I often deal with unresolved trauma in my dreams. I know when I am not breaking down or facing my trauma when a theme emerges in recurring dreams, which has been my lot of late. Each morning, I have been spending time reliving these dreams, trying to find the root of the trauma. Even when its obvious what I need to confront, too often I allow my busy schedule to distract me or set aside the realizations that exist, so that the theme continues. Today, I will share with you the latest trauma in hopes that I no longer avoid the important process of facing my hardest, broken pieces.
If you’ve read any of my previous posts, some of this will not be a surprise. For those stumbling here now, here is a quick recap to get you up to speed:
- I am a lesbian and have been with my wife for 18 years. We are legally married
- We are both “out”
- While many in our life accept us as we are, there are some within our family and friend community who have withdrawn from relationship with us or are vocal that they do not agree with our “lifestyle”
- I identify as a follower of Christ, but have not attended church regularly for about 5 years
- My wife and I have 5 children; three are my biological kids, and two entered our hearts through international adoption. All are our spiritual flesh and blood.
Since the youngest two came to American and our home around 14 years ago, our world has expanded so much! However, some within our circle have refused to accept them due to the fact their parents are LGBTQ+. One such person is my father. Despite having raised 4 step-children (it is weird to write that, as we were always held as a family without such labels), I was directly told by my father that these two precious and innocent souls were “not family”. He has never met them, has had no interaction with them, and since their homecoming (which occurred before my wife and I were “out”), my wife has been treated differently by my dad. Shortly after this time, we did come out and, while I was told my dad would always love me, he made clear that he did not accept my homosexual lifestyle.
Dealing with this and my dad’s refusal to even be in the same room as my wife and two youngest children, interactions became difficult at best. Initially, I allowed anger to drive me and I found it easy to cut my dad out of normal interactions. However, one key point is that my dad represented the “perfect parent” to me in almost all regards, and my love for him held no limitations. Because of that, I made the decision to have a relationship with him as best I could, even with his refusal to include pieces of my heart. This working relationship became easier to facilitate in 2009 when my family moved out of state; when I was back in California, it was often easy for me to visit without causing undue pain to my wife and youngest children.
Jump forward to the last couple years. My dad, who had been raised a Catholic but had not attended mass my entire life, became very active in the protestant Evangelical community. His second wife, who had been in my life for nearly 30 years, was very involved in this area and was sure to be a big part of this transformation. As someone who was never a Catholic and who had accepted Christ in a charismatic church in my teens, this change was initially a positive one for me! My years is ministry, Christian education, and faith rejoiced that my dad was now actively involved with Christ in, what I perceived as, a personal relationship that provided much more “hands on” knowledge of God’s grace, love, and truth.
In reality, however, the transformation my dad experienced has been very different than my own faith journey. Where my walk with Christ has lead me to love more, empathize more, and realize how very broken I and all of us are in this journey called life, it seemed my dad’s walk emphasized very different attributes. Where he used to encourage, he now condemned. Where he used to seek out comforting others, he now demeaned. Where he balanced his intelligence with a calm demeanor for most of my life, he began to appear more rigid and judgmental. As this evolution occurred, I chocked it up more toward his political views, which had changed dramatically over the years from how he was when I was young. I failed to really grasps the changes he was experiencing were so vast.
While this was happening, Facebook also exposed this journey. Initially, I’d received videos in my Messenger inbox from his wife that “nicely and lovingly” explained why being a homosexual was a sin and not in God’s will. There were never any discussions or exchanges with these, though at times I’d respond with scripture about how we all sin and fall short of the glory of God and how we are redeemed solely by Christ. Things then escalated from there; aggressive posts began to appear stating that Gays cannot be Christians, that Gays followed Satan, and that even Catholics were evil Satan followers bound for hell. Again, no real relational conversations occurred, other than my dad’s occasional comments on calls, such as, “You know I love you, but I worry about you…….I pray for you all the time…….”
Then, on Easter Sunday 2021 I called my dad. I felt no warmth from him or even joy that we were talking. In truth, I had already come to a place where it felt like a burden to call him due to his obvious view regarding my life. However, there was still that little girl in me who loved her dad and wanted to at least talk to him on important days such as this. During the call, he put me on speaker (not usual) and proceeded to have an “intervention”; in summary, he said my view of Christianity was “indoctrination”, that unless I left my wife and repented I was going to hell, and that I was not a Christian at all. It got heated when I calmly asked him if he had stopped sinning, why his recurring sins such as anger (which was actively being thrown at me at this point) was not a problem, why some in the Bible did not “repent” but still went to heaven (ex: dude on the cross next to Christ), and the like. He clearly acknowledged that WE have a role in our salvation and can’t rely solely on the blood of Christ. He also accused me of sending texts to him pretending to be my oldest daughter when they had had an argument months earlier. Finally, in tears, I said all I wanted was to have a relationship with him, not to be told I was going to hell, and that religion should not overshadow family. As there was no getting past that point, I tearfully said he would never hear from me again though I loved him even though his beliefs were so vastly different than mine. My heart could no longer bear interacting with the man he had become.
I did send him a less emotional email a week or so later, imploring him to set this aside and just allow us to be father and daughter, but he never replied.
Now, as a woman in her fifties, I have my recurring dreams. In them, I am usually much younger; maybe late teens or early 20’s. My dream last night displayed my father breaking into my newly acquired apartment with Deana and stealing everything he had ever given me, especially sentimental items. Further, he took all the money out of my bank account even though I had earned it on my own. With those actions, he indicated he never wanted to see me again and he was no longer my father. Dream Gina was devastated, not only for the practical reasons of having no money, but for the betrayal of my home, my possessions, and my life. Who steals from their daughter and cuts them out of their life? This dream, the most vivid I’ve had in a few weeks, troubled me for hours upon waking. However, I did stop and ponder it and came up with the following.
- My father did steal everything from me; every good memory of my life, every moment that used to warm my very soul, every smile that had ever passed between us. The man he is today has stolen the dad I have loved my entire life and left me with a horror that lacks love (unconditional or otherwise), empathy, or care.
- My father has clearly indicated with his actions that he believes he owns me, or pieces of me such as my salvation, and has every right to dictate their value, as represented by my bank account.
- My father’s pride, something I used to respect so much, has exposed just how hateful he’s become in the name of love and/or religion.
- These realities have caused my great pain, tears, loss, and anxiety. But they have not killed me.
So, today I am facing those realities. I am acknowledging the trauma and horror that my dad has become this person that lacks…….everything a father should. That true love does not do that. That religion is not about this. That no perception of sin justifies these actions. And as I sit and ponder the loss of my dad, I rejoice that I am alive, I am truly valuable in the eyes of Christ and my family, and I am enough as a child of God.