• Fri, May 11 2012

I’m A Heathen; So, My Aunt Disowned Me

Here I am clearly "laughing out loud" at the pain and suffering of strangers.

I’m a heathen. Did you not know? In case you were clueless to this fact, there it is, out in the open, for the taking. I’m not sure what you can do with this information. You have a few options, of course.

We could high-five, which is always nice because then you feel like you’re in a clique, and having not been in a clique in high school, it would be great to make up for lost time. You could also agree that I’m a heathen, then shrug your shoulders and take the “live and let live” route, but that’s a tricky one. Some people do not like when others live their lives as they see fit. Or you could be like my aunt and just decide that I no longer have a place in your life — but not before telling my parents and sister so. If you’re going to oust someone, you should probably alert others and give them the reason for said ousting. You don’t want to seem unreasonable or dramatic, and communication can prevent this.

My Auntie P. (who won’t be reading this since I’m a heathen) was always my favorite aunt growing up. She was the most fun, the most glamorous and sort of this lovely mystery who breezed in and out of our lives. She never lived close to us, so on those rare occasions that she did come into town we dressed up and went to tea houses where we dined on biscuits and sweets, but not before getting our nails done — a treat since mom didn’t think six and eight-year-olds should wear polish. Then we wouldn’t see her for months or years, as we imagined her off living some sort of exciting life. She wasn’t, of course, because so few people do. But that’s how we pictured it, my sister and I.

Although as I got older I rarely saw Auntie P., we did keep in touch via email and cards on birthdays. I also maintained a relationship, loosely, with my cousin’s daughter who Auntie P. was raising. (This aforementioned cousin was unable to do so because of drug addiction and similar demons.) All was well; there was regular contact, then my sister received an email one day from Auntie P.

Auntie P. had come across some of my writings online and was not impressed. She found it despicable that I could write so candidly about sex and other topics without regard to just how offensive these things were. She felt “sorry” for me that I thought it necessary to “act out” in such a way to get God’s attention. Auntie P. informed my sister that she should be ashamed of me for what I put out there “for all to see,” and disappointed in me for this behavior.

My sister let the email slide and didn’t give it a second thought. She also chose not to tell me. A few days later my mother informed her that Auntie P. had taken her concerns to my father. Could no one see what I was doing, how I was living, that what I was writing was morally repulsive and wrong? How did I become such a heathen? I was once was so sweet and loving (heathens aren’t capable of love), and now I had traveled down a dark road of doom! If only I had opened my heart to God, then I would not have gone astray. If only I had been raised differently, I would not be writing about blowjobs on the internet. What a vile beast of a woman I am!

Here I am as a vile beast of a woman.

My father came to my defense. He told her that while he appreciated her concern, I was doing what I loved. Anyone who loved me, or even loved me once upon a time, should be happy for me. Auntie P. can’t be happy for heathens. We’re just so naughty!

Again, this conversation was kept from me, because there’s no sense in upsetting the “emotional” daughter and having her call up Auntie P. to give her a piece of her mind. It was only after Auntie P. emailed new school photos of my cousin’s daughter (the one she’s raising) to my sister — with explicit instructions to make sure the photos were not forwarded to me — that my family told me Auntie P. would probably not be sending me any more birthday cards. When my sister asked her why I was not allowed to see these photos, Auntie P. explained that she didn’t want them to fall into the “wrong hands.” Since I am a vile, heathen, beastly banshee I am obviously prone to taking photos of 14-year-olds and exploiting them — that’s what heathens do. I was going to post the photos all over the city and pimp out that kid for my own benefit all while laughing evilly at my diabolic plan, and of course, snickering at the demise of others at the same time, too. Heathens are great at multi-tasking and laughing evilly.

It was then that my sister sent Auntie P. packing with an email that explained that she was proud of everything I did (even the incessant missteps) and that she, just like both my parents, would support me always and stand by my side no matter what I wrote. She addressed that perhaps Auntie P. should concern herself with her own life and the imperfections of her own immediate family before passing judgement on me; then my sister told our former-favorite aunt to never email her again. That was almost two years ago; and outside of calling my father once to tell him about the death of a family member, there has been no contact with Auntie P.

When I was initially told that all this had happened — months after the fact, mind you — my response was to call her and verbally rip into her. But as my sister pointed out, there was no point. I could never talk my way out of being a heathen in Auntie P.’s eyes, just as much as she could never talk God into my life. The strange part is that Auntie P. had never been religious until later on; it was only after a lifetime of tragedy that she turned toward God as, what my father says, a means to cope with all the loss she had suffered. I don’t fault my aunt for needing that, but apparently she faults me for not needing that.

So, dear readers, now you know — I am a heathen. I must be kept away from your children (I will eat them), your sacred bits and pieces of cake you don’t want to lose. I will suck the life from you, laugh as you crumble, then I will kick you, call you a really mean thing like “jerk face,” and leave you for dead. Should you see me on the street, either run in the opposite direction or “hiss” at me as if you’re a ferocious cat and I will understand my boundaries. This heathen is deathly allergic to cats, the way vampires are deathly allergic to sunlight. All evil must have some method of being easily destroyed, or else we would have taken over the world by now.

