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There’s a part of me that wished that I could be brave enough to say that I wasn’t totally losing my shit over the prospect over the idea of telling my mom that I was gay. I really wish that was the truth. But, if I really had to be honest…it terrified me. It has always terrified me.
Being different wasn’t tolerated. Being abnormal? Even more so. And maybe a lot of that had to do with growing up in this house with an abusive father who would rather beat me into submission rather than accept me for who I am…but I can’t pretend that the threat of exposure to, who I deem as, the only parent that I have left…doesn’t cause me to crumple myself up into a cowardly little ball and want to shrink down to a size so small that nobody could possibly notice me at all. I almost felt SICK at the idea of having to look her in the eyes and say the words out loud. What would she think of me? What would she say about me hiding it from her for this long? Would she call me a liar? I mean, technically…I really have been lying to her for years now. So she wouldn’t be wrong about that.
So many feelings. Conflicting emotions, all battling for a spot on my mental chessboard that would give me a definitive win without consequences. But…the only checkmate was the one created by my own fear and the denial of personal shame for not being what society wanted me to be. Or…at the very least…expected me to be.
And yet, even though I’ve been feeling this way for years now…confused and embarrassed…trying to make sense of it all so I could find a way to change it and get myself back on the ‘right’ path again…something bout today was…different.
I don’t know, maybe it was just spending some quality time with Ariel that did it for me, but I actually found the tides within me turning and shifting towards an ideology that would actually allow me to be even happier than I am right now when I really stopped to think about it. Ariel is PAINFULLY shy! I mean…he has to struggle and fight just to be able to lift his head and look you in the eye when he talks to you. But he’s still out there taking chances. Chances that will ensure his happiness for years to come. He put himself out there in the trenches of love and war, and he’s afraid…but not so afraid that it’s going to keep him from going after what he wants. Even after being hurt before. I think I kind of admire that.
I doubt he’ll even know how much his visit meant to me today. Because, even though I’m practically trembling with the impending horror of having to tell my mother that I like boys instead of girls…it still feels ‘worth’ it. It really does.
I just hope that she’ll understand. I want her to know me for who I really am. And a part of me wants to test my boundaries to see if who I am…inside and out…will be enough for her to love me anyway. She likes Ryan, right? He’s a sweetheart. It won’t be that much of an adjustment, will it?
Then…I suddenly became plagued with thoughts of all the things Ryan and I have done since he first moved here to the neighborhood, and I giggled to myself…but was wondering how my mother would look at those incidents once she knew the truth. The parties we went to together, or me visiting him in the hospital, or the hotel we stayed in that one time, or him climbing into bed with me when I was sick, or all of those afternoons when we started kissing just around the corner, out of her sight. The hidden jokes we’ve made, or kisses we shared in the car in front of the house, or going out to a fancy dinner…just the two of us. What a ride it’s been. Ugh…it seems like we’ve been a couple for so long that I can barely remember a time when we weren’t so obsessively connected to one another. I was forced to contemplate her point of view on the whole thing. I mean…did she know? Did she see? I really hope that our relationship didn’t come off as so transparent that anybody with a focused eye could see us being a gay couple and would have no doubts about it at all. But…I can’t deny that this big, inevitable, confession wouldn’t be much easier if she had already solved the mystery of the ‘extremely close, same sex, best friend’ on her own.
Dammit, Ariel. You have a way of making me crazy, even when you’re not around…
A million excuses. That’s what began to flood my mind. ‘Don’t tell her’, they said…the voices in my head. ‘Save it til later’, they said. ‘You’re not ready!’ they said. I found myself wrestling with my own common sense as it did everything that it could to postpone and prolong the agony of not telling my mother that Ryan and I were…together. But…I really wanted to do it this time. I wasn’t going to get a better opportunity than I would right now. If I let it linger, then I’m just going to come up with more excuses later on…and I don’t want that. Enough is enough. I need to do this. And I need to do it today.
I just…had no idea HOW!!!
After pacing back and forth a few times in my room, cell phone in hand…I finally dialed up Ryan’s number and prayed that he’d answer right away. “Hey!” He said, his cute voice expressing his joy over hearing from me again. “What’s up?”
I didn’t have any idea of how to sugarcoat this whole thing, so I just blurted out, “I’m telling my mom that I’m gay!”
There was a brief pause, and Ryan suddenly stuttered, “Wait…what??? Like, right NOW???”
“No! Not NOW! But, like…when she comes home from work.” I said. “i just…I feel like it’s time. And if I don’t do it now, I might never do it at all. So….I’m thinking…just do it, right? Tell me I’m right.”
Ryan asked, “Are…are you sure? I mean, if you think you’re ready then that’s cool, but…”
“I’m ready. I’m SO ready.”
“This isn’t because of you coming over for dinner last night or anything, is it? Because, I told you, it’s not something that you have to do for my benefit.”
“Awww, I love you so much. I really do. And thanks. But…this is for me. Hell, in a way it’s for the both of us. And probably for her too.” I said. “Better she hear it from me than accidentally finding out about us later and having to feel weird about me not telling her myself. You know?”
