I came out as gay to my parents when I was 28. I’m living on my own, after serving in the military. My deeply conservative parents did not accept my sexuality well, calling me “disgusting” and “sinful.” They froze me out for two years while I was stationed overseas, unwilling to talk or to even agree to disagree with me, despite my efforts to reach out to them.
I’ve recently finished my time in the military and am back in the U.S. My parents have contacted me. We’ve reached a sort of middle ground, but they still don’t seem comfortable talking to me.
It took a long time, but I have tried to forgive them. But now that there is contact, I admit I don’t feel the desire to keep a close relationship with them. I’m looking at marriage in the next year, and I haven’t told them about it because I’m afraid how they’ll react.
Is it OK to keep my distance, forgive and walk away, or do I owe it to the familial bonds to keep the relationship going? – Lost Son
Reading this my first reaction, was “Yes, distance yourself for the sake of your mental health, and the sake of your marriage. Live your own life — openly, joyfully and authentically.” The therapist that I am would encourage him to dig deeper, and ask himself why he feels like he needs to keep a connection after he has already stated, “But now that there is contact, I admit I don’t feel the desire to keep a close relationship with them.” Amy summed it up nicely “Familial bonds stretch in two directions. Until your folks figure out how to accept you, relate to, and apologize to you — and learn to love you as you are — a natural consequence of their behavior would be for you to keep your distance.” How would you reply to this young man?