It seems like I’m slowly losing the support of some of my in-laws. First was my mother-in-law about a year and a half ago. And yesterday, I discovered that my brother-in-law (my sister’s husband) had also unfriended me on Facebook. I only discovered it by accident, when I was scrolling back through old posts to see who had “liked” something, and by his name it said Add Friend.
I also know that my sister has had a FB account for over a year and neither of us has made an effort to add each other. My sister and I have never really been friends; we’re just two completely opposite people. She’s interested in being the perfect suburban sports mom with the perfect kids. I’m not interested in sports at all and was most concerned with making sure my kids felt loved and accepted for who they were. I don’t get the sense that her kids have much choice in who or what they become.
Her husband always encouraged her to try to get along with me, which was why his unfriending took me by such surprise. He has a big, very close family and always wanted mine to be the same way.
Truth be told, I’ll never know the reasons for his decision. They live 1300 miles away near the rest of my family. I only see them on visits home (just once in the past 6 years) and only contact my sister around her kids’ birthdays. You can’t get much more distant than that.
Maybe it’s because I’m outspoken about my political views (which I happen to know are the opposite of his.) Maybe it’s because I’m critical of police brutality and his profile said he supported the local cops. Maybe it’s because I said in one post that I blamed Dow Chemical (his employer) for causing my husband to get cancer at such a young age. After all, my husband grew up just a few miles from Dow headquarters and is far from the only person he knows who got cancer at a young age.
In truth, I have to keep reminding myself that the reasons really don’t matter. I have to keep speaking out about the things that are important to me. I already silenced myself once, when I was trying to fit in at the evangelical church I used to attend. That felt awful and I swore that if I ever found the courage again to be my true self, I’d keep expressing it.
In the meantime, I also have to remind myself what I’ve really lost: someone who regularly read my posts but rarely interacted with them, but who often used them to spy on me and report back to my parents about what I had posted. (Like the time I submitted a book proposal: I shared it on FB for support, but not with my parents because I didn’t have a lot of confidence in myself. I didn’t expect my parents to be good cheerleaders for me, and they weren’t when I found out that brother-in-law had told them about it. And of course the proposal was rejected anyway.)
So have I lost anything? Not really. Still, I can’t help but have the feeling that when I show the “real me,” it’s unlikable to family. That makes me wish I could just be normal. It’s always my wish to be normal but I am obviously just not.