“Wow…” He said. “Ok. I get it. I totally get it.”
“Cool.” Then I added, “That being said…um…help!”
“Help? Do you want me to come over?”
“Can you? Please? Just for a little while. I’m kinda freaking out here.”
Ryan giggled a bit to himself, and just as I expected, he said, “Say no more. Consider it done, babe. I’m on my way.”
“Thanks, dude. I feel better already.”
“I love you.” He said.
“Love you more.” I responded. And I hung up, putting my phone down so that I could continue my nervous pacing until I heard the doorbell ring. I practically ran to the front door and yanked it open, causing Ryan to giggle with surprise. “Come in! Come on, hurry up!”
“Hehehe, are you sure you’re feeling alright?” He said, but as soon as I closed the door, I grabbed both sides of my boyfriend’s face and kissed him deeply on the lips. GOD, I needed that! It was like a sudden breath of oxygen to a drowning man at that moment. “Randy? What are you doing?”
“I don’t KNOW what I’m doing!” I said, trying to keep a mild panic from growing out of control. “Ryan…I’m feeling a bit…queasy right now. I know that I shouldn’t, but…”
“Dude, it’s ok. Seriously, it’s all a part of the process. Just…come on. Let’s go to your room and relax for a bit. Calm down.”
“Yeah…” I said, my head getting a bit dizzy. “…Yeah, that’s probably a good idea.”
We got to my room, and Ryan sat me down on the bed, his hand lightly rubbing my back in small circles while I tried to catch my breath. “Do you want me to go to the fridge and get you something to drink or something?” He asked.
“I don’t know. I don’t…think so. I just…” I was almost panting with anxiety at that moment. I was really going to do it this time, wasn’t I? I felt like I simply didn’t have a choice anymore. It was out of my hands. And that was the scariest part of all this.
“It’s ok. Shhhh…” He kissed me lightly on the cheek, and I felt his fingers softly run themselves through my hair. “Randy…if it’s stressing you out this much, maybe this isn’t the time to do this. You should feel good about coming out to your mom. Or to anybody, for that matter. It’s not some pressured requirement that you tell the whole world about your sexual interests. It’ll be fine.”
“I know, but…this time things are different.” I said.
I looked into those beautiful eyes of his, and something about his striking good looks and compassionate demeanor just hit me with a one -two punch that just…it seemed to soothe me. He makes me feel so normal sometimes. “I really wanted to bring you into the house last night, you know?” He seemed confused. “When you walked me home after dinner with your dad? We were standing outside and I just…I felt like a dick for not taking you inside to say hi to my mom. Or for her to know that we were spending time together. Or that…like…I mean…I almost lied to her yesterday about going to your house…”
“Ok, slow down. I’m having trouble following you here, Randy.” He smirked.
I tried to focus a bit better. “I feel kinda…’sour’ about hiding who I am.” I said.
Ryan nodded softly. “Ok. I totally get that.”
“It’s like…Ariel came over here a bit earlier today, and we were talking…”
“Ariel came over here?” He raised an eyebrow. “Are you two making out behind my back now, or what?”
“Just a little bit. Not much tongue. I did keep my hands on his ass the entire time though.” I giggled, relieving a bit of the tension inside.
“Well…Ariel does have one of the nicest asses that I’ve ever seen.” He joked.
“I know, right??? Lucky Tyler!”
Ryan laughed, “Lucky what? What is that supposed to mean? What did you two talk about?”
Shit. Clamming up now. “My conversations with my friend, Ariel, are strictly confidential.” Ryan squinted at me for a moment, obviously figuring out what I was getting at with that last statement, but he didn’t push. “Anyway, back to the matter at hand…” I paused briefly, but…it hurt me to say, “When he was over here, Ariel asked me if you and I were a ‘secret’. And I found myself feeling bad to say that we were. At least where my mom was concerned. And…Ariel knows. Tyler knows. Matt and Sam both know. Then I got to have dinner with your dad…and I started thinking about Cody and him never getting the chance to tell his parents before they were gone…I think it just hit me all at once. It was a bit heavier than I ever could have expected it to be.” Then our eyes connected again, and I added, “I have to tell her, Ryan. I have to just…take a chance on this. At first, I was afraid that everything between us would change. But the truth is…it already has. Everything has changed. We just weren’t aware of it because we weren’t connecting anymore.”
Ryan looked back at me, and that heartbreaking stare of his gets to me every time. “You’re really serious about this, aren’t you?”
I nodded. “It’s time. And I’m scared. I’m not ashamed…but I’m scared.” Ryan took a hold of my hand and gave it a loving squeeze. “You mean the world to me, Ryan. Since we’ve been together, you’ve become the reason I get excited to wake up every morning so I can see you again. Why I get excited to go back to sleep so I can dream about you again. And I just…I feel like you and I can’t fly at the same speed while I’m still carrying this weight on my shoulders.” Feeling a bit emotional, i leaned in to kiss my boyfriend’s tender lips, and I caressed his cheek, telling him, “I don’t want you to be a secret, Ryan. Not anymore. I want to be the love that you share with the rest of the world. I want everyone in my life to see you shine the way I see you shine. It’s unfair of me to dim that light for something as selfish as a fear of change.”
