From the archives: CONNECT & LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD
By Megan Mottola | Dec 14 2015 12:37PM
A couple years ago, I came across a tweet someone posted talking about a conference session they went to regarding Eating Disorders and Over Exercise in Campus Recreation Centers. I was really interested in it so I decided to send her a message. We ended up chatting and realized we were both in recovery from an eating disorder and compulsive exercise. Since then we have kept in touch via social media. It wasn’t until recently that Colleen decided to share a personal story with me regarding her dad.
Colleen wrote a piece about her dad and his coming out. I read it and immediately fell in love with it. I thought how amazing and courageous this man was, and that he wanted to share his story. So here is the piece Colleen wrote, and I wanted to share it with you all (Colleen gave me the go). I really think it can help young people and maybe even parent’s of young people. The more voices we have speaking out about this, the better. Everyone has a story, and it deserves to be heard . . .
“I remember vividly the moment he told me. We were sitting down at my favorite restaurant in Evanston. I was scarfing down food telling my dad between enormous bites how happy I was that there were straight single men in Chicago. At Carolina, I chomped, all the cute ones were gay.
He looked at me, and the world stopped. “Colleen, I have something to tell you” he said, “I didn’t do anything illegal, nobody is hurt.” I looked at him with obvious discomfort, squirming in my seat with the suspense.
“I am gay.”
Every time one of my friends has come out to me, I have felt nothing but pure elation for them. How wonderful, I think, must it be to finally be free, to finally be true to the amazing human being that they are to grace the lives of friends and partners alike with their most honest self. This, well, this was different. It’s my dad, who is married to my mom and has been for…27 years. A man who fathered three beautiful children.
And all of a sudden my mind was rocked by a whirlwind. Everything I knew as true came into question, and everything seemed to make perfect sense all at the same time. Out of the chaos my mind grasped to the one thing I knew with certainty was true, honest, and right.
“I’m so proud of you. I love you so much. I’m just…proud of you.”
This is still true. This will be true until the day I die. Maybe even longer depending on what happens after that. My dad is the most amazing human being the world has ever known (maybe with the obvious exception of my mother). My dad is known for his deep intellect, giving spirit, creativity, and compassion. My dad twirls every broom he’s ever got his hands on, his laugh is loud and distinct, he always answers “how are you?” with “ old, tired, and ugly” but always with a smile. My dad is my hero. Unlike what they tell you in comics, lots of heroes are gay.
There is no doubt, however, that this announcement has been hard on my family. My mom has fascioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy a condition that deteriorates the muscles of the face, shoulders, and arms, making its way down the body. The disease has significantly limited what she can do physically and will continue to make activities of daily living difficult, if not impossible. The thought that my dad might not be around to be her arms terrifies me. The idea that she will have to live in a facility with fulltime care with compatriots far her senior breaks my heart.
Despite her muscle weakness, my mom is strong — the strongest woman I know. She has known for some time, 20 years or more even, about my dad. She stood back to allow him to come out on his own time. She made the conscious decision to sacrifice her own romantic interests for her family. My mom selflessly supported my dad through a decision that would dramatically alter her life, even though it meant she would be alone. My mom has intentionally dropped hints at my dad for years behind closed doors to indicate that she understands and that she supports him. That is true love. Maybe not the kind that they talk about in fairytales with a happyeverafter, but it is the kind of dedicated, selfless love that I hope to have for a partner and that I hope he has for me. My mom, too, is a hero.
My dad is gay. My mom faces rapid change. My brother, sister, and I are scrambling to piece our lives together. The world is uncertain.
But in that uncertainty lies something unwavering the love of family. We are the antithesis of the “traditional family.” My dad and mom now live about a half mile from each other and my dad promises that he’ll still come to my childhood home every Wednesday to take out the trash. He will date men, maybe my mom will too. Us three “kids” live hundreds of miles apart. But in a way, we have never been closer. There is a raw honesty about our situation that drives us together. There is something powerful in discovering who someone is all over again, and realizing that…they’re still the same.
My dad is still my dad. He still twirls brooms. He still goes out of his way to love others. He is still
“old, tired, and ugly.” My dad is gay, and I am proud of him.
Someday, I hope that my children celebrate having three (or four or five!) granddads. I hope that they wrap their grandmother’s arms around them and relish her embrace as the others smile in admiration. I hope that in for every moment of loneliness or doubt my parents feel, they receive exponentially more love. I hope that our culture nurtures greater compassion and acceptance for people of all gender identities and sexual orientations.
I hope, more than anything, that we as a family embody unconditional love. Loving my dad is the easy part. I will always love him for exactly who he is. My mom too. The difficulty lies in a turbulent and uncertain future. I know, that whatever the turbulence brings, traditional or not, us Daly’s will find our anchor in each other.”
It’s really so amazing how an intense struggle can connect two people from completely different places. It was through our recoveries that we were able to get in contact with each other and a few years later, we have now connected with yet another thing. It’s kind of cool how life unfolds. I feel so grateful to have met Colleen and that we were not only able to share our stories with each other, but for her to share her dad’s as well. Connection is a great thing. Never be scared to share your story. Even if it just helps one person, that’s enough.
Love and light,
Meg (and Colleen)
About the Author:
Meg Mottola, 26, easter coaster but a traveler at heart. After taking time off and traveling a bit, she is currently pursuing a degree in Psychology. Beyond that she plans on getting her Master’s in Sports Psychology. She’s also in recovery from a 7+ year battle with Anorexia and Compulsive Exercise. Aside from writing for the foundation, Meg enjoys hiking with her twin, yoga, jamming on the guitar, and photography. She believes the key to life is to surround yourself with positivity. You can follow her Instragram, @meggmott, where she posts pictures of adventures with her girlfriend, her love for nature, and much more!