Friday, May 8, 2009

coming out over candle-light

I think it's time.
Time I had "the talk" with my parents.
Time I answered some of their questions.
(Btw, I have contemplated 'coming out' before, but never did.)

Why now? Why not before?
They have asked multiple times in the past, "What is up with you?". But always my response was "I can't talk about it right now."

Now I feel different. See, before, I was still in an uncomfortable and unstable transitional phase. My body, my emotions were still trying to cope and come to terms with the crisis of faith, with the loss of the familiar foundation of my life and I knew that I was in no place to be able to discuss it without either a) becoming an emotional wreck and/or b) becoming aggressive or confrontational. Because I think that genetically my family is wired towards emotionally aggressive confrontational "discussions" about politics and/or religion. That's just how we are. A confrontation is what I expect from their side; perhaps an interrogation, an attempt to demean my views and experiences. I had to get to a zen place where I could be cool with this, not return the hostilities, and most especially, be fine with the fact that I don't have all the answers.

Maybe that's the clincher, what changed for me; coming to grips with living in ambiguity, living without certainty, without all the answers. I think that may be why I feel more zen now. (Or maybe just because it's Spring. I Dunno.)

So here's the anticipated scenario I'm creating in my head. Me and Hubby will invite them to dinner at our house. (Home court advantage?) We'll let them know ahead of time (a week's notice at least) that this will be an opportunity to sit down and answer some of their questions about my relationship with the church. We'll also let them know that there will be ground rules, kinda like the comment policy on some of the LDS blogs (cuz, like I said, that whole genetic thing... we do tend to fight mean.)

And I am seriously considering offering to let them read some of the things I have written about my journey through (and around and out of ) the church before we get together for our little dinner. Only if they are interested. Which means they will know about this blog. Could even be reading this. (/Waves! Hi mom, dad!) I waver back and forth about this part, Hubby and several friends have said it isn't a good idea. But this blog IS the place where I have discussed these things already and show the "real me" and a part of me really wants to share that with my family. Then all the other parts of me get sad and morose about how the "real me" is going to be very disturbing and disapointing (and infuriating) to my family. We'll see.

Anyhoo... in the fantasy scenario in my head at the end of the dinner we will all group hug and all be okay with having differing viewpoints about certain things (okay, almost everything) but be able to respect each other and each other's decisions.

And then I'll be officially out of the closet as a non-believer in my family.
[And then I wake up]
[HA! No, seriously, this is really going to happen. It is time for it to happen. At last. Whew.]


Aaron said...

In support of full disclosure, I think it's a great idea to give them complete access to your thoughtstream. *Especially* this blog.

Whether or not they read it is up to them. At least there won't be any misconceptions about your stance.

As far as the family coming to know the 'real you' -- disturbed, disappointed, and infuriating? Perhaps. But the sooner you let them into your head, the sooner they can start loving the 'real you' and not 'you as they wish you were'.

Aerin said...

The best advice I ever had about confrontations was to put the information out there (with love as you've written) and to allow the person to react however they may react (within boundaries).

I just caution that from my own experience - the reaction is often very different from what I expect. Sometimes good, sometimes not so good, and sometimes no reaction at all. I would be prepared for all three (sounds like you are)?

Best of luck to you. You obviously care a great deal about your parents to allow them access to your thoughts on this subject...some relationships can't handle that.

adam said...

Good luck! I will be sending positive thoughts your way. My only (unsolicited, of course) advice would be to keep emotions in mind.

There are "secondary emotions" which are usually anger or frustration or similar feelings which result in the hostilities or difficult conversations that you mentioned. Then there are "primary emotions" which often are underlying everything but are usually too difficult to share, or the person may not even be aware of them. They are usually hurt, fear, sadness, pain, loneliness, etc. They often get squished out by the secondary, more reactive, emotions. So, if/when things get difficult, try to pause and consider what your primary emotion may be, and IF it is safe enough, share that with your parents. You have to decide if it is safe. Also, IF they react to your disclosure with any hostility, try to pause and consider what their primary emotion may be, even if they are not aware of it. People usually act angry or frustrated or aggressive because they are actually afraid, or sad, etc.

