Tuesday, January 26, 2010

145. Oh, for a time machine!


Okay, so I now want to go back in time and stop myself from ever having come out to my dad. And I’m sorry to anyone reading this because this blog has (for now) turned into the place I go to to vent about the aftermath. I’m writing this in the few minutes I have before work, and it is mostly venting so beware… rambling, incoherent post ahead…

First things first, I spoke to my dad the other night to once again ask him to stop discussing things with my mom because it is causing me problems, and he basically said no. He told me he’s trying to help me by forcing my mom to face the issue and ‘accept the possibility that this will not change’. Which is something I could actually understand and appreciate if the fallout for that in any way fell on him. Which, to be fair, it sort of is, but of course, most of it is landing directly on my head. I still think he has more of a problem with my being gay than he’s willing to admit to me, but I do think he thinks he’s helping. And maybe in the long run he is but for right now it’s hell.

Last week, on Thursday night my mom called me to tell me about a Christian retreat weekend that was happening in Northern Ontario that… well, basically ‘featured’ the ‘breaker annointing’. I have to say that the way she talks about spiritual things just sounds kind of insane to me sometimes. Like they’d booked a specific manifestation of the Holy Spirit which will be coming on Saturday morning between 10 and 12 or something. It’s all so… limiting. Anyway, I didn’t go, honestly not because of wanting to avoid going because we all know I’ll go to one of these things eventually, just to shut her up but because it was such short notice all it did was make me feel stressed about losing my weekend. Well, this morning she called me to give me notice about how last weekend was so good that they are doing it again this weekend. The thing is, this weekend is completely full for me… actually, this whole week. I’m tutoring tonight (Tuesday) and Thursday night, going to someone’s house for dinner on Wednesday night, Friday night is an Ani Difranco concert in Montreal, Saturday night I’ve got plans with a friend and then I’m babysitting, Sunday afternoon I’m getting together with an old pastor of mine and Sunday night I’ve got my book club. I’m full. So I can’t go. Well, first of all she doesn’t believe me that I’m going to Montreal by myself… I’m not even sure she believes I’m going. She thinks I’m avoiding her because I’m ‘hanging out with all my gay friends’… which is kind if sadly hilarious because I don’t really have any gay friends in Ottawa… I know 2 gay guys here, but I haven’t seen them for ages! I should really give them a call, actually, they are really nice guys! She tells me that she has been talking to my dad (a lot) and he is “really concerned” that I’m “running headlong into something” that I don’t understand… which again, is kind of hilarious to anyone who has been regularly reading this blog or knows me… I have been insanely slow and plodding with how I have been thinking about living out my life as a gay Christian. She wants me to go to this weekend because “there were women there who were delivered of things similar to what you suffer with” (“suffer with????” I don’t have a disease!). Which is revealing because last week she told me that it she wasn’t asking me to go to deal with the gay thing, but to deal with issues of shame and rejection that she thinks I have (and I probably do have to some degree, if I’m honest), but of course, that’s not what she really wanted.

I called dad right after I hung up with her to ask him point blank if he has a problem with my being gay because my mom keeps using him in her conversations with me to bolster her arguments and he told me that he doesn’t, that he never tells my mom that he ‘doesn’t like this about me’, but he’s not an expert and is still trying to process this, which I do have to give him leeway to do, of course, but I wish he wouldn’t do it with my mom because she uses everything he says against me. He did tell her that it would be a good idea for me to go to this weekend if only to somehow reinforce my beliefs on this issue, which is again, something I can understand him saying, but is irritating because I have been dealing with this for most of my life and at this point don’t feel the need to go and have some people attempt to ‘deliver’ me of my homosexuality in order to prove to myself that I’m really gay. And of course, my mom didn’t mention his reasoning, just that he wanted me to go.

