Archive for the ‘Coming Out’ Tag

Struggle, pressure and stress…oh my!

This is a long one that probably deserved to be more than one post. But it’s my stream-of-consciousness, mind-dump attempt to grasp at a little bit of sanity.

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I’m struggling…

With having the coming out talk with my family

With the physical separation from my beloved

With getting control of work/life balance

With self care

With being at ease in my freedom, identity, accomplishments

I’m struggling to be comfortable in my own skin.

Why?

I’ve been the odd, ostracized, misfit, nerdy fat girl my entire life and have grown used to what that means and have been happy (at least content) with my own company, enough within myself, and sufficient on my own. I’ve had the companionship of my siblings and a few close friends. I have a career in which I’ve excelled. I’ve had books and music and movies and art to make my life well rounded and comfortable. So what if I was alone? I was all I needed and had everything my simple tastes required.

But that’s a lie. A lie my mind insisted upon to balm the wound of not being alone, but of being lonely. A lie the world helped me perpetuate by filling my time and senses with entertainment and social media and shiny, unnecessary things. A lie that even my faith made persistent by condemning the existence that would shatter my complacency and bring the opportunity for happiness, for true joy.

As my blog’s tag line says, I have awoken to the lie, the emptiness of that false existence, and have begun the process of living my life and seizing my happiness.

Yet, I am struggling.

Lately, “stress” and “pressure” and “struggle” seem to be recurring themes in my life. But I grow weary of them. It’s time to figure it out & fix it.

Stress is unavoidable, both at work and in personal life. It’s a fact of life that, for the most part, I deal with pretty well in terms of my profession and the every-day. But the stress from new aspects of my life I didn’t anticipate (naive, much?) and it’s taking some getting used to. Increased responsibility, changing family dynamics, learning as I go how to be a good partner, all of these are welcome challenges and the stress endemic to them will eventually subside. But it is wearying.

Struggle and pressure, for me, are linked. I feel pressure, both steady and sometimes increasing, to do and think and say certain things, or behave a certain way or be a certain kind of person. When I feel that pressure I take a hard look at its source and do my best to make a reasoned decision on how or if to respond. The struggle comes when I am uncertain if the pressure is righteous, deserving of reaction, or if I don’t know how to respond.

That’s my problem right now: uncertainty. There’s a block, an invisible obstacle that I can’t name and take away its power.

Part of it is that I don’t know all of the things I need to do. I feel like I only have half the picture and a quarter of the pieces needed to complete the puzzle. How, what steps, what method do I use to find the missing pieces? Who can I turn to for help? Isn’t asking for help admitting defeat or error? Shouldn’t I be able to handle this myself? After all, the core issue is my identity. Who better to identify and overcome related challenges than me? Yet, I still struggle.

Part of it, too, is that I’m weary. I’m so tired of having to fight for recognition, acceptance, support. My petulant internal mind screams that I’ve done enough, earned these golden blessings and demands to have them NOW, without further ado. Then the part of my mind trained from birth to conform, be quiet, not make waves, responds by shushing that screaming, admonishing me to be still, put my head down and work some more.

But that thin sliver of my self that exists between the screamer and the shusher, that relatively rational adult independent thinker, says there’s got to be something in between the hard-line demand and the unrequited effort. There’s got to be balance, a reward of some type, to encourage future excellence and diligence.

Right?

So where does that leave me? Let’s take stock:

I am immeasurably blessed. I have a beloved partner who loves and accepts me and supports me in all things. I have siblings and niblings whom I love and who love me. I have a good job that is intellectually challenging and professionally fulfilling. I have a warm, safe home full of comfort and plenty. There is clean air and water, abundant food, clothes, tools, vehicles and things of every type to make my life easy and comfortable. I have everything I need and more in terms of material gifts. I am loved and supported and mature enough to carry the blessings and burdens alike.

So what’s the challenge? What are the missing pieces I complain of?

