I will begin by proclaiming that I am in a good place. I am okay. What you are about to read will likely become very angry, as I will probably end up typing all the ways in which I did not respond to the people I am discussing. I apologize in advance. I could spare you, my beautiful readers, the gory details; but I will not. I think it is appropriate that you know the bad as well as the good. It is all a part of the same transition.
I would be lying if I claimed to expect something more from my birth family. What can one truly expect from people whose entire life exists in the bubble of a small town where terms like diversity are taken to mean that the “women-folk” are permitted to work at the local candy factory? In its entire history, there have maybe been a dozen African American families who have taken up residence in the town, and none of them stayed very long. The very small Hispanic population is referred to as the “colored people” in “polite” conversation. And no self-respecting gay or queer would dare to walk the streets during daylight hours when upstanding citizens are out with their families. In some small way, I suppose it is a relief to know that I will never again have cause to visit such an evil place.
Sunday, May 29, 2011 was a difficult day. Looking back on the meltdown I felt yesterday morning, and knowing how the early parts of the day unfolded; I suspect my morning struggles were actually my intuition screaming at me. Just as I had begun to collect myself and was considering moving into the living room to unwind, the first in a series of email messages popped into my inbox. I made the mistake of reading it.
The first note was from the woman who married my birth brother several years ago. I should note that this woman has spoken less than a paragraph worth in words to me in all the years she has been a part of my birth family. I have never faulted that; I assumed she was shy. She wasted no time getting to the point, which was that I was an abomination in the eyes of God, that I was a pox on the family, and that this “Kate persona” as she described it was an affront to all that is good and holy. I probably could have lived with that, but she also felt compelled to call my children’s upbringing into question. That sent me to a whole new level, but at least she said she would be praying for them. That makes everything better.
My initial thought (aside from the intense anger, of course), was that she was interjecting her thoughts without my birth brother’s knowledge. She was not, after all, included in the original conversation. Then I considered that maybe she was speaking for him, as perhaps he was too shocked or afraid to say anything himself. It turns out she was just the opening act… not a very good one. The light show was terrible, and the tech crew obviously missed the Holy Roller effects queues (soft light showing through artificial fog, image of random mountains and a burning bush, that sort of thing).
Being the strong and evolved woman that I am, I continued my tack of responding only with kindness. Short and simply, I expressed appreciation for her input, extended my love, and offered hope that she may one day want to know the real me. Not long after, my birth brother fired the second volley.
In this great literary effort, God’s judgment against me was further confirmed, it was explained that my actions were entirely irresponsible, and a number of other very insightful observations were made. Among them, I learned that it was a good thing my father is dead, as knowing me would have killed him. Also, despite intense and countless efforts to reach out to me over the years (I will be sure to show you the piles of unopened letters, invitations, and other communications from my family that I have carelessly disregarded – if I ever receive any of it), I am to blame for the distance among the family. Oh, and I learned that it was my birth brother’s sole and lonesome responsibility to take care of my birth mother as the one and only upstanding family member. I’m glad they have each other.
With all the ridicule, insults, judgment, and condemnation, it almost seemed that my father actually was still alive. I haven’t been treated with such hatred since he passed. The only question that was left in my mind was whether my birth brother was actually holding the cross in his hands, or if he had set it aside long enough to type the email – I’m not sure how that works with self-proclaimed martyrs.
At my beautiful and outrageously awesome wife’s urging, I postponed any further response until later in the evening. I made two. One was to the entire group, who had the misfortune to receive the “reply all” that these two geniuses sent. To them I apologized. I expressed my regret that they were exposed to these emails, and assured them I would handle all subsequent communications individually rather than risk further awkwardness. To my small town heroes, I expressed my disappointment in their position – in the most friendly and understanding tone possible, of course. I expressed the hope that they would one day want to know me and offered my continued love and support. And finally I explained patiently but firmly that my letter was not for the purpose of begging acceptance, love, or permission, but that I was offering the opportunity to know the real me.
Now I am going to take the money I would have been spending on trips to Ohio and by boobs… or maybe a new car for my wife. Heck, I’ll get both.
Until next time, my pretties!