Spiritual Bad-Ass

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 2.58.27 PM

Recently, I had the opportunity to be interviewed by author Debbianne DeRose for her new Spiritual Bad-Ass Tv YouTube series. The series highlights a bunch of Spiritual Bad-Asses who have a lot to say in how we can all get in touch with our Spiritual Bad-Ass selves.

The interview was a chance to really put the message of this blog in a nut-shell. Being diagnosed with cancer is an opportunity. For me, it was a catalyst to discover who I really am and make a choice to live a more authentic life. In the process, I discovered self-love, self acceptance, and got in touch with my creative self – through the healing art of drag.

Please check out the video and podcast via the link below on Debbianne DeRose’s website:

http://spiritualbadass.tv/mimi-mackensie/

Advertisements

Sneaking In Some “Me” Time

 

12648004_10156483507055385_206325613_n

“Oh my god,” I finally breathed. “Everyone is out of the house.”

It is a rare moment. My father is out with my brother-in-law, and my sister has just gone out for what I figure would be a 20-30 walk with the hounds. The house is mine!

Being that my father is retired, and my brother-in-law and sister happen to be disabled, they almost never leave the house all at one time. It is time to have a little me time. I peer out of the front window to make sure that my sister is down the road. When I determine that the coast is safe, it is time to quickly squeeze in some good old fashion self love.

I run to my bedroom and close the door. Just in case, I lock it and shove a book bag in front of it. I walk to the bookshelf from across my bed and light an amber scented incense stick. With it aflame, I gently light the tea lights in my altar. One sits in a Buddha’s lap and the other in a rose quartz rock. They are surrounded by all sorts of other crystals I have collected over the years. Amethyst, obsidian, lapis, quartz of all kinds…designed to bring creativity, love, abundance, and protection. I light them to honor this special time. It brings a sort of holiness to the whole ritual.

I lay a towel on my bed, sit down, and reach under the bed for a special box. I take off the lid and pull out my good friend. It is a “Magic Wand.” I pause as I hear a car drive by; I am still a little weary of anyone arriving back home unexpected. I reach for a small bottle of lube and put a dime size amount on my fingers. I lay back and rub it towards the front of my vulva, right over the clit.

I look around my room. It is the tiny bedroom I spent my entire youth in. I can remember the cut out letters my mom stapled onto one wall when my kindergarten teacher told her that I didn’t know my alphabet. They had stayed on that wall until I graduated high school. I never thought I would be living in this room at the age of 38. I had left the coop and lived in Spain and Chicago, I had even bought a house in Kalamazoo, but the economic downturn circa 2008 mixed with fighting uterine cancer left me with no choice but to start over.

While on my back, I slipped the wand down my underpants and turned it on its lowest setting. As I start feeling the vibration, I work to relax. I had never successfully masturbated until I was in my thirties. My friends, wanting me to put myself out there, encouraged me to try to hook up with some guys after I had lost 60 pounds. In one weekend, I doubled the amount of people I had ever slept with. Bringing the total to a robust four. I slept with two guys in 24 hours, and I wasn’t really that satisfied. I felt like I was trying to accommodate them the entire time. I endured one guy titty fucking me, and another guy trying to forget he was in bed with a 300 lb woman. I became so frustrated that I decided I had to figure this whole masturbation thing out. I read internet articles, attended Pure Romance parties, and tried to peruse adult toy shops. I never felt comfortable talking with anyone else about my dilemma.

Eventually, I won a small bullet vibrator from a Pure Romance party. It laid dormant in my house for a while until I got so frustrated that I threw in some AA batteries and decided I had to figure this thing out. A friend once told me that she could only really orgasm from clitoral stimulation. At the time, I had no idea what she was talking about and I quickly changed the subject to something benign. Maybe she was right. I had played with fancy dildos that vibrated and had all kinds of things going on in them, but it didn’t do anything for me. Eventually, I decided to find this “clit” thing.

I tried going up and down the vulva until I figured out that something was going on when the bullet was at the very top. I felt so dirty trying to figure this out, and filled with so much self-hatred and self-judgment that I often stopped well short of orgasm. I didn’t even know what orgasm was still. Upon further exploration, I discovered that I felt I was driving up a cliff and about ready to jump off. I would get so scared that I would stop just before lift off. What if what I was doing was wrong? Was I going to hurt myself? I read some more articles that kept saying you have to relax and ride the wave.

Finally, one afternoon, I rode myself up to the cliff and against my better judgment, I jumped. My body lit up in ways I had no idea it could. I felt like I just plugged myself into an outlet and I was short-circuiting. Tingles and sparks flew through my body, tears came out of my eyes, and my crotch became warm and wet. More than wet, I felt like I had peed myself completely. I immediately stopped. What had I done? How gross?

Already embarrassed, I threw all my clothes and bedding into the washer and threw myself in the shower. I felt ashamed. It wasn’t until I conducted some further research that I realized that girls could cum too. It wasn’t “pee.” It didn’t smell like it. It was something else, something even the scientific community didn’t even understand.

I was proud that I finally figured out how to masturbate. I probably spent a few weeks doing it at every conceivable moment I could. I quickly learned that AA batteries were expensive and only good one or two times before I required more power. The “Magic Wand” was an investment. An investment in myself and a guarantee that I didn’t have to hold out til my next paycheck or raid my remote control for batteries to get me through.

As I started to warm up my body, I began to rub my hands over my breasts and play with my nipples. My skin is so smooth and my flesh is soft. I started to pinch my areolas as I worked my thighs together and apart. It felt good, but I was still a little too worried about my session being interrupted. You can’t rush it. I take a deep breath and switch the wand up to high. I start to tickle as the hum starts to match the vibration of my own body.

I begin to vocalize with the hum. As I feel the ripple of waves of exultation, I continue to grunt and sing out. My toes begin to curl with anticipation, and before I know it I am overtaken by the crash of magical, mystical, energy. I scream til my lungs empty of oxygen and ride the ride until I can’t take it anymore.

I immediately turn off the wand and pant. My body starts to calm, but it is hungry for more. I eagerly give it what it wants. I turn back on the wand and ride it. Over and over again, I ripple and scream with pleasure until I am drenched in my juices and exhausted of my desire.

I lay back and rest. I feel whole. Before I can fully enjoy the moment, I remember that I am on borrowed time. I quickly clean up my wand and put my toy box away. I throw my clothes and towel in the hamper and run to the bathroom. As I stand under the warm water, I know that I am safe. I take a long shower, gently caressing every area of myself. I try to love ever bit of me. My belly broken into three rolls, the saggy skin under my upper arms, my thick legs, and my flat ass. I lotion up and towel off. I slip on some fresh underwear, clean jeans, and a t-shirt.

