We’ve all been there, some for longer periods than others, so few would not be familiar with the fear we endure hiding our ‘secret’ from our loved ones. Along with questioning why we are like we are, some of us question what it is that prevents us from sharing our secret with them.
Is it fear of rejection? For many it could be, and the number of CDs who come out and then experience such rejection can be used to justify keeping silent. Is it shame? Often that too is a factor because many of us feel shame at what we do and can rightly expect others will feel the same. Again, the experiences of some seem to justify remaining closeted. Maybe it’s a lack of trust. Unfortunately many of our loved ones immediately assume this is the case – we didn’t tell them about ourselves so we must not trust them – yet that is frequently very far from the truth. Then of course there is our fear of hurting our loved ones; a hurt that we imagine will come from a combination of all the other reasons, made worse by the fact that we will likely turn their lives upside-down. The problem with that is that for every day that goes by the hurt we imagine we’ll cause compounds, with the knowledge of that silencing us even more rigorously.
Thus, for whatever reasons, we keep silent. Some manage to do so all their lives. Some end their lives because they can’t stay silent. Most though reach a point where they find they have to overcome their fears. The ‘inner woman’ is screaming for freedom to exist openly. Eventually we can keep silent no longer. Thus, to whatever fate the circumstances decree, we come out.
Some of us come out by allowing ourselves to be caught en femme. It’s a confrontational approach but felt by those who do so as saving them the need to reveal the secret themselves. Thus, in a way, they can shift the blame if any is to be laid. Others find a way to broach the subject in conversation, either within existing conversations or, as I did, at a time and place they choose to do so.
So there we are, we’ve come out. The years of secrecy and hiding, the lies and deception have ended. Our loved ones understand us because they love us too. We all move on and the ‘inner woman’ is free. I can hear the cheers from the audience as the credits roll and the Disney logo pops up. We all love a happy ending. Sadly, though, the movie might end but Disney didn’t write the script. The script is ad lib just like the rest of life. The players are amateurs and the ending has yet to be reached. Now what?
As the Disney script calls for, coming out should be an end to the secrets, the lies and the deception. The ‘inner woman’ is free but perhaps the freedom is fleeting. The problem with amateur productions is that the players often don’t know their lines or simply forget them. When a loved one reacts contrary to expectation or hope the CD can lose the plot entirely. Instead of revising and seeking to get things back on track they retreat to what they are familiar with. Unfortunately the genie can’t be returned to the bottle and the MIB Memory Eraser employed. We’ve likely already caused the hurt we wanted to avoid. We’ve shattered the trust they might have had in us and it’s almost certain we’ve left them questioning themselves and all they thought they knew. New secrets will not mask those revealed. More lies will not undo or counter those already told. We need to rewrite the whole ending.
Few people exist in isolation so the first step is to work as a partnership. Like any other partnership we must consider each other’s sensitivities and vulnerabilities. Coming out might make us feel ‘free’ but freedom must be earned. We are not free if we imprison our loved ones in their own unhappy place. They are as much a part of the situation as we are, more so in some respects. Most of us took years before we accepted who we are and years more to uncork the bottle. Our self-acceptance does not automatically guarantee theirs. Becoming comfortable with our ‘inner woman’ is one thing, demanding that our loved ones do so immediately is at the very least unfair and unjust. It might also be unrealistic.
There is only one way that all players will reach the finale together and that is if the script we pen is done together unselfishly, as an open, honest work in progress. We must discuss changes, we have a duty to each other to factor in the actors’ abilities and it is imperative that we determine our limits. It is not all about them or us as individuals. It’s about the whole ensemble with equal credit for the successes because of equal efforts by all. Thanks to Disney though, we know a happy ending is possible.