Lost in Translation: A Mother’s Love

February 16, 2011 § 7 Comments

Trepidation. An initiator of rules. A mutation of love. A catalyst of paranoia – but not without purpose. Fear is a curious thing which we all experience in different ways. My mom until recently, feared for my future, my well being, and my aspirations. Yet on Saturday she mentioned nothing as I left to go on my 2nd to last college interview – a time where she would normally remind me to stray away from “that topic.” That gay topic.

After a short drive,  I entered my interviewer’s house and was immediately enveloped by the casual warmth his home embodied. Portraits graced the few walls where bookcases didn’t stretch from floor to ceiling – teeming with knowledge, and a fire place crackled with real wood next to our planned interview area. The flames lapped up my excitement and lent their fluidity to our interview. There was an inviting calm, the exact opposite that had existed this past Summer as I filled my mother in on my “counseling” of students.

I use quotation marks as I feel counsel is not the proper word. I offer others a more positive perspective on life, a chance to determine what their true problems are, what they have control over, and what their purpose in life can be. It is the mention of purpose in one’s life which seems to be the largest factor in preventing suicidal acts and I often referred to this as i explained to my mother why it was my moral obligation to help others.

Still, my mother had stood strongly against my counseling attempts, mentioning that it was my life I should focus on. God forbid people find out about my being gay. Our discussion lacked knowledge – her knowledge of my experiences, my knowledge of her reasoning. Thus our words shared fell flat and on both sides existed an eagerness to leave the topic while continuing on our previous paths with indifference. If only our chat could have mimicked my interview, sparing ourselves from the scathing lack of progress. But the one thing our conversation didn’t lack, was my mother’s love.

As my interview took place, I was spurred on by the question of what else I like to do. I explained my passion for writing, which birthed a new question – what do I write? Having lacked enough free time for our school newspaper, my only tangible evidence of my adoration of writing was Craig’s Gay Word, which I made reference to immediately.

Had my mother been sitting in the plush chair adjacent to us, I’m sure she would have winced. It is less a wince of pain than it is of worry – her eyes enlarge in shock until one eyebrow frets, lowering towards her eye, and her teeth begin to bite her lip. If she dwells on the thought long enough, her “allergies” will kick in and her eyes will gloss over with tears as she strongly caresses one hand with the other. She fears for my well being and with such increased visibility, would surely be plagued by paranoia-centric thoughts.

Or so I thought.

Just two weeks ago a brief newspaper article described my high school’s efforts to prevent lgbtq bullying through a presentation I was helping with. The day before, I had persuaded my mother to let me take part in it, after describing that lgbtq was only a small portion of the presentation – I was there to talk about “bullying in general, not my experience.” Just one negligible white lie of many, my use of them still irks me. But as she read the small segment I watched the beginnings of her wincing – and her allergies. She still feared after all this time.

This changed on Sunday, when out of the blue she began to praise my efforts. The very woman who tried to deter me with all her heart from “ruining (my) life,” began praising me for not listening to her advice. She spoke of her pride in me – all of me, and that was the greatest recognition I have received to date from her. I found myself unable to smile, though not in contempt. I couldn’t fathom her appreciation. I didn’t believe it! And as I type the experience, these words add to my understanding and a smile has emerged upon my face. Two days late, but it is there.

Currently, my mother is rather unaware of my blog and my other avenues for giving aide. Her exclusion has proven necessary from many sects of my life, both for her protection and for the realization of my potential. It was her fear which restricted my immediate coming out, shackled my attempts at helping my high school peers, and delayed my opportunities to ameliorate the life of other gay teens. It was my disregard for her fear which allowed me to counsel 13 peers from all over PA and the US who I met through student council trips. My disregard allowed me to temper my peer’s mindsets on homosexuality. My disregard let me realize some of my potential.

Because of this, I fear her inclusion in this experience would ruin my chances of continuing the blog. Abiding by her fear prevents me from going after my goals. My fear of her reaction prevents me from having a truly open relationship with my mother. Do I pine for the day when I can share everything? Of course. But I do debate whether this will ever be completely possible. At least for now, I can appreciate what her fear truly was. Love.

Her fear was not intended to strangle my future. It was her love taking form, shaped by the unknown. While her preventative actions may seem unfair to me, she is not without reason. Just like many of your parents may not be without reason. It is true, we do grow up in different times. But a rationalization of fear is not unwarranted. Listening to her fear would at times be a mistake, but deeming it idiotic and hateful would be an even greater mistake. Her fear was bred by love. Her love for me – and for that I should be thankful.

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§ 7 Responses to Lost in Translation: A Mother’s Love

  • Jacob Woods says:

    Receiving a mothers love and support in both writing and being gay is one of the toughest mountains to climb in my journey out of the closet and into the writing scene as well. Fewer people pay attention to my writing endeavors in the niche of homosexuality simply because it is that niche, and writers are poor, drug users who obviously suffer from depression.

