I used to have a hard time talking about Jays Autism. There was a time I couldn’t even say the “A” word without crying. I didn’t want people to know that something was “wrong” with my son.
There was a time when all I wanted was for him to outgrow his symptoms to the point that they wouldn’t be noticeable. I was racing against an imaginary clock.
I began blogging mostly as a way to secretly talk about all the things that we were going through. I needed to talk. But I didn’t have it in me to talk to the people I knew. The people who had spent my entire life not just telling me, but showing me that they loved me.
I was afraid.
I eventually got over that and became very open about Autism being a part of our life and I willingly share the good things and some of the not so good things. Coming out of the darkness and bringing my life into the light was ultimately the right decision and I don’t regret it one bit.
Recently I had a conversation with someone who I admire A LOT!!!!! I’ve known Cissy for about 25 years. That’s a long time. She matters to me. Her friendship matters to me.
I wanted to share something with her that I knew may not go over well and I was afraid. But I respect her more than I was afraid – And as part of that respect, I needed her to hear from me that I am in love with a girl. No, not a girl, A woman. An amazing, smart, funny, caring, hard-working, stand up woman. A woman who loves my boys and who my boys love in return.
Something Cissy said made me realize that loving who you think someone is, isn’t love. You can’t truly love someone unless they let you in. You have to give people the chance to either be there for you no matter what or show you that their love for you is conditional on you being who they want you to be.
“It’s not that this is a big deal”, she said, “but this is new for me”.
She went on to say, “I want to ask questions. It’s not expected you know. My culture and my religious beliefs tell me to say it’s not ok, but when you love someone what do you do? It’s confusing. But to be honest, I’m happy that you are happy.”
I get it. Jamaica as a whole is still quite the homophobic country and most of my family and friends are Church goers who I can imagine would struggle with accepting same sex relationships.
The thing is, it’s easy to have a bad opinion of drug addicts until it’s your brother that needs rehab. People are quick to condemn the pregnant teenager until it’s their daughter who needs planned parenthood. The memes that make fun of people with disabilities are funny until your best friends baby is born with Downs Syndrome.
Cissy asked a couple of questions, which I had no problem answering. I’m happy to answer legit questions. Then we moved on and in the grand scheme of our friendship the news that I was so afraid to tell her was nothing. We talked about dinner plans and the kids and some things that are going on in her life. We talked about other personal things that we had never talked about before. It was like, a new door opened up in our relationship. A new grown-up door. We both realized that I’m not the secretive teenager and she’s not the nosey 8 year old trying to get in my business anymore.
I’m unbelievably grateful for my friends and the handful of family members who I am close with. I’ve said that many times here but it’s never enough. One of the questions that another friend asked me when I told her about Shawnie and I, was what kind of reaction I’ve gotten from people. I told her that everyone has been surprisingly supportive. As much as I was thankful for my little circle before I am even more so now.
The responses have ranged from “OK, cool. When do I get to meet her?” to “I totally get it. She’s awesome.” to “I didn’t see that coming. I need a minute to process this info. But I love you no matter what and all I would ever want is for you to be happy.”
I hope that as I open up even more (as I’m doing now), those will still be the only types of responses I get. I’d be really sad if any of the relationships that I treasure were negatively affected because of who I love.