My parents are coming to visit next weekend. We haven’t seen them since they were here last May, and that seems like ages ago now. What’s more this trip will mark the one year anniversary since I came out to them. I think that makes for a suitable opportunity to re-assess where things stand between us.
I’ve made no secret about my frustration with my parents’ response to my coming out. When I finally worked up the courage to tell them I thought I was prepared for anything. I steeled myself for total rejection, but held out hope that perhaps this could lead to a reconciliation of sorts. After all, we weren’t exactly close before. If they didn’t completely disown me, things could only improve, or so I thought.
However the response they gave me was neither rejection nor acceptance but rather a mushy-mealy hash of confusion seemingly designed to deny me any kind of answer at all. At first I was told they didn’t want to talk about it. Then I was told they needed more time. But time has passed and they still don’t want to talk about it – even when they come to visit and I go out to dinner with them no longer presenting as male. They mostly handle this by trying not to look at me and removing all gender references when talking about me. They don’t treat me like a son or a daughter, but rather as some strange sexless creature associated to them largely through the fact that I live with their grand kids.
I think I’m nearing the end of my tolerance for that kind of relationship.
I’d have a hard time putting into words the amount of stress their visits puts upon our family now. The kids aren’t clueless – they pick up on the fact that their grandparents are tense, judgmental, and don’t show any kind of parental affection for me. It’s confusing for them as they try to understand how E and I will relate to them when they grow up. We’ve actually had to reassure them in response to fears they’ve picked up by seeing my parents visit – Yes, we will always love them and accept them no matter what. It scares them to think their future might hold the kind of emotional abandonment from their own parents they witness my parents displaying toward me.
What’s more the kids are going through enough. If my parents took the time to actually talk to us about what the transition has been like, I would relate how significantly it impacts the whole family. E and the kids have had their own coming out experiences with friends, parents, teachers, neighbors and the like as they have to explain my transition. They’re full of the same kind of fears of rejection and ostracism over this stuff as I am. Which makes us all treasure the security of our family and home. Therefore when my parents come visit and invade both family and home in their passive-aggressive, judgmental style it takes away that single place where we can all feel accepted and loved unconditionally.
My parents aren’t young any more and neither am I. We don’t really have time left for engaging in long, drawn-out games about this stuff. I don’t exactly know what I can do to change things, but I’m not going to let another year pass between us the way this one has gone.