This afternoon, I was at the kitchen table, finishing lunch. My mother was sitting beside me, and my father was leaning into the open fridge, reaching for a bottle of Diet Coke. They were engaging in an idle conversation, but I don't remember what they were talking about. All I felt was my own rushing heartbeat and the adrenaline pumping through my system as I considered the remote possibility that today, I would stop hiding. I would tell them the truth.
I reached to grab a few remaining goldfish crackers on my plate, but stopped mid-movement when I realized my hand was shaking uncontrollably. I snatched it back quickly and burried both my hands in my lap, staring down at the table. I was so scared. We'd talked about this before, a remote subject to be pondered from afar. How would they react when they found out it had landed right on their doorstep? They'd assured me many times before, we will always love you, no matter who you are. Were they telling the truth? Because if they rejected me, I knew without a doubt I would end my life. My parents are everything to me. I couldn't stand to know that I had disappointed them. I love them far too much for that.
My father dropped a few ice cubes in his glass and poured out the foaming soda. He asked me something, but I didn't hear him. He shrugged, picked up his glass, and turned his body towards the door.
I had to do it now. I couldn't wait anymore.
Mom? Dad? Can I talk to you about something.. important?
My father turned back and took a seat. My mother, who had been chuckling at some comment my father had made as he was leaving the room, cut off her laughter and asked with a voice of concern,
Sure sweety, what is it?
And everything slowed down. Two words. That's all I needed to say. Two small words, and it would be over. Smile. Relax. Attack.
I'd known since I was twelve years old. I'd sulked through seventh and eighth grade year; punishing myself for being such a freak, a loser, a fag. I waltzed through Freshmen and Sophomore year; hoping that if I stopped paying attention, this part of me would just go away. It worked for a little while.
And then I had a dream. The most beautiful three hours of my life. It felt so right. I wasn't ashamed in that world, I wasn't afraid. As dreams go, it was a terribly mundane one. Even if I could remember it all, it really doesn't matter to anyone but myself.
When I woke from that dream, I woke to reality as well. I am who I am. I can be no other person. Denial will not change that. It was only feeding my self-loathing to keep trying.
Still, I wasn't ready to tell anyone. I'm thin skinned. I need others' approval. If someone dislikes me, I'll do everything I can to remedy the situation, and worry over it constantly if I can't. Admitting my secret would put me in the best possible position to be hated and loathed by as many people at one time as one could hope for. The thought terrified me.
Why I told them, I don't know. Nothing's changed in our relationship. My mother works in theater, and my father's best friend is married to another man. There really wasn't even anything for me to worry about. I mean, the conversation pretty much went like this:
Oh, ok. Have you dated anyone yet? Do you want us to change the way we do anything? Will you be careful? Alright, thank you for telling us, don't forget to do your Calculus homework!
My body went into fight-or-flight mode for nothing at all. And the relief is indescribable.
It's going to be difficult. I'll have some doors closed to me, and others opened. There are some people who will always hate me. That's a truism in any case; you can't please everyone. Now there are just a few more unappeasables. Not so bad. I can handle that.
Without this weight, I feel so light. I feel so free. E2 was a part of that process of letting go. Thank you very much.
All of you.