First, what do I do about talking to my family? They know, now, that I’m gay and that I’m in love with my beloved Special Femme. Yet that information wasn’t given to them by me and there is still a significant amount of tension in my home. There’s an expectation that I’ll “come clean”, approach the throne and confess to be forgiven and set things right. (Yes, that’s my bitterness and snark showing in that sentence. I won’t apologize for it.) So, the first hurdle appears to be stubbornness and, perhaps, pride. Mine, my family’s, or both is not yet clear. What’s missing? A way to approach this discussion without judgement on either side, as well as an opportunity to begin.

Second, what comes next? Once everything is truly out (pun intended), what then? Yeah, I know, enjoy the relief and live your life. I get that. But what does that life look like? Even without the pressure of hiding a vital part of myself, I’m still in the same spot: in my mid-40s, living in an unconventional family arrangement, in a house too small for two complete families and separated from my beloved by 9,000 miles and three oceans. Where’s the path to living my life of happiness?

One of the missing pieces, I think, is why this is still a struggle, why haven’t I fixed this yet? I am a creature of comfort and this pressure, stress and struggle is uncomfortable. Why hasn’t the discomfort served to prod me, get me moving in the right direction?

Excellent question.

I think the pervasiveness, the sheer magnitude of the consequences of reacting to this pressure is so significant that the fear of the possible outcome is greater than the discomfort of the ongoing pressure. Hence: stagnation.

The Quandry: My immediate family now know I’m gay, but they found out by means I find objectionable (forcing my partner to admit our relationship when I wasn’t around, outing me in abstentia against her will). Ever since, there’s been silence on the subject. The tension from what’s unspoken on all sides is mounting. They’ve relayed a clear message that I must be the one to come to them, make a confession and receive their reaction.

Yet I feel that responding to this relayed demand for my confidences is capitulation, or at least a diminished, eroded form of communication that may end up crippling a formerly robust family relationship that is extremely important to me.

I want to be mature and approach the whole discussion with love, free from accusation and rancor. Yet I feel an obligation to hold them accountable for their treatment of Lulu. I also feel a duty to my identity and dignity to resist my freedom to be authentic being subrogated to their feeling hurt by my not choosing to confide in them this deepest, truest part of me.

What to do? At this point I’ll consider all serious suggestions, but reserve the right to reject them all and go with my gut at any moment…which may mean grabbing Lulu and running away to join the circus.

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10 Dates That Live In Infamy…at Least For Me

Everyone has a list of special days, occasions that have special significance on a personal level. Some lists are longer than others. But everyone keeps track of at least one day that has meaning to them, if to no one else.

Until today, my list consisted of nine dates that help tell the story of me. Today, the tenth date was added to my list:

March 1, 1969 – the day I was born
March 1, 1986 – the day my dad died
May 15, 1997 – the day I was sworn in for the first time and received my license to practice law
April 17, 2000 – the day I started work for my current employer, where I’ve earned the most professional success in my career
May 19, 2000 – the day my mom died
October 25, 2002 – the day I bought my first house
March 1, 2013 – the day I finally came out to myself
April 25, 2013 – the day Lulu & I began dating exclusively
October 2, 2013 – the day Lulu & I first met in real life

And:

February 17, 2014 – the day my family acknowledged that I’m gay & that they still love me

There’s so much more to it. So much that I have to wrap my head around before I can share it. All I can say is that Lulu, my beloved and the fiercest, most amazing femme on the planet, is the means of my liberation. One more reason she is my greatest blessing. She deserves a medal for making this happen.

And, though there is a lot of hard stuff left to get through, it is still a day of triumph. This date marks a new phase of my life, one in which I will no longer fear to be myself.

This is it…

…the last Friday I have to spend separated from my beloved (at least for a few weeks).

…the last week I have to live with an essential part of my life hidden.

…the end of a critical and painful division of my in-real-life world: the world centered on her and the world that only acknowledges her in passing as an abstract idea.

This time next week those worlds will be united when my Faraway Love is here, live and in person, living in my home for a few precious weeks. The family with whom I spend my day-to-day time will finally meet my love, the part of my family with whom I spend countless hours on Skype and who occupies my every thought and dream.

I have no words to adequately describe how exciting! thrilling! breathtaking! this is. Every particle of me is leaning forward, reaching, longing for that moment when the people I love most in the world are finally all a part of the same world, in the same space.

