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Worried about the well being of my family

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I'm a queer Syrian-American woman living in the U.S. Not out to my family except for the times they've caught me with emails/letters/etc which blow up and blow over. I'm graduated, with a strong social network, and with an income.

Point being, if I moved out as I very much want to, I would succeed, and maybe even thrive. I'm not worried about the reaction of my family. Of course it'll be upsetting and difficult, but I can manage their anger and my guilt. What I'm worried about is the physical effects on my family. What if my father has a heart attack? What if my mother can't take it anymore? I'm the oldest of five, and I know if I move out, the younger 4 will lead much much more restricted lives. They might even get sent back to the Middle East.

The question that has haunted me for years is, how much do I let all of this hold me hostage? I love my family, and as long as the word "gay" is never spoken they are nice and sweet to me. I'm afraid of plunging my family into an unrecoverable crisis that will have far more repercussions than simply my own well being.

If anyone has had any similar sorts of experiences, sharing your story would be very, very welcome.

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  • 35-50_f_w_h3_f4
    Advice

    It's nice to see you care about your family so much. I don't think you will ever forgive yourself if something happens to them knowing you were partly responsible for it. I love mine too, and that's why I decided that I'd rather continue keeping this a secret. I'm not in the U.S, so the idea of living anywhere else but home has never occurred to me if marriage isn't in the equation. I don't feel too pressured and I don't mind staying here. I am extremely careful with my online activities/emails and such. My suggestion to you is that from now on you take a lot of care in making sure they don't find anything else out that might risk your relationship with them. I know it seems ideal to live away from home and perhaps the best way is to get a job in another State? This way they might not find enough reasons to deny you this opportunity knowing it's for your future's sake.

    Reply to Joon
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  • 25-34_m_w_h4_f4
    Experience

    This was quite the burden for me as well, but I realised at some point that I lived under their roof and under their rules for far too long and it was time for me to start my own life. I came out to them not very long ago and I don't regret a thing. I thought about the consequences of having to do that but I needed them to know me for who I am and to understand me as a person. In your case I encourage you to do the same. Move out and start your life or you'll regret it forever. It's for your own health.

    Reply to Samir82
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  • 17-24_f_b_h1_f2
    Experience

    gave up on my family a long time ago. it was not a battle i was going to win. sometimes no matter how hard you try they won't respect you for you and all they care about is their reputation.

    Reply to skyflake
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  • 25-34_f_b_h2_f3
    Experience

    The realization that you have lived under your parents roof for too long is not a simple one for families living in collectivist cultures. You have maintained your closeness and culture as it seems and so your moving out would be the effect of the American society and Western thinking on you and depending on how you communicate this information to them, they might really be hurt that they have lost their daughter to an apartment a little drive away simply because it is "unheard of". But they are also very unreasonable if they didn't hear your reasoning, think the way you thought and tried to see things from your point of view before discussing theirs. And if that is the case, then you have to know for a fact that you are not communicating to them in their language, through what they know and hold valuable, you are introducing your own and they are too old to learn. So compromise. Find a middle ground and take your time to build on it. It could take time until you observe your parents, throw hints at them about successful women living alone in order to be able to "focus" on their life and make sense of who they are in their own space. Have dinners and lunches every other day with them, spend time having them get to know you, the you that you have been resisting apart from being gay. Make a plan. Most of all, observe them-- HOW do they think, why is that so, and is there an opening or a common point which you both share regarding your success?

    When you find someone who one day wants to move in with you, thats a new step, another step. If I were homosexual, (my sister is), I would find a way to conceal this information from them until I am living alone. So that they don't think you are moving out just for that. Plus you should start off with giving them access to your life and making them feel you are not shutting them out but that you are afraid to mature differently in an American society for the sake of your mental health in terms of being independent, smart, capable and awesome Arab woman! Not the modern type, but the traditional one who still respects her family and puts them above all as you so obviously do.

    I am a Muslim with a Christian. My parents believe I will be an infidel if we get married without conversion. His parents believe that if I don't accept Jesus one day as a result I might cause their son sin. Well, we are together for what seems to be forever (8 years going to 9 soon). Unmarried. Have to live apart often. Have to work to be together like no tomorrow- and at the end the only choice i gave him was conversion and "getting" my family- and he did it. Still doing it, barely surviving the poor guy. My point is, I FEAR the thought or image of my fathers wise face getting older, and I am not there to place his cup of tea in front of him and give him comfort-HIM- This amazing man who has a head as hard as I don't know what! And my mother, who doesn't realize she's racist at times because she loves everyone so much to the extent that she controls their minds! And then she becomes addictive!

    THE GUILT!! Of being yourself, living your life- it's always EITHER/OR always a fork on the road and never know which one to take. Arab cultures. Ufff. But the solution is to stand in the middle of the fork, bring the two sides together and I don't know- build some kind of bridge, some kind of possibility, some kind of hope and keep doing it no matter how many times your guilt takes the best of you. I used to fight with my mother and leave home when I tried to get her to accept that my boyfriend is who he is and I am who I am and I need to live my life. But then I would get a shawarma and go sit near her and tell her: "What would you do?" And she would say: "I GAVE UP MY LIFE FOR MY FAMILY, SO I WOULD LEAVE HIM" and I would say: "Well then I don't know you, because the woman who raised me taught me so much about love that now I have no choice but to do otherwise!"

    Drama. But Arabs need the drama, the strong words, the calmness, the reasoning, the passive-aggressive way they go about things. Your guilty thoughts are there for a reason, you ARE responsible for your family- but will you be less responsible if they think you are a sinful person to be who you are and leave to live alone? Or will you feel more responsible, and ignore their remarks and disregard their judgments as fearful, worrisome? At the end, all they want to see is that you turned out to be the way they expected: a happy person, who will never leave their side. All the other details come after those two main things.

    Good luck in building the bridge between two impossible worlds. It's possible if you are a 100% focused on every single emotion, word and feeling without letting them take the best of you. The best of you is very much needed in this situation.

    Reply to Naima
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    Wait wait wait, why would they get sent back to the middle east?

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  • 17-24_f_b_h1_f2
    Comment

    i assume to be more 'arabized'.. is that correct? they'd think raising her was a failure because now she is making all of these unusual and non traditional decision. to raise the other kids differently they would think it had to be done in arab country so they arent influenced by western culture and lifestyles. i had family like this also.

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