Tuesday, May 22, 2012
who you are is more magnificent than any illusion of you could ever be
I was talking to a friend this morning. He is gay. His mother sent him a letter... It sounded like a lot of the things religious people say to manipulate... Because they think they are right, they don't even see how horrible it is. (It goes like this: God said the church is true. God wants you to be happy. God has told me what you need to do to be happy. Do what I tell you to do (and what God tells me to tell you to do), and even if you're not happy, at least you won't be hurting me.)
Heartbroken, he asked what he should do. Other friends gave him the advice, "Just be you. Show them that you are still the same person."
Its good advice, and there's a few problems with it.
He's still the same person, but in their minds, he's not. He's gay. He's left the church. It's like they have always had an illusion of who he is (in their own minds). For a while, he fit the illusion. That made them happy. Now he doesn't. It hurts them that he is different than the dream of him they hold in their heads. He can't be the illusion, and at this point, it seems they don't want him. They want the illusion or nothing. They'd rather have him lie and pretend that he is someone else than to really know HIM.
The other problem with trying to show them he hasn't changed, is that he can't actually control the way they think about him. Trying to do that will make him crazy... At least, it made me crazy.
I eventually learned that all I could do was be me, and be honest, and other people were going to take that however they wanted.
I've been called mentally ill, sick, wounded, broken, evil, disgusting, and vile... but the very same behaviors that got the above labels thrown at me also got me labeled as: beautiful, strong, compassionate, amazing, heroic, and courageous.
It turns out all of the "good" things about me are just subjective. Some people love me, some people don't. There's something very empowering about giving up the need to make other people like me, or think good things about me, or want to be in my life. I'm me, and all of the people in my life are here because they like ME.
I got lucky though... My family didn't send me the awful letters. I had a few discussions where my mom told me she loved me, and I countered her with, "How could you? You don't even know me! I don't believe you even WANT to know me."
She asked me to give her a chance. I did. It's worked out for me. I had gotten to the point that I was willing to give up my family completely... If they had said, "I want the illusion or nothing," it would have been nothing. I would have found friends to be my family. It was too important to me to stop hiding and stop pretending to ever allow myself to be an illusion again.
So, my advice is a bit different.
Just be you. Know that you are beautiful and wonderful, and you deserve to be loved. Even if they don't love you and accept you, that doesn't change the fact that you deserve to be loved.
You deserve to be loved for who you are, because who you are is more magnificent than any illusion of you could ever be. You ARE loved. By me. And probably by a bunch of other people too.