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email messageNEO, I am so amazed the things you write about so openly. I am learning so much about myself even while I am learning about you. You are such a strong brutha.  You don’t have fans Neo it seems like you have such a big online family. I can tell all of this is very personal to you. Even though I read some of the challenges you experience growing up I know your family must be proud like I am to know somebody like you.  At least I hope so.  You are an amazing man with a lot to give.  I have never talked to you or met you but you are like my online big brother. Thank you for all that you do. Much love. -Lawanda

MY REPLY:

Family can be funny sometimes. You will find that I speak highly of my deceased father despite his personal failings, at least he wasn’t a hypocrite. He owned his sins, including the sins against my mother by fathering children outside of their marriage. Later, when she committed the same “sin”, he more than accepted me, he was the reason I had the strength to be who I am. I write a lot about him in my Fatherhood Stories.

He was a complicated man who, in the end, was torn between the selfish greed of his family, and the son who wasn’t his. Once the family lie moved beyond a lifetime of whispers and into the open, our relationship was strained by the pressures of his mother who never really accepted me anyway. He chose his family, and I had to accept what I had known my entire life- that other than his care of me, I was never, nor would I ever be one of THEM. I am sure I am not the only child who has lived this.

The truth is, I never looked at any of them as something I would want to be. My treatment at their hands was obvious, despite my mother’s attempt to cover for them because it was in her best interest to lie to me to protect herself and to feed the family with their help. I don’t think she had any idea what her lies would do to my life and the very warped sense of reality it creates when parents lie to their children. (SEE: Fatherhood Stories: The Fruit of a Lie).

Everything that is in my heart to do for others, I owe to my mother. For whatever reason, she so feared the truth of my birth that she has never spoken it to me even up to this day, yet it is my childhood witness of her selfLESSness that makes my heart so tender. Still, I sometimes would wonder what things so horrible have happened in her promiscuous youth that she has so hypocritically buried herself behind the cross of Jesus Christ and beyond the mercy that such mindless Christianity has only closed the heart I saw give to others so easily throughout my childhood.

But I am grown now and have come to respect that, like many others who cling to that cross, it is where she feels safe. But for the man that I am who has dared to be educated and seek answers beyond pastors and preachers and a book whose value I see as only a small volume among a greater body of knowledge, to her and others like her, I am more of a heathen and a heretic even more than the man who I once called my father. For this I owe her nor any other an apology, neither will I pretend to be any other than who I am for the sake of peace between us. For I am at peace within myself apart from them more than I have ever been in my life with them.

I hold no malice against my departed father. Neither any malice against my mother for her life choices. Neither malice toward those siblings who are still alive and were responsible for the merciless and cruel teasing during my childhood which my mother was often a participant in. They are who they are, and I am who I am. I do not feel a need to prove a lack of malice by pretending to be at peace in their presence. That would be a lie and I have lived enough lies for a lifetime.

So to answer your statement, do I think they are proud of me? It is doubtful. There is an old saying that a prophet is with honor except in his own land. And that is mainly because no matter what you do in life, it is usually the people who “think” they know you best, that look for reasons to doubt you and tear you down. And it is usually the people who hide deepest behind the cross who accuse and throw the biggest rocks through some perverted view of righteous indignation not realizing that they are truly serving Satan’s purpose. While I do not wish them, or anyone else for that matter, any ill will, their thoughts or views or even their presence are not that important to my life and what I am doing.

Do I wish things were different? Actually, no. It is what it is. I do not pine over things and choices that each person has chosen to make as their right to live life as they see fit. Once you fully free yourself from the lies that most people live when trying to decide how much of who you are that your family would approve of, the world becomes a different place. Most people don’t reach that level of freedom until they are so old that the people they fear would judge them are long dead.

But I am not a man who believes in blood family at all cost. I think that is a recipe for abuse. Ultimately, family is a choice more than an obligation. Unless love is, first, an unconditional bond of the heart, it becomes an unspeakable torture to suffer what amounts to emotional abuse, to excuse away unloving behavior all in the name of a label- “Family”. As such, family, to me, is not something that you are born into, but really, the bond between you and others who have truly taken you into their heart by CHOICE, and not by blood obligation.

The strongest love I have ever felt from others in my life are the friends who have become my family over the years. I have family all over this world who are closer to me, who have shown me more sacrifice, unconditional love, and dedication than I have ever known from anyone who was born with the label. Even when we do not understand each other, we encourage each other unconditionally. We neither embrace or disown each other based upon the teachings of any book, but only by the sincerity of our hearts to want the best for each other.

Oft times the ties that bind are not blessed because we are of one mind, but are made stronger because of the unity of diverse spirits which lend their strengths from willing hearts who have chosen to become one. That is the kind of love by which the family of man will ultimately be judged.

-NEO