So wait… There’s more.
It is my opinion that orphan’s have the greatest imaginations because they (we) often learn at a very young age that minuscule details can shape your life. So they (we) spend our lives imagining circumstances with specific details that would no longer render us parentless. I have done that. I still do sometimes too.
Oprah says that “forgiveness is giving up the idea that the past could have been any different”. I think I really understand what that means now. Forgiveness is letting go. I think sometimes we think that we can forgive things or people without letting them go. I know I used to think that way. It’s like loan forgiveness or bankruptcy though. They’ll wipe out your debt, but you can’t EVER have credit with that establishment again unless you pay your debt (or as I like to call it, “atone”) in FULL. Either way, that business has let you go, and if YOU WANT credit with them again, YOU have to reconcile your previous debt in FULL, but that business is good with or without your patronage.
I cannot change the past. My grandmother, my oldest aunt, my youngest aunt, and my grandmother’s son cannot change the past either. I no longer wish to. Until last May, I hadn’t spoken to my grandmother in 3+ years. As my life was reshaping after my move to Los Angeles in 2016 old wounds that I had long ago buried started to resurface. Quite honestly, moving to Los Angeles in 2016 changed my life and I’m sure it saved my life too. It also exposed every relationship in my life, especially the one I have with myself. The last six years have been tumultuous, painful, revealing, acrimonious, scary, and ultimately healing. I am finally healing from the deep wounds caused by my grandmother and her children, but I am not fully healed yet. Maybe I’ll never be completely healed, but I do know that trouble don’t last always. Each day healing and coping become easier. Trust me, I’ve had to cope with loss in almost every facet of my life, so I know, but I never lost everything.
My singing voice was the first thing about myself that I liked. Literally the first thing. I think my talent was first recognized as “talent” when I was about eight years old. I had gone to Vacation Bible School over the summer with my surrogate god-parents. They were Seventh-Day-Adventist and were members of the church that Wintley Phipps pastored back then, Capitol Hill SDA Church. During that trip I learned a few songs and began to sing them ALL the time. They brought me comfort and solace and their lyrics meant something to me. I felt connected to my parents when I sang those songs. I loved feeling connected to my parents because I didn’t feel connected to the rest of my family, even my sister. I always felt like a burden to everyone. Like they would rather I not be around or invited or included. And it wasn’t all in my head either. They constantly found ways to punish me for simply trying to exist. I slept on a couch covered in plastic or in a sleeping bag on the floor beside my grandmother’s QUEEN SIZED BED that she slept in ALONE from mid 1990 until September 3, 1994 when we finally moved into a larger home. The home she lives in today. And wouldn’t you know it, I got the smallest room in the house. Even smaller than my aunt’s eleven month old toddler’s room. But at least I had a room, right? At least they loved me enough to finally give me my own space. Every other bedroom in the house was twice the size of mine though. They took vacations without me, went to dinner, and lunch and concerts, and shopping and whatever else they could do to exclude me. Maybe that’s why it was so easy for them to turn their backs on me when I decided to start expressing my pain and long-suffering and calling them out. I thought if I let them know exactly what they had done and recounted the many many many different scenarios where I was either abused, mistreated, or emotionally neglected, that they would understand, and would see the error of their ways and begin to atone. I thought maybe they’d see how much suffering I had endured and am still enduring and they want to fix it. I was wrong. After not speaking to my immediate family, excluding 2-3 cousins, for OVER 3 years, then re-attempting reconciliation over the last 9 months, I realized that I have changed and evolved and grown exponentially and they have not.
When I was a kid, whenever someone would hurt my feelings (which was often because I’m very sensitive), I would process those feelings through song. I would often pick a song that I was familiar with and sing the part most closely related to the situation I was in at that time. I still do that today. I process my emotions through music. I just recently realized that singing was how I coped with my pain throughout life. My horoscope has been saying for months that I was going to have to reconcile how I process pain, trauma, fears, and insecurities. It also said that I’m going to have to do something I’ve never done before or that I don’t do often in order to move smoothly into my destiny and my future. I’m starting to understand more fully what it’s been trying to get me to see. The last nine months I’ve been pushed into some old patterns and situations that I thought I had evolved from, but I’m realizing that I was pushed into those patterns and situations again in order to analyze what wasn’t working in my life and to discover ways to change those things in order to truly evolve. So when Jazmine Sullivan’s newest project “Heaux’tales Mo’tales” came out recently, I almost instantly connected with “Hurt Me So Good”. And as I was listening to the song I actually forced myself to say out loud who or what it made me connect to, and that’s when I heard “and you know you could do better, but you won’t try for me”, and I burst into tears. My family! That’s how I feel about most of them, even the ones that aren’t so immediate, or aren’t my grandmother’s offspring. They’d rather not think of my grandmother and especially her son as tyrants. Yet she allowed him to rule me with an iron fist all while she remained stoic most times toward me and mean other times. Yes, my grandmother was mean to me when I was a child. Strict, mean, and even threatened to kill me once when I was ten years old if I accidentally scratched her car while I retrieved something from the trunk. I was not loved by my family after my parents died. I was tolerated when required and otherwise excluded from their love, consideration, empathy, and sympathy. I am still excluded, and now ‘I’m just a shadow of all that I was”. I’ve always known my place with them though; I just didn’t want to accept it. I do now.
