Guest Blog: Leap and exhale
Jun 29, 2018
A note from P&G: One of the things we've learned as allies is that when you have the opportunity to amplify the voice of those marginalized, you do it. Today, we are so honored to continue the Pride conversation by lifting up the voice of our dear friend, Joe Quick. Joe is the director of business solutions at the Michigan Works! Association, an active member of his community and the ex-husband Veronica recently wrote about. He lives in Lansing with his husband, Tim and can be most frequently found on stage or trying all the new food across the country. Thanks for sharing, Joe.
You know that feeling? When you have a cold and you aren’t able to get a deep enough breath? You aren’t able to get enough air in? It’s frustrating. There’s nothing you can do about it. You panic. Or that feeling that keeps you awake at night. The gnawing thought that you may have done something wrong. Had a hurtful thought. Lied to someone you love. Maybe without even realizing it.
That feeling that stems from a paralyzing fear that you are lost. You don’t know who you are anymore. Or guilty of something you don’t even yet understand. That moment when you realize you have everything you thought you wanted: an amazing wife, supportive family, a great job with a sense of purpose, a theatre hobby and family that brings you joy and acceptance.
And something still isn’t right. There’s something missing. And then you realize what’s missing is you.
It happened to me in 2008. It caught me off guard. I was embarrassed not to have known earlier. I was 25. I’d lost my job in the recession. I’d literally lost my voice after damaging my vocal cords. It hurt to speak. And then I realized I’d lost more than my voice. I’d lost me. It didn’t just hurt to speak. It hurt to... everything. It wasn’t intentional. It wasn’t anyone else’s fault. I loved my life. I loved my wife. My individuality. But my chest had started to feel heavy. I couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t get enough air. An absence of truth I didn’t even know existed was crushing me.
“Leap and the net will appear,” they say.
And then I took that leap. My wife, my mother, my mother-in-law, and so very many others were there to catch me. In fact, painful as it may have been for them, they were standing on the ground with the net. Strong. Perhaps somehow more ready than I was. But scared, too. And many of them hurt. It was still them that convinced me to leap. To breathe. To breathe as me.
Last week, my ex-wife, Veronica (whom I still love and adore and am lucky to have in my corner), told her version of the story. Beautifully. And I cried. And was reminded how much she truly means to me. And my story. She talked about breathing in forgiveness and breathing out acceptance. I was so lucky to have had support that so many don’t. I was able to breathe in the love of those around me, and exhale my own truth. To be me.
Being yourself isn’t always easy. Sometimes it’s really, really hard. For all of us. But it’s essential.
I’ve had a hard time adequately describing my coming out experience to anyone. It involved hurting others. It involved a lot of hurt within myself. Shame. Pride. There were feelings for others involved. It was messy. It took a few years to fully heal and find myself.
Last week I watched Love, Simon with my amazing husband, Tim, on the heels of Veronica speaking her truth. And a few seconds of that beautiful story said more about my own process of truth than I have ever been able to eloquently put into words.
“You get to exhale now… You get to be more you than you have been in a very long time.”
So, whoever you are, exhale. Leap. Be someone’s net. Love people for who they are. Love yourself. Love your Tim.
Photo by Brian Jarreau Photography