I had to learn a long time ago that my nuclear birth family is just not a family I can ever depend on. In many ways I am still learning this hard lesson, even though I’ve already known it to be true for years.
I’m pretty sure my father didn’t want any children, and the only reason I am here today is because my mother insisted on carrying me to term. For my entire life, my father was always hostile to me. I never saw him lay a hand on my mom, but he would verbally abuse her all the time, and when I rushed to defend her, he would unleash all his violence on me instead. Sometimes I wouldn’t even be doing anything wrong, he’d just slap me around because I guess he figured I needed it. He is a narcissist and a bully, the kind of total asscracker who delights in making people smaller than him feel helpless and dependent on him. Let me tell you, my father couldn’t STAND it when I came to Set at age 14. He claims to be Christian, yet I have never once seen the man read a Bible or go to church. When he learned about my coming to Set, he suddenly became concerned for my immortal soul and did everything he could think of to make me NOT be Setian. He took away my Egyptology books and pounded me good whenever he caught me whispering prayers to Big Red. Whenever I tried to explain my position to him in logical terms, he’d either hit me some more, scream at me about how I’m in a “dangerous cult,” or both. Here, finally, was something he could never control or take away from me, no matter what he might do to me physically...and it drove him completely apeshit.
Before I met the Tonester when we were seniors in high school, my mother was my best friend growing up. She was the one who got me into monster movies and ancient Egypt in the first place. I think she’s loved both of these things since she was little, just like me. And when my religious conversion happened, she never treated me like a bizarre cultist. She was always interested to know why I thought what I thought, and I remember her once reflecting that in her view, “God wears many masks” and I am just “following God” in my own way, which I always felt was a lovely thing to say. So whenever my father went off on my mother, raising his voice and shouting and calling her names and accusing her of being a bad or disappointing person, it was really hard for me not to insert myself between them. Stop talking to my Momma that way, motherfucker! And that’s about when things would spill over and turn violent. I suppose I could have avoided some of the violence by just keeping my mouth shut and not defending my Ma, but I never could learn how to do that. She was always good to me and I loved her and I hated seeing her be dominated and diminished by this tyrannical prick.
One time my father was tearing into my mom and I defended her, only to have him assault me right there in the living room. And when I fought back to defend myself, he called the police to have me removed, and I spent a night in the drunk tank–all because I loved my mother. The next day my parents were there when I was released, and my father was crying like a baby. “I didn’t mean for this to happen, son, I didn’t think they were actually going to take you away, I just wanted them to scare some sense into you.” Yeah dad, because that’s how 911 works. Emergency services only exist to back you up when you’re angry at mom and you want to take it out on me. So I said fuck them apples, man, I’m outta here. I went to go live with a friend for a couple of years (which also turned out to be a really bad idea; Al was the guy who eventually got mad while he was drunk and pulled a gun on me in the middle of night; thankfully the gun wasn’t loaded and I was able to get out of there, but still, that was the end of that friendship). It is only by the grace of Set that I hauled my ass out of both those toxic situations and created an entirely new life for myself far across the country, and with nothing but a couple $100 bills and a duffel bag filled with tattered old clothes.
That might sound hyperbolic, but I mean it quite literally. I left everyone and everything I knew (including the Tonester, my brother in Set and only friend at the time) to ride a Greyhound for a week to meet this woman I had met on the internet. As the bus carried me across state lines, I saw the most beautiful thunderstorm I have ever seen, reverting the sunset to midday with near-continuous forks of lightning streaking across the open plains all at once. I cried, sensing it was Set giving me a “light show” to confirm I would never be going back to the hell I’d just crawled out from, and that a wonderful new future lay ahead. I passed through Memphis, Tennessee on this trip too, and I had no idea the Memphis Pyramid even existed until I saw it with my own two eyes that day, which chilled me to the bone.
