Going back home

“Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness.” – James Thurber

How aptly this sums up my first couple of meetings with {WHaQ!}. This may sound odd to you; even dramatic. To me, it’s been a long time coming and thank God for support groups like this. And thank you to the 2 lovely souls that helped me find you 🙂

I remember calling the helpline a few weeks before the meeting. I had no idea what I was going to say. I wasn’t sure who’d pick up the phone and when they did, how would I begin? Should I tell them the truth? Should I use my alias?

I could always start with “I’m calling on behalf of a friend..”. But I didn’t want to. For once, I wanted to drop this baggage I’d been carrying, all my life. It had worn me down enough. I was tired of pretending to be someone I wasn’t. This wasn’t about coming out to my family or my inner circle. They knew and supported me. And where they didn’t understand, they loved me. Unconditionally. This was about finding support and not trying to do this journey, feeling alone.

After talking to V and R, I was happy. Elated even. But when D-day finally arrived, I was convinced that I couldn’t do it. I was uncomfortable and scared. But with guardian angels looking out for me from Hyderabad to NYC, it became less fearful and more probable.

So I decided to go anyway. What was I going to lose? A lot, in fact. If things went horribly wrong as they did, 14 years ago. I still have nightmares from being hounded by blank calls, threats, and the humiliation I endured. And I haven’t forgotten the violence that followed. Now, t’s an even savvier, ever more intolerable world we live in. I was terrified by the possibilities. By the time I got out of my car, I was sick in my stomach. I was ready to go back. But I didn’t want to let fear get the better of me. So I decided to go inside. I was told to look for a large group of women but didn’t find anything close except 2 women who were chatting away. Maybe I was early. I stayed glued to my phone screen, sharing updates by the minute when one of the women approached me and asked: “Are you here for the {WHaQ!} meeting?” Instead of being scared or responding with a garbled, “What’s that?” or “I’ve no idea what you’re talking about…”, I surprised myself by saying “Yes!”

Slowly, people started walking in and as I began to say hello, I realized that for the first time in my life, I was publicly, lesbian. The war that I had raged within was finally over. I met so many people. I found the face that connects to the lovely, clipped, British accent. I talked to so many people.They looked lovely. And genuine. And just out there to have a good time. For the first time in my life, it was okay to talk about Ellen and not see an unwritten question in their eyes. For the first time, it was okay to discuss all things big and small without worrying about whether I’m being judged for my sexuality. I was having such a good time that I was surprised when it was time to leave…I felt lighter. And walked taller.

3 years ago, I was all but broken. And my spirit, crushed. Two life events in the space of 4 months had changed my life, forever. First came the dreaded C that hit me like a freight train. Then came the unthinkable. The break-up of my marriage with my partner of 15 years. Everything I had nurtured and cherished broke into a million pieces. I lived to please her. But she was gone. Just like that. Her timing couldn’t have been worse. I was stunned by the low points of humanness.

Today, I’m trying to make peace with myself. Maybe even have a cup of tea with life again. Without being cynical, angry, or afraid. And if I genuinely tried, who knows what can happen. Anything is possible. At least, I’ve taken the first baby step to going back home.

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