Another step–coming out to my daughter

finallyfelix_coming-out-flowerSo…I came out to my daughter this week.

Holy shit.

I CAME OUT TO MY
DAUGHTER THIS WEEK!!!!

Writing it all big and gay like that is actually me screaming in my head (and giggling a little bit after). This is something I had decided to do weeks ago. She’s not a baby, and she deserves to know what’s happening in her mother’s life. After all, these steps I’m taking are going to impact her, too.

So I walked home from the train last Wednesday night, amping myself up the entire time. It was cold and starting to drizzle, but I barely noticed.

Each step became a mantra, You can do this. You can do this. You can do this.

Every breath was a small motivation, Look how far you’ve come already. Look at all you’ve been through. You are so much stronger now. You’re strong as fuck! This is just another step in the journey. It’s exactly where you need to be. It has to be done. 

I mantra-ed and motivated myself the entire way home.

When I walked into my daughter’s room,  I made small talk for a few moments and almost walked out. Almost. But I didn’t. Instead, I took deep breath and told my oldest child that her mother is gay. I also told her that I was incredibly proud of her for being independent and free-thinking at her age, because I was so NOT that way when I was 23.

At 23, my concern was to do what everyone else wanted. I did  what was expected because I was a good girl and wanted everyone to be happy. I was not happy. And would not be for a very long time. I wanted her to know how important it was for her, as a young single woman,  to never sacrifice any part of herself for the expectations of others.

Her response? “OK”

Me: Really? Uhh, OK. Do you want to ask me any questions?

Her:  Are you dating [insert name of the love of my life here]?

Me: We’re not dating. But I like her a lot. I like her..A LOT, a lot. She’s very special to me.

Her: OK

And that was essentially it. I know she’s a thinker, so I told her that she should never hesitate to come to me with questions or just to talk about this…or anything. At this point, I’m an open book. Ask me anything, boo!

Yes, I still  have a few big things to tackle in what I know is the final leg of this journey, but I actually feel like I’m Standing in Real Truth for the first time.

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Goodbye 2016. Go kick rocks.

finally-felix_mourning-flowersSo much has happened this year. Politically and socially,the world is a much different place than it was a year ago. Many people have transitioned out of this world…famous people, not-so-famous, but very well-loved people as well. Most recently, my mother-in-law passed away. It was difficult watching my kids lose their only living  grandmother. She helped us raise them, and I know they are heartbroken.

It was also strange seeing their father (my soon to be ex-husband) broken and helpless as he watched his mother die. I offered him words of comfort and understanding, and I supported his family in the ways I could, but that’s all. There has been a deeper shift with us. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. His anger has mostly gelled over. I think he is as ready to get to other side of this as I am. A few weeks before his mom got sick, I told him that I was undoubtedly gay as hell and probably liked ass and titties more than he did. I think he he doesn’t really believe me. Oh well. Not up to me to prove anything.

About 9 years ago, I was in a very creative space. I wrote a book, I got it published, I was doing well with marketing and promotion, but something wasn’t right. Here  I was selling a book about confidence and self-empowerment, and yet I didn’t even know who I was. I was hiding, even from myself. That space was amazing and confusing at the same time. Eye opening. I guess that’s when all the questions really began. If I’d only known then what I know now… le sigh.. 20/20 hindsight and all that jazz.

Today, I’m more sure of who I am, and one thing I’m certain of is that I don’t want to hide anymore. There are people who genuinely love me. And they will continue to love me when I am being authentic and true. I clearly see who is worth my time, my trust, my love, my honesty. Everyone else can go kick rocks.

I promise myself that 2017 will not be spent in hiding. I promise myself that I won’t stifle my love, my soul, my voice, my laughter, or my needs in order to make others comfortable anymore. I’m not getting any younger, and frankly, holding up this facade is exhausting my old ass.

Letting go feels really amazing and terrifying. But I’m so here for it.

And to the person who is visiting my blog and then calling me from a restricted or blocked number, refusing to speak. Stop it. I know who you are. If you want to talk, let’s talk. If not… let it go.

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Patience…

Coming.

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Love, loss, forgiveness, freedom, stuff…

Felix flower_lotusStarted a group coaching course recently. I’m finding that talking to someone (other than myself and this blog) helps me sort out some of the more tangled stuff. It’s also helpful to interact with people who are also going through stuff. Maybe it’s not the same stuff that I’m going through, but it’s still stuff.

Anyhoo, in  our first session, we touched on grief. That spawned a discussion about loss and how it impacts who we are. This got me thinking about the losses I’ve experienced over the years, and I challenged myself to wrap my brain around them in a new way.