No, I haven’t come out to my family yet. (I would’ve told you all!) Instead, Lulu and I have agreed that she will come here as my friend (absolute truth, since she’s my best friend) and let my family get to know her as a person first, without the complexities of labels like “gay girlfriend”. We agreed that this measured approach provides the best chance for a smooth transition, once we’re both ready to take the next step.

That’s all a very clinical and polite way to say that Lulu is incredibly patient and understanding and is giving me a pass for my irrational fear in order for us to get a chance to enjoy our visit together without my having to come out first.

My gratitude for her loving patience is inexpressible. I have an enormous amount of respect for her kindness and understanding. Thankful is too small a word for how I feel toward her for that. I’m one lucky butch, that’s certain.

At the same time, though, I struggle with a deep sense of failure at my inability to overcome this fear-induced paralysis. Lulu and I have talked about it and I know, intellectually, what the problem and the solution is. But those facts, divorced from emotional context and viewed from arm’s length, mask a more complex human story inside of which I live every day.

Of course, it is no different from the fear and pain and struggle that everyone who has had to come out to a potentially hostile family has had to endure. Likely, my little story is far less traumatic and dramatic than many others’ stories, especially those who live in places where it is unlawful to exist as nature made me: butch…gay…queer…different.

But all comparisons aside, my story is real, it’s mine, I live it, and my fear persists. So my story has hit an infinite loop of pressure to be authentic followed by fear of rejection and abuse followed by avoidance. Rinse and repeat.

But this repeating cycle is about to encounter a new variable, approaching at high velocity, and collision is imminent. My hidden reality is about to meet my acknowledged reality and I have no idea what outcome to expect.

I have zero desire to avoid this meeting of worlds, though. It is necessary. And it is welcome, even if it is fraught with emotion. It is my best opportunity to breach this wall of fear and emerge on the other side into a single, united world where there is no division between the identity I know inside and the identity I live on the outside.

So, here I go: hurtling into the unknown, excited and terrified at once, and thrilled to get started. The next four weeks are packed to overflowing with exciting things. In the next month, I will:

– welcome my girlfriend to the US and into my home to stay with me and my family
– introduce my Faraway Love to my friends and work colleagues
– show my day to day world to the one person who matters most to me
– travel with my beloved to NYC to meet Twitter friends in person, witness the wedding of two of them, and see a Broadway show featuring k.d. Lang
– celebrate my first Valentine’s Day with a girlfriend
– celebrate both Lulu’s and my birthdays, as well as our 11th month together as a couple
– travel with Lulu to California to meet more Twitter friends in person, some for the first time; and
– reluctantly say goodbye-for-now to my beloved as she wings her way back to Australia

It’s gonna be a wild ride. Come along for the giggles!

Jangling, Fractious and Sooooo Excited

Recently, I got a writing prompts app to help me when I can’t get started. I thought it would help me be a bit more regular in my posting. Today’s prompt was to describe something near me. I’m surprised at how my mind took off from there…

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A table, small and plain, covered in old photographs and a stack of ignored mail stands between the window and my easy chair. Its cluttered top is a metaphor for my mind at the moment. The old pictures are snapshots of me throughout my childhood, disconnected from context and jumbled. The magazines, catalogues and fliers have the forlorn feeling of something ignored and past it’s relevance. Miscellaneous detritus of electronic gadgets, pens and power supplies lie scattered and waiting, waiting to be useful.

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These disparate bits, unmoored and a little chaotic reflect how I feel about my life just now.

The thing is, I’m in a great, even enviable spot. I’ve got so much…a lot to be thankful for (and I am), a lot to enjoy, a lot to do, a lot of opportunity. There are great and powerful energies streaming into my life, flowing over and around me. And for the first time in my life I’m aware of them and learning how to access them. This ultra new and unfamiliar thought and feeling is scary and challenging and fun all at once. My nerves jangle and chafe and soar by turns. Like the oddments on my tabletop, it’s an interesting mess.

