Well, I guess it's about time I dedicated a post to two of the most important groups of people to me: my family and hers. I'll start with Elise's.
Throughout my whole life, honesty has been #1 on my list of traits I want to have and want from others. I hate lying, lies, anything of the sort, it always gets you in trouble. Have I lied before? Yes. Do I regret those times? Definitely. The first lie I can remember telling was when I was in elementary school, maybe 3rd grade. My friend's little brother had one of those bendy toothbrushes that you were SUPPOSED to be able to bend every which way and it would be fine. So I tested it. It snapped in half. Stupid, cheap toothbrush. A couple hours later, this little boy found his precious toothbrush in ruins, and cried to his mommy. She asked his sister and me if we knew what happened. "No, I don't know..." I said with cottonmouth and a sick stomach. I couldn't breathe the rest of the day. I'm not sure how long I waited before I ended up crying to their mom and telling her it was me, but the relief was so sweet. From then on, every lie I ever told, that toothbrush memory haunted me, and I always ended up telling the truth. Now that I'm older, I realize how damaging lying is to begin with, so I just don't do it.
When I met Elise and things eventually began happening between her and me, lying made it's way back into my life. Not lying, necessarily, but not telling the WHOLE truth. Which, to some, is just the same. She and I both lived for a long time keeping our secret, not because we wanted to hurt anyone, but because we were terrified. Scared of what people would think, of hurting our loved ones, of going to Hell, of being separated, and so on. I lived with her parents when things were going on, and because of my living there, some members of Elise's family strongly disliked me for betraying their parents and using them, which I can guarantee was not my intention. We tried so hard to just be friends, to ignore our feelings for each other. I loved her family, and didn't want to abuse their generosity to me. I realize that that is what I did, to an extent, even though I never MEANT to. I regret hurting them more than they'll ever know. Once the truth came out to her whole family, things were difficult for some time. I wasn't looked at or talked to for a while. I deserved it. Her amazing, understanding, kind parents forgave me first. I put them through a lot, and yet they welcomed me into their home and fed me meals, and made conversation with me. They will never know how much their kindness meant to me. The sisters came around next, and forgave me. They would talk to me at dinners and not avoid eye contact. Now, they are some of my favorite friends. The brother and brothers-in-law were harder on me. Cold and unforgiving at first, which I hated but understood. Each of them had their own reasons to avoid me, and I would often cry to Elise about how much I wish I could clear things up and make them see that I never meant to hurt or wrong anyone. After many family outings, each of them came around at different times and in different ways. Some would simply make eye contact with me again, others would start conversations, and my favorite - they began joking around with me again. I didn't care how long it took, when each of these family members allowed me back into their lives, I grew inside more and more. My capacity to forgive others and to be welcoming to all has grown because of how Elise's family showed me. I love each of them more than they can ever know, and am grateful to them.
Now for mine. I know this is long, and perhaps no one will ever read it all through, but it's helping me to type it all out. Mom and Dad: I came to you guys when this all began, and Dad gave spiritual advice while Mom held me and we cried. You both asked questions, did research, tried to understand, and tried to help me in the way you thought was best. I am so grateful for your love. Now you both know I'm serious about Elise, and that even though I no longer attend church, I have a deep love, respect, and connection to the LDS gospel. You are respectful of that. Mom still gives me speeches about my lifestyle and how she worries, and church talks, but not as much, and it just shows me how much she loves me. She just pushes me her way because it's what she believes is right, and I respect that more than she knows. Mom has come a very very long way with her relationship with Elise. She used to not be able to be in the same room as Elise, but has tried so hard to get past that, and now can have quite a fun time with her and me. Mom, I know you don't support our relationship, you never will, but I hope you know it means the world to me just that you are kind to Elise. You give us food, holiday gifts, you welcomed Elise for Christmas, you welcome us into your home, it all means the world to both of us. Dad- you may have had a tough time with this at first, but you were always open-minded and respectful. You only gave advice when I asked for it, and I always knew you were there. You've developed a great friendship with Elise, she adores you, and we both love our conversations and memories with you. I know where you stand religiously as well, but you don't push that on us, and I appreciate it. I have been extremely blessed with two incredible parents who I love more than life. Thank you.
C & B: The oldest sister and her husband. Such open-minded people, who I am grateful to be related to. C - you didn't even really cry when I told you about my feelings for Elise. You just nodded your head and listened. You didn't look angry or disappointed, even if you were. Your arms were open and you've been there for me ever since. You're always the first one I go to and I love talking with you. You always have great advice, you're not afraid to state your opinion, and you're always welcoming and friendly. I love that about you. B - you never judged us. You said you had made mistakes in the past, and weren't one to judge others. I appreciate your non-judgemental attitude and how nice you are to Elise and me. We've had fun times with you two and my adorable nephew, and can't wait for more. My sisters are my best friends, and I'm grateful for you.
L & M: I lived with you guys when my relationship with Elise was finally becoming more. In fact, it was in my tiny bedroom downstairs in your house that I most often sobbed my eyes out and prayed for answers and wrote pros & cons lists nonstop. You both tried to help me through it when I was undecisive, and after your time of grieving, you've both been respectful and loving to Elise and me, even though you don't agree with it. L - I'll never forget how you risked everything for me that one dramatic night, to save me from getting kicked out. And M - I completely understand why you did it. It was too stressful for you guys to have to worry about me, and I'm sorry for all I put you through. My sister, even though you constantly make fun of me, it's so obvious how much you love me, and our friendship means the world to me.You both have always cared about me and I know M always expected to interview and have to approve some great guy for me, so it was quite a shock for me to be with a girl. You're both incredible people who I adore and thank you for always being there for me. We love being able to joke around with you guys, play games, and have great conversations. Tap, tap, tap.
A & K: our relationship is still growing. You guys have had the hardest time with this, and I can understand that. Everyone has different views and needs, and sometimes people just don't agree on things. That's ok. We're family. We always will be. I appreciate how far you both have come as far as trying to understand us, and being more comfortable around us. I know it's a constant struggle, and I'll always have open arms to you both and your adorable son, who I love more than words can say. I know we don't agree on some things, but so far we're still making efforts to understand each other, and effort is always good. A- you're my brother. You hold a special place in my heart, and always will. It kills me to think about how much our close friendship has changed, but I'm happy that you're still there. You mean so much to me, and I hate knowing you're disappointed in me, but I hope you see how happy I am. I am grateful that you guys are kind to Elise, and that you recognize she is a great person. I know it's our relationship that bothers you, not us as individuals, and for now, I'll take what I can get. Thank you for continuing to try, and for being a part of my life still. You could have easily never spoken to me again, or other harsh things, but you haven't. I'm grateful for that. I love you guys and hope sooner than later, that we can develop a closer relationship.
Aunt C - the best Aunt in the world! I was afraid to tell you about my relationship, because I had no clue what your feelings about the subject were, but you didn't even bat an eyelash. You made sure I knew that you loved me just as much as always, and you asked questions to get a better understanding. You're great to Elise, and you continue to spoil me. You're the Aunt I hope to be to my own nieces and nephews, and I've learned so much from you through the years. You love people unconditionally, and always are giving to others. I love you with all my heart. :)
Well, my fingers are tired now. This post was mostly for me. I needed to express my love for family. I am truly blessed with the people in my life. I encourage everyone to never give up when it comes to family. No matter what they're doing in life, never let them go. I love you guys.