From me to Mom:
In response to accidentally sent email to me:
She apologized for emailing me in error. I responded with
“Its ok. I’m glad you’re still doing these trips. Lots of good memories”
Mom sends another accidental email to me – my response:
“I sincerely wish I were going with you!! I miss our retreats and spending time with you.”
From mom: “Again, I apologize”
“I truly do miss you mom. Any chance we could work on our relationship?”
From me to Mom:
Subject: I’ve attempted to reach out
I’ve attempted to reach out to you a few times in the past month or so. It is clear you have no interest in even talking to me. I had hope. A burning hope. For the past four years, I have had hope that maybe… maybe my mom… We were so close once.
I’m a lesbian. I’ve always been a lesbian. I can’t change who I am.
I didn’t choose to be a lesbian. In fact, I think it’s safe to say, I fought against it with every fiber of my being. Do you think I would’ve chosen to be hated and disgusted by my own parents and sisters? My marriage was over for more than a YEAR before you even knew we were having problems. What ended our fake marriage was you and Dad coming to see us to “fix” it. Once you knew the truth, it was time to just quit faking and be done with it. You rescued me from that hell and sham of a marriage. Thank you for that.
I’m happy now. Like ridiculously happy. I’m getting married in July. I have three more kids. Oldest Son is 13 going on 14. He’s a skinny little nerdy kid who is hilarious. Youngest Son is 9. He’s a jock like BioSon but smarter than any kid I’ve ever met. Older Daughter is 19. We took her into our home two years ago when she had nowhere else to go. She’s back in school getting awesome grades. She’s learned some skills she didn’t have before. Why? Because we have a loving and supportive home. I like to think you would like the person I’ve become. You won’t be there though. I won’t even bother to tell you the details because I think it’s safe to assume you won’t even reply to this email let alone want to meet my future wife and step kids.
I would never, ever abandon and disown one of my children. For what mom? Being a lesbian? For ending a marriage that was destroying me and my children? I tried to tell you I was unhappy, you didn’t want to hear it. Is that it? You’ve abandoned and disowned me because you didn’t want to hear the truth and it surprised you?
I don’t understand. Maybe someday you’ll step up and call or email me and TELL ME what it was that made you hate me so passionately that you can believe horrid things, and write me off as if I’m some memory, like I’ve died. But… When I think that maybe you’ll call or email, I get my hopes up, and it all starts all over again. I’m tired of having hope. I’m tired of crying when I realize that you’ll never respond. That these emails and texts go nowhere. They vanish into a blackhole, into a past that no longer exists for either of us.
I am officially done trying. I won’t email you or text you or call you ever again. My door is open if you ever wish to try but I’m done being disappointed.
To me from Dad…
The is in response to the e-mail you sent your mother. If you want to have a relationship with your mother or I, this must start with the truth.
On the night we visited you in your city, I hugged you and told you our love for you was unconditional. That has not changed. Neither your mother nor I have ever said we hated you or that we despised you. We have not said that to you or anyone else.
Neither your mother nor I testified in your divorce hearing. Both of us tried to be as independent of that as we could. However, we were deeply hurt when in court, under oath, you said that we were hard core conservative right-wing fundamentalist Christians who had tried to take you to a counselor to cure your homosexuality. We don’t even know where that came from as we have zero recollection of that happening. We treated you the same as we did Jenny and My younger sister. Yet you made numerous comments on why this was all our fault because were terrible parents who tried to inflict our out dated Christian views on you.
Your mother and I drove up to your city because several people asked me to do that. That was far from what I wanted to do. I did not come up there to fix anything. If you listened to me I said the following things to you. I said that we loved you and whatever happened we didn’t want to lose you as our daughter. I said I was disappointed that you were carrying on an affair while you were still married. I did not say I was disappointed because you were gay. I only asked that if you and Ex needed to divorce that you both act responsibly and handle this like adults. I also suggested that you seriously consider the impact your decisions would have on you, your family and your finances.
