An unexamined life

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I just finished a lengthy discussion with an old friend of mine about life and labels and sexuality.  The last time we saw each other we were talking about what it may have been like if she ended up with two daughters and a wife instead of two daughters and a husband.  She has been in the middle of the sexuality spectrum since I have known her, and it was a toss up as to if she would end up with a man or woman.  Her husband is significantly older than her and it is likely that someday she will end up back in the dating pool, and may end up with a woman.  It would be such a pity if people jump to the conclusion that her marriage was a sham, or that she has been dishonest with herself or them all those years.

Because if there is one thing I think humans love to do it is label people, and put them in a box.  It is safe, predictable, comfortable, that is if they stay in that box.  By like me and you, most of us don’t.  Sometimes even the box we agree to be in is defined differently by you than it is me.

For example, I came out as a lesbian just as I was finishing my freshman year of college, I was about to turn 19.  Unlike many people I know, I came out before I ever had a girlfriend.  That isn’t to say I didn’t have a crush.  At the time I was dating men, and I had a lot of first and second dates, but rarely more.  I had met a guy, let’s call him Dan.  He was great, a school nurse, smart, funny, handsome.  I went out with him a dozen times.  But something was missing.  Parallel to dating Dan I was fantasizing about my best female friend, we will call her Sarah.  For all intents and purposes we were having an emotional affair, but nothing physical.  So, like many times before, I just told myself it was a fleeting crush, a phase and that it happened to everyone.  One night Sarah and I had plans to hang out just the two of us.  I was really looking forward to it.  It had been a long week of school and work and I only wanted to hang out with her.  Go to a bar, drink a few beers, talk and laugh all night.  Just as we were getting ready to leave her phone rang.  It was Joe, the dud of a guy she had a crush on that had been stringing her along.  Suddenly he wanted to go out.  “Do you mind?”  Sarah says…”He hasn’t called in weeks and I really want to see him.”  I knew that they would get drunk and have sex.  Gag.  So I slumped off and pouted and decided to call Dan.  He had just gotten back from the city teaching sailing lessons and yes, he would love to go out.  He picked me up and we went to Fridays, I guess that was a big deal when I was 18.  I shudder at the thought now.  I decided that I was going to do the same.  Get drunk and have sex, after all, maybe I would feel better and Dan was a great guy, nurse, sailing instructor, he had a JEEP!  We drank the night away (he was 21 to my 18 and the server didn’t seem to think I needed to be carded) and ended up at his house.  Halfway through the “adventure” I started crying, got up, got dressed and went home.  Immediately upon arriving my friend Sue was sitting in the kitchen.  “what’s up K” she asks.  “I am gay.”  As you can imagine that led to a few hours of talking and more crying and a few more beers.

At that moment I had never been more sure of anything in my life.  I was gay, that was it.  I am now a few days shy of 35 years old, married over to a wonderful woman (together 9 years last week) and we have a two year old son.

So what does this have to do with examining your life and labels and such.  Well, it wasn’t always so cut and dry.  I have struggled as a gay person, as many do.  It is damn hard sometimes.  Other times I forget, because I am really just a married person with a beautiful family.  So I moved from one label, straight, to another, gay.  And people have a whole different set of expectations of you depending on which you are.  Everyone in my life expected I would have children from a very young age, I always adored them and am a natural caretaker.  The minute I came out almost every person’s response was “but I thought you wanted kids?”  Hello, I didn’t give up my uterus!  I am the same person, same values, same everything, except now I want to date women.

My wife is more feminine than I am.  So of course once everyone got over the fact that we still both had our uterus’ they assumed she would give birth.  When in fact she wasn’t sure about being pregnant and I knew it I wanted to with every cell in my body.

You get my point.  As humans we label people and we expect them to behave according to that label.  And when they don’t we may question their authenticity, their honesty.  When in fact we may have no idea who they are or what they set out to think, feel, or do.

As long as you are self aware, and examining your own life and living as authentically as you can, screw what others expect.  It is your life.

As a practice I try to end my thoughts about other people with “maybe”.  Maybe there are this, or maybe there are that…or maybe not.  Nothing is certain.

As Socrates said, “an unexamined life is not worth living.”

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