    I feel I get a double stigma from the situation that I am a writer who happens to be gay. There is this vibe that manipulates one to believe that along with my sexual orientation is my writing. In fact, they are two very separate things that I would hope be recognized as separate portions of who I am. This was especially true in regards to my mother.

    • Craig says:

      Well, thankfully there are people like us who can prove that writers are not always poor drug users who suffer from depression hahah. Nice sarcasm 🙂

      I agree about the vibe that being a gay writer can put out. One of my (gay) friends recently asked me why gay people always focus on the arts and not the sciences – as if we all write or paint. I would like to think that we are far more diverse in our interests than just that. But if I must meet a stereotype, at least I can live my life authentically and write with pleasure.

      Do people commonly refer to your homosexuality as the source of your writing ?

  • First let me once again commend you on your excellent writing skills and ability to convey your thoughts so skillfully. You have a God given gift for writing and I look forward to reading great writings in the future from you. As to your posting, it’s amazing how life moves in circles. Here you are at a young age struggling with identity, knowing who you are, learning about and accepting your mothers unfailing love for you because you are her son above all things in her long life. And yet as I read your story I find myself in exactly the opposite position whereby my mother and siblings (five of them) have tolerated me through my life as a gay, but reserved member of the family. At the age of 55 and due to the passing of my father all that changed in an instant and at the same moment of his passing. It was as if his soul took with it my protector in passing; my family immediately did a complete turnaround and vented their feelings of anger, fear, and loathing on me as a group, forcing me into the proverbial corner at the worst time possible as my father lay in death not more than an hour. Suddenly, this last year, I found myself an outcast from my own family, disowned and shunned after being lied to and secretly left out of so many family events because of my “choice” to be gay. It was as if someone had dropped a match on the plains of dry grass in Australia. Word spread faster than lightening, from one clump of relative to another and within a few days I found that I would be without a family…shunned and unable yo comprehend beyond belief what had happened so quickly. I blog to spread information to help others who need help, to spread information about bullying and raise money to help prevent teen suicide. All that stopped for a while until one day I decided that I didn’t need anyone to verify who I was or wasn’t, or why. I had nothing to prove and no “choices” to make. I am who I am and it’s their issue to accept or not accept me. So I have lost my family, but in the process I have gained so much more insight into life, people, myself, and my ability to express myself. I hope some day you feel enough freedom to be able to open your blog to the world and explore the minds and the feelings of the many of us out there who have learned so much about life and can share it with you. You will be, and already are, a valuable member of society with your gift of writing and it must not be wasted. Give yourself a good hug and an ‘atta boy and keep on blogging. One more thing before I go…all writers are not drug users, dirt poor, or worthless. You are more than enough proof of that the silliness of that assumption. You have value as a person, and as a writer the ability to go beyond the confines of the “box” and explore the world like most others never will. Believe in yourself and learn to be strong in the face of adversity; above all, accept your mothers love for what she can give, for some of us have lost, or may never even have really had it. My best once again to you and I look forward to your future writings and thoughts.

  • Christine Camacho says:

    I found your blog through the article on The Advocate. Reading your post took me back a few years ago to the time when my son came out in high school . At first I was shocked, sad, and afraid of what he would have to deal with in his life. Most of my feelings were wrapped up in the fear for his safety. That feeling that someone could hurt my baby out of hate or ignorance -those thoughts kept coming to mind over and over again. This fear weighed so heavy on my heart.

    There were a few nights where I went to his bedroom to lay next to him so I could just keep him safe in my arms for just those moments. Long enough so those fears could past and I could sleep. He loved me and understood that I just needed to feel that I could protect my little boy for as long as I could.

    He talked with me for hours about all those years he kept this secret. It was after these talks that I knew that he was finally free to be his real self. This left me feeling so happy for him and for our family. He trusted us enough to free himself because he knew he was loved. His senior year in high school was a very happy time. Fast forward…He is now at the University of California, Berkeley and doing exceptionally well and ready to graduate (Pre med) with a double major and a minor.

    I share this story with you because as a mother of a gay son and talking with other moms, I have discovered that the fear never leaves us, it just gets easier to deal with. It starts with letting go slowly, having faith, and space to grow. Soon you will notice fewer reactions from your mom because she will want that closer open relationship with you. She will accept that the profound love she has for you and the desire to show you – is greater than the fear. It is at that time you will know that things have changed.

    Thank you for sharing and recognizing your mothers love.

  • Kevin says:

    I just read your story on AfterElton and cried. Then I read this post, and also cried. Yeesh! My parents and I have gone through the same struggles that you write about so well, and it’s such a delicate balance of compromise and at times standing your ground. I will say, though, that safety can be verrry fleeting in gay clubs, even when you go with friends. I’m happy (and jealous!) for you to enter college having a great understanding of who you are and what you want. Not just compared with incoming freshman, but most people in general! Sincerely best of luck to you!!

  • james says:

    I think that every mother fells that way for a while but they will get over it and accept you the way you are right?

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