The Battles We Create For Ourselves

Are The Ones That Break Us

Left: My paternal grandmother at age 37. Right: Me at age 37.

By design, we are all different yet beautiful. Coming out is teaching me what unconditional love is. What life outside of a box feels like. The more I share with my family and friends, the more I am finding out, “but you know I knew that already, right?” And no, I had no idea my family knew the inner-workings of my heart, of my soul. I am rather private. For the most part, I keep to myself. I am significantly older than all of my siblings, so much of what I experienced growing up, they did not.

They looked up to me, yes, I knew that. But, I did not know how closely they were watching me. According to my brother TJ upon me asking, “When did you think you knew?”

“I don’t mean no disrespect sis, but I knew when I was little. I mean, I ain’t never really seen you with no boyfriends except that one dude that everybody liked. I thought, maybe my sister likes women. And then later, when you started dating that bald-headed guy like three years ago, I thought — oh, my sister still likes men. I see no difference in you, sis. I’m gonna love you anyway.

To this, I laughed. I am nine years older than TJ. He and I are quite close. Most people say, he looks a lot like me and really, I think that as well. Most of us have strong features that link up, however, I am told he and our kid sister looks most like me. I found his comment the best way of his expression. Of how he began thinking his big sister was not heterosexual. He has a big heart too and is sensitive in ways that my other brothers are not. As a toddler, he was one who would cry at the drop of a hat. I knew then that he would sincerely be connected to his emotions, unafraid to share, or one willing to listen when listening is of the utmost importance. I was hoping I would be right.

TJ & I.

I Am Right In My Assessment.

I know there will be hills that I will ache from climbing, someone will voice their opinion, will Bible-thump me with scriptures they have twisted to fit their model of beliefs and display not one modicum of common sense, but I am in a position to not let that keep me from being me. I have no control over the thoughts of others and my journey into this new life is not the responsibility of anyone but my own. I am tired of limiting myself to being with who I want when I want, yet “in the dark,” cut-off from everyone else. I am tired of waving happiness away because of a way of life that most of my religious upbringing planned for me.

I Never Fit Into That Box

So, why was I constantly trying to keep myself there? I created a war within me. The battles I fought needed heavy armor and up against myself, I was not winning. I was only breaking and withering away. A revelation hit me, that caused me to say, “You know what? You want to be happy, be who you are. Do not think about it, Tre, just do it.” And after that moment, I felt an overwhelming sense of FINALLY! My heart slowed down its beating. I could breathe better.

Cousin, I believe this is gonna help you so much in relieving the depression and anxiety you have been dealing with for years. You are learning that it is okay to be you.” ©Akua

And it is okay to fully be me. I have made a pact with myself. A personal declaration that I intend to stand by, to etch into my skin. I will make my life easier by being who I am and nothing more. I looked at myself in the mirror and declared that. I meant it.

I Am Focused.

I carry the strength of powerful women in my bones, women who will cut you with their eyes then tell you to get over it without a trimmer in their voice. Women who have been fighting for me without my knowledge. Women who will look you in your eyes and tell you while they stand on flat feet and shiftless legs, “you’re lying.” A long line of women who have stepped forward and said,

“You better be who you are while you still can.”

I Will.

Just bees and things and flowers
Just bees and things and flowers
Just bees and things and flowers
My life. My Life. My life. My Life
In the sunshine
Everybody loves the sunshine.

Originally published in Other Doors via Medium.

But, God Still Loves Me

My Tears Tell Me So

A caterpillar isn’t told when it’s time to free itself from its cocoon and fly, it simply knows. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

I have been carrying a weight so heavy, it is hard to bring forth its reveal without losing some parts of me in the process. I am the adult child of a Preacher. Not just a Preacher, but a Southern Black Episcopalian Preacher/Elder/Minister who came from a devout Southern Black Baptist family. I was taught who to be, how to be, and what to be while in the walls of my parents’ home until our home fell apart. I wanted to lose myself in the world because my world was no more.

Divorce to a twelve-year-old who had an intense bond with her father is crippling. I searched in many areas for bits of my fatherOur apartment did not smell the same. The floorboards did not creak the same. Breakfast was not breakfast without my father blessing the food. My mom lost the glimmer in her eyes, depression sunk in. I deposited all of my energy into books, into writing, into excelling in school, in both academia and athletics.

I was eight when I knew I liked both boys and girls. I did not need anyone to tell me the difference, I knew it. I knew I wanted a certain little girl to walk me home, hold my hand, and sit with me on my mother’s porch swing after schoolI was also aware without it ever being uttered, that in the eyes of my father, and his family that it would be “wrong.” never once thought that my mother would scold me or make me feel less than who I was. I feared the wrath of my father. I feared what he would say, not what he would do as he was not a violent man, but what he would say — how he would say it.

I am half her, my mother. Half of her blood lives in me which pulsates in every vein and reminds me to love people no matter what, Tremaine. God ate with prostitutes and thieves. You will never be fit to judge anyone, so don’t you dare.” She, the daughter of an Evangelist, but who rebelled in every way possible including conceiving while in her teens and while unmarried, taught me the most important lesson in life: You were made to love all God’s children, not just a select few. But, all.” And under her roof, that was the core. You better had adhered to it.

So, why now, at thirty-eight, am I still not completely, utterly, and totally out of the closet? I think of the backlash. Of how I will be treated by family, friends, and anyone I have connected with over the years, but what worries me most is how my father and his family will accept the news. I have played the scene out over and over and over again. And it all comes crashing down in front of me, leaving me dusty and despondent.

The reel is not new, the film crumples up and gets twisted and the movie has to be placed on pause. You do not have to say a thing until you are good and ready and when you are, if anyone treats you differently after knowing, they did not love you in the first place, and you don’t need them, Tre.” ©The Powerhouse

I know who I am. I know whose I am. But that does not obliterate the fear.

I am now employed by an organization that is big on diversity and inclusion. I have attended a church for the last three years that truly means, “Come as you are” when they deliver this message. I stand freely in the pews, losing myself in worship, crying because a part of me feels trapped. On Sundays, I feel the pain more and I know, at this stage, that God did not and cannot make mistakes.

I am loved. I can say that now without a flinch in my body. I am loved because of what people know, because of what they see and hear, however, how will this love change when who they know is not who they thought they knew? I never thought I would be a part-time anything, let alone, a part-time ME. I have cried enough tears to know that the well in my body is drying up. Freeing myself is another goal I aim to accomplish.

You were made to love all God’s children, not just a select few. But, all.”

I am bisexual. I knew this when my heart swelled up dreaming about that same little girl, thinking one day — she’d walk me home. I knew this long before I knew that I could triple jump, backflip, climb trees, build mud castles, etc. In the coming days, whatever strength I can muster up will probably be dedicated to removing a cloak. One that I hope I will never have to don again. But, I am afraid, however, that cannot always be my excuse. At some point, fear will have to step aside and I will have to step out.

Today, I began by telling my mother, “Mom, I have a lot on my heart, stuff that I’d like to share with you one day soon.” And knowing my mom, knowing her heart and how much we’ve been through and how long it took us to get to this point in life where our bond is unbreakable, I knew she’d say something to make me feel a bit lighter. She did. Whatever it is baby, you’re carrying it well. When you’re ready to talk, I’m ready to listen. And that is what I needed to hear. I will never know my father’s reaction if I do not tell him — biting the bullet on that one will be harder, but I have a good feeling that I will not have to do it alone.

Sweet, beautiful, soul-saving joy.”

Gospel — feels like home when you need one.

Originally published in Other Doors via Medium.