Our assignment after the session was to write a journal entry that answered the questions below. I’m sharing my entry here on Finally Felix because it took me to a place I did not expect.

______________________________________________

What is your most significant loss and how has it changed you?
What is one way you can honor that loss?

The easy answer to this would be to say that it was the loss of my mother 5 years ago. Her death was the catalyst to many changes in my life, including how I saw myself, how I viewed my role in the relationships around me, and how I understood my own strength and perseverance. But for this question, I’d like to talk about another loss. This is the first time that I have written about this in this way…

One year after my mother’s death I made a new acquaintance in an online community for lesbians of color. She was highly intelligent, funny, and made me feel amazing. We started talking on the phone in May of 2012, and from that point, we would speak everyday … multiple times a day. We shared stories of our lives, made each other laugh, and boosted each other up in the way that friends do. She was very special to me.

But throughout our growing friendship,she never shared of picture of herself with me. No matter how many times, I asked. She always had a reason for not letting me see what she looked like …  namely because I was married and our exchanging pictures was wrong (even though we were just friends). Similar reasons were used for us never meeting … even just for a cup of coffee or a walk through a local park.  For a while, I found her excuses to be noble and protective. She’s thinking of my well-being. She’s keeping the lines of our relationship clear so we don’t cross any boundaries. In my mind, she had my best interests at heart, and I loved her for doing the right thing.

We remained in that holding pattern for a long time … talking every day, sharing every aspect of our lives verbally, but never meeting. And despite the fact that I never knew what the person I was speaking to looked like, our friendship blossomed into what felt like real love. I yearned to hear her voice every day. I sought her advice on many things, as she did mine. She was a part of my life in a large sense. For a while, she made me happy.

I can’t really tell you when things began to shift: when her anger over my not answering her calls went from “cute and bossy” to downright mean … when she criticized the way I mothered my children and spoke about my friends and family in the vilest ways … when her response to a simple joke or playful debate was to explode into a rage of tears, name-calling, and ugly accusations … when her reaction to me spending time with family and friends, rather than on the phone with her, was to shut me out or try to make me feel guilty … and when the only time she could show me she cared was after breaking me down to my most raw and vulnerable state. Despite all this, I made excuses for her behavior and continued to speak with her every day.

How long did it go on? Three years.  Looking back from the space I’m in now, I can’t believe I remained in that situation for so long. But I can certainly understand how it happened. I was in a vulnerable space … and she took advantage of it. She was abusive and saw something in me that would allow her to exercise power, and I did not have the capacity to stop it, much less realize what was happening. In a sense, I supposed I felt that I deserved that kind of treatment. I was stuck in a place of tremendous guilt over the breakdown of my marriage, worried about destroying my family, feeling like a failure in every sense.  She thrived on my defeated energy like a vampire; chopping me down and sucking up every drop of misery, and when there was nothing left … building me up so she could do it all over again. Three years … Three fucking years.

So how does this qualify as “my most significant loss”?

We had a “love and friendship” that devolved into something harsh and dark, but the aftermath of it gave me insight I did not have before. It absolutely changed me, and here is what I learned:

  • How to recognize the true good in people, especially in myself.
  • That how I treat myself is how others will treat me … when she called me a vile, heartless bitch and treated me like I was the worst person on earth, I accepted it because that’s what I thought I was.
  • What it means to be fully and wholly loved by someone…for exactly who I am.
  • What it means to fully and wholly love myself for exactly who I am (something that I still struggle with, but I’m getting there).
  • The kind of people I want and need in my life, not simply whoever shows up and shows interest … but those who are truly honored to be a part of my world because I feel the same way about them.
  • That I am much stronger and wiser than I ever gave myself credit for.

The best thing I can do to honor the lost relationship that led me to this understanding is to continue moving forward in this same way. Out of darkness and into light.

Another thing, I can do is to forgive her. A brilliant person once told me that forgiveness is not saying that what the other person did is OK.  It’s not acceptance, quite the contrary. Forgiveness is release. It’s when you let go of the bitterness, anger, feelings of betrayal, your desire for vindication, and even your need to understand why someone would treat you so badly. You release them unto their own karmic consequence and in turn, you release their hold on you.

Freedom in the best possible sense.

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Finding the Perfect Fit

jbaker-tux_finally-felixThese first tentative years of being gay as hell have come with a mixed bag of emotions and experiences for me. As I have moved into a space of acceptance and comfort in who I am, so much has changed.

