A common refrain among those of us coming out of the closet later in life is the phrase, “to live authentically.”
Once I came out, it felt amazing to begin living on the outside in a manner consistent with how I felt on the inside. It didn’t happen overnight, but the peace and clarity were rejuvenating compared to my life lived in hiding.
After the initial honeymoon phase wears off, however, sometimes we are left with the collateral damage of a life lived in pretense for 20, 30 40 or 50 years prior. What I mean by that is that pretending isn’t a light switch that is can just suddenly be turned into the OFF position. It strikes me as a rather stark reality that in order to pretend to be straight and fit in with society’s expectations of me like I did, I had to lie quite a bit.
I lied about a lot of things. In the hopes of not getting caught or discovered I sometimes overcompensated to appear straight.
Between the ages of about 5 to 40 I pretended to:
- Like things I didn’t like; and not like things that I loved.
- Feel things I didn’t feel; and not feel things that I felt.
- See things I didn’t see; and not see things I saw.
To be clear, while I was in the covering up mode for 40 years, what I actually liked, felt and saw became vague and unclear over time. Mormonism had taught me to question both the accuracy and the validity of who I really was.
It took some experimenting to settle onto many of my own tastes. Sure, once I let go of all that I was free to admit that I DGAF about sports talk; I liked to talk theatre, films and crass humor instead. I was free to feel warm and tingly inside when a guy flirted with me. I no longer had to pretend not not cry during a movie. I could stop pretending to be looking at the beautiful woman walking by and clearly appreciate the man at her side and acknowledge it without guilt.
But the impulse to lie about small insignificant things sometimes still slaps me across the face. I just did it the other day. A friend simply asked me if I liked to read. I said yes and so he asked what I was reading at the moment. Instead of saying the truth which is that I do like to read but that I haven’t picked up a book in about 2 months so I wasn’t reading anything at the moment, I talked about the last book I read and made it sound current. The lie morphed into a bigger one that I ended up changing the subject to get rid of the discomfort. That may seem like a small insignificant lie but it bothered me that I was pretending something that wasn’t true. Even more so that the actual truth isn’t even embarrassing or unworthy. I’ve simply been too busy and caught up in other projects.
So, why not just say THAT? Because my impulse is to lie.
I’m sure recognizing it is a significant part of changing, but I also think being more impeccable with the truth in all aspects of my life will help me change that impulse. Getting rid of pretense and exposing the raw, vulnerable me is a habit I want to nurture.
To honor that, here’s an embarrassing truth just as trivial and meaningless, but funny and more of who I really am. This happened to me this weekend and I don’t think I’m going to be allowed back to the gym because of it.
I had In N Out last night for the first time in months so I had gas this morning.
Anyway, at the gym I’m in a boot camp class and we’re doing our workouts in stations. I’m in the corner so I figure it’s a safe time to fart. Plus, the music is really loud so…. I let it go… And the trainer immediately tells everyone to take a quick water break.
Guess where the water fountain is…. Right behind me
It was bad. No one said anything though. But they had to know.
That’s the real me.