Rediscovered Families

How I Found The Courage To Live An Authentic Life

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It was a conversation I’ll never forget. Not because it was particularly long, it was actually one of the shortest conversations I’ve ever had with my son. But it was a conversation that had profound impact on me. It started out with a gentle question. I asked the question, because I loved my son, because I couldn’t bear to wait any longer.

“I understand that you are gay. Is this true?”

I knew it was true. I had known for some time. When your teenage son starts referring to male actors as “cute” it’s a pretty big hint! I waited for him to tell me. I waited for him to be ready.

But it takes a lot of courage for gay teens to come out. Even though society is changing there is still a lot of fear to overcome. I knew that, but the time had come for me to ask.

The silence hung between the two of us and finally my son hung his head and quietly said, “yes!”

I was heartbroken. My beloved son had hung his head in shame.

I always imagined that I was the kind of mom that was approachable. I worked hard to ensure that my boys could tell me anything. That they were accepted and loved just as they are. Yet somehow I had failed to communicate this to my son.

The relationship between parent and child is incredible. In one of her books Anne Lamott wrote

“there really are places in the heart you don’t even know exist until you love a child.”

And it’s true isn’t it? The relationship between parent and child is beautiful. But it can also be hard and messy. Things get complicated. Fear creeps in and brings chaos in its wake.

When I saw my son hang his head I knew I had to start over. I told him that I already knew. A look of shock replaced the look of shame. This was quickly followed by relief as he realized that I was ok with it. He was accepted for who he was.

Now it was my turn to come out

My son had the courage to come out and say, “this is who I am” and I was so proud of him. Now it was my turn and that wasn’t so easy. Gay rights activist Peggy Campolo once talked about what it is like to live in a closet. She had three observations

  1. To live in a closet is a terrible thing
  2. People live in closets because they are afraid they will not be loved or accepted if they are honest about who they are
  3. Homosexual people are not the only people who live in closets.

We attended a church that strongly opposed gay marriage. I was married to the minister for goodness sake. I supported gay rights, but had been afraid to speak out.

  • For fear of being rejected.
  • For fear of being different.

It was a ugly side of me that I didn’t want to acknowledge or face.

I was in the closet with the door padlocked shut.

The conversation I had with my son that day changed me. I realized that I could no longer stay silent. The only way to really communicate my complete acceptance was to follow his lead.

It was so hard

It was really, really hard. I wish I could say that I immediately found the courage to come out of my closet. But the truth is that it took about five years.

  • I discovered that fear is powerful force, but in the end love defeats fear.
  • You can do hard things even when you are deathly afraid.
  • Amazing growth has a way of bursting forth in the middle of the mess.
  • Love triumphs over fear

In the end the love I had for my son compelled me to come out of my closet. I needed to recognize and face my fears, before I could speak up in support of my son and all those who are a part of the LBGTQ community. Then in fear and trembling I came out. to my astonishment he world didn’t end!

All those years I had been terrified of speaking up and voicing my beliefs, but in the end I discovered that it wasn’t nearly as scary as I thought. And that is a very liberating thing.

In the middle of the fear I found myself.

My brave son who showed me the way

Today I want to remind you that parenting can be be messy and hard. There will be times when fear raises its ugly head, but that’s okay. It is part of life. I discovered that even when you are deathly afraid there are still all kinds of wonderful things waiting for you.

  • We can do hard things even when we are really scared.
  • Love trumps fear.
  • We can start over at any time.

There was a time when I thought that pain, fear, and mess were a sign of failure. That somehow when those things crept into my  life it was a sign that I was lacking. Now I have discovered that I am imperfect and yet I am still enough. I am learning to embrace my messy, beautiful, imperfect life just the way it is. It has also allowed me to accept my children’s messy beautiful lives just as they are. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

19 thoughts on “How I Found The Courage To Live An Authentic Life”

  1. Eva @ The Multitasking Mummy

    There definitely needs to be more parents like you in the world Sharon. My sister is Gay and it was my Mother that approached my sister and told her that she knew and that it was OK. My family treat my sister and her wife like totally normal people, we don’t even have second thoughts of their sexual preference. I have heard many horrible stories from my sister about her gay friends and how their families have treated and disowned them, it’s truly horrible and something I have never been able to understand, especially as a Mother myself.

    1. Sharon Harding

      Your sister is so blessed to have such a supportive family. I have heard some horror stories! I am like you Eva, I simply cannot understand how anyone could disown a child ever.I suspect it is a fear based response, but so sad and so devastating 🙁

  2. SO beautiful!! I’m thrilled for you and your very fortunate son who knows now, and that’s all that matters. 🙂 Yea for messes and second chances!!

    1. Sharon Harding

      I LOVE second chances 🙂 I waffled about writing this, but then I read your story and was inspired to take a deep breath and follow your lead.

  3. I don’t even know how my sister came out to my parents. But I think we all knew for a long time, so it wasn’t a surprise.
    She doesn’t talk about it a lot though. I think she’s probably still in the closet in many ways.

    1. Sharon Harding

      Society has changed a lot, but it is still hard to be openly gay. I’m proud of my son.Thanks for dropping by.

  4. beautiful Sharon! I’ve been clicking around on the other stories too, just brilliant. XX

    1. Sharon Harding

      I’ve been clicking on some of the other stories as well…. there really are some amazing posts.

  5. That had me sprouting tears Sharon, such a beautiful and honest piece.

    Without a doubt my favourite part, “Now I have discovered that I am imperfect and yet I am still enough.” A message that resonates, thank you!

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