Many of you have probably found yourself ostracized by your family. For me it was twenty-five years ago when I had made the decision that rather than kill myself, I would transition and have surgery to live authentically as who God made me to be. But that decision did leave me cut-off from my parents and brothers. I was no longer married and had no children, so I was pretty much alone. That’s when I learned the significance of the phrase “friends are the family you choose”, and over the years I’ve developed deep and meaningful relationships with many friends, whom from time to time I’ve leaned on when life was just well, life.
On occasion I’ve reached out unsuccessfully to reconnect with my family. When I was once again unable to get any feedback from my family late last year, I reached out to family I’ve never spoken with before, a nephew and his wife. I found her Facebook page and sent a private message letting her know that I was yes, the “black-sheep” of the family that she had heard about and apologized if my message was an unwanted intrusion. I did ask her if she could find out from my immediate family if they ever received my communications. Well much to my surprise and near shock, my nephew and his wife didn’t know I even existed. My nephew grew up thinking he had one uncle and that was it. He and his wife never heard that my brother had another sibling, but once they learned about me it didn’t take them long to find out that it was a sensitive and volatile topic among the family.
When she got back to me telling me about their total lack of awareness of my being, she said they felt this was a situation that needed to be made right and weren’t going to shut me out, so I directed her here to my site to at least learn a little of my story (not knowing what they were hearing from my family.) We’ve communicated back and forth a little bit over the last several months, and a wonderful and amazing thing happened a couple of days ago – I met and had lunch with my nephew, his wife and one of their little girls. We live about 5 hours apart and met in the middle (well sorta.) This was the closest family I had seen in 25 years and it qualified as one of those “best day ever” events. It was so comfortable, so natural to be with them. You wouldn’t have known we had never met before, it was as if we’ve known each other a long time and just hadn’t seen each other in a while and all we had to do was catch up. It was almost surreal that I was actually right there sitting at the same table as them, so much so that despite the fact that I was sure it was going to be an emotional thing – at the time it wasn’t, it was just…comfortable. It wasn’t until I was driving home that the full significance of the day really hit me and I began to cry tears of joy.
As I was having dinner with friends last night and was telling them the story of my lunch, a revelation hit all of us at the same time. We were talking about why it was that they were so welcoming of me into their life in light of how opposite it was from the rest of my family – and we realized that at least in part it was because they HADN’T heard of me until I introduced myself to them. What I had perceived as a huge disappointment, that my own family denied my very existence was in fact, a blessing. My nephew and subsequently his family were never poisoned against me growing up, never told about the “horrible” person that I was – and in doing so inadvertently giving them the opportunity to make up their own minds about how they felt about having an aunt that was transgender. We didn’t have to do a lot of Q&A because my life is pretty much laid out here. We just got better acquainted about each other’s life.
So my word to you is never, ever give up on your family. This day may be for me the crack in the concrete wall that is my family that perhaps one day will lead to a reunion, and I will be forever hopeful. You just never know how things will play out. This is just one reason why you shouldn’t harbor hate or bad feelings toward your own family when they reject you. Read my “I killed someone but it was him or me” post to better understand how your family may have felt when you told them you were transgender. Life is a whole lot more than just about you. Keep your love for them alive, don’t cut them off in your heart, the day may come when you get to actually share that love back with them. It’s my hope and prayer for you and for me.