I’ve had the post on this in my mind for some time now, floating and bouncing around in my head but never making it to my fingertips and onto the screen. I rarely talk about my family here (or much in the real world); it’s a source of deep pain for me and talking about it only makes it more real and upsetting, however I thought with what has transpired recently, I should get it out once and only once. Grab a drink and bear with me, as it’s a long story and we’ll be here awhile.
I grew up with my mom and dad and older brothers that I know loved me, and I thought would do anything for me. I was the only girl after 6 boys. One of my brothers died of cancer before I was born….he was 10 when he died of a brain tumor. My family had been through a lot together but seemed to be stronger for it. My parents had always had a strong faith – belief and trust in God. They said that that’s what got them through my brother’s death, and they raised all of us to have that same faith . We prayed at dinner, and every night before bed as a child. Church, Sunday school, devotions were always strongly encouraged to strengthen our relationship with God. We usually went to a non-denominational church…but it was basically Baptist to me. I always was more of the questioner, never sure what I believed. I went to church with my family, but never really enjoyed it. I did it because I was supposed to do. It was the “right” thing. Only, I had these feelings inside that didn’t mesh with my family. I just didn’t understand why we were “right” and everyone else was “wrong”. There is a line in a Michael Franti song that says, “God is too big for just one religion”. That describes what I thought well. Weren’t these other families saying the same things about us? What if I had been born to one of those families instead? You mean God includes some people (Christians) and excludes others (of other religions)?? I was always conflicted…but they said it always came back to “faith”. I could never win an argument, so I just kept it inside.
I went to a private Christian school, and then on to a Christian University where I met and fell in love with K. My life completely changed. This girl was funny, smart, outgoing and made me feel like the most important person in the world. We really clicked…..I got her, and she got me. We had so much fun together….doing just dumb stuff. I never got sick of her. I look back at those times and just smile. It was so new and we were happy and care-free. We spent every second together…as friends, and then more. I thought it would never end, until my parents found out about our relationship during the first semester, around Christmas, and took me out of school. Life stopped. Any life at all. I remember feeling so empty and sad….like a piece of my heart had been ripped out. At 17 years old, I was told I would never see K again. After a semester away from school and much pressured Christian counseling, I assured them that I could go back and not start up the relationship again. We hadn’t spoken for 8 months, and I was going back to school…..I couldn’t sleep for days before imagining what it would be like when I saw her.
My parents had made sure I wouldn’t be on the same hall as her…..but I was only one below. After they left, she came by my room. The feelings (that had never gone away) came rushing back with a new force. I remember being young and scared and wanting her more than anything, but afraid of my family….knowing that things would spiral out of control if I resumed the relationship. I tried to say no to her in the beginning, but the feelings we had for each other were more powerful than ever and I couldn’t keep being around her and pretending like I didn’t care for her. I remember we talked in the stairwell and we were trying to keep distance from eachother, when she put her hand right above my knee, trying to pull me closer to her. I didn’t pull away from her, and looked in her eyes….a look and a touch and we were right back where we left off. From there, we spent lazy afternoons in bed together, nights out away from school….holding hands and enjoying every moment together. I felt intoxicated. I couldn’t imagine ever being apart from this girl again. But, right, my family. This left me in a tricky situation. We tried. We kept the relationship hidden for about 2 months, until I was sick of ducking down in cars, watching the doors, and having sex in the showers. It’s hard to have a lesbian relationship at a Christian university!
My parents found out about it (again) and came down and snatched me out of school (again) when K was away in NC at a hockey tournament for the weekend. K tried calling me that Saturday, and got no response. She assumed I was sleeping and just called back later that afternoon. My roomate then informed her that my parents had taken me, kicking and screaming, out of school and back up to Canada. They wouldn’t allow me to even call her and tell her I was leaving. My dorm room was LITERALLY packed up in 15 minutes. I remember I had cried all the way up north. My tears never stopped running and my shirt was soaked. Again, my heart was ripped out of my chest. 11 hours and I didn’t say a single word to my parents. Once home, I practically collapsed in bed from exhaustion. My parents took the phone out of my room and stayed in the room all night, scared I would try to hurt myself.
Little did I know, but once K found out about what had happened at school, she drove from NC in VA to “sign out” (you have to do that at the university we attended), and then grabbed a friend and drove STRAIGHT up to Canada. Yup. All 11 hours of it. I think she made it in 8. I had no idea what she was doing. So, after not too long, there was a knock on the door. I could hear my dad speaking with someone…but had no idea who it was. I was really out of it. My mom then told me that my spiritual life director, Chrissy, (from school) was here to pray with me. I remember thinking in my head…..’that’s weird…..because my SLD’s name isn’t Chrissy….”. Then I realized…..K had a girl on her hockey team named Chrissy. Oh shit. Was she here??? My parents let her up….and she came into my room and I shut the door. She told me that K was outside in the car. Chrissy had told my parents that her uncle had died, and she was in Buffalo for his funeral, when she decided she should come see me (a little an hour from Buffalo) and pray me through this difficult time. K knew that my parents would never have let her in the house….so they had come up with this story to get her in. When my parents were busy doing something else, I left the house with Chrissy. K was hiding under a blanket in the car. I lost it. We hugged and kissed and cried and drove off. I called my parents a few minutes later from her cell phone and told them I was at lunch with Karli and that I would call them later. I realized later that they thought I had said “Chrissy”, hence their response, “That’s fine….you could have just told us you were going with her….just have a nice lunch and we’ll see you later”. We went to a local pizza place and talked.
