My problem seems to be that I'm poor and perpetually on the verge of homelessness or facing hunger. When I wasn't speaking to my family for three years I fell into a dysfunctional relationship with my wife's mother and aunt. They both gave generously to us in order to keep our heads above water. Their caring was genuine and I loved them both but at the same time that they loved us they judged us for being gay. This is a strange thing that I encounter often from Christians. I couldn't speak up about it because it seemed ungrateful and I couldn't afford to lose their help.
When I ended the relationship with my wife I found it difficult to sever myself from her family and at the same time that I was dealing with trying to be independent from them and not starve, my mother started calling and persistently tried to renew a relationship with me. She offered me money that I intensely hated taking but couldn't afford to refuse. She insisted on talking about things that I had been bitter about for years. It felt good to talk.
Long story short, it was too awesome to have my parents being decent to me again and their proposal that we live and let live was enough for me. I moved back to GA to get away from my old life and be with the family that I missed. I especially wanted to be near my grandma before she died.
Skip to now, one year later, it's become too much for me. I've come to realize that what they see as live and let live is really an agreement that I shut up about my real life while they talk about theirs all they want, free to even try to draw me into their religion and way of thinking. I nod and smile or at the most make a joke. I'm outnumbered and obligated again to the people who keep me afloat financially. I've been silent this past year because it was so wonderful to be part of the family again, to enjoy the safety of parents who take care of me, to be around people I grew up with. But it's becoming increasingly difficult to ignore and tolerate the subtle mistreatment and silencing.
I don't want to make them change. I don't expect them to ever even rethink their convictions. I only desire to be independent enough to be able to speak up. I know how horrible that sounds. It sounds as if I'm using them, but I don't even believe they would stop making sure I'm taken care of if I started speaking up about their actions and being more open about my life. But my relationship with them would become too tense for me to take anything from them in good conscience. I would rather go live in my car than take even a meal from people I'm not on good terms with.
Now that I'm sitting here thinking about it, maybe I would feel as if I'd done something wrong by speaking up for myself, by being myself.
And that brings me to the subject of the psychological toll they are taking on me again. I have had a very rough year and don't socialize with anyone but my relatives, all strongly religious. Validating their beliefs by acting as if I have something to be ashamed of has finally started to make me feel a deep sense of shame. Just in the past month or two I've had huge realizations that I've been dressing and behaving differently (less gay), I've wished I wasn't gay for the first time in my life, I've actually wished I could be religious again, I'm turning into someone fake and frightened. I feel at times the same way I felt back when I was living in their house as a teenager.
I have in no way given up on fixing this situation but at the moment I haven't found a way out.