I come downstairs and sit on the couch, beaming with renewed energy, smoking a cigarette, when my sister reenters the house. As she starts to recount all that occurred on her walk, I take a deep drag on my cigarette and know that I can handle it. I have taken care of myself. Today will be a good day no matter what.

Love Wins!

Today is a watershed moment. As little as a decade ago, I didn’t know if I would see this moment in my lifetime. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld what I have always known was true. Gay people are human, and we deserve equal rights as citizens of the United States.

Today marks a new history. Although there are many who still cling to the idea that homosexuality is a mental illness, a new generation of children will grow up never thinking that gay people getting married is an issue. Just maybe, gay won’t be wrong or weird, just normal. Children can grow up and not be ashamed of who they are attracted to. Dating the same sex may be normal; it could be a nonissue.
I don’t know how my life would have been different if this was the case. It took me 36 years and a diagnosis of uterine cancer to finally come to terms with my truth. I still fight feelings of not being worthy. I am still afraid to fully express my sexuality. I know that just holding hands with a girl in public could still provoke negative reactions or physical harm. Even being a gay teacher could cost me my job.

As I celebrate my 38th birthday on this planet, thousands of couples will be able to finally marry those that they love. Loving couples who may have already been married will finally have their unions recognized, and thousands more can at least contemplate the option of getting married to someone.

I am grateful to be given the hope that maybe, just maybe, one day that person will be me.

Workout

I have recently started taking a Livestrong class for cancer survivors to rebuild strength after treatment at the YMCA. A group of ten of us, I am the youngest by a decade, workout twice a week with a half-a-dozen trainers. Normally, I get there and jump on an elliptical machine for twenty minutes, do some weights, and end with the group in a small classroom to do exercises to strengthen the core. Today was different.

We were gathered and sent to the small classroom to sample a class. Shareese, a beautiful black woman in her late 30s or early 40s, was going to lead a class of Bowka. I guess it is a group fitness class with South African roots where you spell out letters with your steps, less about dance moves. As Shareese describes the format, she takes off her bigger black t-shirt to reveal a tight hot pink tank top over a black sports bra, which stops right above her bum wrapped in tight black yoga pants.

On the first day of class six weeks ago, I felt myself completely intimidated by Shareese. She is short, about 5’6”, but she looks like she could take on anyone. She is super thick, plus size by any fashion industry standard, but she is incredibly toned and muscular. She has a huge chest suppressed by a couple of sports bras and tight shirts on top of that. Her butt is huge and round. Her thighs look like they could crush walnuts. She radiates strength and power.

I find it hard to take my attention off of her. I didn’t even realize how much attention I was paying her until I recounted a story to the boys about how she asked me what I was listening to while I was doing my cardio the previous week. I was afraid to tell her. Oh my god, I am at the YMCA. I am pretty convinced all those old men are preachers in between sermons. Nonetheless, against my better judgement, I tell her that I like to listen to Abraham Hicks. “It is like the law of attraction,” I stumble. “Have you ever listened to The Secret?” She quickly told me that she loves listening to that kind of stuff, and I turned red as a tomato.

She ended that workout by showing us how, in a downward dog type position, she could swing her leg up to be perpendicular with the ceiling, swing her leg back around until her knee was to her chest, and kick it back to the floor. I, and the rest of the class, were stunned at the display of athleticism.

Within the first few moves, I knew this was going to be one hell of a workout. As I saw sweat begin to bead up on her perfectly toned shoulders, I knew I was going to be in more than just physical pain. Immediately, I felt like I had to do well in order to not be perceived as an idiot by her. I am the largest person in class by around 100 pounds. I still thought I could put in a good show.

She begins teaching us combinations, and I immediately kick off the shoes and watch them bounce off the wall behind me. The pain running up my calves and inside my inner arch was excruciating. I tell myself to fight through the pain. I quickly pick up the moves and keep watching her.

What kind of underwear is she wearing? I see no panty lines? Do you think she is wearing a thong? What thick sister in the middle of a workout is going to wear a thong? How does that seam line run perfectly down her crack. Oh my god, stop staring! She is going to realize that you are staring.

When she tells us to add a noise, I abid. If we were instructed to add some flare, I added flare. I picked up the steps quickly, even if I had to take a break every few minutes to try and soften up my cramped calves that are refusing to cooperate. She acknowledges me at some point and I turn beet red and crumple up a little.

I would see her get frustrated with an old guy who was only doing this to support his wife. He clearly had no rhythm. She wouldn’t quit until she saw him do it right at least once. Her face would show her frustration, but she kept at it until she felt satisfied. Even breaking a smile. Her brown eyes were so dark and delightful. I loved her dark cafe colored skin next to her eyes. Her hair was natural and up in a frizzy little puff of a bun. I would imagine that she would have the cutest kids.

I continued giving it my all, well beyond my usual level of exertion. I would be distracted by watching her shape move, than going through all the reasons why I would never have a chance. I watched my tall frame in the big mirror. The weight lifting was making my décolletage look great. My curly mass of unruly hair was trapped underneath a brown and white patterned train conductor’s cap. I had a good chest, but my belly. God, what a miserable belly! Besides that, I am a smoker. I am fat and a relative cousin to the beauty of Fortune Feimster. I don’t even know if she is gay, is married, has kids, etc.

After an hour of this torture, she quickly hands over the group to another instructor to lead us through some core exercises. I miss her absence as I am trying to hold my 340lb frame in a plank off my knees. I can’t even contemplate some of the other moves and find myself laying flat on the floor, cursing my inability to even raise my knee to my chest for a stretch.

We are released and I start to pick up my gym bag and shoes. Shareese smiles at me and complements me on my good energy. I barely could pull it together to thank her and smile back before I start to bust out of the door. I am so embarrassed. Just as I hit the entrance, another trainer catches me to tell me how great a dancer I was. I thank them, just as shyly, and run to my car.

I can see my pink face in the rear view mirror and feel the excitement and horror of being “seen” coursing through my veins. I completely don’t know what to do with myself, tearing up because I feel so foolish. I vow to stop and get a cupcake on the way home.

PRIDE

I remember the first time I went to our local Pride. The boys and I drove up to the site seven years ago to find the place empty with a dozen trash containers sponsored by Astroglide. It has since grown from an afternoon event to a two-day extravaganza drawing a crowd over 14,000.

At first, I went as an ally. I wanted to support Alex and Max and have a little fun out of the house. Usually it was just a time to see some old friends and people watch. I was always a little nervous around the girls. I didn’t want to get hit on. I would often hide behind Alex or Max.

A few years ago, the organizers was able to secure RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant, Pandora Box. As huge fans of the show, the boys and I were stoked to see her. It was a moment that shifted Pride from being a place where this fringe group of eccentrics partied to an actual event.

Corporate sponsors began backing up the festival. Our local brewery brewed an exclusive beverage for the event. Food vendors started setting up shop, and families began to bring their children down.

