“sometimes you gotta walk away and let em grow.”

i hope y’all don’t mind if i get personal for a moment. and truthfully, i probably shouldn’t write this now because the feelings are so fresh. but alas, here we are. you’re stuck with me.

the title of this post was actually a tweet that found its way into my timeline yesterday. i’ve used it probably four or five times in the last 24 hours. most recently, i used it in reference to my parents – two people from whom i never imagined i’d have to walk away.

but alas, here we are.

all my life, my family has been a proud family of three — just me, my mom, and my dad. after graduating from college and before i left home for graduate school, i lived with my parents for about two years. in that time, i grew to cherish the relationship that we’d built. my mom and i had found common ground; my dad and i talked endlessly about politics – we loved it. it was our thing, and i began to see that my dad respected my perspective. but more than that, my parents and i grew close. we loved each other, and we enjoyed each other. we liked being around one another.

i remember the day we gathered in my bedroom and watched Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon on the tiny 13 inch tv my parents got me when I was, like, 9. that story was one i told for years. we had the works set up in the den – stereo surround sound, plasma screen mounted on the wall, a couch. yet, there we were. the three of us. smashed onto my childhood bed. watching Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon on a 13 inch screen.

my mom has struggled for the last two years to wrap her mind around my life. and her struggle has manifest in some foul ways. to be sure, i’ve seen the face of ignorance and homophobia real close up. and it is ugly. aint nothing pretty or pleasing about it.

but i’d come to expect blowback from my mom. i know who she is. i know where she comes from. i know the people with whom she surrounds herself. i could handle her better because i understood that her sickness was about the limitations in her life experience. her perceptions of gay people and what gay life looks like were woefully flawed. but in her view, she was spot on. and not even close proximity to one whom she already knew as so many other things – in addition to gay – could penetrate that force field of ignorance. such is life. it sucked, but i could deal.

my dad though. his rejection. that rejection hurt. it hurt like i imagine it would have hurt if i was six and i’d watched him walk away, knowing he’d never come back. i idolized my father. he was the smartest, kindest, most wonderful man. but he had his deficiencies too.

my dad’s beef wasn’t that i like girls. he actually handled that news well, and with a remarkable degree of love, support, and grace. what he can’t seem to grasp, however, is that i refuse to permit disrespect and disregard for my happiness – no matter the source. lord knows i love my mama, but when she steps out of pocket, she’s not immune to being put back in place. he knows she’s wrong. knows how vitriolic her words can be. but insists unceasingly that “you gotta respect ya mama.” no, dad. no. respect is a two-way street. you don’t hold open the door the next time for the cat who spat in your face and stepped on your wingtips the last time.

unfortunately, my dad is the product of a different kind of ignorance. one which affords you the freedom to spread your wings, to explore, and go far – but not too far. it’s like he encouraged me, and gave me all the tools i’d need in order to be amazing. but wanted me to stop just short of being amazing. he wanted me to grow up and be an adult, but he wanted me to accept treatment not even befitting a child. he wanted me to accept treatment that was beneath the person he raised me to be. no, dad. no. i won’t do it.

and so here we are.

it took me 31 years to see my parents as people – as man and woman, and not only mama and daddy. that it took so long, i think, is a testament to the strength of our familial bond. but also, i suspect that i wasn’t yet strong enough to handle life without my rose-colored glasses. i needed time to grow a thicker skin.

i love my parents. i miss them. i live a great life, and, naturally, i want them to be part of it. but i won’t negotiate respect for love; my “lifestyle” for my parents. I shouldn’t have to choose. I should never have had to choose.

but sometimes you just gotta walk away and let ’em grow. because if you make me choose, then i choose me.

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About moniquealicia

M.A.G. is a doctoral student at Howard University. She resides in the Washington, DC metro area, and is passionate about her love of family and friends, politics and conversation, and the exceptional meal. View all posts by moniquealicia

3 responses to ““sometimes you gotta walk away and let em grow.”

  • edna

    Awesome post! Even if people disagree they need to be respectful and let you live your life.

  • your royal phuckin highness

    Mo’ as usual you leave me with conflicting emotions; ones that don’t necessarily have to exist in absence of each other, but nevertheless conflicting…one, tears of sadness–the other, excited joy. You see while the topic may be different, having to deal with a parent who obviously chooses tradition, often a translation of dogmatic, over common sense, love and respect ….been there done that. But this is your story and I cry because to have to distance yourself from those who are responsible for the union of chromosomes that now ARE Monique must have been a painful process. They were the first to bring you to know comfort, security, laughter and yes even sadness with the very first understood, “NO.” They put clothes on your back, a roof over your head, food in your belly and introduced you to the world. And to be moved to the point of having to separate yourself for the sake of your emotional and psychological health is heart-wrenching. I cry because my father is gone and though we came to grips on some issues and loved each other very much, God closed the door before we could get our shit together…he gave us enough time… we just let time fly and now..well…now is now. So it is my hope, my prayers that the door doesn’t close before folks get their shit together… and so I cry for you.
    BUT
    Then I am excited for you because you have come to the place where you understand, “if I don’t love me the best, first and foremost, how can I possibly really know love. To love yourself such that you stand firm and say… “I don’t do that to myself so I’ll be damn if you are!” well that is sometimes a difficult place to be. However it makes it eventually makes it easier to walk away from future situations where you love, adore and value a friendship, but recognize that hey, “you are not good for me.” I am happy cuz now that negative energy is sliding off your shoulders, down ya back and on to the ground and you have more time to promote new and healthy relationships, projects, goals etc.

    I love ya Mo’. You are one of the most transparent people I know and I don’t mean that in a negative way. When I talk to you…it is CLEAR that you are listening. When you talk to me…it is CLEAR that your words are thoughtful. You are one of those friends that even though we don’t hang all out all the time and time passes–when we get together… we are where we are and we grovin’ like we just spoke yesterday. Know that you are valued and loved by me… oh and as opposed to popular belief… I KNOW GOD OBVIOUSLY LOVES YOU!!!! HE SHO’ CREATED A WONDERFUL FRIEND IN YOU!!!! MMMMMMWWWWWAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!

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