My eyes were puffy from crying so much and I was still in pajamas. K told me that she loved me and wanted me to come back with her, but it was my decision. There was no decision to be made….of course I wanted to! For some reason, I thought I could just go back to my house and tell my parents that this is what I had decided, they would let me take my things and go. I was so wrong. I walked in the house and told them I was going with K….and then they realized she was outside. My dad ran outside and my sister-in-law blocked the door so I couldn’t go out. I remember it as one giant blur…my family was screaming at me “what are you doing!? you’re not going with her!”. Someone said something about tying me down to a chair, if needed, to keep me from going with her. I had no idea, but my dad had gone up to K’s car and with the window rolled down, hit K in the face. Chrissy and K sped away, fearing more physical harm. 2 of my brothers had kicked at her car, then followed them, making sure they were gone for good. Once they were safely away, K and Chrissy called the police, who (after some time) came and escorted me out. I then met up with K and Chrissy, still wearing my pajamas. K’s lip was puffy and bleeding and they looked so shaken up. I was back with her though. That was it.
This was 7 years ago. Over the years, my parents have tried and tried to get me to change my “lifestyle”. K has naturally kept a distance from them, but they have not come around. They believe I’m sinning and that ultimately I’m damning my soul….I can’t get my mind around that, but that’s how they think. All of my brothers blame me for hurting my parents….like this was all my fault. I’ve tried now countless times to talk to my mom about just “agreeing to disagree”….is it really worth it to lose a relationship with your daughter to be “right” or righteous? They can’t talk to me about anything but religion and my lifestyle….so I have chosen to remove myself….to step back until they change…if they change. K’s family is very supportive and they have really become my new family. K is always so positive and encouraging and reminds me that they may “come around” some day. My family is still like an open wound to me, and now with the pregnancy there is a whole new batch of emotions to deal with. I haven’t been able to call up my mom and just talk. I haven’t been able to vent about my cankles, bad wrists or trouble sleeping with a big belly. I thought I would wait until after our son was born to tell her the news, when she emailed me last week to say she was coming to Virginia and wanted to meet up with me to visit. I didn’t really know what to do. I didn’t want to meet her and be pregnant without her being prepared for it. So, I emailed her and said this:
“I am available ____ day and ____ day. I have wanted to tell you the following happy news for some time, but didn’t think it would be met with a happy reaction. K and I have decided to start a family and I am pregnant. We are very excited, as are our friends and family down here. We want to surround the baby with love and positive energy. If we meet, I can’t engage in the back-and-forth about my lifestyle. I don’t want to be emotionally upset, as it wouldn’t be good for either me or the baby. I wanted to give you this news, in case it effected your decision to come (or not come) to see me. “
I felt really good about the email and thought maybe her reaction wouldn’t be so bad. I got back a very lengthy email response and have clipped just a few segments below:
“I went home at suppertime and asked Dad to sit down and talk to me. It was so hard to tell him, as I knew his heart would break. I was afraid he would have a heart attack or stroke. He told me later that by my face he thought you might have died. I told him that it would be FAR worse if that were true, because you would be in eternity facing God’s judgment. Dad reacted as I did, with disbelief and profound sadness. He said he feels like he has lost his daughter.”
“The whole scenario of the past seven years is still unbelievable…and now has culminated in this. It’s like something you’d see on Jerry Springer. It’s one thing to do what you want, but now you have crossed a line, because you are bringing a little person into this perversion.”
“You said you wouldn’t want me to come down and talk about “choices” or “lifestyle”. Do you think I could possibly remain silent? People who tolerate everything are people without convictions. We know what you are doing is wrong even though you don’t (or won’t admit it). We know you have totally lost your bearings.”
“It should have been one of the happiest days of my life, to hear that my dear daughter is having a baby, but instead it is one of the saddest. You are NOT ‘starting a family’. Contrary to the liberal media and pop culture, you and Karli and a baby are NOT a family. A family is one man and one woman, committed to each other for life. I know you will love this baby dearly, and be a sweet and kind mother, but the most important elements will be missing from his life. First, a father, and second, growing up knowing God loves him.”
I couldn’t help the emotion that came over me after reading it. I thought I could be strong enough to hold everything I was feeling inside. It probably should have been anger I felt first, but instead was sadness. The tears came, and I was unable to hold them back. K was so sweet and just hugged me and let me cry and talk. She was encouraging and loving as I knew she would be. She kept telling me that we are starting our own family now, and that I have to focus on that. She is my best friend and the love of my life and always will be. I look at her and KNOW. I know we were meant to find each other at that school, of all places. We have gone through more than any couple should, and are stronger and more in love than ever before. Where there is great love, there are miracles…..and it is a miracle that we have gotten here. I am getting through this family stuff. It is a process….but I haven’t been beaten down, and refuse to be. And as I finish writing this, Wee One is dancing in my belly and I know without a shadow of a doubt the kind of Mamas we’ll be. This little man is a product of that unbelievable love we share. Our little family will get bigger in a few short weeks and life will be richer and fuller than ever before……And so, I close the post on family, but will have many more in the future about my new family…and the opening of a whole new chapter. 32w2d and feeling pretty good.