When Carol volunteered to share her story, she asked if her friend, the subject of her story, could share her side of it as well. I was deeply touched when she asked, because there is something so healing about writing your story out and something so liberating about sharing it with others.
And how important- restorative and beautiful- is it for us to have the second part of Monday’s post. So often we write one-sided conversations, our experiences and perceptions, and right here, regarding one of the most intimate moments, we are privileged to see the whole way around. How incredible is this insight that we’ve been given?
For personal reasons, Carol’s friend has written this anonymously. I get that.
Take a seat, soak in Anon’s story.
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I have never truly left the closet, but I have let a very few people in… some leave and slam the door… some coax me to come out and not be afraid… some push “helpful information” under the door on how to free myself from this perversion … others stay and hold me… some say thank you for letting me into your world…. some lock me in the closet out of fear… and it is usually me who does the latter.
The first time I tried to come out to a friend who had known me since childhood, I was met with a barrage of Biblical information, emails of “deep concern for my soul”, and finally an invitation to meet a church member who had been “rehabilitated”…because, as my friend stated, “I know once you get into that, it’s hard to get out of it.” ”Get into that”….get into WHAT? “Hard to get out of it”….get out of WHAT? Get into being myself and loving someone completely? Get out of my own skin and into one you approve of? Yeah, I think that’s kinda impossible to do. I’m pretty sure the Bible tells me that God knit me together in my mother’s womb…I can’t really undo that. What was undone, much to my heartbreak, was that 36 year friendship.
Unfortunately many people….once they hear the words from your mouth that you are gay….that is all they see….as if that one piece of information that they had overlooked, that had been hidden from them, that was protected all the time because of this very fear they just confirmed….suddenly negated who you were completely. Erased all the good…and replaced it with this blur…this shadow…this “less”.
But then comes a day when another someone says, “It’s okay.” “I know.” And suddenly the three most beautiful words that you have ever heard at that moment are, “Nothing has changed.”
A friendship spanning 34 years, from football games to slumber parties to double dating to being in one another’s wedding to going on trips together to sharing problems and laughing until we cried…to this…the opening of the deepest trust from the deepest cavern of who I really am…”Carol, I am gay.”
Oh, those words did not come easily or quickly. In fact, they almost didn’t come at all.
The day appointed to “talk” started with lunch, which was full of casual conversation, an update on the kids, a little whining about life in general, a little laughing…then a walk around the park where the conversation became more stilted and shallow as my nerves were creating a vortex of fear inside of me…”Can I do this?” I so needed SOMEone to connect the dots of my life and see me through the years! She had known me since I was 16…but she didn’t know THIS…but I had already opened the door to this moment in time by emailing her that I needed to tell her something that might change our friendship…and knowing Carol as I do, she would not let this one go. This had to happen, and I knew it.
We made our way to some old bleachers on that breezy fall day…and I looked at her square in her beautiful golden eyes…she looked back with a questioning expression as if to say “What’s up?” She knew something was on my heart, and she waited patiently for my words to come, but my courage was gone. We sat there in silence for a while. She didn’t push and I didn’t budge…
“What did you want to tell me? I promise there is nothing you could tell me that would make me not love you.”
I remember saying, “First of all, I didn’t murder anyone.” We laughed…and I looked away…and then the tears came…and the stammering words came…I tried to start back with some hints from high school…and work my way up…it was SO HARD…but it finally came out of my mouth…and into her ears. AND….there was no judgment. There was no shocking reaction. I did it. I told her. I finally came out after all these years…and there were those beautiful golden eyes looking square at me…and she said to me, “It’s okay. I know. Nothing has changed.”
But something indeed HAS changed. I now know that there are people out there who will accept me as I am…and who do not view me as scarred or less….a lesbian who is a Christian who loves the god who made her…and loves people for who they are. There is hope and safety beyond the closet…in the hearts of true friends. And Carol proved her feelings for me were no different….when just a few weeks later…she accepted an invitation to have dinner with me and the woman I love.
I admit that sometimes I regret telling her, but not because of anything she did, but just because I still struggle with who I am…as the conservative voices from my upbringing still echo in my head…and I wonder how she feels about all the years I was silent. But it feels like a new chapter to our friendship, one we only read together…inside my lighted closet.
Be sure to check out part one, Carol’s Story