Last year, I had come to terms with the realization that I was a lesbian shortly before Pride. Although I had gone several times, I was so nervous to go as a lesbian. I don’t know what I was so nervous about. Manilla Luzon, another one of RuPaul’s girls, came out to host our own local drag pageant. I decided that I had to go, but Max was busy at a musical rehearsal and Alex was in L.A.

I went by myself and texted Alex all through the show. I gave him short videos of the performances, updates on the costumes and music, and even scored a photo with Manilla, herself. I was convinced that Alex would wipe the floor if he were there. After the pageant, a band was set to perform but I began to get a little nervous. I left and came back with Max the next day.

We went from booth to booth. There was representation from AIDs organizations, health clinics, sex shops, churches, and some trinket vendors. I actually had a good conversation with a person from a Quaker church. Max told them I was a lesbian. It was the first time I had heard a third party say that to someone in my presence and it still felt odd.

This year, Alex was with me to see the drag pageant. Lady Bunny, a legendary queen, was the Master of Ceremonies. After you watch RuPaul’s Drag Race, your expectations for what a drag queen can do is elevated. Alex agreed with me that could definitely join the ranks of these other queens and quickly took mental notes of what was and wasn’t working.

I took in the crowd. I didn’t have the same anxiety as I did the year beforehand. I looked at the girls. Several of them looked like me, an overweight Girl Scout with a penchant for sweets. Still, there were several that fit other lesbian stereotypes or none at all. I felt in a way that I sort of fit in.

Alex determined that he wasn’t a “festival” person. He felt like he could be doing something more fun or productive somewhere else. Max and Alex reluctantly agreed to come back the next day with me. The only real reason we did was because I had bought us all two-day passes.

The next day, I felt a little different. I had only gone out the previous year with four or five girls, but two of them were present. One was particularly focused on following me around with her new girlfriend in tow. She told me while we were together that she wore a corset to the previous year’s Pride to make a girlfriend jealous. It was clear that she wanted to repeat the performance.

I was actually relieved to see her with another girl because it meant that she was hopefully over me. As I saw her and her girlfriend dressed up in matching boys clothes, I understood that we were never meant to be together. As much as I was over her, they must have followed me for an hour.

Again, I stayed close to my boys. Manilla Luzon was back for the second year in a row. Alex enjoyed getting to see her live. The last band of the night was an Abba tribute band. All three of us were fans of the music. In order to last long enough to see them, I went to buy us some corn dogs.

On my way to the food court, I was stopped by the last girl I had a date with. We had a lot in common, but our date went sour when she convinced me to leave a coffee joint to join some board meeting for a local gay hippie theater group. I felt really uncomfortable and started to resent the fact that she had obviously forgotten her commitment to go to the meeting and thought she could do both. She said hello and we bantered for a few minutes. I was uncomfortable and made an excuse to get going as soon as I could.

With a snack in our system, the boys and I were able to enjoy the music. We danced and took video. Alex even caught two freebies thrown from the stage, a little stuffed tiger, and a CD.

Like Alex, I am probably not a “festival” person. I don’t know what I wanted to feel while I was there. Was I hoping that I would find someone to date? Often, I go to a lot of these festivals out of boredom. I thought if everyone else was there, maybe I should be too. Alex and Max don’t need a festival to feel comfortable with their sexuality or their choices. Even though they are gay, they don’t always feel like they need to be plugged into the “community.”

I don’t know where I am in the whole scheme of things. I am more comfortable with who I am, but is that because of events like Pride and positive portrayals of gays in the media? Honestly, I think it is just because I trust in the love and guidance of my boys. Maybe we don’t need to seek support from such events. I think the boys have taught me that you need to search for what is right for you and release all the boxes or categories someone might pin you in.

Still, I am proud of the event my city has created. I am proud that so many people were willing to attend it. And if nothing else, maybe it is just what someone needed to come to terms with how to be themselves.

Who Am I, Really?

A big part of this last year has been trying to get real with the real me. Up to 2012, I was a miserable single lady. I felt so left behind by my friends who married and had kids. I didn’t want it, but at the same time I felt undesirable because I wasn’t a part of it. For decades, I repressed any sort of sexuality. At first, I thought I was too fat or unpretty to be hit on. I then convinced myself that I couldn’t force anyone to love me so I should focus on only that which I could control. I overbooked my schedule and worked myself to death to avoid sitting with the real me.

I believe with all of my heart that my cancer is directly related to my dis-ease with my sexuality. I repressed every urge. I shied my eyes away from anything sexual. I took comfort in knowing that porn didn’t turn me on. In some ways, I just thought I was above such desires. The life of a nun looked interesting. I didn’t have to submit to anyone. I wasn’t caught up in a wash of confused emotions related to pleasure or sex because it wasn’t even on the table. In the end, I was just miserable.

I don’t know why sex was such a negative topic for me. I grew up in the church and knew that good girls didn’t do that. I believe my mother was abused. She instilled in me a level of distrust in men…which I didn’t really believe, except when it came to sex. I scared myself silly about STDs. I vowed to never get accidentally pregnant, because who wanted to deal with that?

Even though, I heard that sex was supposed to be awesome, my first time wasn’t really anything to write home about. I kept thinking, “Is this what everyone is in such a hissy about?” I was relieved to not be a virgin at 19, but then I was concerned that it was a slippery slope to slut hood.

This whole time, I strived to be a lady. I traveled around the world. I bought clothes, shoes, and make-up to try and be prettier, more presentable. I went into debt trying to buy things to fix me. I never understood why I couldn’t stick to beauty regimens. I got tired of trying to make myself look pretty, because it was never going to happen.

In reality, the only thing in my way was poor self-esteem, or was it?

Now that I am bald, I have actually not worn wigs a lot. I do like to put them on occasionally, but I prefer a hat or a hoodie. I don’t mind dresses, but I gravitate to pants, t-shirts, and hoodies. My excuse for not having a more diverse wardrobe is money, but it really isn’t that at all. I like the comfort of what I am wearing.

When I flipped the switch and came to the conclusion that I am attracted to girls, I immediately thought of myself as wanting to be more of a lipstick lesbian. How cute is it for two girls that look like girls to be into each other. As I looked through lesbian profiles, I saw more manly girls and felt instant disdain. If I wanted a boy, I would just go for a boy.

Being bald, people just look at you differently. Immediately, they assume that I am a boy. I have been called “sir” more times in the last month than I could care to admit. It doesn’t feel good. First, I attach it to looking ugly. I must be a “handsome” woman. Secondly, I feel that mistaking me for a man must immediately make someone believe that I am transgender. I don’t want to be a man. I don’t want to grow a beard. Whatever! I have been sensing a feeling that the boys suspect some level of gender bending in me. I feel they are intently listening to me to find an “a-ha” moment..

