It is December and the holidays are here, which means I have to pretend to love my family.

While I love my family in unspoken ways, it is the tangible that remains to be seen — hugs, warm smiles, and the secret handshake that father and son share. It is the holiday season that reminds me of my family’s brokenness. And I will be reminded of this brokenness every time we are forced to gather around a turkey, a tree, or that ridiculously shiny ball.

I hate this brokenness. For it is in this brokenness that my SSA came to be.

I was born into an abusive, unstable, and wild family. When times were good, they were so good. But when times were bad, when fists were thrown, bottles broken and weapons pulled, times were really bad.

I grew up in poverty, raised by a parent who had no idea how to parent, in a home that was barely a home, physically or emotionally. But it was all I had.

Still, life was full of exploration: hunting for berries, trotting through corn fields, and keeping an eye out for neighborhood dogs that may eat me alive.

I was somewhere between an ideal childhood and not really having a childhood at all.

It was in that home, on the back streets, where the roads were crumbling, that I grew up. I often feel that I grew up not with parents, but guardians who only adhered to the responsibility of food and shelter. Anything else would have been an extravagant add-on.

And as I search my memories for the love and joy that can only be found in the eyes of a parent, my search is in vain. Their love was seldom felt, and I see my father’s head bowed in shame because of his effeminate son.

Life was hard. I hated going to school and constantly answering questions about my sexuality. So I began to hide; I couldn’t face others.

Then I would come home to face the same harsh treatment. But, at least I could say that I wasn’t gay — and then puberty hit.

It was there, in that home, on the back streets, where the roads were crumbling, that I grew up.

I lived in the shadow of the son I should have been. And I have been chasing him ever since.

What emotions do the holidays, revisiting family and home, stir in you?

* Photo courtesy of jmsmith000, Creative Commons.

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