I, like Joy, appreciate your responses. I am not a fan of martyrdom although I have lived that stance for much of my life. It was stoic, expected, and life draining. Especially as a pastor’s wife (who was also an ordained minister), I felt the need to hide my true feelings. But I can see that is a different kind of “mask” than you are talking about. Taking off the mask of being heterosexual had to be freeing and terrifying at the same time. I also love what you said, “I can’t preach a gospel where self-protection is shameful.” Wow! I lived with a verbally and emotionally abusive man for 33.5 years and I felt shamed to divorce him. He is an extrovert and narcissist and the life of the party. But our lives at home were very different. And he was a pastor, at least for a while. He was terminated from our last church and went into the loan officer business for home mortgages, but always said “I have a pastor’s heart.” He is now back in the UMC as an associate, a role I had long encouraged him to check out but he felt it was beneath him. Interesting that he remarried about a year and a half after our divorce, which made me wish I had done it much sooner. All of that to say sometimes I still feel shame around this, but it is getting better with time.
I am now more aware of protecting myself and speaking my truth. Rick called that “living without fear.” As I have been on this cancer journey, my kids do not want me to express any fear or difficulty. One of my girls even gave me a plaque that reads “No More Bad Days.” I told her that might not be possible right now, or truthfully ever. We all have bad days, and I don’t need to be shamed for my fear or struggle with the treatments and disease. I think it is THEIR fear that brings this on.