by Kelly Beischel PhD, RN, CNE, CAPP, CPPC
You’ve been on my mind a lot over the past few weeks. You see, as the subject line of this email says – Huffington Post published my article about what it was like to have both of our sons come out as gay.
When my article went live a little over two weeks ago, one of my first thoughts was that I needed to write to you so that we could celebrate together.
So, why am I only now telling you?
Because I lost the courage to hit send.
You see, the day my article went live I was fielding calls, emails, texts, as well as Facebook comments and messages from various places in the States as well as from people in Africa, Ireland, Canada, France, and Germany.
Thus making it difficult to write my message and get it out to you.
The dreaded comments…
By the weekend, I had read the comments online and then Monday I read the comments on HuffPost’s Facebook post. And they weren’t pretty. (I know what you are saying. And you’re right, reading the comments wasn’t a healthy decision.)
Interestingly, when I texted my family to tell them I sent my article to HuffPost a couple of weeks prior to the article being published, my daughter called me brave.
I told her I didn’t consider it a brave act – that it was just me being me – telling my truth. (In fact, it was harder to send it to my family than it was to HuffPost – just like it’s harder to present in front of your peers than a room full of strangers.)
But after reading the ugly comments online… I get why she called me brave.
Being vulnerable and putting my shame out into the world, a world where people can stay anonymous, cast judgment and belittle anyone with whom they don’t agree is a very brave thing to do.
I began thinking that offering my story to the world was actually a dumb thing to do.
That’s why I couldn’t hit send.
And then I coached myself and turned it around.
Re-reading the supportive texts, emails, and messages I received also helped me put things in perspective.
In the many messages I received, people affirmed my belief that putting my story into the world would help others going through a similar situation as they wrote to tell me that it helped them find closure, begin discussions, not feel so alone in the world…
While the nasty comments wrecked me at first, my heart is now filled with compassion and gratitude for those who wrote the nasty comments.
Firstly, I believe their hearts are riddled with unresolved angst that really has nothing to do with me thus I feel empathy toward them.
Secondly, the comments left by the anonymous “Internet Trolls” as Luke fondly refers to them, reminded me to approach all stories I read on the Internet with empathy and openness. For this, I am grateful.
I learned that prior to my article going live, I hadn’t really comprehended the import of approaching all things with empathy and openness. You can read my post where I give thanks to people who supported me as well as the “Internet Trolls” here.
Further, how can I not be thankful for their comments when the very act of withstanding what they said has boosted my confidence and my desire to live bolder.
Confidence is built
on the shoulders of action.
As such, I’m more determined than ever to keep my message to “Choose Love” moving forward.
How to gain the confidence needed to move forward
I recently talked with a client about not waiting until she has the confidence to go for what she wants
I told her, It’s the act of taking action that will build your confidence.
I live by the mantra that confidence is built on the shoulders of action and once again, this played out in my life.
I have no doubt it will in yours as well.
It also helps to surround yourself with people who will encourage you to take action toward making your dreams a reality and with people who know how to make it happen.
You may know the why and the what of your dream but not know the how
Write a book to expand my story and my reach – my what.
But I didn’t know how to write and publish a book.
So I committed to my dream by plunking down money and hiring a self-publishing coach who will guide me in writing a book about our family’s story.
What do you want to put out into the world?
What’s keeping you from taking action?
Is it a lack of confidence?
Take one action step today.
And another the next day.
Your confidence will grow with each step until you can’t remember not having it.
This is my article in Huffington Post in the event I peaked your interest and you want to read it.
Love to you and yours,
Vicky Donlan says
I just wanted to say thank you for publishing your article which I have just read. I have been searching the internet for support and your article was more 'real' for me and how I felt. I feel exactly the same at this moment in time.
My son Luke is 18 and has just told us he is gay and we are going through all the same emotions but he has also told me he is shamed of what he is.
We are all struggling at the moment but coming across your article has helped me on my journey and I hope in a few years time we can all feel like you do now.
Thank you for being honest
Kelly Beischel says
Vicky, Thank you for your kind comment. I am glad my article hit home for you and that you find self- peace, love, and compassion. Being a parent is not for the faint of heart, as you well know. I found reading "Unclobberd" by Colby Martin to be super helpful.
Mary Jean says
Thank you for your article. I have two children, both boys, and both gay. My husband and I had a little difficulty at first, but the love you have for your children quickly overcomes that. But you are right about the worry because there are so many hateful people out there. But I honestly wondered if I was the only person on earth that has two children and both are gay. But then I said, ok, Mary, you are the youngest child out of seven children and out of all of my numerous nieces and nephews, none of them are gay so God must have realized that out of your six siblings, you are the one that could handle this and love your boys no matter what. So there you have it. My boys are my heart strings.
Kelly Beischel says
Thank you for reaching out and sharing this with me. Yes. I am quickly learning that there are more of us parents (with multiple gay children) than you think. My children are my heartstrings as well. I love that expression!! Thanks again.
Thank you for publishing this article. I felt like I was reading about myself and my identical reaction to my son being gay ...from God talks and begging for it not to be this way, to shame, fear, and blame, etc. I have not come as far as you in my mind but it is good to see my turmoil was not unique. My son knows I love and accept him which is the most important thing to me.
Kelly Beischel says
Thank you for writing. It's good to hear that we are not alone in this world, right? You will get there. It's all a process. That he knows you love and accept him is most important. As my oldest told me, "Will and I knew you loved us. We never felt unloved. We just knew you needed to figure it out in your own head." Thanks again for reaching out.
Thank you so much for putting this out there. I have been searching for the right words when dealing with my family not accepting my child. And the shame, guilt, fear that you felt, I felt. Thank you for that. I needed to know I wasn't alone. Growing up Southern Baptist (now non denom) it was difficult for me to talk to anyone when my child came to us and told us how they felt. Keep spreading love. As will I.
Kelly Beischel says
Thank you for your kind words and encouragement. No, you are not alone. I can't tell you the number of parents who have called, emailed, messaged or met with me and told me they felt the same way. We are not alone. My mantra - I can do hard things. We can do harder things, together. So we parents will keep marching on with our love and affirmation and the world will come around - just like you and I did. It's all a process. Thanks again for writing!
Your article is beautiful. I'm so glad you made the decision to share it with the world.
Lori Harrison says
I am so glad I came upon your article today as I am a mom of two gay sons. My older son, who came out first albeit quietly and to only a few family and friends, is struggling since his younger brother recently came out, much louder and more openly. My older son feels guilty and has expressed how sad he is his for me to have this burden of parenting 2 gay children, who are my only children. I do and say everything I can to tell him that I am more than ok and I remind both of them how much they are loved and accepted, but he seems to be losing ground on accepting and embracing his homosexuality now. Anyway, it was so helpful to read your journey. Thank you for sharing.
Kelly Beischel says
Lori, thank you for reaching out. I'm without doubt that you are a compassionate, loving mother who wants only the best for her children. I am sending loving, kind, and embracing thoughts, vibes, and prayers to your son. I hope he can come to terms with and embrace the beauty of who he is.