The idea for this entry started as one perspective, and then shifted to another. Morphed, really. But at the core, it is the same. The fact of being myself at any time, any place, and with any person scares the living shit out of me. It always has.
The first and most obvious event was coming out as gay. It is old news that in general, taking this step is quite frightening for anyone….or at least for most people. At the time that I came out publicly – personally, I had always known – I was coming out of an intensely Christian religious time in my life. So the point of decision was a request to God – if you don’t want me to be gay, then you need to change this because I can’t. The next day I had my first official date with a guy.
In the years that followed, I had decided to do what I could to be myself with most people without waving a pink feather boa around. Even at a time when I worked for Anderson Consulting, however, I did wear a small pink triangle pin on my shirt at work. People occasionally asked me why I felt the need wear it, or to announce this point so much. My response was always the same….I wanted people to know who they were talking to. People of different ethnic cultures and different skin tones who were discriminated against could not necessarily hide it. Technically, I could hide would I could be discriminated against. I chose not to. Now, as noble as that might sound, and as much as I liked that aspect of my decision, the primary reason for wearing the pin was to show people a part of me that I felt was significant and I wanted them to see and be aware of. And ever since then, I have always found some way early in a new friendship to let the other person know that I am gay during early conversations. I figured that since it’s still early in the relationship, there is an option for them to decide whether a friendship with a gay man was something they were comfortable with. If they decided they weren’t, then they could drift away, and there is no harm done because the friendship had not developed enough to cause any hurt feelings.
This all has not happen without a price, though. That price has been significant fear. Each time I have been out in public and displaying in some way that I am gay, I have carried that fear that someone would do or say something harmful. Pride parades and church were safe places, of course – the Lutheran church I belonged to at the time was extremely open and welcoming of gay folks. Outside of those two places, though, there was always a knot in my stomach. What makes me proud is that I did it anyway.
In retrospect, here is a way that it got interesting. While it could be said that I was engaging quite a bit of courage to live my life this way – and I agree with that – the fears were undermining me in other ways. They were able to maintain that sense of being less than everyone else that had taken up residence within me since my abusive childhood. While in some important ways, I was standing up for myself, in other important ways, I was not. If the slightest whiff of confrontation arose, I retreated. I would back down and let people have their way and just try to figure that it didn’t matter. But it did. And all I was really doing was shoving more toxicity deep within.
Then in more recent times, I became Wiccan. Wicca and paganism have been teachings and lessons that have resonated more deeply within me than any other kind of therapy or religion. I think one of the reasons is that there is an openness to it….a wide range of acceptance without guilt. People of any background, sexuality, or experience are welcomed with open arms. I really needed to feel that sense of comfort in knowing that there is no guilt in paganism….at least not in my perspective of it. Which brings up another aspect of it that I appreciate – there is no ONE correct way to do things. And the only ‘wrong’ way of doing things is to cause harm to another.
Another aspect of paganism and Wicca that would naturally attract my spirit is the power involved. I’m not talking about fiction story witchcraft. I’m talking about actual magick. Energy work. And the ability to create my environment and my own experience by using my own will. And by integrating that will with the energies of the natural Elements, the physical world and all of it’s natural charms, medicines, and energies, and the non-physical and Diety energies. By being in relationship with the Universe as a living energy. The symbolism of all of this in the form of pentacle and triple Goddess imagery still tends to be seen in the mundane world as symbols of evil. Of the devil. The reality is that this is the exact opposite of what paganism and Wicca represents.
The symbol of the pentacle represents Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit. I don’t see any of this as evil. The triple Goddess symbol – )O( – represents the three visible stages of the moon as she travels her monthly path. Traditionally, this has been important not only in reference to diety, but also to the stewards of the planet – the farmers. Pre-Gregorian calendar, humans depended heavily on the signals from the Earth herself, the Moon and it’s journey through the sky, and the same with the Sun. Not just the phases that the Moon displays, but also the timing of the journeys of both Moon and Sun. The angles of them in the sky. All these things indicated to the stewards of the Earth what the season was, and the timing of planting, growing, and harvesting the food that Earth provides. They also indicated the timing of the care of the animals as well. I just don’t see how this is evil.
Wearing this symbolism is something I do daily, just like that pink triangle pin. I do so because it makes me feel good and stronger. It also lets anyone who understands them know who they are talking to. And like the triangle pin, it does frighten me to wear them daily. So far, I have only been advised one time to hide my pentacle pendant under my shirt. For as often as I wear these pendants, only once so far is pretty good. I have had more instances of curiosity than judgement. I wear them with my family as well. I have had no criticism…and indeed, curiosity from one sister. And yet….I am scared every day.
I have just recently become deeply aware of this still deeply rooted sense of fear. The fact that it still controls so much of what I do and how I do it. And it causes me to realize that I need to really face them and release them. Let’s face it…what I have been describing in this blog so far is quite simply but profoundly a fear of being me. Fear of being who I am, feeling what I feel, believing what I believe, knowing what I know….and the ability to share all of these things. The potential ability to teach others because of all of this. In spite of how much I do believe in all of this that I am, I still don’t feel on an even level with most people around me. I feel less than them. I feel this all the time, every day. And this was tangibly shown to me just two nights ago.
As it does, the Universe responded to my revelation about my fears and the want to eradicate them. Or at least to eradicate the control they have over me. (There…you see? I still have trouble going for it all….I still limit myself due to not feeling like I deserve it all. And I do.) Sunday evening, I was in class with my Temple mates. We were working on an exercise in intuition, and trusting it. The exercise involved me simply being present in the room, and my classmates connecting with their intuition in that moment about me. In a sense, they became my avatars….they each began to reflect a part of myself right there, in the moment, to my face. One of my friends especially was reflecting back a most intimate and frightening part of me…the part that was angry at myself for remaining subjugated to all others, and angry at others for not respecting me or recognizing me.
It was really really intense. But it was so important. It was a huge release. Of course, it has not healed all those fears. But it gave me a voice I have not used before. Or at least not nearly enough. It pushed me to the point of getting mad and stating definitively what I deserve – to be recognized, to be respected, and to be honored. I did not ask for these things….I stated that I deserve them and I will have them. Sounds arrogant, doesn’t it? But from someone like me, coming up from the bottom, it is like the first breath of air in this physical body.
So now I feel at a point wherein I can recognize a fear, be with it, and interrupt it from causing me to do something not happy or healthy for myself. Wait…let me re-phrase that. I can acknowledge the fear, and not allow it to cause anything. You see, I am the one continuing to allow things to be as they have been. And again, I can use this power that I have been learning in Wicca to decide to allow a different experience. And so it is……