Last week on Monday, my mother was visiting me in Victoria, and I told her the truth about Jaime’s gender identity and our relationship- up until that point, she had been living under the assumption that Jaime was male. It didn’t go well, but I would be lying if I said I expected anything different. Mom went home last Tuesday, and I haven’t heard from her since. The entire day that I spent with her after coming out varied between uncomfortable silence, her yelling at me, trying to get me to break up with Jaime, and a very disconcerting forced cheerfulness where she pretended everything was peachy, buying me presents, having me fitted for a Cowichan sweater, getting me my favourite chocolate, and taking me out to lunch. The last thing she said to me was that she was confused, upset, and disappointed, so she needed some time to be alone and think.
I’ve had a week of her silence and my pain to think it over, and I’ve decided to hold out an olive branch by mailing her a letter, explaining to her that I love her, but I can’t change who I am or whom I love to please her, and that I hope she’ll reconsider her lack of communication with me.
But that’s only the first step towards beginning to cope with being “fully out” now, and not the most important one. I have little to no control over how my mother perceives my relationship with Jaime or my sexuality now, so my primary focus isn’t going to be on what she does or thinks, but on what I can do to make myself mentally healthy and learn to remain stable if my relationship with her never mends.
The best ways for me to cope are, for now, to enjoy my relationship with Jaime, take care of my physical and mental health, and engage in activism. She and I have been going out on a series of “mini-dates”, a walk in the park, a beach trip, window-shopping, anything within our modest budget. It helps me remember all of the reasons I fell in love with her and why it’s important for me to stand up for our love (not that I need much reminding) to everyone, even those who have the power to really hurt me.
I’m also going to the library tomorrow to pick up a copy of Haruki Murakami’s memoir, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, with the hope that it will help me learn some mental and physical techniques and tricks for learning how to run. I’ve always found walking to be therapeutic, it helped me get through some greatly difficult times as a teenager, and I think that graduating to running will help me keep my emotions in my control by having a healthy outlet for rage, frustration, and grief: The pavement.
I’m also taking out other emotions through cooking new recipes I’ve always wanted to try and perfect. As soon as Jaime and I are moved into our new place at the end of June, I intend to purchase some cookbooks that have been on my wish list for months. I will work my way through the recipes slowly, learning how to create food that is satisfying and suits my taste buds. Call me a cheesy schmuck all you like, but I read Like Water for Chocolate in high school, and I still remember being transfixed by Tita standing up to her mother’s demands and cruelty by making cooking a form of self-expression, which partially inspires my desire to heal and become strong and independent through experimentation with cooking.
Activism is my final method for self-healing, and it’s already proving quite effective. I’ve been taking it easy on my activism, both online and offline, for about a year, because I wanted to focus on my schoolwork and give myself mental space. I also was under the (mistaken) impression that Victoria wouldn’t be as much in need of my activism as Montana was. Getting heavily involved in all types of activism is reminding me that I have a strong, supportive community of friends and loved ones who are willing to fight for me and give me help during a time of need, they have been amazing since I admitted that my mother’s relationship with me was having trouble when I came out.
What are other methods you recommend or have done yourself for getting through a rocky patch emotionally, especially when dealing with family troubles? All suggestions are welcome.