Two of our experts share their personal stories of how coming out changed their lives for the better: not only did they feel more authentically themselves, they increased their relationship bonds with families and friends. Read on for two heartwarming stories of how love truly does transform us.
From Rick Clemons:
It wasn't even on my radar. Nor was it an added bonus that I expected after all the dust had settled. Nonetheless, I felt more love towards others and myself after I came out of the closet. I had anticipated finding love with a guy, and even believed I would love myself more. I just didn't realize how much I didn't love myself while I was hanging out with the hangers in my closet.
At first, I felt a deep sense of relief after coming out. That lasted about 5 seconds; it was immediately followed by anger from my soon-to-be ex-wife, whom I'd betrayed for 13 years with lies about my sexuality.
I was right back to hating myself and my life, while simultaneously loving that I was free to be me. Confused and conflicted, I could only hear "You schmuck," resonating from the lips of those around me – my wife, my kids in their own innocent way, my parents and a few friends. I honestly didn't think I would ever find peace within, let alone in the social and familial circles I had once enjoyed.
I asked myself if being with a man for the rest of my life was really worth it, and decided I needed to love myself for who I was. If no one else did, then so be it. I was going to have to buck up and live as myself — not as someone else’s version of what "Rick the gay man" should be.
That's when the changes occurred. It's also when I realized I was meant to have the experience of coming out of the closet later in life, so that I could heal myself and help others at the same time.
Transitioning from a state of self-loathing to self-loving may seem like work, but it's not. In fact, it's a spiritual high. Wrapped in the warm embrace of "I love me" rids us of all the scary voices that say "You're not good enough!" When executed powerfully, self-love kicks the wind out of our selfish sails and enables numero uno to outwardly reflect the confidence that invites others to be self-loving.
When I finally grasped hold of the concept of self-love, I realized my beautiful little daughters, my distraught ex-wife, and my religious parents just needed to understand that I didn't do this to be hurtful.
I came out in order to say, "I love myself enough to no longer pretend to be someone I’m not, just to continue making you feel comfortable."
I now do love myself very much. And in turn, I'm much more capable of loving everyone else more authentically. The result? A modern family! My partner, my-ex wife, our two strong, open-minded daughters, and me, being loved and loving each other. As for my parents? They're in our corner too, giving love in their own way! Keep reading for another story...
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