Thursday, February 14, 2013

Coming out… again: the story

So the weekend began with me freaking out, as I’ve been doing for weeks. I guess it doesn’t matter how old I am. They’re my parents.

So a day went by. There were no openings. We went to Argo (great movie by the way) then came home and watched Flight (not as great) and then it was night. I went to bed chastising myself, wishing I had a Xanex to sleep.

The main mistake was telling everyone we were going to come out. So everyone was asking how it went. It didn't. It didn't go. God damn it didn't go. I felt a bit like a failure.

View from the Getty
a sparkling day
When the next day they told us they wanted to take us to the Getty Museum, how could I refuse? I’ve always wanted to go. I thought, OK, I’ll do it later. After the museum. But then we were sitting at the table in this incredible restaurant. It was one of those rare glorious LA days. Chilly (for LA) and crystal clear. When I grow up, the smog was so thick and hazy you couldn’t see the surrounding hills and achy lungs after hard play were the norm.

So there we are in this spectacular restaurant. Tables are sparsely set apart. Views from every angle are stunning. I look out and see the stone buildings cutting against the blue sky, houses and then the ocean – the metropolis. Around us, we could hear the gentle clatter of lunch hour and the din of conversation in English, French, Spanish – you name it. There we were, sitting on top of the world. And I knew then it had to be then. There was never going to be a perfect moment. I was never going to feel OK. I was always going to feel like I was a kid again, telling them for the first time that I um, yeah, had a girlfriend.

I nudged R under the table. I gave him a look. He nodded. We’ve both wanted to tell them. And we haven’t. But we knew it has to happen. Trust me. We’d discussed it many times with everyone, including our therapist. They had to know. If we weren’t close with them, it’d be different. But we were and our relationship is important.

I won’t put quotes around what I said because I didn’t tape it (sorry D&B, but as tempted as I was to chronicle it all, it was more important to connect.)

So mom and dad, I have something that I need to tell you. It might be a little shocking. I'm sure you're not expecting it. And the last thing I would ever want to do is damage our relationship. I feel we've gotten so much closer, especially in the last year. And I want to tell you how much you mean to me (cue tears feeling eyes because that is what happens.) I'm looking at my mother. She's a little wide-eyed. Clearly she’s wondering what the hell I’m about to say. My dad is just looking at me. It's not a very loud restaurant and at this point, I am totally focused. So we thought of not telling you except that it's really important to us that you know and we don't want to keep secrets. By now, I'm sure my mom is thinking, what the hell are they going to tell us? I know I've built it up. But I know that once we give them the news, they won’t really hear much else.

Then I turned to R. We’d talked about how we were going to tell them. We’d even practiced. I didn’t want to bungle it like I did so many years before. So I was to make the introduction and then he’d actually tell them. It was, after all, about him.

(As an aside feels good to be going back to the male pronoun. It makes my head swim trying to remember when she's female and when to use mail. I guess it's all male from now on then.) So R starts talking. He’s now done it a number of times and I recognize the story. He is truthful and eloquent. And brave. Have I mentioned how brave he is? He is. So brave, showing himself like that. To me that is true bravery. He starts by telling them that as a little kid, he never felt like he was in the right body. It's a weird thing to tell someone. But it’s the truth. And we decided that we wanted to be honest. We needed to be honest.

I don't remember everything he said, but he basically said he now had the opportunity to have his body and brain match. And he’s taking it.

I feel him. His energy is strong. He's almost beaming. This is how he is now, all the time. It's so weird that well I'm going through all this stress, he's happier than he's ever been.

We pause. My dad reacts. “I don’t care in the least,” he says, leaning back in his chair. I see he means it. I worry it’s because he doesn’t understand. But then I think, these are not the same people I came out to nearly 30 years ago. I’m not the same person, for that matter. Life has changed. We love each other. We’ve been through a lot. My mom looks off in the distance, as if trying to figure it out. Maybe she’s thinking of what she’ll say. Maybe she doesn’t know what to think.

It’s an odd concept. But I don’t feel any anger. I take a bite of my salad. Suddenly I’m voracious.

Nothing we tell them will make them stop loving us. That’s what my mom says and then I really want to cry. Because I really thought they might kick us out of their lives. I just didn’t know what to expect. I wanted to give them the space to react however they would, though. When I came out to them, I didn’t give them that space. I was young. It was a different time. There was no gay marriage – no talk of it even.

My dad pointed out that R had always dressed like a guy and was sort of the man in our relationship. It’s true. Funny, because it had always bothered me that we didn’t fit this new age ideal of total equality. But it’s true. R is far more masculine. And over the years, being with him, I’ve found that I’ve toned down my masculine side. But I’ll save that for another post.

He did ask why we needed to tell them, why we needed to tell anyone. And I've been thinking about this ever since. I think the answer is simple: to be authentic. To be truthful. To live a life that has meaning, one has to be open. That's just my philosophy.

Suddenly I feel like I have so much to say. I feel released. The bottom didn’t drop out. My family did not forsake me. We finished our lunch. We walked to some exhibits. It was hard to focus but it was reassuring, like nothing had really changed. When I looked out at the view, I felt free and expansive as the ocean beyond.

After that, telling everyone else seemed easier. What a release.

I know there will be fallout. I know that there will be issues about pronouns and treatments and us. But right now, I feel strong and released. I will be blogging more. I already have a list of topics. 

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