Firstly, I want to thank everyone who expressed their love and support in response to my last post. It came out being way more emotional than I intended; I was upset while writing it, but my goal is as always to talk about the realities of being Wiccan and get readers to think, not use my blog as my soapbox. As much as I enjoy tackling the subjects less talked about though, the conversation that eventually led to that last post brought home a point—for all that I want to help others and be a resource, I am still a Wiccan in the broom closet. I can offer all the tips and tricks in the world, but at the end of the day, my situation is emotional and perched on a knife’s edge.
I am in the broom closet with my family, and I’ve wanted to come out to them from the beginning. I have always wanted my parents, especially my mother, to understand the struggles I dealt with as a teen and how I came to the decisions I did. My desire to be understood, to have solid relationships with my mother and father, are not unique. They’re timeless; children before me have wanted that connection, just like children after me will as well. And it is sad that we live in a world where, as Vix pointed out, it is strange that someone close to you would make you feel as though you have to hide your decisions, feelings and beliefs.
Many of you responded, or have posted on your own blogs, that you are out of the closet, and I’m very proud and envious of each of you. For every out of the broom closet though, there are three more of us who remain hidden away.
You and I can read as much as we want about how to come out, things to say, things to avoid, etc. But I feel like no matter the circumstances, coming out comes down to two things: respect and love. When you sit your folks down to tell them, you must be the embodiment of love and respect, even if they are too taken aback to be the same. Especially if the situation becomes hostile, you have to be the bigger person. (And having to be the bigger person in a conversation with your parents is a unique experience in and of itself.)
Before you get to this sit-down though, you need to take time to understand why exactly you want to come out. Creating a shock-factor might be tempting, but that kind of drama presents your beliefs and Wicca as a whole like it’s a fad, and even if in years to come you no longer identify as Wiccan, mockery of faith should never be part of your arsenal. My own personal reasons are to share a very personal piece of myself. I want my mother to love me, understand me, and be proud of me, and I feel like she never will be while I hide my religion from her. Eventually once my family has accepted that I really am Wiccan and that I take my path very seriously, I would like to educate them. I know my mother’s understanding of witchcraft is limited to horribly skewed lies (like witches use black cats in sacrifices; no joke, we had this conversation.) A part of me also wants to truly be the black sheep in the family, because I am good at creating contrast to get others thinking. I determined these things by sitting down with a notebook and free-writing. I want to tell my mother I am Wiccan because ______. Your desires in sharing your faith will frame the rest of the conversation, and how you respond to disbelief and criticism. It’s also very important for you to do your own thinking. At the end of the day, you are the only one who is familiar enough with your situation to make these decisions.
Reactions are unpredictable, but they come down to two basic kinds: acceptance and rejection. Both parties are probably going to run the gauntlet during the conversation, but focus on the end result. If acceptance seems most likely, encourage that. Be firm, knowledgeable and honest. If your family gives you the benefit of the doubt, don’t squander it. By the opposite token, if they are skeptical, unsure or even downright angry, you should also be firm, knowledgeable and honest. Whatever you do though, do not attack those you’ve sat down with. Understand where their anger and upset is coming from (preferably try to understand this before the talk). My parents are Christian, so their anger will likely come from their faith, and I got a taste of this with my grandmother a couple of days ago. If this is the case for you, I have one major piece of advice: realize that your choosing not to be Christian is an undermining of the way they believe. Christianity teaches that it is the only way to heaven, and that without Jesus there is no life. This idea is behind their intent to convert those of different beliefs as well as to actively discredit those different beliefs. This kind of upset will likely come from a need for self-preservation, and preservation of you.
Have your resources ready to defend your position. Know the answers to questions like, “What is Wicca?” “Why do you believe in Wicca?” “Why don’t you believe in god anymore?” Decide how you want to present yourself and stick to it. I’ve found “So what do you believe?” to be the hardest question to answer, because I know what I believe, but it’s difficult to translate into words, especially words that others are going to understand. Write this question down in your notebook and then take a couple of lines to answer it. You might even try what we writers call the pyramid method: answer the question in a page, then narrow that answer down to half a page, then a paragraph, then a couple of sentences. You want your answers to make sense, but you also want to be able to explain them. Have one of your favorite how-to books ready. You might also consider sharing a link to your blog. Just be aware that once you tell them that you write about your faith, and provide them with that resource, they will likely comb through every bit of it at some point. And, sad as it is, your writing in that space might at some point become a weapon used against you, the same way fights are started over Facebook statuses. I’m going to be printing out a couple of my posts from here when the time comes, just so that my family can read my experiences from my own perspective. I’m not going to give them the URL, but I’m not going to hide it either.
Before any of this is to happen, you need to consider the repercussions of coming out, as well as staying in the broom closet. I have stayed in for three years now, because I feared hurting those closest to me. But at some point (likely in the near future) I will reach a point where it is detrimental to my mental and physical health to continue to hide. I get stressed out easily whether I like it or not, and keeping up such a complete farce is taxing. Stay in the broom closet as long as you need to, because for the most part it’s safe in there. But understand that you can’t and shouldn’t stay there forever. Once you’ve made the decision to come out, and you’ve run through the numerous ways the conversation might happen, think through the end results. Are you likely to be kicked out of the house? Sentenced to church every Sunday? Disowned? These are things only you can determine, and even then only to a limited extent. As much as you might dread the repercussions, sometimes people surprise you. And you have to believe that your parents of all people love you, and their reactions being strong is only an extension of that. Still, if the consequences might be too great, it might be best to wait, as I did. I wanted to share my new-found faith while I was still living at home, completely dependent on my parents. I didn’t think they would disown me, but I knew if I told them, every waking moment from then on out would be uncomfortable. I’m out on my own now, with more than enough physical distance between me and home, and while that’s reason for homesickness, it also offers stability. They can hate me, mourn for me, rage at me, and even though it will hurt, I will still stay standing.
Of course, all of this assumes you are in control of the situation to begin with. The how’s and why’s of this conversation happening when you least expect it are totally different. But that’s a subject for another day.
Goddess Bless the Whole World