Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A family affair

Several weeks ago I got an email from my cousin and her fiance, asking me to 'save the date' of their upcoming wedding, and letting me know that formal invitations would be sent shortly.

To clarify, this is my cousin on my mother's side of the family; the non-JWs who associate with me. She has been to our house before and we've been out together socially a few times. She knows the deal with me and Spouse.

I spoke to my aunt Mary (my mother's sister) and learned that my cousin requested email addresses from her for my parents and my siblings. This told me that they must have gotten the 'save the date' email too, and were being invited to the wedding.

My initial reaction was that I wouldn't go. My parents and siblings have not spoken to me in over 16 years because I 'came out' and left their judgemental religion. I certainly have no desire to be in the same room with them for several hours at what should be a happy family occasion.

A few weeks later the invitation arrived, addressed to me and Spouse. Not Mark in DE and Guest. No, both of our full names were on the envelope. Props to my cous! I spoke to Mary again and asked if she knew whether or not my parents were going and she said my mother told her she "guessed" they would go. One of my sisters left a comment on the wedding website indicating she and her husband and daughters would be there.

Mary asked me if I was going and I told her the truth: I really didn't know. I shared with her my concerns over the possibility of my parents and siblings being there and the potential for drama and/or discomfort that would create. She reminded me that I have as much a right to attend this family affair as my parents and siblings, and that if I didn't go, I am letting them 'win'.

Her words made sense to me. All these years I have followed the JW rules for disfellowshipped (ex-communicated) people: Do not try to associate with your former friends or family. You are dead to them. Even if you do try, they will not associate with you.

Why? That is their rule, not mine. Why should I worry that my presence at my cousin's wedding might be a problem for my parents and siblings? They are the ones that have to worry about following the JW rules, not me.

My dad's side of the family (mostly JWs) has 3 family get-togethers every year and I have been UNinvited to all of them for the last 16 years because they are JWs and I am not. But since this cousin is on my mom's side, I was invited to her wedding. Maybe I should RSVP 'yes' and see if my parents and siblings would decline!

I talked to Spouse about the situation and the conversation with Mary. He was very understanding and supportive. He basically said 'Do whatever you feel is right. If you want to go, go. If you want me to come with you, I will. If you'd prefer me not to come, I'll stay home'. Hard to argue with that kind of logic.

So I decided we would go. I entered my RSVP on the wedding website, but found it didn't allow you to see who else was invited, so I'm still not sure if my parents are going or not. Regardless, I refuse to let it stop me from being an active part of this family affair.

Mary suggested I contact my cousin and ask if Spouse & I and Mary could be seated at a table together, away from my parents and siblings, in light of 'the situation'. My cousin replied that it was fine, but that she was sorry 'the situation' had not gotten better over the years.

Spouse asked me if I will speak to my parents and/or siblings if they attend, and after sufficient thought, I have decided no. I don't believe they will approach me, and I am not going to approach them. I'm going to enjoy myself and the love I'm sure will be present at this joyous occasion, and my parents/siblings can do whatever they want.

I imagine they will be a bit surprised. People tend to look different after 16 years. I imagine they may also try to remember how long I've been with Spouse, but will then reprimand themselves for even wondering such about 'sinners'. I also imagine that if they are honest and look with unbiased eyes (not likely), they will see an authentic, well-adjusted, happy, loved, gay man and his partner. The son they gave birth to, but abandoned 29 years later. I imagine they might just feel a wee bit guilty.

But that is NOT AT ALL why we're going to this wedding. I don't even know for sure if they'll be there. Truly, we're going because we are invited and because I care about my cousin.

And if my parents/sibling do attend and do, by chance, approach me and say hello?

I will be cordial and polite. Nothing more, nothing less.

Crush du Jour: Chris Campanioni


Stephen said...

You should go... & honor your cousin. It is all about her special day & if your parents even start to give you an inkling of trouble, remind them that is your cousin's day.
I did not know this part of your story. I am sorry for you.

