Disclaimer: We all have our own journeys, and everyone is impacted in their own way. My story won’t ever belong to someone else, but I hope it can help further the acceptance and willingness to speak about one’s life, mental health, and find a supportive community who listen and care.
Previous: Part 6: Breathe
Throughout this process, we always wanted to tell people and talk about it, but honestly didn’t know how to do so early on. There were a couple friends that I almost told within a week of finding out, but Andrea rightfully helped stop me from doing so. She recognized that I really hadn’t processed the news for myself, let alone get myself emotionally ready to start sharing it with more people. It was too fresh, and I would not have been in a healthy mindset to open up.
I think keeping it to myself helped me a lot in the first month or so. It allowed me to sit there with my emotions and slowly allow them to hit my heart one by one. I was able to come to terms with things on my own, and with my wife. It was important for us to sit with it together.
The only people we told in the first couple days were Andrea’s parents and brother. This happened the very next day, which was Christmas Eve. It was really hard to share this news at a time when we were all hanging out having a lovely evening, and I felt like I was going to ruin Christmas by talking about it, but then again if I didn’t talk about it, I DEFINITELY would have ruined Christmas. I am so happy to have the immediate emotional support from them as we shared what was going on. I also really felt supported by Andrea’s brother. Though not someone of many words, I felt his love and support, and it meant a lot to me.
Very slowly, we systematically chose a few friends to speak with. Some of them we told together as a couple, and some we did on our own. The first ones that we spoke with definitely got the most awkward revelations, and I know that there are two couples in particular that I will always be grateful to for sitting there and listening to us, supporting us, and loving us. They heard the most detail, and they were so incredibly loving as they sat there, asking questions and being wonderful as we just put it all out there. We didn’t know how to talk about this with anyone, and they were the test subjects that helped us be comfortable with opening up.
There were definitely things that we learned during this early process of telling people. What was important, what was less relevant, how to phrase things, what to highlight, and most importantly, how to properly feel our emotions as we spoke.
We chose different friends for different reasons, and were able to build a number of wonderful perspectives. Each person asked different things, and supported us in a different way. This was incredibly beneficial to our process and ability to work through our emotions in a healthy way.
There were friends that I spent HOURS talking to, each one giving me so much attention and time, showing the kind of quality friendship that I hope everyone is able to have in their life. I’ve talked to many in-person, and many others online. I feel like we have a lot of support in so many ways.
We also received some wonderful support from family as we began to tell them. It meant a lot to be able to share the news with them. Whether it was in-person, via email or phone, we received their love and support in all types of ways. It felt so good to be so connected to the people we love, even when most of them are not physically with us.
The most important part for me personally was making sure that I didn’t feel alone. After my emotional breakdowns in March, I knew I couldn’t do this anymore without more help. I needed to speak to people and I needed to feel like I was SEEN.
I am incredibly grateful that we have friends and family that listen, love, and care. I wish more people in this world could feel the love that we feel as we share our life . To anyone who is going through this journey, I highly recommend slowly choosing a couple people to speak with whom you trust, even if you have to force yourself to open up. Sometimes just knowing that someone else knows what you are going through is enough to help you feel better, and that’s certainly a step forward.
To those of you who are reading this as we progress through it all – THANK YOU. You are also a huge support through this process. Having people read everything that my wife and I have to say is incredibly inspiring and rewarding. I love sharing my life with people, and I love when others choose to share their lives with me as well. Writing this all out is keeping me sane, and knowing that people are reading it makes me feel that I am not alone.