I came out this past September. Of course by coming out I mean that I fell so madly in love with someone it became impossible to remain inside the vault of denial in which I had locked myself for twenty-three years. First I had to come out to myself, had to admit that the reason I had been acting so fitfully emotional was probably because I was in love, and instead of letting myself feel those feelings I was holding them in. When I released them, it felt like taking off a pair of skin-tight jeans I’d been wearing my entire life.
I’d had tons of crushes on girls before—something I have only been able to admit in retrospect—but this was the first time that the feelings were too strong for me to have any other rational explanation besides wanting to take that girl in my arms and never let her go. I can even pinpoint the moment I gave in, the moment we, just two best friends, were sitting on a bus and she interlaced her fingers with mine. It was like a switch was flipped inside me the moment our palms touched, and all I could think was, “oh my God I love her.”
It didn’t feel the way I thought it’d feel. It wasn’t like I finally admitted to loving a girl, and suddenly everything in my life came together and made me whole. At least, not at first. Because there was still the matter of being gut-wrenchingly in love and wondering endlessly if she loved me back. I was too busy analyzing every touch, graze and text to appreciate what was happening on a larger scale. In the end she did love me back, but she chose someone else anyway, a boy someone else.
For about two months it felt like a million linebackers were stomping on my gut. It turns out not even embracing your true identity can protect you from a broken heart. Quite the opposite, in fact. I was so angry that I was finally ready to be a female person dating other female people, and it had to be accompanied by this. I couldn’t picture myself ever wanting to be with anyone else. All I wanted to do was curl up into a ball and rock back and forth for the rest of my life.
Once that passed though—and I promise to all you first time brokenhearted out there that it WILL pass—everything did change. I did feel a type of wholeness I had never felt before. I questioned why I had been so scared to start living this super wonderful life where I could be honest about my feelings and date the people I wanted to. Sure it didn’t eliminate problems. I mean dating in itself is a frickin’ rollercoaster ride. I’m still a confused twentysomething trying to figure out what to do with my life and how to act in a way that slightly resembles being an adult. But at least I am now moving in the right direction.
I used to think that no matter how terribly that first love of mine broke my heart, she would always be the best thing that ever happened to me because she helped me get to this point in my life. I don’t think that any more. She is not the reason I came out. I am the reason I came out. I did it because I was ready, because I finally gained the strength to embrace who I am. She just happened to be a stop along that journey. I have finally realized that no one else deserves the credit for what I finally found the strength to do for myself.