“Life isn’t about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself.” George Bernard Shaw
I used to think life was about accumulating answers. The more you learn about yourself and the world, the fewer questions you have and the more answers, right? There have been stretches of my life (albeit short stretches) were I felt like I was racking up the answers – like I was closing off certain paths and possibilities and narrowing my focus to others. For a few brief moments, I had this moderately stable, fairly typical identity. Mother, wife, professional. I was a happy, content, straight person. I had answered enough questions that the big decisions were made, and it was time to settle in and “live.”
Lately, it feels like the opposite, however. Lately, it feels like I’m accumulating questions instead of answers. The answers I had before seem less and less relevant, and the questions are piling on with a vengeance. I’m drowning in them. I find myself re-opening old questions I thought were laid to rest, and wondering what I was thinking with the conclusions I drew in the past. All this soul-searching leads me back to my faithful friend Q. Q as in LGBTQ. All this questioning makes me feel awfully queer. When I try to put my finger on what happened since that brief moment of heteronormative stability, those are the words that come to mind. Was I just too queer, is that why it didn’t take?
Then I revisit my other old friend Q – the “Questioning” Q. I used to think of that label in very black and white terms. Someone who was not sure of their sexual orientation or gender identity was “questioning.” Now I wonder if questioning can be an orientation in and of itself. Other people seem to get to that point where the major questions are answered and stay there. Was I really too queer for contentment in my former life, or is it more that I’m just a questioner? Perhaps I wasn’t so much queerer than other people, but just asked more questions. Too many questions?
Am I the person who picks at a scab just because it’s there when others would just let it heal? The truth is, Pandora’s Box is always there just outside our comfort zone, ready to render all our answers meaningless and dizzy us in a whirlwind of question-demons. That box of questions is always there, straight, queer, heteronormative or otherwise. It seems like most humans manage to ignore that thing, while I’ve just got to repeatedly fling it open just to see what comes out!
What happened to that relatively content straight person? Was she ever really straight? Was she ever really content? Was she in some kind of denial? Were all her answers woefully inadequate, or was she asking the wrong questions? Was she choosing the path of least resistance, or was she following her truth at the time? Why does a woman who had strongly considered, even desired a homosexual existence at twenty conclude she is irrevocably straight, then proceed to marry a closeted homosexual, only to open up the marriage in order to date women, causing that closeted homosexual to realize he is gay and leave her? So many questions. Not an answer to be had.
So what was at the root of the anguish and rage of the last few months – of finding out I am going to lose my life partner because he is gay? Was it the queer, or was it the questioning? What it something I set in motion years ago or very recently, or was it an utterly random set of events that was always beyond my control? Since Seth has come out and decided to leave our marriage, several people have suggested that if I had just left well enough alone, not had to pick at that scab, I’d still have a marriage, and a happy one at that. There are probably plenty of blissfully ignorant women married to gay men who just left well enough alone, they suggest. But what kind of existence would that be? I don’t know, but it doesn’t so bad right about now, as I prepare for my kids’ dad to move out.
More questions – cause that’s the thing – we were happy. At least I was. And yet there’s this part of me that just can’t get on board with thinking there wouldn’t be something insidious about staying ignorantly content and never finding this version of ourselves. It’s the part of me that just can’t leave that damned Pandora’s Box closed – that will probably go to my grave flinging it open letting all kinds of demons and fairies on the loose… letting myself loose… demons, fairies and all. I may not know much about who I am, but I know this. I am “Questioning,” and I probably always will be. The things that feel settled and stable to other people just don’t to me. The questions that feel long answered are always up for debate somewhere within my psyche.
Does my questioning nature make me happier, more self-aware, more authentic, or just miserable? Perhaps all of the above. Who can say. That’s yet another question whose answer will never fully satisfy me.
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