Ahoy, Crew members.
Ok. So I haven't been posting much over the past year. I started this blog a couple years ago, mainly writing about my experience being a dad to my amazing daughter, the stalwart Mini-Pirate. I got some momentum going, and was lucky and grateful to find myself with a nice readership of nice people who were kind enough to read my thoughts on parenting, teaching, and stuff. I weaseled my way into a couple writing collectives,Culture Brats and DadCentric (to which I'm still proud to belong). The whole blogging thing was going great.
And then I stopped.
I've written a couple nuggets every couple of months for the last year, but that's it. At one point, I did write a post mentioning that Saucy and I are divorcing. Several readers were kind enough to email me privately, to ask if I'm ok. I'm grateful for that.
I'm writing this post to explain what happened. This time for real.
Before I go any further, you should know that I'm very nervous about writing this.
I'm going to have to ramp up to this a little. So first let me apologize in advance for that.
I've tried to write this particular post three different times over the past year. I have three versions of this puppy sitting in my "Edit Posts" box right now. One is very serious and heartfelt and melodramatic. It's not so much a blog post as it is a Very Special Episode of something. Another one is short, sarcastic and flip, and has me coming off really angry. And the third one starts off straightforward and clear, but then gets so convoluted it's like my fingers are speaking in tongues.
So I'm going to give it one more shot.
One reason I waited a full year to write this post is because... well, not to get all Oprah on you, good crew members, but it's definitely more personal than anything else I've written here. And difficult. Another reason I waited is out of respect to Saucy, who will always be one of the most important and amazing people in my life.
I've had a couple people who know my situation ask me why I need to write this post at all. They've said, "Why not just keep this to yourself? It's nobody's business but yours, right? Do you really need to post it on your blog? Isn't that a major overshare?"
They don't get it, and that's ok. It's not fair for me to expect them to. I thought about taking their advice and not writing this. But I keep coming back to the idea that this is important, and I need to do it -- even if it means losing a few readers.
Let me stall for just one more minute.
Normally, when I sit down to write for this blog, I just start typing, see where it goes, and if I don't feel my stomache seize when I reread it, I figure that means it's ok for posting. Sometimes I post because the Mini-Pirate did something hilarious. Or something poignant. Sometimes I post after having had a particularly spectacular Bad Dad Moment, and I feel that compulsive need to confess. Every once in a great while, I post after experiencing something vaguely resembling parental pride, excitement that I've maybe done something right.
Then there have been the posts about teaching. Anecdotes from the academic trenches-- either a student said something ridiculous (remember the kid who said he couldn't come to class because he had scurvy? Or the day of the big deadline when I had six students claim Dead Grandmothers?), or because I myself did something embarrassing in front of them, completely obliterating my professional credibility. Fun stuff.
But there was a limit to how personal I was going to get.
And that makes sense, right? Most of us who write personal blogs do share a lot about our lives, but we don't share everything. We share the parts that make us seem like heroes. Or victims. We may get personal, but for the most part, we basically try to maintain a general Ethos of Awesome. That's what I did. (Example: I don't want to rock your world or anything, but I'm not actually a pirate.)
I myself have never been one to stand on a mountaintop and shout out my deepest secrets, but now that my life has gone through a seismic change, I think I'm finally ready to be honest with you about something, right here. (Although right now, I'm sorta wishing my blog was a little more anonymous than it is.)
It's probably stupid for me to feel strange about this. The fact is, nothing I say here is going to affect your life in any remote way. No one else is going to care, truly. In fact, compared to other people's stories, I'm sure mine is nothing. Compared to what you see on your average talk show, my deal is downright mundane. And not worth the time it will take you to read this. Like, you're going to read this, probably go "Huh," and move on to a more interesting blogger. I can recommend several.
Still ramping here. Sorry.
I'm sharing with you something that took me a long time to understand and accept, and something I verbalized to Saucy a little over a year ago, as soon as I truly got it. And before I share this, I'll say first that I'm still trying to figure out why now: why did I not really understand what was happening until now, this point in my life? I'm 41 freakin' years old. How does a person not recognize this until now? Was I just weak, unaware, stupid and scared before? On my rougher days, all of those feel true. (My kick-ass therapist has been working overtime to help me find a way to do some serious reframing.)