The next time we talked, you called me and spent the entire time explaining why everything was totally Ex’s fault. I asked you want you wanted me to do. You said, to support you by telling you that you were doing the right thing. I could not and cannot tell you that. While none of us think that Ex is perfect and that this is all your fault, we also don’t think that you are perfect, and this is all Ex’s fault. There is plenty of fault to go around.
The last time you talked to me, you said you only wanted to talk to me about your life insurance and that you had zero interest in discussing anything personal that was going on in my life. At the same time, we were seeing Facebook posts that said your parents had abandoned you because you were gay, so you needed to find a new family. You even changed your name to remove the hated McNeil surname. Frankly, in our opinion, it was you who were abandoning us. I sent you text messages wishing you a happy birthday. You never bothered to respond. You have totally ignored us on our birthdays and on holidays for years.
You do a very good job at explaining how hurt and offended you are with regard to your perception of how people are treating you. Have you ever given any consideration to the pain and hurt you have caused others?
Like I said, the first step has to start with the truth.
From me to Dad,
I would also like to start with the truth. I wanted to start with the truth a decade ago. I think it was obvious that Ex and I fought, a lot. In fact, I don’t recall any truly happy periods in our marriage. We sometimes just slogged through but never truly just happy. Money was always a problem and we both had terrible attitudes. I was miserable. I had children because maybe that will make it better. I got two more degrees because maybe that would make it better. I fought for better jobs because maybe that would make it better. We moved up here because maybe that would make it better. Nothing worked. I remained miserable. I remember standing in my new home, all alone, looking at the things I had and saying I have everything I was told I wanted and I’m utterly unhappy. When I discovered Ex had been lying about drinking and routinely endangering the kids lives, the marriage became unrecoverable. That was a full year before you came to Our city. I called mom that day and told her I didn’t think we could survive this and her response, I kid you not, was how many piano students she now had. Clearly, mom was not going to be someone to talk to about my failed marriage. So I called My older sister. My older sister said everyone except me knew he was drinking and thought I was playing a game pretending I didn’t know my admitted alcoholic husband was drinking. She laughed at me, told me that it was no big deal, and to just let it go. It was a big deal and it was far from funny and she just laughed at me again telling me to just let it go. I’ve never been so disappointed in my family than on that day. My marriage had just ended and no one cared. He’d just driven through a crowd of 500 kids drunker than I’ve ever seen someone and admitted to doing it daily, and I was told to let it go. He’d been in at least one accident while drunk and admitted it to me, and I was told to let it go. I called his mom next. She came over and we sat him down and tried to talk to him but he was too wasted to comprehend words. Later that night, she took him to an Alcoholic Anonymous meeting. He was still drunk while there. It was the final straw. He had lied to me for the last time. He had put my childrens’ lives at grave risk and he didn’t care.
You taught me divorce isn’t an option. So for a year, I got up and focused on my children. He refused to get further help past the two AA meetings he attended. He begged me to just “nag” him to stop drinking. I told him repeatedly that if he relies on me, our marriage will fail. I need to become stronger before I can support him again. He chose not to listen to my pleas and continued to beg me to “nag” him. Our marriage was done. There was no saving it at this point. But I still got up each morning and tried. I tried to be kind. I purposely hid our issues from everyone else. I pretended everything was peachy keen. I told Ex to get a job DAILY so that he wouldn’t feel compelled to stay at home and drink. He needed a change of scenery. He admitted he wasn’t looking because he liked staying home and drinking too much. But to hide the truth, I told everyone that I liked having a stay at home husband. Why? Because my family taught me that it was my duty as his wife to hide his problems and try to help him resolve them or just ignore it. After almost a year of no longer being in any relationship with him other than living in a communal home, I came to the realization that I am and always have been a lesbian. I fought this realization with every fiber of my being. I prayed, I read bible passages, I did online research to try and prove that this can’t be real. My upbringing taught me it was learned, not natural. I fought it. I knew that you all would likely not accept my sexuality, and that scared me. My body shook with fear at the idea of betraying everything I knew. I eventually spoke openly about it with Ex. He fully encouraged my second relationship and never once expressed a concern over it to me. At that point, he and I were calling our marriage “open” but purposefully not advertising it to anyone else. We both knew it was long over. Until you showed up on our doorstep. While he had been telling me he had no issues and encouraged me to spend time with this other person, knowing full well what the relationship was, he was telling you the opposite. I felt utterly betrayed that at no time did any of you ever call me to ask what was going on, to get my side of the story. Instead, you drove for 10 hours to show up and confront me and make accusations without the full story. While you may believe your words were supportive, one phrase has stuck with me since that day. It was so dumbfounding that it has reverberated in my brain since. I can still hear you, Dad, telling me these words. It was said three times to be exact, “It’s ok that you’re gay, but you need to go back to your marriage”. I wasn’t allowed a voice during this “intervention”. Each time I tried to reply with a truth, you belittled me or interrupted and shut me down. You came to my house and accused me of things that weren’t true and at no time did you even attempt to hear my version of events. It was clear that you only wanted to reprimand me with what you’d been told by Ex. I was scared of what this revelation might mean, and instead of asking what was going on, instead of providing compassion and understanding, you attacked me. That is not unconditional love.
