Coming Out (Of Hiding)

Hey Kittens!  Ok – I Abandoned Ship. I was AWOL.  And now I’m back, bitches, with a tale of a trip. It wasn’t a big dramatic trip, like To The Antipodes Of The Abyss. Nor was it of medium drama, like to The Wobbly Wall Of Woe. More like a Furlough To The Fissure. Or Fistula Of Fire, since it was indeed a pain in the ass. (Thank you, NYC subway advertisers, for introducing the horror of the fistula to my vocabulary.)

Because I appreciate all the support that came my way from my fellow writers here, I engage in yet another Betty Crocker overshare.  My experience is bound to help at least one of you who is similarly situated, and that’s what it’s all about, is it not? I love you guys, and it’s the least I can do.

Ever have a wee crisis? Sure you have. The dishwasher breaks right before a dinner party. Your neighbor has a washing machine flood, ruining walls and floors in half of your condo. Your boss abdicates, and you’re left dealing with the office jackass. The car goes all Walter Mitty, making ta-pocketa ta-pocketa noises, and you just spent cash on a major home renovation. Your spouse REALLY pisses you off just as you develop an unconsummated crush on one of his married colleagues, and then you find out that the crush is reciprocated.

Oh, deah. But! You’re strong and plucky and smart. You can handle any of these things, right? Just put on your thinking cap and the world won’t end.

How about when this happens all at once? Do you rally and handle it all?  Or do you realize that this is not what you had in mind when you were planning your life and wonder why you were being punished for being as good as you can be? Do you then commence a full-on meltdown involving teary conversations with concerned friends, quitting your job in anger and disgust, stumbling around the mess of your former home like Miss Havisham, and guzzling all the Prosecco you stored up for summer parties by yourself? Do you give the man you love the stink-eye until he stomps off to stay with friends for a weekend?

Guess what I did 1?!?101!? Well, you needn’t guess. I just told you all. But what’s more important is how I got my cheese back on my cracker. I came to realize that:

  1. People who are gay and come out late in life, like so many of us who are now in our 40s did, tend to have some self-esteem issues. The constant rejection and ridicule and the feeling that nothing they do will EVER be good enough installs what shrinks and the gals at Jezebel call “triggers” – a mental state where a seemingly ordinary circumstance can produce a serious depressive episode.
  2. People with self-esteem issues often crave a safe place where everything is okay. For me, that place is home. And since I grew up in an immaculate, cozy home where order and beauty reigned supreme, that’s what I expect when I walk through the door now. Seeing it in shambles was a trigger. Grab a willing friend and start fixing it, one project at a time.
  3. People with self-esteem issues want order at work, too, and we’ll talk about involuntary resignation in a separate post. Basically, it’s when your work environment is so offensive and dysfunctional, you have no choice but to quit.
  4. Self medication by watching hours of TV with a pint of Haagen Dazs and buckets of sparkling wine might work for a day or so. But it’s a really, really bad idea if you’re depressed. A “day or so” is not a week.
  5. If you think that seeking a shoulder to cry on from your spouse’s hottest colleague is a good idea, just remember what’s about 2.5 feet away from that shoulder.

Sometimes, outside help is needed. Short-term cognitive behavioral therapy can help a lot with recognizing triggers as they happen and cutting them off before they run away with you. Forcing yourself to diet and exercise is helpful also. Nutritional supplements are great, because hormonal changes make depression worse and these help to regulate it. It was no coincidence that The Great Flood Of Park Place Condos ruined my vitamin collection and I hadn’t replaced them right before this went down. Talk to your doctors about how to do this right – ideally a therapist, your GP, AND a nutritionist.

Online support groups are great. A friend of mine in similar circumstances referred me to when I expressed horror at how much drinking I had done in a such a short time. It was fascinating, and will be the subject of another, future post. But anyone who is depressed and considers himself or herself a problem substance user, if not an addict, will find some practical solutions there.

I am descended from WASPs who didn’t need to be told to “Keep Calm And Carry On” during WWII, and also from Milanese Italians who fled Frederick Barbarossa’s troops until they reached Sorrento, where my ancestors proceeded to pelt their heavily armed opponents with tons of rocks and boiling water from their stony mountain refuge. Sometimes, you just have to listen to your Old People.

Thank you, guys. All of you. I’m back. I can’t respond to comments until later today, but I will.


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