Recently, I watched Diane Sawyer’s interview with Bruce Jenner about his transgender journey. I had no intention of tuning in, but when I found myself home on a Friday night, under the weather and under the covers, I watched, along with millions of other viewers. Even though it aired a few weeks ago, several segments of the interview have replayed in my head and in my heart, and those jumbled up thoughts and feelings have now found their way here.
Before I continue, I want to emphasize that I am not writing this to engage in any sort of moral, religious, political, or any other type of debate about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues. If you would like to engage in such a debate or discussion, please, find the appropriate forum to do so, and I greatly appreciate you respecting this request. I am merely sharing several moments from this particular interview that resonated with me. Here they are:
- As Bruce shared his story, he spoke repeatedly of trying to be someone he was not throughout his life, until he could no longer bear the weight of his secret. In essence, he was living a lie. How many of us have lived a lie at some point in our lives? Your lie may be different from the one that Bruce perpetuated, but if you have ever not been true to yourself and/or to the people in your life, you, like Bruce and like me, have lived a lie, even if ever so briefly. It takes courage and strength to live a life of authenticity and to be yourself in a society that embraces conformity, but living openly, honestly, and genuinely is one of the highest forms of kindness that we can offer to ourselves and the world. We may think that we are lying to protect ourselves or others from some sort of harm, but trust me, having been both the liar and the one being lied to, lies hurt worse than the truth.
- Bruce shared that he contemplated suicide the night before the surgery to have his Adam’s apple shaved down, when the paparazzi found out about it and threatened to expose his secret before he was ready to announce it to his family and friends, much less to the public. When Diane asked why he did not act on his suicidal thoughts, Bruce replied that he wanted to see how his story would end. We each have our own unique story to share, and what a gift and a privilege it is to be able to share it with others, to teach a lesson, to encourage or inspire , to make a connection in a lonely world, and countless other reasons that our lives matter to others. When there is a plot twist or a perceived unhappy ending, we may want to slam the book shut forever, but there always is another chapter that awaits us. Always. If you ever feel suicidal, please, ask for help, as it is there, by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
- At the end of the interview, one of Bruce’s ex-wives was quoted as saying that she hoped that people would be kind to Bruce after hearing his revelation. It was such a simple response, but it was powerful. What a better and brighter world this would be, if we all treated one another with respect and kindness, especially those whom we disagree with or find the hardest to love and accept. Be kind. To yourself. To each other. To our planet and all of its inhabitants. It’s that simple. We just make it harder than it needs to be sometimes.
As our story continues to unfold, may each page be written with kindness and truth, and may we be courageous enough to live the perfectly flawed and amazing life that has been entrusted to each one of us.
Just one thing each day . . .