Many of us feel we have this burden, this weight we carry around. We have a secret about us that we don’t get to talk about. When we do talk to someone, when we let someone in on our secret, many of us feel as if a weight has been lifted. We feel free, the burden is lightened. It’s like exhaling. We have someone to confide in, we hopefully have found someone who is supportive, or at least, hopefully found someone who won’t think we’re…weird.
But the truth is, the weight may have been lifted from our shoulders, but the weight is still there. We feel better, but the person we confide in carries that weight now. We confide in others at the hope and trust that they will not tell others, but any secret can be a burden to someone. Especially something like this. The people we confide in will likely have questions, they may need someone to talk to about our reveal. I know when I came out to my wife she often wished she had someone she could talk to about me. Yes, I felt better when I came out, but she carried that weight.
Not only can the weight be transferred, it can often be shared. If I am nervous about going out, whether is because of being seen by someone I don’t want to be seen by or possibly being hurt by someone else, those fears are now the fears of the person we confide in.
I write this because I want us to acknowledge the burden we can put on a person when we come out to them. It’s easy to overwhelm someone with everything we have been thinking, feeling and even wearing for years. If we have never spoken to someone about this, many emotions can come pouring out, like a dam breaking. We have been discovering, and often times creating who we are for many years. We have had a long time to come to terms with who we are. When we come out to someone, it hits them all at once.
I don’t know if there is a right way to come out to someone. I know there are plenty of wrong ways. I feel it’s wrong to wait to come out to someone until after you’re married. Many of us have tried or hoped this part of us would go away after we got married, but THIS NEVER GOES AWAY. We are who we are and there’s nothing wrong with who we are. But we need to be honest with ourselves and we need to be honest with our future spouses.
Before you come out to someone, I would recommend talking to someone who will understand, such as a gender therapist or joining a transgender support group. Pflag is a wonderful place to start. I would also recommend being prepared to offer some resources to the person you come out. Again, Pflag is an excellent resource.
I wish I knew how to tell you how to come out to someone. I have come out to a few people in my life and some have gone well, and some have not. I realized that you cannot come out to everyone the same way. I know we want to be accepted, I know we want to be understood.
I know we want to be loved.
Please, be gentle.
19 thoughts on “The Weight of the World”
As always, you are spot on Hannah. I wish I had this sage advice many years ago. Unfortunately, when I was younger we didn’t have the internet and most of us were alone. I was able to put aside my dressing and feelings for almost 10 years. In that time I finished college, married and started a successful career. I truly believed that I had outgrown that part of my life. It came back. I struggled in secret for many more years while my children grew old. I finally came out to my wife. We are still together but it was a huge strain on our relationship. With the vast amount of information and resources available now there is no reason to carry the burden alone without help. Good message… thank you.
I always have thought of this as “passing your closet”. So you step out of the closet only to pass it to the person or persons you’ve just outed yourself to. Either they are chill with it, or they just entered a closet in where they are burdened with the new acquired secret. And there is always a bigger closet. And perhaps Schrödinger’s closet…
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This is deep. Good job!
Very well put, I came out to my current wife after a couple dates and we have been together 20 yrs. Last 2 lasted First one was very nasty, second after splitting she came back for another 18 years until she died.
Hi Hannah, you are so right i’ve been dealing with my little secret for over 50 years. Those that new of Stacy had to learn to keep that a secret that then puts the burden on them that was until recently when i got tired of hiding the fact that i want to go out when ever i feel like it, so i came out to everyone i know some said i’ve known for years about Stacy others said i don’t care as long as your happy, others said i’m here for you, i’m not saying this will happen for everyone of us but it certainly releases a lot of stress and anxiety just knowing i don’t have to hide any more. love your articles. Stacy Lynn Parker.
Hannah – Another beautiful post and so important. With the help of my therapist, I am working to reach new levels of honesty with my spouse. It is really challenging, and your comment about the burden shifting is so true. Honestly, I was figuring I would just keep it a secret forever. My therapist pointed out how cruel that is to do to another person. I feel bad I wasn’t honest from the start, and if I had to do it all over again, I would have been. Now it is a matter of being as compassionate as I can be. I saw a quote somewhere that said “Honestly without sensitivity is brutality”.
Thank you again for all that you do! Keep those posts coming… 🙂
What a beautiful post! I agree. My teen dropped a bomb on us, it feels like. Of course we support and love her, encourage her…. and still the truth is it feels like our son is somehow dead. No pictures allowed, no old memories, even baby pics are discouraged because we inadvertently had her in blue a lot. Thank you Hannah. Love you. Mom LISA
Great piece Hannah. Sadly, when we got married in 1985 there simply wasn’t the info around and although we both knew there was something we had no idea what it was and no way to understand it. So I / we expected it would go away.
But of course it doesn’t. Hopefully she will open up to try and understand but that’s a way off. I’d prefer everyone to know: like Stacy says, then it’s all out in the open and whilst I’m sure some people would turn their backs, hopefully most would largely shrug their shoulders and we’d all get on with more important stuff!
Articulate and profound, as always, about our struggles, challenges and joys.
So appreciate your thoughtful and accurate words.