Every day that I am alive is a day that I am more grateful for everything that I learn about myself and the world around me. I have learned how to love myself and forgive myself over and over again. I have learned how to love other people without asking for anything in return. This sense of freedom is what is motivating me to share my own experience of coming out during my marriage. I live my life with the belief that I should be allowed to live happily without any shame.
Too many times we let other people’s opinions shame us. The truth is, what other people think of us is none of our business because only we know who we really are inside. I am grateful that I learned that the only thing I should ever be ashamed of is deliberately hurting myself or another person. I should be proud of everything else in my life and live it openly.
Most of my life, I lived in repression. I repressed my sexuality in a self-destructive way by accepting relationships with men that I had no connection with. I told everyone that I was bisexual because it was more acceptable than being “gay.” I tried to be a half-way good Christian so that I could get one foot in Heaven and try to slide home before the door slammed shut.
From the time I was 18 until 31, I covertly watched women and never had the nerve to be myself. Men were easy for me to be with because they did not scare me. I was married to a man for 8 years and kept myself busy with an obsessive-compulsive drive. For a while, I was the Betty Crocker housewife with the perfect homemade meals three times a day. I baked everything from scratch; bread, pastries- you name it. I lived in this surreal fantasy world in which I tried to create a character from my imagination. The beautiful house and furniture that fit another person’s identity. I dressed the part, acted the part but the minute a bottle of wine hit, I was like Cinderella at a nightmare ball whose carriage exploded into a pumpkin. I would tell my husband “I love you but I’m gayer than a three dollar bill.”
During the last 3 years of my marriage, I think I tried to drunkenly flirt with every attractive female friend that we had. When I realized that we were getting the reputation of the creeper couple, I was so embarrassed! Everyone laughed it off as if it was some drunken amusement, but once I realized that it was a consistent habit, I put an end to it immediately. I no longer flirted with any of my friends… No siree, I went to the bar to stare at other women instead. It got so bad… (looking over shoulder furtively and whispering) I started looking at pictures of (clearing throat) women on Craigslist!
I won’t get into all of the painful details of my marriage. To simplify the whole ordeal, I fell in love with another woman. I fell fast and hard and within a matter of months, 8 years of my marriage tumbled into a chaotic world of drunken crying and screaming matches. I tried to work on my marriage because I did not want to break up my family. My daughter was nine and my son was six at the time.
I felt as if I was ruining my family and not just my life when I had to tell my children their mommy was gay. My daughter looked at me with condemnation and asked me “why did you marry daddy if you were gay?” That hurt. She was not the only person who asked me why. As if my reason for marrying a man is more horrific than a heterosexual woman’s reasoning. As if I am the only woman to get divorced for making the wrong decision. I married him because- well because I was pregnant and as hard as it may be to believe, I did love him. I will always love him as a human being.
The process of my divorce was one of the most emotionally devastating experiences I have been through in my life. I do not regret it. I am thankful because it made me realize that it is alright to be myself. Everyone I loved, still loved me. My children were upset with me for making daddy cry but they did heal. There is no lingering resentment. They learned how to deal with the fact that mommy kisses women and not men now. Children are more emotionally strong than we give them credit for.
We all have different life experiences. Some people live in fear of religious condemnation, being disowned by family and friends, physical, emotional and mental abuse. Some people are born out of the dark because they had the support of unconditional love from the beginning. Regardless of any of our experiences, I hope that we can all remember that it is never our place to judge another human being as lacking because they did not do what we would have done.
For years, my children did experience the pain of adjustment. My daughter resented me due to the fact that her father was her hero and I broke his heart. I believe that this is a natural response after divorce regardless of the reason when marriage is dissolved. After the emotional wounds heal, happiness is on the horizon when we offer our children an environment full of unconditional love. My children have since then become used to the idea of mom holding hands with a woman in public and even embrace our new family member.
I know that there are other married men and women living a lie because it feels safe. I shared my own story because I learned that it is not safe living a lie. Living a lie is unethical and harmful to you and the people you love. There may come a time when you cannot carry the weight of false expectations before you drop the crystal ball. When that ball falls, it shatters. If you are unfortunate enough to hold on to this ball, it will get heavier as the years go by until it weighs you down and smothers the life out of you. Instead of feeling the need to hide your truth behind a picture of false perfection, imagine how much more you will be able to breath when you come out of the dark. You will be terrified as you walk into the unknown, but once you are there, you will be limitless and have the ability to live the life that you thought you could only wish for.
Forgive yourself for wanting to be happy. You deserve it.