Coming out of Winter

Dear Nora,
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I’m sitting this morning at a favorite coffee shop in my neighborhood, and today is the first day I truly believe spring is coming again. It’s been a little over a year since I showed up on Portland’s doorstep, standing broken-hearted in the rain, and hoping that this place held the fresh start I needed to restart my heart.

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One of the first things I did after moving here was attend a concert of the Portland Lesbian Choir. I stood in the very back of the packed hall, and my eyes filled with tears of joy as I watched this community of brightly clothed women singing passionately together–and being met by thunderous applause of the loving audience. I didn’t know a single soul in the room, but it felt like home, and I knew I belonged here.

Nora, last night I was in that same place, a year later… I stood this time on the stage, singing with more than 60 of my sisters. And in the audience–good friends, supporting me, and among them my girlfriend of almost 11 months with tears in her eyes, smiling at me.

This winter has been dark and dreary. I’m realizing, as time passes, where the deepest bruises on my heart are. A simple circumstance or word will brush past and I’ll yelp out in pain–surprising even myself. When my relationship of 6.5 years abruptly ended at the close of 2014 with confessions of cheating and lies from my then-girlfriend, I sank into a dark place. It’s a sobering phenomenon how these things, which are no fault of your own, are somehow internalized as something that is your responsibility. Like… there had to be something wrong with me to make her do that. I am slowly, but surely, working to rebuild and restore my self-worth. It is hard and good work. But I do get discouraged when I see the steps I took backwards.

Worse than that though, my ability to trust has been reduced to rubble. That kills me, because that doesn’t feel like who I am–it’s a betrayal of myself and also a wrong against the amazing woman I’m dating–she deserves to be trusted. How do you get to the point where every harmless thing is not perceived as a threat? And when you no longer assume the worst (that everyone I date will inevitably cheat on me)?

There are no blank slates, only hearts that are worn and bruised–that is the starting point we have to work with. But I hold tight to faith that good and strength come from the broken places.

It has definitely brought about raw and honest conversations about trust and fidelity for Elise and I.

It is terrifying to risk my heart again. But it demands that I take that risk. My heart is braver (and maybe more foolish) than my mind. A year ago, on Valentine’s Day, I met a small, hilarious, sassy Colombian girl… and I knew immediately she was going to be an important soul for me to know. Shouting over the crowded dance club about our Christian upbringing and coming out, I felt more known by her within minutes than I had felt in a long time.

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Here’s to brave and foolish hearts, and healing.

Your friend, Ruth

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