To say that this week has been difficult would really undermine the definition of the word. Upon reflection, it’s amazing how much better I feel not hiding my life with Katie anymore. Given the circumstances, I would walk this pathway every time. That said, knowing how much pain this is causing others is really hard. That’s the narrative I’m choosing. I’m choosing to look at those who have reached out in ignorance and vindictive analogies, the ones that compared us to farm animals in writing, through the lens of pain. People don’t generally act hateful without pain, embarrassment, or fear behind it. I wish I could tell all of you who this is so I could really illustrate how much hurt they have caused us, but I won’t out of respect for the people this person knows and loves. I’m not ready to disrupt the threads of a family, the holy structure that this person is so worried about us destroying.
On Thursday, I was not having a great mental day with my job. I decided to take a full hour long lunch in the rare, 80-degree-Seattle-April-Sunshine. As I set up shop with music in my ears at the table outside, I checked email on my phone. In my inbox was an email I had been warned would come, but that I was in no way ready to read. I sat a moment wondering if I should read it or wait, but my anxiousness and curiosity got the better of me. In this email, I read lines of hate and ignorance. It’s very hard to read how easily judged we are when the journey Katie and I have been on has been fraught with so much pain. To insinuate that we should get “real doctors” or that we have been careless in our consideration of others with our announcement is hurtful. This mode of thought discredits how much this transition has impacted each Katie and I individually and how much work we are doing to wade through all of it’s confusion. I sat at the table, crying as I read it, and had to make a decision about what I was going to do. Do I go back to work as I have done so many times previously on difficult days and pretend like I’m okay, or do I go home? I decided to go home.
I went upstairs and my coworkers commented on how fast my lunch break was. I muttered about how “something came up”, trying to hold back the embarrassment of crying in front of them as I grabbed my laptop and shoved it in my backpack. Unfortunately, even just acknowledging this email was sent to us was more than I could handle. I immediately started crying. They let me know if I needed anything to let them know. On my way home, I cried the entire car ride. I texted Katie at a stop-light and made her promise me not to read the email until she was home. I didn’t want it to ruin her day as it had mine. When she got home, I made her promise that she wouldn’t respond until we had carefully thought about how we wanted to respond, if we chose to respond at all. As I sat on my couch, plowing through the work tasks I needed to get done, I carefully considered the decisions we had made. Should we have waited to announce this secret until later? Was I careless? Could what I wrote on Facebook have been more carefully edited? Katie and I pondered over those announcements for a month, but maybe that wasn’t long enough.
At one point, I took some time to type a response to this person, the response that won’t ever get sent because it was typed out of anger. I typed it in a Word doc so I couldn’t send it impulsively. When Katie got home, I read Katie my response to the email in our inbox before she could read the email herself. I needed her to know how angry it made me, how hurt I was by it. Since this person was questioning her life path in so many ways, I wanted to make sure she was ready for the accusations within it. At one point, I had to take a break from reading it to her, because tears were choking my ability to speak. Katie squeezed my hand. I’m glad she’s here to help me through this.
This week, I’ve come to realize through my experience with this email and the person who sent it, that I am really proud of my integrity. I take on blind faith that people will always be able to see through to the core of my being and see that my intent and my integrity are rooted in a good foundation, in a belief that people are good and that I am good too. When my integrity is questioned, I really struggle with it personally. I have a difficult time separating the vision of others from my own vision of myself. Part of me wishes I could read an email like I read this week and react the same way others did when I told them about it: “Oh that’s awful” or “What an ass”. Unfortunately, faith in the goodness of others is not as easy a vision for everyone. I have to be better at accepting that this isn’t about me or a reflection of who I am.
This email and the person who sent it are laced in pain. At least, I have to hope that’s what it is, because to think that hate can really exist means the world is a different place than I want it to be. I have to hope that the overwhelming support we have received this past week means the world is a good place, a place unexplored or misunderstood by the email-writer. I hope that the fear and pain within this person can be healed. I’m here for them when it does.