Sometimes you have to look past what is on the surface
Sometimes you have to be willing to risk being hurt.
Sometimes you can see something in someone, that they can’t see themselves.
Sometimes hope, faith, and love are enough.
And sometimes, if you believe strong enough in someone else, you find something so amazing, that your life will never be the same.
I have always tried to avoid conversations about GOD and religion in general. It’s always been a confusing subject for me, and I have always felt conflicted. As a gay person, what I was taught as a child didn’t make sense to me. I knew that I had been born gay, there was never a time in my life that I didn’t know that I was different from most of my girl friends. The older I became, the more I understand that difference. But, it was always there.
I never played with dolls, or cared to have a tea party. I didn’t want to experiment with makeup, or care about dressing to impress the boys at school. I was never attracted to those football and baseball guys at all. But the girls on the track team, basketball team, and especially the softball team I was very attracted to – which at the time was very scary to me.
But I was taught that GOD didn’t make mistakes, and that I was made in GOD’s image. Then how could what I was made, be so terribly wrong? It made no sense to me.
I have spent many years searching for an answer, and trying to understand just that very thing. For many years, decades really, I just touted myself an agnostic and went about my business. I just assumed that I would live my life outside the presence of GOD and stopped talking to him, or her, or whatever GOD might truly be.
Now, at 51 years old, I’m at a place in my life where I have had to do some soul searching. I’ve been looking for something to explain how I could have let myself become the person that I had become. Insecure, afraid, angry, bitter, untrusting to name just a few of my more interesting personality traits. These traits were not at all the ones that I coveted, not what I had planned on becoming. Not at all what I had envisioned for myself. Nevertheless, they were there, affecting every aspect of my life.
In that search for meaning and answers, my wife discovered two books, authors really. The first Eckhart Tolle, the author of “The Power of Now” and the second Neale Donald Walsch, the author of “Conversations with God – an uncommon dialogue”. These two books, have had a large part in saving my marriage, but they’ve also played a role in helping me to see myself as a creation of GOD. Just as I am. Perfect in the eyes of the creator, and capable of all the incredible things I dreamed my life would become when I was young.
There are multiple books by both authors, and I have not read all of them yet. They aren’t the kind of books you speed read through. There are a lot of pauses in them, times when you have to set it down to think about what you’ve read. Time to be brave enough to let your mind even consider it, if you are like me and were raised with an idea that for forbids it.
If you are searching for truths in your life. If you can’t understand how you got where you are and what you are doing daily to keep you in that place you desperately want to escape, I highly recommend these books. They have changed my way of thinking about God, love, and myself.
Some decisions are easy to make. What you’re going to wear, what you’re going to eat. Some are more difficult, such as financial plans or career issues. Some are almost impossible to make. That’s where I am in my life, at an impossible intersection. No decision that I make is going to make me happy, at least not for a great while.
How do you decide between what you want, and what you know you need? What you can’t live with, and what you thought you couldn’t live without. I’m being forced to make just such a decision. There’s what I want, what I’m afraid to let go of because it is what I have wanted my entire life. Then, there’s what is killing me inside, and I simply can’t live with any longer.
It takes a long time to get to the point where you can actually even make the decision at all. It takes incredible pain, to finally reach a point where you can see that living in the situation that you’re in any longer can’t go on. That allowing it to go on is just too painful and damaging to your self-esteem, your spirit. It’s a pain that you can’t explain, a hurt that goes beyond physical discomforts to something that is spiritually painful.
I have lived with that pain, knowingly, because the thought of what it would take to stop that pain, seemed even more painful. Until now. It’s taken me a very long time to realize that eventually, someone has to choose to put you first. If not the person that you had hoped would do it, then you have to do it yourself.
It’s been difficult for me admitting that I really have no control over many of the things in my life. Even harder admitting that no one really does, we just wish we did, perhaps thought we did. But in reality, other people’s choices determine so much of the direction of our lives. So I’ve decided to focus on the things that I do have control over.
First of all, this body that I’ve hidden behind for most of my life has to go. I am done with it. I can control what I eat, and I can control how much I exercise. I will change this body so that it is never again an excuse for someone else, or for myself, not to love me.
Second, I am going to learn to live in the now. To stop living my life as a reaction to the past, or because of fear of the future. I have no control over who decides to stay in my life, or who decides to leave. I have no control over the passage of time. I can only control how deeply and with how much passion I myself choose to love, and how I take advantage of my time in this life.
I can accept that I am enough. I am good enough, and always have been. The bully that speaks to me when it’s quiet is just that, a bully. When confronted, a bully will always back down. If not, you kick their ass!
