I’ve spent my life worrying.
Worrying that I wouldn’t be accepted and loved. By anyone – peers, parents, pedagogues of all pedigrees. Worrying that my mom would be worried about how “we” looked as a family or “she” looked as a mother if I showed the slightest weakness. About anything. Ever. Worrying that my dads (the biological, step, and heavenly varieties) would never look at me, see me, and have ME be… enough.
Let me stop right here and say something very important: this is not a blame piece. I’ll say nothing more about any “factors” that played into the person I have become. I know my parents did the best they could with what they were given, just as their parents did before them. Try as we may to prevent it, we pass our wounds on. And on. And on. I think the Bible has something to say about this: we can’t save ourselves. So – no stone throwing here. If it feels that way, that is surely not my intent.
I just know it’s time to break the cycle – my cycle of worry, fear, and shame – and allow myself to be saved.
This has been a journey of both self-discovery and of letting my “self” discover me. It’s taken years and years, filled with many good friends, teachers and models showing me the way, giving me tools, showing me truly unconditional love, and helping me (I shudder as I type the cliche) “fake it ’til I make it”.
I think I’ve made it.
OK, just kidding. I’ve made it to HERE. Which is where I need to be. Today.
I’ve always been a caterpillar, you know? and even though change means freedom, I’ve never been a butterfly before. What if flight is not all it’s cracked up to be? What if I don’t know how and the other transformed pupae fly better than I do? What if I’m snatched from the air by the hungry robin who built a nest and laid eggs in my backyard and that’s… the end? What if?
I suppose all those fears are what kept me a caterpillar for so long and have threatened to keep me in chrysalis. But if I never transform, where does that leave me? What does that make me? Am I a “real” caterpillar if I never fully transform? How long can that caterpillar stay in chrysalis before it dies and can never emerge?
Which leads me to this moment of authenticity. Those teachers and models I mentioned, along with the books I’ve read, the time I’ve spent with Jesus, the open moments with my friend-family-life-coaches… all have led me forward to this place where my soul cries for freedom from shame. Well, I guess it has always been crying; I’m just ready to actually listen to it. And for you to hear it.
I’ll pause while the various “helpful” exclamations of “oh, I’m so sorry”, “but Ben, the BIBLE says…”, “I never would have guessed”, “Duh!”, and “Oh, it’s about TIME, gurl” die down.
Why is this anyone’s business? Because it’s MY business, and feeling the shame of it for 52 years affects who I am to myself, to you, and to the world. I cannot have a truly authentic life if I withhold and ferment the shame of who I am for one day longer.
Now, let me be clear (and I will be clearer in future posts): this does NOT mean I am leaving my wife and family to pursue my “true self” in an overt sexual fulfillment sense. I am happily married to my best friend and the mother of my children. She has, by the way, known about this for 20 of our 23 years together, even if it was only a few years ago I could finally “identify” as a gay man. That was the real start of the healing. This is a big part of the continuation.
This is the emergence from chrysalis.
Let me also be clear (and I will be clearer in future posts): I judge no one who has chosen to accept and live into their sexuality in any other way that woke them from sleeping pupae and into butterflies. I love and accept them, I believe God loves and accepts them, and if we disagree on that point, I accept that. I couldn’t say that I was “OK” with your disagreement or judgment until now, which prolonged my time as caterpillar and endangered my evolving life in chrysalis. My understanding of God and my experience of “real life” on this mortal sphere have brought me to a new place. A place where I can stand in my own truth, accept it as a gift of God’s truth and grace, and move forward in freedom.
Allow me to pull out my therapy-derived lifeline phrases: “Your opinion of me no longer affects who I am, and I will not allow it to determine my worth”, and, “Your happiness is not my responsibility”. These phrases have also connected with my spirituality and the truths about God I’ve learned and assimilated through the years. Turns out, mental healthcare and faith in God are not incompatible! They have shown me a better way of living into my life. If you know me at all, you know I have not come to this decision lightly. It’s been hard to stand in my own truth, to represent that truth in a way which goes against norms, and to live out that truth with the world now watching.
Time to take flight.
June 28, 2020 – 9:40 p.m.