Wednesday, August 13, 2014

It's Time to Remove My Closet Door: "Coming Out" Pt.1


We all have secrets we keep.

Some are pretty small and innocuous, causing no harm and we may even forget we kept them.

Some of them are quite the opposite though, and these are the secrets that often cause the greatest harm to both the secret keeper and to those who the secret is kept from.

Those of us that carry the burden of these types of secrets eventually learn to live with them as a constant companion, along with the guilt and shame that often accompanies them. They weigh heavily on us, but we still do everything we can to try to protect them. For some reason, we feel that the outcome from sharing these deep, dark secrets will be far worse than the pain that we feel from keeping them. The pain, however, is relentless. It never dissipates and it never goes away no matter how hard we try to ignore it. In fact, the opposite happens. It continues to get worse. We suffer and our relationships suffer. However, we still remain silent. Nothing, we tell ourselves, is worth the cost of sharing our secret, so we lie instead.

We lie to our friends. We lie to our family. Most of all, we lie to ourselves.

We become excellent actors and actresses that continually deliver Oscar winning performances every single minute of every single day.

We manufacture incredible facades that even we can become fooled by.

We do everything possible to make our horrible secret go away.

and still, it refuses to leave.

(In fact, it raises the finger at us.)

I happen to know a lot about secrets like the ones that I am describing, because for the last 20 or so years, I've been carrying the burden of hiding my own deep, dark secret and in doing so, I've watched myself  lie to everyone I love, terrified that I would be hated by them if I dared tell them the truth. I've watched my relationships suffer because of these lies, I've watched myself become deeply depressed because of my inability to make my secret go away no matter how hard I wished it to and I've also watched myself do some pretty self-destructive things as a result.

My particular secret nearly killed me.

More than once.

However, none of the actions and consequences above were ever enough to get me stop hiding, so instead I  stood and cheered for those who proudly stand up for their rights, while staying silent about how those rights pertained to me. I watched others bravely tell their truth, while hiding mine. I taught my children the importance of not being afraid to be who they are, while being terrified of who I am, and I argued passionately for equality and compassion, while refusing to share my reasons for being so passionate.

Why?

Because, of fear.

Fear of what people would think.

Fear of what people would say.

Fear of what people would do.

Fear of what my life would look like if I were to tell people the truth.

I cannot begin to tell you what a toll it takes on someone who lives in a constant state of fear, but I will tell you as someone who has lived in that state for the majority of my life that it's absolutely exhausting and eventually you realize your either going to die in that state, without ever fully enjoying your life or you're going to have to get tired of living that way and then do something about it.

Luckily, I got tired.

I got tired of being scared.

I got tired of lying.

I got tired of being someone I wasn't.

Most of all, I got tired of keeping a secret that nobody should feel like they have to keep.

So after several years of therapy along with the support of the very few people on this entire earth who knew my secret, I  finally decided to stop hiding and masquerading as someone else, and to start living my life instead of the one that I manufactured. I decided that I was going to live as the real me. Not the me that I had created.

The real me is a 34 year old, Stay-At-Home mom of two living somewhere in Salt Lake City, Utah. I'm also a college student majoring in Social Work. I live in a cute little house with a picket fence, and drive a 2005 Honda Pilot with 160,000 miles on it. I recycle religiously and feel terribly guilty when I don't. I spend way too many hours driving kids to and from lessons, helping with last minute school projects, and nagging them to brush their teeth. When I have the time, I like to play with my makeup collection or work on various home decor projects. I love cupcakes, Diet Coke, the color pink, and social documentaries. One of my greatest dreams is to see the Eiffel Tower and if I could live anywhere, it would be on a beach, preferably a tropical one. I enjoy quoting lines from several of my favorite movies, including, Wayne's World, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, Empire Records, and Dumb and Dumber. I wear yoga pants just to make people think that I give a crap about physical fitness and my lucky number is 5. I'm also a lesbian.

There you have it.

My secret, the one that I've been carrying around for the majority of my life, is now no longer a secret, and unless you think yoga pants are something that a person should be ashamed of,  you probably guessed correctly by assuming that it is the last sentence in the above paragraph, the one that contained just four little words (Well, five if you count "I'm" as "I am"), as that secret.

I'll let you have a minute to let that sink in, in case you need it.

In the meantime, here's a visual aid for those of you who learn better that way.



I guess this means that I'm officially "out" now.

All it took was 20 plus years of hell and the four cupcakes I ate while writing this post.

{I guess that means that, in addition to being a Lesbian, I'm also procrastinator and a stress eater.}

The important thing though, aside from the fact that I obviously need a cupcake intervention, is that the hell that comes with living a false life is finally over. I no longer have to live with the weight of  that huge secret on my shoulders. I no longer have to live with the fear of someone figuring it out, and I no longer have to live with it haunting me no matter how hard I tried to ignore that it existed.

I can finally live a real life now, rather than the one that I created out of fear and I can finally live this real life as who I really am, rather than as a character that I created.

I can live. I mean, really live, which is something that I honestly never thought would happen. It certainly wasn't easy. In fact, my journey to this new place is definitely the hardest one that I have ever taken in my life. As a matter of fact, It took years to get here. Years of living in denial and trying to convince myself that I could live as someone who I wasn't. Years of feeling like a hypocrite because I could accept, love, and fight for the rights of others like me, but just couldn't seem to accept, love, and fight for myself.Years of pretending. Years of lying. and years of fear.

But, I finally did it.

I finally got to a place where I could look at my reflection in the mirror and have one less reason to hate myself.

I finally got to a place where I could look another LGBTQ person like me in the eye and not feel the guilt associated with being a coward and a hypocrite.

I finally got to a place where I can handle the loss of family and friends because they are unable to accept me due to the fact that I'm a Lesbian.

I finally got to a place where I can handle being judged, treated differently, and even hated for who I am (even though it still pisses me off).

I finally got to a place where I can say the words, "I'm Gay" out loud so that others can hear it, instead of just whispering them silently to myself, hoping nobody would ever figure my secret out.

I finally got to a place where I can be me.

And that's a good place to be.

I have to say that it's also a much better place than the one where I was all those years ago when I realized that I wasn't like the other girls I knew who would argue over who was cuter on Saved by the Bell, Zach or Slater, while I sat quietly next to them paying far more attention to Kelly Kapowski, but not really understanding why, and it sure as hell is a much better place than the one that I was in for a couple decades after I realized that I was different than those other girls, but refused to move from because I was too scared of what people would think or say.

So, I think I'll stay here in this groovy little place a while and enjoy it, if you don't mind. Actually, I think I'll stay here even if you do mind, so mind or don't mind. That's completely up to you.

In either case, I'm still the same person I was before you read this post. I haven't changed at all during the time that it has taken you to read it. The only thing that's changed is that you now know about a part of me that you didn't know about before you started reading and now that you know about that part of me, you get to choose what to think about me from here on out. I hope that you will still accept me, but even if you don't, I'll be okay.

I'll live.

I've lived through much worse.

Love,

Jen

P.S. - Obviously, there is much more to the journey that I've taken to get to where I am now, and I'm sure that some of you would like to know more about it, what my current situation is, and why I finally decided to come out. I apologize that I didn't include it in this post, but I will be posting more about it all very soon. I promise.

P.P.S. - Sincere apologies to any of you who feel misled because you were expecting a blog post about my real closet door.

(Update: You can read part 2 by going here )