Family is such a hard word for me

Family. It’s a word I struggle with. When I was a kid my parents told me we always do for family, no matter what. It’s not like they were lying exactly but they didn’t specify what do included.

When I was in 3rd grade I woke up one day to find a strange girl sleeping on the floor in my bedroom. I was confused what was going on. After all of us kids were awake they informed me it was my cousin who was going to be living with us for a little while. This wasn’t the first time a stranger came into our house who I was told was “family” and it wouldn’t be the last.

My parents constantly talked about how important family is. My dad, who was an orphan, referred to his adopted family as his real family. In my mind the woman who adopted him wasn’t a stranger he called mom, she was my grandma. There was no question in my mind. This continued into my teen years. I kept meeting random people at family reunions and such that I was supposed to care about for no other reason than because. Eventually I became overwhelmed keeping up with them all so I withdrew.

My sister married a man once that due to the union became my brother. After she divorced him he remained my brother to me because we had already bonded. We were already family. The same thing happened with her second husband, he became my brother and I didn’t question it. Deep down inside I was terrified what would happen if they discovered I was trans, queer, or a witch.

As time went on I couldn’t suffer any longer. I had to live my life as myself. I began transitioning and the first person I told I was transitioning was my mother. She didn’t take it that badly at first. In fact as time progressed I see she has been trying in her own way. I made some remarks, she did so too but over all we’ve both made the best of it to the best of our abilities considering our individual circumstances.

It wasn’t long, however, before many of those so-called family members turned their backs on me. While some claim they did it out of “love” because they want to force me back into their strict religious box, the truth is they never loved me in the first place, not the real me. When I confronted that I realized it was time to move on. Unfortunately I conflated much of that with other things going on and ended up pushing my mom away, then withdrawing myself. All while she was still trying to keep me in her life.

Ultimately I learned a lesson about family. This is especially true when you are LGBT. Family is not the people who share your DNA. Family are the people you let into your heart. Right now Robin is a part of my family, as is her wife AJ and her adopted sister Gea. She has applied the same family is family principal that has burned me time and time again so I remain hesitant to call everyone she does as family. I feel close to her, safe with her but not yet ready to extend my own family beyond her and AJ at this time.

I know this may surprise and possibly offend some of her extended family. The thing is, she can adopt whomever she wants but it’s like that day my mom threw a stranger in my bedroom, I don’t know you and I don’t trust you until you give me a reason to. Over the years Danielle, that’s her name, and I became close enough. But even within that our only bond is the blood our parents shared.

It’s the same with me and my adopted family. I adopted a budding young adult in New Mexico. I have taken them under my wing and hope that the world will let this person live their life as they see fit. They are a fairly genderfluid individual in a way. We share our witchcraft and love of horror movies. We also both have interest in computers. We also share the same circle of friends which allows us to stay connected with others we both care about.

Then there is Christina. The love of my life. The woman who makes my heart beat faster and harder each day. I don’t know what the future holds for the two of us but I won’t rule out the possibility of starting a family with her someday, should we both agree that is doable. Whether that family is us cohabiting while we raise one or more children, or we just extend our mutual love to someone like Lilith and make that our family, I am good either way. Christina knows how much I love her. I know her desires and limits in life.

Right now I am reevaluating who I consider to be a part of my family. I won’t let others adopt me into their unless I am truly ready. In the meantime if you wish to get close to me feel free to reach out to me. Get to know me. Show me I can trust you. I’ve been hurt too many times by the very people who claimed they were looking out for me. There are a couple other trans women I am very close to. I consider us good friends.

Family is hard for me so please don’t take it personal if I don’t just adopt everyone right away. I am hesitant to get hurt again. I fear I don’t have the strength to live through too many more family betrayals. For now, if we connect on any level know that it probably means way more to me than you will ever know. If I do get to where I consider you family rejoice because it means I can trust you.

Published by

Stephanie Bri

A transgender writer who also does podcasts and videos.