She still doesn’t believe that I’m going to the concert by myself – now she’s latching onto the fact that I said “I’ve already bought tickets” – plural instead of singular… but isn’t that just how that is said? I don’t know, that’s how I say it… ‘I’ve got tickets to Ani Difranco’… whatever, I don’t care what she believes at this point, which I told her and made her angry once again.

I tried to convey to my dad that if he is trying to help then he needs to be careful what he says to my mom, but I don’t know that that is going to be possible, because, as he said “she’s bothering me more about this than you, I can guarantee you that…”, which is probably true. She hasn’t been able to talk to her friends about this since she first found out because she’s so ashamed, and dad already knows, plus she believes he shares some of the ‘blame’ so she doesn’t feel so ashamed talking to him about it. Plus she probably wants to prove to him that she is doing all she can, which is why this renewed level of conversation on this issue. So I don’t know how well he will be able to monitor what he says to her in light of how it will help/harm me. And as I know from experience, she will keep talking and talking and talking until you say something that sounds like what she wants to hear and then use that. I so so wish I could undo this. It’s driving me nuts.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

144. And again...

Okay, it’s just getting bloody ridiculous now. Apparently, my dad has now told my mother about the ‘gay conference’ I went to (when I corrected my mother on that one – “It was a gay CHRISTIAN conference…” her response was “What’s a gay Christian conference? How does that work?”). He just can’t seem to help himself when it comes to telling her stuff. And the thing is, I hadn’t even told him about the conference, I told my sisters and apparently he read it in an email I’d sent them. One of two things is happening here –

1: He simply does not realize what he’s doing and how difficult he is making my life when he tells my mother things like this or

2: He is not okay with my being gay, but doesn’t want to admit it so he’s telling my mom so she can be the ‘bad guy’ in this.

So this conversation was… was… ugh. Well first, I admittedly did not really go into detail in explaining the conference to her – I said it was just a conference, with speakers and workshops and stuff. I don’t’ really know why I didn’t want to tell her about it, I just didn’t. The conversation went on from there to her fear that I’m being ‘given over to a reprobate mind’ and how ‘Scripture is so clear on this’… This part went on for a while, and I did try to bring up some of the Side A (pro-gay relationships) arguments, but once again, I didn’t put a lot of effort behind them because I knew she really wasn’t hearing me… I knew everything I was saying was being filtered through her “fear-my-daughter-is-being-deceived” glasses, so there really was no point.

But then the conversation just got unpleasant. It began with “Do you believe the body was designed with purpose?” I thought I knew what was coming, I thought it was going to be an argument based on procreation, but no… she started talking about 40 year old gay men who have to wear diapers and bowel cancer and ‘other diseases that it’s just not politically correct to talk about now’. I know she worked with a whole bunch of gay men when we lived in Winnipeg and apparently they were all in diapers (I only have her word to go on, which is not the most reliable, she’s constantly insisting that I have said or done things that I have absolutely no recollection of doing, but I don’t think she’s deliberately lying about this… maybe one of them was in diapers, or maybe they joked about it or something, I don’t know). Her exact words after this whole disgusting diatribe were “if this were within God’s design, why would our body rebel?” And the thing is, even if this is true (which I don’t believe, I know gay men in their 40s, their 50s… etc…, they aren’t in diapers, nor do they have unpleasant ass-cancers or whatever) I have an argument for it… Deaf people use their hands to talk… this is not what hands were designed for, we were designed to communicate using vocal speech, so deaf people communicate in a way that is contrary to God’s design… and occasionally their bodies 'rebel' (to use my mother's word). Some deaf people suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome as a result of using sign language. It’s a horrible thing, and yet, I don’t think anyone in their right mind would see that as God’s judgment on deaf people for using their hands to speak instead of their voices. Oh, and then there’s bladder infections. I have only recently learned about these insidious things… many straight women get bladder infections from sex… not sex with multiple partners, extra-marital sex or any other specifically sinful sex… but just sex in general. A married woman who waited until marriage and has only had sex with her husband can be susceptible to bladder infections as a result of her entirely moral sex. Is this the body rebelling against something that is universally accepted to be within God’s design? (My mother’s response to that one was “gay men get diseases, not infections… it’s a whole different scale…”, I didn’t bring up the deaf thing, which I should have, my mother spent a huge part of her working life as a sign language interpreter and knew several people who suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome, both deaf people and interpreters).

