Wednesday, January 21, 2015


So yesterday was my mother's birthday.  She turned 79.

As you may recall, my parents belong to the Jehovah's Witnesses (JW) religion.  They do not celebrate birthdays, or any other holiday for that matter.  They believe that birthday celebrations and holidays (including Christmas and Easter) have pagan roots.  None of these holidays are mentioned in the Bible either, which they claim to follow strictly.

But even if the JWs did celebrate birthdays and holidays, I would not be able to celebrate with my mother or other family members because I am gay and their religion (like many) believes that being gay is a sin.  Since I chose to leave the JW religion to be gay 22 years ago, my family and other JWs I used to know have shunned me.  That is what they are taught to do when someone leaves their religion.

So its a little weird for me today, thinking about my mother and it being her birthday.  While her birthday is 'just another day' to her, I think about it more as she and my father age.  He is 82. They are both in reasonably good health for their ages, but I know that 1 day in the not-so-distant future I will learn that 1 of them has passed, and I won't know how to react.  

I mean, of course anyone would be sad when a relative passes.  But for me, having been shunned for the last 22 years, it feels like they already passed.  My connection to them, my relationship with them, my ability to spend time with them all ended 22 years ago.  Yet, when I eventually get that call, I will be forced to experience their loss again.

Disfellowshipped/shunned people are permitted to attend funerals of JWs, but I wonder if I will go. Funerals are such sad occasions to begin with.  Part of me asks why I would put myself into a situation where I will be permitted to attend, but will not be spoken to by anyone except my few non-JW relatives.  Another part of me says that if I don't attend, it will cause my family and former friends to think I'm cold and uncaring.  But then again, what do I care what they think of me??

So rather than wrapping a thoughtful gift, singing "Happy birthday", or giving my mom a kiss on the cheek, these are the thoughts on my mind today.


anne marie in philly said...

I hear ya; I've been ignored since 1990. my mother told me to drop dead.

so tell spouse's mom you love her instead; at least she cares about and for you; and when she asks why you are telling her this, tell it's "just because".

Miss O' said...

Thanks for sharing these thoughts and feelings, because so many can, very sadly, relate to the losses you talk about. Knowing you as I do, for over 40 of your years, all I can say is that the greatest loss is THEIRS. xo and love from Sleazy Bar Room Blues Woman

Travel said...

Complicated, take care of yourself, do what makes you feel right. Too bad they don't see the futility in shunning, you can't change, and won't disappear if they refuse to acknowledge you.

Java said...

It's hard to know what to do in a case like that. When I'm faced with similar dilemmas, I ask myself "What course of action will cause the least regret?" Often I don't have a good answer for myself.

Good luck.

Ur-spo said...

I thought your thoughts about your mother rather touching.
No holidays would make me convert rather quickly.

Biki Honko said...

Hugs dear one, what a terrible thing for them to have done. To choose a religion over flesh and blood, should be considered a sin.

I've sorta had the same thing happen to me, without the religious angle. When I finally stood up against my mentally ill mother and cut her from my life, her entire family rallied around her. The person who beat me, burned me and yes her family knew what she had/was doing. So, when I refused to give in, I was shunned by the entire family.

My mother is a triffle older than yours and the thought has crossed my mind about her death. I've changed my name, legally and moved several times so finding me might be tricky to do, which is fine by me.