Some how, the topic of going to a strip joint came up. The boys thought it would be a learning experience to take me to one and get me a lap dance. I felt myself immediately throw up walls. A girl can’t go into one of those places. I would be so embarrassed. I feared the boys would get off on my embarrassment and ride it for entertainment. What if I wasn’t attracted to them? What if I was? Instant fear shut down my entire system.

It leads to a very interesting conversation. What am I afraid of? Do I think strip clubs are morally wrong? No. Do I think the girls are skanky or sluts? No, actually, I think I admire them. I love dancing. I love the female form. It is like a show with beautiful topless women in it. Alex downloaded pics of the club; it was plush, dark, and full of red velvet. I actually love that esthetic. Alex and Max could visualize how awesome this could be for me, and I instantly wanted to hate them for it. They offered to hold my hand, come in with me; they promised that wouldn’t push me past my comfort level. Something in side of me was just fuming. I was facing meltdown. I could see exactly what they were seeing, and totally agreed with it, but there was another part of me that was grossed out.

The biggest emotion was embarrassment. I was embarrassed to be a girl liking girls. I was embarrassed to think that I would be in a situation with such sexual stimulation, that I thought I would get overwhelmed and just die. I didn’t want witnesses to see me meltdown and be so vulnerable. It was so polar opposite to who I thought I once was, or who I once tried to be. There was immediate shame. The emotions were almost enough to shut me down completely, but I was used to this pattern of behavior. As I was internally freaking out, I felt like I stepped back and try to examine the meltdown in progress. I could hear Alex and Max, but I refused to look them in the eyes. Still, I held open a doorway to hear the truth.

In reality, it is a perfect idea. No relationship commitments. No touching them. Dark. Visual. As Alex called it, it is live action porn. As much as I love scantily clad women dancers, I am positive I would enjoy the experience. I understood that it was a great idea, I just couldn’t bust through all the baggage. Part of me had never thought of it before, and was in denial that it was even a possibility. It was like a whole new world had sprung open. Another part of me felt all the shame, damage, guilt, immorality, and embarrassment of the situation.

Obviously, these same hang-ups must have an impact on my ability to find a girlfriend. In some ways, I have confronted so much and am open. In other ways, I am still completely pinched off from my sexuality. Thank god I learned to masturbate. I have a prescription to do so at least twice a week from my radiation oncologist to help combat the collapse of my vagina from the radiation. I think a bigger part of the problem is that I still don’t know exactly where I fall on the spectrum.

Abraham Hicks says that the first part of the Law of Attraction is that we send off rockets of desire every minute of every day. Just being in our environment, we can’t help but log our desires. The difficulty is in the allowing. We create so much resistance, that our grids can’t fill in. We can either choose to allow what we are attracted to in our lives, or we can revel in the absence of what we want. The Universe is just waiting for us to soften our resistance.

If I take out immediate judgment, whether it be my own or that of others, an interesting pattern emerges. There is not any really new information, I have known this for some time, but there is openness to the information and an understanding if I can keep the judgment at bay for just long enough to get a clearer picture.

I have always been attracted to boy stuff. I have always been a sort of tomboy. I grew up through the late seventies and eighties. Nerdy boys had so much available to them. I always asked Santa for Matchbox cars, or the entire catalogue of Star Wars toys. So many times, my efforts to lay out these desires ended up with a pink radio in the exact same model as my younger sister. My hair would be matted. I wouldn’t sit still for my mom to brush it out. I loved playing soccer with the boys at lunch during elementary school. When I asked to play in a league, my mother instantly shot it down.

These preferences continued as I got older. My best friends were often boys. I was always considered “one of the guys.” I relished blowing people’s expectations of girls out of the water. When a guy at a retail job that I worked at mentioned that girls weren’t strong enough to start one machine, I instantly proved him wrong. I like tools and am interested in DIY shows. I sat in a circle of all men in Japan, at my brother’s wedding, and drank brandy along with them. I have always been interested in a man cave. I have an affinity for the image of the old bachelor in “My Fair Lady.”

Still, I have no desire to cut off my tits and take testosterone. I love to get gussied up as a pretty girl on occasion and flirt. It is like a cat playing with a mouse, killing it, and not eating it. I could see myself golfing. I love Seth MacFarlane. Family Guy is a comedy treasure. I watch “Jackass” movies on opening night. Seth Rogen and I could hang. I even loved the movie “Ted.”

Again, none of this is shocking to me. I have known it all of my life. I guess the problem lies in the fact that I have been judging the fact that I have liked it all of my life. I realize that my concept of what is expected from a girl is different. I fear being judged as an ugly but not enough to repress it as far down as my sexual identity.

Honestly, I don’t know what to do. Really though, is there anything I am suppose to do? I think it is just another layer of understanding. It is the peeling back of another onion layer and reminding myself that I am perfectly okay just as I am. I don’t have to worry about slipping off some slippery slope. Getting real with myself doesn’t mean that I will put myself in any actual danger. The Universe has my back. Nothing in this life is meant to hurt me or punish me. I don’t have to define myself by the stereotypes and judgments of others. The only person I really have to listen to is myself.

I don’t have to do anything other than follow what comes with ease and joy. Life is too short to live like a zombie. Maybe that is why there are so many zombie things. Don’t too many people medicate and choke down what they thing they are suppose to do every day instead of just living true to themselves? I refuse to live in autopilot because it is safe. There is so much more to this existence if we can stay true to who we are.

A Love Letter to the Sun

This winter has been unusually cold, snowy, and long. My butt has fallen on the ice in my driveway at least a half dozen times already. Each fall makes you more timid. Last night, I looked at my trash can and had a mini panic attack thinking about taking it to the end of my driveway. Eventually, taking small enough steps, I managed to get it set out.

I always harbor a small amount of anxiety about falling. I am scared to death of breaking bones, even though I have never broken one. Sure, I have twisted ankles and bruised other parts of my body pretty bad…but the fear is the most limiting part. Some people enjoy others confronting their fears. Max loves to watch me fall and try to get up. Yes, if I was really hurt he would come and help…but sometimes you need to watch someone confront their fear and get over it as an extension of their growth. I imagine parents have a horrible time giving their children enough space to make mistakes in order to grow.

I have been growing a lot these days. Fear can be a horrible fixture when you are confronting disease. I was scared to death when I was diagnosed with cancer, but I knew that I couldn’t just spend all of my waking hours worrying. Thoughts about your mortality are always in the mix. My father in his seventies is always contemplating his inevitable exit. My aunt did the same when she was his age. It is not normal to do it in your 30s, but anyone who has cancer and doesn’t tell you that their mind is sometimes burdened by these crazy thoughts is lying.

As someone who has been really into the Law of Attraction, I often worry when these thoughts show up. I don’t want more of them. I don’t want to attract suffering. Unfortunately, my panic about these thoughts always leads to more. That is why you really need to get focused on something else.

