I recently received a letter from my aunt, my father’s sister. Even before opening it I knew it was an invitation for the annual family get-together on May Long. I also expected and received, a long list of reasons why she was hurt due to me not going last year. Now, I am used to receiving free guilt trips every time I try to make a decision regarding my own personal mental health and physical well-being. I end up deciding to attend these annual functions, usually against my gut, but also as a way for my mum and dad to avoid the one-day trip there and back. Yes, my husband becomes a chauffeur and our house a bed and breakfast, without the money.

As you are aware, I am slowly trying to become my own self; to own myself. I have had to give up my podcast series of audiobooks due to time and finances. I am still struggling to find a job, yet I am still filling the bank account with the odd job here and there. I am scared of not finding something permanent. Through all this striving for the most awesome position, I have become aware I am looking in the wrong place. My deep dislike for xenophobia, misogyny, racism and the hate towards my LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters (I am one of them, btw). Though not a direct connection, the letter from my aunt was the final decision to look into a job that focuses on the person rather than the profit.

Today (7 March 2018) I am home taking care of Richard who is recovering from shoulder surgery. I will admit I have let out a few swear words these six days – his surgery was 1 March – but I have also collected a huge amount of respect for Richard, who has spent over twenty years working with the intellectually and physically disabled. He is learning as well how compassion can be received. I want to be able to return this service (minus the profanity) to others. I want to work in an inclusive place which strives to better people (and/or pets). I want to be able to love people for what they have to offer, even if they block our driveway with mounds of snow causing me to have a meltdown.

You had to be there.

I will have to write a letter back to my aunt. I am sure she is aware of my issues with my dad, without a doubt. Her comments about my brother I can fully appreciate; he does not visit me either. As I Christian, I am to forgive this behaviour, including hers. Guilting me into how disappointed So-and-So was due to my non-visit went a bit beyond acceptable. So-and-So should tell me. I am also to ask for forgiveness. You know how much trouble I have regarding that.

One thing at a time.

I am tempted to ask for an apology, but do I? I may get one, yet at what price? Oh, that sounds rather philosophical. I have all these amazing words in my head, however, knowing me, I will put it aside and find it sometime next year, even with all the pinging reminders of its existence.

I am waist-high in courage, only I am not too sure of how to use it. Writing myself out of the lives of my family and some of my friends may not have been the best way to go. I am better than that, says Richard. I need to offer my hand out to some of these same people who have humiliated me, as they may be my only chance to get out of the Waldheim Rut. My aunt’s letter reminded me of this point, in a non-pointy kind of way.

Boy, she is good.