by Estrella Mae
A little description of how I made the decision to come out to my parents
|The white, standard business envelope holding everything I’ve felt for the past three years in the form of a letter slowly becomes damp with sweat from my palms. I wrote it just over a month ago, and since then three people have read it and encouraged me to pass it onto its intended recipient. A nauseous feeling arises in my stomach at the thought. My next mission was to find a place where my mother could easily find it, somewhere it would be hidden from the rest of the household. Every part of me is screaming to stop, to throw it away and cling to my secrets for just a little while longer. Looking at the situation from a logical perspective, leaving the letter seems ludicrous. If the mere thought of making this decision causes me to feel so wretched, why am I doing it? It would be so simple to follow my instincts, crumple my letter, and give up.
Parents tend to subconsciously create a list of expectations for their children. This is a normal phenomenon, as most parents’ greatest hope is that their children not only grow up to be successful but become a person they can relate to. My mother and father were both raised Catholic and attend church every Sunday without fail. Eye rolls, frustrated sighs, and comments like, “I just don’t understand it” were typical of discussions about topics they were unfamiliar with. Not once had they ever brought up the subject of the LGBT+ community, ingraining in me the idea that gay people were not normal. My parents were noticeably uncomfortable with conversation about LGBT+ rights, so I assumed this to be one of their many expectations. Naturally, as it was expected that I be intelligent and hardworking, I was also supposed to be straight. I couldn’t ignore the fact that I wasn’t, which petrified me because the last thing I wanted was to disappoint the people I loved most. I already had told a handful of people, including my mom’s sister, who first suggested that I open up to my parents. After a month of tearing myself apart struggling to decide whether or not I was capable of doing it, I have reached a point where I need to either commit to or abandon this feat.
The cold of the hardwood floor seeps its way through my shoes and spreads throughout my body. I am paralyzed in a state of complete indecision; my eyes settle on my mom’s weekend bag, which was sitting on the living room floor, waiting to be unpacked. With a deep breath and a shaky hand, I unzip the corner pocket and gently place the now-soaking wet envelope inside. I could have stopped right there. I could have taken the letter out of the bag and kept it, bringing all this panic to a stop, but instead, I stumble out the front door, start up my car, and drive off. My music is cranked up so loud I can’t hear my thoughts, but right now, I prefer it that way. Adrenaline pumping in my ears, I notice the smell of traffic, which only magnifies my stress. The thought of turning the car around repeats itself over and over in my mind. An image of myself returning, taking the letter, and feeling a rush of relief consumes my thoughts. Pausing for a red light on the parkway, I consider doing it. I contemplate how there is no need to do this right now; I could relieve the pain by waiting until college when I’m an adult with semi-respected opinions. I’ve survived this long without them knowing, and I could definitely continue. Then, I remember my conversation with my aunt over the phone. “It’s time,” she said, “you’re never going to feel ready. It won’t get better until you get the scary part over with, and think about how much worse it will feel if they find out from someone else.” Keeping secrets hurts more than admitting the truth. I’m tired of feeling like I have to hide a piece of who I am. I keep driving, reminding myself of the magnificent opportunities that lie ahead. I am on the road to begin an internship at Girl Scout camp, my favorite place in the entire world. It is a place that preaches positivity, challenges, and acceptance. Being fifty miles away from home for the next twelve days will give my mom the chance to process and understand what I’ve spent the last four years being unable to tell her. Equally as important, I will be surrounded by people who support me and will encourage me to open and honest about my identity. In regards to how my parents are going to feel, the future remains unclear. This has been one of the most mentally draining battles I have ever had to fight, but I smile as I continue driving south, knowing I’ve already won.