It should be obvious by now. At this point, you're thinking, "Ok, he figured something out about himself that changed his life. Either he discovered he's descended from circus people, he's a werewolf, or he's gay."
So let me say for the record:
1) There are no circus performers hanging off my family tree.
2) My arms are pretty hairy, but not that much.
I figured it out, and then I spent months in a state of deep depression and anxiety at the end of 2010. And then in March of 2011, I told Saucy. Then I told a couple close friends. Then my parents. Then more friends, people I chose carefully for their sensitivity, kindness, and overall awesomeness. Then I stopped talking about it for a while. Then I sent an email to my DadCentric compatriots. (Who were completely supportive and amazing about it, of course.) And then last January after more dust had settled, I mustered some extra courage and finally told my daughter, the Mini-Pirate, who's ten years old.
For the past year I've been choosing someone every couple of weeks, a person I knew I could trust. First I'd send them a preliminary email, to check the vibe. I said something along the lines of, "I'd really like to share something with you, even though it makes me really nervous to do so. Is it ok if I confide in you about something personal?"
The friend would respond quickly, asking worriedly if I had a tumor. This was the response almost every single time. Seriously.
I then sent them a second email. I confirmed that I don't have a tumor.
"I'm not dying," I wrote them. "However, after years of deep denial, subconscious burying, sublimation, and finally some truly impressive compartmentalization that made me think I was protecting other people, I came to understand that... I'm gay."
That's the thing. I'm gay. That's my big news.
See? Totally anti-climactic for everyone who's not related to me. Right?
There's more to say, more to write, and more stories to tell about what has been the most tumultuous year of my life. I'll get there. For the moment, though, I'll just say the following in answer to some of the questions that I imagine readers might have (with the acknowledgment that honestly, there's no reason anyone should care.)
1) I truly don't understand why it took me so long to figure this out about myself. It's a major topic that I've been exploring in therapy. If at least one licensed professional is to be believed, the answer partially involves exceptionally low self-esteem. I'm doing better with that.
2) My marriage to Saucy was real, legitimate, wonderful, and powerful. My relationship with her will always be a gift.
3) She and I are doing ok. I will always look back on how she dealt with all this and be awestruck by her strength and compassion. We've had some very rocky times over the least year, of course. But we want good things for each other, and for our daughter. As long as that remains true, everyone is going to be alright. I have to believe that.
4) Like I said, I came out to the indomitable Mini-Pirate in January. I'll save that story for a later post; for now, I'll just say although she's still processing the concept, the kid has shown me that she is the coolest 10-year-old roaming the planet. Despite my fears about how my coming out would affect our relationship, things between the two of us are the same. Which is to say, completely rad. She spends half her time with Saucy, and half her time with me. And she's doing well. She's been asking me some incredibly awkward and uncomfortable questions lately, but that's good. Questions are good. Talking is good.
5) I can happily report that 99% of the people with whom I've had the big Coming Out conversation have been uniformly kind and supportive. I am a lucky man whose life is blessed with good people. If that weren't true, I guaran-damn-tee you I wouldn't have gotten through the past year.
6) The line of good people starts with my parents, who made it clear right away that they love me no matter what. They're still acclimating, and that's ok. They deserve all the time they need.
7) I'm learning that culturally speaking, this is a pretty good time to be coming out. I'm glad for today's gay teens and 20-somethings; it's never an easy process, but they have a lot more support then people my age did who came out in the 80s. At least that's how it seems here on the Left Coast.
8) Coming out when you're 40 is... weird. My therapist swears to me it's not that old for such a thing to happen. I think she's lying to make me feel better.
9) I am really, really tired. But there's a lot of good stuff happening in my life. I'll share them as time goes on.
I can't think of what else to say at the moment. This post is already way too long (I told you), so I'll wrap it up. It's been one year since the universe imploded and then slowly started rebuilding itself again, and it seems like it's time to move forward. Writing this post is a way to start, I guess. If I'm going to be the best person I can be, and the best father to my child, I have to do this right. I have to do this responsibly.
And I do hope I can give support to anyone who's going through something similar, and promise that time can heal a lot. In so many important ways, things are immeasurably better than they were a year ago.
This blog will not be changing much. I'll still be writing about (mostly) the same stuff. Same pirate. Same dad. Same guy.
Thanks for reading.