Saturday, November 23, 2013

Identity part 1 (how finding out you're gay makes your future collapse)

Identity - noun

2. the condition of being oneself or itself, and not another:
3. condition or character as to who a person or what a thing is
4. the state or fact of being the same one as described.
5. the sense of self, providing sameness and continuity in personality over time            

Hey internet, it's been a while. Something happened since last time. I found out I'm gay. Surprised? Not as surprised as I was.

This is the first of 3 posts called Identity.

Part 1 (today) will talk about the effects finding out you're gay has on your marriage and your perceived future.
Part 2 will talk about suddenly realising you're gay, just... how that feels.
Part 3 will talk about where I'll go from here, and also explain why I'm going to be all right.

These three parts will tell you why I've been away for so long, why it will be hard to get back and why things will be better when I do. And they start with me being me the way I was a year or so ago. You know, that happy smiling "life is quite cool" version of me. This one:

At that time, I had an image of my future in my head looking something like this:

Quite a cheery place, isn't it? In the back there you can see the houses where my husband and I would sit on the lawn in our wonderful white wooden garden furniture, and watch our grandchildren play. The yellow house in the distance is where we'd grow old, slowly, together. The blue pyramid is us standing proud and happy at 80 or so, looking back on our travels and adventures and feeling happy with what we've done. The tall blue tower is my published books.

There's a house there for our first house, moving out of the apartment, for getting a dog. Some of the houses held dinners with the fabulous friend couples we'd eventually get. Game nights, holidays, all the things we were going to do.

Some of the closer houses held getting children, our children's first day at school, their first word, their first steps, the first positive pregnancy test.  My future was bright, happy and packed full of things to look forward to. In the front of my future, the tower to the left, was the huge "city hall", the house called Our Marrige. The institution that would inevitably lead to all those other things.

This is how I thought things should be, this is what I believed in.
But suddenly, one day, my hand caught fire.
Unlike Katy Perry, I did not kiss a girl and liked it. I was, however, kissed by a girl, and  had my head explode. Thousands of puzzle pieces rearranged into a pattern of "Hoooow did I not see this before", and the tiny spark that had landed in the palm of my hand, slowly but surely burst into solid flames. There was no doubting it, my hand was on fire. But I pretended like nothing. And I did it quite well. I walked around, ignoring my burning hand as if nothing was wrong, except that very quickly became too exhausting and I went to my parents' house and hid there for a while. But my hand was still burning, and the burning began to hurt, and I tried to seek refuge in the image of my future. Only to find the lights had gone out.

"That's odd," I thought and noticed that the flames flared. I tried to run out of my head as quickly as I could, but one single spark got left behind.

I held my breath, I looked away, I hoped, I prayed...

But the grandchildren on the lawn went up in flames, sparks spiralled out of the burning houses, threatening to destroy more of my future. Panicked, I saw no other option than to tell my husband what was going on. He could probably help me put the fire out, make things fall back into order. I explained that my hand was on fire, and how I couldn't put it out. I explained how I realised my hand had probably been a fire-hazard all along, but how there just hadn't been a spark to light it up before. I explained it all.

And my husband kindly, but clearly, explained that this was okay, and I should learn to live with my burning hand, but that our marriage now was over.

I heard no rumbling, no crash, no howling alarms or scraping. Just a dull "whoosh" as most of my future went up in smoke. Just like that.

This is now several months ago, and I'm slowly starting to breathe again. I'm not yet ready to start digging in the rubble, clear the fields and make room for a new one. But I'm getting there. The few trips I've taken down to inspect the ruins has shown that a lot of my planned future was made of straw when it should have been made from brick. Shaky foundations, sub-standard building material and over inflated castles in the air. I accept this. However, this is what I believed in, this is what I thought was real, this is the future I was working towards. The loss is real, if the buildings were not.

On a positive note, I say I haven't started clearing out the rubble yet, and that is almost true. I am blessed with friends who're clearing some of the rubble away for me and making houses of their own. The theory seems to be "We'll be in your future, so we might as well get comfortable". The girl who blew my mind is waiting patiently to the side of things, sometimes gently commenting on how that hill over there would be perfect for a trip to Prague, or how there's plenty of room for children and game nights, over there, in the slightly more distant future. So we'll see.

I'm doing better now, I am, but I am tired and exhausted and bewildered and confused. What do I do until I'm ready to rebuild my life? I'll read memories in the light of my burning hand. It makes a lot of sense.