I’ve come out of a few closets in my time. Often easily. Sometimes, not so much. Aged thirteen, having survived psychiatric hospital (just) and run away from home, I found myself on a northern university campus in the heady days of urgent, gay/feminist activism. I less came out than dived into, my very first taste of community, circling and non-biological family. I can see myself there, from here, the long view back, and my heart aches for that demented girl. Life was kind, long before I knew how much I needed that, and those people, especially the lesbians, were very kind to a needy, inarticulate adolescent, who hoovered up everyone’s drink and drugs and was often to be found weeping, vomiting or trying to get off with someone’s girlfriend…
That was the first time, and between then and now, there have been a few journeys. Having deeply identified as a lesbian for what felt like forever, it was a shock to find that wasn’t quite so simple anymore. Coming out as bi-sexual was difficult at first. I was scared of the ‘lesbian police’ and later when I came out about my erotic practice, I was scared of the ‘psychotherapy police’. Now, I have digested these police, more or less, and have much more practice of being in the world how I am, as kindly as I can be.
I wonder if this is going to my last closet, a final layer of self deceit? And when I say that, I don’t mean it meanly. Its more about being astonished at my own struggle, the dancing and ducking and diving, to know and yet not know, whats in my bones. And as a psychotherapist, I have a language and maps that give shape and form to some of the mysterious stuff that happens inside… so, I should, you might think, more than some, know that I am life-long and chronically depressed. I have given my depression several threads of narrative, and though I have done some redemptive work in various modalities, the problem underlying these processes has been an imperative to release, heal, or even get rid of something. And because no matter how many times I touched some grace, in a consulting room or a circle of love, or on a dance floor, I always returned to find myself, though a little bit new, still in the same weighty company. Huh. Or ha, even.
Yes, it has taken a long time to recognise my depression, and say, hello You… ah, its been you all along… And as for coming out, well, for better or worse, I’m a high functioning depressive, and unless I make a point of telling you that breathing in and out is a labour, you probably won’t know. As I have been told by those who know me best, I’m very contained and discreet about some things. Two parallel points about that – my container is soft these days and I am a glutton for tenderness – and in appreciation that a person could have too much discretion, I’m using this blog as a way to be less so.
Now that I’ve given up trying to make myself into a super-duper, brand new, depression free, integrated and productive human, I am tasting more freedom. I just answered the phone to a friend, and when he asked me what I was doing, I told him I was getting through the day. What if, I say to myself, that could really be okay? That getting through another day of heavy breath and leaden limbs and small tasks achieved and failed at, conversations with a dear cat, lying down and getting up, sighing, muttering, resisting and surrendering, treading a well trod path over and over… could really be okay, over and over…?
I can only say that its starting to taste true. And it tastes good: satisfying, quietly healing and long awaited, like a homecoming of sorts.
As Leonard would say –
Thank you Teachers
Thank you Everyone