Family

This is a Really Real Extended Family post.

This is a post about being estranged from birth family.

This post contains politics, differing beliefs, pain of loss.

Today, my Facebook and photo memories were full of pictures with my niece and nephews.

Without planning it, my sister, the kids and I, tended to get together around this time every year.

I had 3 pictures in a row of me holding my first nephew. Each year around his birthday I was lucky enough to see him, and get a picture as he aged.

I had 2 pictures with my niece, a year younger than her brother.

One picture with the youngest, a year younger than his sister.

The last time I saw them was just over a year ago, before the pandemic was even a thing.

We would regularly talk over video chat. My sister lining all 3 kids up in high chairs at the table and sitting the phone where I could talk with them all.

My sister and I have very different beliefs. She is a conservative born again Christian, super into a her MLM essential oils and anti science including vaccinations, and I am super liberal and queer.

We managed to coexist. We avoided those topics. She didn’t seem to judge me for my life and the way I lived it.

As the election got closer, she began posting more and more about her beliefs.

She posted an article that someone connected queer folk to pedophiles. She posted articles against transwomen, and trans rights. She became more verbal with the beliefs that directly hurt me.

I distanced myself more and more, unfollowed her so that she would no longer show up in my feed. I’d occasionally check her page for pictures of the kids. I enjoyed watching them grow.

It’s been 6 months since a video chat. She had the kids call me shortly after my dad died, to give me something to smile about.

She posted and texted me around the time that Trump was getting banned from various social media outlets. Telling me that because of something she posted, they were shutting down her Facebook in 24 hours and I could contact her via text.

I didn’t respond, I knew that Facebook doesn’t give you warning, she was just feeding into the political bullshit.

A few weeks later she was back on Facebook, I knew because she was reacting to my posts again.

I realized I was censoring my posts, not wanting to start family drama, not wanting to alienate anyone, not wanting to call her out on her bullshit.

I added her to my restricted list, she can no longer see what I post. At the same time I did the same with my youngest sister, and made sure my mom was still on the list as well.

I’ve slowly gone no contact with the family I lived with for the first 17 years of my life.

I didn’t make some big announcement, I haven’t addressed any of it with them.

I last heard from my Mom on Christmas, we exchanged 2 or 3 mundane texts. Before that it was Birthday wishes from her.

She’s even further down that rabbit hole of QAnon. Her beliefs aren’t just against who I am as a person, they are downright scary. She jumps from one conspiracy theory to the next, I had to tell her point blank to stop sending me messages about them. It took her awhile to listen.

My youngest sister is doing well, as far as I know. She doesn’t advertise her beliefs so I have no idea where she stands, but she’s so involved with the other two that it just feels safer to distance myself there as well. Every few months she messages to see how I’m doing, but rarely responds to what I say.

It’s painful. The memories are painful. The fact that I have to sacrifice the relationship with my niece and nephews is hard, probably one of the hardest parts of this.

But, I have an amazing chosen family. I am surrounded by people who choose to love me for who I am.

And I’m thankful for that.

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