Are you kidding me?!

Discussion in 'Coming Out' started by TF, Jun 15, 2015.

  1. TF

    TF Active Member

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    I am so so so so infuriated right now...
    Do you know that scene from Saving Face when Wil (the doctor) says how her mom knows she's gay and YET she still asks her about boyfriends and tries to set her up? That's EXACTLY how it is for me right now, hence the subject: Are you kidding me?!

    I came out towards the end of last year, very conservative parents (of course, aren't they all?) it was done by phone (I live in a different country and I just didn't want to let the year pass with this burden on my chest), mind you I am 25 and have been in a wonderful relationship for the past umm... almost 6 years, with the woman I plan to marry next year. I am a grown ass woman, always have been very independent from all points of view, especially financially. The only reason I didn't come out sooner is that I know my mom's health is not ideal so I just bottled it up (until I didn't)

    I was "kind of" rooting for a positive reaction, which never came, she cried, I cried, my dad cried, I cried some more, he basically told me I'm not his daughter anymore. The story is really more complicated than that but you don't need to get sucked into my drama. One or so months pass and my mom starts reaching out, fast forwarding until the present day, we talk 1-3 times a week, about useless, conversational stuff, nothing too "deep", I talk about my fiancée if the conversation will lead there, our trips, our daily lives, her family, our lives, our animals, I don't get into it too much but I don't pretend like it doesn't exist. It's not "me", it's always "us", making sure the point gets across.

    So 2-3 weeks ago we had this "hypothetical" conversation where my mom said something along the lines "Well, you know, us older people, we adapt harder, that doesn't mean we don't try" Light bulbs! WOW, she's trying, awesome, my parents might even come to our wedding (we set the date so far back, in 2016, to give them time to "adjust"! Hallelujah! Great news, right?! WRONG!

    Our celebration was apparently short lived because guess what my mom asks me today? "So did you find a boyfriend?", I say "WHAT?" she says "A man! Have you find any boyfriend?", my instant response was "OK mom, I need to go back to work. Bye" *end call* - you have to admire my patience. I am REALLY trying to be respectful, I get that she's not ready to have certain talks but to completely ignore?! what I'm saying?! to dismiss the relationship I've been having for years? (and she knows it's been that long) ARE YOU FCKING KIDDING ME?

    She's basically sticking her fingers into her ears going *lalalalalala* And the worst part is that I've invested SO MUCH energy into understanding them and trying to make them understand me. I've been patient (and I'm not a very patient person). My fiancée has been telling me all along "You know, I'm not sure, it's too strange, don't get your hopes up, you'll just get hurt in the end" obviously I wouldn't hear any of it "You'll see, they'll come around"

    ..... I don't know if I have the energy anymore, just want to throw in the towel.
     
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  2. lorienczhiu

    lorienczhiu Well-Known Member

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    That's the worst. For what it's worth, I think you handled it in the best way possible - refusing to play along when you couldn't, not saying something hurtful, and not letting her get away with re-closeting you. It's entirely her problem, and not yours, and I think that if you're feeling exhausted with the effort of holding up the olive branch, it's not a bad thing to let her know that your door is open but it's going to be her job to step through when she is ready.

    It's really tough when your family doesn't deal appropriately with their feelings. While it's not my mom and dad, I'm at a place with my now mother-in-law where I frankly need her to step up or step out around our marriage. If you want to hear someone else's micoaggressive BS, I would be happy to detail the large and small ways she has undermined our relationship and our marriage - up to and including being 30 minutes late for our wedding and then yelling at my wife within 2 minutes of the ceremony's end because she didn't know where she was supposed to sit (uh, that's what happens when you're late! I reserved the front row, and I'm sorry you can't read), and it was all our fault for choosing a venue so far from her house anyway. It was so hurtful such a passive-aggressive, selfish thing to do, that I wish she just hadn't come. It was really hard for me to remember everything else that happened, and not to lose it with her - but you know what? There were 80 other people there, family and friends and community, who were amazing and wonderful and kind and supportive and even pretended they didn't notice how late we started the ceremony.