I am in the last third of my treatment. Even though this is the time the doctors tell you that you might be at your weakest, I have decided to take on some stuff to get me ready for life after disease. I started teaching an English class at my local community college. I even auditioned and am rehearsing for a small cabaret show. Compared to my recent activities, this is a lot.

Not only am I managing my time and energy to do them, I am using them as a safe space to really relax into my new state of being. I usually hate processes and “the journey.” I often am pounding things out to get to the end result. Life is all about the journey. The more comfortable you are during it, finding ways to enjoy the process, the more you get out of everything.

I think being in the middle of the process was so difficult for me because I like things black and white. Tell me what you want and I’ll do it. This might be great in an employee, but it isn’t great when you are trying to find out what you really want. With my cancer treatment, I can no longer ignore my body. If I am exhausted, hungry, or hurting…I have to honor it and forget about what anyone else thinks.

Last week, I had my first infusion of my second round of chemo. I appreciated the time off from radiation. Still, I did have some anxiety coming back. I had handled the chemo well before, but there are always unknowns. This round I get a Neblasta shot 24 hours after each infusion. It is designed to make more blood cells to fight infection, but it magnifies the boney pain. Surprisingly, the boney pain hasn’t been too bad. My energy level is a different issue. I went to rehearsal on Monday and made it through two hours of choreography. I wanted to leave as soon as it started. My bones ached and I felt light, but I sat through the pain and made it through.

Yesterday, I saw a doctor for a radiation follow-up. She asked me about exercise and when I told her what I was doing, she was impressed. “You should be exhausted,” she said. I was, but there is a part of me that is always pushing though the pain. Even after a nap, I didn’t really have much energy. I eventually missed rehearsal. I felt guilty, but a little rest on this end will preserve me for the future of the production.

Knowing when to push and when not to is an extension of being able to listen to yourself, trusting the information you are receiving. Discovering my identity as a lesbian made me realize how much I had been trained to deny huge aspects of my personhood. This all comes from self-hatred and low self-worth. As I have been opening myself up, I am able to hear and feel more of my intuition. I still question it, but I am kinder and more open to myself.

Nonetheless, sometimes a person who has been so out of tune with themselves needs help. Every self-help book talks about the need for accountability partners or a support system. As I have grown older, I was focused on being independent. I kept so many of my thoughts and feelings to myself. I thought I was shielding others from my burdens, but I was only hurting myself. Plus, those people that you really do love and want to be close to really ache when you do this. Max and Alex are always asking me to dig deeper, tell them more, and be more vulnerable. It isn’t easy. I would rather get two IVs sometimes than to share certain thoughts.

Assertiveness can have a bad connotation to it. Who wants to be a bitch? Still, sometimes you have to say what is on your mind. One day this past week, I was playing a pool game on my new phone. I finally won a game and let out a huge yell. Max and Alex were taken back. According to them, my yell was a little “manish,” which was contrary to my normal self. Max stated, with some confusion, frustration, and anger, “I feel like sometimes I don’t even know who you are.”

Immediately, I felt a dagger through my heart. On one hand, I got it. It is hard to see someone you thought you knew change so much. It wasn’t in the contract. That is why family members often are enemies to those on a diet. Couples break up because one of them changes more than the other can handle. In reality, I am not really that different. The context has changed and I am trying super hard to get more comfortable with who I am.

Still, there is no one that wouldn’t have been hurt if their best friend had said the same thing. It was in this moment that I immediately clammed up and could no longer speak. Rationally, I had already forgiven him because I understood, but I needed to give voice to the hurt. It took me two days to finally say it.

I have taught lessons on conflict management and being more assertive. I know that one needs to communicate. The problem is feeling enough worth and confidence to just give voice to it. I can now feel the physical closing of my throat. I have red flags shoot off in my head that I need to say something now. Unfortunately, low blood sugar can flood emotions through your body and make you feel so unworthy that you just shut down. Embarrassment or lack of confidence can make you second-guess every word. You can imagine how ridiculous you must look or sound, and the last thing you want to do is be seen.

I treat myself as if I am doing something wrong when in reality, you know that a boundary has been crossed and you just want to acknowledge it. Concern for others’ feelings becomes more important than your health and security. In the end, the lack of action is more a slap in the face to yourself than anyone else.

Watching someone go through this might be as funny as watching someone fall and try to get up in their driveway, but it is as lethal as cancer. How many people don’t tell their doctors the full truth because they are embarrassed or afraid? I am guilty. How many people stay in an unhealthy situation at work or in a relationship because they are too afraid to speak up? Again, I am guilty.

Once you recognize the problem, you can work on it. But, it isn’t super simple. The old adage that if you make a mistake, you have to do it right 7 times in order to learn it the right way applies. Being aware is only one step. You have to exercise this assertiveness muscle over and over again in order to gain any sort of ease in doing it.

You are not an island. You will have to get loved ones involved. Hopefully, there are a few people in your life that you feel you can trust enough to work on this with. If you don’t have someone you can trust, you are going to have to take a leap of faith and go find someone. I no longer believe that I can keep my thoughts and feelings to myself. Writing helps. It can open up someone who is really closed up, but you have to develop connections with other living breathing human beings.

Of course, humans are not perfect. Sometimes you are going to take a chance and be vulnerable, and the other person is going to disappoint you, maybe even hurt your feelings. Hopefully, you are working with people who have earned the right to hear your business and have even proven themselves as friends and not foes. If this is the case, you have to continue the dialogue. Feelings are mucky. They are uncomfortable. When people are learning, or even when they are not at their best, you have to be willing to forgive them and move on. The real reason for this is because you so desperately want them to forgive you when you mess up, which you are going to do.

By building this resource, it is easier to confront fear. Fear is a dark room. The second you let in some light, you will be able to see. Fear can’t survive the light; it exists in shadows. All one has to do is flip the switch. Flipping the switch just entails softening the resistance, releasing a muscle, relaxing and just letting the truth flow instead of being pinched off.

_______________________________________________________________________

At my next infusion, I noticed an older woman getting an infusion next to me. She was crabby to herself. She had no one with her, and she held a wall of invincibility around her. She called to have her lunch delivered and handled the human interaction like a business transaction. There was an impenetrable wall around her. I can understand wanting to prevent the bad/sad energy of a cancer center from invading you, but this was deep. I saw the old me in her and wanted to give her a hug. Cancer cells spend a lifetime isolating themselves from the community of the body. They only absorb the supplies they need (or more than they need) and don’t give anything back, like the Universe owes them nothing.

When she left, a lovely older black woman took her place. She was warm and funny. She loved to make her neighbors laugh. She showed concern for another patient who had a bathroom issue. The entire time she was getting her infusion, she had a six-month baby girl on her lap. You could tell that she loved this little one and I was in awe of how much the baby girl just melted into her. She felt safe and loved. There was no other place that she would have rather been. This grandma and her granddaughter were the most beautiful thing in the room. The energy radiated from them was warm, soft, and comforting. Like a flame, you’re just drawn to them.

