Saturday, 14 June 2008

In a week & a day

I will be back in the U.S. Good things & bad things about that, like with almost any change in circumstances.

More to the immediate point: a week & a day I will be in my mom’s house.

There’s a lot of baggage in that relationship. I was 14 when she found out I was gay, reading some writing I shouldn’t have left in my jeans pockets. She told me I was wrong and had better stop this nonsense before I caused myself damage. (Also, not to tell any of my friends, who would be, she assured me, horrified.) I believed her and tried sincerely to be straight, until it got to be too much. I planned to kill myself and came up with a workable plan, but in the end broke down and realized, I don’t want to die. I just want to be able to be gay.

She came round, but slowly, and not, apparently, until after my grandparents (bless them) told her she needed to face reality: she could have a gay daughter, or no daughter. She wasn’t going to make me straight by force of will. After that, her anger turned more towards T., and the same pattern got repeated: she could treat my girlfriend with basic respect, or she could lose me.

Part of what I’ve realized this spring is that winning those two battles did not win the larger war between us, which is about control. My parents never had a good marriage and I was the classic surrogate-spouse child to my mother, responsible for her happiness. And so her displeasure “lands in me like teargas,” to borrow Tongue-Tied Blue’s phrase.

It is past time for an end to all that: the pathetic gratitude, the frantic trying to please, the gut-sliding fear at the possibility of her distress. Having recognized it, at last, I feel its hold over me weakening. But I expect it will be difficult, in the reality of face-to-face interaction. And I am angry with myself for being in such a vulnerable position: all my possessions in storage at her house, with no place but hers to call home when we land.

I feel as though I’m leaving a refuge of safety and freedom and entering an emotional combat zone. Oh may I pass swiftly through it and spend the summer constructively, building a new life in a new community.


letsdance said...

Dear One, your mother is doing the best she knows how to do -- to date. You can teach her (gently) how to be different.
with hugs, Jan

appple said...

tough it out and remember, if you need to seek refuge in brooklyn, you have a place to stay.

tongue-tied said...

i thank you kindly for sharing my teargassy distress. damn, those pesky hot buttons. am sorry about the surrogate spouse stuff. that sucks. i hope you & yours find a comfy home of your own to land in in the right time! maybe your trepidation generally is based on who you were back when it really sucked, and not so much on who you are now & what you can bring now.

Jess said...

Hey there..

We're in CT.. So I think we should definitely meet up sometime.

Email me if you want to chat.. or vent or whatever..


Packing Vocals said...

I've just found your blog and read all of it in one go. I just wanted to say your posts have touched me and thank you. I believe things happen for a reason and maybe this is the time when you and your mother will find a new way of understanding each other. I wish you good luck with your move back to the US.

ladybrettashley said...


Clementine said...

Best wishes for your move! I am hopeful that things will go more smoothly with your mom this time around. Good luck!

Leo MacCool said...

thanks, guys. i had some trepidation about posting this but i'm glad i did. appple--hopefully i won't need refuge, but maybe i can swing by brooklyn & say hi anyway... and, p.v., welcome!

greg said...

You have a friend in queens too, Leo. :)

Otter said...

"I don’t want to die. I just want to be able to be gay." This is a perfect way to put this.