Happy Thanksgiving

As the relatives and extended family start to filter in, I begin to get that paranoid, uneasy feeling that I always get around the holidays. Everyone seems to interested in my life and what they can do to make me as happy as they are. Because I’m still “single”, they know someone they can set me up with…it usually starts with “there’s a nice woman that goes to our church….a nice woman that I work with….a nice woman in my graduate class…a nice woman in our neighborhood…bible study….gym”.

Another relative will say something like “he’s so picky…good luck, I tried to set him up….”. And on and on the conversation goes. And if it isn’t about my love life, then it’s about my educational status or career. “You are done with those medical boards aren’t you….did you put in an application to this program….did you apply to this hospital…why don’t you come to our state, there’s a great program over here….”. This all stresses me out. I don’t know why they would think finding a residency is easy, because to me it’s just overwhelming and I would rather it not be discussed as my blood pressure sky rockets and when thinking about the possibility of not getting into a program, I may just have a stroke.

My favorite cousin Dennis isn’t here yet. But some of my cousins are already here. They’ve gone out and are waiting for me to join them. And as much as I love catching up with them, I also feel like I’m taking a step backwards hanging out with them. They don’t know this me…the me that does have a love life. The me that is becoming comfortable with myself. The me that has one foot out of the closet. But mostly the me, that gut feeling tells me would be ostracized for being myself.

I think that it’s easier said than done…to be able to think that if they don’t want me, then screw ’em. But there is a big part of me that needs them, needs their acceptance. I don’t know what I would do if they shut their doors to me. I think I would die a little inside. And yet now that I have found myself and taken a step forward, I feel like I’m taking a step backward when I once again have to pretend. All this is the suffocating part of the closet.

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10 Responses to “Happy Thanksgiving”

  1. Lemuel Says:

    For most of us, whether we like to admit it or not, family is important just as Family is, too. I understand your uneasiness. Your description of your family gatherings and the questions they ask reminds me of the nearly 40 in-law clan C’mas dinners that I have had to attend. They may not be trying to hook me up or find me a position, but the questions are just as inane.

  2. Doug Says:

    Everyone has a different approach to being out, so don’t beat yourself up about that. Whenever it happens, though, it won’t be black and white. Some will ostracize you, some will accept you, and some will even defend you.

    As far as them bringing up painful parts of your life for lengthy discussions, I’d try to find topics that are painful for them, bring them up, and then after a bit of talking say, “Oh, was this making you uncomfortable? I’m sorry, I thought you enjoyed that seeing how often you do it to me.” 😉

  3. (F)reddy Says:

    Since I know you read my blog, I believe you have an understanding of how I “speak”. I just want to preface that just in case what I’m about to say makes me come off sounding like a dick.

    First off, everyone who tells you to come out at your own pace and to discuss the things you want to discuss on your own timeline are r-ri-rig-righ-right. (Did you think I was going to say something else?!?)

    PERSONALLY, I feel like the whole coming out process is best served by pulling off the band-aide quickly. I came out when I was 12 and it was the best thing I ever did. Quit doing the math. YES, it was a long time ago. The benefit of doing it so young is you don’t have the adult feelings of acceptance that you’re toying with right now. Frankly, I didn’t give two shits if it alienated the family. And it’s a good thing I DIDN’T give two shits about it, because it didn’t go to well. ESPECIALLY with the mother.

    BUT over the last 26 years, THE FAMILY HAS GOTTEN OVER IT! The mother introduces my kids with pride as her grandkids, introduces Jed as her “finger-puppet-in-law”. I’m closer with my family (extended and bio) now than I was when I needed the time to be myself.

    So do what you want when you want. Just know, eventually, folks will come back into your life if they have a problem with it.

    Sorry for the ramble.

  4. Steven Says:

    I think you can find many who can relate to this story, including myself. But I am waiting for the day when that door can be flung open and make the announcement…”I’m a die-hard Cher fan.” 😉 Think of yourself as taking more steps forward and fewer, or smaller, steps back. Eventually you will get there. 🙂 You’ve come a VERY long way since last year!

  5. Tim Says:

    John, there’s a wide gulf between discretion and pretending. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking if you don’t disclose all your business, you’re dishonest. You’re being tactful and polite, neither ever being a bad thing.

    While (F)reddy makes a good point that coming out is best done quickly for some of us, others need to take it step by step, hour by hour. It’s wise to remember when we come out, we bring our families, friends, and colleagues with us. And while we’ve had years to prepare ourselves, many of them get the truth dropped on them without notice. A lot of times we get so focused on what we expect from them, we forget what’s expected of us.

    Sometimes it’s best handled it in chunks, rather than holding a press conference: friends first, say, then younger (more open-minded) relatives, and on up the ladder. Gradual disclosure will generate some buzz out of your hearing, of course. But it also will spare you unnecessarily uncomfortable moments with extended family you see once or twice a year–and also grant you the occasional surprise of someone you expected to draw back in horror to approach you to offer his/her support.

    As for the residency stuff–don’t sweat it. I know it makes for a long, often agonizing day, but remember these people love you and mean well. Don’t let their nagging and nosiness prevent you from seeing that. In their own goofy ways, they’re just trying to help. Overlook their ineptitude and take their concern as a compliment. And please don’t stroke out!!!

    Finally, go have fun with your cousins. So it’s not your “scene” any more. Who cares? You’re with family. And besides, after you do come out to them, you’ll want them to hang out with you in gay spots. If they decline because it makes them uncomfortable or self-conscious, remember how you feel now. But if you work through your reluctance now, you’ll be in a better position to ask them to work through theirs later.

    Have a great holiday–and don’t forget it’s about being thankful for all we’ve got, as problematic as that may be at times.

  6. david Says:

    You should just be honest for a change, they might know a nice guy to set you up with. If they don’t want to hang around you because you’re gay, it’s their loss and will reveal their character, it has nothing to do with you. If you’d be honest, you’re blood pressure wouldn’t skyrocket! You make these people sound like neanderthals. Are they really or is it just you who’s afraid to be honest and and open with them? GET OVER IT, there’s so many more important issues to address other than your sexual preference, I bet they’re not as small minded as you might think! Honesty is the key here!!

  7. Steven Says:

    Yeah, it is not a pleasant situation to be. Actually sometimes it is the last step of come-out process. It will happen sometime when you do not realize it. Do not force it or not be intimidated.

  8. Stephen Says:

    It is easier said than done, I know. Everyone can give advise, everyone means well, but sometimes they just don’t know the whole story. Everyone’s life is different, proceed at your own pace and know that your friends care. Happy Thanksgiving, my friend.

  9. midnightgardener Says:

    Well, there’s the thing about family gatherings…once you’ve gotten around to coming out and they more or less accept that, they will still find ways to meddle in and make you feel uncomfortable about some thing or another.

    Everyone has to come out on their own schedule. I wanted to tear the band-aid off all at once and was thwarted by a Spin doctoring Grandma…of course that was plenty years ago now and everyone knows. Now I just have to answer the questions about why I’m single again!

    I hope you enjoyed at least some of that family time, though! Happy Thanksgiving!

  10. urspo Says:

    yes, a part of us withers when there is rejection.
    You will find in time the need for acceptance may be too much a price for the exchange.
    Being yourself (your Self) always carries a price, but in the long run, it is worth it – in my opinion anyway.

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