The primary source of the electric feeling is the tremendous fountain of love and support and validation and acceptance gifted so freely to me by my beloved. She’s the first person in my life apart from my parents who loved me without demanding I change myself. She accepted me for who and what I am. She loved me before she ever saw my face or heard my voice, and has supported the very essence of my identity without stinting. She chose to get to know me and the person I believe I can become; chose to love me, before liking me or even knowing me. That kind of open-handed, generous support is incredibly validating, freeing in a way I’ve never experienced before. It grows and intensifies daily. The blessing she brings to my life is beyond my power to describe.

Then there are the amazing things happening for me professionally. I have worked incredibly hard to advance my skill and experience, making a substantive, meaningful contribution to my company’s success. The work and sacrifice is beginning to pay off. Soon, I’ll get to officially announce my new position. For now, it is enough to say that I set a goal to ask for the job and title I have earned. I did and I got it. Again…an amazing feeling of accomplishment and happiness.

I stand on the cusp of major life changes. They are thrilling, exhilarating, and full of joy and promise.

But, at the same time, there’s a very familiar feeling of heavy dread. The one thing missing in my life is complete transparency, the fabled state of authenticity. I’ve written about it often enough: I’m not out to my family. I’m nearing my 45th birthday and I’m still closeted to those who are closest to me in my daily life (except my beloved). It’s irrational, frozen, paralyzed fear. But it is. With my beloved, I’m working to change it and we’re making progress. I even got a bonus gift of encouragement from two separate friends in the last two weeks: two friends who took the time to let me know that my journey has made a difference to them. How wonderful is that!?! But I still have work to do…hence the background dread and unmoored feeling.

The good news is that, just like the cluttered top of my side table, my thoughts can be cleaned up and put into order. I don’t have to be adrift or confused. I have a plan and my partner is committed to helping me realize my dreams. My friends and my love believe in me and hope for my success. There’s nothing in my way but me.

What I guess I need to take away from this is three things: First, that the self-examination is valuable, even healthy. But if I don’t take the information I glean from it and apply it to my life, what use is it? Second, paralysis is curable and within my power. Third, everything I want is within my reach, I just have to grab hold of it.

Oh, hey, blog…hey!

So, it’s been a while since my last blog post. I’ve been living my life, of course, but not free of thoughts of my blog. I have a pocket full of crushed, creased, tattered notes. They’re stray thoughts, ideas, even rants that occur to me at random throughout my day. But I’ve not taken the time to flesh out the ideas or edit the rants or explore the thoughts. I’ve been concentrating as hard as I can on living in the present, keeping all three parts of my life up in the air, with equal attention and importance.

First and most joyous is my relationship with my beloved. She lives on the other side of the world, three oceans away, yet I see her every day. We work hard to cultivate a close bond and constant sense of connectedness, even when our technology connection lets us down or just isn’t possible. I’m proud of the active, vibrant, caring, warm and loving relationship we’ve developed in the nine months we’ve been together. But, because of fear-based choices I’ve made, this vital part of my life isn’t integrated fully into the next segment of life importance for me.

My family is small and spread out all over. But one of my older brothers and his wife are very close to me, both physically and emotionally. I have relied on our closeness to both support my independence and as a crutch against social awkwardness. Their esteem and validation is very important to me. Yet I have a visceral fear of losing that relationship when I come out to them. I’m not ashamed of who I am or of my beloved. I’m very proud of the healthy, caring, gentle love that Lulu and I share. But it is so different from everything my family have ever taught me to believe in or expect from a romantic relationship for a person like myself. Because of that (and a lifetime of experience that can’t be fairly encapsulated in a few words), I fear their reaction to the revelation. Nevertheless, it will soon happen and I’ll be free of the dread, if nothing else. Still, until that happens, there is a gap, a chasm between these two critical parts of my happiness. I have hope, however, that her visit to me in a few weeks will provide a context for my family’s getting to know and love her as much as I do, and provide a lever to loosen my inertia.

