Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Out to My Dad

I am on vacation to visit my Dad. I haven't seen him in a few years but we talk on the phone at least once per month. I had decided that on the last day here I would have "the" talk with him but a friend pointed out that it might be better to talk to him before I left. She thought it would give him a chance to see that I'm still Me.

Background: Dad is an old curmudgeon. My feeling is that he's not very progressed in his thinking. He's even prejudiced at times. He's stubborn and set in his ways. For these reasons, I really had no idea what to expect of him. I was really scared that he would throw me out after learning that I'm gay. I couldn't figure out what his reaction would be, even though with other people I've been pretty accurate in my guess. I was extremely frightened to have this talk with him.

Last night I dropped the family off at the hotel and drove over to see my Dad. We talked for a while about splitting wood and making furniture. He told me about his job and the joy he finds in talking with strangers. And then, in what was a wonderful moment for me, he said "Well, now that you're here alone I'd like to ask you about a rumor I've heard that you're 'dissatisfied'? with the church." He couldn't remember what he had heard or who had told him, but I said that it was true. In that moment he got a huge smile on his face and clapped his hands softly. He had been baptized when I was about 12 and only attended church for a year or two and then fell away. He's back to his old self, where he doesn't have much use for the church in general. It was really good news to him that I have left.

It opened the door for a bigger and deeper conversation. I told him that there were many important things tied into my life that I'd like to share with him. Then I immediately started to cry. He said, "Baby, just take it slow. It's hard for you because we've never had this type of conversation. It's okay." It's true, we've never had talks about truly sensitive matters. I reminded him of my previous years of depression, suicide attempts, hospital stays and therapy. Then I explained how I was finally able to admit to myself that I'm gay. In that moment he said, "Are ya?" kind of like "hmmm, okay." Then he told me to keep talking, to get it all out and if he had questions he would ask when I was done. I explained everything and this is when my heart melted.

Before I ever told him that I believed I was born this way he said, "You know, I watch that Ellen DeGeneres all the time and I really enjoy her! I also watch Dr. Phil and Oprah sometimes. One thing I know is that a lot of people are coming out and the thing that is important to remember is that it's NOT a choice... YOU WERE BORN THAT WAY!! Just like men who feel like women inside." I about fell off my chair! He's the LAST person I would have thought would say something like that. I guess I don't know my Dad very well.

He continued to tell me how much he loves me and how I am his flesh and blood and NOTHING will ever change his opinion of me. He said he will always be on my side. I told him that I'm finally proud of myself and am enjoying the path that I'm on. He praised Hubby and shared with me his admiration for him. He told me that I should hang on to him with everything I have and that it's his hope that we can remain a family and raise the kids together. At that time I had to break it to him that we're planning for our divorce. He seemed to understand, especially when I explained that we'd still be best friends and co-parents. Again he reminded me that he will always be on my side.

Once everything was out, the subject changed back to wood splitting and everything else that's important to him. It was a simple conversation that evolved into something bigger, and then became natural and familiar again. It was comfortable and kind and loving. I left there wondering why I had never before trusted my Dad with my deep emotions. He shined!!

He gave me a huge hug, a couple of times, and assured me that he's proud of me and wants the best for me. He said that he'd allow me to tell my brothers and he wouldn't share this information with anyone until I was ready. I drove back to the hotel in high spirits and have felt amazing ever since.

This coming out, above all others, has been the most surprising and comforting. He's my Daddy and will always support me (in his words). I'm on cloud 9!

7 comments:

Miguel said...

Amazing, simply amazing.

I'm wiping tears here reading your account. My biological father is dead and my step dad, well we've never had that kind of heart-to-heart, but I might get to do that this summer when I see the family. Although I don't know you personally (YET!) I admire you and I'm proud of what you've accomplished and I'm glad that you had such a positive experience.
Hugs,Miguel

Nikki said...

GOOD FOR YOU!!! AND your dad!! People keep surprising me over and over and if there is one thing that we should always keep in mind it is that we should NEVER short change people. I am so happy for you my friend!!

Jessica said...

This is so wonderful! It seems, for the most part, all of your coming out discussions have gone better than planned!

I think one key thing you've done is to have this conversation in person. Yes, you could organize your thoughts better on paper, but doing it in person, I think, reminds your loved one just how much they love YOU and deep down want to support you no matter what. It's more intimate and personal.

I know there are plenty of bad experiences people have with family members so I don't diminish that by any means, but for your situation I think this in-person stategy has worked in your favor.

Thank goodness for Ellen,Oprah and (I guess) Dr. Phil (even though I'm not a fan of his style) !!

yeti said...

:)

FindingMyWay said...

Thanks everyone! I spent a couple of hours with my dad again tonight. Everything was completely comfortable and normal. He joked around, he played with the kids, he told stories from his past, etc. Nothing was any different. I'm so grateful for him and the outstanding support he is willing to give me. I'm so happy.

jen said...

I love this!!!! SO happy for you!!

alex dumas said...

Another bit of awesomeness.