A mere month later, I was in an accident. According to the EMT, he was surprised I’d survived. I was unconscious on the side of the highway for five minutes, the passersby who called 911 had thought I’d died – until I woke up screaming. I had someone call you to tell you and you essentially hung up on them because it wasn’t Ex. Ex was not invited to participate, nor was he going to be, because he was no longer my husband. But you didn’t care, you only wanted information from him. I broke both arms in three places, had severe whiplash, a sprained jaw, a badly bruised body, and worst of all I had a major head injury. I could barely form words. For months, I fought for clarity in my own head. I couldn’t sleep at night. I couldn’t remember how to feed myself or remember to use the bathroom. I couldn’t bathe myself with two broken arms. I got disoriented quickly, even in familiar places. I had PTSD episodes. Bright lights and loud sounds literally shut down my brain / body. I was deemed handicapped by my doctors so I could get additional treatment when needed. But to support my children, I went back to work within a week. It was insane for me to go back to work so soon, so there’s no surprise that I lost my job only a few months later because I was physically and mentally unable to do the work. I developed severe depression and became suicidal, so much so that I had to have my meds locked up. My gun was taken away from me. I wanted to die; I planned many times. I couldn’t stand being rejected by my family who were supposed to support me, while also living in a broken body. My friends My chosen family saved me. Where were you? You weren’t here. You couldn’t even be bothered to keep in touch except for a couple of brief calls. You didn’t even have any idea that I wanted to die because you had abandoned me to fend for myself. I required intensive 24 hour care for months. I needed my insurance expert father to help me sort through the mess. I needed my parents to love and take care of me. Instead, you disappeared. That is not the unconditional love you speak of.
I desperately needed your love and support. I needed to know that my family still loved me even though I was now divorcing and had come out as a lesbian. I needed my family to care about me and help me. I should’ve been taken to California to stay with you to heal. Instead, you accepted lies as truths and avoided me. I needed you and you weren’t there. That is not unconditional love. Months went by and I got a “Happy Thanksgiving” text. Um ok… Thanks? How was I supposed to respond? You abandoned me when I needed you most. I had lost the job I couldn’t function at. Did you ask ME if I needed money or food cards? No, but you fell in line with the accusation that I was withholding from Ex and helped him out. I’m still paying back rent from those months. I lost nearly 50 pounds by practically starving to death and you didn’t even know about it. That’s not unconditional love.
During this time where I was broken physically and mentally, the divorce raged on. I was served while in a hospital bed prepping for surgery. After several months of being told that you had no interest in hearing my truth and being served copies of the declarations, I declared I was done being a McNeil. After months of being disregarded, disrespected, abandoned, lied to, and then finding out my sisters were testifying against me, I was done trying to be a part of this family.