I carried my emotional process into adulthood and into my romantic relationships. I was so vulnerable and needed to feel love so desperately, that I was willing to accept anything. I used to look to my grandmother for advice about relationships when I was younger too. Though, that clearly proved to be fruitless. She’s twice divorced and has been single for most of the last 40 years. I see now that she “don’t nothing bout love”. All of her children have been married and divorced at least once, except my mother, and her husband killed her, though she wasn’t the only one of my grandmother’s children to marry a killer. And that guy, my oldest aunt’s husband, punched me in the face and blacked my eye when I was eleven years old for mumbling during a “friendly” bet with his daughter to not talk for an hour. My family’s abuse of me was so pervasive that it gave way and permission for others to abuse me too. I felt like I couldn’t turn to or tell anyone. I was literally being physically abused by a D.C. police officer, my grandmother’s son. They all used “love” and “discipline” as the guise under which they concealed their hatred for and abuse of me. I was even sexually assaulted in the Navy by a woman in 2004. I met her at a party and she pushed me into a closet, pulled out my dick, and started sucking. It was disgusting. I was disgusted. But I never reported it until 3 years ago to the VA. My “family” had already made me believe that being gay was a sin and that I deserved to be abused and assaulted because I was defective. I didn’t want to be exposed in the Navy for being gay, so I just let her do it. I remember hearing my grandmother’s son say he hoped joining the military would make a “man” out of me, though that coward never did serve his country. He wasn’t a man though. He still isn’t. Abusers are cowards that use power and control to project their own fears onto those that are unable to adequately defend themselves. He is an abuser.
My grandmother was basically an orphan as well. She never really knew her own mother, who died when my grandmother was 4 years old, and she didn’t live with her dad until high school. She too was raised by her grandmother.
My mother though, her ability to love was innate and inherently a part of everything she did, even as a police officer. My mother exuded love, a love she showered me with until her last breath. My mother knew how to love me the way I needed to be loved despite having a mother that didn’t know how to love her the way she needed to be loved. Though I only had seven years with my mother, I’m glad that I knew she loved me with every fiber of her being. My father did too. I knew he loved me too. I never felt ashamed or excluded or unloved with my parents. Never ever. I’m glad I got to feel that, even if it was only for seven years. I’m glad I had something to hold on to through the last 32 years of loneliness other than the toxicity from my abuse.
My mother wanted to break the cycle. I’m sure that’s why she loved my sister and me so hard. She wanted me to have a better mother than she had. Well, I did. And even after all of the years I had to endure the wrath of my mother’s mother, and sisters, and brother, I understand that it was all to prepare me. All of the bad relationships, broken promises, a broken heart, and a broken family unit were preparing me for the greatness that is surely mine. I’ve been holding on to this toxicity though, and using the love lessons I learned from my family and erroneously applying them to my friendships and romantic relationships, and clearly that shit ain’t working either. I’ve been lying to the world about who I really am because I was also lying to myself. I spent a lifetime developing a character that I’ve been using as my surrogate for too many years to count now. I just want to be free. Free from the pain, free from the past, and free to build true, impenetrable, unconditional love with a family of my own choosing. My own sister turned her children against me because she felt that my grandmother’s pain was more important than mine. My niece wouldn’t even reply to a text I sent her on her birthday, and I know she read it. I know my sister is in pain too. She harbors it and hides it well, but it’s like a volcano, it’ll erupt sooner or later, and the nearby villagers better beware.
I forgive my relatives though. All of the relatives that turned a blind eye, tried to justify the abuse, silence me, or make excuses for it, I forgive you too. When I initially attempted to reconcile with my family last year, I only wanted them to have some compassion for me and my experiences while I was in their charge. I wanted them to find some empathy. These people couldn’t even have compassion for me when I was a child though. A little seven year old boy who had just watched his father kill his mother in cold blood the day before his birthday, to them, was undeserving of compassion, and empathy, and love. While I can finally get to the point where I can forgive them, I know my mother never would have.
My grandmother asked me for my forgiveness back in May of last year when we initially connected after 3+ years. I told her then that I would need some time. I forgive her now, but I must also let her go. I’m letting them all go. All of the people who know that they’re not really my people, I forgive them for the pain they caused and even for their relentless attempts to promote my forgetting. But they aren’t my people. I cried in my car last night for about 20 minutes. As I sat there with my head in my hands with tears running down my face, I mourned the death of my relationship with these relatives. It’s time for me to find my real people, who I don’t have to convince of my humanity, that love me for exactly who I am. I know I have the strength to face the world alone.