I mentioned before that I was raised in a church going family. My grandfather was a baptist minister although my immediate family wasn’t quite as strict as he was. Growing up in Michigan in an almost entirely white community I was racist out of ignorance, homophobic because it was “unnatural” and “gross”, and highly annoyed and intolerant of anyone with a different religion, economic status, or simply anyone with a different lifestyle.
At the age of 10, my family relocated to California and I had a quick lesson in how asinine my beliefs were. I gained and soon lost quite a few friends before one of them finally spoke up and told me to get off my high horse. She was right of course and I decided to rethink my beliefs. I learned pretty quickly that people are people and most don’t choose how they are having to live their life. They didn’t choose their economic status and certainly didn’t choose who their parents were or their skin color. But I was still a homophobe because my church continued to indoctrinate that it was an abomination. We went to church every Sunday. We prayed before every meal and when times got tough. We prayed for safe travels when going on a long drive or a flight. We prayed before bed and even when we were just bored. Christmas was celebrated like a birthday party for baby Jesus. I participated in a very large youth group through my church and became an evangelist of sorts to the kids around me. I fought for my right to be a Christian and was intolerant of anyone who challenged me to consider other opinions.
The way my family dealt with conflict within a marriage was to hide it away from the rest of the world. The role I was supposed to play was to protect my husband’s reputation. He was a lazy sack of alcoholic lying shit and I wasn’t supposed to let anyone know about it. So when we were around other people, I pretended to support his lazy sack of shittedness while in private we fought constantly and I berated him for not even looking for a job when we clearly needed him to work. I apparently did a remarkably good job at this because none of them believed we had marriage issues when the marriage ended. They all stated that I wanted to be the soul breadwinner and that I’d never asked him to find a job, that I preferred him to be a stay-at-home dad. I absolutely never wanted him to stay home. They claimed he was a fantastic father when I knew he wasn’t and hid that from them too. He was an asshole to everyone including his children until he had to start trying to gain some custody and visitation rights.
My mom listened to James Dobson every morning and often tried to force us into bible study moments. Her father was an alcoholic and it clearly affected her throughout her entire life. She was not a fan of alcohol and didn’t tolerate drunkenness at all. So when my husband became an alcoholic, I assumed I could lean on her for support. I was wrong. It became a touchy subject that she couldn’t handle. Just before my son was born, I suddenly found an interest in quilting. She and I would go off on a week long retreat every fall where we would travel to South Lake Tahoe and quilt for five days. It was fun and full of happy times. We became very close except when I had marriage troubles. I had to walk away from her when arguing with my ex-husband over the phone – which happened more often than not. Losing my relationship with her is the most painful part of losing my family.
My Dad was a high ranking business executive and traveled frequently. He was a calm, cool, and collected person who never let the world make him angry. He was the first to accept that there were people who were gay and we were “surrounded by them” so we’d best learn to tolerate them when around them. But he wasn’t a very cuddly loving father. He had a remarkable memory and could recite things he’d read once. He was very arrogant and focused on telling everyone what he knew that they couldn’t possibly know. Around election times, he was an intolerable conservative Republican who watched FoxNews non-stop. He became a political blogger when we quit letting him rant at us. He rolled his eyes and got angry whenever it was suggested that gay marriage might be legalized. He argued for the Defense of Marriage Act. He kept waiting for Bush to be vindicated because my Dad had secret channels to information no one else did and Bush was clearly being lied about in the mainstream media. Conversations with Dad meant listening to a political tirade and he became insufferable. Since I lived several hours away, I avoided him most of the time.
I was the middle of three girls. My older sister was very much like Marsha Brady growing up. She was the most popular girl in school, easily. I was her sister, not my own person – much like Jan Brady. She always knew where the fun crowd was and knew how to avoid getting caught breaking every rule we were given. As an adult, she is very similar to Monica Gellar. A clean freak who surrounds herself with people just like her. Snotty, predominately white middle class, straight Christian families. She spends hours doing her hair and making sure her make-up is perfect before even running to the store. She got married young like I did and her husband is from Texas. He is as racist and homophobic as anyone I’ve ever met. They constantly ridicule public figures who aren’t like them while watching TV and even have a tendency to send out emails or Facebook posts filled with racism and intolerance. They have two children who are following in their exact footsteps. Their daughter grew up calling my son, a mere 9 months younger and much taller, a “baby” and “too little” do to the grown up things that she was doing. My sister would setup fun activities and refuse to take my son because he wasn’t big enough. Her son wouldn’t play with my son because they didn’t play the same way, often banning my son from the only boy toys around. My very tenderhearted son hated being around them and cried almost every time we visited asking why they were so mean. When I tried talking to my sister about her children, I got told my son needed to man up and just deal with it because he breaks things. I found this unacceptable, so we reduced our visits to just the holidays and I kept my kids with me when I could.
My younger sister and I haven’t had much of a relationship. She was five years younger and we had nothing in common. She is extremely arrogant and self-centered and I just don’t like her as a person. However, we tried to spend time together because we were family but most visits were quick and shallow.
My mother and sisters insisted on dressing me up for every social event such as school dances. They picked my clothes out and did my hair and makeup. I wanted to wear jeans to school when I was smaller and my mom fought very hard against it until I was in the third grade or so. I hated fashion, especially the 80’s fashion I grew up around. I played with the boys and climbed trees. I hated the color pink, dresses, Barbies, and baby dolls. I had few friends because something wasn’t right about me. I never fit in. In high school, I was expected to bring a boy to every dance because not going was socially unacceptable. During normal days, I was regularly ridiculed for my choice in clothing and hairstyle. I grew up knowing I was an ugly duckling and that I would never amount to much in their eyes. I spent every day of my life trying to make them accept me as I was. Just once, I wanted to hear that my parents were proud of me.