The third part of my life, my professional career, is also a huge influence over my time and mindset. As I’ve mentioned, I love my job. I work for a great company and have a team of fun, hard-working professionals under my direction and an executive supervisor who respects me and my professional abilities. I work hard and do good work. That work has built into a career I’m proud of and a steadily increasing position of responsibility and challenge. I have earned and received a promotion to a leading executive position, for which I’m proud and excited. But the added stress and expectation, on top of learning to be a supportive, loving partner and striving to live genuinely among both my family and my friends and work colleagues is an enormous challenge.

All of that is just a raw, honest assessment of where I am. I wanted to provide a bit of context (not an excuse, as I don’t need one) to help explain why I’ve found blogging in the last couple of weeks to be difficult. However, since blogging is a source of happiness and forms a part of the process I use to work through issues in my heart, I will work on getting back to a more regular blogging schedule.

In the mean time, I hope you are enjoying a happy, healthy, fun start to this new year. And I wish you joy as we find our collective way forward in this year that I fully expect to be full of wonder and love and challenge and opportunity. Peace.

Claiming My Place

Author’s note: fair warning that this post has been rattling around in my head for a couple of months, banging off the walls of my skull, chipping off the smooth edge of my politesse and reserve, leaving sharp, jagged edges of emotion that come out in some of the imagery and language I use. This post is full of big feelings and is odiferous of fear and anger. Feel free to skip this one if its raw, unpolished nature is intimidating.
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Part of the reason I struggle with coming out in my family has to do with “place”–as in the phrases “it’s not my place to”, or “put her in her place”. Also part of it is the concept of selflessness. I’ve touched on them in earlier posts. But these two ideological forces are converging with my practical reality now, as they never have before. The result is a huge pressure front building inside my head and chest, threatening to overwhelm me.

“Place” is a hard concept to articulate. For me, the idea is that each person in a given group has a place, a specific role to play relative to the others, and stepping beyond that role is seen as presumptive or transgressive. This rigid role dynamic can be the source of great stability and comfort, relieving the uncertainty that comes when boundaries are undefined or non-existent. But more often in my experience, it is the source of significant friction and discontent when the parameters of one’s role become dated or out of alignment with one’s personal identity.

Then there’s selflessness, specifically, “having a servant’s heart” (as in Christlike service) and being of service to others. These precepts formed the basis of my upbringing. My siblings and I were taught and were expected to seek what was best for others, to think of others first before ourselves. It was a blending of traditional Southern ideas of ‘elders and ladies first’ and fundamentalist Christian ‘Christ washing the apostles’ feet. And the resulting family ideology yields a social programming powerful beyond the sum of its parts. The fact that I recognize this as ideology and programming does not dissipate it’s effects.

Mine was a home steeped in guilt. Christians and members of our family clan knew our place and served others (particularly the family), eschewing anything that smacked of selfishness. Any time one of us stepped beyond our designated role or acted in our own self interests, the guilt was a rising tide that swamped the lot of us, so that we all learned the lesson of the guilty one. Guilt on steroids.

So, here I am, nearing the end of my 44th year, struggling with the necessary step of coming out to my family. I struggle because doing so means both stepping outside the role designated for me by the expectation of the others in the family, as well as taking what is an essentially self-centered action to claim a new place of my choosing, of my own definition.

Identifying and taking up the space I want to occupy in the world (both literally and metaphorically) without apology, as if by right, is an exercise of supreme selfishness. And it flies in the face of my family’s expectations and desires for my role in our family unit.

As I’ve alluded to in other posts, my family have a fairly narrowly-defined idea of who I am as a person, and that viewpoint is not entirely flattering or confidence-inspiring. As the youngest in the family, a female, overweight and unattractive, I’m a burden to them in many respects, from their perspective. But also, this makes me very low-ranking in terms of perceived influence. Ultimately, this place means that, to them, I really have no right to claim a place of privilege, of self care, of my desire over others’. Instead, I should submit to my elders (especially the men of the bunch) in their estimation of what’s best for me and for the rest of the family. Their expectations and wishes should decide my path.

Now don’t get me wrong. It’s never as overt and black-and-white as I’ve stated it here. It’s a much more insidious campaign of peer pressure. Akin to a wolf pack or other collective organization, it’s a matter of molding each other to the will of the rest of the pack by negative reinforcements and passive-aggressive communication in the form of growls and snarls and nips. Despite this patriarchy, this binary system of privilege, I have a deep bond of love and gratitude to my family. But I’m no longer willing to squeeze myself inside the box they’ve built around my identity.

