When last we met, I spoke vaguely of endings and beginnings taking place in my life… Change. There’s that word… “Change”. Change is a funny thing. It is the essence of inconsistency and yet seems to be the only real ‘constant’ in life. Everything is always changing around us, even our own identity and self-image. Sometimes we set out to create change, and other times it is thrust upon us. Sometimes change is pleasant. Other times it is decidedly unpleasant. More often than not, it’s a bit of both.
The really big changes always come with debris and dust. Usually, one big change reveals the need for several other changes that might be just as big, and each of those changes might unveil the need for a small catalogue of other changes. The result is that it feels like big changes always come in clusters or storms.
This last few months has been one of those storms and I think I’m finally ready to start talking about it. The dust is starting to settle and I can think clearly, now. I promised never to shy away from the big stuff here and to always tell the truth, so here goes nothing.
Let’s get the big bombs out of the way right now:
First, my marriage is over. Kazi and I are still friends, but romantically are going our own ways.
Second, this is largely due to the fact that I am quite thoroughly, no-longer-deniably, fabulously, (and finally proudly) gay.
There were other factors in our demise, but honestly, even I have limits to what I’ll throw online for the world to chew on, so let’s focus on my major role in the ending and leave it at that.
The most frequent question I’m encountering is ‘Why?’ This question often comes from people who knew me when I was with my first love, a woman I spent ten years with before we went our separate ways and I wound up with Kazi. That question is best answered by looking at what happened in my head when things ended with my former wife.
When she and I split, I was broken. I was scared. I felt completely alone. I believed my blood family wouldn’t accept me, especially after all I’d put them through in the name of being with her, and I was questioning everything about myself, my identity, and even doubting my own perceptions of myself and my emotions.
So I ran.
I ran so far away from everything that was my life with her that I completely erased the person I was in favor of the person I thought people wanted around. I cast away my spirituality, my sexuality, and many of my core beliefs in favor of taking up the mantle of what I thought the people I wanted in my life would want from me. I was convinced I’d just been confused; that I hadn’t been a lesbian, I’d just happened to fall in love with my best friend. I convinced myself to go back to Church. I began seeing a man, a friend of several years who was kind and needed me as much as I needed him at the time. We were both fragile and desperate not to see the red flags. My heart did love him… just not the way he needed in the end.
See, my first encounter with anything remotely LGBT was my mom asking me angrily, “Are you a lesbian?!” before I even knew what the term meant. Sensing that to be a bad thing from her tone, I said “No!” It would be six more years before I learned otherwise. Then, I would make a huge mess of coming out, make some even bigger miscalculations regarding my gender identity, burn a lot of emotional bridges, and generally wreck a lot of things on the way to figuring myself out. When I left the woman who so thoroughly contributed to the twisting of my heart and mind (for reasons unrelated to this search for my identity that I will not get into here for her privacy as much as my own) I was certain I wouldn’t be welcome home and wondered honestly if the ones who’d told me I was wrong and our love was wrong and she was wrong for me hadn’t been right all along…. I doubted myself and all that I believed in.
All of this is pretty typical of the world we live in. True, it’s a lot easier to be gay now than it was ten or twenty years ago, but there’s still an abundance of sources telling us that we’re wrong, sick, confused, sinners, abominations, or otherwise not acceptable in civil society. There are still families where coming out is the single most dangerous choice a person can make. There’s still so many reasons why anyone who flies the rainbow flag, so to speak, should be nervous about being identified as LGBT+ in public, even in the most progressive of places. A thousand allies telling you you’re wonderful are great, but it only takes one violent homophobe to end a life and we live with that fact every day…
…and sometimes we are weak…
… I was weak.
In all the fear and self doubt, I went into denial. It wasn’t a conscious choice. I just listened to the little voices in my head that told me I had been wrong, I’d ‘chosen’ the wrong ‘lifestyle’, and that I wasn’t ‘that person’ anymore. I listened to the voices that said I could change and ‘go straight’ like it’s some kind of switch you can flip. I told myself I’d ‘get better’, like it was some kind of disease. All the while, this very sweet and kind-hearted man was courting me and I believed in ‘us’. It was rational, logical, and emotionally felt pretty good for a long while. Every step deeper into that relationship sent me deeper into denial of my buried needs and desires. I fell victim to my fears and truly convinced myself that I was this other person…. this Socially Acceptable Me who loved who they said she should and believed what they said she should and said the right lines at the right times to keep all the sensitive types happy in their assumptions that she completely ‘fit in.’
