Telling Your Family About Your Alternative Lifestyle Part Three: The Aftermath

So, you’ve bared your soul, and explained your life to your family.

If the gods are kind, your family will respond positively. They will have a new respect for your honesty and integrity in telling them. They will accept and understand this new-to-them you. They will incorporate the information you have given them into the family dynamic with joy and great gladness, and there are more group hugs.

But, that’s not the typical response.

There is a range of negative response, from “Well, we’ll just ignore this, pretend it didn’t happen/you didn’t tell us, and we’ll go on the way we’ve always gone on” to “There is no possible way we will put up with this kind of thing from you, so you’re out of the family.”

What do you do now?

If your family’s response is toward the ignore end, are you willing to let them ignore what you have told them? If not, how will you respond when they attempt to put the genie back in the bottle? Will you fight them? Or will you let them? Which means you have to weigh out how important your alternative lifestyle is to you compared to how important your family’s love/respect is to you. That’s a hard choice.

If your family’s response is toward the disowning end, are you willing to walk away from them? If not, how will you negotiate when they give you ultimatums about how you live your life? Will you acquiesce to their attempts to change you? Which means you have to weigh out how important your alternative lifestyle is to you compared to how important your family’s love/respect is to you. Again, hard choice.

There is a common third reaction. The “I don’t understand, so I don’t want to make a decision until I know more about _____,” response. That will  turn into a positive or negative response later. But for right now, how much time are you willing to give them to understand? Dan Savage suggests a year. I suggest nine months, the gestation period for a human seems perfect to me as a gestation period for a new life. But only you can determine how much time feels right to you to wait for the fallout.

A great help through the negative or lets wait and see responses is a support group. It can be a formal therapist, formal group therapy, informal group therapy, a group of friends, or a meet up group. It helps to talk through your aftermath, especially if you are losing something important to you. Don’t try to go it alone.

As always, your mileage will most certainly vary.

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