Brave New Life: Part 3: The Other Shoe Drops

Brave New Life: Part 3: The Other Shoe Drops May 30, 2014

This post is part of a series, click here to start with the introduction.

We’d been putting in applications for weeks and not having much luck. It wasn’t really surprising, after growing up the way I did, and then having 4 kids I had basically no resume, and Haley’s was entirely ministerial stuff and we couldn’t exactly list them as a reference. We were also in the middle of changing addresses on everything, and getting all of our other paperwork in order. I passed a local coffee shop and noticed a hiring sign in the window, so I printed out my sad little resume and dropped it off.

Haley was restless and not getting any bites, we’d been talking about maybe getting her some short-term job training to qualify her to do something besides ministry and give her more time to become confident in her transition and ability to pass. She had been interested in cosmetology for some time, and she enrolled in Beauty School just a few weeks before getting the approval to start her hormone therapy. A short time after that, I got a call back from the coffee shop. After the interview they were willing to take me on at a little above minimum wage as a kitchen worker 10 hours a week. It wasn’t enough, but it was the only real offer I had, and I needed to get started somewhere, so I took it.

Haley was going to school every day from 8:30- 5:00, and after I made it through my trial period, my 10 hours a week gradually went up, eventually settling between 25 and 30 hours a week. Haley got home at five, we would eat dinner and I would leave to get to work by six, usually getting back home around midnight. It was a relief to have some money coming in again. It wasn’t enough to pay all the bills, but it slowed the dive into debt. Our application for food stamps went through and we were able to start buying decent food again. Summer was around the corner and the kids spent most of the day outside playing with the neighbor kids and hanging out in the sunshine.

My adult sister who is an athlete told me about a game she was going to be in that was in our hometown area. I had never been able to get out to one of her games when we lived further away, and I was excited by the idea of a little break and drive out to see her be involved in something she loved so much. I was nervous about possibly bumping into the rest of the family for the first time, but this would be a public event, perhaps that would be a safe neutral ground for a first meeting after coming out, instead of showing up at a family party of some kind. I still wasn’t sure we could swing any kind of trip financially, but next thing I knew the decision was essentially taken out of my hands.

I got a call from my dad. He told me that he had heard that we were considering coming down for my sisters game, and that if we were going to come, he wanted to be informed, so that he could make sure they did not bring my younger siblings along, because if we were there, then they would have to leave and “that would be hard to explain.” I was basically speechless. I agreed that I would let them know if we decided to come, I also agreed that it would be “difficult to explain” having to leave if we showed up, because I literally couldn’t think of a rational explanation for that kind of reaction to my family.

After I hung up I cried for a second. I felt kind of panicky and my heart was racing. I paced up and down the hall a bit, I could not think of what to do or who to talk to, I felt like I needed to curl up in the fetal position and whimper, but I was too wound up to sit still. Haley was in school, so I couldn’t call her. I got on facebook and posted on my status that my parents had informed me that they couldn’t allow my younger siblings to see my family from across a public stadium, and that I hardly knew how to process it. In hindsight, that was probably a dumb move. My parents are not on facebook, but some other relatives are, and they quickly informed my parents about my status, and shortly after that my mom called.

That phone call is somewhat of a blur. My mom said she was offended that I had not told her directly that I was hurt, and instead had talked about it publicly. I tried to explain that I did not know why that was necessary because I could not comprehend a world where being told that your family is too offensive to be around would not be hurtful. She said some stuff about how my husband was living in sin, and that I was wrong for supporting him, but that she knew what that was like because she had wrongfully supported my dad at times when he was abusive, because she thought she was supposed to. I responded that my staying with Haley wasn’t really comparable to her supporting my dad’s misbehavior, because Haley wasn’t hitting my kids, or restricting our lives. She replied that there were more ways to be abusive than just physical, and that {Haley’s boy-name} was being emotionally and mentally abusive by “deciding to live as a woman”.  She claimed that I was pushing her and my dad away by making these choices to support sin. I pointed out that they were the ones who had said their family could not be around mine, and that I had not eliminated them from our lives even though there were plenty of things we disagreed on. She replied that they were not eliminating us from their life, that I and the kids were of course welcome to visit anytime, but Haley wasn’t. And she didn’t want us talking about Haley to her kids either.

I know I hung up several times during the phone call. At one point I was standing on my bed with tears rolling down my face as we each tried to talk more loudly than the other. When it was over, I sat on the bed, my body shaking uncontrollably. My kids peeked around the door trying to see if I was ok. I had considered the possibility of my parents cutting me off from my siblings, but I had hoped that wasn’t going to happen since we had made it a whole month without them communicating anything so drastic. Yes, I was technically still allowed to see them, but to do that I would have to essentially pretend that Haley had disappeared from my life, and I could not imagine telling my kids that they could not talk about their other parent if we were visiting. I was facing the possibility of not being able to see my siblings again. For all of my parent’s insistence that I would have been pleasantly surprised if I had come out to them earlier, the fears that had kept me silent for so long, were becoming a reality.

Part 4


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