No other time in life are the three simple little words “I love you” more meaningful than the first time we hear them.
We’re born into a harsh little world, cruel doctors pulling at us, bright lights blinding us, loud noises offending our ears, and finally a slap on the ass that proves we just can’t take it any more. And with that, our first cry.
It’s hardly a welcome wagon and a gift basket would have been nicer, but never the less, we can’t climb back inside the warm wet safety of our mother’s womb and so here we are learning our first life lesson. You can’t go back, you must move forward, and life isn’t all daisies and ice cream.
It’s shortly after this we learn our second lesson.. As the nurse finally lays us on our mother’s bosom, and she looks down at us through her teary eyes, her, lips parting into that weary smile, and she says those words. I love you…. And with that, we learn life’s second lesson. Mama always makes it better.
Three words so simple, so powerful. We’ll hear these words countless times in our life time. They’ll speckle our story like those push pins on a map, the ones people use to show how traveled they are, spread from one country to the next. Those of us more social may have lots of push pins, while those of us a little less inclined to throw our fragile heart out into the world, not so much.
And as I said, at no other time in our life will those words mean as much as what they meant when we heard them the very first time. It’s ironic really, the most important time to hear I love you and we can’t even understand the words. We don’t understand the sounds coming out of our mothers mouth, but laying there on her bosom we instantly get their meaning.
Coming out to those you love is a lot like those guys who jump off of cliffs on those bungee cords. You know, good or bad, things will never be as safe as they were before you jumped. You’re about to expose a part of you that very few people ever knew. A part of you that is counter to what so many perceive in you, and yet there you are.
As I sat on the couch with those words on the tip of my tongue, my breath held in my lungs, my brain screaming no, while my heart screamed yes, I thought about what would change. I wondered would the bungee hold, or would it snap. Would my mother embrace me or would this drive a wedge between us that would be impossible to remove.
But, because of life’s first lesson my heart won out, and those words came trickling out of my mouth as my held breath finally escaped in what was an expression of who I am. And like that day with the harsh lights the shouting, the smack on the ass, They’re met with understandable shock, a look of confusion, and finally silence…..
You notice a lot of things when time slows to a stand still. You notice the clock ticking, the slow yawn of the dog laying at your feet, the ceiling fan with it’s woosh woosh woosh, the short labored breaths of apprehension, and the screaming of your brain as it proclaims loudly “I told you so”
Suddenly a smile from those same weary lips and she expresses her unconditional love that had always been at the root of our family, and suddenly the feeling of ease came back. My heart slowed, my brain got quiet, and the death grip I had on the couch was loosened as the tears started to flow from my eyes. And the questions, the answers, the unknowing what would happen, but all in all it was a good experience and I left feeling accomplished if not exhausted.
There’s a very interesting effect I’ve noticed in all of my coming outs. There is the initial acceptance driven by the urge to be nice, then there is a processing period that can span as long as a year or two. This is the part you have to learn to deal with. It’s a time when people question how ok they are with this. What does it mean to God, will this person go to Hell, Will I be embarrassed for people knowing. It’s this time where life feels like one of those big pendulums swinging from positive to negative and finally at the end it rests on just fine. Well, we hope it does.
It’s a period where people say things that hurt, most of the time they don’t know, but it hurts none the less, and it’s this time where we loose contact with a lot of the people we loved.
I never lost contact with my mother, but she did go through this period and it wasn’t easy for both of us. But, because of her love, she learned, she spoke to someone who could help her process her thoughts, and at the end she’s come through it in a very positive way.
For many of us “coming out” is longer than one day. It’s a time period for people to finally move through this process and for us it can very well be a rebirth. Our friends and families see us in a different light, knowing our true selves for the first time, the walls come down, and we’ve become stronger for the experience.
The other day I was on the phone with my mother discussing our recent Sunday lunch date. We were supposed to go to church, but given the fact that people were handing me shots the night before, I had a little thing we like to call a hangover. I did manage to muster up all the strength I could to make my way to my mothers, stopping only a few times for the occasional vomit. I thought, if I could just get food in me, I would be fine, and sure enough, we made our way to my favorite Mexican restaurant El Tiempo.
Following lunch, and with renewed energy, we made our way to the grave site of my grand mother. The woman who’s name I’ve taken, and as we stood there looking down at her grave, I remembered all of the time as a child I spent with her, and how we would play winnie the pooh, or she would let me base the chicken and help her in the kitchen, and I just knew she would understand it all.
That visit actually meant a lot to me, to see her name, my name on her tombstone, it gave me renewed strength in my transition, and I left with a really happy feeling.
As I was saying, the next day, my mother and I were talking on the phone, discussing all of this, and my transition came up, and what people thought, and how she loved me, and any other typical thing a mother and daughter may talk about on a lazy phone call was said.
As we said good bye, my mother paused, then for the very first time, with such pride in her voice, simply said.. “Veronika, I love you”……
Life is full of struggle, it’s full of hardships, and it’s full of sorrow. Some of us make it through these times with our eye on the future knowing we can’t go back and we must move forward. My transition has been like being born into a new life, it’s new experiences, new perceptions, and new friendships. And through it all 3 things still hold true:
You can’t go back, you must move forward. (sometimes life is ice cream and daisies)
Mamma always makes it better (Most of the time) 😉
And “I love you” is always most meaningful the very first time you hear it.