The previous entry was the most difficult thing I have ever written here. It took me the entire day to manage to come anywhere close to approximating what it was I needed to say. In the end, I had to accept that there was simply much too much that I wanted to express for one entry and that I had to stop editting things in and out of the piece at some point. After the hours of writing, it took me another hour or two before I could bring myself to click on the button that would send what I had written out into the world.
What I was doing seemed unreal to me. It was something I have wanted to do for seventeen years, but I always found excuses to continue hiding. I kept blaming external pressures (intolerant parents, an intolerant religion, and the fear of losing longtime friends, for example) rather than looking at what it was I feared from myself. It has taken me a very long time to realize that my greatest fears were less about what my honesty would mean to others and more about what my honesty would mean to myself. Being honest would mean that I would have to accept what I am, that I would have to live my life as someone who is what I am, that there would be a new and higher level of responsibility to myself, that I would have to learn to live without the habitual old-shoe comfort of withdrawal and shame. So much of my life has become a series of almost tactical responses, which to a large extent is a defensive response to an environment that I have more often than not seen as hostile.
The hiding from the basic reality of my less-than-standard sexuality and gender leanings (if you don't know what I'm talking about, I lazily fell upon "gender dysphoric pansexual" in my previous entry, but I'm up for suggestions here) has taken me through some very difficult times, but even then I did not let myself believe that that had much, if anything, to do with what I was going through. I compartmentalized it to the point that it had its own neat little box in my brain, filed away as nearly inconsequential detritus and only brought out for those special occasions such as near total meltdowns or social acts of uncharacteristic bravery. Psychologically, I tried to treat it as though it were some sort of unconscious and misshapen siamese twin, as though I could slice it neatly and cleanly away, leaving what tissue I wished to retain and saving the rest in formaldehyde as some sort of detached historical proof of myself, a curio for colourful commentary.
I have come out to close friends, possibly my brother (I can't remember if I was very clear on the subject or not), and people who were practically strangers in situations that were safe and fully accepting, but I still needed more from myself. I needed more than pockets of freedom and openness that I chose selfishly to serve personal emotional needs. This kind of occasional outting maintained my compartmentalized filing system, my less than tidy separation of selves. I secretly gave myself kudos for being so strong while in reality I was continuing my private campaign of secrecy.
This internal division has created a sense of disassociation within myself. Who I am or what is considered acceptable or what is expected of me in any given situation is different depending on who else it involves or where we are, and I lose track of what I'm supposed to be. In the end, I usually feel impinged upon, suffocated, and manipulated. What I have discovered is that these perceived oppressions are as much if not more a result of my own set of rules as they are from those of others. Who gave them the lie they base their expectations on in the first place?
It sounds like I am being hard on myself, and I want to make it clear that I am. I need to be. I have allowed myself to excuse who I am in favour of social ease and wishful thinking, risking relationships and my own mental, physical, and spiritual health for nearly two decades. The kid gloves must come off.
There are very few things I have done for myself out of love, and this, I am thrilled to report, is one of them. I have to thank Koan and the weblog she keeps for helping me to realize this.
When I wrote the last entry, I had made a decision to throw my usual caution to the wind and accept whatever came my way as being better than the worst I had done to myself. I also decided that I would not be embarrassed by my need to do this when faced with knowing so many people who did not hide themselves for this long and who already know who I am. I am happy I did. Over the last couple of days, I have been so touched by the positive feedback I have received. If anyone has felt other than positive, they have kept it to themselves, thankfully.
One thing that made me particularly nervous about putting this out online was not knowing how some people I know offline who read this site would take the news. I ran into Saviabella this morning along with another acquaintance of ours, and I could barely follow our conversation, because I was worrying about this confession that I knew Saviabella must have read over the weekend. She seemed a little stiff, but I worked at not resigning myself prematurely to feelings of rejection, because she's a nice person that I did not want to underestimate.
Do you want to know why she seemed stiff and uncomfortable while we were talking with the acquaintance? It's the best reason ever. We met up privately right after the conversation, and she handed me a book that she thought I would enjoy in light of what I had written, The End of Gay (And the Death of Heterosexuality) by Bert Archer. It is one that I have already read and loved. That book was the first place I found that described what I recognized as myself, so I was incredibly touched that she had not only accepted the me that I have been so afraid of being, but she came bearing such an appropriate gift. That was not her only gift to me, though. The second gift was what she said about my confession:
I thought you were so brave.
Brave. She thinks I am BRAVE. I feel like the Lion in the "Wizard of Oz". I feel like I am brave. "What makes a King out of a slave? Courage!"
I also feel all uncoordinated like a newborn moose finding its legs: a little bit holy shit, I am alive! and a little bit zitty-grade-nine-kid-wandering-the-halls. Lucky for me, baby meese rule.