Life After the Change

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| This is the 367th story of Our Life Logs |


Right, this story is a bit complicated, so I’ll need a second to decide where the beginning should be.

A few months into my first year of college, my mother called my sister and me into her room. From the tone in her voice, anyone could tell that this wasn’t going to be pleasant. It was the kind of tone that makes you wonder “Oh shit, what did I do?”

From the look on her face, I could tell that she was bracing herself as well.

My mother and father sat together, facing my sister and me. Then my mother started off the conversation by saying, “Don’t worry, we’re not getting a divorce,” and then after a few pauses, she told us that my father was transgender, identifying as a female.

And then there was this sort of long pause.

She looked like she was getting emotional about it all, and she ended things by saying “We’re sorry if this hurts you, but it’s just the way things are.”

And then there was another long pause and I honest-to-god started to wonder if she was doing this on purpose to try and be dramatic.

All I said was, “Cool for you.”

• • •

For a bit of context as to the relationships in my family, more than a few of us have been described as “emotionally crippled.” If we’re to get technical, then I’d say that Asperger’s and other mental illnesses are commonplace among us. My father has Asperger’s, so, the concept of “connecting” is something that I had to learn from other people, and in all honesty, it still confuses me.

It might sound harsh, but the reason why this change didn’t faze me is because our connection we had wasn’t that close. My relationship with Dad was probably closer to the relationship that people would expect to have with their first boss (i.e. most of the time we’re on good terms, every so often I’d imagine getting into a fistfight, and then we returned to the status quo of simply not caring).

Meanwhile, my mother felt shocked because “this was someone she had thought she knew everything about and they had a bond stronger than anything,” and all that other love-crap that Hallmark enjoys shoving down our throats. This made it so that when I heard that news I just nodded towards my dad and said, “Cool for you.”

My mother was oddly confused by this, “Excuse me?”

I said what I thought/felt, “Look don’t misunderstand me, but I just don’t care, it just doesn’t make a difference to me,” I’d said. Then I looked to my father and decided to say something true that I could use to hide my apathy towards all this, “You’re still my family, so I really don’t care about anything else.”

That earned me a sort of happy-relaxed look from my father, while my mom gave me a look like I’d just grown a third head.

My sister followed up by saying, “I’ve known for years.”

And for all I know, she did. Some people underestimate her, but there are times when it almost seems like that kid is some kind of psychic with how good she is at solving problems and figuring people out.

• • •

You probably want a little background before we continue. Well, to keep it brief, I was born in 1997 in Concord, Massachusetts. At this point, you already kind of get the family dynamic, so I won’t go into that. Just know that we were never really normal, but I don’t think any family ever really is.

Okay, let’s travel back to our story.

Overall, I’d say that day one was a bit of a mixed bag. Though I know that it could have gone worse. I mean, hell, whenever anyone chooses to reveal something about themselves it’s a huge risk. Everyone always worries that what they reveal will flip people’s perception of them and ruin what they have.

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From that day onward, things started to go downhill.

It makes me think of Murphy’s Law, that whole “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong” saying.

And let me tell you, it felt like everything was going wrong.

A bit like a downward spiral that fucked all of us over.

Let’s go through the highlights.

After a few weeks, my father started to put some distance between us. She decided to move into the basement, and rarely came up to be with us.

The part that got to me the most was when it came to meals. When we ate, that was the time when we came together, at least for a little while. But now that was gone. My mom fed me, my sister stayed in her room until we’d finished so that she had an excuse to take her food back to her room and go back to hiding (it was a bit like watching one of those nature shows, the kind that features a forest animal cautiously emerging for sustenance before quickly retreating back into their den for safety).

But when it comes down to it, it actually wasn’t all that different from how things were before.

One thing that I’ve learned is that, even in my home, people don’t usually talk to me unless I’m the one who starts the conversation. And I don’t know if this is vanity talking, but for a while, it felt like I was the only person who tried talking to everyone in the house.

My college wasn’t too far from where we lived, so I came home around once a month and got to experience what became my new unpleasant routine. First, I’d have a conversation with my mom—which always ended with her crying in my arms about how hard things had become and how she didn’t understand how I was so okay with it all. I listened, but in the back of my mind, there would be a voice screaming something along the lines of “Why the hell do I have to be in this situation? I’m not even half the age of either of you!”

Look, I get why she freaked out. She was the kind of person who thought that they had their life planned out, and then something like this comes along and not only does it mess with what she thought would be her future, it made her call everything about her past into question too. She was stressed out at a lot, which made everyone stressed out. 

