Monday, March 21, 2011

My Mom and Stepdad's Reaction

After visiting about everything and nothing for close to two hours, I finally just said, "Would you like to know why I came to visit you?"

I started out telling them that I no longer attend church meetings and I'm no longer striving to have my temple blessings restored. They both looked sad, but kept listening. I told them that the Mormon church would not be a part of my future. Then I said that I'd like to tell them things that would explain my disconnect from the church. They were sitting on the edge of their seats, or so it seemed.

I simply said, "I'm gay." My step dad didn't react in the least. My mom had the slightest tilt of her head and swallowed hard. But they both kept staring. I started talking and didn't stop for a while. Finally my mother said, "Wait! Do you remember your teacher?? You know, the one..." I smiled and said, "You mean my volleyball coaches?" She said, "Yes. I always thought they were too friendly with you. I thought they were trying to...." I said, "Recruit me?" Then I took the opportunity to tell her about my recent reconnection with one of my coaches on Facebook.

Side note: My coach in 9th grade was very obviously lesbian. Her "roommate" became the unofficial assistant coach. They paid special attention to me and I never knew why. I really liked them. I was very curious about them because I had never met a person who was gay. There were rumors about them all around town and throughout the school. One day they took me to a bigger town that was 30 minutes away so that we could shop at the new mall. We ate lunch and had a great time. My mother wasn't happy that I went but she was very passive aggressive about it. My mom and I didn't have a good relationship (I hated her at the time) and I went anyway. The rumors apparently grew but no one ever said anything to me. Fast forward to three months ago. I found the "assistant" coach on FB. I asked her if the woman in the pictures with her was her partner. That opened up a wonderful dialogue that continues today. I asked her if she knew that I was gay way back then (because I didn't!!). She said, "Of course! That's why we paid so much attention to you. And I think people naturally gravitate toward people who they can relate to. So even though you didn't know you were gay, there was something in you that appreciated our acceptance. That is also why we wanted to make sure you felt good about yourself." It made sense!

Back to this afternoon. I knew all those years ago that my mom was upset about me being friends with them. But it was nice to be able to tell her today that until three months ago it wasn't even confirmed for me the fact that they were indeed lesbians. In fact, my friend wouldn't even tell me if my coach was her girlfriend back then because she didn't want to tell anyone else's story. That was how appropriate they were with me.

Anyway, I continued talking all about my experiences. I said, "Do you remember S? (my best friend my senior year, the girl I had my first sexual experience with that lasted two years). This will tell you how powerful the mind is! She and I were girlfriends for two years and yet I still wouldn't refer to her as my girlfriend. I always explained it as something else." My mom just stared at me, confused. Then I said, "So how can a person have a sexual relationship with someone of the same sex and not refer to it as being gay?" It clicked. She said, "Ohhhh.... so were you sexual with her?" Ha! "Yes mom. But I never allowed myself to say that I was gay. It was always something else." The light bulb sprang to life!! It's as though all of those years of confusion melted away and she had her answers!

I talked and talked and talked. She had questions and comments but my step dad sat silent. She and I cried at times but it was when we talked about Hubby being such an incredible man. We cried again when I told them my concern for my kids and how tough this has been on them, and how it will undoubtedly be tough on them when I'm completely out. But as for talking about leaving the church and being a gay woman - no tears! I was proud of myself and I told them as much. I told them that I finally like myself and I finally feel like life is worth living. As for the church, I explained to them that I couldn't be a part of something that helped to create such a deep hatred for myself. They didn't have much to say about that.

At one point my mom said, "Well, I love you unconditionally and that doesn't change. I may not understand the concept of being gay, but that doesn't mean I can't accept you. I'm ignorant about it, but I'm willing to learn. I am sad about your feelings for the church. I have had many experiences in my life that have proven to me that the church is true. I haven't shared them all with you, but I know in my heart that it's true. So that part of me wants to grab you and bring you back, but I will respect your decision." I told her that I had assumed the church part would be the hardest for them and that I understood, but that I wasn't changing my mind about it in the future.

My mom asked what my plans were for the future. She wanted to know if Hubby and I would remain together or if I would find a girlfriend. I was completely honest with her and told her that Hubby and I have talked about divorce a LOT. We talk about it constantly, in fact. I told her that we both feel that a divorce is eminent. That seemed to make them a little sad. I told her that ideally we would share a duplex and raise the kids together, but separate. Then I told her that yes, I would eventually like to find someone to love completely and that I hope the same for Hubby. I was proud of myself for sharing that with them.