Whenever I had problems in my marriage, I would call my mom or my older sister and was never provided with the comfort of calling family for support – there was no bond. I was usually told it was my fault or how that stuff happens and the subject was changed to something important to them. When I called my mom the day I found out he had been drinking daily for years and had just tried to pickup my kids drunk from school, my mom informed me that it happens and then let me know how many piano students she now had. I realized I would never be able to seek solace from my family so I quit trying. Here I was telling my mom that my marriage was over and she was counting her piano students in response. Since that conversation, I’ve rarely spoken to my mom about my ex-husband. So when I found out she was talking to him about me, it was exasperating.
When I fell in love with my first girlfriend, my then husband gave me his blessing to pursue the relationship. He would smile and wave as I left the house to spend time with her. Apparently, as soon as I was gone, he was calling and texting my family to let them know what a horrible person I was. He outed me, chastised me, played the victim, and managed to alienate my family from my life. After a few months of seeing her, after I quit having sex with him, and after it was clear that I was a lesbian, my parents and younger sister showed up to intervene to try and save me from myself. My father spent several hours telling me that he didn’t care if I was gay (which considering he focused on it was clearly an issue) but that I needed to stop this now and get back to my marriage. My mom never spoke. My little sister rolled her eyes a few times but after my parents left for the night proceeded to lecture me about how being gay is okay but that I can’t have an affair behind my husband’s back. She told me how counseling saved her marriage and that we should consider it. I told her I was a lesbian and I my marriage was long over before I started seeing my girlfriend. I asked her how I was supposed to stay married to a man I didn’t love or respect when I was a lesbian. She started calling me names. I am apparently a man-hating narcissist. Who knew?
There was no winning with them so I quit talking and just let them talk at me until they left town. The day after they left he went off the deep end. He sent a text message to my brother-in-law clearly indicating he wanted to kill himself and take me with him. My brother-in-law called my Dad who called the police. All of a sudden my in-laws were at my house taking my children and I had six cop cars in my driveway. Ten minutes earlier we were having a family dinner and I had no idea what had just happened. My father-in-law called me horrifying names while my mother-in-law whisked my children who were sobbing and asking for me into their vehicle. I told the cops I didn’t want my children taken away and they were given back to me. The ex was leaving for work for the night so we were going to be fine for now. He insisted that he wasn’t suicidal and the cops believed him. I knew then that I was going to be afraid of him for the rest of my life. Within a week, the ex and I made the final decision to divorce. For the next few weeks we lived in different parts of the house avoiding each other as much as possible. We co-parented but we didn’t hang out and watch TV together. It was awful, I locked my bedroom door at night. I hid at friends’ houses. I came home just before he went to work and left as soon as he got home.
Two weeks after we decided to divorce, I had my motorcycle accident. My girlfriend called my Dad to let him know I was in the emergency room and my Dad wanted to talk to my ex. She told him that he was not invited to come to the ER, per my specific request, and my dad essentially hung up on her. They didn’t ask for any status updates, my girlfriend continued to update them at intervals, but they were very resistant to talking to her at all and never asked her to keep them up to date. My Dad is an insurance guru and under normal circumstances would have gotten to my bedside within hours and helped me fight through the mess. Instead, he ignored my need to have family nearby. In the following weeks, I got an occasional text from my mother asking if my arms were healing. When I tried to tell them about the struggles I was facing but I was being taken care of they didn’t want to hear about it. They never came to see me, they never offered to help me, they left me to my own devices to find a way through my traumatic, horrifyingly painful, and frustrating situation. Even through all of this I had hope that I could rescue my relationship with them. My sisters never tried to reach out, although surprisingly, I did get a random “hope you’re doing okay” text from my younger sister’s husband.
My ex was still calling them and telling them lies. My mother texted me once when she knew I was in town for a wedding, I was told I could come visit but without my girlfriend if I wanted to, whose I still relied on heavily as I was still very injured. I chose not to. We had a pretty good conversation until I told her I was having concussion issues still and she blamed it on my frequent pot smoking. I was dumbfounded. I have used pot maybe four times in my life and it had been a very long time since I had. My ex was telling them I was high all the time. (Maybe because he was drunk all the time.) I called my mom out on the patently incorrect information and said where did you get that from. She denied talking to my ex at all. Where else could that have come from? So my mom was lying to me about talking to my ex and at the same time refused to talk about any of the “ugly stuff” with me. She didn’t want to hear about the divorce or my ex at all.
I occasionally called my Dad and begged him to listen to my side of the story. That the version that he was getting from my ex was one-sided and full of lies. I got told he didn’t want to get involved and yet he continued to talk to my ex on a regular basis. I let my Dad know on several occasions that I felt betrayed and he didn’t understand how that was possible.
When my ex called me into court to have a hearing regarding custody he brought with him affidavits from my sisters and mother that called my parenting into question. My sisters wrote theirs in a clear attempt to call me a child abuser citing isolated incidents where I yelled at my naughty child in front of them and using them as a evidence. My mother wrote hers with only “facts” and very high level info. They all focused on how I called myself the breadwinner and didn’t respect my ex at all. Thus the name of my blog.
After getting these affidavits and reading them, I called my Dad one last time and let him know that I was no longer a part of their family. He said he had no idea what my sisters had written and I suggested he take a look because he lost a daughter over it. I then hung up and haven’t heard from him since. My mom sent me an email once asking if she could text or email me but I have no interest in going back to a family that hates me so much for my lifestyle choices that they can’t see past their own ignorance and love me for who I am.