When I was a kid, I wanted to become an Olympian (think Jackie Joyner Kersee), become a private detective in Los Angeles, own a bakery, get married and have 10 kids (adopting 4 who were disabled or unwanted). If I could go back in time and visit my kid self, I know she’d ask “What did we become?” I was a goal driven kid. With great trepidation, I would say “Well, we became many things…an attorney…we’re gay…” I wouldn’t be able to say much more because I know she’d take off running to find the nearest set of monkey bars to hurl herself from. Being gay was inconceivable to a kid growing up in the 70’s and 80’s. Probably like how most of us view being kidnapped by aliens, unless you were kidnapped by aliens (and I was not); things like this just didn’t happen. All that my kid self knew was that there weren’t any gay people in Wisconsin (yeah right) and that being gay was akin to having a horrible and hopeless disease relegating one to outcast status if anyone found out. Our youthful selves lack the benefit of hindsight. That such trivial issues should take up so much space in our heads and break our hearts is beyond sad. The evolution of our social norms; what they teach that doesn’t kill you will make you stronger, if you let it.
If my younger self survived the monkey bars, she would have also been disappointed to learn that I came up 10 short on the kid goal. I opted for the law degree instead of artificial insemination. My life isn’t at all how I thought it would be. I took some right turns when I was supposed to head left, so everything from the career to the blue print of the house my kid self drew – hasn’t happened, and likely never will. She was taught that life had a set of predetermined options that I have been unlearning ever since.
Fast forward to six years ago – new to the legal field – a second career attorney with years of social work experience that fueled my drive through law school and ushered me head first into bleeding heart law. Then in 2012, certain events began to unfold that led me to the understanding that life is not linear. Sometimes it circles back to set things right. Most of the time, I think we try to avoid this at all costs; it is never an easy process, nor is it a neat and tidy one. In my circumstance, it involved a lot of loss.
2012 led me back to my home town to help my mother as she fought cancer. At first, it was to support her fight, and then it was to help her die. This event served as the impetus for the unraveling of all that I thought to be true, about myself, my family, and life. Family secrets couldn’t help but be unveiled under the weight of my mother’s impending death, which led to heart breaking revelations about every member of my family, myself included. My career aspirations and dreams ceased to matter, though it made little sense at the time, there simply was no fuel to move forward in them. I contemplated suicide many times, made an actual plan twice, but did not see it through – divine intervention. Once I accepted that it was not time for me to die and made the affirmative decision to live, I began to see life differently. Some call it a spiritual emergence, others a shamanic initiation. Whatever it is, it saved my life, and I am more me than I’ve ever been.
In the beginning, I often tortured myself with wondering what my friends and colleagues from what I now refer to as, ‘my former life’, would think of me if I were honest about what I was going through. Hence the name of this blog.
I have lived enough to know that nothing gets to define me – not my career, my friends or family, and certainly not religion or my sexuality. I know what it’s like to want for the things you need and still be left wanting, and so I write because sanity is a good thing. I believe everyone has a story, even the ones who espouse hate. I knew early on that I was supposed to help others whether it be baking cookies for the homeless or speaking up for the person who doesn’t yet know she has rights or a voice. I am learning that people can lend a hand, support and accompany others on their hurricane journeys, but ultimately, hopefully, we learn to save ourselves; we grow up to become our own heroes.