Someone in my life told me recently that I’m a truth teller. It felt good to hear that, because I believe telling the truth is the only thing that releases the pain of the past, and opens the door to living in the present moment. It’s not easy, but it is redemptive.
But it is so much easier for me to tell the truth when doing so makes me look good.
It has been a year since my last blog post, and everything in my life is different. I have changed in so many ways, many of them positive and healthy. But I have done things that have caused hurt and pain, and I have to tell the truth about those things too, because they are a part of my story. My greatest fear, stemming from my childhood, is that I am essentially a bad person, a “bad girl” who doesn’t deserve love. Telling the truth feels like inviting the world in to point fingers and reinforce that fear. It doesn’t mean I can’t do it, but it’s scary.
I hurt someone I love. I hurt her deeply. Despite all the work I have done on myself to address my addictive emotional dysfunction, I lived out a pattern of behavior that I thought I had left behind years ago. I am now working on coming out of denial, recognizing that I will keep coming back to this same place until I address my long-held behavior of focusing on the needs of others rather than on myself. If I don’t tell the truth, from the beginning, about what I want and need and believe, my personal relationships will fail.
The failure of my second marriage is painful. It hurts to let go of the life I thought I had, and the future I thought I would have with her and my stepson. It hurts to not have contact with her. It hurts to be “unfriended” or blocked on Facebook. It hurts to watch a TV show that we watched together, and look next to me to share a moment and realize that I’m by myself. It hurts to acknowledge that this is a second divorce for me and I’m only 40 years old.
During these waves of hurting, I find the truth to be elusive. I love a good fairy tale, and I would so like it if there was a clear heroine and a clear villain here. Sometimes it feels good to get angry and defensive and mouthy about how I’ve been hurt, how I’ve been victimized, because then I can sit in my warm bath of denial for an hour or two. It’s not the truth, mind you, but it sure feels good. But there is no good guy and there is no bad guy at the end of my marriage. It didn’t work out. I have no choice but to grieve that, because the grief will still be waiting when I’m done wallowing in denial, whether I wallow for several days or ten years. It’s always waiting; to be acknowledged, to be felt, and to be released. I can’t always tell the truth when I am embroiled in my grief, either. Sometimes I have to wait and let my feelings swirl around me until they settle like fallen leaves, and then I can listen for the truth to rise into my consciousness.
In the midst of my grief, love has come into my life. This is where telling the truth is the hardest, because it is shrouded in judgment and guilt and because I made mistakes. It seems impossible to find any gifts in the experience, but I am finding gifts in it. I am staying present. I am feeling my feelings. I am telling my truth, and I’m finding support during moments of loneliness. I have found a member of my tribe, and it makes me happy.
The past year has taught me there is no “end game,” no finish line, no state of grace where my life will be “set” once I find the right partner and the right job and do everything perfectly. There is grace…so much grace…but it doesn’t fix me. It allows me to continue to do the work necessary to grow into the fullest expression of myself, to recover all of the little pieces of my life and integrate them into the woman I am in this moment. When I was a child, I wanted so badly to be an adult, because I believed by that time I would have figured out my life and I would be able to simply live it. What I am learning is that in order to live simply, I have to stay in the present moment and actually live it. “Now” is the important part, not “later.”
I named my blog “After the Closet” because telling the truth about my sexuality was a turning point in my life, and I still believe that telling my truth about any aspect of my life is my personal key to serenity. In this moment, I am whole and safe and loved by a power greater than myself.
That’s the truth.