Hence the struggle.

As I’ve said before, I’m scared to lose them, scared of being shunned and disavowed. As imperfect as we are, we’re still a family and the love between us is 100% real. It’s just not 100% in harmony with my internal picture of myself.

My fear is of being shunned for being who I am. It’s fear of loneliness and trepidation at laying claim to the right to be free from their judgment. A rising sense of panic tightens my throat when I think of the choice I must make: conform to a false identity and resign myself to personal misery, or risk being outside the gates of my family’s community by claiming a place of my choosing.

And so, I’ve succumbed to silence. I feel like I’m living that line from Sarah McLauchlan’s song, I Will Remember You: “It’s funny how we feel so much but we cannot say a word; We are screaming inside, but we can’t be heard”.

I continually ask myself why it matters so much what they think, why is their comfort more important than my happiness? What if I want to think of myself first, for once? Does that selfishness make me a bad person, fundamentally? Can I survive the hurt that will come if my fear proves well founded?

I don’t have a neat, tidy ending. Just a raw, ragged tear in the fabric of my courage and resolve. But I’m not a quitter. I will accomplish this at some point. It’s just a matter of time…else the passage of time will do the job for me when one of the people who do know reveal the truth to them before I can muster the guts to do so. That would be a fitting capper to my cowardice, I guess.

Thankful for…restoration

So Saturday started off kinda rough. I agreed to go with my brother & sister-in-law to their studio for some family time and creativity. Despite having to miss time with Special Femme to do so, I was looking forward to it. I love them, I like spending time with them and I take real joy in playing with my tools and creating pretty things.

But in the truck on the way there, my brother made us listen to talk radio. I absolutely loathe talk radio. But, as he was the driver, he chose the station. He loves that drivel. I find it coma-inducing at the best of times and when it’s bad, as it was today, infuriating and demoralizing all at once.

It was a political talk show, with a local former politician and lecturer as host. We came into the middle of the segment, but I quickly gathered that they were discussing at least one piece of legislation giving LGBT people access to rights others have by default. The callers were uniformly anti-gay rights and some vey belligerent in their expression.

Opinions ranged widely, but several expressed some form of belief in an “evil agenda” by “LGBTs” to siphon the morals from our society and purge morality from our laws–basically condemning my very existence as a butch lesbian as immoral. At one point, an angry, outspoken man called and proceeded to both speak for “god” in condemning the entire LGBTQI population as evil and amoral, but also label all of us as pedophiles. Horrible bile largely unchallenged by the show’s host.

But, what I found most demoralizing happened after I’d had enough and asked for it to be turned off. My brother did turn it off, but then went on a 10-minute tirade confirming the “dangerous” nature of the legislation, which he characterized as legitimizing various forms of “deviants”. Surprisingly, I was able to keep calm and ask for clarification on his meaning in using that word. Upon exploration, I understood him to mean that he believes the law allows people to declare an identity different from (i.e. a deviation from) their apparent gender assignment and thereby gain access to the amenities available to that other identity (primarily bathroom and locker room facilities labeled for a different gender). But his cavalier use of the incorrect word “deviant” was jarring, pejorative and unnerving, despite his lack of mean-spiritedness.

Then, at various times during the day I heard him touch on the subject with the guys in the shop and heard their less-than-supportive blathering. The lack of respect in their discussion, which arises from their position of privilege, grated on me all day.

Follow that with a dinner out with a group of acquaintances who spent far too much time griping and gossiping about others not present and an uncomfortable noise level in the restaurant, and you have one powerful recipe for a headache. By the end of the evening, I was completely over having to deal with people and just wanted some quiet.

That’s when the day got better. With the peace of a quiet bedroom, comfy PJs and a good Skype connection to Special Femme, I was able to resign the trouble to the aether and let Lulu’s sympathetic voice soothe me to sleep.

