Two short explanations will help with this one. Bear with me, and enjoy the punchline. :)
I've made mention of my mother-in-law's moving in with us in previous blogs, and on Facebook. It has been an easier transition for me than I thought it would, but I still have my moments. I am one of two birth siblings, with the intermittent smattering of fosters. Later in my life I've been blessed by being included into two other families, and have likewise adopted, or recognized the existing relationships with other siblings --none of these by marriage. I have no shortage of children through this process, either. This greater-than-genetics connectivity, my Spiritual Family is my human Web. These later connections were/are forged without the growing-up history that 'traditional' families have, so my perceptions, expectations and tolerances for sibling rivalry, family drama and the like are not in synch with my husband's life experiences. He's had all his siblings since birth and didn't get to 'choose' any of them. This is not a bad thing or a better one, just a different experience from mine. This is not to say that I don't understand it all. I'm a trained Behavior Therapist. I'm just not the go-to for facilitation.
My husband has four siblings. They're a divided family in that 10 years spans between the first three and 'other' two. My husband is the youngest. Sibling rivalry is a full-time occupation among some of them. Allegiances, plots and whatnot abound. At times, I could use the inner workings of this group as training for a behavioral progression flow chart. I do this for a living, sometimes, so having it go on in my 'off hours' is no picnic. Suffice to say that an all-sibling consensus about Mom living with us is non-existent. One sibling in particular is completely against the arrangement. Mind you, she is not jumping up to welcome Mom into her home. She's just not happy with us being her caregivers. Basically, she's not willing to adhere to a rule that prohibits her entry into our home. She has options and opportunities to see her mother, and has made choices that ignore any of those options, and so we're at an impasse.
This sister was a nun, before meeting her then-priest husband and deciding to forego a life-long committment to her Savior for the carnal knowledges of secular living. They both went through the procedures, which I'm given to understand are nothing short of needing a Papal Dispensation to finish off, to marry and have a family. These are not forebears to the marrying-priest movement in today's Catholic church, mind you. The topic of marrying priests is a no-touch with them. They also present themselves as very conservative -even virally evangalical- in their religious beliefs, and are not afraid to tell other family members the deportment of their own souls and their assessments of the souls of the people they're talking to. Seems to me, being a deity's x-wife/husband while being married to a counterpart and living the mortal life, while invoking the perks of the Cloth (baptisms, marriages, etc in the case of the former priest) is a hard line to walk, but they seem to do it effortlessly.
The other stripe in this scarf is that I'm no stranger to name-calling. I grew up a one-eyed, skinny, way-too-smart, psychic, otherwise spiritually DIFFERENT, financially anorexic, child of a blind single mother in a neighborhood full of pirahna -to name a few of my distinguishing characteristics. I looked forward to the days when name-calling was the ONLY form of abuse. Batgirl, One Eye, Dead Eye, One-eyed-flying-purple-bootie-eater, Cyclops, Soulless, Critter and Cootie Woman is a good sampling. I remember arguing with a group of tormenters repeatedly that I was NOT four-eyed. Maybe three-eyed, but not four. Realizing that these individuals were not mentally capable of making that connection was a lesson in compassion, believe it or not. Also, when Cyclops came along, I was impressed, since these were my Language Arts classmates, and clearly they were paying attention to Homer's Odyssey. Smarter bullies weren't any less painful, but somehow it gave me hope that a day might come when they'd grow out of the activity, or the insults would be a challenge to decipher.
The Cyclop-ians were the same ones who figured out I was 'religiously' different. I was not ready to be a Witch outside the broom closet yet, but definitely, with support, or kindness, I'd have willingly identified myself with Wicca. Certainly, in retrospect, that's what I was. Without that Elder Voice, though, I was desperate to be as far from the radar on any topic as possible, especially religious affiliation. This is the Bible belt, after all, and I was raised immersed in the understanding that anything 'else' was predestined cinderhood. So, when the preacher's boy, the Jew, the skinny short (only -besides me-) black kid in class, and the obese, angry, rich kid needed entertainment, they turned to me and my co-target, the Jewish one-year-younger-than-them girl. Our guidance counselor (we called her Goose Neck) advised us to hide our religious beliefs from these four lovelies and that would alleviate our troubles. I realized that I'd have to work really hard to hide who I am. I realized that it was impossible, really, to hide an entirely different mindset, belief system and relationship to humanity from nearly everyone in my life. This is why I moved away from KY, and daily miss my heart's home, NYC.
