Normally when I write a post, at least for this blog, I write the post and then look for a picture that suits what I am writing about. This post…I took a picture and realized what it symbolized and that drove my writing today.
Let me start out saying that this week has just been a hard week. There are three big things happening for me. First, I sent a letter to my sister in law telling her I was transitioning. Second, I am calling my step father tonight or tomorrow to let him know I’m transitioning. Third…this weekend is the big family wedding that I was “uninvited” from and basically told I wasn’t welcome there. It has made for a week of high anxiety for me.
I was exhausted yesterday. Thanks to work, I had been up for 26 straight hours Monday and only slept like three hours during the day on Tuesday. Obviously that left me with a splitting headache and I wasn’t feeling very social. It also magnified my anxiety and emotional response to everything. I don’t isolate often, especially in Second Life, but I did yesterday. I buried myself in my photography as I tried to work on a few posts for my other blog. I was struggling significantly to get pictures I was happy with…so I just set aside the items I needed to write about and decided to work on any other kind of picture. Something just for me. Something I could just play with to occupy my mind and distract myself.
I let feeling guide me through most of the picture…everything from the pose to the lighting to the editing. No thoughts…just instinct really. I finally reached a stopping point and I looked at the picture. I just sat there and stared at it for a moment. Do I think it was the best picture I have ever worked on? No. Not at all. But I do believe it is one of the most symbolic pictures I have ever done. The final result is what you see in this post.
So much of my life, I’ve stayed in the shadows. Sure, I socialized and made friends and took part in activities, but I never let anyone get close enough to know me. I never had let the true me out. Until last year when I started disclosing, I kept who I really am hidden from everyone due to the fear of rejection, judgement on something that in no way defines me as a person and fear of persecution.
As I have started to come out of the shadows in real life, I am finding a new me that I never knew and I love her more than I thought was possible. When I am around those who know I am transitioning and have accepted me, I am much more relaxed and natural. My hands don’t shake. I don’t get the nervous foot tap I have been known for all these years. I get to be me without fear of judgement, ridicule or rejection. I am falling in love with the person who is coming out of me and I believe it is making me a better friend, family member and human being. Hiding in the shadows left me feeling exhausted all the time and questioning my personal values because I lived a lie for so much of my life.
As I come out of the shadows and really discover myself through this process, I have to confront every fear and I anxiety I have ever had. Its scary at times, especially when we face possible rejection. I find myself often being reminded of a famous quote by FDR. You may recognize it. FDR said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” Thankfully, I decided living was far more important than living this lie.
I think one of the hardest parts of this is that as exhausting as the darkness, lies and keeping myself hidden are, I don’t have to face rejection, ridicule or discrimination if I remain in the shadows. That is part of what lead me to stay hidden for so long. There are days, particularly when I am extremely tired, where I start to step back into the darkness instead of pressing forward with disclosing and being honest with the world. But the more I step out into the light and show who I really am, the less I want to go back to that dark place.
Shadows are definitely one common characteristic in most of my pictures. I have always known it symbolized me coming out from who I was pretending to be and showing the world who I actually am. This picture though, for me, speaks to me more about stepping out into the light more than any other I have done. My goal is to eventually have all of my face in the sun…my face turned up to the sky feeling the sun warm my skin with the hiding behind me and living in front of me.