There were signs. There are always signs, when your mind and heart are creating cognitive dissonance. Grossly mismatched libidos, imbalanced affection thresholds, imbalanced emotional investments… There were always easier explanations than the truth.
“Stress causes loss of sex drive in lots of people.”
“Your grieving the loss of your mother, of course you are distracted and disinterested.”
“You’re struggling with mental illness, it can do that.”
“Maybe it’s the medications causing it.”
“You just discovered you’re functionally infertile and raising kids was a dream of yours, of course you don’t want to be intimate.”
I was never as affectionate as he was, sexually or casually. I told myself I had always been less touchy and emotionally ‘clingy’ than most people. We always thought of reasons… neither of us wanted to consider the alternative.
I won’t get into the details of how exactly I learned otherwise. It’s a privacy thing. I will only say that no, I never cheated on him, nor he on me. We never broke trust.
I did discover it, though. A falsehood that you believe is true is, to your mind, truth. Once the falseness of the belief is revealed, though, continuing to claim the newly revealed falsehood is a willful choice to perpetuate what you now know to be a lie. Once I knew…. once I realized what I’d done…. that who I was and how I loved wasn’t something I could choose or change just because the reality of it scared me…. once I knew, I could not lie. Once my perceived truth was unmasked, I could not perpetuate the story I now knew to be false.
It wasn’t easy. We are still working through it, in some ways. He says he doesn’t blame me or hold it against me. We are making peace with our other issues, as well. We are both healing. We are friends, still.
So that’s where we stand. My Second Coming Out hasn’t exactly been easy, but it sure as hell could have been worse. I’ve learned that change can hurt like hell and that forcing change on yourself to try and be something else for someone else simply doesn’t work in the long run. The masks start to chafe and eventually, no matter how hard you have come to believe the ‘alternative facts’ you’ve built for yourself, the truth will make itself known to you and then you have to decide what you’re going to do with that truth.
So there’s the ‘why’. I was a terrified, lonely, lost person who tried to hide from her own truth in a desperate plea for acceptance. It was never malicious. There was no clear, conscious decision to ‘marry a man and go into hiding’. It was denial, so complete and devouring that I truly believed it, for a long while. It ate away at me, because even in denial that deep, the subconscious mind knows itself and its truth and it will fight to make that truth known. It contributed to my severe depression and frequent suicidal ideation, over time, even before I was able to put my finger on the real problem. Malicious or not, denying my own identity caused pain for all involved. I have faced that, owned up to that, and been forgiven for it.
The ‘what now’ is the other big question I get regarding all of this.
The future is a big, scary, uncertain thing. I’m not so scared of it, these days, though. I’ve seen more struggles, both of my own making and by outside sources, in my life than some people see in a lifetime and there’s just not too much left that scares me. Giving myself permission to be myself and love myself and be proud of who I am has made a world of positive difference for me in so many ways.
There is a woman in my life that I hope to spend a very, very, very long time with. I love her with all that I am and she loves me. She accepts me just as I am, even as I am still in the infancy of rediscovering all of myself that I had locked away and tried to destroy. We’ve had a confusing and sometimes rough go of life the past couple of months with many changes neither of us expected or even wanted in some cases, but our relationship has only grown stronger through it all. I’m saddened, at times, by all that we each have lost and struggled with and the hurts it has born for us and those we were close to, but I simply cannot regret the love we share.
Never again will I apologize for or try to deny who and how I love, for any reason or any person(s). Never again will I bend myself into grotesque contortions to try and be what someone else wants me to be at the expense of my very identity. Never again will I apologize for being genuinely 100% me, in all my weird, random, slightly crazy, intensely passionate, deeply spiritual, completely geeky, sapphic glory.
I have not shared this, today, to try and explain myself to some imaginary judge or make excuses. I share this for the same reason I share any of my tales… in the hopes that someone else might learn from my journey, or realize that they are not alone.
I share this also in the hopes of illuminating an unpleasant truth: these things still happen. Hardly a week ago I heard someone say that they couldn’t believe ‘things like that’ still happened in our ‘post marriage equality’ world upon hearing about a girl kicked out of her home for coming out as a lesbian to her parents. I managed not to laugh bitterly at the speaker, but it was a challenge and a testament to the strength of my will.
