Editing My Life

My therapist gave me the optional homework of keeping a journal about how it makes me feel that I’m not out to my parents. I’m using this blog—at least for the next couple of entries—as a journal. I’ll understand if you don’t want to read on, but I hope you’ll rejoin me when I’ve worked this out. (Who knows, maybe this will end up being the only entry. I’m so undisciplined.)

My therapist feels that hiding parts of my life from my parents, excluding them from half my life, takes its toll on me. She believes that it has contributed to my feelings of low self-worth, since hiding something equates a sense of shame and, ergo, a lack of self-esteem. And it’s an understandable hypothesis. It makes sense.

It’s become just my way of life, this hiding of things. I don’t like doing it, never did. But it’s natural now. Do my parents know that I’ve written a novel, a novella, and numerous published short stories? No. Do they know that I’ve co-edited several anthologies, including one that’s up for a prestigious literary award? No. I’ve always referred to this as editing my life.

Do I feel bad about that? Yes. Of course. I wish I could share my accomplishments with them.

When my heart was broken after my long-term relationship ended, could I cry on my mother’s shoulder? Could I share with her my heartache and feelings of failure, rejection, and despondency? No, I couldn’t. It made me feel lonely.

But I also felt guilty that I was not sharing these things with my mother. Aren’t these the kinds of things that were meant for mother-daughter talks?

I feel bad for my mother. I feel like I’ve deprived her of so much: helping me plan my wedding, grandchildren, and being her daughter’s confidante. I couldn’t give her any of those. (Walking down the aisle to the waiting arms of another woman would have been beyond her understanding.)

I feel like shit. I feel like a bad daughter. I feel like I disappointed my parents, and have disappointed everyone ever since, from lovers to teachers to bosses. I simply don’t live up to what’s expected of me.

There. My therapist just earned her degree.

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2 thoughts on “Editing My Life

  1. Wow. Very powerful, R.G. I never came out to my parents. Both are dead now and I have no regrets. My dad did meet my wife, but I never acknowledged our relationship (he thought we were roommates)–it was so close to the end for him. My therapist advised me to give my parents the same amount of time to get used to my being gay that it took me. That was a long time! So I figured they wouldn’t live long enough to get to acceptance. Once I met my wife, I came out to all my friends that I hadn’t and most of my family. I wasn’t willing to hide any longer. But I felt the same way–like I was hiding half my life, lying by omission, and it did eat at me. I don’t know how old your parents are or what your relationship with them is like, but you should weigh the toll this is taking on you. I was never close to my mother. To this day I avoid Facebook on Mother’s Day and cringe at all the “I miss her so much!” posts. I don’t. But I’m happy. In the end, I know that’s what she wanted for me. I just knew she’d never be able to feel that or to feel that she wasn’t somehow responsible. But it’s not just rejection you are risking. Sometimes disowning would be a good thing! When I told my parents I stopped going to church, you’d have thought the world ended. I never heard the end of that. So I couldn’t imagine coming out. But I would have if I had to and accepted their nonacceptance. With my wife’s love it would have been possible. Alone, not so much. (Her mother adores me.) Hiding becomes a habit and I continue it in other ways. 😉 I wish you peace with this! It’s tough!

    1. Thanks for sharing your story, Elaine. Our stories (so many of us in this community) have different stories, yet they’re similar. And it all comes down to one basic thing: our right to live our lives as we see fit.

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