The Recovering Farmer

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Coming Out of the Closet

Interesting title for the Recovering Farmer. Perhaps, at least at the outset, got you thinking about what you would read in the words to come. Obviously the term “coming out of the closet’ has, at least traditionally, been associated with gay or lesbian people. I want to take you down another path and give you another perspective of “coming out”. Some ideas that resonated with me from a podcast by Ash Beckham.

Often in the past I have facetiously admitted to being in the closet about various things going on in my life. I was a closet smoker because smoking was a sin and a big no-no in the home I grew up in. I was a closet drinker for years. Again a big no-no for more than solely religious reasons. When it became more of a crutch I did not want people to know how much I drank. I was in the closet with my mental health issues because of the stigma attached to it.

As I heard a new perspective about being in the closet I came to a better understanding of who I am, who I have been, and how this fits into a lot of the work I do. Beckham suggested that all of us have closets we hide in. And by her definition being in the closet simply means that a hard conversation needs to happen. Perhaps it is being gay or lesbian. Perhaps it is smoking or drinking or drugs. Perhaps it is mental health issues such as depression or anxiety. Perhaps it is a financial issue. A relational issue. A physical health issue. It can be one or it can be more than one.

Being confined in a closet is not a pleasant thought. Use your imagination. Normally closets are dark and lonely places. It has the potential to fill us with fear, shame, embarrassment, and guilt. Regardless of the issue we are loath to talk about we visualize the response from others and the backlash it might create. We are so consumed by the issue (s) we compare ourselves to others and wish we could trade places. Because surely their life is better than ours. Their problems less than mine because nothing can be as bad as what I am experiencing. We differentiate between closets and make judgement on others. Often thinking no one understands. No one else is hurting so why would they care. Forgetting that “hard” is subjective. It is relevant. Forgetting that the ones we wish to trade with are experiencing fear and pain just like us. It is difficult and a hard conversation to have.

So we need to be real. We need to have these hard conversations. They will provide relief and a better life. But how? Beckham listed 3 things we need to do. First of all be authentic. Knock down the walls. Show vulnerability (there is that word again). Secondly be direct. Just say what it is. Don’t say I may be depressed/gay/sick/have a drinking problem/etc. That just leads to false hope and expectations, for you and for others. And thirdly don’t be apologetic. It is what it is.

So come out of the closet. Free yourself from the darkness around you. If it is a lifestyle choice let it be known. Be proud of who you are and who you want to be. There are those that will “get it” and be supportive. People will understand. If they don’t so be it. That then becomes their problem, not yours. If you are dealing with issues that you need help with talk about them. Find the support and help you need to overcome and to heal. Start living life the way it was meant to be lived. Be who you were meant to be. Make it a good one.

“The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon but that we wait so long to begin it.”
W.M. Lewis

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