With his misting up slightly, Ryan kissed me deeply, and then he hugged me around the neck. “God, you’re awesome. You know that?”
A single tear dripping from my eye, I sighed, “Yeah. I am so totally out of your league. Heh…”
He leaned back, hearing me sniffle, and he used his thumb to wipe my tear away. “Ok…so, how are we going to do this? What’s the game plan?” He asked.
“That’s the part I need help with. I have absolutely no idea how to go about doing any of this. I’m so screwed up in the head. I feel like I’m running, blindfolded, into six lanes of heavy traffic, here.”
“Well, what strategy do you want to use? Do you want to sort of build up to it and ease your way in? Or do you just wanna be blunt and come right out and say it?” He asked.
“I don’t want to give the poor woman a heart attack or anything. But what kind of conversation could I possibly have with my mom that could smoothly segue into, ‘Oh, by the way…I, ummm…'”
“Like to suck dick?” He grinned.
“Ryan! Hehehe, please stop saying it like that! Come on, this is serious.” I said, trying to keep his cute giggles from being so contagious this time around. “How did you tell your dad that you were gay?”
“Honestly, Randy…I barely remember.”
“How can you not remember something like that?”
“I don’t remember. What do you want me to say? It just sort of ‘happened’, and I told him that I was gay. It was a spur of the moment sort of thing. Like ripping off a Band-Aid.”
I rolled my eyes. “Ugh! Some help you are!”
“What? I was in the friggin’ HOSPITAL after an accident. I was just glad that my eyes could follow the doctor’s flashlight from left to right when he shined it in my eyes. Hehehe!”
“So that’s how you came out to your dad? A momentary, highly delusional, lapse in judgement? Great.” I teased. “Now all I need is a bonk on the head and some loopy medication.”
“I can help out with the bonk on the head part, if you want.” He snickered. “Look…Randy, just…say what you feel. You’ve got one of the nicest moms that I’ve ever met in my life. It’s not like you’ll be telling her anything that isn’t true. At the end of the day…she’ll just get to know a little bit more about you than she did before. That’s all. It’s who you are. The moment you become proud of that and accept it…the mere formality of saying the words out loud really doesn’t take much of a leap of faith at all. In fact…it becomes pretty easy after that.”
Thinking about it, I knew that everything he was telling me was the truth. But the voices in my head kept fighting me on realizing it for what it was. Wildly searching for more excuses. More delays. Drudging up as much shame and worry as they could to push back on my need to do this and trying to warn me against it. I was staring down at my feet when I told him, “You know…growing up…my dad really had convinced me that I’d never be a person of any real value. That I’d have to be crazy to be proud of who I am. And when you grow up like that…you look at every mistake, every mild disappointment, every harsh criticism…as a part of proving him right. You see your whole life through that muddy filter, and it takes an entire lifetime to finally prove to yourself that you can be more than what he ever gave you permission to be.” Then I lifted my eyes to make contact with him again. “Deep down…a big part of letting him abuse me the way he did was just a physical extension of the way that I was abusing myself. I allowed him to hate me and to hurt me because I truly felt like I deserved it. But…just having you love me is enough to break that programming. You’re my proof. And it’s time I stepped up and used the tools you’ve given me to be with you. Fully. No bullshit. I want to own this.”
“And then?” he asked.
“And then…you and I work on growing old together. Just like we planned.” I smiled.
Ryan and I spent some time together that afternoon, with him trying to take my mind off of ‘thinking too much’ like I always do, and me trying to humor him by pretending that I still wasn’t freaking out about all this. But it was still a good time. And, as always, Ryan gave me anything and everything that I needed to feel whole again. He was a treasure that most people never find in their lives. Certainly not in high school. But the more surreal and ridiculous our easy, committed, and totally loving relationship seemed at such a young age…the more I cherished it for everything that it was. Ryan is my miracle.
I want to be his too.
When it got close to the time when I knew my mom would be coming home from work, Ryan stood up and I walked him to the front door again. But he was hesitant to leave right away. “Randy? You know…you don’t have to go through this alone. You know that, right?” He said. “If you want me to stay…? I mean, I’ll be right here to hold your hand when you tell her. You know I will.”
I kissed him softly on the lips. “I know.” I said. “But, honestly…I think this is something that I’ve got to do on my own. I really want to know how she feels about…well…everything. And, no offense, but my mom loves you…and I don’t want her to pull any punches or suppress any feelings for the sake of…’company’. You know?”
“Yeah. I get it.” Ryan said. And he moved in to hug me tight. An affectionate embrace that helped me to shake myself free of some of the jitters in my stomach as I inhaled his candied scent and reveled in the warmth of his arms holding me with such concern. “It’s gonna be alright. K?”
“I hope so, babe. I really do.”
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY SHACK FANS!!!