free stats Carmen's Web: Coming out of the closet
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Coming out of the closet
When I moved back home five years ago it was supposed to be temporary. Six months tops, I told myself. Enough time to save some money, find a new place sans roommate, and maybe bond with the parents. Six months, however, slyly led to a year, which then led to two, three, four, five.

Around year three I finally resigned myself to the fact that I probably wasn't going anywhere anytime soon. I had quit a job that was giving me ulcers and was stuck in limbo trying to figure out what direction my life should be heading. One weekend I decided to finally unpack some of my boxes that had been gathering dust for three years and found a batch of pictures that I had wanted to put in a photo album but just never had the chance.

As I was organizing my pictures I realized that I had inadvertently placed them into two piles, which I subsequently named the "halal" and "haram" pile. The "halal" pile included pictures I could keep out in the open. My roommate and I unpacking boxes, friends at the top of the Empire State Building, innocent pictures that couldn't get me into any kind of trouble. It represented the side I revealed to my family. The demure, dutiful daughter who knew her place and never dreamed of straying from it.

The "haram" pile consisted of pictures that needed to be kept locked up in the closet. Pictures with cleavage, tight hugs with famous singers, sitting on friends' laps, kisses with boyfriends. Pictures that would horrify my parents. I once told my friend that if I were ever to die in a freak accident, the first thing she would have to do was burn it all. No traces of this side of my life can be left behind.

This need to compartmentalize my life stemmed from an incident that occurred in the 8th grade. It was graduation time and my friends and I borrowed our parents' cameras to record all our precious memories. I took one picture with one of my male classmates. Nothing inappropriate. He was standing next to me. There were no hugs. As a matter of fact he looked like he didn't even want to be in the picture. My mother discovered it while rummaging through my bookbag one evening and snipped him out of it. She then spent 30 minutes lecturing me on how I should never be in a picture with a boy. What if this boy used the photo to blackmail me (????) or, worse, superimposed my face over a naked a woman and sold it (!!!!!?????!!!!!).

I was confused. I didn't know what I had done wrong and her ideas seemed so preposterous. It was the first time that I began to think that my parents were not only weird, but deranged. I had done nothing wrong but at that moment I felt the split that my identity would take. I could have become a rebellious daughter, acting out and simply doing what I wanted to do. But I loved my parents, worshiped them, and I simply couldn't do it. At that time, the only logical thing for me to do was embrace this split.

I've lived an entire life with fractured identities. None of them whole, all of them representing merely a quarter of who I really am. I've hated it. I've hated living parallel lives, not knowing who I was, who I could be if I simply allowed all the identities to come together.

Three years ago I woke up, looked in the mirror, and didn't recognize myself. I know that this not only sounds cliche, but stupid as well, but I really couldn't recognize myself. I wasn't happy. I hated life, hated myself, couldn't stand what I had become. I never thought I'd have had to lie so much for so long. Never knew what it would do to me.

I never believed that happiness could be mine. I mean, how could I ever be happy if I could never be me? How in the world could I find happiness, tranquility, and peace of mind if I could never be true to myself? Toots once told me that until I bravely decided to pursue my own perception of happiness, I'd always be stuck in this rut. Do it, not think it, he said.

I've decided to go with the honest route when I confront my parents about R. I'm sick of lying about everything in my life for the sake of self-preservation. I'm sick of the double identity. I'm sick of being so fucking pathetic. There are times when I can't even stand myself. People are supposed to lie when they're doing something wrong. I have never done anything "wrong", yet have always lied because I've always been afraid that the people in my life would stop loving me. That if they knew the truth they would turn me away. And needy old me needs to be loved.

I love R. I've loved him from the moment I laid eyes on him. And if this were merely a case of being love-struck, I wouldn't for one second go through with marrying him. While I believe in the power of love, I've never believed that it alone can conquer all. I've known R for eight years. We've been through a lot together. We've managed to get past all the bullshit and came out stronger and this is why I'm not afraid of fighting for him. This is not just about love.

The lying is going to stop. I don't want to keep being this victim who's constantly afraid. I hate this weakness. I'm 100% convinced that I'm not doing anything wrong. I'm spiritually at peace. I've prayed five istakharas (yeah you freaks, I pray), read the opinions of four sheikhs, read the Quran for myself, and while I don't expect others to come to the same conclusion as I have I do expect others to back off and leave me to live my life so I could carve my own happiness.

I'm going to come out of the closet to my parents soon, and I know it's going to be a doozy. I'm prepared for the absolute worst. I do have a tactic and am strategizing every day. I know who I'm going to confront first, where I'm going to do it, what I'm going to say and am merely waiting for a day where I don't come home at nine in the evening (I'm working two jobs...haven't been able to rest properly since March).

I try to be optimistic, but I have a feeling that my heart will be broken and that this will be a pretty wearisome battle. I'm not looking for my parents' blessing or approval. I don't expect them to sanction something they are not comfortable with. I'm looking for their acceptance of a choice I've made that doesn't fit into their reality. I'm looking for them to love me. To keep me in their lives. It's not much to ask for, is it?

Tell you what I'm really looking forward to...I'm looking forward to the sweet relief of finally being unshackled from all my lies. Even if my family stops speaking to me, I would rather deal with that unhappiness than the unbearable misery all my lies have brought upon me.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 12:44 AM
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Who: Carmen

xx-something egyptia-yorker who's spent over half her life stuck in two worlds not of her own making. unable and unwilling to fully embrace one identity over the other, she created (is trying to create) her own place in the world where people love each other unconditionally, irrespective of artificial boundaries, and where dancing merengue is as necessary to life as breathing air.

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