By Michael Stoneburner
A few weeks ago my biologically family started making contact with me over at my facebook business page. It genuinely had me curious. After a couple of years of silence, they started interacting with me again. Was it a coincidence that it was also happening in the successful wake of He Was A Boy Who Smiled Book One and Book Two? I wasn’t sure. So I asked them (publicly).
Their reply wasn’t favourable nor too popular with fans reading their public replies. Then my concern shifted to others who might be reading the interaction who are in a similar situation and were possibly triggered themselves. I wasn’t wrong. Over on twitter, I started seeing other LGBTQ+ members recounting their own experiences. Many of the phrases my biological parents were saying to me mirrored their own.
One person wrote:
“Who you say you are? All that is definitely classic manipulation….I know this so well. Same. Exact same response from others. They said I was making everything up and I needed to do what I was told.”
“This would seriously screw with my brain coz it’s been conditioned for so long. And I would fall back into the trap that: it’s my mum. Maybe things weren’t all bad…but…she’s abusive!”
I turned to Joel, my partner, and I started worrying about how others might be triggered by this interaction and don’t know how to recognise the signs of abuse. So I told him my reply and he nodded, kissed me and told me how proud he was of me. I looked into his eyes, though, and I could see a lingering hurt there. I asked him what was wrong and he shrugged. The standard: I’m fine. But we all know that’s a lie. So I asked him again. He looked into my eyes and told me that he was one of those people.
I listened as he retold how he listened to my biodad abuse me over the phone, how Joel interrupted him and stood up for me and the last thing that was said to him by my biodad: You are not a woman. You are not in a real relationship with my son. You have no right to stand up to him. I will not talk to you.
He told me how he felt after that. How there was nothing from them. How it reminded him about being ignored in group chats and phone calls. No apologies, not that he wanted them. He washed his hands of all of them and I agreed that that was the best course of action.
So, I invited him to be my first guest blog and this is what he wrote:
Can’t talk, watching wheel of fortune.
Can’t talk, gotta mow the lawn.
Can’t talk, your opinion doesn’t matter.
Can’t talk, your vote doesn’t count.
Can’t talk, don’t want to talk.
Can’t talk, you’re not real.
You see right through me.
But I see right through you too.
Hi. No reply.
Hi. No reply.
Hi. No reply.
It’s in the air.
I feel it.
I feel the crackle of the lightning.
And I blame myself.
I find a reason if I need to.
Like Michael, I’ve lived through the cycle of abuse growing up. It gave me the need to apologise and it gave my own biological family reason to always make me be the one that was wrong. So I do. That’s my word. That’s my burden. Sometimes I even think that it’s my curse. So, I’m proud of myself when I say that there is nothing I need to apologise for here. Michael’s biological family are wrong and they need to accept that. You can’t say the past is the past and say you’re ever it when we haven’t even talked about it.
There’s no easy way out, I’ve tried. I don’t want to say things will never change, will never get better. I can’t. I have to believe that it exists, out there somewhere. I subscribe to the idea of repelling toxic waste, and I’ve tossed mine aside. It’s okay. It’s healthy.
When something went wrong between Michael and his bio-family, I wanted to apologise. Just to keep the peace, but, the onus was always on us. That we need to learn forgiveness. It was not a fair playing field. So Michael and I evened the odds. We removed ourselves from the toxicity to help ourselves. But the onus was still on us. And they seem to think it always will be.
I’ll end with a question I vaguely remember Michael asking his bio-parents when they argued with him about ending the toxic relationship:
A zebra sees a lion and runs. Is the zebra trying to avoid its responsibility of being consumed? Or is it just trying to survive?
This month is Mental Health Awareness month. Check out My Little Shop where I’m selling Hanging On The Wall, a collection of poetry about mental health, illness and their affects. For the month of October, I will donate $1 for each one sold to Black Dog Institute. Support a worthy cause and pass it along! We Need To Talk About This!
Thank you, Joel, for being the first guest blog. I’m sure your perspective and insight will help others who might be in your similar situation.