Spending time trying to look at yourself, at your personal history, is hard. It’s a lot harder than I was expecting it to be. Trying to figure out what it was that happened to you that made you so fearful, so avoidant. It’s really amazing how the mind works, how it hides things from you. You create a “story” in your mind, and make that your reality. You cultivate it, reinforce it when you can, and continue to make decisions that protect your “story”. Otherwise, you are left with the truth that you were trying to hide from.
My story was that my life was perfect. It was a fairy tale. My Dad had a great job, made great money, provided us with everything we needed and loved my Mother beyond measure. He was perfect. My Mom stayed at home with us, cared for us, loved my Dad in the same fashion and made our home a sanctuary where we always felt loved and accepted. She was perfect. I grew up in a home that many people looked at and thought it was perfect. But it wasn’t. It was great, but for me, it always felt like something that could be lost if they only knew what I was.
My Dad was homophobic, very homophobic when he was younger and I grew up knowing that he hated homosexuals. He hated “me”, or at least he would have had he known I was gay. I grew up unable to accept a very basic part of myself, my own sexuality. I adored my parents, adored my entire family, and as a child I was 100% certain that if anyone knew that I was gay I would lose it all.
My father would no longer be proud of me, which was so important to me. My mother would be ashamed of her little girl who she was already so frustrated with because I wouldn’t wear dresses and play with dolls. I knew that being gay wasn’t acceptable in my family, so I learned to deny it. When I could no longer deny it, I learned to hide it. I learned to hide myself, who I was, from everyone. I was very good at it too.
I developed an eating pattern that made me fat, which kept boys from noticing me and made me feel insulated from the world. I reinforced that behavior as I got older because it gave me an excuse for why I wasn’t in a relationship. I could always blame it on the weight. My relationships didn’t fall apart because I was an ass. It was because I was fat. Looking back, those times when I successfully lost weight always revolved around periods when I was single and busy. I wasn’t concerned with my social status or in a relationship. Then, when I would get involved with someone, I immediately sabotaged myself with the excuse of being fat and happy. When in reality, I was just setting up the excuse of why this relationship was going to fall apart as well. Again, not because I was an ass.
Now I look at myself and wish so much that I had been braver when I was a kid. I wish that I would have had some support. I wish that someone had looked at me and said to my parents, “Hey, your daughter is a lesbian, and she needs some help.” Surely some of my family knew. I had Aunts, Uncles, Cousins who were intelligent people. Did they not see me? Or were they so afraid of how talking to me, or to my parents about me, would impact their lives in the family.
I have decades of crap to unravel in my head, but I’m working on it. The amount of it that is shrouded in anger is unexpected though. I’m angry because it’s still affecting me, and my relationships now. The feeling that no one could really accept me, the need to insulate myself with weight, the desire to avoid conflicts at the cost of my own self esteem. Worst of all, the fear of loving someone too much, because if they really knew who I was – they wouldn’t love me anymore.
I’m old enough to understand that my parents really did love me, and I know that later in life, when my Dad was older, he would have accepted me had I told him I was gay. But that doesn’t negate my experience as a child, a teenager, and a young adult. I grew up believing that it was MY responsibility to be what they needed, so that they would be happy and love me. It was MY responsibility to deny such a basic part of who I am in order to be a part of my family. I still feel responsible today, as though I have to control myself and my life in such a way as not to affect my family.
I have to learn to let go of the desire to control. I want to. I’m working on it. I want to let go of the anger that I associate with the past, it’s over. I deserve happiness, and I don’t need to insulate myself from the world anymore. I’m not going to. I want to experience my life without judgement, or fear and I’m going to do just that.
Meditation. Inner Peace. Mindfulness and living in the present. All that sounds amazing and I have been devouring everything I could read. Listening to guided meditations, and practicing almost every day (need to do better – I know). But I have to admit, this shit is HARD.
First of, have you ever tried to sit quietly and think of absolutely nothing? Well, if you’re like me, finding 15 minutes in your day when you could afford to think of nothing seemed like a rarity. Now I realize that it really is a necessity, but it’s an elusive one.
My first attempts basically consisted of sitting in a cross-legged position on the floor and contemplating how much my legs hurt for the first 5 minutes, which soon became some concern over the fact that I couldn’t feel my left leg and wasn’t completely sure I was going to be able to stand when it was FINALLY time to get up off the floor. That took about 10 minutes the first time, and I was done.
But I kept at it, and I have to admit it’s getting easier. My mind still wanders, but I’m able to bring it back. I do feel amazing afterwards, and I believe it’s helping me to see a path that I would choose for myself. I feel more grateful, less stressed, and for the first time in my life I am beginning to get a real sense of who I am, and who I want to be.
So I’ll keep at it, accept what I’m learning, and accept the changes that it’s bringing about in my life. I can see that it’s going to change things, but I can’t wait to see what those changes bring.