A safe place to discard your filters

This is a repost of a letter I wrote to Jared from Lick the Fridge. Read more about this kick-ass letter-writing project here. This letter is a continuation of a conversation about my bisexuality – read the first two letters in the conversation here and here.

Jared,

Your response to my letter about being bisexual gave me quite a bit to think about. The story of the girl describing herself as “just normal” spoke to me.

“Normal” has never made much sense to me. In 8th grade, my entire school (or maybe just the entire 8th grade, I can’t remember) participated in a survey to discover who was the most “normal” student. The questions in the survey were about random preferences and there was nothing particularly consequential. The only one I can remember is “What is your favorite ice cream flavor?” It was meant to be something silly and fun. I remember thinking, “Why would our teachers encourage us to be just like everyone else?”

Between kindergarten and 5th grade, I attended five different schools – two in Philadelphia and three in the suburbs. I attended middle school in the suburbs. And I attended 3 different high schools – one suburban, one Philly Catholic school, and one Philly magnet school. I’ve been in damn near all-white classrooms. I’ve also been the only white kid in the classroom. I’ve been surrounded by rich kids and far-from-rich kids and religious kids and really-not-religious kids. “Normal” just never made much sense to me because I realized early on that there was no such thing.

I’ve never tried to stand out, but I’ve never tried to fit in either. Honestly, both make me uncomfortable because both involve dealing with other people and well, I don’t like dealing with people.

So, that all being as it is, I’ve questioned myself on both my need not to discuss my bisexuality and my need to discuss it.

I mentioned in a recent blog post that I’m an over-sharer. I always have been. I laugh now when I tell my daughter that she doesn’t need to tell complete strangers on the bus her life story. I used to do the same thing. I’m still doing the same thing. I’m just doing it through a blog now.

I’ve written about my self-injury, struggling with my weight, the death of my mom, my alcoholic father, my anxiety disorders, my self-esteem issues . . . None of these are things I bring up on a regular basis, but all of these are things that I will mention in the course of a regular conversation.

In my original letter to you, I said that while I’ve never come right out and said I’m bisexual, I’ve never hidden it either. That’s mostly true. Once, I mentioned being bisexual in a response to a comment on a blog post (regarding Obama directing the Justice Dept. not to defend DOMA).

I have put it out there on occasion. But I’ve also thought carefully before doing so. There were only two people reading those comments – the one I was having the debate with (some random internet person) and my former sister-in-law (who’s a lesbian). The odds were pretty much against anyone else seeing it – just like with the whole MySpace thing.

There have been times when I’ve filtered myself, when I’ve kept quiet because I wasn’t sure what the reaction would be. And that is what bothers me. Some people are very private people, so it wouldn’t be unusual to not say certain things. The last thing I have ever been accused of is being a private person!

When I first wrote that letter, I had some very odd feelings about it (that were intensified thanks to my oh-so-wonderful anxiety disorders). I wondered what would happen if someone in my family read it – unlike MySpace, I do have several family members on Facebook. I also thought, “Well, this is stupid. It’s not important. No one cares. Why should I even bother writing about it?” And then I thought, “But why should I not write about it? I write about everything else!”

And that’s basically what it came down to. I was tired of not being able to share about something – important or not important, big deal or not a big deal, relevant or irrelevant. I don’t like filters.

And I want to thank you for giving me a place to discard one of my last ones.

~Dayle

Read Jared’s response: Homophobes and Cheerleaders and Bisexuals and Prom Kings and Heroin Addicts and Popular Sixth Graders

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