How I Heal MySelf – An Injustice!
Over the past four years, I’ve painstakingly tried to keep some semblance of “relationship” with my parents. They always taught me to value family — to honor the familial bond of blood. Deep programming from childhood pushed me to continue fighting for some sort of connection. At the very least, for the sake of the children!
They should know their grandparents. They love visiting Nana and Papa’s house, with the horses and trampoline and woods to explore. They love playing with their Aunt — my sweet Sister, just 13 years old, and so deeply indoctrinated into religious dogma. Parrot of our parents. It was she that taught my youngest child that “there’s a place you can go to that’s on fire, and you can never leave, and it’s called Hell”… because she’s afraid that I am going there.
For a time, we soldiered through weekly visits. Mother would tell me about the pain she was in, the fears she had, and how much she loves Jesus, because He’s going to heal her. Father and I wouldn’t talk about much at all, because politics and religion have grown to be his only interests, and you cannot disagree with him. If you try, he will lecture until he’s changed your mind, or kicked you out of his house for “disrespecting him”. Can’t have a conversation, but he’d throw some meat on the grill and love us in the ways that he could.
I even went to church with them a few times on Friday nights. That small, strange, one room church, where they’d let the children take turns getting up to sing a song. My sister performs music each week with the “youth group” (a handful of girls who look like they’ve just stepped off the set of “Little House on the Prairie”), and my kids actually enjoyed getting up on stage with the other children to lead the congregation in song. It had its own kind of sweetness, and I thought it was worth it to do this with my family.
That all stopped the day the man in the pulpit declared that cohabitation before marriage was a one-way ticket to Hell. I looked at my children to see if they noticed that their four loving parents had just been condemned. (Both their father and I have live-in partners that are in every way parents to them). The teenager got up and left the building. He had heard enough, and he was done. The younger kids didn’t seem to notice. We sat through the rest of the service, and when it ended, I told my parents that we would not be returning.
It was just a few weeks later that my little sister would be performing a special something or other on stage, and could the kids please, please, please come? I talked with the kids about my concerns, and allowed them to choose. Of course they wanted to see her performance! I didn’t stand my ground firm enough, and somehow we slipped into the same routine, of Friday night services with Nana and Papa. I abstained, as did my teenager, but the younger three children really enjoyed the songs and time with family.
Then it happened. One Friday night, my twelve year old texted me from church. It was in all caps:
“UGH! I AM NEVER GOING TO THIS CHURCH AGAIN! THEY JUST SAID THAT HOMOSEXUALS ARE ALL CHILDREN OF THE DEVIL AND GOING TO HELL!!!!”
And that was the end of that. See, this is a pretty big deal when you, your mom, your step mom, and your brothers, are all some degree of non-hetero. Even the few cis-het males in our strange little nuclear family are extremely supportive of LGBTQI+ equality. One day, on the school bus, the eight year old hugged his male friend and was teased and called “gay”. It hurt his feelings, because he doesn’t identify as such, yet proudly proclaims to me “Mom, we’re a gay family!!!” I love that little man so much!
Still, I tried to keep the connection with my parents open. We’d visit on special occasions, but the divide had already grown so wide between us. I would often lament to beloved friends how much it hurts not to be able to share with Mother the things that are important to me. The things that light me up. The things I am passionate about. Who I am! I’d even expressed this to Mother. Not to Father. He couldn’t hear it if I did. She tried to hear me. She said that she wants to know me. But whenever conversation would brush up against anything that made her uncomfortable, she’d go stiff and silent. The judgement was palpable.
It did’t take long for me to realize that she can’t really look at me. When she tries, she only sees the daughter bound for hell. It hurts her eyes and her heart. She loves me in the best way she knows how, but her “love” is a dagger to me. Each time she looks on me with those eyes, I feel it pierce my heart through.