LIFE HAS CHANGED IMMENSELY AND NOT AT ALL
If you had asked me at any point in the past what I thought my life would look like today, I never would've been able to predict it. Truthfully, if I was able to go back in time and tell myself a year ago what my life was like in the present, I'm not sure I would believe myself. Even just four months ago, I don't think I would be able to believe that everything that's happened in the last four months would be possible. And my suicidal 15-year old self who had just come out to himself and was terrified at the prospect of being queer certainly wouldn't be able to believe it. The life I'm living is one my 15-year old self didn't believe he would live to see.
Four months ago, at the end of the 2017, I had done a lot of work, having been in therapy for just under a year, I was just beginning to understand the beauty of queerness I had suppressed for so long, and I was celebrating the end of my first semester of grad school, but at the same time, I was still a week away from the dissolution of the longest queer relationship I'd ever been in (if you can really call it that), I had only just started wading back into church for the first time in two and a half years, and I wasn't even aware of the existence of half the queer friends who have changed my life.
THE LIFE I'M LIVING IS ONE MY 15-YEAR OLD SELF DIDN'T BELIEVE HE WOULD LIVE TO SEE
Four months ago, I didn't really believe this was all possible.
I didn't believe I would be starting to feel more equipped to be the therapist, rather than the client.
I didn't believe I would have a group of queer friends who understood all the things I've been through.
I didn't believe I would have the relationships with my family I have now, from my siblings and I crying together and telling each other (almost) everything, to being able to watch my mom cry empathetic, happy tears over the first two episodes of Queer Eye.
I didn't believe I would be able to find a church that not only took me as I am, but fully accepted and affirmed me for ALL of who I am.
I didn't believe my single self (not permanently hopefully!) would be entirely secure in that and be able to dance around to love songs in my bedroom at midnight for no reason at all.
And if I'm being perfectly honest, it all feels a little surreal, a little too good to be true, but I have to believe this is the flip side to all the darkness, loss, and sacrifice we make to fully step into our queerness. I believe this is the light at the end of the tunnel.
FOUR MONTHS AGO I DIDN'T BELIEVE THIS WAS ALL POSSIBLE, BUT I HAVE TO BELIEVE THIS IS THE FLIP SIDE TO ALL THE DARKNESS, LOSS, AND SACRIFICE WE MAKE TO FULLY STEP INTO OUR QUEERNESS
These days, I breathe a little easier. I carry less anxiety in my shoulders and my jaw, and I smile a little more.
These days, I still have anxiety attacks here and there, but they're always smaller, always further and further in between. I still go to therapy, I still have predominately straight friends, so there's still a lot of education that needs to happen and a lot of things they won't ever fully understand, and I'm still waiting for my parents to finally come around to being fully affirming. So, life isn't perfect by any means, but it's a whole lot brighter on this side of whatever cavern I had to walk through for a while.
And honestly, as cliche as it might be, I think that's all any of us really wants when things get dark for a period of our lives. I think we all just want and need to know that things are eventually going to get better, (That can be a queer joke if you want it to be, haha.) and things have certainly gotten a little better over here on my end.
I THINK WE ALL JUST WANT AND NEED TO KNOW THAT THINGS ARE EVENTUALLY GOING TO GET BETTER
It's still rather difficult to come by words that adequately describe everything that's gone on both externally and internally to me over the last four months, but right now, I'm just thinking of them as being catalytic and transformative. These last four months (and certainly the months and years preceding them as well) have changed me drastically, and I am both wholly different and wholly the same than I was on the other side of these 120 days.
With all the ways that I was told that bad things would happen to me if I gave into this "sin of homosexuality" (air quotes STRONG on that) or "stopped fighting," it's hard for me to sit in the peace and calm these days. It's hard for me to feel like it's okay for things to be okay, because in many ways, I think the deepest parts of me that were socialized from a young age in conservative, toxic masculine, oppressive fundamentalism still feel a strong sense of discomfort to the fact that I can be out and queer and thriving all at the same time, which is something I'm still working on.
I think it's been so much easier for me to write all the posts about the sacrifice and loss we have to make in order to embrace our queerness, because I think on some level, some piece of me still feels like I'm supposed to be a martyr, like I'm supposed to be suffering for embracing it, but I'm constantly learning, reminding myself, and being reminded by others that that's not the case, that I can thrive as an out queer Christian, because this is the way God Themselves have made me to be.
THE DEEPEST PARTS OF ME THAT WERE SOCIALIZED IN CONSERVATIVE, TOXIC MASCULINE, OPPRESSIVE FUNDAMENTALISM STILL FEEL A STRONG SENSE OF DISCOMFORT THAT I CAN BE OUT AND QUEER AND THRIVING
And so, as I look back on the last four months, that presence and deconstruction are things I'm still learning to practice. I'm learning that there's nothing wrong with me, and that's precisely why I'm thriving. I'm learning that it's good and normal for all the toxicity to be burned off as I step more fully into who God has made me to be.
And I think the hardest part is being comfortable with the goodness that's abounding right now. Obviously, life isn't perfect, but quite a bit of the really important parts are going right for now, and I'm continually learning to lean into that. One of my best friends recently told me, "I think this is God's gift to you for surviving everything that came before," and I'm trying my best to believe that these days, because these days I still catch myself feeling like I shouldn't be allowed to feel this good when I smile.
But I'm working on it. As cliche as it is, it does get better. What they forget to tell you is that sometimes it takes a while to feel like it's allowed to get better.
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