Take control of your life: Tab’s story shows why you need to treat yourself as your most important person
As part of the #BeYourself campaign we have reached out to the LGBT+ community and asked various people to write about being their true self and embracing who they are. We hope that our campaign will amplify our voices and our writers courageous actions have the potential to inspire, inform and encourage others to be true to themselves and embrace their own uniqueness. Despite challenges we may meet, we hope to inspire and encourage others to listen to their inner voice and be themselves. Tab is a perfect example of someone following his dreams, listening to his inner voice and become the person who he wants to be. Tab is married gay man and author with a huge fondness for Ireland.
An older woman peered from behind tiny oval lenses and informed me that I was HIV positive. I sat in disbelief on an uncomfortable wooden stool. Numb waves of clamminess drenched my palms and blood left my face as she watched me expectantly. Twenty years old, and scared as piss. The old woman was kind enough to take time out of her day to hold me while I sobbed in a storage closet. Through my tears, I expressed to her how I was certain no one would ever marry me. I’d never have the husband I’d dreamed of.
Fast forward: I was twenty-five, and I had been steady with my boyfriend for a year and a half. We were at a coffee shop where we’d held a second date. He proposed. I happily said yes!
Our relationship had been magic since the beginning. When we’d fight, or if I’d lash out at him, it was usually rooted in the dark insecurities lying around my thoughts. But, he saw past the biggest flaw I possessed, the lurking positive sign over my head. In return, I poured all I had into our relationship. Every second of my free time was his, and every thought became of him.
We planned the wedding, bringing our two families together, and exchanged vows on a day so brimming with brilliant memories. Everyone I loved the most was there. Cousins from Tennessee, the friends I grew up with that I first told I was gay, even the Republican senator who’d lobbied against equal rights. It didn’t matter; we were celebrating the union between my husband and I. However wonderful that day and that experience, I had been going about it all wrong. I’d been pouring everything into the wrong marriage.
When the honeymoon was over, and true marriage began, I turned sour. I realized that I had built my self-worth based on my husband’s acceptance of my flaw. I had filled his chalice to the brim, but could only fill mine halfway. Happy to do this at first, it became an issue again and again. I felt unfulfilled and unhappy with how I spent my time. I was bitter at myself. I’d obsess over things about him that I couldn’t control. Because I wasn’t even in control of my life.
The answer to this problem was unexpected. The answer is that I should’ve married someone else. I should have married the most important man in my life a long time ago: myself.
It was when I began to see myself as a ‘spouse’ that I started to respect what I truly wanted. Writing, for example. I took myself out to a coffee date and just sat, daydreaming up a conversation about my goals. Soon, I began focusing on writing blogs and building my portfolio. I also began working out and sharing my progress on Instagram. With new found confidence, the destructive behaviors I brought to the relationship subsided. My insecurities still existed. It’s not as though they were miraculously lifted. Though, the act of working on these pesky blemishes helped curb self destructive patterns. Which makes sense!
When my home life started to improve from my new found outlook, I also began to excel professionally in ways I had never thought possible. I started to book paying jobs with writing!
I’m twenty-seven now. My “flaw”, my precious positive sign, is no longer a haunting. It’s an identifier that shaped me and took me on the journey of self love that I truly needed. The journey took me through nuptials to myself, instead of to another like I first imagined.
In this age of marriage equality, have the dreamy same-sex marriage to yourself that you bloody deserve.