Her brown hair and big smile caught my eye right from the moment we met. I felt her watching me but didn’t think anything of it. I knew she purposefully brushed against me or touched my hand at any opportunity she had. I also knew she was 10 years older than me, my coworker and she had a boyfriend.
Then it happened. I was putting away groceries in the basement fridge of the group home where we worked, when out of nowhere she pushed me up against the wall and kissed me. She then backed away and looked up at me with very flirtatious and mischievous eyes. I was immediately flooded with feelings of bliss, confusion and excitement. I felt… sexy, for the first time in my life.
As a teenager living in a rural community in the 1990’s, in a then-homophobic home, I was afraid of what others would think or do if I expressed what I really felt. In high school I could never understand my female teenage crushes, my lack of interest in house parties and dating boys, and my constant sense of being very different from my friends.
From what I had learned, being queer was wrong, weird and not something I wanted to be; at least, not in my small town. It’s no wonder I suffered from terrible anxiety and low self-esteem.
My sense of self-worth went up drastically after I accepted who I was.
Coming out was one of the most difficult times in my life but I no longer felt suffocated. I no longer had to conform to what others thought was right for me. I was finally free to wear the clothes I wanted, cut my hair short, play sports, weight train and love women — all the while still being a sister, a daughter, a mother and a wife. Looking back on all the guys I had broken up with, I really meant it when I told them “no really, it’s not you — it’s me!”
The moment I began honoring my true identity and living my life on my terms so did those around me. It did not happen overnight but the point is it happened and I am forever grateful I did not hide any longer. I gave myself permission to be me.
My family and friends did not all accept the news right away. It was a long and painful process that I had to let happen; even though at times I wanted to hit the fast forward button. My journey of living honestly and with pride has not been an easy one, but the good has far outweighed the bad.
A few years after coming out I stopped taking my anti-anxiety and heartburn medications. I was able to function on my terms. I stopped living in fear what others thought of me and embrace the unique, caring and loving person I am. I fell in love with a beautiful and amazing woman and was confident in telling the world.
And you know what’s great? I have since connected with many of my ex-boyfriends thanks to social media and made peace with my past.
I realize not everyone has a “coming out story” but you just might have aspects of yourself you keep hidden in the closet. Are there parts of you the world never sees because you’re scared of disapproval or judgment? Would you love to go to the gym, join a sports team, a dance class, a tantric workshop or become part of a spiritual women’s circle but don’t do it out of fear?
Living our truth fuels our self-worth.
The point of sharing my story openly is to encourage you to be your authentic self. Without honoring our true selves we end up unhappy, frustrated, depressed or constantly seeking happiness from outside sources. I can tell you from experience, 16 years after coming out, I have more confidence, more passion for life and feel far sexier than I ever have before.
We are in charge of our destiny and must step into our power to truly live our lives to the fullest. Reincarnation theories aside, we only have this one precious life to live — make it great and make it yours.
Originally published at medium.com