She took me to the night I stood at my bathroom counter, gazing at myself in the mirror. It was the same night I had almost rolled my car off of a cliff. I watched as I stood and admitted verbally to myself for the first time that I was something other than straight in my fight to survive. I watched hope and acceptance fill the voided eyes of the younger Me. Next she took me to moment, after moment, after moment, after moment when I admitted the same thing to people I loved, and they did nothing but support me and affirm their undying love for me. Next she took me to the moment when the younger Me stood up out of bed not too long ago at all, and excitedly said out loud and without thinking to an empty room… “I am straight. I am straight. I’m a little fucked up, and I get weird thoughts sometimes, but I’m straight!”
The ghost raised her eyebrows at me and gave me a quirky smile. I grinned sheepishly back. “Yeah, yeah yeah. I know. Sexuality is just so dang…” I couldn’t finish. She touched my arm once more.
And we stood in a hospital room.
I watched a younger adult version of Me so eagerly yet so cautiously pick up a tiny infant into my arms. I watched that man whisper wonderful promises to that baby. I watched a tear roll down his cheek. I watched him smile as proud as any new dad has ever smiled.
She touched my arm and I was taken to a moment when my toddler son ran so eagerly into the arms of a younger Me because he hadn’t seen me for many days. The love and excitement was so overwhelming for him that he couldn’t get to me before he began crying hysterically. The ghost took me to another moment when my child lay so sick with his head against younger Me’s chest while we watched a movie together. She took me to another moment when I was hunkered deep into the couch tickling him while I kept him pinned into the cushions. She showed me so many happy moments. “Okay, I get it,” I told her. “I get it, now.”
She touched me again, and we were back in my room. Fresh tears had made trails down my face.
“I get it now. I get it now.” I just kept repeating it over and over as I attempted to compose myself.
“What do you get?” she said.
I looked at her and placed my own hand on her shoulder. “I get it. Everything that I am. Everything that I believe. Every way in which I see the world. Every darkness and every light within me. It was all born somewhere.”
She smiled. “Yes. But there’s something much more powerful that you need to understand. And I think you know what that is.”
I nodded. “I understand that I am all these things. I understand that I am both light and dark. I understand that I am both free and captive in so many ways. I understand that I…”
She cut me off. “Yes. That’s all true. But what do you really understand after all this?”
I thought back to my recent days of heaviness before the ghost came. I thought back to the way I had been so down on myself and looked at myself with such disdain lately. I thought back to how frustrated I had been that I could not be perfect and happy and light and healthy all the time. I thought back to how much I so recently let myself believe that I am… broken. And I thought back to how little I thought of myself for it.
“What do you really understand, Dan?” she repeated.
I thought back to everything I had just been shown. I wept. She pulled me close. I wept harder.
“I understand,” I said through sobs, “that I need to cut myself some slack.” She patted the back of my neck and nodded in agreement. “I understand,” I said again through sobs, “that I’ve done pretty good in life, all things considered.”
“Sum it up,” she said.
“I understand that…” I could barely get the next words out. I understand that… I am… enough.”
She held me out in front of her and forced our gazes to meet. “There it is.”
Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing
PS. This post makes me feel so vulnerable. Thank you for your kindness. And I’m so curious… if you were to Scrooge *you* what would you see and what would you learn?