‘Things like that’ are still happening, every day. Even as we make leaps and bounds toward equality all over the world, we still have a disproportionately large percentage of youth homeless on the streets strictly because their families couldn’t accept that they were gay, bi, trans, genderfluid… There are still parts of this country where adults are just as frightened as youth about being outed because they fear violent repercussions from their neighbors or even their own blood. There are still places in this world where being gay is punishable by death. There is still a veil of uncertainty around supposed safe spaces due to the fear that our sanctuaries might be next on the nightly news as a bloody tragedy with a heartbreaking body count. People still try so hard to suppress their sexuality that they lead convincing lives, passing for straight, sometimes for years or even decades, because of the abundance of hatred and fear mongering still rampant in our world.
“This kind of thing” will continue to happen so long as we continue to allow homophobia to be socially acceptable, anywhere. So long as ‘gay’ is still synonymous with ‘bad’ and ‘gross’; so long as ‘dyke’ remains a hateful insult to any girl that doesn’t act feminine enough for another’s tastes; so long as people remain silent while LGBT people are bullied, abused, and killed (directly or indirectly through suicide) ‘this kind of thing’ will continue to happen. Yes, it’s getting better, and easier to be gay in many countries, but we have a long way to go yet.
So yeah, maybe this post ends with a bit of a sermon, but it’s my blog and I’ll preach if I want to. I will never again be silent. I will never again apologize for my love. I will never again stand quietly by while my people are abused, bullied, murdered, or demeaned. I promise not to make every future post a sermon about LGBT rights. I’m too ADD for that anyway. I will never be quiet, though. I will never hide myself or my light again. I’ve found my voice, at last, and I intend to use it.
Every story has a three things: a beginning, a middle, and an end.
Some would say that every person has a story.
I like to think that every person is more like a really long series that doesn’t end until the author dies, and maybe, in some ways, even continues after that.
You see, in a series, there are many stories. Each one has it’s own beginning, middle, and end. Each has its conflicts and its resolutions; its love and its loss. In each of those stories, we learn a little more about the main character, and at the same time, the main character learns a little more about themselves. The trick is, we might not like some of the books in the series as much as others. As both the author and the main character, we sometimes feel like we wish we’d never written that story or that we had written it differently… But what if Harry Potter had the option to rewrite his own story? Would he have kept all the parts about Dobby before he knew the whole story? Or would he have written the house elf out after Dobby dropped the cake on Uncle Vernon’s company, so that he never met the little guy and never went on to their later adventures?
I’ve kept about a hundred different journals over the years. I am a ripper. I used to think that by removing the pages from the last chapter of my story, I would help myself move into the next, symbolically. Effectively, I would throw out book two in order to focus on book three, without ever looking back at all the awesome stuff I wrote in book two. I’ve lobotomized my story by ripping out the pages so many times that I probably contributed to the death of at least one small forest and probably several Gigs of blog data. Then one day, it clicked.
Every story teaches us what we need to know to understand the next.
Mind blowing, right?
No? Not really? Okay, fine. Sure, it sounds like common sense, but why do so many of us forget it all the time? We tell each other to ‘never look back’ and ‘just keep swimming’ and ‘keep looking ahead’. We encourage people to forget the past and focus on the future. All too often, these are the words we hear when the painful times fall on us. When the hard battles have been fought and we find ourselves lying in the wreckage of loss, maybe even defeat, wondering what comes next and often feeling like there is no hope for a future at all, that is when we get told to focus forward. So many people are just like I was and they try to cut away the past and ‘just move on’ and purge their life of reminders of the painful thing entirely. In its own way, that’s okay. It’s the forgetting that’s not. The regret can be crippling.
The thing is, all stories have endings. Some stories are longer than others. Some take longer to write. Some start slowly and end in a flash. Others start out like a whirlwind and then go on indefinitely. Many stories can be written in tandem, and each is special, and unique, however big or small. Some may be little more than expanded universe material, but others will take their place in the greater series that is The Tale of You.
I won’t lobotomize my story anymore. Things are changing for me, right now. One story is ending and others are just beginning. Endings hurt. They hurt like hell and they’re never easy. Sometimes the ending rips your heart apart and leaves you feeling truly defeated and hopeless. The beginnings, though… There’s always a sense of energy at a beginning. Sometimes it’s negative because the path is unknown or scary, and sometimes it’s positive, because the path ahead is bright and welcoming. Sometimes, it’s bittersweet, with a mixture of light and shadow that makes you curious and a little nervous all at once.
