Obviously ‘Out’

I recently received a message that included reference to me being ‘obviously out’ (in a totally positive way) and it made me realize how not only my sexuality, but also my perspective, has changed over the past year. Once, I worried that someone would notice my longing gazes were directed at women, but today I find myself grinning when a stranger can identify that I’m gay (especially when my girlfriend isn’t by my side). In no way do I need the validation of strangers or society, but to me, their acknowledgement tells me that my that my exterior is finally a true reflection of who I am on the inside.

I’ve only been ‘out’ for a short time and I still remember feeling cautious, unsure what it would mean to truly feel the feelings that I had. I worried about being judged and becoming a topic of small town gossip. And I even worried that the societal perception that I had a shitty ex-husband and was ‘off men for a while’ might be true (to be clear, its definitely not). I spent a lot time in my head trying to understand what the implications would be if I was gay, if I was out and if people knew that it was women, and not men, that I was attracted to. I think at some level I was simply afraid that my life would be harder if I was gay.

And the truth is, in some ways my life probably is harder, but without question, it’s also happier. I’ll take hard and happy over easy and miserable every single day of the week, and I guess in a sense, we do. My girlfriend and I live in a small mining town, and although I wouldn’t consider everyone in our town inclusive and accepting, there certainly is a subset of the population that are. Since my girlfriend moved in 7 months ago she’s continually amazed how many people know who she is and what our situation is. People know her name, my name, my kids name and the days they are at their dad’s and they have no problem bringing it up and that’s just our reality.

The truth is, it matters a lot less what others think than I ever expected. Perhaps for the first time in my life, my heart is guiding my path and my journey and that gives me the strength to dismiss those that are not worthy of my time or energy.

Today, the happy I’ve earned by being me, far outweighs the fear I had when I felt scared and alone. Never in my wildest dreams could I have anticipated how freeing it would feel to unravel my grip on the life society told me to strive for and instead allow my fingertips to waver in the wind of my soul.

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Gay Mom’s Club

I am so fortunate to have a woman in my life that regularly feeds my curiosity and  challenges my thought processes. A few months ago, during one of our chats we were talking about my kids and she pointed out that my situation is not all that unique; there are a lot of gay moms in the region.

However, my particular town has a population of less than 2,500 and to my knowledge the local gay mom’s club has a membership of one. Over the past year, as I reflected on my life and sexuality, I put a significant amount of energy into considering how my life choices might affect my sons. At the end of the day, I know that my kids may be subjected to bullying and teasing, because of me (which is a hard pill to swallow) but I also know that there are an infinite number of reason they may get teased in their lifetime, I am only one.

But the potential for positive repercussions is also infinite; my boys will grow up in a home where love is love is love and they will be free to be and to love whomever they choose without fear. My boys will understand that the struggle to be true and authentic to their hearts song is worth every tear that they may shed along the way. And I hope that my boys will know that although their Mom made a decision that shook their lives and changed everything, it gave them a happy mom, which is the best type of mom to have around.

To be honest, its been ages since I’ve given any thought to the potential impacts of my coming out on  my children; long before I was actually ready to accept that I was gay I came to terms with the fact that my world cannot revolve entirely around my boys. But yesterday a friend was commending me for being brave, strong and true to my heart, and she couldn’t help but comment on how difficult my coming out must be, because I’m a mom.

Although I know it wasn’t her intention, I couldn’t help feeling a little put off by the connotation that being a mom somehow made my decision to come out especially difficult. It was one of many things that I pondered, and although my children are my everything I have a hard time trying to justify my struggle being any more important than someone else’s. Coming out is a huge, life altering decision and for me its been a long time coming; not even being a mom could have changed my ultimate destination.

At the end of the day, I believe in my heart, that my boys will be proud to have a mother that was not afraid to walk away from everything that society told her to want in order to live a life full of love and light and happiness. If that makes me the president and membership of my local gay mom’s club, I’ll take it because this is me, and I’m proud to be my kids’ gay mom.

The Gift of Acceptance

Although its taken me a long time to get there, earlier this month I embraced the realization that I’m gay; I naively didn’t expect that this enormous self acceptance would fundamentally change the way I live my life or see myself.

I’m still me.

Earlier this year, I told my parents that I was dating a girl, I told all of my friends (that matter) that I was dating a girl and my sons, though not explicitly told, knew I was dating a girl. It felt like I’d already done some pretty ‘tough stuff’ without ever actually owning a lesbian label.

With all that behind me, I had a hard time imagining that accepting a label would have the ability to change anything, but I was absolutely wrong. In only a few short weeks, I’ve found myself feeling more free, more authentic and more me (all things I’ve written about wanting) than I ever remember. My sexuality doesn’t define me, but it is a part of me that I had not yet invited to shine.

Last week I was chatting with a coworker about a discussion I’d had with my Mom and given the direction of the conversation, he appropriately questioned ‘like she’s asking about a boyfriend or something?‘ and I just naturally said, ‘yeah something like that‘ and we carried on talking. The conversation flowed normally, but after he left, I sat at my desk and all I could think of was that I wished I’d said something else, that I’d corrected him or otherwise owned my gay.

So when a different coworker asked what I was doing with all my kid-free time off, I’d already been considering how I wanted to approach discussions about my personal life and was more prepared to answer. I told him I didn’t have much planned, but was hoping to day trip with my girlfriend to the local mountain.

