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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Growing Up, Coming Out - Guest Post

Today we have a powerful post on how to live your truth and the benefits of it, no matter how hard it may be at the time. We all have cliffs off which we must jump. Take courage, take heart. You will be understood.

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Once you have kids, every time you blink you’re certain they grew while your eyes were shut. Infant to baby, baby to toddler, toddler to kindergartner. They grow out of clothes over night, seeming to shoot up like weeds when your back is turned. Clich├ęs spout from your lips, “Wasn’t he just crawling? Didn’t she just learn to talk? Wasn’t it just yesterday…” You’re practically humming “Sunrise Sunset”. You go to rock your kindergartner at night and his long legs dangle over your lap almost to the floor. Your arms still remember cradling him to your breast, when his whole body fit on your lap. Even the younger one is always running away and ‘do{ing} it myself!’ It’s to be expected. Needless to say, it’s better than the alternative. But what you never expected… what I never expected was my own growing up, keeping pace with theirs.

As I’ve watched them grow, my kids have taught me things that prompted my own growth. My son, T, has taught me to move past my default introversion. From the time he was a baby he was a social kid. He loved meeting people, being out and about, in the middle of things. I pushed myself to join a mom’s group where both he and I made friends. I didn’t want him to be afraid of the world, as I had been so often when I was a child.

Even though she’s only two, my daughter, M, is teaching me to speak up for myself and for what I need. To be discerning with my attention. She doesn’t just smile and talk to someone because they talk to her. She checks them out, considers them. She is not afraid to let me know when she wants, or doesn’t want, something.

So the changes in myself have taken me aback. After all, I wasn’t a kid when I had my son, my firstborn. Not like my mom who had me at seventeen. I was, ostensibly, an adult – thirty-two. I’d gone to college, to grad school, had jobs, gotten married. I thought I knew who I was, had it summed up in a handful of words – thirty-something woman, stay-at-home mom, writer, feminist, spiritual-seeker, polyamorous, bisexual, fangirl, wife. But as T and M got older, I found myself surprised as I walk past windows and mirrors. Who is this woman? Where did she come from? Where has she been hiding?

Even as I smiled my way through my life, there were cracks in my mask. I burned out during my internship as a grief counselor, I drank a little too much, I ate a little too much. There was a year of digestive issues that the doctors couldn’t diagnose, some depression, some anxiety. But over all a pervading feeling that I was not really living. I had responsibilities, a family, and I wanted to do it right – have the 2.5 kids, the perfect home, the perfect husband; not rock the boat – but I had the nagging sense that I wasn’t. Doing it right was doing it wrong.

I was drifting in this limbo when suddenly life slapped me upside the head. A friend had a serious health scare; a family member nearly died; a friend of the family lost her son who was T’s age; a neighborhood mom my age with a daughter M’s age was killed, randomly. I was drowning in wave after wave of knowledge – this life is fragile, short. Whatever comes next, we have this one chance. How could I keep living in fear? I closed my eyes and leaped.

I came out as a lesbian, to myself, to my mom, to my husband. Slowly, I am beginning to live. I still don’t know what that means, or if I’m doing it right. I have been immeasurably lucky – my ex, B, and I are committed to becoming friends and remaining a family. Mostly for the kids, but also for us. We were together for twenty-one years. We grew up together. We don’t live together, but we are just a few blocks away from each other. We share custody 50-50. We are determined to create something new, to not be constrained by the way divorce usually is done.

Sometimes I can’t believe I’m just figuring out who I am at nearly forty. I can’t believe that I’m just growing up. I feel guilty for changing my kids’ family out from under them. For hurting them, and hurting B. But I also want to teach the kids that it’s necessary to live one’s truth. Even when it’s hard, even when it’s painful. Even when it’s a mistake. Because otherwise you aren’t living. And that is a lesson that I don’t want to teach them. I want them to avoid the masks and the limbo, and to remember who they are. To stay true to themselves.
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You can see more of her journey here, at World Split Open.


 

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