My own family has long struggled with accepting my husband's HIV status. When we first announced we were getting married, there was a huge blow-up...nasty words were spoken, bitter tears were shed, and many years without contact were spent. None of my family members attended our wedding. I came to understand very quickly, as I've said in this blog before, that you have to allow people room to react. And you have to let go of your own expectations of how people should react or behave when you make the decision to disclose something personal. This realization saved me from staying bitter and resentful toward my family. I understood they were reacting from a place of fear and lack of knowledge.
I spent many years pursuing them...rebuilding our relationships. We could not engage in healthy discussions, so for 5 years, we stopped speaking. It was a good decision on all our parts...giving each other room. (We lived 2,000 miles apart so that helped us give each other room too) I mailed cards on holidays and mailed gifts on birthdays. And after a couple years, I'd leave voicemails on holidays and birthdays...they never picked up when I called. Once we hit our 5 year anniversary, they suddenly understood that my relationship with my husband was not- negotiable. They realized they could not control my choices and decisions. My sister came for a short visit from out of town. Then we flew to them for Christmas...and slowly but surely, we began rebuilding our family dynamics. We would never be the same, none of us. We spent the 5 years apart, and now - suddenly - we were back to being a family, but we were all different people.
Through all those years, everyone would tell me, "Wait until you have children. They will come around." And they certainly have come around. Big Time.
It is amazing what this new child has done for our family. With her chubby cheeks, and wispy hair, she has rebuilt us all. She has brought us to a place far better than any of us could have dreamed of or imagined...our family unit has been made whole. They lavish their love upon her, and upon us too. And it feels like we never missed out on those 5 years. Don't know which is the greater miracle, her birth or our family's healing.