I want to burn as a brighter flame. I want to radiate love and warmth.

So, today, the sun shines. I feel the light and the warmth. I know it is going to go away soon, but I am making my vitamin D and am storing the glorious energy and goodwill. I feel lighter. I feel fuller, and I feel ready to continue to be brave and carry on with courage.

What’s Love Got to Do With It?

I am 36-year-old woman who has only been in one semi-significant relationship, and that was with a man. I can count the number of times I have had sex on one hand. I have felt fairly pathetic for the entirety of my reproductive years. I was convinced that by society’s standards I was subpar.

Coupling always seemed like it is the next maturation step that I never got. As a pre-teen, I longed to be asked out. I dreamed of what it would be like when I met, “the one.” Through school, I felt pinched every time those stupid Valentine’s carnations were delivered to our homerooms. I knew there would be none for me.

I was pretty fat in middle school and that was an understandable excuse in my world for not receiving a side-glance from anyone. In college, I was thinner, prettier. I was convinced that when I moved to Chicago and got settled in, I would find “the one.”

That didn’t happen. When I moved back to Michigan, I got tired of waiting and bought my own house. I figured that if I kept busy, things would sort themselves out. They didn’t. Enter Max and Alex. They pushed me to get out there. I discovered that it is pretty easy to find a guy to date or to fool around with. I dated a few nice guys, but I didn’t feel anything when I was with them.

There were a million reasons why I could point to not having a guy. I hated being single, but I loved not being in a relationship that I regretted. As I watched others take on new marriages, I could see their pain when they were not matched well. Jealousy, verbal abuse, and neglect seemed common. I hated how some of my friends felt controlled. They became zombie noodles.

My parents’ relationship was not something I wanted to model my future on. They would get into vicious fights in my youth. I stopped looking forward to the weekends because they would get into a big fight and you would feel like you had to walk on eggshells. I began to see marriage as a trap. Who wants to sign up for that?

Still, I am a total lover at heart. I love the sappy Valentine crap. I lost my virginity to the first guy who gave me flowers. I loved the idea of love, but saw few models of loving relationships that really reflected this.

The best examples of a healthy relationship came from my gay friends. Alex and Max have been together twelve or more years now. They communicate well. They are each other’s best friend. Similarly, I have friends who are a lesbian couple. They equally have each other’s backs. Both couples spend quality time with one another. They seem to “fit.”

Through the years I have gone from being curious about relationships, to disgusted by them, to longing for them. The hardest times to be single are by far the holidays. Every merchant is sure to make you aware of sharing a special something with someone. This is compounded by all the inquiries from well meaning people into your love life. From work, to your parents, to aunts, and friends constantly asking who I have been seeing…you get sick of finding a tactful way to say, “nope, I am still pathetically single.”

As I rolled into my thirties, the pressure was immense. My aunt told me that now I would be considered a “mature” bride if I wanted to get married. Friends and siblings started getting married off by the butt load. I found it so painful to be a part of the festivities. I forgot worrying about my own wedding. I had already assumed it was never going to happen. My mother reminded me several times in my youth that I was not the “marrying” type. I never understood what they meant. Did they not want me to have a significant other?

Through my life, whenever there was a portrayal of an old “hag,” I felt squeamish. My father would recall all these women that he knew that didn’t get married. He couldn’t understand why. “She seemed pretty to me.” I felt that bucking the system meant a life of hardship: no one to provide for you, no children to take care of you in your old age. You’re on your own kid!

Still, I didn’t mind being on my own. I made my own schedule. I never had to answer to anyone. I had my own money. I could eat what I wanted. I didn’t ever have to share the TV remote. As much as these perks were nice, you can’t help having the nagging feeling that you are missing out. You start believing that you are so different. You must be a freak. How horrible can I be that I can’t find someone who might love me for me?

As the veil of my depression began to break, I started talking to a guy I thought was everything that I would ever want. He didn’t call after our first date. I was devastated. What did I do? No matter how much I touched up my hair, got dolled up, and even tolerated heels…I was still not attractive.

Then, as life tends to throw you a curve ball, I had the epiphany that maybe I wasn’t so crazy, maybe I am just gay. All of a sudden, in a matter of hours, I could see everything making sense. I never thought I had any real romantic entanglements, but I had, they were just with girls. No, I had only really kissed one…but I could understand now that my attraction to them was very similar to someone who would have a crush with the opposite sex. I had told myself that being gay was not a possibility and worked my whole life to repress it. I destroyed my sex drive. It doesn’t seem that far of a stretch to see why I developed cancer in an organ that is most strikingly female.

Once I figured out things, I began venturing into this new world. I actually dated a girl for a while, but then I got cancer. She was cool with it, but I couldn’t handle figuring out my sexuality and my new diagnosis at the same time. I even had a few dates before Christmas, but they were disasters. I was more than eager to have a dating break for a while.

In the New Year, Alex and Max tried to get me to start dating again. I was really reluctant. I really wanted to just worry about me. I was totally okay with this. As a whole, I have found this self-acceptance thing to be super difficult. How can you try to find someone when you still hate so much about yourself?

More comfortable with my single status then ever, I got to Valentine’s Day. I sent Valentines out to friends and family. I indulged Alex and Max with a shower of chocolates and goodies. It felt good. The next day I was to spend alone. I got super hungry and tried to go out to eat. Every restaurant in the area was packed. Low blood sugar fired a spiral of self-pity that I had not expected. Again, I felt like an outsider just looking in on a world that I am never suppose to know. I ended up spending the rest of the day in bed.

For me, I know my problem is still being okay with who I am. I judge myself for looking too boyish (especially with my cancer crew cut). I fear that I might find someone attractive, and everyone else in my world will think they are a complete dog. I am embarrassed to be with a girl that is too butch. I don’t want someone who can’t hold a conversation, or who will embarrass me in front of company. I am worried about someone being too clingy. I feel being yelled at, misunderstood. Maybe I am too selfish to ever share my life with someone. I don’t want to be the whole financial supporter of someone, but I question what I have to give in a relationship. I am scared shitless about lesbian sex. I am embarrassed to be so inexperienced at such a late age.

I am mostly afraid that I can’t trust my own judgment. I don’t want to make anyone feel bad about themselves, and I really don’t want someone to get involved with me and then get hurt. I don’t know why anyone would want to be with me. The insecurity and inferiority exacerbate everything.

Alex and I talked about this past Saturday. He was like, “what do you need to get started?” He had me venture out to the dating sites again while he worked on something else. I clicked on a picture of a girl who I would have never clicked on before. We had a ton in common. She was kind of butch. Could I handle that? I guess you don’t know until you try.