Anyway, the conversation ended with her reiterating her fear of my being deceived and how this battle is in my mind and the mind is a sacred thing and… I dunno, it turned into word salad by the end, she was making very little sense.

So, I’ve somehow got to crack down on my dad talking to my mom about this. I’ve just gotten off the phone with one of my sisters asking her to not tell dad everything I tell them and please get him to stop talking to her about this. It isn’t helping.

Friday, January 15, 2010

143. Another Followup...

Well, I just had the follow up conversation with my mother – hung up the phone about 2 minutes ago. So this isn’t going to be a well thought out post, I’m just going to sort of summarize the conversation.

First of all, apparently my dad doesn’t think I’m “really” gay, he thinks I’ve somehow talked myself into it… which is an odd thing to say, honestly. I’m not entirely sure where that comes from, unless my dad thinks, like my mom, that I’ve somehow become gay due to never having been with a man. He also feels that his absence has something to do with it, which of course lines up with the freudian ‘psychology’ that many of the ex-gay therapists cling to. And actually, one of the reasons I didn’t want to tell dad was that I was afraid he would blame himself for it, and I’m oddly protective of him.

She went on to say that God is ‘shining His light on me for good, no matter what I choose’. Which was hopeful at first, but then at the end of the conversation she repeated the first part of that sentence as “God is shining his light on this and enough is enough.” So… yeah.

She thinks the underlying cause is a ‘wound’ or ‘rejection and shame’ which as to do partly with the abuse I suffered as a child (again, lining up with the ex-gay therapists on that one) and some wounding I encountered in the womb. I’m not making that up. Apparently she had a dream about me when she was pregnant with me in which she was running around town in Bermuda doing things and I began to cry because I was hungry and she said she was busy and so I said “that’s okay mommy, I will wait”. And that’s what I was like as a child… seriously, on all my report cards, the one comment that is always there is that I was incredibly patient. And she used to think that that was a good thing, but now she thinks it is a character flaw, that I internalized some sort of shame and feeling of unworthiness which is why I’ve always been willing to wait or put the needs of others first, and that this feeling of unworthiness stems from being conceived out of wedlock and her having to hide her pregnancy in order to keep her job… so she feels I need to deal with that core issue and that healing will progress from there. Apparantly she has spoken to people about me and they have offered to counsel me for free.

She is also definitely of the camp that believes that homosexuality revolves around sex… several times in the conversation she said “I know it isn’t all about sex, but so much of it is” and so she’s afraid of me pursuing a relationship with a woman because she doesn’t know what I’ll run into. She feels that much of homosexuality is ‘soul wounding’, but some of it is just ‘really nasty’. She then went on to talk about some people I knew growing up and their ‘struggles with this’ and well, that part was just weird for me because these were grownups I knew when I was a kid, so hearing about them in this was just… well, weird is the only word I can think of.

Oh, and she brought up that lovely counsellor we had who’s last words to her were about how concerned she was for me if I went into a ‘gay lifestyle’ because ‘those people’ will ‘chew you up and spit you out’… I knew that was going to come back. So frustrating.

She told me ‘people do get over this’, which was… not surprising to hear from her… I did not want to get into a conversation with her about the validity of ex-gay counselling and the claims they make. I knew that would only lead to an argument.

Out of the blue (to me at least) she brought up the prayer of Jabez (which was incredibly popular in Christian circles a few years ago) and told me she wants me to pray that over myself in the context of protecting me from harm in this area.

