I'm quoting myself. I've told this to a number of people I love as I've watched them grow and mature. And I believe it passionately. For most of my life I've lived according to that adage. But for most of my life I've not cared what anyone thought of me. Preserving and nurturing relationships was never a priority. I said and did whatever I thought was appropriate--and I didn't apologize.
I'm guessing my actions have hurt someone's feelings more than once. Now that I'm trying to become a real girl, I find that regrettable. At the same time, it has never been my aim to hurt anyone. I just have difficulty remembering that the things that are trivial to me are sometimes monumental to another. I forget that I haven't always shown gratitude for things I felt were "givens"--sort of like saying thanks to a rock for not being in my shoe.
When I began exploring who I am, looking at my past experiences, and learning to have intimate friendships, suddenly I found myself making excuses for who I am. I began repeatedly apologizing for being me--as though I was some sort of anathema. The former self-confidence and self-acceptance was gone.
I'm not sure why this happened. I believe it came to pass because suddenly I cared what others thought about me, and I was certain I could never measure up to their expectations. Also, it was the first time I had interacted with people who knew intimate details of my life. That was a novelty I had never before experienced. Regardless, it has been a rapid journey into the bowels of self-loathing, and I've been wallowing there for more time than I care to admit.
In the past few months, however, certain experiences have caused me to reevaluate my visit into wretchedness, and to remember why I used to say the title of this blog post.
Experience One: Sister Four visited with Brother Two and told him she believed I was making up most of my life story. She wasn't sure I'd been raped--perhaps just fondled a bit--and I was exaggerating the details (which I find interesting since, outside of this blog, which Sister Four has never read, I've not expressed the details, indeed, even the bare-bones story, to anyone). She said our mother has never misused any of her children--again, I was exaggerating deserved discipline for my egregious acts as a child. And finally, I was not gay, obviously, since I'm married and have children. If my children were adopted my story might be more plausible, but since Darrin and I have had sex three times, I must be attracted to him and therefore, not attracted to women.
Brother Two disclosed to me the conversation he had with Sister Four. He was uncomfortable because he felt he should defend me, but had no idea how to do so. I told him firmly that he was never to defend me in this type of situation. I had done nothing wrong, and therefore had nothing to argue or defend. I then emailed Sister Four and asked what drugs she was on. If I wanted attention I had many better ways to get it than to tell lies about myself. She admitted the cousin rape story might be true. She admitted that there probably was a little abuse in my life from my mother. But she said straight up that she didn't want me to be gay. She didn't want it to be true. And in the process of explaining that, she let her homophobia be seen.
I realized as I read her response that I had no use for a person who will allow one aspect of my personality to color her opinion of ME. I think girls are beautiful. That doesn't change the fact that I'm funny and delightful. It doesn't make me less intelligent or talented. It doesn't effect my ability to be married to Darrin or parent my children. It doesn't lower my salary, destroy my relationship with God, or make me a terrible housekeeper. It doesn't cause me to have heart disease or dementia...in short, it is such a minute portion of my entirety that I have difficulty understanding how it could mean anything to anyone outside of myself.
I told Sister Four to let me know when she wanted to visit in person or on the phone, and we could talk more about it. Then I asked her to limit her conversations about me to the two of us--not to gossip about me with my siblings, and left the ball in her court. She hasn't contacted me for more than a month. I don't expect her to do so for a very long time. Truthfully, I'm okay with that. Once again, I am becoming myself--and I make no excuses for who I am.
Experience Two: Tabitha has had a close friend for the past three years. They've spent lots of time together and genuinely care for each other. Sleep-overs in my home have been a rare occurrence because of the stress they cause me based on my past. However, for this young lady I have made an exception. I have allowed Tabitha to be in the friend's home overnight, and we have reciprocated the gesture. In truth, it's been good for me because the friend's parents are aware of my sexuality and I felt that they trusted me.
However, tonight Friend called Tabitha to let her know that her parents felt that after the age of thirteen, overnight stays were no longer acceptable. Tabitha said, "That's the lamest excuse for not letting your daughter spend the night with someone I've every heard!" Tabitha forgets her mother is a lesbian. She doesn't understand the suspicions aimed at me. She cannot see that I could be considered a threat to anyone. I, on the other hand, heard the message loud and clear.
I told Tabitha it was important to honor Friend's parents' wishes, and said we could still have her over for dinner and to spend some time on weekends when they would allow it. Tabitha pouted at me and said it didn't make sense. I smiled and said I was sure they knew what was best for their daughter. Tabitha stomped about the house for a few minutes, then said it still didn't make sense. I said, in time things would feel better. Tabitha said, "Yeah, but it still doesn't make sense."
But it makes complete sense to me. Friend is becoming a young woman. Friend's parents would like her to stay away from dangerous me...because, you know, I'm in the habit of seducing young teen girls...
I suppose if I was afraid Friend's father would molest Tabitha, this whole thing might make more sense. And one can always assume that it really is their family rule that sleepovers cease after age 13--except I know this family. Friend is not their oldest child. If it's a family rule, it just barely became one.
In the process of talking this out with Tabitha, I realized once again that I have nothing to apologize for. I cannot take responsibility for someone else's inability to have faith in my integrity. I cannot be blamed for the bigotry or intolerance I continually encounter.
In short, I am becoming myself, once again. I will make no apologies for that. Anyone who cannot accept me for who I am, warts and all, will miss out on a joyful wealth of experiences that only I can supply. This is not conceit. This is Samantha in all her glory. Make no mistake--I will never become what someone else wishes me to be. Nor will I allow myself to be reduced by their inability to see who I truly am.