Since I was 12, I’ve kept myself secret from my parents.
In this time, we’ve shared tens of thousands of meals, exchanged 100,000GB of calls, messages and emojis, we’ve had braais and watched movies together. They’ve met majority of my boyfriends over the years and most recently the love of my life, Vlad.
And yet, I wasn’t there. Not the real me.
I chose to show my very Christian parents a palatable Caitlyn that wouldn’t ruffle their feathers and put me at risk losing their love.
You see, as a pre-teen with a trainer bra and stack of vampire-themed Young Adult fiction, I started wanting things that good Christian girls shouldn’t want. I wanted to go to parties. Drive cars. Have sex. Drink alcohol. Experiment. Experience LIFE.
I didn’t feel I could share this with my parents because they would obviously tell me to stop it. That behavior risked my eternal life! They’d be disappointed.
But my authentic curiosities were brewing and I didn’t want to shut them down…
So I began the rest of my life in secret from them. Hiding in plain sight.
Her body remained, but Caitlyn disappeared in front of Mum and Dad’s eyes in the year 2000.
In her place, I created…
A mask called ‘Caitlyn’
This mask means my parents have known little of my teen and twenties life. They haven’t really known ME, including the super important and meaningful things to me, like my
… actual bold-faced profession (turns out I don’t only work in mindfulness and ‘embodiment’)
… deep and profound healing I’ve experienced through sacred sexuality.
... deep romantic experiences beyond monogamous heterosexual love.
… my ecstatic celebrations and painful tragedies.
… experiences with plant medicines, nature, and mystical meetings with Spirit (not the Letter of the Law).
… amazing lovers I’ve had who have taught me and grown me immeasurably.
… learnings about Life, Love and why the f* humans are on the planet at all.
To avoid the potential loss of my parent’s love, I didn’t allow them to see, let alone participate, in my life
To get ‘love’, I sacrificed sharing life. Ironic.
This has never felt right to me. My work is so much about authentic expression in the world, and yet I was hiding from the two people who brought me onto this planet.
This documentary catalysed my 'coming out'.
There’s a biological foundation to this fear. A child losing love from their parents is deathly. As babies and children, we rely on our parents for survival. If they didn’t love us, they may neglect or even abandon us. This equals death! Our life literally depends on them accepting and loving us.
Then there’s the emotional and spiritual nutrition that comes from receiving love, tenderness and affection of our parents... To have a healthy relationship and receive love from our parents is huuuuge. We crave that connection.
As adults, our inner child echoes within. We still desire our parents to love us. If we’re not sure we’ll have it no matter what, we may please, appease, pretend, perform to maintain that love. Rather than love coming spontaneously from our soul, ‘love’ comes manufactured by our mask.
The loneliness of masks
Ironically in an effort to maintain connection, I produced loneliness: that feeling of being in a room full of people, but feeling alone. I chatted with my parents, but felt a million miles away from them. Felt their arms around me as they hug me, but never really received their embrace. I said “I love you”, but felt a little numb as the words tumbled out.
Trying to subsist on this mask-grade ‘love’ is malnourishing. (Was it really Love if it’s not breathing with truth, freedom and vulnerability?)
My soul has been surviving with this regime for the last 19 years. I wonder how my parents have been feeling?
Because I’ve known this is a mediocre-to-shit way to live, for years I’ve talked to my therapist about wanting to be my authentic self with my parents. To stop pretending. I’d talk and talk about it, but did little to actually make it happen.
If you want the fruit, you have to go out on a limb.
I endlessly described the fruit. How sweet it would taste. What we could do with it! But I never did much to actually get it.
Now I absolutely can’t hide.
Wow, my soul is so crafty to condure this situation up.
Well played, Universe.
This doco has been confronting. So much of my journey is about authenticity. Body authenticity. Sexual authenticity. Emotional authenticity. Following desires for LIFE that are real — not crafted or artificially clean to please anyone else.
This film has made me reckon with myself, how authentic am I, really? Can I really be myself on this planet, even in front of my parents? Is it safe to be myself? Can I live beyond someone else’s shoulds and expectations? Can I truly follow the compass of my own being?
