Whirlpool of emotions….

(Disclaimer: Emotional post. You might want to keep tissues handy)

In continuation to my last post where I talked about coming out to my parents, here is what followed after.

For simplicity, each day after coming out can be named as PCD (Post-coming-out-Day). Sorry for being nerdy [can’t help it, being a doctor 😉 ]

PCD#1 (first 24 hours)- Extreme level of emotions – stress, anxiety, nervousness, crying, sadness, helplessness. My parents didn’t sleep for the whole night following this. When we first talked over phone after coming out, I could hear them crying, with such heavy voices and tiredness in their voice (they hadn’t slept for 24 hours). I tried to explain to them that this cannot be changed, but I am still the same. I requested them to look at this as a normal thing, rather than a disease. I calmed them down for that day.

PCD#2 – I could hear them not actually crying over the phone, but they admitted to having bouts of anxiety/ nervousness/ stress, with very brief periods of normal life. At least they said they slept for 3-4 hours at night, with frequent waking up due to stress. They were now worried about “had I told them earlier, they could have gotten me some therapy/ counseling to help me”. But after re-iterating that this is not something to change, their questions were more focused on life a gay doctor here. Future prospects of having a “real” family, kids, discrimination, struggles in life etc. (like all very genuine questions any parent would have for their child). I answered all these with patience and in detail. They said they need time to understand everything and I agreed too.

PCD #3 – I got this phone call while at I was at work, because my mother said she was really worried about me and wanted to talk. She said she felt terrible that I didn’t come out to them earlier and had to struggle all these years without any support from them. They felt extremely guilty about not being there for me during my initial years of realizing about my sexuality and were even more concerned about my future – if I will ever have a normal life, or will it be the one full of struggles. Moreover, my mother was scared that me and Nick would never go back to our hometown, to them and might not maintain contact with them, or might not allow them in our home here once we settle. I re-assured them that none of those things are true and talked to them to mitigate their fears to the best of my capability.

PCD#4 – Today, I noticed a fairly normal voice and attitude of my parents over the phone (I was surprised myself). They reported sleeping for around 5 hours at night and waking up less often now. They said they would take time to accept and understand everything. They informed me that they have decided not to tell anything about my sexuality yet in our extended family for a few years, till they have completely come to terms to it. I also talked to my brother and sis-in-law today, who informed me that my parents’ blood pressure has been persistently high since I came out to them – in 150s/100s. I asked my parents to focus on their health too. To this, they said they will be more careful about their health – they agreed to re-start their daily routine of walk, eat at proper time and try to stress out less. They also told me about a religious trip that they had planned for next month – which they will go on and not cancel due to these recent events. We ended the phone call by them saying that they just need some time.

PCD#5 – I think this phone call is the most significant for me (I was crying at the end of this call – I still have teary eyes while writing this). We started off as a normal conversation (as we used to have before). But then my mother got very emotional about being guilty for not being there for me in the past and how much struggle I would have in future and they might not be able to help me. So, this time I took an alternate approach to explain things to them. I asked them to look at the positive aspects of my life (rather than focusing on struggles etc.). I told them how lucky I am to have such supportive parents and family like them (who always supported me in my career choices), to have such amazing life-partner Nick, to have extremely supportive friends & colleagues, and to be professionally sane and stable. I know so many other LGBTQ youth and adults who have had such difficulty childhood, teenage years, coming out experiences and who are still not in a stable job. At times, we forget to think how lucky we are. I always heard the saying “Pause and look back at your life, to see what you have which others might not”. Never did I know that when I actually paused and looked back, I realized how extremely lucky I am (“touchwood”). After explaining this to my parents, my father started talking to me. His exact words were:

You don’t have to think of this [being gay] as a problem or a separate issue in life. Work hard, live your life fully and be successful. We are here for you always, son. If you ever need anything, we are just a phone call away. If you ever wanna come back home with Nick to live with us, you’re welcome. We’ll go to any town or city you want to, and we’ll move with you without asking anything. We will cut off from the social circle that doesn’t support you. We will take care of those people ourselves who won’t be supportive. You’re our child and we won’t leave you ever. Take care!!

I cried when I heard these words. And I have cried multiple times since then (including when I wrote this).

It is extremely heart-breaking to see your parents cry every day and be able to do anything, I had shared my story with other LGBT friends of mine who gave me a lot of support and told me to be patient and give TIME to them. Time is all they need to get through this. And yes, this is so true!

This past week was filled with extremes of emotions, but what kept me going was the support I got from people around me – Nick, my close friends at work, back at home (texting and calling to check on me), my mentors at work (I cannot hide my emotions and they could guess I was stressed out), my brother, sister-in-law and above all, finally but definitely not the least, support from my parents !!!

