A Walk Through Flames

Despite some fantastically amazing people and things going on in my life and the fact that I am extremely happy at the moment, I seem to have been in my own head a lot over the last week or so and particularly so today. This post has slowly been clawing its way out of my brain for several weeks and today’s introspection crystallized it to the point where I could finish it.
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Always, my path is through fire. How shall I avoid being consumed by the flames?

That thought has been resonating in my head for two decades. It encapsulates my adult life experience so precisely, yet is a constant enigma. What it means shifts from day to day, moment to moment. But, at bottom, the fact remains that my personal life narrative is punctuated by serial baptisms by fire, each one leaving me charred to varying degrees.

In the last two+ years, since I awoke to the dissonance in my life and began this journey of self discovery (the last several months of which are chronicled here in this blog), I have leapt through more figurative flames than I knew it was possible to survive. Yet I did.

And now I feel the next ring of fire looming ahead, searing me with the heat of fear, uncertainty, doubt, and dread.

I’ve acknowledged in earlier posts that discovery or coming out (or both) is inevitable. This truth presses on my heart and brain with the weight of a mountain.

Unavoidable. Inevitable. Uncontrollable. This unholy trinity is a misery to share head-space with.

The obvious solution: take my power back from the unknown, grit my teeth and take the plunge by coming out to those in my daily life.

Come out. Obvious, but not easy. (Yes, I am aware no one ever promised that life would be easy.)

To bring these deep thoughts more into focus in practical terms, I will admit that I have used my family, particularly my brothers and their wives, as substitutes for all other relationships that would have been more fulfilling and assisted me in my journey to authenticity. But I denied myself those connections out of fear and stubborn refusal to see myself for who and what I am: a queer butch woman. So, in absence of friends and lovers who knew and accepted this truth of my identity, I have concentrated all my support structure, care and love on which I rely into my siblings.

This is not wrong and I’m not ashamed to reveal my close relationship with them. But if not wrong, it seems nevertheless to put me at a tactical disadvantage by creating a single point of failure in the emotional scaffold I’ve relied on my entire adult life.

Mine is a military-and fundamentalist-based family structure built on a foundation of Southern conservative Christian upbringing. Again, neither wrong nor bad in itself. But it creates an atmosphere rife with risk when it suddenly dawns on you that you are everything that they are not, and everything that they detest.

By coming out to them (or having them discover my truth in other ways), I put the people in my most significant IRL relationships in the untenable position of having to compromise one of two deeply held core beliefs that now conflict: (1) gay is wrong; and (2) family is paramount to everything. Their choice and my fear, then, comes down to this: When what you love is everything that is wrong, how can you go on loving that thing/person?

That’s the ring of fire I sense looming in my path. A choice between the freedom of authenticity and the comfort of a peaceful, loving family life.

Always my path is through fire. How can I not be consumed by the flames?

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