Today marks the anniversary of my coming out – 12 December 2012.
I have lost track of how many times I’ve written that sentence.
I’ve probably used the same sentence to commemorate my coming out every anniversary since that day. One would think as I writer I’d come up with something more poetic and eloquent, but it’s always been that sentence.
Weirdly enough, the weight of that sentence has somehow started meaning more to me as time goes on, not less.
That doesn’t really make sense to me because I thought it would have less significant, but if anything I’ve realise just how powerful of a moment it was in life. In some ways I see my life pre-coming out and everything thereafter.
It’s not that way for everyone, but for me that day I came out was a seismic shift in my reality and perception of the world.
It wasn’t the first time I had come out actually, because I had come out to friends months prior, and I was struggling with it. I had even had a four part counselling session, at the recommendation of a friend, which really helped.
The reason why my coming out on 12 December 2012 carries more weight was because it was the day I told my mother that I was gay.
It was the scariest AND bravest decision I ever made. It changed my life.
A lot went down that day, and I remember a lot of details about that day. It will be burned into my memory and I don’t think I’ll ever forget that evening.
On the night I told my mom that I was gay, I couldn’t stay at home because my mom feared what she might to do me. Her reaction was something that I don’t think I’ll ever forget.
Currently, while she’s not fully comfortable with my homosexuality, I know she loves me.
Every year since coming out, I’ve found myself having difficult time in the last quarter of the year.
I felt a sadness start settling in my soul during September leading into October (my birthday month) and just find myself strugglling – feeling like all the colours from my life and the vibrancy of it had been muted.
It had been particularly difficult this year as for the whole of November, I was hypersensitive and feeling raw. I didn’t know what was going on, and I was scared. I was constantly seconds away from crying whenever someone asked me how I was doing, and I couldn’t put my finger on it.
It felt like I was back in the weeks leading to my coming out, which was a particularly dark time for me.
I can’t recall exactly how I discovered the correlation, but I was able to get to get a better understanding once I realised that how I felt had to do with my coming out.
At it’s discovery, I was left feeling confused.
There was one day that I was feeling very lost and confused, and I needed to get away from my desk at work, because I was seconds away from crying at my desk or in the work bathroom.
I am not the biggest fan of crying – well not true, because I do not mind crying during a TV show, but when it comes to real life situations and feelings, I try to avoid it.
I left my desk, and took a 20 minute walk to visit my friend at her offices nearby.
Even that walk was a challenge, because I almost started crying along the side of the road. I had to pull myself together a few times and give myself a talking to like “Stop being stupid and pull it together. You’re a man, and this is a dumb”.
I got to her offices, and she was surprised and delighted to see me, but she could sense something was up.
I gave the non-committal blanket answer – “I’m fine and you?” – when she asked how I was doing, but she pressed.
Eventually everything spilled out and as I explained why I wasn’t in the best space. I barely made it a sentence when tears were running down my face. She gave me a tight hug.
When I explained my theory behind my feelings, she said something that stuck with me.
“Of course it’s coming up out now, I am surprised it took this long if I’m being honest. What happened to you was an emotional trauma…”
When I argued that I felt dumb because I was stuck on something that happened years ago she replied.
“When you break your arm, of course it’s going to take time to heal, what you’re going through now is the same. Something inside you broke, and it needs time to heal.”
What she said gave me context and greater understanding for my feelings because I realised that I had never really dealt with what had happened that day, or rather, not in any helpful way. I had instead gone into survival mode because it was a sink or swim situation.
My life was up in the air at the time, and for the longest time I had been so proud of having just survived it, that I didn’t recognise how much pain I felt.
Looking back over that time, I hadn’t actually cried as much as I should’ve.
I think that was because It was easier to feel numb and nothing, than feeling that pain, and heartache of being rejected for something I had tried to change, but was unchangeable. I never had that cathartic sob, and in all honestly, I still haven’t.
I can still feel my hurt.
I try to not sit in it or give it my full attention because it doesn’t feel healthy, and I still have my current life to live.
However, I know better than to just fully ignore it. I don’t know if I will ever fully be healed but I know that I am getting better. It will be a process, but one that will take time.
12 December 2012, will always be special to me. I got a tattoo in memory of the day because of its significance.
Coming out isn’t easy, and while I’m still battling with my internalised homophobia, it does get better.
I am reluctant to think about where I would be if I didn’t come out.
I am proud of my younger self for doing the scariest and bravest thing he could have done. It wasn’t easy, but we’re better for it.
If you take anything away from having read this – be gentle with yourself, and there is no timeline to healing. Sometimes pain never goes away; we just get better at handling it.
I am so grateful to all the people in my life for being my support structure. Thank you for being there for me. I appreciate your love, compassion and kindness.
Theo. Over and Out.