Recently my birth family got in contact with me and asked to start up a relationship again. In 2007 after my then partner and I went to visit and took them to dinner for their anniversary, they talked about how pleased they were that I had settled down and I looked well. Heck if they didn*t have a cat we could have stayed with them, they stated. Then promptly donated $500 dollars through the church the employs my mother to fund Yes on 8.
They live in Pennsylvania and Christ Church was one of the well connected churches that supported George Bush Jr. I remember my mother was so proud that the minister of her church, her leader and mentor, was going to not one but also the second inauguration of President Bush. After a life of punishing me for being gay I cut them off again.
In the early 2000*s I had also removed myself from contact. I wanted to heal from the life I had lead up till then. Suicidal and emotionally volatile I had decided it was best to remove the source of these feelings..... my family. The memories of my upbringing and the relations since had taken me to a dark place. One that served as my cage. However I got the call when the olympics were on that they missed me and that they were reminded of me while watching the swimmers.
Our relation opened up again and I even sent them my All American metal from 2004 so they could be proud of me. However it did not change our relationship and my life style and core person remained an abomination to them. So in 2007 I asked for the metal back and cut off ties permanently. Although they have tried to contact me and open lines of communication again I have rejected their pleas.
24 years ago I tested positive for HIV and was told I already had AIDS. Few t cells and some minor issues placed me directly in the AIDS category. I was devastated. I called my parents. I wanted to feel safe and be told that I was ok. One week later their response came in the form of a get well card with a ten dollar check in it.
I was coming from a family environment that saw me as other. I had spent much of my early education in therapy at the request of my family to stop they fey little boy from being who I was. Later when questioned they said it was to *bring me up as their gay son*.
They had brought me up as their gay son though. They did that through rejection, abuse and emotional neglect even if I had lied every time I had seen the Doctor. I knew why I was there. Because something was wrong with me and needed to be fixed.
What was wrong was me? I was experiencing sex on a regular basis at home as a child. I believe that incest is the correct term. Incest and cutting then tucking the gay away in a closet to think about what I had made them do to me. I was to become straight at any cost and surly exposure to a female form was the way to do so. It was not.
Instead I have Bi Polar disorder, a deep mistrust of people, an inability to easily find worth in myself, and a manic personality, all because my defenses had been taken away from me as a child. Certainly after three suicide attempts this was apparent even to myself. I realized that something had to change or I would end up a statistic and never fulfill my potential.
Funny that even in the pain of everyday life I knew there was hope. I am luckier than most. It is in spite of my upbringing that I have survived not because of it. My family In Pittsburgh is owed nothing and I take this time to declare my continued independence from the past and a commitment to the future and a healthier life.
Almost 2 years ago I removed myself from an abusive relationship but it was not until this last attempt by my family that I realized that much of the pain was not from the actual leaving but because I had let myself stand in harms way and accepted it as my place in the world. When really that is not my truth. I left him and I left my parents. I am strong to do so. I am able to free myself of what is not working for me. I am able to remove myself from harm. I am moving on and achieving. Despite my family and not because of them.
This is why my gay brothers and sisters mean so much to me. This is why friends are a needed part of my life. This is also why I can be a hard friend to handle. This is why the rights of the homeless, the drug addicted, the oppressed mean so much to me. We are only realizing now how mental illness, drug addiction and the inability to care for ones self often stem from childhood abuse. Yesterday at the Club Health conference the statistic that around 90 percent of women who put themselves in situations that lead to over intoxication and sexual assault have suffered from sexual assaults in their childhood.
I am proud to struggle daily with what my family has given me. I am proud to be leaving my past in the past. I am glad to have people who remind me of the strength it has taken. I am lucky that I am alive today. All this in spite of my family. Life is very hard and a mental struggle every day and I am lucky and proud that I could be here to participate in it. I am glad I traded my abusive family for a community that cares. For many of us life is not easy. Thankfully for me my life is my life and it is only symptoms of my past that tie me to it.
I have made myself free.