Good afternoon, and happy Wednesday! I shared this post on The Breakfast Blog today, and I think it’s valuable enough to share with all of you. A departure from my usual recipe posts:
“The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.” ― Michel de Montaigne
Good afternoon, everyone, and happy Wednesday! I realize I haven’t posted to this site in a few weeks. My apologies for the interruption! I have been going through a rather creative phase in the kitchen and have, therefore, been directing all of my blogging efforts toward Cook to Love.
Over the last few days, my thoughts have wandered back to The Breakfast Blog, its ever-evolving concept, and, of course, possible topics for future posts. It occurred to me that there is something about me, a very important facet of myself, that I haven’t addressed in any of my posts. On either blog. And I think it’s time for me to do so.
That topic is my sexuality. Both for the sake of full disclosure (I just hate feeling like I might be “hiding” anything!) and because of its relationship to the topics of health, well-being, self-acceptance, and self-empowerment discussed so frequently in my posts, I’ve decided to share a bit about this aspect of my life with you.
On my About page, I identify myself as a “vegan feminist fitness guru.” I do this for a reason. Because my efforts to live compassionately, my stance on social justice, and my passion for healthy, creative living are all deeply intertwined. They are consistent with one another and are indicative of the respect, love, and reverence I have for all living creatures. And they inform all of the thoughts, experiences, and even the recipes shared on both this site and on my food blog.
What I did not say on my About page (and now do say, as I’ve since made the appropriate updates) is that I am also a lesbian. (In case you were not properly cued, that was the climactic moment of this post. If you’re still with me, let us proceed.) As I see it, my sexuality is as intimately tied to the content of this blog as any other aspect of my identity (at times, incredibly so), and the process of acknowledging and accepting myself a lesbian has allowed me to embark on a tremendous, and altogether wild, journey toward self-empowerment, self-respect, and personal contentment. I, therefore, see no reason to omit that part of myself from these discussions. And today, I am granting it center-stage.
When I first made the decision to come out, several years ago, I was in a relationship with a man. And boy, oh boy, did that make for an awkward conversation! I’d considered not telling him the truth and just making up an excuse–any excuse–for ending our already-fizzled-out relationship. After all, I hadn’t actually cheated on him–not in any literal sense. But, my attraction to other women, which, I admit, was not new to me, was growing too powerful for me to ignore. Worse than that, I was growing increasingly, and alarmingly, un-attracted to him. And every other man with whom I came into contact.
As I felt the time was approaching for us to have that dreaded, shock-inducing, male-ego-shattering, relationship-ending chat, I realized that I was less afraid of hurting his feelings than I was of admitting that I was, in fact, a lesbian. I was even afraid to recite the “L” word in its entirety in my own head, let alone say it aloud to another person. A person who happened to be my boyfriend of three years. Do you remember the post I wrote last month about the importance of being who you think you’re not? Well, honey, let me tell you, I was–and am–that person. Every day. And it’s not always pretty.
In truth, the big break-up actually wasn’t nearly as big and bad as I thought it might be. Nor was the process of coming out to my family or friends. It was all fairly anticlimactic. Do you know who had the hardest time dealing with the whole ordeal? Who was the most reluctant to accept my queerness? Who chastised me the most for seemingly, and irrevocably, altering the trajectory of my entire life? For failing to be “normal”? I did. I punished myself for my feelings–for my desire to live authentically–far more harshly than anyone else did or ever could have.
Even after I’d broken up with The Boyfriend, I continued to test the waters with men. Here and there. In the hopes that maybe–just maybe–I’d find chemistry with one. That I could go back and tell my parents and friends to forget that I had ever used the dreaded “L” word to describe myself, that I had just been confused, and that I had, thankfully, found a man who would marry me and with whom I could make lots and lots of babies. But such a man did not and does not exist. And I was no more confused about my sexuality than I was about the color of the sky. I was afraid. I was angry. And in a tremendous amount of pain.
The “healing process” of which I write in my posts about finding happiness and growing to value and appreciate ourselves for who we are, and who we have the possibility to become, stems from those deeply personal, often painful, experiences. Heck, I would even go so far as to say I’ve spent most of my life fighting to suppress who I really am. The very first time I remember feeling attracted to a woman, I was only 12 years old. And the experience petrified me. In the most horrible way. I grew up in a very, very Catholic environment. I attended Catholic schools my entire life and went to mass at least twice a week. And it’s been my experience that “Catholic guilt” is one of the worst kinds of guilt there is. (To be clear, I mean no disrespect to any of my Christian/Catholic readers.) As a young woman, I was terrified that God would hate me for my “impure,” sinful thoughts and feelings. So incredibly terrified that I worked quite hard to dismiss them and, in the process, did a great deal of emotional violence to myself. I continued on my heterosexual way, engaging in rather empty, meaningless relationships with men. I dated quite a bit, actually. I had several boyfriends. None of those relationships was healthy. Nary a one was satisfying.
When I write about the importance of being kind to ourselves and to others, of the incomparable joy of recognizing the inherent value in every person, every creature, I mean it sincerely. For all of the time I have spent unlearning the ways of a culture whose values, norms, and roles aren’t natural to me, I have spent double, or triple, the time learning not only to forgive, but to embrace and love all of myself. Which includes accepting the fact that I will never understand myself or anyone else completely–which is pretty fantastic. A cause for celebration, really.
So, although it’s true that I have learned a number of life’s most valuable lessons on my journey toward healthy eating and living, I have learned a great deal more from the process of embracing my sexuality–and all of my quirks and eccentricities (and there are more than a few). In fact, I’d say those two journeys are nearly inseparable. Both have led me to want to share all that I have learned, and continue to learn, with you. If you take anything of value away from this blog, or from Cook to Love (minus the food, of course, which is valuable in its own right!), I hope it’s this: Belong to yourself. No matter what challenges you face, never sacrifice your self-respect. Because you will not attract anyone or anything of value into your life if you do not value yourself first.
With that, I hope you all have a beautiful Wednesday!