Last weekend, hundreds of thousands of people celebrated Mardi Gras in New Orleans, and this weekend it’s Sydney’s turn. I can’t help but feel jealous that I can’t be alongside my friends celebrating diversity and inclusion at the pride parades, but I am grateful that I can celebrate openly from home.
A closet is not a good place for a person to live. But the fear and shame associated with coming out of the closet can keep us hidden inside for longer than necessary. All it takes to come out of the closet is one conversation, yet the perceived difficulty of the conversation is what can stop us. The fear of feeling ashamed can be so powerful, especially when you don’t know how to overcome it. I know this feeling all too well.
Before coming out I was so scared and worried about the reactions of others that I caused myself undue stress by not being myself. In trying to avoid putting others in potentially uncomfortable situations, I bore the brunt of the discomfort and with that came the shame. There’s no need to ‘come out’ if you identify as heterosexual, so I often asked myself why I needed to.
Unfortunately for me, being secretive did more harm than good. My mental health suffered as I was terrified of telling others that I’m gay. It was easier to pretend to be straight around those who didn’t know the truth and I hated myself for not being able to tell the truth.
Then one year ago, after hours of writing a coming out post, and alongside many tears, I put posted my ‘coming out’ on Facebook. Even though I knew people would be supportive, I was terrified of their reactions. But at the end of the day, deciding to come out on Facebook was the scariest and best decision I’ve ever made in my life.
I was so happy to have finally sought out the courage that was needed to step out of my closet and live my life according to my own terms.
It was a long process, but the decision to not let my sexuality impact my emotional or mental state anymore had a huge impact on my life. I now try my best to be honest and no longer lie by omission. I am living my life unapologetically as a proud gay woman and It’s wonderful.
I am lucky to be surrounded by supportive friends and family which means the world to me. I just wish that every member of the LGBTIQ community had it as easy as I did. There are so many incredible people in this world who are struggling who deserve happiness, and the least we can do is support them in being who they are. As the saying goes – treat people the way that you would like to be treated.
Living your truth is an important part of life, and being forced to live in a world of secret can destroy precious lives. Coming out can be extremely daunting, but the feeling of being free is worth the hard conversation. We all need to remember to love ourselves, because at the end of the day YOU are the number one person in your life.
Last week a friend of mine tagged me in a post on Facebook and challenged me to write a few sentences based on a writing prompt. I then went on to write a mini story based on the prompt, and the writing process made me realise how much it hurts to lie by omission. It may not be a verbal lie, but the pain it can cause inside is a very real thing. There are still rare situations where it’s easier for me to lie by omission, but after realising the pain that the lies cause I try my best to be as honest as possible.
So here it is – my first attempt at creative writing 🙂
WRITING PROMPT STORY
You live in a world where each lie creates a scar on the liar’s body. The bigger the lie, the deeper and larger the mark. One day, you meet someone that only has one scar; it is the biggest scar you’ve ever seen.
[2 years later]
I couldn’t help but stare as she lay sleeping next to me. Everything was still, except for the slow rise and fall of her back, and I could only just make out the sound of her breath over the sounds of the trees that rustled outside.
I caressed her back with my fingertips, carefully tracing the lines that cut deeply into the flesh. As I moved my fingers gently along the edge of the single scar I could feel the tears as they started to form in my eyes.
Just as soon as the scar healed, it would be torn open once more as she repeated the inescapable lie. It grew deeper and longer as time went on, and it seemed like there was nothing she could say or do to escape it. She yearned to tell the truth but was afraid of what the truth would bring.
The lie gave comfort to others without them even realising. But while they accepted her lie as truth, she suffered the pain and discomfort that went with it.
The world seemed to believe that the scars were only created when somebody told a lie. What they didn’t see was the scar that was created through lying by omission. Although the lie wasn’t verbalised, it was powerful enough to create a painful reminder on her body of the shame that she carried with her.
The tears continued down my face as she slowly awoke, before turning to face me with a sleepy but beautiful smile. As her eyes met mine, she wiped away my tears and kissed me gently on the lips.
She pulled me in tight and whispered to me “I understand”.
But it’s me who understands.
I understand the pain of her scar.
I understand the shame that she carries.
I understand the discomfort that comes each time she lies.
I understand everything that lies behind her single scar, for I have the exact same one.