Thanksgiving is a weird holiday for me. In some ways it’s a very personal, introspective time. For the last three years it has come right after the anniversary of my discovering that I’m not straight, and the immediate EUPHORIA that discovery brought. And also, for the last three years, just after the return of this euphoria (and it always returns, hooray!) I gather with an extended family for a traditional holiday. I think that regardless of how my family is structured, I will probably always gather with these people on this holiday – well, not always, but as long as the older members are alive… I appreciate the spirit in which my family has accepted me. I married into this small, kind clan, and they continue to regard me as theirs. I expect that will always be the case.
But in the midst of this, I wonder about insulation versus isolation. I wonder about the slowness of my coming out process. I wonder about what next Thanksgiving will bring. And when I say “wonder” I mean both “wonder” and “worry.” I mean, I like the feeling of insulation that this family situation provides. I like feeling accepted over time, through some rather radical changes. I like knowing that I can blog here and then get up and take care of my children every day. I like knowing I can be out where I am ready to be out, and, frankly, that I can hide where I’m not ready to be out.
But – BUT – this insulation also brings isolation. I have a community of women who are ready to embrace me. I meet up with them occasionally, and they are soooooo supportive and so wonderful to me. And I have folks I’ve “met” online in various ways, who have offered support for the authentic core of myself that I’ve shown here and elsewhere. But staying where I am means – well, staying where I am. It means NOT reaching out to that community of women who I know for a fact are reaching out to me. It means NOT being able to be available, totally, as MYSELF, to others.
It’s a fine line. It’s really my decision how out I am in any given situation. And it’s really my decision how I decide to treat myself – which is where the loneliness comes and goes. So of course my Abe-Hicks quote for the night, the one that came RIGHT up on my start page, heh, fits exactly:
You would all be all right with who you are if you had been making your decisions based upon how they feel to you all along. But it is because you have been trying to evaluate yourself through the eyes of others… Oh, it is really an interesting thing how whatever powers-that-be choose the way you should look. And then you compare with that and come short almost every time… Because they have AIR BRUSHES and really good lenses in their cameras… You are so hard on yourselves when you are someplace different than where you want to be. And that is what this message is all about. You must soothe yourself into emotional comfort before your desires can become manifest. You cannot hold yourself in disrespect of self and get what you want.
– Abraham-Hicks –
See? I look at my family of origin and through their eyes I am a sinner. I look at the family I married into and through their eyes I’ve changed a whole lot and they’d probably be happiest if I stayed at this level of changed-ness. I look at the community waiting to embrace me and through their eyes I’m really moving slowly. I look at my online support network and I wonder if all of this processing just looks like hubris.
But if I look at MYSELF, I see a woman on a life-long journey to self-discovery and self-actualization. If I look at myself, I see a woman who has navigated the wide open spaces of enormous change. I see a woman who has expanded, rather than narrowed, her relationships and her base of support. I see a woman with a big heart.
My friend turned forty just over a month ago. She comes from an extremely close-knit family, and she is the youngest sibling. For every sibling, when they turn forty the family gathers and her mother (a gourmet cook who, based on photos I’ve seen, would with Culinary Throwdowns without breaking a sweat, wow!) spends a week cooking a huge feast from scratch. The siblings take turns toasting/roasting the new forty year old, and everyone leaves happy. Last night was my friend’s forty-year-old party. Her husband is one of those super sweet fellas who, when it came time for him to toast his wife, teared up and became unable to speak for several moments, after which he stammered out “You have my heart.” This gave way to many grizzly and ribald jokes about heart surgery and so forth, after which my friend’s siblings asked her husband if he wanted his heart back. Everyone was practically rolling on the floor laughing, and of course he, still teary-eyed and verklempt, said “No, she can keep it.”
I want to remember this story, because I love a good love story; and because in remembering it, I feel more in touch with my own heart. Families, friendships, lives, can expand and contract as needed; and at some points both insulation and isolation might feel worthwhile. But love always wins.
The triumph of love. That’s what I see when I really look at myself. Sin? I don’t think so. Stasis? Not forever. Hubris? Maybe… but so what? I want to live in a state of love that expands borders; that trips on its own feet in its eagerness to go somewhere new; and that even embraces loneliness.
I’m on my porch, an empty rocking chair or two or ten lined up next to mine, and tonight I’m feelin’ the loneliness of that. But it’s OK. The moon is out, the weather is cool enough for warm clothes, and somehow I do feel embraced. Aaaaaahhhhh…