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.