Q: My girlfriend and I have been together for five years, we live together, are totally in love and partners in every sense. We are also ‘out’ to everyone – family, friends and jobs – for two years now and everyone has been accepting and awesome about it (including my girl’s family). My family is fine about it — except for my mom.
She is upset about the fact that I am a lesbian, won’t support or recognize my relationship or my girl, and is pretty ridiculously intolerant, in denial and hurtful about it all. We have had more fights about it than I care to think about. It helps that I live 5 states away from her and my family, but, situations are coming up (my girl and I are visiting my friends in my hometown this summer, my sister is getting married next spring, etc.) where I feel like the issue can’t just be pushed under the rug.
I talk about my girlfriend and my relationship all the time in my mom and my weekly chats so I am not ignoring the fact that my rlshp does exist. (Her comeback is usually an argument or stone cold silence.) I want to continue staying strong and stick up for my relationship and myself but, at the same time, I love my mom and don’t want to hurt her. I feel like I am going to have to make some tough decisions and ultimatums regarding upcoming situations and I don’t want to do that. Do you have any advice on how I can get my mom to come around – to at least respect me and my relationship? I am not looking for overwhelming support or acceptance, just common decency! (She is not the “read a pamphlet on how to accept your gay daughter” type of woman, either). Please help!
Diva Says: Here’s some news, kitten. Mama doesn’t always know best. But good thing for you, Diva does! (if she does say so herself.)
First, congratulations on a loving and relatively long-term relationship! It’s fan-flippin-tastic that you have something worth fighting for. Here’s to you two. *clink*
Second, it’s obvious that your Mom has some incredibly deep-seated issues around sexuality. I’m guessing that she’s a religious woman. That’s the hardest bit to combat – that ingrained, entrenched, hammered-in dogma that completely overrides logic and emotion when dealing with ‘moral’ issues.
So here’s where I’m going to turn the tables, sweets.
You absolutely cannot dictate another’s behavior or reactions. We just don’t have that authority. Lord knows if we did, Bush would be leering at the pretzel bowl from a seedy Texas barstool by now.
All you can do is make YOUR live livable. And to do this, you need to make whatever concessions, compromises or – worst case – exclusions, to ensure that your joyfulness is protected!
You have to understand that your Mom’s behavior is hurting her as well. By behaving in this way, she’s effectively excluding herself from a major piece of your life. If she didn’t love you, her reaction to this wouldn’t be as strong, so you can take for granted that she’s suffering from her own behavior.
The ideal scenario would be for you to come at your mother’s behavior from a place of compassion. To forgive her for her judgement by understanding that this is part of her CORE BELIEF SYSTEM. This is a piece of her that’s likely been instilled in her from birth. That doesn’t change overnight.
So by you forgiving her for this behavior, you will find a bit of peace inside you that might steel you from her attacks (or silence.) You are a good person, and by showing her love even against the tide of her judgement, in the long-term, I absolutely believe this will have an effect on her. She will see that you are kind and loving and good as a whole and it will help her learn to respect your choices, or at least treat you with kindness regardless of her feelings about your sexuality.
As for the short-term – the trips, the wedding. Go. Bring your partner. If you have to stay at a hotel to find some peace instead of staying with your family, do so. Bring your partner to the wedding. Be kind, loving and gentle. If your mother refuses to acknowledge her, let her. But make sure she acknowledges YOU. And if your mother wants to see you, spend time with her, even if it means leaving your partner on her own for a few hours. Meet your mother where she is. For now.
You have the choice to make this a non-issue for yourself, and let it be her issue alone. You have to decide what’s important — a relationship (at all) with your mother, or having your mother accept your relationship. Since you can’t control the second, I suggest focusing on the first. Ultimatums never work. They just drive the wedge in further.
Give her time and show her love. She’ll come around or she won’t. But you can choose to be happy inside this situation regardless!
Best of luck and big loving mama bearhugs!