I didn’t say much in this conversation because I really didn’t know what to say, and did not want it to turn into an argument. She once again told me I was her ‘precious daughter’ and that she is proud of me because I’ve ‘worked so hard’…. I honestly don’t know what she was referring to there, but I didn’t ask because by that point I just wanted to be off of the phone.

It was pretty clear as the conversation went on that dad had told her I was dating… he did overstate it I think, because my mom seemed to think that I was sort of out there dating right now, which is so very not the case.

Anyway, the conversation is now over and I am hoping we don’t end up having those conversations all the time. But, it wasn’t horrible so, I guess I’m okay…

Thursday, January 14, 2010

142. Shoulda seen that coming...

Well… crap.

So, I wanted to believe that my sisters were right and that if I asked Dad not to talk to mom about me being gay that he wouldn’t… but if I’m honest, I really didn’t believe it. They may have grown up with Dad and know him better than I do in many ways, but when it comes to my mother, I can pretty much predict what he’s going to do. I’m not exactly sure how much he told her – like if he just told her I had come out to him, or if he told her I had started to date – the former being bad enough as my mom has explicitly told me not to tell people, but the latter… ugh, I don’t want to think about the conversations that that will induce. My dad, of course, just doesn’t get it, having not been here to witness my mom and I’s relationship… I know he’s managed to keep some secrets about my sisters from my stepmother at my sisters’ behest, but that is likely because he knows exactly how crazy she can get, whereas my mother is this distant entity.

Anyway… mom and I spoke last night, mostly about our respective Christmas holidays (she spent hers in Mexico), and at the end she mentioned having spoken to my dad and that he had ‘shared’ with her what I had ‘shared’ with him (the use of the word ‘shared’ both upsets and amuses me… I can’t exactly pinpoint why). She then told me she was up in Northern Ontario on a ‘personal retreat’ in order to pray for her family (which – and I think I’m not being to egocentric here – I think means mostly me), and asked me if I had talked to anyone at my church about this. I told her I had (which she knows from before but had forgotten). She asked me what they think and I told her that they mostly focused on my relationship with God… she then went into this long story about this man that she believes God told her she’s going to marry and how when she first heard this message from God 10 years ago she didn’t like the guy at all, but recently she has found she really likes him so “God is well able to change my feelings”… which I believe, honestly… I believe God could make me sprout wings if He wanted to -- I just don't believe anymore that He wants to. Then there was mention of a story from my childhood that I think I’ve mentioned before (I’d search and hyperlink to it, but I really don’t feel like it) about how I ‘willingly gave up a smurf toy because it was ungodly (my mom believed the smurfs were demonic and so I wasn’t allowed to watch the show, still haven’t seen a full episode – I find it annoying now) and that shows that I’ve always been willing to give things up that weren’t of God (I didn’t feel the need to mention that giving up that smurf toy wasn’t much of a sacrifice because I’d never seen the show and therefore had no attachment to the show)(um… not that I’m not willing to give up things that are not of God, it’s just that that particular story doesn’t have the resonance that my mother thinks it does).

Well, she ended that conversation asking me if I had anything I wanted to say to her, to which I responded “no” and resisted the urge to add “I didn’t want to talk to you about this in the first place.” She told me that I will always be her ‘precious daughter’ and that was that. Relatively painless (I’ve mentioned before, it always goes better when she comes across my gayness by accident than if I initiate a conversation about it. It’s a pretty consistent pattern.) But tonight I had a message on my phone from her saying that she doesn’t want me to think she’s taking this lightly, she knows I’ve been through a lot but we ‘need to talk about this.’ I did call her back, but got no answer, and was very glad of that. Not looking forward to that conversation, I have to say. Really wishing my dad had kept his mouth shut. I know it’s kind of cowardly to not want to face this, but I just don’t want to be dealing with this right now. I had sort of decided I wouldn’t have another conversation about being gay (not that I would lie, if she asked, I planned to be honest, but I just wasn’t going to bring it up) with my mom unless/until I was in a serious relationship. I figured the relationship would give me the courage to stand my ground in any conversation with my mom… or at least, it would help to give me courage. I don’t exactly know how those things work.

