“What was the most dramatic change you ever had to make? How did that situation change your life? If one unavoidable shift changed your world – for good or bad – in enduring ways, write it down and share it with Real Simple.”
The words jumped off the page as if they’d been written for me. I knew exactly how I’d answer the question. The emotion almost knocked me off of my feet and sucked the air out of my lungs. I’ve been struggling with the tornado in my head and heart for over a year. I’ve been desperate for a peace I cannot find, longing for perfect answers that do not come. I wrote and rewrote a submission in my head a million times before the due date. Sheer terror kept me from actually putting it on paper. I know myself. I know I strive to “Live Life Loudly” and own my truth. I find writing cathartic. If I wrote it, I’d want to share it and I wouldn’t. I COULDN’T.
I pride myself on “being me” and “being enough.” I write essays to my daughters encouraging them to “stay weird.” So WHY is it so f*cking hard for me to put THESE words on paper and say them out loud?!? Why, when I share with someone I trust, does it feel like I’m telling them a secret? Why? Why? Why?
Years of denial might have something to do with it. It was not so much shame or fear as much as it was lack of comfort. I have always needed to feel completely comfortable with my people, my space and in my own head. This was scary. It was terrifying and I kept reminding myself that I was too old for this sh*t. But I was the ultimate hypocrite. Always inspiring those I loved to be “all of themselves.” Always willing to fight the fight, to advocate and to push.
The last year has brought me to my knees. I have wrought turmoil, heartache, confusion and hurt on people I love. I have wavered between who I am, who I want to be, and what I am ready to own in my life. My inability to deal with these issues when I was younger have forced myself to deal with them now. Now, when they are not part of my fabric as I know it. Now, when it feels too late, too hard and too suffocating. Now when the storm in my mind won’t stop swirling. The ME who tells my daughters they can be ANYTHING feels like a fraud. The ally in me feels like a half truth. The woman in me feels oppressed and afraid and very small without my authentic voice.
I am also a mom. As a mom my primary responsibility is to my kids - to protect them, to shield them, to love them unconditionally. And that’s the crossroads I find myself at. If I am to lift this mountain from my shoulders, if I am to unburden my heart and live my fullest truth – am I being selfish? Am I being a good mom? A dear friend asked – what would you tell your daughters if this was their dilemma? And I knew instantly that I’d tell them to be 100% themselves, to own their voice.
That same voice is reminding me as I write this that I will be judged, I will be whispered about, I will be afraid. I remind myself I will be ok. I am enough. I am a good friend, a good mother, and a good human. I know in my gut that once we jump, we must decide if we are going to fall or fly. I choose to fly.
Today is National Coming Out Day. Humans around the world will dig to the deepest depths of their souls and share their truth. They will overcome fear, violence, rejection, and hate. They will choose - as I am - to own who they are.
I AM - #mother #daughter #friend #jew #woman #liberal #ally #41 #bisexual