Why is it you have your most lucid thoughts late at night when you are supposed to be asleep?
I suspect this might take on more of the tone of a rant than a rambling. Instead of being that startlingly clear thought that I usually have just seconds before falling asleep only to try to recreate it by the light of day, this has nagged at me for awhile. And tonight it just won’t let go. When it has come to mind in the past- not quite formed….just a random thought… I could think about it, mull it over, write it in my head and fall asleep, probably in the middle of my most brilliant sentence. That is not the case tonight.
Not long ago I had a conversation with a transgender friend about what her expectations were when she came out to her family. She said that she was the same person she had always been and if they could not love her upon finding this out, then how genuine had that love been before? So simple yet so very true.
Over the weekend we went to visit my husband’s parents. My mother-in-law asked about Kris and somehow we wandered off the topic of Kris’s new job and onto some of the online support groups to which I belong. She sat her back straight and stiff against her chair, arms folded across her chest. In a very firm voice she announced, “We love Kris and support him fully. I’m so glad that you have groups and people to talk to about this.” I paused, taking in the look on her face, the finality of her words hitting me full force. This conversation was over. ****And this afternoon when I mentioned this conversation to my oldest son, Michael, he said the message was pretty clear.
A friend has been working on a letter to her family to explain that her son is non binary transgender. After sharing it, she received a carefully worded and somewhat guarded response from one person and nothing from the other. It caused me to have flashbacks to my own experiences with my sisters over the past 3 years.
As I was messaging back and forth with her, it happened. I looked at the words that I wrote to her in response to hearing about her family’s reaction to a letter that she had taken so much time and care to write. “Oh my goodness! I really wonder sometimes. To me, regardless of what’s going on, this is a time when the family bond should overrule everything and it shouldn’t matter what it is. You didn’t confess to your child committing mass murders. Support and acceptance should be instantaneous. This isn’t the time for carefully worded sentences.”
I was sick of it all! So incredibly sick of it!
Over the past three years I have shared exchanges, read posts and listened to the experiences of parents telling their families about their transgender children. I have felt their anxiety as they wrote and re-wrote letters, asking for feedback from us, other moms of transgender kids, in the safe places we have found with each other where we can share our honest feelings and know that we are among friends. I know the feeling of pouring out your heart to people who you think love you unconditionally only to find out that there were conditions on that love after all.
I mean, what the hell? I don’t know what I was thinking. They loved Kris when he was Kerri, screwed up beyond words, on the verge of suicide, not living an authentic life. Then he began this incredible journey to become himself. When he presented himself to those trusted people- the ones who had held him as a baby, the cousins who grew up with him and played with him…..when he shared his most precious inner self with them, they stopped loving him? I’m sure they would say that they do love him. I would have to ask, Is this how you show love? By looking through him? Pretending he doesn’t exist? By not accepting him?
Do they have any idea what it took for us to share Kris with them? What it took for Kris to share himself with them? Unlike everyone else who they just accept as they are, FLAWS AND ALL- Kris was being held to a completely different standard. He had conditions placed on him. He had to come out the way they wanted and then he had to proceed to handle himself the way they expected him to. It did not matter that he needed to know that they accepted him as who he really was- that he needed what they all give everyone else without a second thought. Nope. His feelings were never considered throughout the past three years. And the more protective I became of him…..his dad and brothers became of him, the more rigid and closed they became. I have gotten the feeling that they are even more upset with me for wrapping my arms around my child and holding him close, that we closed ranks and stuck together, us 7.
It should not take three years for them to determine how they feel, to show support, to BE THERE. If the situation was reversed and it was my niece or nephew, although I might be shocked and need time to process it, like my own experience with Kris, all of that would be pushed back so that I could show love for the child and I would want to be sure to support the child’s parent.
So, here I am, sleepless,wondering if I’ve done something wrong, maybe expected too much from them. But then I think of how this has all fallen to me and Kris since the first time I told my parents and siblings about him. I feel as if every single move has been mine and if I didn’t promptly fall down at their feet in gratitude for the not even half-hearted attempts they made, I had wronged them yet again.
What about that kid they said they loved? He’s still here needing their love more than ever.