Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.
– Harriet Beecher Stowe
The last few months have marked a sea change in my life. No specific event has stirred the waters – rather, it has been an appropriate, gentle, and natural reversal of my own magnetic poles. A new season has arrived, one that has allowed me to bring forth that which I hold inside (there is so much), and to take back that which served to cover and protect me. These days are the very beginning. There is much to write about.
The first things to swirl to the surface during this new season have been my fears. I don’t want to dwell on them, but I do want to address them. Ever since I was a young child, I have keenly felt anxiety and fear. Today, I remain much the same. I fear power and abusers of power. I fear the people who have loved me the most. I fear myself, and I fear the harm I have imagined I am responsible for. I fear death. Most of all, I fear shame.
All the while, I have allowed shame to absolutely rule and repress me. This has gone on too long. I’m ready to face my demons.
Historically, I have been successful in hiding my fear. Almost since my college years, my life has been a double life, known to none (but suspected by a few). I went through the happy motions in all areas of life, while secretly experiencing crushing pain and shame within. Truly, I feel like I have been wearing a mask for most of the last decade – one that has come dangerously close to slipping off and revealing my real face.
Perhaps I’ve already admitted too much. Sharing this with you creates a wild feeling in my chest and head, as if I am windmilling over a great canyon that will plummet me down from civilization. It would be the great fall, my descent. Maybe you’ll realize this, and want to give me a helping shove.
As soon as I committed to writing this short piece, the voices began again – you’re unlovable, you’re ungrateful, you’re deceitful, you’re masochistic, you’re a liar, you should be ashamed of yourself. Shame, the message is always shame.
Yes, I have difficulty believing I am lovable. In terrible isolation I have believed “you couldn’t love me if you knew who I really was.” But I am learning to love myself now, and maybe you can too, because the tides are turning.
The voices say I am ungrateful and selfish by writing this. Yes, at times I have felt awful for not enjoying what amounts to a wonderful life, and for giving in to suffering. Perhaps that is true. All I know is that by keeping it to myself for ten-plus years, I was most certainly eliminating any chance of growing into authenticity, gratitude, and genrosity. Now I am opening my sails, and again, the tides are turning.
The voices say I am a liar – that I am pretending to suffer, or pretending to be honest. Perhaps, this too, is true. I do feel shame for pretending to be who I am not – mainly through people pleasing and unhealthy dependent behaviors. But even this pretending served a purpose, namely that it allowed me some safety and room to grow into this present time of blooming and coming out. Once more, the tides are turning.
Two of my siblings, one of my cousins, and one of my dear friends have gone through the experience of coming out in terms of embracing their sexual identity. While this post is not directly about my own sexuality, I am greatly inspired by each of their bravery to become who they were. The safest thing in the world is to follow the prescribed course.
In the name of adventure, honesty, and healing – thank you to TC, CH, KR, and MB for helping me to “come out” in a different way, as someone who is choosing life and community over darkness and isolation.