I’ve always been a believer in the restorative power of sleep. Not only does the body need the rest to gather strength for a new day, but the mind needs the peace. I process a lot of information in my sleep. Sometimes this manifests in bad dreams, particularly when I’m stressed. But last night, with the peace and soothing comfort of my beloved, I had no nightmares.

I rested and am restored to live another day. Though I’m not happy at the set-back in my confidence and plans to come out to my brother, I’m still happy and at peace on a fundamental level, knowing that I have the love and support of a wonderful woman and the will and intelligence to eventually overcome this hateful ignorance.

I won’t be deterred. I am renewed. And I’m thankful for the restoration of sleep and the perspective it brings with a new day.

Mish-mash Bullets

– This isn’t the post I planned to publish, nor did I plan to post it today. I had planned to post (and had nearly finished writing) an entirely different thought on Saturday. But then a new iPhone, two separate iOS updates, three back-ups and two synch attempts happened. In the process, my draft post was deleted, all my past notes were replicated in triplicate, and I lost the will to try again. :-/ Luckily, I got over myself and am now working from a completely updated new iPhone and I’m a happy butch.

– One happy side effect of the new mobile device (that I’m hoping not to jinx by saying (writing?) it out loud) is better connectivity and sound/image quality on Skype. Special Femme is excited to get to see me clearly and I’m thrilled to get to see her more often without so many dropped calls. Fingers crossed it continues!

– I had a moment of clarity the other day. I won’t call it an epiphany, because it’s too small for such a lofty term. I just had a glimmer of insight into an aspect of life that my narrow world view pre-Special Femme prevented me from seeing clearly. In brief, the topic is self image and how that intersects with others’ perception of me. I have a running joke, of sorts (more a low-grade battle of wills), going with Lulu. She likes to use effusive words to compliment me (which make me blush) and I like to deflect and turn the compliment on to her, who I feel actually deserves it. But the other day she changed tactics slightly: she was careful to clarify that, to her personal sensibilities, she was absolutely accurate in her description of me. See, that’s just sneaky, using my own lawyering tactics against me! But that also gives me an important insight into my own mind. I see me in a particular way and irrationally believe that everyone else sees me, if not the same way as I see myself, at least all see me in the same way as each other. (I see X, so you all must see X, but if not, you all must see the same Y or the same Z). But that leaves no room for individuality. If there’s infinite individuality in expression, then it follows there is infinite individuality in perception of that expression. So, while Lulu and I may still disagree on the clinical accuracy of her observations of my person, I at least now can make room in my head for the possibility that she’s not entirely crazy (kidding, my lovely!). šŸ˜‰

– Also, might as well touch on the coming out question. In short: it’s not going anywhere. The pressure to do it builds every day. I’m making plans to bring Special Femme to my home for a visit in a few months, so it’s gotta happen. Soon. But I’m just stuck in a negative loop that I can’t seem to break. Every conversation I envision seems to turn angry and I can’t figure out why. Every actual coming out talk I’ve had with friends and co-workers has been positive and uplifting. So why can’t I believe that’s the way it will go with my brothers? Am I sabotaging myself, or is my subconscious picking up indicators I don’t see overtly? I dunno. But it’s gonna start having an impact on things soon and I need to get out of this rut!! Who has helpful, practical tips?

– But let’s end on an up note: fall color! It’s actually almost over. But I’ve been blessed to see some really pretty color in my town and the surrounding country lately. Here are a few faves:

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Oz, Land of Enchanted Dreams

As you know by now, if you’ve read any of my recent posts, I took a vacation recently, spending two weeks in Australia. It was the first two-week vacation I’ve taken in my life, and the first as an adult that I did t work at least part of my time “away”. Not this time…I had three specific goals for this trip and working wasn’t in the mix.

Specifically, I wanted to go somewhere I’d never been, I needed to truly relax and decompress from a very stressful job, and most importantly, I wanted to spend quality time alone with my beloved. I’m proud to say I achieved all three of those goals.

Although it’s an over-used and tired expression, I can honestly say that this time away was, for me, a magical experience. I met some incredible people, ate some of the best food I’ve ever tasted, visited four separate beaches, saw a sunken Victorian-era battleship, witnessed spectacular sunrises and glorious sunsets, and was un-plugged to a degree I’ve never before allowed. Add to all of that, I got to spend two entire weeks in the company of my lovely Lulu.

