03 October 2008

Internalizing Shame

I've been communicating with a lesbian mother in Texas through a couple of online sites, and lately, we've been talking a lot about families, and shame. That was what inspired my last post, and now this one as well.
I felt that way (shameful) for a long time, and it was a large part of my distancing myself from family. When everyone in the world - family, media, people at school, people at work - is telling you one thing, even when you know deep down in your soul that the truth is something else, it's hard not to buy into shame, to actually think that there is something wrong with you, even though you didn't do anything wrong. I think with me, the thing that got me past that point of feeling shameful about my life and believing I had to keep secrets and hide who I truly am (and I am by no means an expert, because it's still hard and uncomfortable for me to be so open with them about my life) is my passion for equality. Shame causes the oppressed to buy into their oppression, to just accept that somehow one deserves to have less rights than others. Somewhere along the line I figured out that I am no different than any other American, and I deserve every single right every other American has. Once I accepted that, I became very focused and driven to just live my life as openly as possible, no matter how uncomfortable it made others. I do this for primarily two reasons:
1. I'm happier, less stressed and more successful when I live openly; and
2. The people around me, including my family, see that my life is no different than theirs, regardless of the gender of my partner.

I also talk about real things with them - things like my fear of what will happen if Angie or I get sick, and the steps we have had to take (and the money we've had to spend, to the tune of $1200, so far) to protect our rights, the difficulties we have faced in our relationship because we are unable to get married legally in our state, like not being able to add our partner on the deed to our home because the loan is only in one of our names and we aren't related by blood or marriage, and like having to wait an entire year for 'domestic partner benefits' when if we were legally married, there would be no such waiting period. I think if I live unashamedly and family members and other people get to see the actual affects of discrimination, it at least makes them think about things a bit more. It might not change their minds, but maybe, just maybe, they will think of me, and feel a little guilty inside the next time they proclaim 'marriage is only for a man and woman.' I feel a little guilty myself for saying this, because normally I would never wish negative feelings on another person, but actually, I hope they do.

1 comment:

Rachel said...

Amen. This is such a hard battle, and we have to fight it everyday. Thanks for being brave.