“Growing up in Texas isn’t as bad as people think it might be (except for summer in Texas, everyone is right about that). I grew up in a catholic household with a mom, dad, and two other brothers—unfortunately I’m the middle child. Fortunately, my family only practiced going to church and communion and didn’t really bring any of the religion at home. Our family routine was simple: wake up, go to school, come home, eat dinner, and do whatever needed to be done. We were close as a family but not ‘Hallmark family’ close.
As us kids got older, we became aware of social, religious, and political news as it developed around us. However, I didn’t care to pay attention to it because all I wanted to do was either play video games or play Yu-Gi-Oh with my little brother. However, religion was still pushed on us which I honestly didn’t care to much for. I eventually distanced myself from it and surprisingly my parents didn’t try to force it down my throat. Out of all the life lessons bestowed upon from bother church and scouts there was only one thing I knew for sure. I liked men. I thought it was odd I liked looking at the same sex but I shoved those thoughts in the back of mind thinking, my parents didn’t raise me this way so it must be wrong.
As I entered high school, my life completely changed. My brother joined the military the end of my freshman year (2003) and was deployed twice to Iraq during my sophomore and junior years. During the summer as I was getting ready for my senior year my dad suddenly passed from an aggressive cancer 5 days after my 17th birthday. Numb and emotional my mother’s mental health slowly started to decline, for which she lashed out at me, breaking me down even further; I felt like little, tiny fragments of myself. She constantly blamed me for my dad’s death because of the few times my hormonal teenage self would ‘wish him dead’ when I was angry and didn’t get my way. I slowly began to think, maybe it is my fault. Maybe I’m the reason he is not here.
What was left me was trying to piece myself back together as well as heal my mom and my little brother. I felt like the new dad of the family. A role I had no training for and shouldn’t have had to do. I resented my mother in that moment because it was her job to raise us, not mine. But I buried my feelings because I knew my little brother needed someone positive in his life.
After a couple of years passed and I met Elise. She was nothing like the other two girls I dated or even in my life. She was calm, rational, patient, and most of all, had an enormous heart. We immediately connected one random night and became friends. A year passed and she asked me out and I quickly said yes. I felt safe with her and I could tell she really cared for me. There was always the nagging in the back of my head telling me I was gay but I kept pushing it away. Why? Because I knew I needed to start a family. I knew I couldn’t do that with another man.
After we started dating we were married a year and half later. And life was good. She helped my change and evolve. She helped me let go of all my anger I had towards my mother and helped me heal. We had a lot of fun together. She was the person I needed at the time. She was my anchor.
About four years into our marriage my thoughts crept back up. It was a constant you’re gay, you’re gay, you’re gay. I tried so hard to push them back that I illogically came up with a solution. Have a kid. I told myself if I had a kid these thoughts would subside and go away. Unfortunately, it did not work.
After my daughter was born my life revolved around her. She was perfect and I couldn’t believe I created her. I couldn’t believe how much I loved that little baby. But don’t get me wrong, there were some rough times with her! About two months before her 2nd birthday I was finally coming to terms with who I am. I knew I couldn’t hide it any longer. My mental health began to deteriorate and I couldn’t sleep, eat, or find joy. And Elise knew something was wrong and I saw that she did. I knew it was time to tell her. But how could I?
Finally a few weeks later I told my wife we needed to talk. After putting my daughter to bed I sat down with her and told her I had something to confess. I started to talk but couldn’t bring out the words ‘I’m gay’ to her. While flustered, she began to guess what it was I was trying to confess. She finally said the words I couldn’t. I looked up and nodded. She cried, I cried. She left for a while and came back and we talked it out.
Fast forward to today, we are co-parenting like a crazy awesome team. She is my best friend, without a doubt. We still live together, which people consider odd, but we don’t mind it (mainly because it’s cheap for us!). All we care about is we are doing what we think is best for our daughter, she is still our world and we will do anything to make her life easier.
For those who are reading, I hope you find the courage you need to be your true self. It took me years to find the courage I needed to be my true self and I’ve always regretted not coming out earlier. There is so much support out there now for you to be you. You’ll always be loved, no matter what! But please keep in mind while the grass is always greener on the other side, you still have to go through the muck and gunk of it all to get there. But if you have the courage, the strength, and the support, you will get to finally lay down on the grass. I promise.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Nick Gonzales. You can follow his journey on Instagram here. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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