It was on Facebook that I came out to the world. I was "In a Relationship" with a woman. Bam. There it was. My family kind of knew something was up, but not really. They knew I was going on road trips with my roommate and spending a lot of time with her. I even brought her home for the holidays. It's like they knew, but they didn't know. Same with my friends. It's not official until it's official.
Why did I use Facebook instead of calling my family and telling them? I can think of a few reasons, but honestly, it was easier that way. Everyone I knew would see it and I wouldn't have to tell the story over and over again. Done deal. I also knew it could've been an uncomfortable situation. I didn't want to experience that. I didn't want others to fall silent on the phone, or to ask me a bunch of questions. Not that it would've gone that way, but still. And I didn't want to do it in person. Same reasons. After I made my declaration however, it was nothing to worry about. Everyone accepted me and loved me still.
Through all of my battles at Notre Dame, I still came out (no pun intended) with a victory! Love conquers all, it's true. Sarah is the greatest gift I’ve ever received. There is so much I want to tell you about Sarah. She’s my wife in case you didn’t know. We'll start there.
A while back I told you about the deer. That incredible moment I had running down some country roads. It is true that the way I felt in that moment has never repeated itself. It was a one of a kind feeling meant for a one of a kind moment.
Meeting Sarah was different. I found the best of me when Sarah came along. She is the one I will share the rest of my life with. She is a one of a kind gal for a one of kind me.
I’ve learned that choosing love is always right. Being loved by Sarah and loving Sarah has taught me that loving others and yourself is important. It’s something we can all do and that we sometimes don’t do enough of. I repeat, it is something we don’t do enough of.
God, we have been through so much together; the worst of times and the best. We’ve grown as a couple and are still learning to grow as individuals. Growth is constant for us. We make it a priority. We try to be mindful of how we treat each other and the things we say to one another. We make life worth living. We dance in the rain. We beat the storms. You could say the sun is always shining.
The University of Notre Dame was a big part of my life. For her too. We sometimes joke about our experiences leading up to getting our jobs. Two gay women working at a private Catholic institution. C'mon that's kind of funny.
K, so we met in 2011, engaged in 2013. When same-sex marriage was a hot topic we were interviewed on Notre Dame's campus by WSBT news. While we were engaged, same-sex marriage became legal in Michigan in 2014. Our wedding was planned for July 4 of that year in Indiana, where same-sex marriage was NOT legal. So, on March 22, 2014, we drove two hours to Muskegon, Michigan to get married.
Interesting Fact: We were one of 323 gay couples who managed to wed shortly before a Detroit judge issued a stay on gay marriage. Several couples standing right behind us in line were turned away. I wish I could put a stay on mental illness! Can a judge do anything about that?
On July 4th, 2014 we had our planned wedding with our friends and family. We were officially WIFE & WIFE, Mrs. and Mrs. Ryckman. Aaahhhhhhhhh!
When you love someone you would do anything for them. And I'm not talking about help around the house or a foot massage. I'm talking about the things they don't ask you. I’m talking about just knowing when someone you love is struggling. You can see it, you can feel it. And even if you feel hopeless, or frustrated, or you don't understand, you figure it out. Sarah figured it out. You haven't heard the most difficult part of my story yet, but she knew what to do to help me.
Ask her now, she’ll tell you she loves me even more today than ever before. (Tomorrow could be different, KIDDING! :-)
It took a long time before she would understand my mental illness. That’s okay. It happened at the right time. She is now my biggest supporter and for that I am thankful. I love her with all that I am. She is the best of me.
Stay tuned next week as my wife shares her thoughts with you.
I just want all people to learn and grow together.