I had been married for about 12 years. We had 3 sons. I started to feel like something wasn’t right in our marriage but I couldn’t quite future that out.
I asked my husband to go to marriage counseling with me but he wouldn’t go because I didn’t know what the problem was and he felt like everything was fine.
Another year passed and at that point, I started to figure out that I was gay and I struggled with that internally for a few months before I talked to anybody about it and I finally came out to him and together we talked about what that meant for our family, and for us, that meant getting divorced.
It was a very difficult decision for both of us.
I had to feel like I had done everything that I possibly could to try to save my marriage, even though part of me kind of knew.
If you’re gay, you don’t have a loving intimate marriage with someone of the opposite sex the way that both of you deserve to have.
Part of me knew but part of me really loved this man and he was wonderful to me and he was a wonderful father and I just really had to feel like I had done everything I possibly could to make sure that this was the right decision.
To say that I was attracted to women wasn’t new to him. To say that I was gay was definitely new.
I grew up in the ’70s. I didn’t have anyone who was gay or lesbian to sort of know that was a possibility in life.
It wasn’t that my family was homophobic or against the gay community, it just wasn’t something we talked about so it didn’t really even occur to me as a young person or really into my early 20’s that that might have been an option for me.
Looking back I had a massive crush on my middle school gym teacher but I didn’t know that at the time. To me, I just really looked up to her and admired her, and thought she was a great teacher. All of those things were true too, but really it was kind of my first crush.
Looking back there are definitely some signs, but like I said, I just really didn’t know that that was a possibility as I grew up.
It was really hard. At that time I was also in graduate school, working full-time, raising our three kids…it was a very very difficult time. I think what helped me in the very beginning was all of that and how busy I was. I was kind of forced to keep going.
I knew, as a budding therapist, that the thing my children needed through all of that change was for me and their dad to focus on them and keep them on our minds as what we needed to take care of the most so that’s what we did.
I slowly started to come out to a wider circle of our friends and family and I received amazing support.
My immediate family has been immensely supportive from the beginning. My oldest son has been my number one ally. He has been just amazing. That has given me a lot of courage through all of this.
I was nervous that I might lose some people, and I did lose one person, but everyone else has been incredible over the years. I really couldn’t ask for anything better.
I also developed a new community of friends. People would probably be surprised how common this situation is that people get into a marriage and later realize they’re married to the wrong sex.
The biggest thing it taught me is that I’m a lot stronger than I ever realized.
That period of coming out was so difficult. Even telling my husband that I was gay was the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do in my entire life because I knew it was going to crush him. I didn’t want to hurt him. I also knew that I was not loving him the way he deserves to be loved.
Some people have called me selfish over the years because I broke up my family to make myself happy and that kind of thing but the truth is none of us would have ended up happy because I would have been so unhappy. My husband wasn’t getting the kind of marriage he deserved. My kids were not getting the kind of full, fulfilled mother that they deserve. I had to make the decision I felt was best, really truly, for all of us.
If I can’t show my kids that it’s best to be your authentic self, what am I teaching them about themselves?
I think I’ve grown in every way. I genuinely believe that I’m a better mother. I’m a better communicator.
It was important for me, once I really figured out what was going on, to be authentic for myself. Living an authentic life is really vital. It was becoming a matter of life and death for me. I was getting so hopeless because I started to feel like things were never going to feel better for me.
I had to show my kids that being true to themselves…how important that is. If one of my kids is gay or transgender or wants to do something in their career that we wouldn’t expect or anything they need to know that that’s wonderful and they should go for it. For me to be able to live my true life has been so freeing.
The journey is going to be very difficult in the beginning. There might be some difficult decisions that have to be made depending on individual circumstances and it’s worth it. There may be some consequences even, depending on the people that are in their lives and how they feel about the LBGTQ community. I would still say it’s worth it to come out and to be yourself.
It’s really important to represent who we are and represent the community so that people can start to see how wonderful and vibrant the community is, but even more importantly, for ourselves. Be true.