Please be advised there are trigger warnings for issues surrounding sexual assault, oppressive language, suicidal ideation, homophobia, abuse, abortion.
“If I ever see that faggot again, I will fucking kill him.”
I felt my stomach lurch. I was 13 and in the midst of a sexual awaking I didn’t understand. My father had returned to service recently and moved us to Germany. We had been there only a short time when he discovered one of my favorite family members was gay and my father was ANGRY. The favored family member was lovely, creative, artistic and one of the funniest people I had ever met. I haven’t seen him since.
This pivotal moment in my life presented complications I could not possibly have understood then. I am not sure I even understand it now. One thing I do need to say out loud the thing I have swallowed down every day of my life for better or worse.
I am not straight.
I fall on the spectrum somewhere from bisexual to pansexual. I am not sure where exactly but that doesn’t really matter right now. The people I have loved, know that I have loved them madly, deeply, even to my own detriment. What matters is that secrets have governed my entire life and I am not keeping them anymore.
Realizing you are different in a family that doesn’t accept different opens you up to so many more abuses. How could I tell them about the older lesbian that persistently plied me with alcohol and attempted to force herself on me any chance she could? I can tell you want would happen in my fucked up family, somehow that would have been my fault. Countless times as a child, I fell victim to people and I locked it away. I went through rape, an abortion and physical assault while living when them and never told any of them. How could I? Whenever I got in trouble for anything it unleashed a barrage of put downs…” Why were you there?” “What were you supposed to be doing?” “You are an embarrassment to this family.” “This isn’t what Jesus would do.”
I was problematic but necessary for their dysfunction.
A number of things were happening at this time of my life. My parents’ marriage was falling apart but they would rather torture each other than divorce. My dad’s alcoholism kicked off full force. I was their babysitter, house cleaner, cook. When their 3 AM screaming started, I would shuttle my scared little brother and sister to my room to sleep. For YEARS. My insomnia kicked in full force, as did my depression and suicidal thoughts. I can remember stacks of poems I wrote and would give my mom to read. The last thing she ever read of mine was when I was 15. She looked at me and said “Why would I want to read that? It’s all too depressing.” I died a thousand times in that house. How could I tell these people about the pretty girl I was pretty sure I was in love with?
I couldn’t. I still can’t.
My dad died last year. I still struggle every day to contain how angry I am that he didn’t apologize for anything he did to us. Sitting at his wake hearing all the drunk stories about him made it worse. These people don’t know or worse, looked the other way. My mom is learning to do better. They divorced when my youngest sibling turned 18 as you do in a proper Southern family. Of course, we don’t talk about it. But this isn’t about them.
I’m a mom. I have had fucked up relationships. I am married and caregiver to a disabled Veteran, who is a straight male. We struggle with paying bills and keeping our shit together. I have beautiful kids that I have birth too and an awesome step kid that’s mine too. They are all over the LBGT spectrum. What’s great about them, in this time, this family I have, is they can do so without reservation.
Coming out isn’t always the best idea. We cheer and champion everyone that does but some people can’t. It feels paralyzing. The only reason I am saying some of what I am saying now is my father’s death has coincided with a huge birthday milestone for me this year. So you know what?
I have no idea how much time I have left in life. I know by posting this, there will be consequences in my family. I just don’t care anymore. Their discomfort and denials are no longer more important than my sanity.
The best service I can do for myself, for my kids, for my community, is to live my best life. Some days will be easier than others. I’m okay with that because it doesn’t feel like I am struggling with the ghosts any more.