This Is What Coming Out Feels Like

Alyssa L. Miller
Alyssa L. Miller

Hold your breath for one minute. Count it. Sixty seconds. Be conscious of that dull aching in your lungs. Hold it in for another few seconds, until your chest is burning and you feel like you’re going to erupt.

Think you can hold it any longer?

Notice how all of your focus revolves around restricting yourself. If you’re in a public place right now, are you looking at the ground so nobody notices that your cheeks are puffed and you’re concentrating very hard on not passing out? Are you still typing away on the keyboard with full focus, or are you checking the clock and wondering how much longer you have to go before you can breathe?

If you’re by yourself, are you tempted to give in? Are you wondering if you’re crazy, sitting there holding your breath on command? How many others out there are holding their breath just like you? Fantasize about what it would be like to draw in the oxygen around you, feel it hit your lungs and fill them into two big balloons. Imagine them lifting you, imagine yourself happily floating away, drunk on air, bigger somehow.

But you are still here holding your breath because some stranger you don’t even know told you to, and instead of floating you feel more like falling to the ground and crying.

This is what being in the closet is like.

Then, breathe. Suck in all the oxygen you were craving, allow it to fill your lungs. Those first few breaths you drink in quickly and greedily, knowing what it was like to be denied of them. Smell the sweet air. You are alive.

Repeat it to yourself. “I once denied myself of air but now I can breathe.” Love breathing. Go outside on crisp fall morning and let the chill hit the back of your throat as you gulp for more. Be obsessed with breathing, be obsessed with how incredibly lucky you are for being able to. Notice the buoyancy you feel as you keep opening your mouth to the air.

Notice the lightness you feel when you relax and let breathing come naturally. Notice what it’s like to not have to think about it, to go about your daily routine and not even register that with each passing moment, you are drawing and exhaling breath.

This is what coming out is like. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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