    The only thing I have to offer is that you need to look beyond your mother, just like my wife and I need to look elsewhere for emotional and family support. What's your fiancee's family like? Your friends and extended family? Are they able to be there for you, to support and celebrate your marriage, to acknowledge and affirm your love? Because your mother is clearly not able to give you what you need, it's okay for you invest your time and energy in relationships that will be positive and supportive. To decide to spend holidays with the people who will not make you work for their approval. (My parents? Love my wife double every time her mother sucks. We have decided to build ties with her uncle and aunt, who were there with us while we waited for her mom and did their best to be the family that her mother couldn't be.) Continuing to pour time and energy into people who do not want to do the work isn't duty and effort; after a point, it's craziness. And if you've reached that point, it's okay to say so, and to take care of yourself, your relationship with your fiancee, and the family that you hope to build.

    You don't have to cut ties with your mother to do this, but you can let her know that her refusal to acknowledge your relationship and the commitment you're about to make was very hurtful, and that you would love to have her at your wedding and in your life - but only if and when she can be there for you without undermining or invalidating you. Offer to connect her with resources or help her research a therapist if she needs someone to dump those feelings on, so that it's not you. And thank her for trying (if she tries).

    And if she doesn't take you up on it, and doesn't want to do the work, that is on HER, not on you, and it's not your job to deal. She is also an adult, and has the responsibility for handling her on shit and not putting it on you, and that includes not trying to make you complicit in the erasure of your relationship just because she doesn't want to face it.
     
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  3. TF

    TF Active Member

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    Ugh! I'm sorry to hear about your situation, at least your side of the family is more... accepting (although I can't stand terms like "accepting" or "tolerant", I don't need to be "tolerated", but that's a different conversation.

    It sucks, it really sucks, the more I think about it, the more it sucks. The worst part is that I can tell that I'm starting to get "numb" and I'm afraid in a way that I'll stop carrying, I'll just slowly back away which is a horrible thing because at the end of the day they're still my parents. Is having a cold, emotionless relationship better than not having a relationship at all? I don't know. I would be more than glad to have a conversation if they would be open to it and not send me to a psychiatrist as soon as I pronounce the word "gay"

    My fiancée's family is great, they saw me as part of the family from the beginning, my mother-in-law is very supportive and calls me her daughter, actually the first thing she said after I had the negative reaction from my mother is that she knows she cannot replace my mom but that she'll do her best, in a very protective way.

    Everything that you said and the advice that you've given makes perfect sense, thank you for taking the time and replying. I KNOW deep down that no matter what I tell her she'll just dismiss it, like nothing ever happened, she'll just cry, we won't talk for weeks and then act like nothing happened. A perfect example of how NOT do deal with things and why sticking your head in the sand is a horrible idea. If I could just open her head and put all of this information in her head, if she could just only see...
     
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  4. Spygirl

    Spygirl Well-Known Member

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    Denial is powerful. And, frankly, at the very least -- your mother is in denial. If that's not the case, then it's likely worse in that she just isn't going to accept who you are. And unfortunately, there's nothing that you can do to make her accept you. Acceptance has to come from within. It's something that she has to want, whether wanting it comes from her wanting to maintain a relationship with her daughter or whether wanting it means that she truly wants to mend fences with you.

    My suggestion to you would be to continue to live honestly -- even in dealing with your parents (if you choose to continue to deal with them). Stressing over something that you cannot control only serves to waste your time and make you upset. She may come around eventually -- or she may not. But forcing the issue with her likely won't be productive unless she's willing and ready to understand that you cannot change the person you are.

    It takes time, but hang in there.
     
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  5. sundancer

    sundancer Well-Known Member

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    While your parents weren't accepting, they are also mourning the loss of their daughter. As in the dreams that they had envisioned for you when since before you were even born. You have to give them some time to process all the information especially if you've been living away from them and thus have no idea what's going on in your life. Things in life are a process and the ball is now in their court as to how they will handle it. There are also things going on such as culture, age, etc so just hang in there and give them time. Of course, there is an undetermined amount of time just like getting over an ex may take a couple of weeks or maybe even years depending on what the relationship was like. There's no set date like next monday you will be over your ex - you have to process it and let go. Stay strong and be true to yourself.
     
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  6. lorienczhiu

    lorienczhiu Well-Known Member

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    I think that there's not really a big difference between the two options - cold and emotionally distant vs. cold and literally distant. Both suck, and both lose you parents and your parents a daughter. I also think that you can choose a third option, I really really do, because you can control the way you feel and act - and relinquish control over your mother's behavior. So you can not participate in conversations that invalidate you; you can let them know that you'll be leaving if they try to ask about boyfriends or call her fiancee your "friend" or whatever boundary you set. And you can do it, without being mean or angry: you are a grownup, and get to decide how you spend time and how you will be treated. You can't force them to treat you the way you want, but you can take yourself out of situations that hurt you.

