My family recently invited me and my partner to a ski vacation out west. My cousins and extended family will be there as well. Today my father called me and said, “Remember, your aunts know Brad as your friend,” which is his way of saying that I need to pretend that my partner Brad is my friend, not my lover.
They always do this to me (my family). There’s always something that we can’t speak openly about. I don’t know what to do about this. Is it reasonable for them to expect me to go there and pretend he’s just a friend? If I say something to them about this, they’re just going to tell me to ‘pull it together’ but I feel like I can’t breathe with all the family lies.
I could drone on and on validating your family’s discomfort with/adjustment to/ your sexual orientation, but the bottom line is that what they’re is doing is nuts. That’s not to say that it’s uncommon. History is pitted with scores of wrongs, many of which were widely accepted during the time. Still, popularity doesn’t mean that something’s right.
Call your father and let him know that you and Brad would love to join the family vacation, provided there are no lies about the nature of your relationship. If your father responds by pointing out your dramatics and your selfish need to have things your way, decline attendance. It’ll hurt to exclude yourself, but in the long run it’s necessary, lest any siblings begin to think that they too can impose the same craziness on you at a later date.
In family dynamics, it’s usually the healthiest member who looks like he/she is unraveling. Rest assured, those who unravel are just the symptom of the real problem. That said, the healthy road can be a lonely one because we don’t all grow at the same rate.
So the question is, do you wait and hope that this is just a family learning curve, or do you take responsibility for your own happiness and set boundaries? I think you can tell which direction I’m leaning in.