Family is one of the most complicated things in life. In many ways, they can do no wrong. So long as you know they love you, you can ignore the little problems. But some times family…well, sometimes it’s tough to have them around.
I love my parents very much, and my step-dad too. I love my brother and I care about my step-brothers (though I don’t know them very well). I grew up very close with most of my extended family (there are a lot of them), and many many of my cousins are more like siblings. I have two aunts who were teenagers when I was born, so in many ways they are like siblings too. I’m glad to be so close to so many people, but I wish I were close to all of them. Unfortunately, some of my family members have isolated themselves for various reasons.
I love my family, they are relatively good people. They try to do the right thing, and they usually succeed. But I’m starting to feel myself pulling away from them. I try not to isolate myself from my family, but there is too much that I can’t tell them.
I have a very Catholic grandmother on my mom’s side. She is a wonderful woman. She is very loving and kind. She is one of those people that will welcome anybody. And, while I know she feels homosexuality is a sin, she has never once said anything bad about a member of the LGBT community. However, to my grandmother’s mind, a person has to believe in God to be good. She doesn’t care if they are Catholic, but they must be Christian. She believes that atheists are trying to ruin the country. Nothing would upset my grandmother more than finding out that I’m an atheist, so I don’t tell her. In fact, I don’t tell that side of my family. None of them are that religious, but they love to gossip. The last thing I want is for somebody other than myself to let slip that I’m an atheist. My grandma’s in her 80’s, so I figure I can tell my family after she’s gone. But it is painful to keep that part of myself from somebody I love.
My dad’s side knows I’m an atheist. They were never very religious, so they don’t care. However, they are very conservative. I can’t tell them I’m genderqueer. They wouldn’t understand. If they did, they would try to change me. They believe that gender and sex are the same thing, and they believe that the traditional gender roles should be upheld. Since my fiance is male, they wouldn’t care about the demisexuality part. As far as they’re concerned, I’m straight. They are also quite anti-feminist. I don’t keep that one to myself, but it seems that any conversations I have with them along those lines just turn into fights. In fact, I recently took my dad and brother off facebook for that very reason. They’re happy to push their views on me, but they aren’t willing to listen to my views. The same goes for my political views.
I do have one uncle on my dad’s side who is a conservative Christian. Like, Evangelical, homeschool your children, avoid all things secular, Jesus Camp Christian. He and his wife separated themselves from my family when I was about 6 when my aunt was pregnant with their first child. Apparently my uncle wanted my grandpa to make the family Christmas gathering about Jesus, but my grandpa wanted to keep Christmas about the family. They stopped visiting after that. As a result, I’ve never met my four cousins. My uncle and I tried to have a facebook relationship for a while, but it didn’t work out very well. He has terminal cancer, so I doubt there will be a chance to fix things. I’d love to meet my cousins, but, given how sheltered they are, and given their family’s views, I doubt they’d be so keen to meet me.
I have never told any of my family members about my abortion. My mom’s side would be against it and my dad’s side, while they would allow me to make the decision, would have wanted me to keep it. I wish I could have called my mom as soon as I found out I was pregnant, but that wasn’t an option for me. I had to make the decision without her.
All of the things I can’t talk about make it difficult to be close to my family. I try to visit everybody once a year, since I live quite far from everyone, but between not having money and feeling tense about saying the wrong thing and causing a fight, it’s hard to motivate myself to keep in contact with anyone. Like I said, families are complicated.