    Eventually, you might be taking yourself out of so many situations that it doesn't feel worth it to go any more. Or your mother might slowly, slowly change her behavior, with all the tears and anger and feelings she hasn't allowed herself to experience around your sexuality. It is 100% her choice what she does when faced with your nonparticipation in your own closeting.

    Lean on that. Build that. Rely on that. And when your family asks why you're going there for Thanksgiving, you can be honest: because we feel comfortable, welcome, and acknowledged. (My wife and I are planning on having a child in the next few years, and we are already rehearsing this conversation, in the event that her mother does not get her head in order to be the kind of grandmother we want involved in our child's life. There is no effing way that I am going to tolerate the kinds of self-centered, invalidating antics we've endured from her when the safety and emotional security of a child is involved - because if it hurts grown-up me, how much harder is it going to be for a kid to experience that ugliness directed towards their family?)

    So don't let that happen. Tell her, and then when she pretends you never told her, tell her again. Her emotional head-in-the-sand attitude is a form of manipulation, probably accidental, born of her wanting to be able to ignore this until it goes away. And so far, it's working - she's getting what she wants, in that she is able to ignore it and then pretend it isn't happening. If it stops working, if you stop allowing her to ignore and smooth over, she will be forced to decide how to actually deal. That might be by cutting you out, but it might also be by confronting and coming to terms with the reality of your life and your relationship.

    How can you do that? Obviously, you can talk to her. You can make a point to say "my fiancee" all the freakin' time. You can paint a damn rainbow on your face before you have dinner with her (though earrings might be more comfortable). You can leave PFLAG pamphlets on her coffee table. You can write a letter for her perusal at her own pace. Or you can stick to taking yourself out of conversations and situations when she ignores your sexuality and relationships. But whatever seems doable and authentic and honest, you don't have to prize her emotional well-being - which relies on your erasure - over your own.

    Honestly, my mother in law practiced this nonsense too. I don't know if it was a calculated tactic or just the accidental result of her craziness, but she would yell at me, criticize my wife ("your hair's too short!" "ma, I'm a lesbian. I'm sorry I look like one."), try to invalidate our relationship ("you act like teenagers! it's so immature!"), in tiny tiny ways that were all about controlling my wife's behavior to make her mother's feelings more important than our relationship. But you know what? My wife and I would leave and go get ice cream instead of participating in her mother's tantrum. When her mother said things that were disrespectful and invalidating, my wife would say goodbye and hang up the phone. And so while her behavior at our wedding was disgraceful, it actually represented an improvement, because she was trying to manipulate everyone EXCEPT for us. And at least she made fruit salad for the brunch the next day, and in the year since has (just once!) introduced me as her daughter's wife. And so I do have a hope, though I'm not relying on it, that her current policy of noninterference and nonsupport, an improvement over actively trying to knock us down, will eventually give way to something positive and supportive.

    One other thought - other than your parents, does your side of the family and/or family friends know about you and your fiancee? Because part of her erasing behavior may be fear around what people will say or how they will react, and it may be harder for her to continue this willful ignorance act of she doesn't have keeping up appearances as a reason to give. (If they do know, though, hats off to your mother for strength of will, if nothing else. That's impressive.)

    Whatever you decide to do, I want to stress that I strongly believe that you are responsible for yourself first - before making your mom feel better, before preserving a relationship with your parents that may be damaging, before tending to her emotional growth. If trying to walk her along, or having patience for her emotional ostrichness, hurts you or costs you other, positive, supportive relationship, you are not obligated to prioritize her needs. Lots of queers find that family of choice is much more powerful and supportive that the one we're born to, and when we've given our moms and dads every chance and every support, at a certain point it's on them to take it, and not on us to keep waiting.

    Like I said: leave the door open, and be as involved as helping her walk through as you can be. But you can't drag her across the threshold, and you can't prop it open at then expense of your health and happiness.
     
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  7. Eloise

    Eloise Well-Known Member

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    i don't think you're mother is in denial. I think she is just being rude on purpose. She's insulting you and she knows it. She is being childish. Call her on it. Don't just hang up. When she says something like that again, tell her you don't appreciate it and that it hurts you when she insults you that way. She probably thinks she's getting away with being passive agressive, but you really need to say something. It's not ok. It's really hard ot come out to your family. Now that they know they might not understand, but they need to accept that you are gay. If she can't accept it without being rude, call her less often.
     
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