So again, I continue to try. Not because if I don’t find someone that I will die lonely, but because I am just ready to stop listening to crap in my head and just try it. Put on my big girl panties and make some new friends. Don’t be so afraid. Don’t measure mine or anyone else’s worth on what someone else may or may not think. Grow some tits and just show up in this life. If I can handle cancer, I should be able to handle this just fine.

Being Okay With Me

I am 36 years old. Aren’t you supposed to know who you are by now? Shouldn’t your identity have been set during those awkward teen years? Well last year, at about this time, I had an epiphany. I had gone out on a date with a man that had checked off all the boxes on my wish list. I didn’t think this guy really existed, but here he was in front of me. After a nice first date, I never heard from him again. I was dumb founded. For a week or two, I didn’t know how I wanted to proceed. If I really wanted a relationship, why wasn’t I able to manifest it?

Cut to the boys and I talking, and them asking the fateful phrase, “so tell us about your lesbian tendencies.” I had worked on the depression. I became aware of my desire to constantly please others. I started working on being more vulnerable and having the courage to speak my truth. When confronted, I began to examine my life and came to the “a-ha” that the possibility of being a lesbian was pretty high.

That night, as I went through my past, I realized that this was the answer that only made sense. Why was I so in the dark? I had always been pro-gay. Why would I then be so far in the closet? I was so concerned with pleasing others, my parents, my family…that I wouldn’t even let myself entertain the thought of who I really was. I had spent decades repressing my sex drive and lying to myself about who I really was. I no longer had functioning instincts.

There was a huge release when I finally connected the dots. Maybe I wasn’t as screwed up as I thought. Just as relief overcame me, I was also slammed with fear. What does this mean? If I had been lying to myself for so long, how do I know what is true and what is not? I didn’t want to be “special.” Who the hell am I? Was I going to hell? I don’t hate men; I love them. That can’t be compatible with being a lesbian. I don’t want to be an ugly dyke? How would others in my life react?

I had one major meltdown the next day, but then I got over it. I had been single for so long that I kind have already given up the idea of having kids or even getting married. I had gay role models in my life. I knew I could do this. Luckily, no friends or family members have disowned me.

It has been a huge process. Still, I am by no means fully there. I tried dating girls. I was closer to hitting the mark, but I was also not having much success. I knew I felt like I needed to focus on me, but I got pressure to “keep looking.” I need to experience “sex” and “closeness” from someone else according to my friends. The dating process should be fun and exciting. Well, it isn’t. I felt able to be myself more than I had ever been before, but nothing was clicking.

I haven’t seen anyone else sense the beginning of December. Getting ready for my 27 radiation appointments, I wasn’t really looking to start anything new up. I think this was the right decision for me, but I could tell Max and Alex were afraid that if I didn’t immediately get on the fish bandwagon that I might never.

Time went on. Christmas happened. I was sort of in a funk; the weather landscape was less than cheery. Alex and Max kept asking, “Are you going to have sex this year? Is it even a priority?” I would try to shrink and fade back into the shadows.

Since my bit of clarity, I have realized that in some ways I know nothing about myself. When I look at who I am at any particular time in my life, was that really me? In some ways, it was just a mask. I wanted to be pretty and feel girly, but my stasis was a girl of comfort and practicality. I like to put on make up on occasion, but I couldn’t commit to doing it daily. It felt like torture. I love long hair, but I didn’t want to fuss with it.

With Alex doing drag, we would have dress up parties. I really enjoyed this. I felt pretty when we got made up. As I saw video and pictures of us, I equated being pretty with being of value. I could see myself as sexy. I started dreaming of a future where I looked closer to the quarky style of Zooey Deschanel, the Victorian drama of Stevie Nicks, or a little more Earth goddess.

As treatment went on, I became more self-conscious of my changing body. I had no hair, my eyebrows went for a while, I still had surgery scars, and I had a perpetual issue with boils in my nether region. I felt gross and radioactive. The last thing I wanted to do was to get close enough to someone to have me just be flat out rejected for what I knew I was unable to change.

This combined with pressure to “keep trying,” family and daddy troubles, crazy weather, and radiation therapy kind of put me in a funk. I became very focused on the short term. Alex and Max could sense this disconnect and slowing of my growth process. They were concerned that I was feeling “dead” inside. I had stopped dreaming and my motivation to get out of bed and attack life was lower than normal.

Through many conversations, it became clear that even though I had “come out” to all of the important people in my life, and they were cool with me, I was by no means cool with myself. I was still resisting what being a lesbian meant.  I cringed at the stereotypes. I didn’t really feel super butch or super femme. I still judged many aspects of myself to the point that I was still beating myself up for being inferior because of them. It was easier to hold on to the disappointment of not being who I thought I was, than to face the truth of who I am. If I was still resisting the truth, it felt like there was still hope that I could be what I thought I wanted to be, what I perceived was more desirable by others.

Alex and Max were catching on. They asked me, if I had to make a choice between 1) having a life partner that I could share everything with and be the fourth member of our little posse for life (never being able to write or journal again) or 2) have my great relationship with the boys and be able to live by writing for the rest of my life….what would I choose? Instantly, I could never imagine not being able to write. I felt like that shouldn’t be my answer, but I knew it was true to how I felt.

Finally, it dawned on the boys that maybe what I don’t need immediately is a relationship. Maybe, I was more of a tomboy than I let myself believe I was. Maybe I was meant to live a single life. Maybe everything I already was is exactly what I am supposed to be. Maybe the real lesson is that I need to continue to release who I think I should be and get radically comfortable with who I am.

With this mindset, there is a radical sense of relief. Stop fighting. Embrace who I am without judgment, and just “be.” On the other hand, there is an overwhelming sense of fear. I have been obviously conditioned to not be who I am for most of my life. By releasing the judgment and the guilt of not being who I thought I should be…there is a sense of huge loss because the foundation of everything you have built your life on seems to be shifting. It is easy to confuse this with the foundation crumbling and the house falling in on itself.

It is a Pandora’s box. You are afraid of what will be revealed when you open the lid. On some level, you are convinced that you won’t be able to handle it. For most of my life, I must have gotten that message from others. I strongly believed that I could be anything I wanted to be. If I wanted to be this image of a straight good girl, why couldn’t I be her? By releasing this, wasn’t I just giving up? Wasn’t my failure more about my lack of character than it was about being true to whom I am suppose to be?

Every night for the last year, I have been listening to clips of Abraham Hicks from YouTube. I believe in the Law of Attraction and use these audio recordings to help refocus my thoughts. What I have learned is that the Universe or God has our back. The Universe is not going to give us anything or any experience that we haven’t asked for. We may not see that always, but in time the dots do connect.

