(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.