Re­con­nected (aka ‘How I stopped hat­ing every­one’)

Kim Rig­gins lives in Smyrna with her two in­cred­i­bly spoiled dogs and an un­healthy ob­ses­sion with Star Wars.

GA Voice - - Outspoken -

“By the time I got around to telling my aunt I was gay, I was al­most com­pletely dis­con­nected. I iso­lated my­self and I was free, fi­nally, but alone. I could not be happy liv­ing a lie, but I wasn’t happy liv­ing in my truth, ei­ther”

I came out to my aunt over the phone the day af­ter Christ­mas. I knew she would tell every­one else, so that made it eas­ier. It was less dodg­ing and more del­e­gat­ing, re­ally. I con­sid­ered do­ing it the day be­fore dur­ing Christ­mas din­ner be­cause—why not? What bet­ter mem­ory could a large, south­ern fam­ily from a small town in Alabama ask for? But af­ter a dozen plates of food, lis­ten­ing to my un­cle’s cre­ative (to say the least) racial ep­i­thets and some pretty nice gifts (Egyp­tian cot­ton tow­els and a Crock-Pot), I never quite found just the right op­por­tu­nity.

So, I made the call. I don’t have par­ents, so there was no need to stand on any kind of cer­e­mony. I just told her and that was that. While hol­i­days are some­times lonely and child­hood mem­o­ries are bit­ter­sweet, it had been that way for me for a long time. I was very young when I learned that nowhere is it writ­ten that fam­ily will al­ways love you, no mat­ter what.

Sev­eral years ear­lier, I came out to my friends. That proved to be more dif­fi­cult. I val­ued their opin­ions. I found my sig­nif­i­cance in their per­cep­tions. I sought their ad­vice. They were my fam­ily and I loved them. I spent many sleep­less nights cry­ing and ag­o­niz­ing over what to say, how to say it and when. For ev­ery one per­son who ac­cepted me, there were two who turned their backs. Some­thing in­side me broke. I cut off every­one around me and re­fused to let any­one else in. I con­cluded, go­ing for­ward, that I was the only one whom I could trust. I came to de- spise fam­ily-cen­tric hol­i­days while sul­lenly re­fus­ing in­vi­ta­tions from friends to spend those days with them. I did not need peo­ple. I did not need friends. I did not need fam­ily.

There is a dan­ger in putting faith in peo­ple who have not earned it. Un­for­tu­nately, the act of con­cep­tion does not ful­fill any kind of qual­i­fi­ca­tion. That val­i­da­tion only comes through time. Those who cel­e­brate our vic­to­ries and carry us through our tri­als, those peo­ple are our fam­i­lies. Plac­ing faith in the wrong peo­ple, though can do some dam­age. It af­fected how I saw my­self. I fil­tered my self-worth through them. I saw my­self as un­wor­thy, unlov­able, and lost. It af­fected my re­la­tion­ships with other peo­ple. By the time I got around to telling my aunt I was gay, I was al­most com­pletely dis­con­nected. I iso­lated my­self and I was free, fi­nally, but alone. I could not be happy liv­ing a lie, but I wasn’t happy liv­ing in my truth, ei­ther.

“The blood of the covenant is thicker than the wa­ter of the womb.” In other words, those peo­ple we trust – our com­rades, our friends, the ones who hurt when we hurt, who won’t let us travel our dark paths alone – our bonds with them are much stronger than those of a group of peo­ple we just hap­pen, by chance, to share DNA with.

We can­not al­low our­selves to be­come dis­con­nected. I had to learn that there are peo­ple who love me. I did have a fam­ily. And my child­hood self, that sad lit­tle girl, was happy to learn that fam­ily will al­ways love you. She just needed to learn what fam­ily meant.

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