know better. I wasn’t meant to be her savior. Not completely. Especially not then. I’ve barely come to the point where I was able to stop being my own worst enemy. I’d only just finished fighting to rise from the ashes of my own destruction. That acceptance? It’s why I haven’t gone completely insane, back into that black hole of blissful drugs and alcohol that used to suck me in again and again.

I love my family.

I hate it but there’s only so much I can do. To give them everything they want, to give everything they say they need, it’d only hurt them. Hell, I die inside when they do what they do. Like twitter rants against me (why not call to talk it out?), or reading and seeing interviews about how fucked up and shitty a person I am. Aaron asked me once, what happened to family coming first? BJ asked, what happened to unconditional love? You know, I asked them the same thing. It seems like it’s only supposed to apply to me. It tears at me, knowing that with my parents, my siblings, everything seems to have a price.

Family.

If there’s anything I’ve learned in my life so far, family doesn’t automatically mean blood. Not where it really matters. No. Love, acceptance, trust, support, faith – that’s what makes a true family. That’s what the Backstreet Boys have given me since I was twelve years old. Their families took me in, became my families. They saw me through thick and thin. I put them through hell trying to help me. But here they are, still here. Still cheering me on. I survived because I knew no matter what they’d be here beside me. When I look at Aaron, who knows the spotlight just as well as I…I know why we’re so different. I know why he’s still going down that fucked up path despite knowing how it almost destroyed me.

It’s because I got lucky.

It’s because I was never alone.

He was a solo star, I was in a group. He was at the center of everything, I had to share everything with four new older brothers. I was protected; he was out in the cold. I had guidance, he stayed lost. It makes me different. It’s what taught me how to be different from my parents and the chain of dysfunction that feels never-ending. It’s what made me into a man who learned how to love. And now Lauren’s teaching me more of that day by day. But it all started with the fellas.

And I’ll never stop being thankful.

Because family, true family? It’s everything.

I wouldn’t be the man I am today without them.

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