I’ve lived my life in two parts: before I realized I was gay and after.
I have separated these parts of my life so harshly that I’ve become detached from my “former” self. One of the main things I struggled with when coming out (and living out) is coming to terms with my past. I get a pit in my stomach every time I think of a time when I was dating a guy or wishing I was getting a text back. It’s what I wanted then, but I didn’t realize how unhappy I actually was. I hate to talk about my past with guys so much that I avoid thinking or talking about my past altogether, even though my whole life wasn’t just about guys. I am so resentful of every second that I wasn’t living my best lesbian life. I wasn’t necessarily a closet case, but compulsory heterosexuality kept me in such a state of confusion that it took me much longer to have my sexual (re)awakening than it should have.
And it makes my skin crawl.
I’m a very decisive person in that once I decide something, I don’t like to change my mind or be challenged. I don’t want people to be uncertain of me and my sexuality when it took so long for me to become certain of myself. So, I created a clear division. After I came out, I felt reborn. I felt like I had shed myself of the confusion and conflict, and I wanted to keep it that way. I shot my high school friends dirty looks when they tried to talk about ex-boyfriends in front of my girlfriend. I told edited versions of college stories to new friends whose lesbian image of me I wanted to protect. Even though I view sexuality as fluid, I didn’t allow myself the luxury of exploration. I thought that if I admitted that I once identified as straight, then how I identify now would be invalid.
On top of that, I didn’t have the best relationships with men. They don’t deserve any more of my energy or time in therapy to discuss further, but I was in unsafe and unhealthy situations more times than I should have been. I was constantly going from guy to guy, trying to find the right one, but none of them felt right. Not only was I dating the wrong people, I was dating the wrong gender. A big part of me feels like this self-destructive behavior would have been eradicated had I known myself better. Had I just realized sooner, then I would have not spent so much of my dating life feeling miserable and hopeless.
I have to challenge this idea though. Let’s say I *did* realize I was gay earlier; would it *actually* be better? Wouldn’t I still have ups and downs in relationships? Wouldn’t I still have my incessant need for external validation? Wouldn’t literally everything in my life be different? So maybe it could have been better knowing I was gay earlier. Or maybe it could have been way, way worse. Burying myself in my head with all of this subconscious doubt and confusion is taking away from my conscious self that is happy, whole, and satisfied with how everything turned out in the end.
I have to join my two lives back together. My life did not start at 22, even though that’s how it feels. I’m pushing past the ideas that gays have “always known” to rebuild the bridge I burned with my past self. When it comes down to it, I am different from my younger self in several ways, not just my sexuality; I have different taste in fashion, music, etc., and I finally grew out of my side bangs phase. It’s time to forgive myself for my previous relationships just like I need to forgive myself for wearing low rise jeans and 2 tank tops under a Hollister tee shirt. It was me then, but it’s not me now. The person that I am now would literally never wear low rise jeans.