Closets Are For Clothes

And so I came out to my Mom on Shabbat. We were staying at a beautiful hotel near the sea.

On Shabbat morning, we were sitting on sofas in the lobby, looking out at the beach and talking. She mentioned, for the second time since she’d arrived, that I seem much happier now than I did back in January. I took that as my segue.

I admitted that I was no longer religious and didn’t know exactly what I believe anymore. She immediately started asking questions, “Are you still keeping shabbat?” “What did we do wrong?”

And then I said, “there is something else.” And looking away, because I couldn’t say the words while looking at her, and overcoming the tumor that had suddenly grown in my throat, “I don’t think I’m straight.”

Silence

And finally,

That she loves me, and will always love me
But that what I had told her was upsetting and did make her sad.

And just like that, I had pulled the rug out from beneath both our feet. With those few words, I had shattered her vision of my happy future.

With a heavy sigh of resignation she said, “I guess our life was never meant to be normal.”

Up until now everyone I have come out to has been only supportive and happy for me. And now I have become the source of sadness to one of the people whose opinion I care about most. I feel I have let her down. And I know that her love for me is unconditional and unwavering. But the feeling that I have somehow failed her won’t shift from my heart.

***

One day I will look back on that girl sitting in the hotel corridor at 2:30am, crying alone, engulfed and enveloped by her loneliness. I will want to reach back in time to gently wipe away her tears, hold her hand, to hold her as long as her body shakes and trembles. I will want to promise her that her life will get better, it will be richer.

But, for now that she must sit in that sadness, be with it, explore it and swim through it. For now the love of friends, which has already been overwhelming and awe-inspiring, will have to suffice. And the truth is, it more than suffices. The truth is I have never felt more love from friends before, never felt more vulnerable yet safe and held by others before. And though at times the sadness threatens to engulf, the love already has.

2 Comments

  1. Anonymous (sorry) May 30, 2018 at 9:12 am

    I have actually had the same conversation with my parents, almost 17 years ago. It started with “I’m no longer religious” and climaxed with “I’m not straight”. It may sound cliche, but it does get better. Sounds like your mom is adamant in her love for you, which is great. I think neither of you know what to think right now, but she loves you and once she figures out how she feels you will hopefully both find a way to love everything about you. Try to imagine yourself in 5, 10, 15 years. Your mother will make her peace with this new information and you will no longer make her sad. I’m betting that given some time she will be just as proud of you as she ever was.

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  2. Seraphim June 1, 2018 at 2:35 pm

    Your bravery is paving the way for so many others like you, silenced by their parents and the unfair expectations of their insular communities. I am so happy you are supported by your friends, and your Mother sounds like she holds you deeply in her heart as well. It may have come as a shock to her, but as she sits with it, things will likely become easier for you both. You have nothing to feel guilty for; this is who you are. Perhaps over time you can also find a Jewish community you can feel welcomed in.

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