Meeting the Family
This post is long overdue I just haven’t been able to find the time and write it…
Easter…The first time my family (aside from my mom) met Emily. To say this time was stress filled is an understatement of epic proportions, and I am not suppose to be stressed right now, wonderful combination. The Sunday before Easter (March 20th) Q and I flew home to MI. My family was throwing a 90th birthday party for my grandpa and then we would spend the week there with Emily joining us on Friday and staying til Monday (the day after Easter), when we would all drive home together.
First things first the people I will refer to as “may family” include my parents, my sister, her husband, and daughter, my brother, his wife, daughter, and son, and my maternal grandma who lives with my parents. My grandma has been in rehab after having reconstructive hip surgery and she did not know about Emily. When I came out to my dad at Christmas we opted to wait to tell my grandma because she was not well. We found out early in our trip back that my grandma would be allowed to come home for Easter so this meant that she had to be told about Emily so there is the cherry on top of the stress sundae.
On Tuesday (March 22nd) Emily called me. She was worried about how the stress of her coming up would negatively impact me and wanted to explore various options. This upset me. Obviously I wanted her to be with us and honestly I needed to get this “meeting” over with. This was really the last step before I truly feel like the double life I led for so long was behind me. The first step in making everyone feel better was to talk to my dad. I hadn’t talked to him about it at all since coming out to him at Christmas time and this conversation wasn’t any easier. What I really wanted was for him to tell me his feelings and to tell me that he was going to be ok when Emily arrived on Friday. He said he didn’t know how he would react (and that is completely ligament) and he kept insisting I need to stop worrying about other people (ha! easier said than done). I know he wants me to be ok and I think that in his ideal world his reaction would not effect me (maybe that would erase his guilt if he did react poorly). If only I wasn’t a daddy’s girl that craved his approval that would all be easier too, but that’s not the case. In the end of that conversation anyways I did not get what I wanted. He was never able to really tell me his feelings and he was never able to say “I will be ok”, I mean in the Midwest no one talks about their feelings and this was a pretty intense feeling conversation so I should not have been surprised.
The rest of the week conversations with him were sporadic and still didn’t really get anywhere. My mom told him he just needs to act normal, not get quiet or leave the room (he is known for these things).
Thursday (March 24th) became the day I had to come out to my grandma. My mom gave me the option of letting her handle it or going and doing it with myself, with my mom prepping her. It was a tough decision. I went back and forth 100 times, asked for opinions from my support group and finally came to the decision that it would be best if I did it. When we arrived at her rehab facility one of my cousins was there, we visited for a while and then my mom asked her to leave so I could talk to grandma alone. I walked my cousin out so that my mom could prep my grandma. Basically I could not get a word out of my mouth before I started crying, I just can’t explain how hard it is to come out to anyone who hasn’t been there. Both my mom and grandma told me not to cry and I proceeded to explain. My grandma said she wasn’t surprised, that she and others (although she wouldn’t rat out these “others”) had felt something was off with him (her pronoun not mine). She asked if we were staying together, and when I said yes she told me I don’t have to. I think that was her way of showing support. Overall, I was happy with how it went, I mean the woman will be 95-years-old in less than a month, the idea of changing genders is pretty outside of what her comfort would be.
Then we come to my sister. My sister and I are not on good terms (nor is she really on good terms with any member of my family). I myself have not spoken to her about Emily and she was the last family member to know (other than my grandparents). She found out when my brothers’ daughter told her daughter (which was fine). My mom had told her last summer she needed to talk to me and she made the choice not to so I felt that she didn’t deserve to hear it from me, she was told I needed her and she couldn’t or wouldn’t be there for me. The internal struggle I had was did I want to say something to her before she met Emilyon Sunday, not for her sake, but for mine. The day was already going to be tough enough, did I want to throw on an extra layer of stress by letting her walk into the lion’s den? The answer became no and on Friday (March 25th) I ended up texting her. I told her I didn’t know what she knew and gave her the “quick and dirty”, started hormones, name change was legal, lives full time as a woman and told her if she had any questions she could ask. She didn’t respond for nine and a half hours and when she did her response was short and to the point “ok, thanks for letting us know we will see y’all on Sunday”.
I was not worried about my brother and sister-in-law (SIL). My SIL had been great from the get go. She knew very early on, my mom told her and she didn’t tell anyone else until I told her it was ok to do so. We have had good conversations, she has been up to date on transition, and she uses the correct name and pronouns. My brother, while highly conservative, did way better when he found out than anyone expected (my grandma asked how he did she said she expected he flipped). His reaction was basically that he needs to do what he needs to do (speaking of Emily as Nick). Emily always said she thought he’d be fine it was just he needed to see that he could talk to Emily about the same things he talked to nick about. Their children are children, their son is still young enough that its not a big deal, their daughter is a teenager, but seemed to understand and really just not care (in the way that teenagers are only concerned with what directly impacts them and this she doesn’t seem to think directly impacts her).
So Friday rolls around and Emily is on her way. I try not to think about, try not to be too nervous, and hope and pray my father survives. When she was close she text me and asked me to meet her outside, which I was going to do anyways since my dad was outside working. Something very strange happened when she got out of the car, my dad acted like Nick got out of the car. He didn’t make a face, he didn’t flinch. They started talking like it was any other day and happening in the same way that it had the 800 other million times we had pulled into their driveway (signal huge sigh of relief). This still wasn’t the biggest shocker, the biggest shocked came when “she” actually came out of his mouth. I did not expect at all that he would use the correct name or pronouns, but he did and almost seamlessly at that. He had one name slip up and one pronoun slip up the whole weekend, which not only is better than most people, but it’s better than me when I was first started down this road. I’m beyond grateful that it went so well with him, but seesh couldn’t he have told me earlier in the week it would be that easy and I could have lowered my stress???
Easter went fine, with the only except being my sister and brother-in-law. They literally did not speak to Emily. They sat next to her on the couch and did not speak to her. The whole event was short. My sister and BIL didn’t stay long, and my brother’s family had to go to my SIL’s grandma’s. We stayed until it was time for grandma to go back to rehab and then went to my in-laws.
Overall, it was a good of a first meeting as anyone could hope for. I hope as my family continues to adjust that this strange life they we live becomes normal to them too. I hope that they see that we are happy and at the end of the day that is really all that matters. Yeah this is strange some days are stranger than others, but it’s what our lives are and it is our normal.