In other completely unrelated news, I went to the GCN conference in Nashville… had a fantabulous time… managed to ‘win’ a game of Transamerica (I put that in quotes because I’m pretty sure the game could have officially gone on for a few more rounds, but someone suggested ending it, and I was winning so I heartily agreed.) I hung out with people I love who I don’t get to see nearly enough. I heard inspiring and challenging speakers. I worshiped in a community of Believers…. All in all it was a wonderful time. To all my new and old GCN friends who happen to be reading this, I miss you all!

Friday, January 01, 2010

141. Follow up...

Well, I’m in the airport in Philly, waiting for my flight to Ottawa. I had a wonderful time in Bermuda… spending time with my sisters, my dad, and my Bermuda family. I’m a little sad right now, but it is an expected sort of sadness, I miss them, that’s all.

So, I thought I’d use my 4 hour layover to update on my recent blog posts… man, I’ve posted a lot recently. What’s up with that? Sadly, there’s no free wifi in this airport, so I probably won’t post this until tomorrow, but hey, you’ll just have to get over that.

First, I did not manage to get together with my gay relatives. I called them on Boxing day, and it turned out the brother was leaving the next day… I never did get to speak with the sister, but I heard via an Aunt that she had tried to call be back but had lost my number. Oh well. It was a nice idea. Maybe next time.

In more significant news, I did come out to my dad. We were alone in the car and he brought up the subject of ‘this boy/girl thing’ (his actual words), trying to encourage me that it would happen one day, not to get anxious about it. I’m not exactly sure how it happened, I somehow ended up talking about my friend in Scotland, who is gay, and my dad made the very true, but odd observation that ‘gay people are people too’… I’m really not sure why he felt the need to say that, it was a bit bizarre. I decided to come out at that point, and started to brace myself… took a deep breath, opened my mouth and… loud reggae music interrupted us (preparations for the New Years Eve celebration in town)… that has happened to me many times. I’m about to tell someone I’m gay, literally, my mouth is open, the words are about to come out and something loud interrupts. It’s odd. Anyway, I had to steel myself again, and waited until we were out of earshot of the reggae music and opened my mouth and said it – “Dad, I should tell you something… I’m gay.” There was silence from him, and then… laughter. I think he really didn’t know what to do, and so that was his response. He did that a lot. He didn’t react badly at all, he did ask the question I find so annoying because really, it’s just a ridiculous question… the ‘how do you know?’ (which he worded ‘and what makes you feel that way?’)… but I understand I guess. He asked me if I had a ‘friend’, to which I said no, but told him about the few dates I’ve been on (which made him laugh again). He seemed mostly concerned with how my mother has reacted, wondering if we have fought about it a lot and how she feels about it. He seemed to be preparing himself for a conversation with her (which I have tried to discourage, and have enlisted my sisters as my allies in… I think having my dad talk to my mom about this will only enrage her and bring a whole mess of stuff down on my head that I may have to deal with if I ever end up in a relationship, but is completely unnecessary right now). He also told me to be careful with letting my employers know (which is just old-school-Bermudian… I let it go, because I don’t think he’ll fully believe that honestly, it’s not really a problem in Canada… at for the most part.) and to be careful ‘going into those places where people like you meet’. That one I tried to explain to him… first of all, I’m not really a ‘hang out in bars’ person, wouldn’t be if I were straight either, and besides ‘those places’ aren’t the dingy, back-alley bars that they have to be in countries where people are forced to hide. All in all, it was a good conversation, I think. I hope he’s okay. I’ll be checking in with my sisters to see what he says to them about it.

Well, that’s it… I’ve killed maybe half an hour writing this out so… now to wait for my plane to start boarding. Happy New Year all!