A Lewis said...

Stephen is right....and Mary too. Go for the cousin, not for your parents. The invitation was clear who was invited....and you are! Leave your parents out of it. I swear, parents are a lot of work.

Anonymous said...

Great for you. Think about "You're dead to me." as being cordial and polite.

My mom is one of twelve and throughout the years there would be fights and sides taken and words unspoken. This always left the kids (cousins) stuck in the middle.

I'm the oldest of the 30 cousins and one year finally had had enough. I told the waring tribe that their fight was not mine. That just because you're not talking to my mom, it doesn't mean I'm taking a side. From now on, I won't avoid anyone and I expect that I will be invited to all family functions separate of their status with my mom and if I didn't receive and invite, then they would be creating their own problem with ME and not talking wasn't an option.

In addition, all the cousins took the same attitude. The response was pretty good and at least the cousins were able to remain friends and close.

Good luck and strength.

Unknown said...

What a tough and sad situation. I'm always sorry when I hear people go through this. If you decide to go, I hope everything goes smoothly. You deserve to be there if your cousin invited you.

Mistress Maddie said...

If your cousin invited you I would go. Your parents have no say in the matter on this one. Go to the wedding and then I would leave and not go to the reception. BTW- very very nice Cruch du Jour! Yummy.

Bob said...

I agree.
Go. You have every right to be there and your cousin wants you there.
Smile, be happy and have a grand time.
Living well is the best revenge. And you and Spouse are living well and happy and in love. Don't let anyone spoil that for you.

PS LOVING the crush!

Java said...

Well that's a sticky wicket, isn't it?

Good luck. When is the Big Event?

Kyle Leach said...

Be happy! Mark, go if you want to go, it is your day too. Those silly ex-communication rules, from the major religions, were created to make their lives easier and to punish those who were no longer part of the church. If you want to go to the wedding, don't let them rule your world or destroy the chance to be in the lives of your family that except the two of you.

If you haven't seen them in that long, prepare yourself. I was quite shocked to see my father and brother after eleven years of their absence. Nothing stays the same and they hadn't either.

David Dust said...

You should have absolutely no concern for your parent?'s comfort level - as they have no concern for yours. They have chosen religion over their own child, so they are not certainly not deserving of any consideration whatsoever.

Go, be fabulous and gay (in every sense of the word), and have a wonderful time.


Unknown said...

If your parents try blackmailing your cousin - i.e. try the "we'll only be there if he's disinvited" move - I hope your cousin will stand firm and simply say, "ALL family who want to celebrate my wedding with me are welcome." It sounds as if she'd do that; good for her.

cb said...

It's for tour cousin. Yes you should go. Yes you should have an excellent time. And yes you should rub your spouse and your excellent time right in their faces.

Living well is the best revenge.

Romance said...

I am so sorry that you have to even face this decision. You and spouse are utterly lovely and moment of NOT having you in one's life- is well, a real loss.

I adore your candor, your courage, and your clarity.


Victor said...

I'm stunned that your parents have disassociated themselves from you. That is very sad.

You should lead your life as fully as you want including attending family celebrations.

It is your parents' loss if they won't be reconciled.

tornwordo said...

I kinda hope for drama, but only because I'm a reality tv sucker. Really, honoring your cousin is the right thing to do. The discomfort is as small as you will want it to be.

tankmontreal said...

I was going to comment that my concern was for your cousin and her husband-to-be. My fear was that attention would be deflected off them and onto the feuding factions of the family and how you all handle yourselves. Sorta like the way people crane their necks when they pass a car accident.

But if your cousin invited you then we have to assume she knows what's she's doing.

So you go, bring Spouse and I can hardly wait to read how it turns out. I'm a bit of a voyeur myself.

Steven said...

Kudos to your cousin and Aunt Mary. May you and Spouse have a fantabulous time. Just don't outdance the Bride and Groom. :-)

So will you guys be eligible to try to catch both the bouquet AND the garter? ;-)