When I was asked to join the writers at The Daily Feels it was presented to me as an opportunity to put my perspective on life out there. I accepted the offer simply because I wanted to share my experiences in a way that might be helpful to others. All of my stories have been about my life and how I deal with what comes my way. The particular tools I use are faith and humor as most of you may know by now. They really do make life easier to understand and deal with. It’s always my hope that I can help someone get through their own struggles. If I can make one person suffer a little less then I feel I’ve accomplished something worthwhile. This month, I thought I’d write about someone else’s struggle and the effect it had on me.
Each of us has our own unique story to tell. While some of our experiences may be similar to the processes by which we deal can vary. Those variations are an opportunity for us to learn from one another. I learned a lot through an interview I recently watched. There was a new season of Letterman interviews on Netflix that I wanted to see. I enjoyed his guests last season and hoped he had some good ones this year as well. One of the interviews was with Ellen. I always enjoyed her stand-up routines, her delivery, and her timing. I watched her sitcom when it was on and felt terrible for her when it was canceled because she “came out”. Needless to say, I was thrilled with her comeback as a talk show host. There’s a genuine quality in her that I admire. I decided to watch Letterman’s interview with her. I was captivated by her story. I had known some of what she’d gone through but didn’t know what she was actually dealing with inside. Not only had she struggled with being gay but she had also been sexually abused by her mother’s husband. How does a young girl come to terms with this while she’s dealing with the fact that she’s gay? Watching her in this interview allowed me to really see and understand the struggles that she had endured. Her coming out nearly cost her the career she had built up. I could only imagine how she must have felt inside. To work so hard to succeed only to be torn apart because she openly said she was gay. She became ostracized because of it. Her girl next door, innocent image became tarnished. Those who couldn’t understand became her judges. I’m sure in olden days she would have been burned at the stack for her actions. What exactly were her actions? What was she caught doing? All she did was say she was gay. Nothing else. She was being honest with herself and now she wanted to be honest with the world. She was gay. She dated both men and women but felt a greater connection with women. All she wanted was to live her life as peacefully as she could without hiding in the closet any more.
Once Ellen let this be known the firing squad loaded up. She was looked down upon frowned at and judged by her choices. No one knows why a person feels passion for the same sex. The person themselves may not even know. All they know is that they feel something very real to them. There are many theories as to why a person is gay. Some believe people are born gay. Some believe the person has contempt for the opposite sex so they avoid intimacy with them. Others see being gay as a temptation, a sin against God. They believe if your right-hand causes you to sin you cut it off. Meaning they should refuse the temptation and live a celibate life. Truth is we’ll never know the answer to why a person feels a certain way. Whatever the case may be we don’t have the right to judge. We may disapprove of the action, that’s our right but we should never condemn a person for what they feel. We don’t know the pain of having to lie to loved ones, feeling you’ll be seen as a disappointment. Living a lie can take its toll on anyone, especially at the risk of being ridiculed. I would venture to say that Ellen wanted to live her life as normal as possible with someone she’d love who just happened to be a woman instead of a man.
As I said, on top of this her stepdad had sexually abused her. How does a young girl tell her mother that the man she is married to is abusing her daughter? When she finally drew up the courage to tell, her mother refused to believe her. Imagine what that did to her.
As I listened to Ellen speak I realized that she is a person of tremendous strength. I had forgotten that she paved the way for others to “come out”. She knew the risks and she was willing to take them. She wanted to be free to live her life. She publicly exposed herself and was left in a vulnerable position. What she wanted was for us to see the person within. Her message was: This is who I am. I feel, I bleed, and I have the same desires to love and be loved as anyone else. You can love me or hate me but you can’t destroy me. I’m not out to hurt anyone. I have a purpose in life and I intend to live it as a gay woman. I will no longer hide from the truth.
Ellen is most grateful for what she has accomplished in life. She’s humble about it. She has a hey, I’m just me doing the best I can kind of way about her that draws people in. I never saw her as an extremist. She talks about her relationship as we all do but doesn’t flaunt it excessively to prove anything. I find she keeps it respectful as love should be kept. Extremism has a tendency to rile up people rather than help them understand. I sometimes feel that extremism along with those who just want to experiment make it harder to accept what a gay person goes through. Those actions, in my opinion, take away from our vision of seeing the whole person and their suffering. I feel they have a tendency to mock the suffering that was felt by so many. I wonder if people who are extremists just to prove a point or curiosity seekers really understand the emotional torment one suffers inside. Do they recognize the courage, strength, and humility one must have to finally come out openly? Funny thing is Ellen saw herself as weak. As I said before I think it took a tremendous amount of courage and strength to expose herself. It also took courage to confront her mom regarding her stepfather’s abuse. Both things that could have potentially destroyed her saved her. She is who she is, she does what she does and she tries to give back to the world in a constructive way.
Admire Ellen or not I think we could all agree that we’d all wish for that kind of courage in life to face our own challenges, whatever they may be and come out stronger because we dared to tell the truth.
Married 44 years to my hubby whose purpose in life is to prevent me from getting through the “Pearly Gates”. Mother of two, Nanna of four loving granddaughters and retired secretary aka administrative assistant. I went to the University of Hard Knocks where I received my Doctorate. My thesis is titled: How To Survive Life’s Trials Without Killing Yourself or Someone Else. I live by the belief that when life throws you a curve, learn from it rather than use it against yourself. Faith and humor are my survival kit. Appreciate the simple things for they are the true treasures of life.