What Santera wouldn't miss NYC after being raised in KY?
The aforementioned 'punchline.'
You've kept up, yes? :)
My sister-in-law's husband made arrangements to visit with Mom this morning. He called before he came which is what we ask everyone to do. (This was a point of battle before she moved in.) We were suspecting a problem, but sincerely hoping it would not occur. Sure enough, though, s-i-l-h was not alone. This is the sibling who is permanently and completely banned from the premises. The porch is probably too far onto the property for her, but we made concessions to reassure Mom. She tried to push her way past my husband to gain entry, knowing she wasn't allowed. Words ensued, and ensuing drama ensued. After a little more ensuance, these two left. The Sister, dropped her cane on two occasions, turned to see if she was being watched, and decided, both times, that instead of staging a fall, corrected her trajectory and hustled to her toaster. (I am sooo loving my camera phone!)
Wait for it!!
Before the first 'trip', Father B-I-L turns to me and says "Have a nice day, ... Wiccan!" (There's no font that adequately expresses the venom in 'Wiccan' so I left it au naturale.) He was loud and proud in his well-wishing. My husband was NOT smiling like me, though, and some more ensuing happened. "So, isn't that something!! Coming from an X priest, married to an X nun you probably !%$#'ed in the confessional!!! Goodbye Father (name removed for privacy)! Goodbye Sister (same as previous)! Get the f-- out of here!"
I thanked B-I-L for the blessing. That's what it was, after all. I have been Wiccan since infancy but never recognized as such by anyone so near to (Catholic) vestments. Doubly hilarious to my thinking is that, while I'm degreed in that tradition, my Spirits have taken me through other initiations in other traditions far less palatable to his mentality. Certainly he doesn' t know I'm a Santera, or that my home is full of sacred images from faiths across this world. He'd be as incapable of recognizing a Cross of St. Brigid as an African one, or knowing the difference between House Ghost altar and Spirit House. His maliciously-intended words of condemnation, his declaration of his knowledge that I am either soul-less or damned and consigned to a well-heated afterlife (his true belief is not mine to know) were not missed, but I've heard all that before. If I were a member of his faith, I would know whether I conformed to this declaration. As I am not, I have no fear of such proclamations. What struck me was that this man, of questionable destination by his own relationship to his claimed doctrine-of-faith recognized, even if superficially, that I am different, and tried to put a name to me --AND GOT IT 'ALMOST' RIGHT!!!!!
For the lay person, the ability to spot a witch is iffy at best. But here this laid priest was! And here I am!!! BANG! I'm a 'Wiccan'!!!
Truth spoken, dear brother-in-law. Incomplete as it is, you've blessed me with the hoped-for event every bullied kid secretly aspires to. You spoke the truth! You called me something I AM, and I'm not afraid, or ashamed, or hurt by it. Finally, I have come to a point in my life where I am past those insecurities. Those wounds are gone. Your nastiness didn't have the effect you expected on me, and certainly, you weren't expecting my husband to speak Truth, however so-like-your-own maliciousness it was. Someday, you will be in this place I've found. May it be soon.
Until then, I'm doing my own Happy Dance. "I'm a Wiccan! I'm a Wiccan!"
Merci, Bondye, pour l'amore!
Dancing Daughter O'Batala!!!!
Two things... My husband is a devout Catholic, and has supported and welcomed my beliefs into his life. Since Mom's move in was decided, he's been better adjusted to my having my altar room dispersed throughout our house than I have. He reminds me when he hasn't seen 'enough fire' or thinks the Spirits need attention. He's been adamant that my faith not be set aside or hidden, even though his Mom is far more conservative in her beliefs than he is. It has been a learning process for me, having a life partner who not only supports me, but cherishes and is even proud of my differences. Today was reaffirmation of these lessons. Happy Dance!!!
The second, is Mom's generous blessings in thanks for my helping her. She has said 'God Bless You, Gretchen' daily. My unspoken response is "I Serve." I have never censored 'who' I cared for, nor the quality of that care for any reason. Service is Blessing enough, but I am grateful for her reminders that she's happy here and feels safe and cared for. I will not allow anyone to impinge on her quality of life. That she repeatedly asks God for His kind attention on my behalf is more than vaccine enough for the Unvested Duo's malificience.