The next really major development happen in the fall of 2001 when I broke my ankle. It seems unrelated, at first glance. But in hindsight it really is the moment when everything changed.

I’d been seeing my therapist for 2 years at this point, and we’d covered a lot of territory. I was still working for my friend and her husband, and I was doing a lot of writing. I was feeling pretty good, overall, but I remember still having a feeling of unease. We’d been talking about the idea of living life as a fully conscious individual, which involves being aware of what you are doing and why, really examining how you feel about things and being honest with yourself about not just the feelings but what is behind the feelings. I understood the discussion on an intellectual level, but in practice I felt very nervous about the whole idea. I couldn’t say why but I didn’t want to delve any deeper than I had.

Then I stepped in a hole a broke my ankle. I did a really thorough job of it too. I dislocated the joint and broke my tibia/fibula bones in 3 places. I was taken to the hospital in an ambulance and the next day I had surgery to put pins in both sides of my ankle. I came home from the hospital on Sept 10, 2001, and when I woke up the next morning to take pain killers, I turned on the news. It’s not really related to the story at hand, but it’s where I was on that morning, and I don’t think it was the Lortab that made it feel so unbelievable and surreal.

Anyway…there’s nothing like being basically immobile to give you time to think and evaluate things. At first, I was pretty depressed again – it felt a bit to me like I’d been getting my life on a good track and now here was this huge obstacle stopping me from making any progress. I was frustrated, and it seemed like it took SO much time to start healing. My doctor waited about 2 months before starting me on physical therapy, and looking back I really wish he’d started me sooner. I guess his rationale was that my leg still couldn’t hold my weight, but I saw a lot of people working out in PT that weren’t weight-bearing yet, but were still doing other things to promote their recovery.

Still, sooner or later, it was good to start physical therapy, even though it was incredibly hard and painful. I think I saw at least one person cry every time I was there, and I did a few times as well. Progress felt so slow at times, and then suddenly one day you could tell you’d made it to the next level. I was getting stronger physically, and it was during these several months that I started to really appreciate my body and what it could do. I’d hated my body for most of my life and had used food as an escape mechanism for so long, that I was really disconnected with my physical self. But through the physical therapy and feeling my ankle get stronger, and as a result getting stronger as a whole, I really started to feel connected to myself. It’s hard to explain any clearer than that – and if you’ve never experienced a serious injury and the recovery that follows, you might not be able to appreciate how it feels. There were still highs and lows, but I started to feel really happy in a way I hadn’t in years, as I got better.

Well, this is where the story becomes relevant. But I feel like I need to take one more tangent, which will also relate to the story in the end.

When I was starting my last year of college, I started to feel really strongly that I needed to go on a mission. I tried to fight it, because I was the inter-chapter president of the LDS sororities at the time, and I only had 3 quarters of school left, so I really didn’t want to leave. I kept telling myself that I would go in the spring after I graduated. But everywhere I went over the course of a few weeks, I encountered something that said “mission” to me. Someone would say something, without even realizing it, or I’d hear a song on the radio, or I’d read something – I literally felt bombarded with messages in one form or another, all telling me that this was the next step for me. I needed to go on a mission. After fighting it for a while, I stopped in to my sorority advisor’s office one day, intending to discuss it, just as a possibility. He looked up from his desk, gave me a piercing look, and the first thing he said was “When are you leaving on your mission?” I felt like yelling “Okay, I get it. I’ll go!” I only needed to be hit over the head a little bit, but I finally gave in and put in my papers. And everything fell into place, and within a few short months, I found myself in Japan, having the experience of a lifetime.

I mention that because that’s what started happening to me, as my physical therapy started winding down, only the message this time was different. Everywhere I went now, everything I saw and heard, said to me “You need to deal with this.” This – of course – was the idea that I might be gay. I still only held it as a possibility in my head. I was fighting it. But literally everywhere I went – this time over the course of several months because I was fighting this idea much much harder – I was bombarded with things that made me know I needed to face it.

Before anyone jumps to any conclusions about the Gay Agenda or gays in the media or anything like that playing a part in this, I should add that almost nothing that I was seeing or hearing was overtly gay. It’s not like I saw gay people on the street holding hands or saw them on TV having relationships. So don’t start writing your legislators telling them to outlaw Will and Grace or anything. One of the only gay-specific things I remember seeing at the time was a billboard on I-15, sponsored by PFLAG that said “Someone you know and love is gay.” It made me start to cry.

So after about 4 months of fighting this and telling myself of course it wasn’t true and yet feeling very afraid that it might be true, I finally decided to talk to my therapist about it. I was really really afraid to talk about it, because it sort of felt like once I said it out loud, it would automatically become true. So, I spent about 45 minutes of the hour session talking around it and trying to get her to just nod and say “I get what you’re trying to say.” But she didn’t make any attempt to lead me anywhere or let me off the hook, and eventually I had to go ahead and say it. “I’m really afraid, but of course I’m really not, but I think maybe I might be … gay.” I had a physical reaction every time I thought about that moment when I would remember it later that day and for a long while afterwards. It was like a big internal cringe, a “please don’t let it be true” shudder.

God bless my therapist, because she didn’t have an agenda either way. She was not LDS, but knew what an important part of my world the church was. But she didn’t push one way or the other. There was no “if this is part of you, you need to embrace it and leave the church behind” and no “this is unnatural and God will punish you for it.” What she did was get me talking about why *I* thought it might be true, and what, if any, supporting evidence there might be from my relationships up to this point. She was fully supportive of whatever course was going to make me happy, whether that was being “out and proud” or being gay but staying in the church or deciding I was straight after all. I feel really lucky that she was my therapist at this time, because it really allowed me to sort a lot of things out for myself.

to be continued…

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