I used to teach a program called Redemption: Self Awareness. One week, each cohort, we had a whole session dedicated to revealing one element that most people wouldn’t know about you. Each person would begin by saying “If you really knew me you would know…”

When I took the class initially I was the only LGBT person in there. I was out and proud about it but I also have a sex offense, which gives me a real stigma. So I answered the statement by saying “If you really knew me than you would know I am gay and there is nothing I can do about it. I cannot change my past but if I could, I would. I know that nearly everyone in this room hates me, I can feel it. If you really knew me you would know that if I could be different, straight, I would be, it would be one less mark against me so I could make a friend or two.”

That moment was powerful for me because I was able to take control of my emotions and flesh out preconceived ideas. I realized I could be vulnerable and tell people precisely what I am thinking and how I feel because if you don’t they will develop their own versions.

Since that class I have cleaned out my secrets, my hidden realities and dealt with them head on. This is a major part of why I was able to embrace my womanhood after 36 years, I was finally stable enough to appropriately cope with such a monumental change. I am miles away from the selfish person I once was.

Here is something I would like to challenge you with, do your own “If you really knew me…” with a few of your loved ones. Maybe you could even do it with coworkers or stand in the mirror and do it. But I challenge you to let just one hidden piece about you out. It doesn’t have to be bad, it can be good, a fun secret like you’re a closet quilter or something.

It feels good to stand face to face with someone and have them know who you truly are.

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With Love
Jeff aka Ruthie Utnage