Then I met the woman I had made this journey to meet, and she ended up becoming Mrs. Marian (or rather, I became Mr. Marian, since I decided to take her name when we were married). Then I met all my wonderful in-laws and my other two siblings-in-Set, Blackwyn and Sister Bean; plus I got a job working in the academic sector. I’ve met people at work who have since become more like family to me than anyone in my nuclear bio-family, and I thank Set for each and every one of these people every day. And the only reason I’ve met any of them is because I logged onto a Pagan message board one day to hopefully meet other Setians, and I ended up meeting my wife. (Then we ended up raising three cats, who are our children). This would never have happened if I had not come to Set as a teenager. I would not have MY family, and they would not have me. This is not exactly “proof” that Set is objectively real, of course, but hopefully you might understand why it’s proof enough for me. Khepera Kheper Kheperu; I transform, and by my transformations, others too are transformed.
Life has been good to me in the years since that glorious and terrifying transformation; but the same is not true for my nuclear bio-family. I haven’t experienced most of what’s happened directly, so there are many sub-stories that aren’t mine to tell. (There are other sub-stories that are indeed mine to tell, but which require a great deal of time and effort to do so.) I’ll just say my mother finally had enough of my father’s bullshit and left him, that she went to stay with my aunt (her sister), that I had to fly out there to personally take her to the emergency room when she tried to hurt herself, and that she hasn’t really spoken to me ever since. I’m not entirely sure this is deliberate on her part, as she doesn’t really talk to anyone anymore. For reasons that are uncertain but clearly existent, she felt it necessary to sneak away from my father while he was asleep in the middle of the night, and there is only one reason a woman tries to get away from her husband like that. When I flew out to see her at my aunt’s, she looked like a ghost. I can’t say what my father might or might not have done to my mother, but it’s clear enough that something happened, and whatever it was, she didn’t do it to herself. This woman who was my best friend growing up is now practically catatonic. It’s been a year since this all took place, and things have not improved at all. My mother was just admitted to the hospital for trying to hurt herself again yesterday (May 24), which I guess is what moved me to write all of this.
I have not spoken to my father since August. When he found out I flew out to see my mother and put her in the hospital, he couldn’t stop singing my praises—”You’re such a good dutiful son!”–but as soon as he realized I wasn’t going to give him her location or hospital room number so he could call her and harass her during her stay, such formalities went straight out the fucking window. Next thing I know, he’s screaming at me on the phone about me “inserting” myself into his marriage. Then he took the ultimate cheap shot (“It’s that devil cult you’re in, isn’t it? Satan’s making you turn against your own family!”). Just in case this cesspool of human garbage on two legs happens to be reading these words right now, I have just one thing to tell him: Set is and has always been a better Father to me than you ever were. I turn to you for help and I’m beaten down and alienated; I turn to Set for help, and I’m blessed with a life of agency, self-ownership, and love. Even if Set is just a goddamn fairy tale, He is still be a better parent, guardian, and role model than you. Maybe if you can pull your head out of your ass and admit you’ve got some serious problems and start seeking some help, we can talk to each other again. But I will not be controlled or bullied or manipulated by ANYONE, Set be praised, not even by a blood relation. SET IS MIGHTY, AND SO AM I!
I don’t really know why I am writing all this, except perhaps to exorcise some demons. Maybe someone else out there is dealing with a similar situation. Maybe you live with someone who is horrible to you and who wants to disenfranchise you of your personal sovereignty. Maybe it’s because of your faith, or maybe it’s your sexual orientation or something else that’s integral to your identity somehow. Maybe you can’t leave, or you are scared to because it presents a whole bunch of other problems you aren’t sure you can handle. I can’t tell you what to do, because everyone’s circumstances are different. But I can tell you that you aren’t alone, that you are not bad or ugly or wrong, and that you are beautiful no matter what your tormentor(s) might tell you. And if you ever need a guiding hand or some extra strength and steel, there is Someone Upstairs who knows exactly what it feels like to be you. Set will not wave any magic wands or solve all your problems for you, but He will help you unleash the little Set that’s deep within you. And that kind of firepower is difficult to match.