There’s an irony I’ve discovered occurring in my life this month. I am, what feels like, often locked inside a closet and this month I have felt really far in it, again. And it’s not lost on me that it’s coinciding with PRIDE month. The universe has a way of putting us right where we need to be, to learn the lessons we need to learn. (I AM ALL LESSONED OUT, THOUGH, K? THANKS 😘)
Let me dive in here. June is PRIDE month for the LGBTQ+ community. I was never one to really celebrate PRIDE. I went to the parade, a few times in Halifax, attended some parties but I always felt like I was just a watcher of it, on the sidelines, longing for a sense of PRIDE and rejecting it at the same time. In one breath I’d think why are we celebrating being different— people already hate us for it, and in the next breath I’d think —yeah, we deserve to be here just like everyone else. I had shame about being gay and shame about not being proud enough or proud at all. Let’s just say there was a lot of darkness that I hadn’t faced, yet.
The effects of internalized homophobia have been with me since the moment I knew I was different. There are new levels of healing that I reach on this, sometimes painful, life journey, as I meet up with this old pattern of shame and hiding. Just when I think I’ve done away with it, it comes roaring back in my mind, in my physical body, and I’m paralyzed by it’s grip. Or, that’s how it feels. On a cellular level— my body remembers how to survive. And this story of survival is triggered at any moment where I think that who I am may make someone uncomfortable. Where who I truly am— makes me uncomfortable.
When I was age 11 or 12, the number doesn’t really matter, I realized I was gay. But I never fully acknowledged it. It’s like when there’s a total solar eclipse. You know it’s happening, but you’re not really supposed to look at it, unless you’re not afraid of damaging your eyes. So, when the intuitive knowing within me said Heidi, you’re gay, I didn’t actually look at it, I knew it was there, but I wouldn’t allow myself to see it. I needed to protect myself from seeing the ‘scary sunlight’ because if I looked I could be risking everything, including my survival. This is what I thought. There were nights that I would lay in bed, alone, awake, lying still, in full on fight or flight mode. Pulse racing, sweating profusely, cold, then hot, rapid breathing—panic. My thoughts told my body I needed to survive. In order to survive I needed to hide who I was. Deny a huge part of my being.
Fast forward to today, I am totally out. More ready than ever to proclaim to the whole world that I am proud of that part of me, in fact I love being gay. However, like I mentioned above, I am still feeling the effects of that core belief that says in order to survive I need to hide. I am working on this, continually, through journaling, meditation, prayer, coaching and healing work, sharing my story, and working with others to support them on their journey of coming out of whatever their closet may be. I am choosing to view that part of my past, this aspect of me now, the part of my mind and the cells of my body that hold onto the grip of shame through a lens of compassion and love. It needs my love, not my hate. The more and more I’ve tried to hate myself into loving me the more and more I bred more hate. Makes sense right? It’s taken me awhile to work myself out and everyday it is a conscious choice I need to make. But it’s gotten so much easier. Every now in again, however, it rages through me like one of our powerful nor’easters and sometimes all I can do is just wait it out with love. Sitting here, writing this, is me loving me right now and loving that part of me that wants to hide me. Vulnerability and the courage to be seen. It’s what we all crave.
So, to circle back, the irony of this month is that lately I’ve been really struggling with coming out or coming to terms with all kinds of other aspects of myself and it stems from that hard fought struggle to stay in the closet. It hurts a lot to shove yourself in a place where you don’t truly belong, but alas we all tend to do it in some way shape or form. I want to invite anyone reading this to see yourself in what I am sharing. Shame and hiding exists everywhere. Let’s work to embrace those parts of ourselves that we’ve often wished were different, could be fixed, or changed. It may feel odd at first to choose love over hate, but after awhile it becomes easier to choose love.
Baby steps. Walking past a mirror and saying hello versus, a shameful “oh, you again”. Or journaling about what’s working in your life versus what isn’t. Finding little things about yourself that you love. Getting loved up more than you think you’re worthy of being loved. Sharing your story. We are not alone in our hurts and shame. We all have stories that can change lives, save lives. In supporting others you are healing yourself through teaching what you most need to learn. This time spent in the closet has not been in vain. The lessons I’ve learned on self trust and self love have been countless and what’s even better is that I AM STILL LEARNING. It’s all infinite. This is not a one and done process.
There is no shame in who you are, whoever you are out there reading this. There is no shame in being consumed by that same shame at times. Let’s give ourselves space to be the humans we are, to feel our emotions fully, to be afraid and not judge ourselves for it, to meet our hateful thoughts with love, not more hate. We are not born with the ability to walk instantly, so we mustn’t expect ourselves to immediately be able to embrace all aspects of who we are. We can, however, lovingly work toward this goal. This is the divine work we’ve been called to do.
PRIDE month is a time for our LGBTQ+ community to embrace who we are and to be seen and heard not only on a wide scale, but most importantly for us to truly see and hear ourselves.
Let’s be a mirror for everyone on this human journey. Let’s all love and support each other, okay? Please, please, please start at home with yourself. I know it feels hard as hell sometimes, but it’s so worth it.
Ps. To all those beautiful souls who have supported me on my journey of acceptance, I am forever grateful. You don’t know how crucial you’ve been to my heart. I love you all, dearly. And to you, Universe, I say bring on those lessons. I am ready!