Long distance relationships are challenging on so many levels. Day-to-day, simply making communication technology work is a deep frustration. But it’s the tech, not Lulu’s and my ability to communicate that is challenging. So having the opportunity to sit next to each other, look the other in the eye and speak our heart, without phone, laptop, Internet or headset coming between us was a hugely uplifting thing. Hearing the full range of tone and inflection in each other’s voice, seeing the whole spectrum of emotion and expression in the other’s eyes…a god-send!

Being with one another every hour of the day, adding the experience of physical proximity and all it’s nuance to the vast body of shared time we’ve accumulated via Skype, text and email over the last six months added a whole knew dimension to our understanding of each other. Seems so basic, but it was a joyful surprise to me.

All the many joys of this vacation amount to an enchanted dream come true for me. I’m blessed beyond measure in Lulu’s presence in my life and in the time we’ve shared together in Oz. And it’ll only get better from here!

Here are a few of my favorite pics from my magic journey:

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Baby Steps Out if the Closet

As I’ve mentioned many times and in many ways in my posts, I’ve got a Special Femme in my life. She’s my muse, my best friend, my co-conspirator in mischief, my sounding board, my purpose, my goal, my home and my heart’s desire. The love we share has absolutely transformed my life in the best possible way.

She has become critically important to me. And so important is her happiness, I am determined that her happiness will not be dashed by my careless action or negligent inaction.

That determination has led me, once again, to think, stew, mull over and obsess about just how and when to come out. You see, loving and honoring her fully is impossible if the part of my identity that is so closely associated with her is hidden or obscured from the other important people in my life.

So, when I began recounting my trip to Australia to friends and work colleagues over the last week, I had a moment of clarity: to really explain the nature of my trip, I needed to talk about Lulu. And in thinking about what to say, I simply could not say less than the truth: she’s my girlfriend and I went to Australia to spend time with her.

The first couple of times, talking to work colleagues, I admit that I was a little awkward in expressing it. But even those awkward chats were liberating, affirming and uplifting in the uniform acceptance and adulation I received. The key is a technique I learned from the sales guys I work with. It’s called a “presumptive sell”, where you assume that the person you’re talking to understands and acknowledges the premise you’re working from and agrees with your position. You presume their agreement and close the sale with little resistance.

In this context, by assuming everyone knows I’m gay and that talking about my girlfriend is natural, I make it easy for them and myself to focus the conversation on the vacation and not the astounding news that I’m not only gay but have an Aussie girlfriend.

Thus, without ever making any dramatic, overt declaration of “I’m gay”, I’ve come out to a dozen of my colleagues in a few conversations, to universal approbation and well wishes.

What’s more, the supportive reactions of the first few built my confidence to the point that I was able to acknowledge that the dread I’ve carried for so long is pointless and to let it go.

So today, during a staff appreciation lunch in which I shared my Oz trip photos, I came out to the people I work most closely with. Sharing pics of Lulu and our fun time together was freeing on so many levels. And their acknowledgement of our relationship, some noting how happy I am since she came into my life, was a type of validation that I didn’t even know I needed. What a relief!

In talking it over joyfully with Lulu afterward, I had another flash of insight. Though these coming out discussions are somewhat safe and innocuous, and their positive outcome empowering, I think I’ve gone about it this way on purpose, at at least subconsciously. Because as more and more arms-length people become aware, the positive pressure to come out to my family increases. It’s as if my subconscious mind recognizes that I need a firm hand in the back to propel me to the inflection point at which my family learn the truth from my lips intentionally, or from one of our mutual acquaintances by accident. Either way, it’s going to happen, and soon.

So…baby steps. First, one vey safe, remote friend. Then a few business acquaintances and colleagues. Then some closer work friends. Now my closest colleagues. Soon, the courage and need will coincide and I’ll tell my brothers and closest family.

What happens, happens. But the important thing is that I’m no longer afraid of the truth and I refuse to hide my bright, lovely Lulu under a bushel any longer.

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