"My spiritual convictions promote humility, not pride. But if pride is defined as quiet inner satisfaction then I can go with that.

I am proud that I survived against exceptionally long odds. A therapist told me that, “people in your situation usually just get sicker and sicker”. I am proud that I got better instead. There has always been an inner candle that never went out. Sometimes it flickered in the wind and nearly extinguished. I am proud that I never let the light go away.

I am proud that through everything I raised 4 sons and a stepson, all to honorable adulthood. I was divorced twice, and there were many times I worked two jobs to physical exhaustion. Yet I gave my sons an authentic male role model without a blustering, arrogant, and winning-at-all-costs macho attitude. I taught them to know their inner feelings, to be able to express them and to try to negotiate conflicts, to reject misogyny and racism. In the end, I am prouder of them than I am of myself. And, of course, their mother has equal claim to their success. God bless her.

I am proud that I finally came out. I like my cherry red fingernails, morphing body, and pink slippers. It is so good not to cover up my femininity. I am proud that I reached out to so many new friends who embrace and support me. I am proud that I disentangled myself from negative and destructive relationships that used to suck the life out of me. I am happy and serene despite the substantial residual anxiety and depression. I am proud of being continuously sober for 37 years through all the confusion and seemingly impossible obstacles. I am proud and grateful that I can publicly share myself openly and without fear or shame and am hopeful that the sharing might help someone else, even if for just a little bit. I used to conceive of myself as an individual, but no more. Now I see myself as a part of the we and not just the me. We are all in this together in our stumbling imperfect ways. The sum of our imperfections is a good that is greater than the whole.

You are all dear to me. I am so proud of you all."