Shields I was recently listening to one of my favorite radio programs, The Focus Group, on XMSirius Radio. It’s a business show and the hosts were interviewing a guest who had recently come out as transgender. One of her comments about never being discovered was she always had her “shield” up. This reminded me of something my lady friend said to me a number of months ago. She told me prior to coming out to her, she never saw one indication of anything in my behavior that was feminine. She then asked, “How can you be a woman when I never saw it?” I told her all my life I had always been a pretty good actor.
Bullies I was that kid growing up who was different. I didn’t like sports and spent a lot of time alone. I was short and plump. This was a small Ohio town where farming and football were the two most important activities. I played music, was active in theater, hung out mostly with girls and was quirky. I started being called queer and fag and homo from junior high on. I was the target of the occasional shove or slap to the back of the head during class breaks. I was bullied and I hated high school and I hated my home town.
My shield I quickly learned I could be funny and the class clown and I would be mostly left alone. I still played music and hung out with the same people, but around school, I was the goofy, funny guy. The last two years of high school passed quickly. I worked and played music, had a girl friend and kept away from everyone. I excelled in writing and literature and theater. I was also a band kid, so between the band, rehearsals, working and performing, I became invisible. No more physical violence, very little verbal abuse, so I discovered my shield and plotted my escape from my home town.
More shields I ran off to the service, then moved away as soon as I could. I left all the pain behind and built a new life in a place I was unknown. I was still funny and occasionally goofy, but I also became good at working with customers, selling software and flirting a lot. Everything geared to fitting in and excelling and never being bullied again. My wife didn’t know, my friends and associates had no idea what was constantly going on in my head.
No peace I continued to keep my shields up until I was in my mid 50’s, but nothing I did gave me any peace. The more I hid and denied, the more confusion and unrest. Finally all snapped and I crumbled into depression. Only once I was at the bottom, did I drop all pretense and begin accepting and embracing my authentic self. Then I began to find peace and freedom.
Peace at last After eleven years out of which three were gruesome, my truth has been explained, and to a lesser degree understood, and accepted. I am living authentically and I have grown to really like who I am. Do I wish it hadn’t taken sixty years to get here? You bet! But I made it. The moral of the story is I finally embraced who I was. When I did that, life got very rewarding.