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How Once Upon A Time Helped Me Discover Who I Am

My personal coming out story

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Sometimes I question why certain people or a book or even a TV show touches my life so strongly for a moment in time. I always ask myself, when I get to that level of "unhealthy" obsession, why this? Why now?

This has been on my mind a lot lately with my current obsession for Once Upon A Time. It's not my kind of show - fairly tales, sci-fi, problematic views of romantic love and happy endings, etc. But it touched me. It grabbed me in a way that I wasn't expecting and much like the book of fairy tales came to Henry when he needed hope and understanding of his identity, the show came to me when I needed the same. I just didn't fully understand why until recently.

I'm 31 and I am just now coming out as bisexual

And it hurts. And the reason why it hurts isn't that I'm ashamed of it. Not at all. I have always been one to celebrate people's identities. I am hurt because it took this long to "click" and here I am, nearly 32, and I am just now figuring out who I am. Why did it take so long? Why did I just have this epiphany? Why NOW?!

It's because I wasn't ready...

My 20's weren't easy. I hid behind the problems of my parents for the first part of my 20's. As an only child, I didn't have anyone who truly understood. I felt ashamed of how tough my life was, so I didn't let anyone in. I questioned my self worth, and I didn't think my problems deserved any attention. I didn't have many friends who I felt comfortable with to talk about what I was dealing with. And then by 25, as I was starting my career, starting to fit in with coworkers and gaining some deeper connections, my dad died. And everything changed for me. My heart shattered, I felt responsible (long story) and I didn't know how to move forward from it. I had no one to talk to because, again, my feelings of self worth never let me confide in anyone. So I grieved alone. And I hid behind that grief for 5 years.

And then I watched Once Upon A Time on Netflix.

Approaching the milestone 5-year anniversary of my dad's death and sick with a nasty cold, I decided to give in to Once Upon A Time. I still can't tell you why I chose to do this but it was there and I was desperate for a new adventure. And I binged it and watched all 5 seasons in about a month. It's crazy how it consumed me. And then I got to the end of season 5 and Robin Hood died. I was pretty pissed by it since I liked the character, so I joined Twitter (with a fan account) to see if "dead was really dead". And sadly, it was at the time. But I found people who enjoyed the show, were pissed about the death, were celebrating the actor so positively and I joined the fandom. And what I discovered when joining, that I didn't know going into the show, is that Once Upon a Time has a HUGE gay and bi female following. Most of these girls are rooting for the two main female characters to get together (Emma and Regina) which I wasn't personally rooting for in the story but the community of girls who were celebrating their identity and love for the show really spoke to me. And then I saw, even outside of that fandom, a large group of girls who were openly bisexual who loved and supported the show.

And it still didn't click at first...

I have always known that I was attracted to women on some level since high school but it wasn't exclusive to women, so I pushed it away. Was I just a straight girl who appreciated women? It's not like I ever wanted to date another woman. Did I? It's not like I have ever been in love with a woman whereas I have let myself fall for a couple of guys. So that part of me wasn't real right? I ignored that voice in my head that truly wanted to shake me and say "YOU ARE NOT BEING YOUR TRUE SELF!" And if I am not being my true self, how can I have any real relationships with anyone? So I have been hiding from it. And I accepted loneliness as my ending. Love and happiness wasn't for me, so I tried to let myself be okay with that future.

And then I got REALLY depressed.

Accepting loneliness is honestly VERY depressing, so I got a bit dark over the past couple of months. I tried to let work consume me, but I was really depressed. I felt empty and I started thinking that maybe suicide was the right option. I started to think that maybe I didn't deserve my place on Earth and maybe I should end it. Just give up. I stopped interacting with people at work personally. I closed myself off from everyone. I was trying to improve my nutrition and work with a personal trainer over the summer. And then that all went to shit and I started overeating and gaining weight again. Work started to make me feel empty. I started to feel like I was failing at life. BUT what kept me going was this crazy Once Upon A Time fandom - interacting with fans about the show, going to a convention to meet Sean Maguire who I think is fantastic and following Lana Parrilla who has so much love and support for her LGBTQ+ fandom that she inspires me daily. And by consuming myself in that world and reading the thoughts of the actors, fans (from all "ships") and interacting with the new people I'd met (many whom are out as bisexual), I started to understand myself more.

And then I understood: "Why Once Upon A Time?"

A couple of weeks ago, as I was out to lunch with my mom and was just thinking to myself, my mind said the words quite randomly, "I am bisexual". And it clicked! I didn't say anything out loud. I haven't told my mom. I am scared to since she's the only family I have left, and I don't know if I am ready for that yet. However, I admitted it to myself as the first step. Now it's a few weeks later and I haven't actually said the words or openly admitted it to anyone because of my automatic defence to keep everything personal and scary to myself. As I was driving home from work yesterday in tears over feeling like a failure from letting this depression consume me, I knew the first step to getting myself out of this really dark place was finally admitting and accepting who I am. So this is what I am doing. I am sharing my story to a group of people who I feel safe with. Who I know will understand this and be supportive of it because I need to move forward. If I don't, I will destroy my own life and I know that would be a big mistake.

So, here I am, being ME for the very first time.

I am so thankful for this crazy OUAT fandom and for discovering Lana and Sean last May who inspired me, gave me a reason to live during some really dark days and for finally pushing me to admit who I am so I can finally stop hiding from myself. I hope this will be my first step to finding some light at the end of this dark tunnel of depression.

And thank you to anyone who took the time to read this. It means more than you can ever know.

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