My mind retreated into itself a lot of the time.

Next came my father, who decided to avoid everyone entirely. And then there was her new attitude. What became the standard was, if you weren’t 100% on board with what she was doing, she got defensive. The phrase “You don’t accept me” was thrown around a lot. Honestly, it felt like we were all being pushed away, and whenever I got home I got told in almost every way possible, “It’s my life and I don’t want your opinion on it.”

And my depressed brain usually translated this to “It’s my life and I don’t want you in it.”

Here’s the big problem though, my father is like me, put simply–an ass. She’s always been an ass which is part of what made life so interesting. But now, when she did something that we’d normally call her out on, she felt that she had an excuse for her behavior. This made it so that even when my mother called her out on things that used to be normal issues in their relationship, she said that she was going against her because she didn’t accept who she was becoming.

I’d like to say that no one was at fault for how my parents’ relationship fell apart. But if you were as close as I was to examine it, you’d see that it was both of them. Honestly, at times it felt like they were both acting like children.

It’s a weird feeling when you realize that your own parents are basically just kids with a lot more mileage and with a belief that that mileage gave them a better understanding. One thing that I’ve learned so far in life is that, the more you learn, the more you realize that there isn’t anything that can be understood.

Bottom line: Raising parents sucks ass.

• • •

My mother didn’t handle the change well. Every so often she’d see my father, dressed in new outfits, and I’d hear her muttering something hurtful under her breath. Then she seemed oblivious to the fact that she was saying these things when she got called out on it.

I don’t know, no matter how I look at it, the relationship was dysfunctional.

Everything was like this for years. We were divided, lost, and confused. None of us knew where we placed in things anymore.

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The day came when my sister and I were told that they were getting divorced, and honestly, it came as a bit of a relief.

My mood was something along the lines of, “Oh thank god something’s finally going to change.”

Later on, after our mother and father were out of earshot, my sister came over to me and nudged me while she smirked like a fucking jackal, “I know what you meant to say back there.”

Little psychic bitch.

I kid around, but that day was total shit.

We had dinner together for the last time and almost halfway in, I got asked, “Whose side are you on?”

I didn’t even need to think about my response, “Mine.”

To which I got told, “Well that’s pretty shitty of you.”

Yeah, I’ll admit that hurt. But in the end, I feel good about my choice. Besides, if anyone tries to make me choose between two shit options—I’ll make my own option, every time.

The divorce took months before it ended, and by the time it ended, everyone seemed to be settling into their new lives. Since my sister is a minor, she has to be passed between the house and our father’s apartment. Our mom is always trying to get her to stay over at the house more often, and at times it feels almost like she’s trying simply to have one more victory over my father. As for Dad, I’ll say she’s doing well enough in her new home. At the very least, she seems happy with how things are going.

I visit my father every so often, I like to catch up with her about how life is going, though mostly we talk about hobbies. Same as how we did before when she lived in the house. And I find that kind of funny—despite everything that went wrong and all the bad that happened, I still get to enjoy the simple pleasure of talking to my Dad about the crap stories I write in my free time.

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Things were chaotic for a long time, and for a while, it felt like all of this was going to go on forever. But these days it feels like it’s finally come to an end. In my mind, I find that comforting, how no matter the problem, or how bad it makes you feel, eventually, life moves on, and then you pick up whatever pieces you can.

I like to think that even when it feels like everything’s gone wrong, it doesn’t mean that everything is lost.

So yeah, Murphy’s Law can suck on that.

 

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This is the story of Mark Taylor

Mark, 22, grew up in Concord, Massachusetts, with his mother, father, and younger sister. When Mark came home during his first year of college, Mark’s parents revealed that Mark’s father was transgender, identifying as a female. For the next several years, the family dynamic got worse before it eventually got better as the news sunk in.

 

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This story first touched our hearts on June 14, 2019.

| Writer: Mark Taylor | Editor: Colleen Walker |

 

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To protect the privacy of the storyteller and those involved in this retelling, some of the names may have been changed. (1)

2 thoughts on “Life After the Change

  1. I love your writing and deep down you have grown as a person more than someone with a great life. You persevered through tough times better than most and will be able to continue dealing. You certainly won’t sweat the small stuff now. I’m glad you reconnected with your dad. I know what your mom went through and to her credit, she didn’t tell you all the issues she faced. Time will help each to let go. In the meantime, keep writing and take the time to visit us, your “not” family, just neighbors who watched you two grow up with our two.

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