My step dad finally chimed in. He's a wonderful man, by the way, and I value his opinion greatly. He said, "Well, you'll notice that I haven't said anything. But I do have a couple of things I'd like to say. First, there isn't anything you could tell me that would make me stop loving you. Second, I'm sad that you seem so disconnected from the church. Third, I love you and that doesn't change, but I love your husband more. I've always had so much respect for him, but now I can't even express what I feel for him. I don't know many men who could have stood by through all of this. And last, I'm worried for your kids. My opinion and your mother's opinion doesn't matter... but the kids' do! Just make sure you don't make any decisions without figuring out what will be the best for them."

We had a good conversation after that. He clarified his comment about loving my hubby more. He said that he just has such a deep respect for him and the man he's been for our family... but that he loves us equally. I explained that my kids are my first priority and that I don't make any decisions without considering them first. I have a desire to do right by them, always. I also told them that my ultimate goal is to be true to myself. At that point my step dad said, "Well, I think there's a very fine line between being true to yourself and being selfish." I agreed. But then I stood firm and told him that I feel good about the way I have handled everything so far. I don't feel that I've made these decisions selfishly.

There were many more things discussed such as my excommunication, my suicidal thoughts and actions, my previous relationships, my feelings about the church, etc. It was a beautiful conversation. At one point my mother said, "I have always known that something was different. I NEVER thought you were gay, but I knew there was something. I just didn't know how to talk to you about it because I didn't know what it was." That was my light bulb moment! My relationship with my mother has always been strained to say the least. In that moment I saw that I had never allowed her to talk to me. I avoided such topics at all costs. Even if she had approached me with the idea that I was in a suspicious relationship I would have ran away! I didn't want to connect with her emotionally. And all these years I've blamed her for not being emotionally available. Maybe it was me all of those years. Maybe it was both of us? My eyes were opened to say the least.

I feel very good about my coming out. I left there with a smile on my face. Two down, hundreds more to go! I feel confident that our relationship will probably even improve. That I did not expect! Maybe coming out actually does become easier.


yeti said...

"Well, I love you unconditionally and that doesn't change. I may not understand the concept of being gay, but that doesn't mean I can't accept you. I'm ignorant about it, but I'm willing to learn."
I like that

Lea said...

Wow...Whew...Wow...all I can say is I am proud of you and wish you the best and just know I am here if you need to talk or a virtual hug!

Jessica said...

This is so great. It makes me cry.

I'm very happy for you.

alex dumas said...

Very positive. This will be a very good thing. :)

Nikki said...

Your step-father is so right! There is a very fine line between being true to yourself and being selfish and good for you for knowing that coming out is the most UNSELFISH thing you can do for your kids. Showing your kids that hiding who you are because of what other's might think would be a very selfish thing to do but leading by example and showing them that no matter who you are, if you follow your heart and do what you know is right, you are doing the right thing is a very positive and valuable lesson for them. You are definitely showing your kids how to be strong and happy. Way to go!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I am HUGELY proud of you. I think you should send this to HRC or a coming out website of some kind. You were thoughtful, hopeful, honest, kind. I could just see you growing sentence by sentence; your parents too! I'm also blessed with wonderful religious parents who love me -- and now my wife -- unconditionally, and who actually used their faith to get to that place. From our happy, thriving gay family to your newly emerging one: CONGRATULATIONS!!!! HIP HIP HOORAY!!!!! WELCOME TO THE OTHER SIDE!!!!!

FindingMyWay said...

@Yeti - that was probably the best statement of the afternoon! Felt so good.

@Lea - I would never turn down a virtual hug! Thanks my friend.

@Jess - Thanks! Your support means so much to me.

@Alex - Thank you. I agree that it's a great step toward even more happiness.

@Nik - Like I always tell you, I'm so scared that I'm being selfish at all times. I hope I can continue to do it the right way. Selfishness is so ugly!! Thanks for your constant support.

@BenjiBoi - Thanks for dropping by. Nice to "meet" you. I appreciate your kind words. And thanks for the cheer! :)

Anonymous said...

FMW: "BenjiBoi" is me, JB!! So, I believe I've already had the pleasure of "meeting" you!

FindingMyWay said...

Ahhhh, JB!! Thanks for letting me know! Now I appreciate your comment even more. I'm honored that you read my blog. Keep coming back as often as you'd like!