Wednesday, December 10, 2014

This is Not My Story (but I think it needs to be told)

I've been holding this in for a while. I do not know where my fingers are going to take me this morning but I have to set them free and write because they woke up on fire this morning.

I woke up with a *plethora (I have never said or written that word aloud but my fingers told me to write it) of words within. These words are aching to come forth and be heard. My heart was palpating and the blood was rushing to my fingers. "Write! Write it out!" they demanded.

So here goes. I do believe I have to rip off the band-aid quickly and without thinking. This may be raw and wrong and too much and too personal. You have been warned. Perhaps this is the part where I should copy and paste this onto a document for my own private reference at a later date. But the message is not just for me. It's begging to be told.

I want to write this from someone else's perspective. I have not been inside of this person's head but I wonder how it would feel if I was.

I have wondered over the years. I am wondering more, now that I have heard the words aloud and I believe a great truth has been spoken.

What does it feel like to walk through your life and not feel free to be exactly who you are and who you were meant to be? How does it feel to think 'who you are' is not 'who the world expects you to be'? What if you feel this way and you cannot and do not tell a soul. You keep it to yourself. You don't share your thoughts, fears or worries with your parents or your siblings or to anyone who is in your inside circle. Because 'who you are' does not conform to the world's expectations of you.

You probably do not wake up one morning feeling like this. There must be (but I do not know because I have not walked this path - I am only guessing from the limited life experience I have been handed) a quiet question mark as you make your way through your growing-up years.

I only know what it is like to be a girl. As a girl, it was the most natural thing on earth to pretend to be a mom and a princess and a bride and have a pretend wedding and a pretend marriage. I had my first crush on a boy when I was in grade three or four. I danced with a boy. So of course I thought I would marry him. Inevitable. Right?

Okay, what does a boy dream of? I somehow doubt there is an exact parallel, as I think of my three sons and the little boys I have babysat along life's way. Boys are a little bit more rough and tumble but when intermixed with little girls there is also a world of make believe that has encouraged nurturing and fathering and being a dad.

So even at a young age, we are starting to feel out who we think may grow up to be one day. When does one start to realize they don't see themselves falling into the roles life has set out before us as 'the norm'?

I don't know. I only know life, from how-I've-experienced-it. But I think it is safe to say we start to feel an inner sense of 'who we are' at a young age.

Children of today are growing up in a world where the definition of a typical life is being broadened to include many different kinds of partnerships. Unless they grow up in a two father or two mother home, do they 'see' other families and accept them at face value? Or do they still fall back into the 'boys marry girls' and 'girls fall in love with boys' (and vice versa) as the way life is expected to unfold?

I don't know any of these answers. I have only my perspective. I try to look at life and see it through eyes with peripheral vision. I don't want to see life as black and white or straight and narrow or right and wrong or anything other that it is. Life is a million shades of gray intermixed with every color of the rainbow. Life is complicated. Life is not what it appears to be.

So take all of these questions and interject them into a young child who grew up in the 1930's. A time where people didn't air their dirty laundry. A time when modesty in every way was the norm. A time when you 'didn't talk about those things'. A time when (at least from my perspective in this generation I am living in) life appeared to be black and white (even though you have to know that all of the colors and shades and hues of life were and always have been there).

What if ... you grew up in that generation and you 'knew' you were never going to fall into the roles you saw modeled throughout your life? What if ... you knew you didn't have 'those feelings' that would bring marriage and children into your world? What if ... your own mother didn't even know the definition of the word "homosexual"? And what if ... 'that' is exactly who you were discovering yourself to be?

What if ... you never ever told anyone your most innermost truth? What if ... you lived your entire life time being the absolute best person you knew how to be - the kindest, most compassionate, caring and empathetic person ... and never admitted 'who you were' aloud to anyone in your inner circle?

What if ... you moved away from your family so you could live your life as honestly as you dared thousands of miles away? What if ... even within that life oh-so-far-away, you felt the need to keep your secret from those you worked with, befriended and came to know?

What if ... you knew no other way than living your life as you knew it and it wasn't who you really were inside? What if ... you felt you were carrying the world's biggest secret inside of yourself because you could not say the words out loud?

I cannot begin to know what it is like to walk in another person's shoes. I try them on but they just don't fit. They are uncomfortable and unfamiliar and when I take a step, I have to shake them off immediately because they are all wrong for me.

So I look at those 'shoes'. I admire them for what they are, on the person who is wearing them. My feet ache when I think of my feet 'in those shoes' but I still try to imagine what it is like for the person who can wear them.

Personally ... I know I cannot hold secrets inside of myself. They have to seep out to those I trust. It started very, very slowly a very, very long time ago. But what I realized is there is no greater feeling than the feeling of befriending 'someone who knows all about you and likes you anyway'. I discovered this within my friends and I have learned to trust more people with 'who I really am'.

Someone I know and admire and respect and trust in a way I would feel about my own father entrusted me with their 'secret'. What they told me did not change one thing I felt about them. I admired, respected and trusted them even more than ever before when they said the words they had held inside for a lifetime.

I am angry at a world that would make an individual feel the need to protect themselves by keeping silent. I am angry at a world that judges and hates and labels. I am angry that anyone would feel the need to keep a secret locked inside of themselves ever since that secret was nothing more than a wisp of wondering.

I am grateful our world is becoming more open and honest and brave souls have opened doors of communication and knowledge and understanding to make it easier for the children growing up in this scary place.

I am beyond grateful this person finally said the words aloud. Words, once spoken release the power that holds you hostage when you keep them locked inside.

I have written all of these words yet I have not said the words aloud. "I am gay", he told me. And it did not change one thing. Not one.

There is absolutely nothing in this world you could tell me that would change the way I think of you. Nothing. 

The delicate house of cards he has built around himself has started to fall. A whole 'deck of cards' has been strewn about at a time when he was already in a fragile and delicate place. He is exactly where he needs to be to help him pick up the cards and rearrange them into 'the hand he was dealt'.

But it is not going to be easy. He has lived in that 'house' his whole life. It's hard to begin again at any age. At age 85, I would imagine 'this' is the last place he thought he would be.

My heart is aching for this gentle, gentle soul who I admire in a way I admire no one else. He entrusted me with his words and Mom asked me if I thought he told me so I could tell others.

I am telling you now. This is not my story. I am only guessing. I don't know how it feels to be in his shoes. I am grateful he spoke to me. I will be ever-so-gentle with his truth. He is special in every way. Always has been. Always will be. Nothing has changed.

*Plethora - a large or excessive amount of (something). Synonyms: excess, overabundance, superabundance, surplus, glut, superfluity, surfeit, profusion

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