Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My Story Part 12 – Change

Normally I write about all of the things that have happened over the year in a year-end summary, but this year I am going to write about change. Since the New Year is about new beginnings.

After I went to my first support group meeting my whole life changed. All my life I had the same friends since high school, I always went out to the same bar to hang out with town folk that I knew growing up. Sometimes I went over to friend’s home to have a beer and smoke a joint and watch the Red Socks game (which I never really enjoyed, but that was the “man” thing to do). I never went to a play or a movie or traveled, my world revolved around the town. I could probably count on one hand the number of times that I went to New Haven or Hartford in my whole life. The only time I went to a restaurant was with the family, not counting Burger King or McDonald. I worked for 28 years in the next town over and the only time that I lived out of state was when I went to college in Rochester NY from ’71 to ‘74.

The day I set foot in the meeting hall where the support group met, it opened the world up to me and gave me life. I went to plays, I went out to restaurants, I went to visit friends around the state, and I went to conferences in other states… I was doing things with my life! When I came out to my brother, he was able to identify the date when I first started going to the support group because for the first time in fifty years, when he called me, I wasn’t home! At a party with my high school friends, I commented that I was going to trade my 3 year old car in, a friend asked why and I replied that I had driven it 65,000 miles already. He quipped that I must have driven back and forth to work a lot (work was only 4 miles from my house) and everyone chuckled. Little did they know that I was driving to friends’ houses in New London, Springfield, Glastonbury, Waterbury, or that I went to Provincetown every spring and Boston every winter. Nor did they know that I had driven down to Washington DC to lobby for the Hate Crime and Employment Non-Discrimination Act legislations.

Also around that time, I started to speak publicly at colleges and universities all around the state as part of a speaker bureau and testify at public hearings in favor of the anti-discrimination bill here in Connecticut. I had never spoken in public before, yes, I gave presentations at work, but I have never before talked to an audience of 200 people. In addition, I went back to college to get my master’s degree after 40 years and I am taking part in student activities, something that I never did before.

Not only has change affected me, but it also affects my whole family. They all now have to deal with the fact that I am now a sister or aunt to them. My brother had to tell his friends about me and one of them had a hard time adjusting to my change. At my nephew’s wedding, he was there and he came up to me and we talked for a while, he said he was having the problem accepting me as Diana, but he recognized that it was his problem, not mine. A friend of my sister-in-law came up to me at the wedding, we also had a long talk, she was very supportive and for Christmas she gave all the women in the family homemade Christmas tree earrings. I think they will be one of my cherished possessions, because of the thought behind them.

Yes, there has been change in my life and change for those around me, but I think it is for the better. I have broken out of my shell and seen the world anew.


Staci Lana said...

Nice post, Diana. It is inspiring and fitting for the new year.

And Happy New Year to you!


Kwizgiver said...

Wow! What a great post!

Deja said...

Hi Di,
Congrats once again on finding, experiencing and remarkably progressing in your life! I love your last line!
Happy New year, Sis!