My family all gets along. It's incredible. There are a lot of us and somehow it works. I love them all so much. We have our differences. The biggest for a few of the family members being my sexual orientation. Because of this, I have "shielded" my nephews and nieces. Not letting them in on my life. Not answering questions too in depth. Not mentioning my partner too much.  In the past, I have also shielded them from my Bipolar 1 diagnosis. This is not something my siblings or parents have made me feel I needed to do. It's just something I automatically fell into. 

I can't let them know my beliefs on God or how I think it's important to question beliefs. How I think it's perfectly fine to be in love with someone of the same sex. How it's ok to talk about if we are feeling depressed or what a hallucination is. That everyday people are suffering from inside their minds. Their chemical makeup. And that it's not their fault. 

I had the thought, "I will make an impression on them." I have to quiet those parts of me because they are too young to know. 

By quieting those parts of me I am sending a big message that we can't talk about it because it's not ok. We avoid topics that are "hard" or "complicated." 

What they might hear in the Church they go to will go against many things I am and what I stand for. They may think I'm going to hell. I really don't know. What I do know is I am going to continue to be who I am for myself and for them. They will grow up seeing a loving, caring Aunt that has a normal life. A normal life as a lesbian. A normal life as a person with a serious mental illness. A normal life as a person that doesn't believe in hell. 

My mom and her cousin, Tommy, were very close when he was alive. He was an atheist. She always had the internal conflict when he died. She would talk about how he was so gentle and kind and didn't know how God could ever send him to hell.

I am a powerful force for good. I know I have made people rethink beliefs because of the person I am. I will continue to step into my power with gentleness and confidence. Because I'm impressive.