When I was 8 years old, one of my best friends overheard the mother of some neighbourhood kids telling them; “I don’t want to see you playing with those Moore kids!” My friend was genuinely perplexed and – typical of a child – decided to come and ask me what I thought it meant. Although I understood immediately, I didn’t let on. Our family life could be pretty turbulent sometimes, and the houses in our neighbourhood were pretty close together. Voices carried. Those were tough years for my parents: I knew what that mother had been hearing; what she didn’t want her own kids to be part of.
“I dunno.” I answered breezily, as if it bothered me not at all. My friend couldn’t know that those eleven little words would have a devastating, lifelong effect on me; they would change absolutely everything: I would never be the same. Nothing else in my life has ever been so hurtful or caused me more damage, and I have been hurt plenty.
For the remainder of my childhood, I tried to make the ‘Moore kids’ look as good as I possibly could. I was nice to my teachers; nice to the parents in the neighbourhood. I worked hard in school and managed – all through high school – to stay on the honour roll, even though I was not a naturally gifted student. When I babysat, I not only took care of the kids: I cleaned the house; did the dishes and picked up the toys. I became the ultimate people pleaser, and I was good at it: how could I not be? I’d been practicing since I was 8 years old. I didn’t rock boats. I wasn’t outspoken. I didn’t express an opposing opinion. I didn’t march in protests. I didn’t make waves.
Like most every other teenager and university student, I did some experimenting and I had my crazy partying years but I would live in fear; no, in terror, of the ‘good families’ in our town finding out. The shame I felt was all but crippling. It was easier when I became an adult: I was too busy working; too busy raising my kids; to find time to tarnish my reputation. My busy schedule didn’t give me much time to work on any kind of reputation except that of a ‘hard worker’.
Along the way, as the years progressed, I realised that I had grown into someone very different from the exterior that I showed to the world. While I have always tended to project a rather pleasant, ordinary outward image, in reality, the real me; the true me; lives WAY outside the conventional box. I am accepting of pretty much anyone who isn’t directly hurtful to another human being. My mind and my heart are wide open: as long as you aren’t hurting anybody, judgement is barely part of my vocabulary. I feel love, understanding, sisterhood and compassion for the weird, the wonderful, the marginalised, the tree huggers, the hippies, the healers, the esoteric and the spiritual.
And then, in my mid-fifties, I moved to a small, conservative town where everyone knows everyone else and your business is never truly your own; where for many, the Bible is the final Word and every marginalised person I have ever loved is the ultimate sinner. I was recovering from adrenal exhaustion when I got here and for more than a year, all I had the energy for was my own recovery. As I got better and joined our amazing and wonderful community, however, I realised that I was once more living in fear of what people would think of me. I don’t think that being gay is a choice; let alone a sin. I think that a loving, imperfect heart is far more important than an obedient one. I think spirituality is far bigger than any human being will ever be able to comprehend. I think God is big enough for all of us. And I don’t think any of us has all the answers when it comes to religion. I tried so hard, at first, to conform; to please my new friends; to be what they expected me to be. And then I… broke…again. And spent more months crying on the bathroom floor where my husband didn’t have to see every tear I shed. Disappointed in myself, I went back on antidepressants; and restarted the process of building myself up all over again.
It has been about a year since I fell apart and I am so much better now. This time, I intend to remain that way. Consequently, this past week, I admitted to a group of Christian friends whom I adore, that I am ‘out of the closet’. I lovingly explained that I won’t conform because I know they want me to. And I told them I won’t agree – or worse, remain silent – when I believe something different from my new friends. The lovely thing is that no one showed me the door. No one wrote me off. No one seemed all that upset with me at all…
I feel as giddy as a child – an 8-year old child, to be exact, who has a lot of catching up to do. I want to rock boats. I want to be outspoken. I want to express opposing opinions. I want to march in protests. I want to make waves.
(I feel I should add, though, for the international community reading this blog, that I AM a Canadian, so I promise to always be nice and respectful about it…: )
p.s. thanks ‘B’…xoxo
Patti Moore Wilson/© wednesdayschildca.wordpress.com