I feel so relieved now (Phew, finally !! ). I know they still need a lot of time to understand me, my life and LGBT world in general. But I am glad that they are there for me. Isn’t this what family does – to be there for each other.

And as one of good friends recently said, “it gets betters”…. 🙂

Ending this post on a positive note. Will post more soon about my preparations for coming out.

Good night.

Love,

Rhys

 

Coming out on birthday….

(Disclaimer: Perhaps, a long post!!)

As I turned 29 today, I decided to come out to my parents. I came out to my brother and sister-in-law last year. I have been thinking about it for a long time but never found the perfect time to do it. Since my main mode of communication with my parents is FaceTime (different countries and time-zones), I decided to use it as our “Face-to-Face” conversation. But it wasn’t as easy as I thought!!

A day before my birthday, I FaceTimed (FT’ed) my parents, had an hour chit-chat about all random things, but I just could not bring myself to say the words “I am gay”. Those words were going on in my mind the whole time, but I just froze every time I tried to speak up. One opportunity lost.

I FT’ed again the evening – another 30 minute-long conversation but nothing about coming out. By now, I was getting really restless as I had initiated the process but couldn’t take any further steps. It was like I wanted to walk but felt paralyzed and couldn’t move! I could not sleep that whole night.

The following morning, it was my birthday and my mom called me again. We spoke for 15-20 minutes on FaceTime, but I had to leave for work. I said I will call her and my father after work. Later in afternoon, I finally got a chance to FT my parents with my brother and sister-in-law sitting next to them. I mustered the courage somehow to talk to them (or maybe my stress levels were too high that I got the final push from anxiety). I told them I have been meaning to tell them something for a long time but couldn’t get a chance. I told them that I am gay and I have been in a relationship with Nick for the last 7 years. This was followed by a silence from them which felt like an eternity to me…

My mom finally broke the silence and said she had a fair idea about it for the last few years and asked me about my future plans with Nick, wedding, Nick’s family’s reaction etc. She even said to my father – “If this is something we cannot change, we must accept it. If we will find faults in him and won’t accept him, none of the other people around us will”. I was relieved that my mom was supportive (I was also hoping that my mom would be okay with it). But what followed after this was completely opposite, i.e, my father’s reaction.

I told them I care the most about the 4 of them and I would really appreciate their support. To this my father said “if you have decided everything and made all plans, what do you want now? You said you want support from us, but what if 4 of us don’t support you? Will you change your ‘social status’?” At first I could not understand what he meant by ‘social status’. I clarified by asking him if he meant my sexual orientation by ‘social status’, to which he said “yes, the same”. I told him this is not something I can change, that I am born this way and that I would ideally like them to be on my side. He further said “You cannot change society. This society had some rules and the way it has been running all these decades. You are asking us to support you by going against the established societal norms. Moreover, what if we don’t support you, what kind of relationship do you expect from us – will it be just acknowledging each other’s existence and that’s it?” I was obviously taken aback since I didn’t know to exactly respond to him (despite knowing that this is what he would have said). I re-iterated that ideally I would like us to have a usual family relation as we had before.

I went on explaining to him that this might be all new to him; they can take their time; do their own research and I would be happy to answer any of their questions and talk whenever they like. His next response made me extremely emotional (but I didn’t show any emotions at all throughout this whole video call). He said “What research can we do now? We will just look back on our parenting and figure out retrospectively what went wrong on our part.” At this point, my brother and sis-in-law also spoke up saying that it has nothing to do with the parenting and that the more they relate it with parenting, harder it will be for them to understand this. I even tried to explain to them that this is a natural, pre-decided biologic phenomenon and by mistake I used the word “genetics”. So, he said “genes are from us. That means it is our fault eventually”. We (me, my brother and sis-in-law) tried explaining more to him but by now, he was already in huge shock to listen to anything anymore. He said it was late night for them. I agreed and asked them to take some rest, sleep and call me later.

I cried like a baby right after hanging up! Not because of what he said, but because it was the most emotionally-overwhelming situation I have ever faced. I had talked to Nick, my closest friends and my brother after this, who were hugely supportive. I cannot imagine what would have I done without these extremely supportive people in my life!

I really appreciated my mother’s positive response. I hope my father accepts me as I am. I agree this is the first step towards acceptance by my parents and that this will take its own time. I just have to be persistent. It will be tough, but I am sure worth it in the end.

I guess this was one of the most eventful birthdays ever for me, where I gave myself such an unusual gift…

Happy birthday to me, once again!

Love,

Rhys