And not just be authentic in the safe bubbles of retreats, workshops and Instagram, but at home too. (If you’re wondering, my parents aren’t online, really, so they’ve not really stalked me. Seriously.)
Over the years, I’ve done a lot of work about my parents. Therapy, healing, journeys, release. One of the big things that emerged is understanding my parents are human. I, like all of us, crave the perfect (Divine) Mother and Father, but my human parents were never going to be that. Ironically, it’s not just about if they can love me for who I am, but can I love them for who they are?
Can I love my parents unconditionally?
After lots of processing, I finally got to a place I can release my parents from having to be perfect. I welcome them as my sister and brother and choose to love them unconditionally.
And then in that space, I welcome in the Divine Mother and Father who say to me,
I love you, just as you are.
I don’t need anything from you.
I celebrate you and everything you bring on this planet.
I’m here for you, no matter what.
This Mother and Father live inside me.
These inner parents create a foundation of love, acceptance and celebration, no matter what. Reparenting myself, I’m deepening this everyday.
But what about my human parents? How can I relate with them?
When I’d think about sharing my stories, feelings, ideas, truths with my parents, I’d imagine them judging me. Spurn me. Be disappointed. Worry. My mind put judgments in their mouth. I believed this worst-case scenario my mind projected.
What I didn't realise is, keeping myself secret not only disempowered myself, but my parents too.
I was taking their power by making their decision for them. I never let them make the call on if they could still love me given my pagan-wayward proclivities.
Can I really believe my parents when they say, darling, we love you no matter what?
This takes trust.
It’s not a matter of will my parents love me, but will I trust their love?
And how much of those judgments I was putting in their mouth were actually secretly brewing in me? All the things I was afraid they’d think of me. Their potential rejection… and yet, was I believing this about myself too? Was I about to abandon myself or defend myself?
I notice the projection and here, my own self-acceptance (my inner Divine Mother and Father!) come forth.
Since starting this doco, little by little, I’ve taken the risk and shared more of my authentic self with my parents.
Hey guys, you know I work with intimacy, right?
Hey Mama, have you heard of DMT?
Hey Papa, do you know about the electromagnetics of thoughts?
Hey Mama, would you like me to give you a 1:1 session? With breast massage?
Every time I share something, my parents welcome the news. They surprise me with their curiosity. Openness. Honest hesitation. Innocence.
And the genuine connection feels BEAUTIFUL. It feels like life. Like breath.
Turns out my parents love for me is more durable than I thought. I’m the one that was putting all that BS on them.
And then my parents saw the film…
“I can’t believe I’m in an X-rated film in my late sixties”, said my dad upon seeing My Break Up With God for the first time. Deeply Christian (ollld school), he chokes a little when people say “chicken breast”. Risque. This is not the kind of film he would choose to make himself...
Anticipating his disapproval, I braced myself for his reaction to the documentary. I was surprised. His heart is so big, he laid down any judgment or differences and said to me, “if this film blesses our relationship and it blesses other people, I support it”.
My mum said she was just happy to be doing something that’s part of my life. Making films about my first sexual experiences or cups of tea. She just wants to be part of my life.
What champions. Their love gobbles up differences.
LOVE IS BIG, waaaay bigger than fears or assumptions.
The Devil’s in the detail / into-me-you-see
Of course, it’s a blurry line of how much to share with my parents. What’s respectful to myself to share and what’s respectful to them?
The devil’s in the detail, so to speak.
I’m not quite sure what the line is… but know that I don’t want to get to age 80 and thing, wow! I did such a good job of never letting my parents know who I really am!
There is something powerful in allowing the authentic soul to emerge on the planet and give its gifts, fully. It’s what we’re here to do!
It’s your human right to be who you are.
I also think of my parents with a thinly-scripted actress posing as their daughter… how sad.
I would grieve unbearably if my daughter kept her genuine self secret from me.
So the exact measure of what to share and what not to… I’m still working that out. Intimacy — into-me-you-see — takes vulnerability and sometimes it’s not comfortable. It can feel risky.
And I don’t want to play it safe.
I came to this earth to be ME.
So here I am. No pretending. No hiding. Just me, my heart, my authentic self, here.
Here I am.
And if you’re reading this mama and papa, hiiii!