This post is part of the “Our Stories” project, where readers submit their testimony or coming out story. It’s important to engage in meaningful and life-giving discussions about a topic that is too often silenced. When you tell your truth, you help someone else accept theirs.
Peaceful, quiet, joyful – that’s how I felt when I finally acknowledged that I am attracted to other women; that I am a lesbian. Not perverse, sinful, or ashamed. That was a surprise. That and the utter certainty I felt for the first time in my life about anything. It was as if a gaping fissure in my soul suddenly closed and became mended. All of the things I mistakenly thought I was collapsed into who I actually am.
It is difficult to reconcile the peace and certitude I feel about this with the pain I perceive in the few dear friends with whom I have shared this news. I want them to be happy for me. They are not. Yet – I understand; I remember my reaction when I learned that someone I knew as a heterosexual announced their sexual orientation was otherwise. I felt bewildered about their obliviousness, afraid for their souls, and I braced for the consequences in their lives, and the reverberating effects in my own. I assumed they felt as confused and conflicted as I did about the matter. Now I see things differently. They were not confused – they were finally free and extraordinarily courageous.
As I think back over my life, I now understand why I felt strangely drawn to, fascinated with, while at the same time, vaguely afraid of lesbians. Somewhere deep inside I felt resonance, but recognizing that resonance was either too much to bear or too fantastic to be real. I recall awkward and unfulfilling relationships with boyfriends – where I thought I felt something, but as the relationship developed, my feelings rapidly progressed from infatuation to ambivalence to confusion to aversion. I assumed I had just never found the right man. And when the inevitable breakup occurred with the “It’s not you – it’s me” conversation, I had no idea how true that was. Nonetheless, I eventually got married to the one man who persisted.
So now, here I am, decades into a marriage that gratefully resulted in two wonderful children, but finally understanding myself and dealing with the monumental consequences of failing to see or figure out what was hiding inside me. I have told my husband and he is in great pain. I have not yet told the kids and wonder whether the pain they will experience dealing with this knowledge is worth the freedom it brings me. I would rather cut off my arm than cause them such pain.
But, the truth is like a siren I can’t block out. And a life of integrity requires that I recognize and live in accordance with that truth, regardless of the pain it causes me and those around me. I cannot go back. I can only hope that living in the truth will ultimately be for the best for all of us. Pray for us.