Physically, I certainly don’t look like the same woman who stared at herself in the mirror 5 years ago, dumbstruck at the realization that she was indeed having romantic feelings about another woman. My straight, shoulder length hair is gone — replaced by a close-cropped natural cut and carefree curls that do whatever the hell they want.

My clothing has morphed from decidedly modest skirts and feminine pumps to skinny pants, layered, oversized tops, Chucks, loafers and even combat boots. A style statement that says that I can be professional, comfortable and damn sexy at the same time. I feel good in my own skin…and for the first time in my life, I don’t care what anyone thinks about how I look.

Mentally, I’m more confident in who I am and the decisions I’m making every day. My life is mine.. finally. Many people won’t understand what that means. Clearly no one was holding me hostage or forcing me to live this married-with-children life against my will. But societal expectation, compounded by  guilt, and weighed down by shame and fear is a heavy, heavy load. I am not proud of how long it has taken me to crawl from underneath that weight and stand in my own truth. But now that I’m here, I can’t go back.

I sometimes wonder what my life would be like if I had embraced who I was at a younger age. Oh clearly, there were signs that I was gay as hell, even as a teenager. I’ve always thought women were beautiful … appreciated this one’s smile, admired that one’s curves, ran my eyes slowly up another one’s legs. But if I sometimes found myself fantasizing about breasts as I drifted to sleep or wondering what it would be like to kiss feminine lips — slowly and deeply like I kissed my boyfriend’s — I quickly brushed it aside. My thinking was that all girls must have those thoughts about other girls. Funny that even as I assumed those feelings were shared by all girls, I never brought them up to my girlfriends. We just didn’t talk about stuff like that back then.

The bottom line was this: I was supposed to  have boyfriends and get married and have babies and live happily ever after…because that’s what I was supposed to do. So that’s what I did.

And  now, here I am. Adjusting the collar of this new suit. Letting my skin get accustomed to the fabric. Stretching it out in just the right places. And everyday, loving the way it feels more and more.

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The Sweetest Recap

sweet-peach-snippet_augI’ve been talking about the 2016 Sweet Peach Soiree for most of the year now. The event finally happened on October 15th, so how would it look if I just left you hanging and never told you how it went?

In short…it was AMAZING. Our incomparable host was the epitome of professional and what an amazing talent! She blew us away with passionate words, raw humor, and a genuine warmth that permeated the entire room. If you’ve never seen Georgia Me perform, do yourself a favor and make that happen asap!

And because she was such an amazing host, she  surprised us with a mini entourage that included other incredibly-talented spoken word artists, including  Rewop — check out the name in reverse — the brainchild behind The Coochie Chronicles, who wowed us with a very grown and sexy performance.

Not only were we blessed by the poetic talent in the room, but our panelists dropped so much knowledge, they left all of us breathless. We talked about healing from trauma, the importance of sexual health education in our community, ways to empower ourselves with knowledge, refilling our spiritual and emotional cups, and so much more. That deep and heartfelt discussion extended to our amazing audience, who had questions and commentary that added so much more to the night. Not one person left that event who wasn’t touched in some way. It was an incredibly beautiful night of sisterhood and support … one I will never forget.

And beyond the serious topics, we had really fun giveaways, delicious food and drinks, and a very special piñata. You can read all about the night, watch video, and check out some pictures right here.

And in case you’re wondering .. HELL YEAH, we’ll absolutely be doing it again next year! So if you missed it, just make sure that doesn’t happen again, mkay? You will not be sorry.

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Advice from a half-broken, but not giving up, late-blooming lesbian

finally-felix_oct-flowerMy 22-year old daughter looks at me with a mixture of guilt and “but I’m grown and I can do what I want” on her face when I ask her if she was smoking weed on the porch.

I don’t have a problem with her smoking, per se. I do it myself on occasion. I just don’t want her doing it in or near the house. I have a younger child to think about, after all.  I’ve told her this.

And yet, the familiar smell hits me as soon as I walk up the stairs and get close to the front door. It’s mixed with hints of Hawaiian Breeze air freshener, which makes me giggle. If you have to smoke and then spray inadequate air freshener to cover it up, your ass has no business smoking.

“At this point, it’s like asking a kid with crumbs all over their face if they ate a cookie,” I tell her. “Let’s be real here, I know you smoke. I do it myself on occasion …  but not here … not in the house. And that’s all I ask of you.”

I’ve been busy these last few months. I’ve been planning a big event that takes place in a few weeks and, clearly from my recent posts, I’ve been dedicating a lot of time to that.