And you know what happened?

Nothing, the sky did not fall. We carried on our conversation, like adults do, I felt empowered and he may or may not have noticed or cared.

It feels a lot easier to stop caring what other people think, now that I’m giving myself the gift of acceptance.

Another Switch Flipped

Lately, I’ve been reflecting a lot on my gayness; questioning my hesitance to embrace it and trying to understand what exactly I am feeling.

Over the past month, I have felt increasing certainty that I’m not a ‘love is love’ person, I’m gay. And I’m feeling good about that, yet another layer of who I am has emerged and it feels so good to own it.

To figure it out however, I needed to understand what it was I was clinging to, what box I was trying to fit in or what hoop I was trying to jump through. Why did I keep whispering no, when I desperately wanted to shout yes.

And then suddenly it became clear, I didn’t hate sleeping with men.

In the 16 years I slept with men, it was always lustful, physical and never emotionally satisfying. But that bit of enjoyment felt like a betrayal of the authenticity of my feelings for women. As if my body’s ability to orgasm with a man somehow precluded me from being a lesbian.

And that’s just not true, its ridiculous in fact.

And just like that, another switch flipped. I have been attracted to women virtually my entire life, I’ve never denied it, and I’ve acted on it many times over the years. I’m finally ready to admit that it’s women that I crave, it always has been and it always will be, because I’m gay.

Sometimes, believing is seeing.

accept-yiIn life, there are the truths about ourselves that we accept and know to be true and there are others that we choose to deny, fail to acknowledge or perhaps never bothered to notice. To truly accept myself for who I am, its essential that I remove the blinders, and choose to both embrace and accept the hard truths.

I know no other way, except to work hard, to strive for more and to put in the effort that is required to get there. On the flip side, I’m learning this particular trait is driven not just by a desire to succeed (as I’ve always believed) but also by a fear of failure.

Day to day, I recognize that failure is part of growth, but when it was suggested to me that perhaps I stayed in a marriage for years past its natural expiry, because I didn’t like failing, I was almost offended at the thought. But now, a year later I can accept, with an open heart, that maybe a fear of failure played a role in my previous decision to stay.

I am driven; when I want something, there’s no stopping me, and I wanted that marriage to work. But one person, can’t make a partnership successful and I did ultimately have to admit defeat.

I’ve also had to admit this year, that I need help; strong as I may be, I am  human and accepting help isn’t a sign of weakness. I am fortunate to have people in my life that lift me up, celebrate and encourage me and every single day I am thankful they have chosen me.

Given my affinity for pleasing others it s a struggle at times to distinguish between support and validation; to remember that no one else’s interpretation or opinion of me is more important than my own. Nice as it is when my friends build me up, their opinion is simply that and must not be used as a yardstick to measure my success.

A relatively new friend, a lifelong lesbian, told me today ‘it’s all about the body language…you have lesbian written all over you’ and I can’t stop reading it. I’ve always felt I had an assumed straightness and the thought that the opposite is even a consideration has given me a multitude of smiles today.

Not because I need a label (I don’t and I’m not claiming one now) but because it gives me some hope that what I’m finally beginning to admit to myself is also being projected into the way I present myself and as a result what others see in me.

At first I was unsure if this was an example of validation or a friend building me up, but as the words unfolded in front of me, I’ve realized the latter is true. An acknowledgement of what she sees in me is not influencing the way I see myself, quite the opposite; she is simply seeing what I am finally accepting and believing in myself.

Be What She Needs

A girl, that I’m pleased to call a friend, recently inquired about my past interest in women; curious whether it had come about suddenly, perhaps surprisingly, or if it was something that had been with me for years. She came to me because she’s met a girl, a girl whose struggling with her attraction, unsure if she is ready to date a woman.

For a moment, I struggled with how to respond; I could simply answer the question, but as much as she was asking about my experience, I knew that what she was really really looking for, was clarity in hers.

And so I offered her the only thing I could, honesty.

For years I have told myself that given the opportunity to date, I would pursue women. I have dated women in the past although never exclusively; I always had a boyfriend or a husband. The idea of dating a woman wasn’t new to me, it was like following through on something that I had been thinking about for all of my adult life.

That part was easy.

Giving up the hetero privilege that I never realized I had, or wanted, has proven to be  more difficult. I can no longer grab my partners hand, kiss her lips or profess my feelings at any given time or place without a very real worry of stares, comments or discomfort.

I tell myself frequently, ‘I’m too old to worry about what people think, if they don’t like it Fu*k them!’ and most of the time it works. Yet I still find myself occasionally feeling shy or awkward in certain circumstances: at the grocery store, at the playground, around strangers.

Part of me wants to pull away, to avoid any stares or discomfort, to hide behind the cozy comfort of my assumed straightness. But then, I find myself overcome with a shadow of shame and the acute awareness that I’m simply not ‘there’ yet.

It doesn’t mean I won’t be ‘there’ one day, it doesn’t mean that my girl means any less to me or that what I feel is any less authentic. It means I’m still figuring out who I am and what it means to be this new kind of me.

And my girl never, ever let’s me feel ashamed of being the ME that listens to the song that my heart has been trying so hard to sing.

She is always there loving me for who I am and supporting me along my journey; never rushing, never pushing, always letting me be. And that patience and that support means everything.

Be a rock, be a sponge, be a shoulder, whatever it is she needs, so long as its supportive, be that.