I said the words I never allowed myself to say before: “My husband is gay.”
I had found my way back to the closet. My heart was pounding and my head was hurting. I felt like I was struggling for breath. I looked at the wreckage of that huge closet, the dirty clothes, the pile of clean clothes needing to be put away, the shelves piled high with stuff I had yet to find a home for in my new home. In that moment of hysteria a glimmer of normalcy crept through as I thought about how thankful I was for that room-sized closet that housed all the ugliness of my life that I had nowhere else to put.
I crumpled to the floor. The panic was rising in my chest. I lay on a heap of clothes and began sobbing. I couldn’t stop the tears from coming. The fear was making my chest hurt. The adrenaline was coursing carelessly through my veins, making me shaky and hysterical. The cool tile under my legs felt foreign and hard. My life felt that way. My love felt that way.
I’m not sure how long I lay there….The tingling in my arm alerted me I had been there a long time. I slowly pulled my body off the heap of dirty clothes and stood. My now long hair was matted from the tears, a feeling I hadn’t grown used to, long hair, brushing my face, getting tangled in my tears. I brushed it annoyingly out of my face. I took a breath, and as I stepped out of the closet door, I said the words I never allowed myself to say before: “My husband is gay.”
I stood in the dim hallway deciding whether to go right or left. I took a turn to left and headed to the bathroom where I stood facing myself in the mirror. I looked at my sunken eyes, darkened and hollow. I stared at the mop of hair it had taken me so long to grow. I looked at the cheekbones of my face and the small dimple in my chin. Nothing felt right. Nothing looked right. I couldn’t remember how long it had been since I had last slept more than an hour. When did I last eat? The sour taste in my mouth made me constantly sick.
All the thoughts of the last month that had been tumbling dangerously and carelessly around in my head started to make sense and become organized. The missing hours, the excuses, the anger, the mean words, the vacant expression in his eyes, the secrets and lies. He had already told me.
Five words escaped my lips that day, “How do I do this?”
Nearly seven months have passed now from that day. I couldn’t foresee this day. I couldn’t imagine it. I didn’t know how to. That day in the mirror, I was stuck in my fear and longing and anger and sorrow. I didn’t recognize myself or my life or the man I gave everything to. I wasn’t sure I wanted to see it any differently than how I had always seen it.
Each step I have taken these last seven months has led to freedom. Somedays the freedom is hard fought. Other days it comes easily. I can breathe. I can dream. I can hope. When I was with him I forgot that I could do those things. I lost sight of those things for so long, years and years spent in fear and in pain and in wondering. You see, I knew. Even when I couldn’t acknowledge it. Even when I didn’t want to see it. Even when it was right in front of me and I chose to close my eyes, I knew.
The day I reclaimed my freedom was the most scary and dark day of my life, but because I did, each day has progressively gotten lighter and easier. My life is so full now. It’s full of unexpected people and surprises. It’s not everything I dream for it to be, but it doesn’t matter because I’m on the path, and I’m only looking back when it serves to teach me and grow me. I look in the mirror now and I still feel unrecognizable, but it’s because for the first time in my life I like what I see. My eyes are no longer looking down, they aren’t sunken and hollow; they are bright and constantly looking for growth and change and opportunity. My entire soul is aching for that.
I watch as the light outside changes. The air is ready for change. So am I.
This story was published with permission from Elizabeth Langham. Read the full version at The Beginning of Beautiful.
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