Reflection of the Queer Journey
‘Straight people don’t lie awake and night wondering if they are gay’ This was the message I saw on a video in early 2020 that lead to the biggest change in my life. Finally accepting that I was a lesbian.
I was 38 years old and had been married to a wonderful man for 10 years. I had two young children, a beautiful home, a job that I enjoyed. We lived a very comfortable life, a perfect life. The kind of life you imagine as a young girl growing up watching Disney movies and reading teen romances. But I was empty. It wasn’t the epic love story, the feeling of being content and complete, that I was promised. I had done everything I was told by society that I was meant to do. I found an amazing man who loved me, I gave up my career and became a model mother. So why was I so miserable?
I always knew I was attracted to women. Before marriage I would have casual encounters with other women. It was never instilled in me that this was wrong. My mother told me it was normal and that ‘all girls experimented’ - but the idea that you could date, marry or have a future with a woman wasn’t one that I ever considered. Because it wasn’t an option I ever had presented to me. I didn’t know of lesbians, at least not lesbians that looked like me. All the lesbians I had seen in media were portrayed one particular way, and I couldn’t relate to it. I had married friends who had girlfriends, but ultimately relationships and marriage, were only presented to me as being between a man and a woman.
So I found a good man, whose company I genuinely enjoyed, got married and had a family. Sure, I didn’t like being I intimate with him, but all my friends also complained about their husbands, so it was normal, right?
After the birth of my last child in 2016 my rejection of any form of intimacy with him increased. I cringed away from even the slightest touch as he passed by me in our kitchen. I started cleaning our house until 11pm and getting up to work out at 5am to avoid the bedroom. And when I would feel guilty about rejecting him for so long and finally allow him to be intimate, I would cry myself to sleep after. I became a shell of a person. I lived to be the perfect housewife, mother and employee. I had no passions, interests or hobbies outside of making my life look as perfect as I could.
I saw doctors who assured me this was normal. Women lose their drives after childbirth; it will come back. Only there wasn’t anything to come back - I never enjoyed it, but now I dreaded and was disgusted by it.
In 2019 I started to become increasingly interested in same sex relationships on TV. I would binge anything I could find. I started having thoughts about women. Something that shocked me initially as I hadn’t had felt any kind of desire in years. I had conversations with friends about how I wish we could open our marriage so I could find a girlfriend. Not a casual encounter. A girlfriend. I still wasn’t sure I would like to be intimate with anyone - but I craved that connection. I wanted the epic love story. I wanted to both be and to find my Disney princess.
During my many hours of scrolling social media looking for queer content I came across a video by Melissa Raney. ‘Straight people don’t lie awake at night wondering if they are gay’. It hit me. I went to her page and found she was like me! A woman in her late 30s, married to a man, had children and had come out as gay and restarted her life. In her comments I found hundreds of women in my situation. More creators, more stories. I wasn’t alone.
In March 2020 I told my husband that I was gay. I remember the guilt and shame I felt. I did love this man, but I wasn’t in love with him. How can I say I care for him and continue to lie and trap him in a marriage where I could not give him all he deserved. Shouldn’t he also have the opportunity to find someone who could love him wholly?
He went through a lot of emotions. Anger, hurt, betrayal, realisation and acceptance. To make things easier, and admittedly out of guilt, I walked away from my marriage with nothing and decided to start fresh. He loves his children and supports them, but things have been uncomfortable and at times strained.
I have learnt to be financially stable on my own. Thankfully our government is generous, and I have made the necessary adjustments to my lifestyle.
My children were upset at first. But we reiterated that they would now have two happy loving homes. And our school councillor gave additional support to our eldest. After about 6 months my eldest daughter said to me “I like that you smile now mummy”. They adapted. My children now get to see real love - not have a fake forced love normalised.
Things were difficult at first. I grieved the loss of my family. Not just my husband, but my mother and father-in-law. My sister-in-law and my nieces and nephews. Holidays were particularly hard.
Coming out at the start of the pandemic also meant isolation. Social media groups became my lifeline. I found the rainbow community. I found my new family. One that accepts me without conditions. I searched for a local community to no avail. My small regional town had no queer spaces or groups. No LGBTQ visibility or representation at all. So I simply decided I would create one, an all inclusive family friendly group. Connections were made, friendships formed, support found and slowly we are bringing our community together.
Making the decision to completely restart my life at this age was frightening, but also freeing and amazing. Emotionally this journey is a roller coaster. Allowing myself to feel, processing emotions I had buried for years can be overwhelming. But I try to give myself grace, forgive myself for not knowing, not focus on what could have been, but focus on what now can be.
Yes, the process of coming out can be long and hard and scary. But personally, the thought of living the rest of my life trapped and miserable was a much more of a terrifying prospect.
And despite how scary it was, it’s the best decision I ever made. Being able to truly be myself. Being able to find love. Setting my ex-husband free to find his own love. My children having two happy parents. These are all positives.
So now I tell my story - because we cannot be what we cannot see. Coming out at any age is possible.
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