The most important thing for everyone to do is to follow their truth and to have fun. Having fun and being happy raises our vibration and helps us to attract positive and wonderful things from our vortex of everything we have ever really wanted. Our emotions are our guide to how close we are to be vibrationally in line with our truth. When we get angry with ourselves, we are separating ourselves from our Source. We know it is not true, and the worse we feel the farther away from the truth we are getting. In reality, life is suppose to come with “ease” but we let other people’s reality or judgment get in our way. We believe lies that we are suppose to work harder, that we should exercise more will power and determination.

If we stop listening to this noise from outside of us, and listen to our truth from within, we are aligning ourselves with our Source. When we accept what is true for us, we can relish in our possibilities, delight in the banquet of possibility by viewing through the lens of what we really want. We can choose our thoughts in order to focus on feeling good and release our fear and judgment. The need to harbor fear to protect oneself is released. The Universe sees we are ready and helps guide us closer to what we desire. The easier it comes, the better. We are closer to being a vibrational match to what we want and our ability to manifest is awe-inspiring.

For my entire life, I have been fighting the current. I have been forcing myself up stream. Alex mentioned that I am like a fish who has been trying their whole life to climb a tree and never understanding why I can’t. Since I wasn’t true to who I am, I never was able to really manifest what I thought I wanted because it wasn’t what I really wanted. I have become more aware of what I am doing, but only recently really understood.

The focus of this last week has really been getting comfortable with who I am. I am perfectly okay exactly as I am, right now. Not yesterday. Not 20 years ago. I am worthy and perfect right now! It is okay. It is okay if I don’t like make-up. It is okay if I have short hair. It is okay if I am overweight. It is okay if I don’t want to be in a relationship. It doesn’t mean that it will always be that way, but in order to be fully rooted in my power…I have to accept who I am now.

Hijacked

Since Christmas, I had been a little bummed out. I continued with my radiation appointments and received a special visit from Sam and his son. Seeing them really felt great and made the bitterness of missing them on the holiday fade away.

Alex and Max finally made it home. We celebrated our own Christmas. When I was invited over, the tree had a ton of gifts under it. Alex’s mother sent some lovely things for me. I am always a little surprised and super touched that she thinks of me. Her gift alone was ten times anything I got from my own family. The boys had equally showered me with lovely items, and I started to feel uncomfortable with this embarrassment of riches. I realized that this was the kind of feeling I had always hoped to have on the holiday, the gift of surprise and thoughtfulness.

I think they were surprised and pleased with my gifts. After Christmas, I had gone out and added more to them. I was so happy to have them in my life and grateful, that I just wanted them to know it.

We recounted tales of our Christmas. Alex had had his own family drama, but had gone out of his way to make a potentially explosive situation a positive one. When I told them about my day, they were a little stunned and dismayed. They had known I was upset and wanted to say something to my dad. I told them it wasn’t necessary, and we kind of went about our business.

We had stayed up so late, that I slept on their couch. It was late afternoon before we were functional. Our first course of business was to get something to eat. During dinner, I lamented about my family situation and how I couldn’t rely on them to be my “Christmas” anymore. I was still having trouble letting it go. We decided to stop some place so I could get one last gift for Alex’s brother.

I don’t know what was said, or what I did. We had already parked and were about to get out when Alex said he was done and that we should go to my father’s house to have a little conversation. It had been on my to do list since June. I had been feeling the need to tell my father how I felt bad about not living up to his expectations, and that I was probably a lesbian. The whole Christmas debacle just seemed to put a new sense of urgency on it.

I protested heavily. Max agreed with Alex and said if I wasn’t, they were going to. I tried to get out of the van, and Max hit the gas with the door still open.  I honestly thought about jumping out, but I knew I would have gotten hurt so I closed the door. This couldn’t be real. I screamed, I bawled, I kicked…but they kept driving.

“What do you want to say,” Alex kept asking. My mind was totally blank. I couldn’t think of anything. They circled my father’s house for a while, trying to get me to focus. “If you don’t do it,” Alex repeated, “ I will.”

By the time they pulled into the driveway, I was completely in shock. What I was going to say, or how I was going to say it. All I knew was that I was in very uncomfortable territory.

We walked in and sat with my family for a moment before my dad had to excuse himself to the bathroom. Max immediately told my sister that I needed to speak to my father and that her and her husband needed to vacate the area. He took them away and I was left with Alex and three dogs. Alex was twitching in his seat, fired up, and ready to take on the world. I just wanted to piss myself.

When my father exited the bathroom, he knew something was up. He sat in his chair and for the next hour and a half we had a conversation. I don’t know how I was able to form the words. How could I say them so that he heard me? How could I soften the blow? What was it that I really wanted to get off my chest?

Basically, for the first time in my life, I told my dad how much I loved him and how I worried about not living up to his expectations. I felt like when I disappointed him, he would passive aggressively take it out on me and I would feel so let down and unable to communicate it to him. Whenever he commented on my weight or made a snide comment, I never told him how much it really hurt and I would let the pain eat away at me. If I made a phone call asking for help, I believed that he thought that I was selfish or manipulative, but that I anguished for days prior to any request I would make.

I couldn’t handle his judgment of how I conducted my life and spent a lifetime trying to live up to my perceived standard of how he wanted me to be and how I couldn’t do it anymore. I could no longer pause my life to take on his obligations, or act as like his wife, or my siblings’ mother. At the end of the day, I still needed my daddy. I needed his love, guidance, and support. I couldn’t always be just his “rock.”

I also told him that, “the likelihood that I am a lesbian is high.” He countered with, “I have suspected that for years.” Still, I am having trouble with owning that identity. If I kept trying to live up to his perceived mold of what I should be, I would always be trying to hide myself. I wouldn’t be able to be closer to him because I would still feel the need to hide. I wouldn’t be able be authentic because I would still harbor the self-judgment and fear the truth.

Alex sat quietly, but also cut in when I needed to be refocused, or forced me to say everything even if I was reluctant. He stood up for me if my father said something judgmental. I wouldn’t have been able to say the things that I needed to if he wasn’t there to back me up. I was strengthened in the knowledge that someone was there to have my back. I am not used to that sort of support, and it felt scary as much as it was encouraging.

I told my dad that I didn’t know where we went from here, but I would work harder to be more authentic and assertive. To let him know when he hurt me, but also to open myself up more so he could know me better. Living this way was completely new to me, so I would make mistakes. We all would. But, it was how I needed to live my life in order to thrive and not die.

We left the house feeling like something was accomplished. Hugs and tears were shared. My father shook Alex’s hand and thanked him for helping me get what I needed off my chest. I was still as shell shocked in the car as I was before, but at least it was done.

I can’t say that the heavens opened up and that the angels sang, but I did feel exhausted and my head hurt. The boys were giddy. They kept saying that I had nothing to hide from my family now. It was true. Alex commented that it was all love. After a night of good sleep, I woke up lighter. My mouth sort of sat in a grin and I felt the warmth and positivity of simple contentment.