I understand and I have some parallels. While I did all of the expected things: married, kids, college, career, I was also very careful to appear to be as expected. For years I knew something was going on with me, but I suppressed any thoughts about trying to figure it out. It’s like being afraid to open a door because you fear the worst about what might be on the other side. My life was good, but there was always this secret that required a lot of vigilance to keep hidden; or at least attempt to.
I have a bit of an odd personality in that, when I’m done, I’m done. A clear and simple example of this is when I quit smoking in April of 1988. I attempted to quit 2 or 3 times in the 2 years or so before, but it just didn’t work. Finally, something flipped for me. One night I crushed up the last half pack of cigarettes I had, threw them in the trash and went to bed. The next day was Saturday. I went to the grocery and bought a bag of cashews and a bag of butterscotch morsels. I had some for home and some for my desk at work. A few months later, I had to slow down with the candy and nuts, but that was easy by comparison.
I came out publicly, in a similar fashion, on October 10, 2015. For a year before that, I had been attending a trans and crossdresser social evening once a month in a city that was 95 miles from where I lived. Twice a month I attended a support group that was 50 miles away. Again, something clicked for me. I had been a member of our LGBT employee affinity group for 12 years. They knew me as a bisexual. But 2015 was the year that we brought in trans man comedian, Ian Harvie to perform for our yearly public entertainment event. I took it as a golden opportunity and volunteered to be the Mistress of Ceremonies as DeeAnn. It turned out to be in front of about 130 people.
While I don’t recommend this as a way to come out, I think it does relate to how we can just run out of stories that we tell ourselves and just quit. As I said, it takes a lot of energy be guarded about what we say and do. I guess it just got to the point where I was no longer willing to invest that energy.
In the beginning, it can be difficult to find the right situation where we can feel safe, but that is VERY important. Not sure about what is happening in Tennessee at the moment, but many support groups are conducting virtual meetings these days. That can provide an additional layer of safety while you get comfortable with the whole idea.