I’m grateful that I didn’t have to watch my own parents testify against me. However, when you submit a declaration to one team, it shows clear favoritism. Having the declarations in an evidence folder was no different to me than if you’d shown up to testify.. Under oath, I did in fact state that you were conservative right-wing fundamentalist Christians. I do not recall using the words “hard core”. I still believe what I stated then to be true. First, I’d like to add that your religious beliefs would not have appeared in the trial had my sisters not testified. I had to use our upbringing, which included our religion, to show bias in their testimonies. My older sister in particular with her vehement protesting of “That’s a Family” was a factor. I also had them admit they were bullies to me for most of my life, which contributed to my fear and hiding. I don’t believe there is any doubt that you are conservative, vote with the Republican party (aka right wing), and are Christians. So your trepidation must be on the word fundamentalist. I researched the word before I used it, quite extensively actually, because I wanted to be as accurate as possible when describing the upbringing I shared with my sisters. Fundamental Christianity, in my research, believes the following: belief in Jesus is the only path to eternal life, the bible is infallible, protestantism is the only correct religion, the Earth was created exactly as Genesis depicts, abortion is murder regardless of circumstances, marriage is only between a man and a woman, and the second coming could be imminent. All of these things are things you raised me to believe. All of these things are regularly mentioned by your pastor at your church and every church I went to growing up. If I am incorrect in this definition, please let me know.
Was I a homophobe growing up? Yes. I also believe that “Children learn what they live”. James Dobson was on the radio each morning for years. He is profoundly anti-gay and isn’t shy to say so. When gay marriage was presented as a ballot option (several times), you were all clearly disgusted by the thought. My older sister and her best friend were praised for their stance against “That’s a Family” being taught because there were gays in it. Things like Ellen “Degenerate” – can’t forget her nickname. My short hair made me a “dyke”. Not dressing like a girly-girl was routinely ridiculed. When George Bush was elected it was seen as a win to keep a conservative on the Supreme Court so that we could again deny gay marriage. And yes, the visit to the counselor happened. It was the day I was hit in the face with an ice chunk, earning a wicked black eye, at the bus stop by a neighbor kid and had to talk to the school counselor about possibly being bullied (which wasn’t happening). I absolutely was told the things I stated under oath, while mom was right next to me, and I stand by that testimony.
I was raised to be nice to everyone but at home, gay was not ok or natural and it is clear you still believe this wholeheartedly. Imagine figuring out you’re gay in a family that openly thinks it’s disgusting and unnatural. I had just come out. Now, my family isn’t talking to me, is showing me in every way possible they don’t love, respect, or care about me, and they are willing to accept anything they are told about me – except by me, and I’m not supposed to think it’s because I’m gay? I had no evidence that suggested otherwise.
Dad, I occasionally read your blog. It breaks my heart every time and my fiance has begged me to stop. I find it appalling that you can say to me in an email that you love me and yet post the things you do. You post anti-gay rhetoric on a regular basis. (link1, link2, link3,… there are several more if you need additional links). My favorite quote from “redacted blog title” posted in 2016, two years after I came out, “Trump is right … that the gay rights movement has morphed into an anti-Christian crusade determined to require everyone to embrace their delusional view of morality. I don’t care what people do in their private lives, just keep it private.” If that’s not anti-gay, I don’t know what is. So no, you have never specifically stated to me that you are disgusted that I’m gay but I have read it in your blog, many times.
Since realizing that it didn’t matter my approach, that I was going to continue to be ignored and disregarded except when holidays came around and guilt set in and a meaningless text would arrive, I quit responding. Knowing I’d lost my family in all meaningful ways, that they hated me for being gay and for other unknown reasons, made me suicidal at times. I had to choose to live and that meant that I had to choose to stop trying to figure out why you were so angry. I tried to pretend you didn’t exist.
The ultimate truth was finally given to me quite a few months ago. I went to visit my cousin and her partner a few months after they came to visit you. My cousin felt it was necessary to tell me what mom said while she was there. I attempted to discourage her because anytime people want to talk about my family, it triggers intense emotional pain, but she insisted. She told me that you believe I am a drug addict, that I’m addicted to prescription pills, and I smoke pot daily (around the kids). I was told you think I am a sex addict and a whore. And somehow you actually believe that was having sex in front of the kids. All this was told with vivid details. You believe I am a child abuser. You believe I refuse to give Ex any money and I fought against paying any child support, and frequently withhold funds from him. You believe I would buy things for my stepsons but not my own children, after telling Ex I didn’t have money. In my cousin’s words, it was a whole series of “Poor Ex’s”. She took one look at me and said, it’s clearly bullshit. How can they believe all those things? I said, I have no idea, they won’t tell me why they are upset. If you’d like, I can send you the email from her verifying this conversation as evidence.