The point is, things end, but every ending means you’re just that much closer to the next great beginning. Without the knowledge from the last chapter, we wouldn’t be ready to face the next chapter. So many times when people meet new people who somehow change their lives, I hear the phrase “where were you X years ago?” The truth is, you wouldn’t have been ready for them X years ago. That goes for every question like this. “Why didn’t I do this before?” “Where was this when I was younger?” “Why didn’t I know better?” The answer is always the same: You simply weren’t ready. You hadn’t learned the lessons you needed or discovered the parts of you that needed to come out or made peace with the parts of you that couldn’t be accepted by others until you accepted them in yourself.
So yes, things end… and that just means you’re ready for the next great adventure, wiser and better prepared than ever before.
Hang on tight. This series is a long way from over, folks.
I finally fell asleep… at least, I think I did. Perhaps I was awake… or perhaps I was in that stage of sleep limbo where you’re resting but aware. Whatever it was, it became a familiar nightmare. It went something like this:
So, Zeliv aka Zoe Mondoux had a Halloween sale that I took full advantage of. I’m thrilled with how they turned out overall. Maddie’s trademark bent right ear isn’t on the chibi, but that’s okay. She’s still flippin’ adorable and I might die of cuteness overload. Anyway, enough of my telling you about it. On to the art!
I’m still feeling very down. I didn’t feel like eating all day today. I’m past the sad or angry waves of depression and into the blank, numb feelings. I know there’s no logic to my feelings (or lack thereof, today). I had a few bright moments, today, which is nice. Kaz made me smile a couple times and I got something resembling mild excitement when I saw my artwork was done. I’m not functionally suicidal or actively self-harming, so please, don’t worry about that. I’m not going anywhere and I’m not damaging myself, despite the occasional urges my brain pushes through. I’m still in control so far. Having people who care helps with that a lot. I know I wouldn’t just be hurting myself if I started cutting again, or worse, tried to leave this plane of existence. I’m a nurturer at heart… It works in my favor in this. Thank you, Khas and Torchic for your encouraging words. I will be seeing a new therapist in just under two weeks. Hopefully they can help.
I can’t believe I’m doing this, but I’m about to quote country music at you…
“Life’s a dance you learn as you go
Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow.
Don’t worry ’bout what you don’t know.
Life’s a dance you learn as you go.”
-John Michael Montgomery in “Life’s a Dance”
So, growing up, I was exposed to all kinds of music, including 90’s country. Growing up in the Lone Star State, how could I not be exposed to more country caterwauling than any one human should ever have to endure? I digress…
This song is one of a select few that’s stuck with me my whole life since.
I’ve traveled an interesting road. I spent a couple years wandering the country, homeless and broke, with my ex wife. Spent ten years of my life trying to be someone I wasn’t for a multitude of reasons, none of which were all that good. I’ve taken part in spiritual practices that would make your hair stand on end. I remarried, to a man I met on the internet and moved across the country to be with him. I’ve made good decisions along the way, but also made a lot of bad ones. I’ve lived in seven different states and seen more people pass in and out of my life than I care to count. I’ve burned bridges that might have been better left intact; I’ve held onto people and things that might have been better thrown overboard. Each chapter of my life is full of stories, good and bad; enough to fill several books with, I’m sure.
All the time, I was learning. I was stumbling, falling down, tripping on my own feet, picking myself back up, tripping over other people, breaking down one wall, running into the next… But here’s the thing…
I regret nothing.
Most people don’t believe me when I say that. The more of my story they know, the harder it is for them to believe.
Every piece of my story, every single line, has made me who I am today, and you know what?
I’m pretty fucking awesome!
I’m smart, geeky, curious, capable, and hell, I’ll say it: I’m beautiful! I’m so many things, but most of all, I’m self-aware. I’m not afraid to make mistakes and I’m not afraid to admit when I’m wrong. I’ve learned to do all the cliches like taking the good with the bad and getting back on the horse and… you get the idea.
Am I always happy? No. Certainly not, that’s ridiculous. No one is happy all the time. I cry, scream, flail, and even wallow in depression sometimes. The difference between me-that-is and me-that-was is that once I pull myself up by my bootstraps again, I move on and move up. I know that each experience has taught me something that will serve me well, going forward. That lesson might be something simple like, “Watch where you’re going or you’re going to kick the bed and crack your toe.” Sometimes, the lessons are far more profound. Occasionally, the lessons are life-changing.
So, this is me, World. Take it or leave it. I’m the full package, with storied past and plenty of flaws, but if you can get past that, there’s a whole lot of awesome in here that I’m happy to share.
As a wise baboon once said,
“The past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it.”