As I type this post I find myself deleting and rewriting, self-editing. Coming out of the closet at 42 has been a wave of emotions. The level of vulnerability it requires to write this post has taken many months to develop.
I have fears of being judged by everyone, including my own people. I recently read an article that “coming out of the closet’ is considered dated in some regards in the current LGBTQ+ landscape. In my middle-age mind though this description resonates.
Throughout two decades of marriage I locked myself in a metaphorical closet, lined with bits of my identity I wanted to wear, my subconscious mind silently screaming to let me out. I watched the L Word with equal parts envy and shame.
Flash back to 2001. I’m sitting in my first apartment, deep in a depressive, confused fog. Twenty-three. Self-help books line bookshelves. Images of the twin towers crumbling to the ground and the horrors of people falling to their fiery deaths flash across every tv screen. The world seems on the brink of war. A fiery silent war is ragging inside of myself. A magnet with the words, “Sorry boys I’m gay" hangs on my fridge.
One clumsy evening a few months prior I intentionally lose my virginity to Tom on a small twin day bed. Blood lines the sheets. I feel a horrible piercing pain and there is no pleasure. There is no pleasure in kissing him and in the disconnect I feel with my body. This is the first and last time I’ll be with him. Tom looks down with horror.
“I’m on my period,” I quickly reply to his silent question.
Hurriedly we both dress and he walks out the door.
It is late may of April 2023. I’m 44. Divorced. A lesbian. I confess it is still difficult to call myself a lesbian. At times I feel my feet trying to pull me back into the false safety of the closet. I envision the young woman I once was staring at bloody sheets and feeling outside of herself, not understanding fully that she was never meant to love a man.
I am in my do-over apartment. I have yet to kiss the love of my life. I still walk into LGBTQ spaces and feel like I don’t belong, like my inner world doesn’t match my outer world. I tell myself in the dark moments that this is a process and it will take time.
I silently bow to that young woman in deep respect and forgiveness. She deserves all the time in the world.
I free her.