We don’t talk a lot about feelings in my family. It’s hardcoded in our DNA, I think. We talk when we have gatherings; weddings, graduations, funerals, but my family isn’t the call every day type. We talk about the weather. We talk about who got sent to jail. We talk about Mr and/or Mrs. Soandso (you remember them/her/him?) and their kids. We talk about nieces and nephews and cousins. We talk about who died. We talk about who gave birth and if it was in or out of wedlock.
Some people don’t get that with cell phones everywhere, my family doesn’t make a lot of phone calls. When I grew up in the 70’s, phone calls were for important things; births, deaths, burial arrangements and the like. Not to mention back then the neighborhood was on a party line so everyone could hear your business. Now every 6 months or so I will get a phone call from the parentals telling me I need to come home to visit, that I should call more, that they have some fresh vegetables ready for me to pick up. We don’t talk about personal stuff. We don’t talk about how we feel. We are not a lovie dovie family.
The only people in my family that I have “officially” come out to are my sister and younger brother. My sister and I used to email each other pretty regularly because I had some health problems and it was touch and go there for a bit so she wanted to keep in touch. Now I am healthy and I hardly hear from her. The only time I hear from my younger brother is when he emails me that he and his wife are in some spectacular place on vacation. I imagine that will change now with their new baby. The last email I received from my youngest brother was a picture of my new niece in the onesie my husband and I bought for her. I never ever hear from my older brother. He and I never got along growing up and even now when we get together the detente is tenuous at best. As for the rest of the family; even though I have never said the words “I am gay”, they know.
I wanted to share the joy of my union with my father, but we don’t talk about it because to talk about it would make it real to him. We don’t talk about it because then he would have to acknowledge the queer in the family. I emailed my younger brother to let him know that I was going on a road trip from Alabama to Iowa to get married at the end of the month. I haven’t heard anything from him since, except to get pictures of his new baby girl. I want to share the joy of my union with my family but they chose to hate what they call a sin. What they do not realize is that in hating what they judge as sin, they are alienating and hating the person they have judged a sinner.
I know that my family loves me. It’s not something we have to say to each other. After my wedding I am at a crossroads: to continue to pretend my husband is my “roommate”, to confront my family and hope they will change, or exile them from my life.
I lived with my husband for 8 years before our marriage. During that time my father had regular doctor appointments at the hospital 1 mile from our home. He has never visited me here. My older sister and brother live an hour away from us, they have never visited me. My younger brother and his wife live four hours away and have visited once, but I don’t expect for them to visit again. When they did stop by, they wouldn’t sit down. When my aunt died and was buried, in getting the funeral arrangements from my father, I was told that there wouldn’t be a wake and that the service would be short at the graveside so he suggested that there would be “no need for you to come.” It was then that I realized that I have already been exiled by them.
As much as I would like to confront them and get the bad feelings out of the way I have to ask myself would this confrontation do more harm than good? Nothing good will come of me “coming out” now. Nothing good will come of me forcing the family into confrontation. Nothing good will come of me trying to force them to accept me, when they already choose not to. I choose not to confront my family because one of the rules I try to live by is to avoid causing someone else harm. If I were to confront my family it would be harmful on an apocalyptic scale, not just to them but to me. I have waited too long and have buried too much anger to tear that wound open. I am afraid of the person I may become if I do. Causing someone pain is never a good way to get them to see your point of view. So, I am left with exile.
The joy of planning a wedding and getting married, was tempered with the knowledge that I couldn’t share that joy with my family. They chose not to share it with me. I should be due for a phone call in a couple of months. If I answer the call, I will have to refuse the invitation. If the family does not want to be a part of my life, I can not continue to pretend to be a part of theirs. When my family decides to accept me just as I am, I will be waiting for them. As for my husband and I, we will trek onward into that undiscovered country, fulfilling our foray.