Over the past year, I've chronicled some of the challenges in previous posts and what I've experienced as a single father to my daughter. As she grows, I find certain things are becoming easier, while others become much harder. She now throws tantrums and I'm working through how to best deal with them. But she's funnier, sweeter and smarter every day and I love watching her grow and learn. "Dada" has turned into Daddy and now that she's a cuddler, I can't even begin to describe the feeling I get when she wants to sit on my lap and just be close to her dad.
Now that the holidays are here (which always seem to be an emotionally strange time for a lot of people), I find myself reflecting on the last 12 months in a way I have never done before because it has easily been the most challenging year of my life. I learned some important lessons this year and while I'm not so sure I learned them in the best way, they were important ones. I have drive and will always try to accomplish everything I can, but I can't do it all at once. That turned into the next lesson I learned, which was letting go of certain things and that it was okay to do so.
Another thing I learned is that we all get there when we get there. There's no roadmap for me to follow and I think that's true for many gay men and women, so getting to there may mean taking some detours, going in the wrong direction, getting lost until we find something that's both new yet familiar. "There" is what I think of as truth and when we can be fully honest with ourselves, even though it's new and it can feel uncomfortable at times, it's also familiar, kind of like the feeling of coming home because it's when we find ourselves. I live in a big city and I have friends in other big cities where someone can find or fall into a niche group as they are on their journey towards truth. Sometimes those niches are the right ones. Sometimes they're just pit stops that serve an important story in our journey before heading on our way as we seek our truths. I think it's a life long process, and for my own journey, I've certainly felt like I've found a truth that feels peaceful, which is why I feel it's genuine. But it's also what tares me apart when people I deeply care for see their truth but struggle to get there despite the desire to, especially if their truth is leading them in a different direction than almost everyone else surrounding them. I think I'm in an age group that has come up during a time when being gay has been a struggle for acceptance yet liberating. A family's non-acceptance may evolve into tolerance or even better, acceptance. Bible camps can certainly damage, but can also give someone the strength to be even more out and proud, to declare themselves as equal.
It takes all kinds and there are many who live a carefree life, where carpe diem is their motto as they find their truth. It's not me, but I celebrate it (and on occasion get to participate when I have a babysitter). For others, a carefree life isn't necessarily one that fulfills and sustains and I think for many around my age, it can lead to a crossroad that defines us, where we ask ourselves if we have the strength to follow our truth and then seek it. 2014 is upon us and we're fortunate to have so many avenues to pursue our truths, including having children and getting married. Those of us that have achieved some of that are growing in number; it's not as uncommon as it once was, but it's not as common as I perhaps thought when I started my own journey to become a father (in fact, I know I'm the only one to be a father to some of my closest friends, including those in big cities, who don't know any gay man or couple with a kid other than me).
I've written before about finding someone who I can share this journey with and wrote about him like he was out there and I just hadn't met him yet. I'll confess, the truth is I already knew him and he was the only who knew I was writing about him when he read them. Long before I had even the thought of becoming a father and despite the fact I live in New York and he lives in Chicago, what started many years ago as a special bond that was immediate, has grown even stronger and more connected. This past year with him has been more than a challenge, a push and pull of uncertainty and emotions and the path towards each other hasn't been easy.
Who we are now share many of the qualities of the men we were when we were first brought together. However, I am different now in a fundamental way because I think about my daughter first and what it means to bring someone into my life and to have him become part of our lives. That decision is the most important decision I can make and I've had to look at the two most important factors to me when making that decision: do we love each other (the obvious question I think), but just even more importantly, I need to decide that he is not only worthy, but the worthiest man to join our world, which only increases the love that I have for him. It's interesting, because even though everything I think and do is to give my little girl the best I can, it's how he and I feel about each other that helps to make that decision.
It's the end of the year, but not the end of my story. We all need to listen deeply to ourselves and find our truths, even if it looks different from everyone around us. It's not easy, but I think that it's only when we live our truth can we truly love. It's that fire that should burn, not be smothered. I tend to take the view that we all have one shot at this life and those with kind hearts should have their dreams become their reality. However, daring to dream isn't enough; it's daring to try for that dream that counts. I didn't think I'd write another post, but I was encouraged to do so, and even though I did write the one I was encouraged to write, it's only this one that I can share.