Lol, that was long. Thanks for reading. :) I hope things work out well.

The Numismatist said...

Good luck with your coming out. It is not an easy thing to do but after you are finished a great burden will be off your shoulders and hopefully healing can begin on both sides.

My only worry about your plan is the location. Being basically spineless I would want to maintain the ability to "flee" if the situation gets out of control. It would be much easier to walk out of an escalating argument in their home than to have to ask your parents to leave your home.

Most likely they already know what you have in mind. Short and sweet would be my recommendation. Then give everyone some time to mull it over individually before meeting again.

Read your blog? Too much information too fast would be my first impression.

Good luck in your journey. I'll be thinking about you.

Don't forget to tell them that you are still the same person who loves them very much. And that you are happy.

Emily S. said...

My heart is full for you, and I wish you a safe journey.

My husband's brother is gay, and we watched that "coming out" unfold, (and still unfold), and I YEARN for your road to be less bumpy... But out parents' generation is what it is, and stoic LDS that they are, I... worry. But not really. When I think more about it, I feel you are in an INCREDIBLE place right now, and I am proud of you for being centered enough to begin this journey with them.

Sending virtual hugs your way, should you need them.

flygirl said...

I hope everything goes well for you G. It sounds like you are ready. I think (and hope) you will find being out a freeing place-I know it has been for me.

LivingWithMormons said...


I don't know what else to add to this, but I still feel like I should.

My experience was very abrupt and I felt very angry, which made things really hard for my wife, and it's taken a while for things to smooth out.
I've calmed down a lot and our conversations about religion now (albeit far and few) are a lot more sensible and I know when to quit.

Be patient and try hard to understand that they may not understand your reasoning.
In other words, don't let the conversation turn into YOU trying to convince THEM that you're right and they're wrong. Just help them accept your new views.

Good luck.


G said...

this is a quick stop in to say "THANKS" everyone! your advice has been VERY helpful. (Heheh, Adam, I am TOTALLY soliciting advice!)

We will be going to my folk house tonight for mothers day and plan to extend the invitation for a chat while there.

thank you thank you thank you for all your wise words and best wishes.

G said...

just wanted to give a brief update; my folks came over to our house last night for dinner. It was difficult for me to know where to begin, but it finally all came out. And it went well enough. They both already had enough of an idea that it wasn't jarringly shocking. Just disappointing, but they were respectful in how they expressed themselves.

it was difficult, still hurts a bit, telling them made it real and painful in a way that it had not quite been yet. But it's good that it happened.

anyway, just thought I'd give you the update.
thanks for all the help!

flygirl said...

I'm glad things went well for you G, and hope you are able to continue to have dialogue if that's what you want.

xJane said...

Good luck!!! It was a hard convo with my parents and did not go well…we never talked about it again :-p

Ginger said...

galen i love you!!!

G said...

aw ginger, thanks. I love you too.

And you have the distinction of being the first family member to sleuth out my blog.
(that I'm aware of)


Julie said...

almost exactly one year ago my husband and I "came out" to our families. We did it the cowards way, because my family is like yours and tends towards aggressive confrontation. We wrote emails...long essays explaining everything. And then we moved to another country.

In 2 weeks I am going to see them face to face for the first time, and it will be interesting to see if they try and corner me about stuff. Its easy enough on the phone to keep things light and superficial. DH's parents have tried to corner him a few times and its been pretty stressful, but for the most part things are going really well. We know our parents hate who we are now, but its been good for them to see us and our life now - to see how well things are going for us and try to fit that in to their worldview about 'apostates'.

Its hard because you know it hurts them, but it ended up being like ripping off a band aid...painful for a moment but everything is SO much better after.