There are times in my life, as I’ve written about before, where even as a minister I have absolutely no idea what’s going on in my life or what to do about it or even how to process it. There are also, as I’ve found out these last weeks, times in my life where I know exactly how things are going to turn out and exactly what I need to do, only to find out that things have gone the exact opposite of how I thought they would go, I can’t respond the way I’d planned, and I am, yet again, back to the whole “I have no idea what I’m supposed to do” thing.
Back in December, when we had moved out of where we were living with my wife’s family and I was finally free to be myself again especially with regard to my hair, I got it coloured dark brown with blonde bangs. Being as I’m a natural redhead, and when I’d got it done in the past it was usually some combination of red with blonde highlights, this change was a bit of shock for everybody (myself included). Why did I go out and make such a drastic change? Part of it, I think, was simply wanting to put the past behind me, but a larger part of it was wanting to say, “I’m still here, and I’m still me, and I’m still going to do what I’ve been doing to express who I am.” In short, “You didn’t break me.”
Even as I’ve grown to love my new look (and it does look great!) I’ve found that the anger and the hurt didn’t go away from when I was accused of being gay last August and run out of the house until I got a “man’s haircut” (whatever the hell that was supposed to be). Maybe it was naïve of me to think that it would go away in an instant, but I guess I’d hoped that by moving on outwardly I’d be able to move on inwardly, too.
I’ve always had perfectly straight hair, and I’d had it permed back before that whole blow up and I loved having it curly. One of the things I’d been looking forward to over the last couple of months was finally having my hair long enough again to make it worth getting it permed. Funny as it may seem, I missed my curly hair (and I’ve also found out the hard way that I lack a certain skillset required to curl it myself). Anyways, yesterday I got it permed again, and you know what? I am finally starting to feel like myself again.
Thing is, the shadow of August still seems to linger. I guess I’d thought that by returning to my normal that things would start to normalize inside, too, and I don’t know, maybe it’s too soon, but… Yeah. It lingers. And you know what? I don’t want it to. I don’t want to be the eternally resentful guy, that bitter person that nobody wants to be around. And I’m tired of being wary around others, like I’m expecting another attack. And I don’t want to be so wary of being different and standing out that I just give up and give in to the demands of society that I conform to what everybody else expects. That’s the last thing I want to happen. So what am I supposed to do?
One of the things that kept me going through the months after the blow up where we still lived with my wife’s family was the knowledge that once the trump card was gone, once they could no longer hold over my head the “you’re living with us so you’ll do what we want or we’ll kick you out” card, I’d be able to finally, actually defend myself. I would stand up to them, on an even playing field, and confront them in such a way that they would understand this would never happen again. Those who know me well know that I can be a force to be reckoned with in an argument when I want to be, and I was going to bring all of that to bear on those who were behind what happened in August. Except, we moved out, and… none of that happened. I didn’t do what I’d dreamed of doing for so long. Truth be told, I couldn’t. Part of it is that we’ve needed their help to get established here. The main part, though, was that 2016 was, for both me and my wife, a year full of family drama and strife and accusations. If I’d kept that going through what I wanted to do, there’s no telling when that cycle would have ended.
So now I’m back to where I was before, and not having any idea what to do with all of this. Have I forgiven those involved? I think so. I mean, I don’t hold it against them, now that I’m free again and looking like I want to, so that has to count for something. That may not seem like much coming from a Christian like myself (we’re supposed to forgive everybody, right?) but I’m human, too, and as I’m finding out the healing process can take a very long time and take you somewhere that looks nothing like where you started out from. I don’t want to miss any step in that process, no matter how painful it might be.
Life is still just… different. Will it ever be the same again? I’m not sure. There’s some value in all this, too. I wasn’t kidding when I said this didn’t break me. I’m still doing what I do, reaching out to people from groups that most Christians have just written off. I don’t want anybody to feel the way I did, and to go through that kind of abuse, simply because of who they are and how they choose to express that. In that process, I’ve met some wonderfully open people, people I wouldn’t have met otherwise, and I’m grateful for that. Other than that, it’s just one day at a time. In my most open moments I have to admit that life will probably never be the same again, but as I’m learning that doesn’t mean it can’t be good. That’s what I hold on to, and if you’re dealing with loss, or hurt, or anything at all that really sucks, I hope you can find a way to hold on to it, too. We’ll get there, one day at a time.