Everything Made Sense Then, By Madelyn Frieden
Everything Made Sense Then
By Madelyn Frieden
It was November 2016. The air was starting to get brisk in Southern Louisiana so that I could leave the house in jeans and a medium-thickness sweater. I’ve always gotten cold easier than anyone else, especially then because I was underweight due to health issues. Maybe the fact that I got cold so easily was a reference to not knowing myself, and not feeling the warmth of truly knowing myself.
I lied in my bed, scrolling through my phone. I was occasionally texting my then-girlfriend, but for the most part, I was on social media. My thoughts were ravaging me that night, invading my mind like England invading a new country in the 1400s. I couldn’t stop thinking that I was living a lie. I knew I loved my girlfriend, but I realized I had never really loved any guys in the past. Everything I thought was romantic love was just platonic love, as I considered all the guys I had been with up to that point as my best friend. I had gotten real crushes on girls but had never gotten them on guys. I realized I was a lesbian.
A sudden rush of guilt ran over me, giving me goosebumps. I felt even colder inside than I already had, but then those feelings just dissipated. Once it set in that I was a lesbian, my chills suddenly turned to rushes of warmth, like I had been wrapped in a warm towel straight out of a cold shower. I knew my truth.
Everything made sense then. It explained why I tried to waltz with my best friend Natalie during recess in second grade. It explained why I kept starting games with her where we would pretend to raise babies together. It explained why in fifth grade I deeply wanted to kiss my new best friend, Brooke, but I had never gotten that feeling with my “boyfriend” at the time. It explained why I never got that feeling so strong with the last guy I dated in my whole life, or any other guy for that matter. It explained why I never liked messing around with my freshman-year boyfriend, and saw it all like a chore. It explained why I never had a real crush on a guy, but rather I just convinced myself that it would be a good idea to have one. It would make me feel normal for once since everybody seemed to want one. Everything made sense.
Telling my mom and step-dad was easy. They had always been accepting of the LGBTQ+ community and were supportive when I came out as bi a year before. The problem was a lot of my family. My grandma on my dad’s side considered herself opposed to homosexuality, but she also respected that her opinion shouldn’t decide how people lived their lives. I didn’t know about my great-grandparents, as homosexuality just never came up with them. Considering they were pretty liberal, I’m sure they would’ve been fine with it. A lot of my family never expressed their opinions on the LGBTQ+ community as it just never came up. I didn’t want to be cut off by any more of my family like I had been with my dad when I came out as bi in freshman year.
I came out passive-aggressively on social media in order to come out to my dad. It was Christmas Day, the last one I ever spent with him. I was so nervous, as I knew he was really homophobic, and he always seemed to be checking social media when he wasn’t sleeping. I just didn’t want to live a lie anymore, and I wanted my dad to know the real me. He never brought up my coming out. He just went on like it never happened for the rest of my stay with him until I went home. Afterward is when the real hell unleashed. I hated my dad with a passion, but it still hurt when he never called. He never even tried to make any contact. He just pretended I didn’t exist. My dad drank away his feelings, downing more and more Fireball whiskey and Diet Pepsi cocktails until his liver and kidneys shut down in late February 2016. He had always been a drunk, but I’m guessing he just got worse. He died on March 5, 2016, about two and a half months since the last time I spoke to him. I couldn’t escape the feelings of guilt that I caused his death, that I was the reason my half-brothers no longer had any parents, that his girlfriend will forever have to live with the baggage of having a boyfriend die while she was dating him. Everything was my fault.
Luckily, nothing else of that level of severity happened when I came out as a lesbian. The family that I spent time with was very accepting, as their love for me was more important than who I love. They knew that I was still the same person as I was before, I just loved somebody that was considered “abnormal.” There have been a few people that have disagreed with my choice to come out, but I decided to just cut them out of my life. I didn’t need their toxicity in my new, real life. I still don’t.
After my girlfriend at the time broke up with me, I had the chance to be free. I had all the room in the world to date any girl I wanted that was into me. I got to live the real life I deserved and should’ve had when I was younger. I got the chance to have recognized crushes on girls where my heart would get fluttery when I saw a cute girl in a restaurant or between classes. I got the chance to be me.
It’s April 30, 2018. The air is warm, as summer in Louisiana is near. The warmth is terrifying, as it messes with my health. But I’m happy. I’ve embraced myself and started living your stereotypical lesbian life. I wear a lot of flannels (but mostly dresses because I’m a femme lesbian), listen to Tegan and Sara and Hayley Kiyoko, and watch a lot of lesbian movies in my free time. I’m living my perfect, out life.