By Jody Valley
Lost in a fire
Q: Recently there was a fire in my house, it started in the basement. The fire officials say it was an electrical fire. I don’t think there was anything I could do about it. Anyway, I lost everything I owned. It’s not like I had a lot of really nice things, much of my furniture was hand me downs stuff or things that I bought at garage sales. My clothing wasn’t much; in fact, I bought a lot of it second hand. Luckily, I wasn’t home at the time and no one was hurt. At first, I felt grateful that I wasn’t hurt, but my problem is that I just feel despondent that everything I own is gone.
Red Cross stepped in the beginning and tried to help out. They put me up for a few nights and tried to help me find a shelter to stay in. I didn’t have to go to a shelter because some friends took me in. I have a good job that I have been working for five years. I know that some day I will be able to buy a house again (I have insurance), but it will take some time. I also know that all the things I lost are replaceable, but I still feel depressed. It bothers me that I am so shallow. I always thought I wasn’t materialistic, but apparently I am. I am so disappointed in myself. How do I deal with what has happened and put things in perspective? I know in my heart that others have it worse off than I do, but I just can’t seem to let go. Any suggestions?
A: My first suggestion is to give yourself a break and don’t be so hard on yourself. You just had a huge loss and, of course, you are having feelings about this. It doesn’t matter how much you paid for things. It takes time to come to terms with losing things that are meaningful to you. There is always a grieving process that we go through.
Even though you say everything is replaceable, some of the things you owned aren’t replaceable and it is OK to have feelings about it. In time the loss will be behind you, but for now be gentle with yourself.
Knowing me, knowing you
Q: I need your opinion about something. My daughter just had a baby. Now, she and her husband have decided they don’t want me to tell my grandchild that I am gay. They said they don’t want me bringing any of my gay friends around or talking about it when the child is around. They say they accept who I am, but don’t want their baby to be exposed to this kind of thing when she can’t understand.
I have always been very open with who I am, so it would be very hard for me to hide and not be open. I don’t have a relationship right now, but I may have one in the future and I don’t know how I could go about hiding that sort of thing. On the other hand, my granddaughter is very important to me and I want to have a relationship with her. I’ve waited forever to be a grandma. What should I do about this?
A: What a difficult position they have put you in. Obviously, they don’t totally accept who you are, or they wouldn’t be doing this to you. (And, at what age will the child understand, or could she ever without having her gay grandmother around!) This situation is something you will ultimately need to decide for yourself, but have you talked to your daughter and her husband to try to find out what their fears are about your being openly gay around their daughter? Often, if you know where someone is coming from you can help them see things from another perspective and address their fears. It seems that they really need some education. Would they be willing to go to PFLAG to talk with other gay families about how they would deal with this?