I came out to my mom
I came out to my mother last night.
Her and my brother came downtown for my birthday dinner and we went to an adorable restaurant that featured hearing-impaired staff and menus that showed how to order food in sign language.
I’d texted my brother earlier that day, telling him I was thinking of coming out to mom tonight. He offered his two cents – that it will catch her off guard as it did him, but that in the end he appreciated being closer to me.
As we sat at the table and she regaled me with random stories about Hong Kong, her friends, and cooking class, my stomach sank further and further as I tried not to drown in the anxiety of having to come out. I had no appetite the entire meal.
Before the bill was paid, I went to the washroom and caught a glimpse of my face in the mirror. I was pale as fuck. As I sat back down at the table, the bill had already been taken care of by the bro. We sat with my brother talking gibberish as I mentally and emotionally prepared. I gave him a kick under the table for him to stop and let me speak.
Before I could, my mom decided to go to the washroom – my brother gave me a quick pep talk (and in hindsight, it really helped. He’s a clever 18-year old). As she sat down and started to ramble, I blurted out “I can’t believe I’m already 24”.
She nodded… but rambled on, “I can’t believe I’m 55. Time flies!”
I let out an exasperated sigh, ominous of something important. She looked at me.
We sat and I squirmed for what seemed like forever. They waited patiently. I couldn’t look her in the eye.
I leaned over the table looking right… turning left. Looked at the table. Tried to make eye contact- couldn’t. My heart raced. My stomach tightened. My elbows felt weak. I didn’t know where to begin.
“I know you guys-…” my voice cracked. I cleared my throat. “you guys never ask me about my relationships. About who I’m dating….” I had no idea what I was saying, or how I planned to go from there, but I knew I had to get the momentum going. Just talk.
I froze as tears finally toppled onto my cheeks. “I just-… If I want to be happy… I just know that… I don’t think I’ll be marrying a man.” All hell broke loose on my face and my senses shut off.
My mom just stared and let out a “Oooh” in a “oh it’s just that?” kinda way. She scrambled for tissue.
As I sobbed my way into the napkins, she said “It really doesn’t matter to me who you marry, as long as they love you an make you a better person. And they’re not trying to trick you.” It helped but it also didn’t, because it made me bawl my eyes out ever harder.
I told her that a part of me thought she knew because while my friends came back from working in other cities to families that would pester them about who they were dating / if they were dating anyone, mine never once asked me. So I suspected that perhaps she was scared of the answer.
Turns out she just didn’t want to pressure me into settling, because she knew I had high standards. She told me how intelligent and mature I was for someone my age, and that she knew I would never settle for an idiot. It would have to be someone better than me. And it would be hard. All the fucking tears.
A bit of disappointment came when after much of the commotion, she gently added, “but you never know… maybe you just haven’t met the right man.”
It wasn’t as sharp as a knife twisting in my stomach, but… I had to shut it down. She could not hang on to any hope at all that I was bisexual (even if I was – I haven’t figured it out). There could be no hope on the table right now, or it will never die. I had to shut it the fuck down.
“No, mom.” I said, sternly. “I’ve had 24 years to figure it out. I’ve thought about it for 24 years.”
She didn’t say anything.
We had a long family talk, reflecting on everything. Her primary concern was me being safe, and that I had to be careful who I come out to, because she didn’t want me being harmed explicitly or implicitly. It felt surreal. It felt… It didn’t feel as “finished” as I’d thought it would. She’s really the last person I need to come out to. My dad is another story. I thought I’d be completely free and the proverbial closet would’ve been smashed and burned to the ground. I still don’t feel completely liberated, but it feels like…
It feels like I’d finally managed to set up my campsite in the wild. Like the hardest, most exhausting part of setting up the tent et al. was over, but now I have the long-run – the actual surviving in the woods – part to deal with.
I guess the analogy isn’t that far off. But I also think now that I`m out, it’s less about actually surviving, and more about living.