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  • Nancy

    Oh, that sucks so much! I find it so tragic when I hear of family fall-outs like that, you must be so hurt and angry and frustrated because there’s really nothing you can do. I hope one day she realizes her error, and begs her way back into your family’s lives.

  • Suriah

    Hi there!
    Fellow heathen here! I received that same treatment from my dad when he found out I was committing one of the ultimate sinful offences – sex before marriage. Sigh, now I will never be chaste and pure enough to find a suitable husband….

  • kjon

    *High-five* ya lil’ heathen!

    I’m glad your immediate family is supporting you! They deserve high-fives, too!

    Your Auntie P will find a way to come to terms with your career and your relationship will likely recover. There really would be no point in calling her out only because it won’t show you to be the bigger person. Your Auntie P sounds like a nice person with good intentions and probably is just worried you’re ruining your reputation and/or scaring off good men or something equally antiquated.

    On the other hand, some people are truly poisonous, horrible, malicious, conniving c-u-next-tuesdays. My own Aunt happens to be one of those people and I got a chance to say everything I needed to and cut her out of my life (emotionally, at least). But that “call-out”, in the form of an email, was forwarded to the rest of the family as a taste of my own heathen-ness. Le sigh.

    • jen

      c-u-next-tuesdays… BAHAHAHA!

      I love this and will probably steal it, just so you know.

  • jen

    Yay, heathens! High five!

    Oh, and “vile, heathen, beastly banshee,” hit my funny bone like a big rubber mallet this morning. I can’t stop giggling. You’re a funny heathen.

  • Cassandra M.

    I was disowned by my birth parents, my legal guardian, & every friend I’d ever had about 4 years ago for coming out as queer. People who can’t love you exactly as you are aren’t worth sh*t & that’s that. Heathens unite!

    • Amy

      Ugh, that is the blurst. Heathen high five coming atcha Cassandra.

      Dibbs on being your new mother!

  • Amanda Chatel

    I’m starting to think we could totally start a club. I’ll make t-shirts for everyone!

  • Jamie Peck

    Aunts and uncles are a weird entity…they’re not your parents and have zero authority over you, yet you have to be nice to them anyway. I have received a bit of tough talk from my own aunt re: the things I write…nothing like yours, but a bit of it nonetheless…and I think I made it clear pretty quickly that I wasn’t going to respond to it. It kinda sucks, but writing is the most important thing in my life and I’d rather ignore a family member than compromise being the kind of writer I want to be. It’s worked out pretty okay so far…I feel lucky.

    • Amanda Chatel

      Besides Auntie Patty, I am lucky, too. Well, also because my grammy doesn’t own a computer…

      Honestly, both you and I are very lucky overall — in regards to our family’s acceptance — when it comes to the topics we cover. If we could get “anonymous” commenters on board, we’d be set.

      My father still forwards everything I write to everyone in his family… because Albert Chatel’s got my back 10 fold. So in that regard, I’m so lucky.

  • supermeg

    it’s her loss. i don’t even know you and i think you’re super and i love reading your stuff! keep on, keepin’ on.

  • Nila

    And a high five from me as well.

    If your aunt doesn’t come around, I’d be more than willing to adopt you. I have room in my life for a niece, even one of the vile heathen variety.

  • Cheri

    I’m one of those crazy, religious folk that doesn’t have sex until marriage and doesn’t even swear, but this is ridiculous! No, it’s not, it’s terrible. I’m sorry this happened to you, but it can’t really be a bad thing to have such a judgmental person in your life. Dodged a bullet there!

    I love your writing by the way, even the article about blowjobs.

    • Amanda Chatel

      Thank you, my lovely Cheri!

      I just want to write honestly… that’s all I wanted. Some people get it, some people miss the point. An example would be my flip-flops piece which was in jest and meant to provoke! (argh!)

      Like Jamie said, I don’t want to compromise being the kind of writer I am. I also write quite intimately about love and family, but I guess that doesn’t mean much considering the “naughty” stuff in Auntie P.’s eyes.

      But again, thank you. Live and let live is my thing… unless you kick puppies or eat the last cupcake, of course. xo.

  • Amy

    High five!

    Shitty luck about your lame aunt, but super awesome to know the rest of your family is all behind you. Keep up the writing, I really enjoy it.

    P.S. I’m wearing flip flops right now. Fashion heathen, hola!

    • Amanda Chatel

      Haha! High-five indeed — and cheers to your flip-flops as well!

  • GiuGiu

    Card-carrying member of the He-woman Heathen’s club! Was disowned my parents at the ripe old age of 22 for *gasp* moving out of their house and getting a place of my own. Nice Italian girls, you see, just don’t do that. Sixteen years later, it’s still the hardest and yet most fruitful thing I’ve ever done. Sometimes people see themselves out our lives and it ends up being a liberating (albeit painful) experience. I feel for ya, girl.