I think my last truly introspective post here on Finally Felix was where I declared that I was READY.. about to sign them papers, about to move out, tell the kids that their mama is gay as hell. Ready to scream it from the rooftops!

This life doesn’t always work that way, and yes, I am still here.  Further than I was, but still in the house. And it just hit me that I told my oldest child to be real. My children have never seen their real mother. Never fully open. Never completely authentic and free. Certainly never happy… not truly.

And this week, the woman I love decided to seek her own happiness. Happiness the lies beyond the half-available arms of a still-married, still hiding, still fearful woman. I applaud her for standing up for herself, for valuing her emotional well-being beyond the needs of others … even if “others” is me.

I put snippets of my life here in this quiet, slow-moving blog so they don’t rot and swell from within and kill me, but also to let you know (YOU who may be here finding comfort or camaraderie for your own situation) that holding this façade together is not worth it.  And it will not … CANNOT last. Parts of it.. and parts of you.. will wither, die and crumble. Your arms will grow weary. Your legs will tremble. And you will be left standing, smiling like a fool, arms in the air, holding aloft splinters of wood, while the rest of your perfect little house has blown away.

Rest if you must. Take time to breath and gather strength and  confidence. But don’t stop moving forward

Don’t ever stop.

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A powerful night to remember

sweet-peach-ad_finalI’ve been working on this special event since the beginning of the year, and I can’t believe it’s only a few weeks away.

Doing the work of planning such a special night has been very cathartic for me. It’s more proof of what happens when we allow our stories to be a beacon of healing and understanding for others. That is what I try to do here at Finally Felix, and it’s what is being done everyday through the work of Rising Phoenix Abuse Recovery Coaching.

If you’ll be in or near Atlanta on October 15th, please join us for The 2016 Sweet Peach Soirée. It promises to be an unforgettable night of healing and inspiration for women who understand the power in sharing our stories.

Looking forward to seeing you there.

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It’s going down on October 15th. Save the Date!

Sweet Peach STD_AUG-CanvaTwo years ago, well into my own journey of self discovery,  I met a dynamic young woman named Benir Pierre. As a survivor of childhood sexual and physical abuse, Benir spent more than a decade battling the effects of that abuse, which included depression, self-injury, promiscuity, and multiple suicide attempts. The healing process was arduous and lonely. She hid her pain behind a façade of good grades, impressive community work, and a love of God … while inside she was slowly dying.

In her early twenties, Benir realized that she didn’t have to hold on to what happened to her, and began to put in the real work to find lasting healing. Last year, she launched Rising Phoenix Abuse Recovery Coaching to empower other women to do the same.

Inspired by Benir’s strength and resilience, I have joined her efforts to raise awareness about trauma-recovery coaching for women in our community. October 15, 2016, we will hold the Sweet Peach Soirée: An Empowering Celebration of Women’s Sexual Wellness, in Atlanta, Ga. The purpose of this inaugural event is to foster dialogue that promotes healing from the trauma of sexual abuse; assault; and intimate partner violence; and addresses the disproportionate impact of HIV in the black community.

The Soirée will feature a panel of well-respected sexual trauma and relationship specialists who will help us explore the issues. There will also be poetry and live painting from local Atlanta artists, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, special giveaways, and a few other surprises. More than 100 women in our community will take part in this empowering night of healing, sisterhood, and self-expression. It’s absolutely not to be missed!

So now you’re probably wondering what you can do to be a part of this pure awesomeness. Well, you have a few options:

  • You can help offset costs of the event on our Go Fund Me page
  • You like us on Facebook and spread the word about Rising Phoenix
  • You can visit the Rising Phoenix web site and sign up for our mailing list, so you don’t miss anything good – like when tickets for the Sweet Peach Soirée go on sale.

And if you’ll be in Atlanta on October 15th, please plan on joining us for this amazing celebration. Hope to see you there.

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Take off

Easter Lily Close-UpI have spread my gay-ass wings as far as I can in secret.

I’ve lived one life in the open and another behind a dark curtain for years. That does not come without consequences.

In the next few weeks, I will talk to my children; make a plan to move out of my family home; and work as hard as I can to maintain some semblance of normalcy for my kids. They are caught in this now because I didn’t have the courage to stand up for myself sooner; I won’t wallow in that though. The days of guilting myself into inaction are over.

In my heart, I know they will understand one day.  And I hope they will be proud. For now, I just want them to not hate me.

In the end, it’s all just the blink of an eye anyway.

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