Ok…here’s a post.
So Christmas came and went. For the most part it was fine. I loved the break from school and spending time with Sweet Tea and the kids, but I must admit I was a little out of sorts some of the time. I had a hard time putting my finger on it, but I think after much reflection I’ve finally figured it all out.
I was out of school for 2 weeks. My kids were out of school for 2 weeks. I thought I would be inundated with requests to do and see and go. I wasn’t. A couple of older kids who went to school with my brood in Turkey were getting married in a small town nearby over the break. People from our Turkish past came out of the woodwork for the wedding. I wasn’t sure who would and who wouldn’t be okay with me. I wasn’t invited to the actual wedding, but I was fine with that. My wasband had kept in touch with some of these people and was the chauffeur/go-to-guy for the guests. It was like he was back in Turkey with all the driving to and from the airport he did! Some friends from Turkey stayed at my wasband’s place for a couple of weeks, and my kids hung out with them a lot. I was excited for them to be able to see and spend time with them. These friends actually saw me as well and were very nice. They acted normal around me which I totally appreciated. The whole divorced/gay thing might have bothered them, but they never let it show. Another Turkish friend showed up and was in and out for a couple of weeks. I was told that she wasn’t interested in seeing me so I made sure to stay away. Other old friends came and went over the course of a week so I stepped back and let the kids soak it all in. It was nice for them, but I really felt like an absentee parent. I was less than 2 miles away, yet I rarely saw or called the kids.
And then on top of the wedding/Turkish invasion it was Christmas. My family didn’t invite me to Christmas this year because of the whole gay/girlfriend thing. I have been given the back door treatment at Christmas the past couple of years because of the gay thing. You know…not being invited to participate in the actual celebration, but an alternate, lesser celebration has been put together for my benefit. Last year I said I wouldn’t do that again. I hated what it felt like to me and hated how it made my brothers, who while not necessarily agreeing with the whole gay thing seem to be ok with being in the same room with me, have to do Christmas twice. I can only imagine what story they had to tell their 4-8 year old children about why they all sat around the tree and opened presents with my sister and her family one day and then they all sat around the tree and opened presents again with me and my kids. It’s the same tree. All other players are the same. Everyone gives everyone presents again. Really???
But this year was different. This year I had a girlfriend. (Okay…technically I had one last year as well, but I hadn’t shared that information with my kids or family.) This year there wasn’t even talk of a lesser celebration, because there was very little talk in my direction at all. Any pre-Christmas talk was initiated by me and it only consisted of a text to my siblings asking if there was anything special their kids wanted for Christmas. My sister, who initiated the whole don’t-let-Natalie-participate-because-she-is-choosing-to-sin stuff, was the first to text back telling me what her kids would like. She also asked what my kids were interested in. Now I certainly don’t want to punish the kids because of the parent’s behavior, but I must admit I was a little shocked by this. I am not allowed to be around her or her kids, but she is okay with her children receiving gifts from me? Granted we signed the card with our last name and my kids did the actual handing over of presents, but I still paid for them. I really wasn’t sure what to think. I can say that I’m glad the kids got gifts from us. That much I know.
But this year my wasband took the kids to my parents’ house for the traditional Christmas Eve festivities. We always read the Christmas story from the Bible and open all our gifts on Christmas Eve. There’s always a big meal and just a fun time of sharing. I decided that despite the fact that I wasn’t invited I was still going to do what I would have done if I had gone. I made a spinach artichoke dip, sweet potato cake, and cookies and sent them all with my kids. I figured they can alienate me, but if my kids are going I’m going to step up and do the right thing. Not long after they arrived one of my brothers texted me to tell me how yummy the dip was. It made me smile.
This year they also had a photography session. My other brother brought lights and umbrellas and whatever other equipment was needed to take nice family pictures. My kids took pictures with my wasband for their family picture at my parents’ house. They also took individual pictures and pictures with all the grandkids. I wasn’t sure how to feel about that. Each family has pictures displayed on a shelf in my parents’ living room. Will my parents actually display a picture of the kids with their dad as the family picture or will they choose one of just the kids to put there?
Later that evening the kids were dropped off at my place. They came with a tin of cookies and a ham. I never could get a straight answer about the food from them so I texted my wasband. He finally admitted that the cookies were just a collection of leftover stuff from their party, and that my dad had secretly slipped him the ham as he was leaving as a gift to me. At first this amused me. My dad had already secretly gotten me a Christmas present that he left with the kids a few days before. It was a book of prayers for teachers and a CD of Christmas music. It was sweet of him to do something for me. And now he’s giving me a ham because he feels bad that I wasn’t there. I appreciated it. I really did. What bothered me was that he had to do it secretly. I wasn’t sure why he felt the need to hide the fact that despite my “choices” he still loved me enough to give me a gift at Christmas. Would my mom or my sister honestly admonish him for doing something nice for me at Christmas? I know my brothers would be okay with it, but maybe he didn’t realize that. Maybe he didn’t know that my brother texted to say thanks for the spinach dip. Maybe he didn’t know that my other brother had already been texting me to see when he could come by with a gift for me. I guess because they aren’t talking about it with each other they don’t realize that some of them are actually okay with talking to me. They haven’t completely shut me out.
And really I don’t want to point fingers in any one direction. I have no idea what my mom is thinking. I know she wasn’t happy, and I know I haven’t talked to her since September. I have seen my sister once when she picked my youngest up for a playdate. She was respectful and nice. I’ve texted with one sister-in-law when her child was in the hospital and things with her were fine. I’ve texted back and forth with both brothers and one even came over to give me a Christmas gift while Sweet Tea was here. I haven’t talked with my other sister-in-law or my brother-in-law since the summer. My dad and I have exchanged a few texts and seen each other a couple of times as well.
They seem to be slowly letting me back into their lives. I don’t know that I will ever be included like I was before, but at least most of them admit they still care even if it is secretly. And I guess I get the whole secret thing as well. I secretly had a girlfriend, but I didn’t want to deal with the wrath of the family so I never told.
And now I guess by writing this I’ve let the cat out of the bag. I’m not sure who all knows about or reads this blog. I know that several of the family members have read it in the past. But honestly…I would hope that the fact that a brother and a father giving their sister and daughter a gift at Christmas would not be so troubling. The fact that they are showing love to one of their own even when they don’t agree with them shows humility and a fervid spirit. Thank you.
So there you have it. The reason for my blogging blah. I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to say or how to begin to say it so I said very little.
And now…back to our regularly scheduled, sporadic posts. (Just being honest…)
That sucks. It sucks to feel like you’re on the outs. I know that is a struggle and a painful one. I know how hard it is to feel unloved by people you love with your whole heart. I offer my sympathy and my hope that as they collect the pieces of the their understanding of you, and their love for you, everyone will be able to work together to redefine love, and family, hope, and having one another.
Good luck with the new season of teaching. 😉
This makes me so sad. I respect the right for people to believe what they want, to have faith in the things that feel right to them and let that guide the way they choose to live their lives. Fair. But to alienate a daughter/sister/friend because of who they are is so averse to what being a compassionate, loving and kind-hearted person is all about. You do not deserve this.
I’ve been away from blogging for a while now and I’m sorry to see you’re still going through this with your family. You’re being very strong, but they should really be ashamed of their actions. These are years they will never get back and it’s extremely unchristian. God forbid something should happen to you they would never forgive themselves for alienating you. My relationship isn’t as strained, but it can still be quite uncomfortable. The best part of the holidays for me now is making special traditions to share with KC that are just for us.
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