Friday, September 11, 2009

unpartnered

"Hi, I'm Jo Anna. And this is...um...this is my...this is, uh...Amy."

Good God, when is this gonna get any easier? Why can't I just utter those words? She's my ex. This is my ex. Hi, I'm Jo Anna. And this is Amy, my ex.

I mean, she's in another relationship, for crissakes. I should be able to acknowledge that we're no longer together by now, shouldn't I?

Because the thing is, in a heterosexual relationship at a PTA meeting, you can say, "Hi, I'm so-and-so, and this is John Doe, the children's father." Or maybe you refer to yourself as "divorced." There's a sense of separation there, of feeling severed, of finality. And people understand. They get it. They've likely been there.

And we...well, we just don't have that.

Typically, when we'd say "this is my partner," or "the children's other mother," well, you can imagine the strange looks we'd get (yes, even here in California). It usually doesn't take people long to figure it out from there, but at least then they can put us into a little box. The oh-ok-so-they're-a-lesbian-couple box. And then choose to hate or love us based on any number of subjective and abstract concepts and irrational fears.

But now, who are we? We are a lesbian unpartnered couple. With kids. And there's no real box for that. And if people didn't squirm before, man, you should see them wriggle now. Because we still look like a family. We still act like a family. And we work really hard every day to preserve what we've built together as a family. And like it or not, agree with it or not, most people who meet us are able to pretty quickly reconcile themselves to that fact. We. Are. A. Family. And they get that. They understand that.

But this...this seems to shake people up. And I have to wonder if it's actually potentially damaging someone's perception (and possible acceptance) of the legitimacy of gay relationships when they then see us unraveling. When they hear of our fractures.

Is it suddenly justification? Validation? Confirmation of what they already believed?

Do they go home whispering, "Uh-huh. You see? I knew it. They're not meant to be."

Or is there a possibility...a small one, granted, but a possibility just the same...that, like having children, it somehow legitimizes us more?

That maybe they, too, can empathize with the loss, with the sorrow, with the grief that comes with the realization that you're no longer one half of a whole. That your birthdays and holidays and vacations are all fast becoming pawns on a chessboard. That you, too, feel like a failure. That you, too, just want to be happy and complete. That whether you were allowed to marry, or barred from the institution, or even chose not to marry, your heartbreak is no less painful. Your long dark nights, no less lonely.

Do you think? Maybe? Do you think they can see that we're just the same?

[**and just a note that i do realize as i write this today how utterly ridiculous and petty it must all sound in light of the devastation of 9/11]

6 comments:

AFlowerWithoutAName said...

What it brings to my mind is that in the end is that you really aren't any different than me and my husband, that you aren't monsters or aliens but just people who have actual blood going threw your veins. We don't see it until we see you going through the same problems we have. We don't see you as humans till then. I accept my daughter who likes both sexes but I don't see her as human till she is hurting, then I feel bad because I'm not really accepting, just denying. I need to be really accepting off all people.

Stephanie Stearns Dulli said...

We really do need a good word or term for an uncoupled same sex couple...until everyone gets over themselves and we get same sex marriage legalized.
Love is love, and heartbreak is heartbreak. I'm sorry there's no perfect 'term' for other people to make it fit into their schema.
The only people who have to truly understand is everyone in your family. Perfectly imperfect, just like every other family in the world.

Woo222 said...

I think to the people who find it damaging to their perceptions, we weren't REALLY equal to them anyway. They didn't REALLY accept the GLBT community anyway, because if they did, they'd understand break ups happen to everyone, and they're equally painful and devastating to a family. Personally, I would HOPE that people can be compassionate, because you're right, a lot of people have been there and can commiserate. And I certainly hope they have compassion for the children and for the extra struggle and pain this causes you and Amy because Saia and Chago are your children together and it is hard and sad and worrisome when there are kids involved in any break up, gay, straight, or fill in the blank. That is my hope. Honestly, I think the people who were truly going to accept you as a lesbian (and not just smile uncomfortably and pretend) are going to be just as respectful as they'd be if you and Amy were still together and the people who suck..yeah that's my opinion...would continue to suck. Am I making any sense? Because I'm starting to confuse myself. I live in a very black and white world when it comes to prejudice...you either accept or you don't. There's no middle ground for me. You're either a lover or a bigot. It prolly isn't fair, but it is the way I see things, especially when I deal with people's prejudice on a day to day basis.

Oh yeah, and you never, ever have to apologize for your feelings or your sadness or what you write, especially on your own blog. You aren't being selfish. Please don't be self deprecating, you have so many wonderful qualities and you are very bright, beautiful, talented, interesting, creative, a nurturing mother, a kind and compassionate person, and you have so much worth. And you are always entitled to feel what you feel and experience your life and it's sorrows and joys in your own way and in your own time. You don't owe anyone an explanation and there is NOTHING wrong with you.

lisa said...

a poem from Osho.(not verbatim)..life is not a noun it is a verb,life is not sing it is singing,it is not dance it is dancing,it is not live it is living,know the differnace,savor the differance....so, puting all the political questions aside..if your gonna cry,then get out, get it out,get it out...

Anonymous said...

Maybe you could say, "This is Amy, my...well, if society had ever permitted us to marry, she'd be my ex-wife, but since it doesn't, she's just my kids' other parent."

Anonymous said...

I am glad you shared these feelings and are sorting them out. We all have to sort those feelings. It's weird that in this day and age, and with all that has changed, these things are still an issue.

Despite society's feelings on what we as people are or are not, I can't help but wonder about the strength of your heart. You've raised some really good points, but I'm sad because you still sound so hurt. I want peace for your heart. Yes I'm PMSing, but I would still feel this way.

My dad died two years ago to the date 9-11-07. In regard to your feelings even on 9-11; this date has come to represent loss for a lot of people. Your post had so much to do with loss and in my opinion was highly appropriate. I suppose it's all in how you look at it. Take care of you.

Carita
judgeMENTALzine.com