The "Loving" Family

I don’t like being enraged before noon on a Sunday. It just shouldn’t happen. But it has and here’s why:

My father stole $1600 from me last year. Took him to small claims as a last resort, where both he and my mother perjured themselves by claiming I gave them that $1600 voluntarily. It emboldened them both to feel that they were in the right and the extended family largely has kicked me out of the flock until I make amends. I wrote my parents a letter a few months ago expressing a desire to discuss the situation and hopefully reach a peaceful resolution. No reply. I also notified them of some medical tests I was undergoing for early-stage leukemia or a spleen enlargement. No reply.

I wake up this morning to a voicemail from my Grandma wishing me a Happy Easter, which was nice, but then she added how “missed” I wasn’t at the traditional family Easter Brunch which I wasn’t invited to (I was also banned from Thanksgiving and Christmas). She also said that “both sides need to forgive and move forward”. I called her back and wished her a Happy Easter and gently reminded her that I DID take a step toward peace but my parents refused to even respond. I was also a little annoyed that I was rejected from Easter Brunch because my Grandma was hosting it at her apartment this year. If I’m really so missed, then invite me! But that would mean disrupting the family order.

I don’t know what the rest of the extended family is thinking, but I find it utterly absurd that I’m somehow responsible for fixing something that I never broke. Being that I was the one stolen from it was already ridiculous that I took the first step toward peace by writing that letter. I mean, who does that? I was fucking robbed and I’m the one telling the thief, “Hey, let’s work this out.” Yet I’m the one still being ostracized here? My parents have made zero effort to contact me. So what do they want me to do? Am I supposed to pretend they didn’t take my money and just… just brush it off?

My mother is one of ten siblings and the general rule of thumb is that they collectively unite on whatever issue is at hand. Or at least, to make it look that way. (Much of the family is Republican but those that secretly vote Democrat always keep it quite like it’s a terrible, dark secret or something). Clearly the majority has sided with her and my father. None of them have bothered to ask me for my side, of course, because they either don’t care or are blindly loyal to my parents. This, folks, is called “family politics”. And it is a very disturbing and long reaching tradition of the Sengenberger clan. You either get with their program or pretend to be with their program… or you’re out.

I’ll say it again for any family that is reading this, and this is the last time I’m going to say it. I am NOT going to cave to the usual bullshit family politics. I know the strategy here… 10 siblings, 37 grandkids, 20 (?) great-grandkids… we’re one giant, loving family that everyone should be honored to be a part of and do whatever they can to keep the peace.

Except that’s a complete load of horseshit.

When I had a bench warrant in New York for a non-violent offense and moved to California to avoid prison time, where was my “loving family” then? The majority refused to even speak to me and closed their doors. I wasn’t Harrison Ford being hunted down by Tommy Lee Jones, people. It was a measly bench warrant which extended only within state lines.

One member of the family, my Aunt’s 2nd husband, even had the audacity to speculate that “David might have murdered someone!” An outrageous and baseless attack… but he continues to be invited and welcomed at family events. My Uncle in North Carolina physically abused my Aunt, smacked her around, and then beat her son when he tried to intervene. He was arrested and a whole slew of drama followed… but he continues to be invited and welcomed at family events. Multiple family members have openly talked about how sinful they think homosexuals are… which my then-closeted gay cousin was in the room to overhear… then a year later he commits suicide, in part because of the pressures and rejections he faced for his completely natural, sexual orientation. The next election cycle? The family largely rallied behind Rick Santorum, the most anti-gay nominee in history largely BECAUSE he was anti-gay. Their hearts and minds had remained unchanged, cold and callous. The “loving family”. I’ll stop there because my intention isn’t to smear my family… it’s merely to demonstrate their hypocrisy and I think I’ve revealed enough to make that point.

And it’s these same people that think shutting me out of their family will somehow force me to let my parents get away with theft? You people seriously must be pretty full of yourselves to think I’d do ANYTHING to earn your inclusion. If anything, these months of shutting me out have further convinced me that you just don’t give a damn. And why would I miss people that don’t give a damn? I will never live my life the way you see fit just to earn your civility. A real, truly loving family should have a foundation of unconditional love. That’s what family is supposed to be about. And as a hardcore Catholic family, it’s quite amusing how many of you continue reject Christ’s example of inclusion and acceptance.

And I’m the atheist!

In contrast, as many of my cousins know, I’m the go-to guy for being open and accepting. I’m not alone in my frustrations with this “family” of ours. Others have kept silent about XY and Z so as to not disrupt the order of things but they share their dirt with me because they know I’m not going to reject them for it nor will I ever blow up their spot.

I have one cousin, who shall remain nameless, that told me he tried smoking pot when he was only 11 years old. The family would have had a collective stroke if they’d found out! But he knew I’d hold my tongue. And rather than give a bullshit anti-drug speech I told him how marijuana can have a negative impact on brain development and that he should wait until he’s an adult, ideally in college, to ever try it again. To my knowledge he took my advice. Years later I was on parole and had a bit to drink and needed a ride home so I didn’t miss curfew (back when I gave a shit about parole rules which I slowly learned are hardly ever enforced). Drinking was technically a violation in itself, yet the cousin that I asked for a ride home told his parents that I was drunk. And they of course passed it on to my parents, parents that would (and had) report their own son to parole. That cousin? The one who fucked me over? That’s the same one who tried pot at 11, the same one I protected. This is one of several examples of how the “loving family” has stabbed me in the back over the years.

So once again, I ask… what exactly am I missing out on? How is being ostracized really a punishment? Do I want to be part of this homophobic, self-righteous, abusive, back-stabbing family of hypocrites? Not if there are conditions attached, no. That’s not to say I want to be ostracized, but if they think I’m going to jump through their hoops to earn them back as if they are somehow a wonderful prize… well, they are sorely, sorely mistaken.

My Aunt Heidi, Uncle Mark, Grandma, and a small handful of cousins are the only ones in my family who have CONSISTENTLY demonstrated true unconditional love. They are people I can turn to and not have to worry about being judged, who have always had my back and I’ve had theirs in return. That’s more than enough for me. The rest of you? I accept you and love you all too. Whether or not that is ever returned is your decision. I may be a pot-smoking liberal atheist that has seen the inside of a jail cell and who you’ll probably never see eye-to-eye with, but if you’re even half the Christians you purport to be you’ll come to realize that none of that matters. All that matters is love and how we treat one another. Unless I’m mistaken, I’ve been consistently kind toward all of you over the years. Try to come up with something terrible that I’ve directly done to you. TO. YOU.

Feeling silly yet?


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