My husband outed me to my parents when I was thirty. I’d been dating girls since I was fifteen, but it was always discreet. So, I’m thirty, with an infant, and suddenly, free from my last secret. (Sort of. I have two more secrets, but I’ll probably tell you at some point, so don’t fret.) My family losing their shit with me, and my marriage ending (the two are related) kind of crush the last vestige of dutiful girl out of me, and for the next several years, I don’t behave well. There’s the worst version of myself that I can imagine, and then there’s the awful fucker I was during that period of time. I cheated and schemed. I had hissy fits. I dated crazypants girls. Several truly crazypants girls. And it was high costume drama. For years.
And I argued against monogamy. And I talked about the bravery of following your every impulse. And I was painfully artistic and intense. And I hurt everyone. Probably my son most of all. It’s difficult to look at that period, and see the necessity of it. The second adolescence of coming out. The world new and bright with girls in every direction. All the shiny possibility. Discovery requires mess and error. I had to fail, spectacularly. I had to. Like any child, I had to push and crash and injure to know my limitations. To learn and respect those limitations for myself and others. I wish I’d been more thoughtful, but I was doing the best that I could — which is a truth of limited comfort — and I am not that girl any longer. But I have her scars, and her lessons, and her same awkward stories. And I am learning not to blame her. For her weakness. For her selfishness. For her shocking pyrotechnics.
Coming out is like virginity. Time and time again, you are vulnerable, and expectant, and at the mercy of something unknown, and unpredictable. And it may mark you, or be utterly forgettable. But you won’t know that at first. You can’t possibly know that until it’s over.