Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Drive to Being a Lesbian

My stepsister Debbie is a Lesbian. This has all recently come about, and I, along with the rest of our family, have experienced a multitude of emotions; everything from anger, hurt, disbelief, betrayal, to sadness, even grief.

First, some background info.

Debbie and I have never been close, we were both "grown" up when our dad married my mother. I was 17 and she was 18. I had spent the better part of my childhood as an only child, and she had grown up with a half brother and half sister. So adding a stepsister to my list of family wasn't exactly something I was thrilled about. She was a kid and made a lot of mistakes the time she spent with our family and that caused her to be absent for several years of our lives.

She met and married her husband David, days after I did. I got married on the 18th, and she married her husband the 20th. The following August, she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. And that baby girl was what reunited her to our family. My niece who was approximately 18 months old at the time gave us the opportunity to get to know Debbie and her husband.

Debbie had a different childhood than I did. She dealt with things that I never had to and vise versa, I was always mature, and my father-on-paper walking out on us when I was 16, required that I grow up and become an adult a lot quicker than I should have. Debbie on the other hand, at least as far as my opinion, and others in the family had yet to "grow" up. Sure she was an adult, but she still did so many things that the rest of us didn't understand.

She didn't bathe regularly, she didn't wear "nice"* clothes when she went out. She wasn't concerned with her kids being bathed regularly either. She was bad about making messes and not cleaning them up, which is a big no-no, especially at my mom's house. We all, (myself, my husband, her/my father, my mother, our grandparents, our aunt) criticized and told her over and over that she needed to take baths, use deodorant, care about her appearance. *She often wore clothing that was stained, holey, things that most of us wear to clean or do yard work, but not stuff that we wear out in public. And, yes, as a matter of fact, I have my own drawer of holey, stained clothing.

To a certain extent, I feel somewhat responsible for the situation that her husband, kids and her choice (more on this tomorrow) to be a lesbian. I think that we all are.

I know that right now your thinking I'm crazy, and that I'm weirded out by gays, I'm not. Just stick with me.

Often in my own marriage, I take John for granted. I don't tell him he looks nice, or that he smells good, or that I appreciate him loading the dishwasher. I think that he knows that I do. While I hope that it does, sometimes it's nice to hear it. It's nice to hear things like you look nice, that's awesome, I'm proud of you, you look amazing; instead of hearing ---. Silence.

I have my days when I'm feeling particularly fat and unattractive, and the comment from a stranger just flows over me. I know my husband loves me and finds me attractive, but it's nice to here it, especially from other people. And instead of finding something to praise Debbie about, or even trying to find out why she did some of the things she did, we judged, and we criticized, and we didn't bother to find out why.

So last night as I was talking to my husband, wondering how things would work out for Debbie and her girlfriend Sue, David, her husband, and her two kids, I wondered if this was always her choice. Or if for the first time in her life, someone accepted Debbie for Debbie, the good and the bad. Because there are days that the right person saying the right thing would cause me to do things that I would never dream of doing. Not because I don't love my husband, but because it's kindness from someone who isn't "required" to say stuff like that.

So now, as we all move forward, some of the family is weirded out, and some are hurt, and some are angry, and I'm sad. Sad that it took Debbie's marriage falling apart to realize that her entire family (at least on this side of the gene pool) is responsible. While the choice to choose another woman may have been something that she struggled with for a while, none of us really knows. Maybe, Sue was the first person who saw Debbie as Debbie instead of the rest of us trying to mold her into our version of Debbie.

No matter what happens from here, I only hope that Debbie is willing to forgive us for the horrible ways that we have treated her and give me a second chance to get to know the real her. Maybe I'll find the sister I never knew I always wanted.

~If you don't understand how a woman could both love her sister dearly and want to wring her neck at the same time, then you were probably an only child. ~Linda Sunshine

~I don't believe an accident of birth makes people sisters or brothers. It makes them siblings, gives them mutuality of parentage. Sisterhood and brotherhood is a condition people have to work at. ~Maya Angelou

~Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen. ~Winston Churchill

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