The truth is – I have only ever used prescribed medications and never more than my prescription called for – I’ve never been a “pill popper.” I’ve smoked pot like 5 whole times in my life, all prior to your visit to Our city, including once with Ex, but not since. The sex in front of the children accusation baffles me and makes me laugh hysterically. I am still extraordinarily modest and this just isn’t a thing. The allegation of being an abuser is the most despicable, especially when coming from Ex, who routinely endangered my children. I’ve seen what abuse does to kids and I have NEVER and would never abuse my children. And finally, I knew from the beginning I would be paying child support, I only did not want to pay alimony because I believe Ex is perfectly capable of providing for himself. I only asked for the court worksheet to be used for the child support; I never fought against it. Now, it’s garnished from my checks. I can’t “not” pay. If we are talking about telling truths, please explain to me why it is ok to spread lies like these? My cousin’s recollection was too close to what Ex was saying to other people to not be an accurate reflection of what was said to her. This wasn’t some telephone game gone wrong. I believe she heard what she told me. The difference is the other people that were also told this nonsense came to me and laughed about how ridiculous it sounded; they didn’t spread the clearly false gossip.
I’ve never stated I was perfect. In fact, I take ownership of the problems I brought to the marriage. I wasn’t a perfect wife. The insurance call you mentioned was after I’d already felt alienated. After I had been provided all of the declarations, after my voice was lost, I called to tell you to please stop providing my insurance information to Ex. When you took issue with my request and tried to be dismissive, I announced I was done trying to be a member of the family. I’m not perfect and I never asked to be defined that way. I simply wanted to be heard. I wanted my family to help me when I was broken. I wanted to know you were listening to me, too. I wanted to be loved in my darkest hour. Instead you were dismissive, which was cruel.
You accuse me of causing pain. Any pain I caused was a direct result of a horrific marriage ending, it was unavoidable. The pain caused was worsened, not by me, but by a clear choice by you to allow one person to rule the dialog. The pain was worsened when you abandoned me, when I needed you most. The pain worsened when you wrote blog post after blog post about how disgusting and morally reprehensible I am just for being gay. I’m still trying to figure out how I caused even a measurable amount of pain to anyone else considering the way I’ve been treated. The only pain I can see you suffering is your own guilt. I didn’t write a note to you Dad because I don’t see a path in which you can accept me as who I am. you’ve made it clear that I am not someone you wish to associate with. According to your latest posts, I’m “stupid”. I wrote to Mom because I saw hope there. But after I was ignored yet again, I wrote what I considered to be the very last email. I truly never expected to respond again, I certainly didn’t expect to hear from you.
I’m thankful you reached out. This situation has been both consuming and frustrating. I’m not sure there’s room in all of this for a relationship but if there is, you would have to be able to accept me as I am. I am a lesbian in a loving relationship, I’m a gay rights advocate, I’m agnostic, I’m very out and very proud of who I am. My future wife would need to be welcomed with open arms, as would my step sons and bonus daughter. I’m willing to flush all of the past, starting over with a new beginning, if you think you can do the same. If you are really, truly capable of showing us all “unconditional” love. To me, I think your journey is harder than mine, clearly there is a lot of pain here.
With all this said, I can see how accepting me as I am could be a difficult step for you. It certainly was difficult for me to come to terms with not being what I was raised to view as “normal”. I’m not oblivious to the fact that this has challenged your beliefs in the same way it challenged mine. I do care about you both, very much. I’ve helped many people work with their families on acceptance and I am willing to help you too. The burden to rekindle a relationship now lays in your hands.
Thank you for finally giving me the opportunity to be heard.
These were sent nearly a year ago and I’ve never gotten a response….