We want to be loved for who we are—especially by family. For one gay man, coming out created a terrible divide at home. Check out one expert’s sage advice.
My family refuses to accept me for who I am. They know me, I’m not anyone different than they’ve always known, but I am a gay man and ever since I came out, that’s the only thing they see. My boyfriend of five years is also not accepted by my family; we’ve stopped going to family functions to avoid the looks of disgust and projected shame we get, the shunning and whispering all around us is nauseating. I have a few family members who love us and know us, we spend time with them separately, but I want to be with ALL of my family at once and have it be OK!
My boyfriend and I want to start a family, but I can’t bring our kids around people who still don’t accept and love me. How would they treat our kids? My heart is broken that the people I love the most want nothing to do with me unless I’m not me. They’ll always be family, I can’t cut them off no matter how ridiculous they get, but I won’t sacrifice myself and my truth in order for our relationships to work.
What the hell do I do when I’m dealing with impossible people who are also the most important people to me? How can I not be angry, when this is so personally and specifically against me?
Dear Family Man,
I love the word “family!” Family is a word that inspires a feeling of deep connection—a mighty force through a bond, unconditional love and care, growing together, evolving your relationships, being your “ride or die” people in the world, your soulmates. Your family—the ones who know you best, who’ve known your spirit, even in vulnerable states, your greatest supporters and cheerleaders, who pick you up when you fall, and who love you for you no matter what!
Not everyone has the experience of family that encompasses those things, and for many it’s quite the opposite—a painfully damaging opposite. But we ALL have family, right here within all of us, and we create that family by connecting to hearts instead of labels. When we accept others for the individual beings they are and remove the labels—which are expectations of a role they should be fulfilling in our minds—we can find appreciation and a very deep space to love them, as them.
Love them as them, not as the role in our minds the label has placed expectations to be. Truly love them as the being they are.
Even more awesome, we are such empowered beings we get to choose every single moment and how we want to feel about it, respond to it, embrace it, create it, connect to it, magnify it, squash it, lift it, etc., and we get to choose our relationships and our boundaries within every single moment. Just because someone is your “Dad, Mom, Brother, Sister, blood relative” doesn’t mean they have a VIP ticket to treat you less than you deserve. If you can look outside of the role you feel they should be fulfilling, you can see them as their own person and soul—a being with their own issues and growth that are meant to be worked out for their soul’s journey, for them in their own time, and without you being the one to make them change.
And you get to keep being you, love them regardless, not take their projections personally, and still show them unconditional love!
Your “Family” will be the people in your life that fulfill the space in your heart you hold for family—and every need will find itself met. Your family is everywhere, in every person you have chosen as a healthy relationship for you; when you realize this, you will be overtaken with love from all the souls in your life that make up “family” to you.
You can choose how to connect with your blood relatives in situations that feel good to you, where you feel safe and loved, and can choose not to be a part of situations or around people who feel harmful to you. You get to be your family’s best example of what it means to love someone unconditionally—when you disagree with their choices, when you think they should be different than they are—by simply loving them the way you want to be loved by them. Show them that they too can love, even if they disagree, just as you do for them.
Where we see a need for more love is exactly where we need to put it, but always in a way that is healthy and feels good to you.
We can’t change anyone, but we can choose our connections. When those connections aren’t healthy and soul inspiring, it’s OK to choose to love from a distance. Family is a creation, not a label with expectations. It is a living force amongst all living things, feeding your heart at all times—it’s OK to choose what feels good to you, to invest in relationships that honor you, support you, and inspire you, to invest in the “family” of your choosing, in all the infinite ways that can be soulfully created.
Love to you my brother,
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