This old cat is one of the things that was with me on this next part of my story, and he’s still with me today. It’s going to be difficult to write about my story from then until now, because the kids are now grown, and I’m now married, and all of the people who were with me then are still with me now.
I don’t really talk much about this time when I tell my story at a meeting. I finished my master’s and worked full time. Looking back at some things I wrote at that time, I can see that I was a bit bitter about the lack of support the kids’ father gave them. More so than I thought, but I still think I did well with it, all things considered. It was invaluable to me that I understood I could not control his behavior, I could only act accordingly, on my own.
I always kept up my minimum of one meeting a week, usually more, and as the kids got older, I went to more.
I guess I need to mention that at this time, I started publicly identifying myself as gay. It would be an interesting topic for another forum (at least to me – in real life, no one ever asks about it). It’s funny in a way. I don’t look gay. A few years after Carole and I had been together for a few years, the pastor of our church called Carole because two women had reached out to the church. The church is identified in local publications as “gay friendly,” and the presidents of the congregation, before Carole was president and after she was, were gay. A good sized fraction of the congregation is gay. Anyway, these women contacted the pastor because they had been every day housewives whose children shared activities, and they had fallen in love with each other. Telling this one day, the pastor looked at both me and Carole and said something like, “Can you imagine? Not knowing who you are until midlife?”
Um, yes, I can imagine! I find it funny because I guess the pastor at that time was thinking of me as totally gay, and a life long lesbian to boot. I only wish.
So as not to embarass my loved ones, I’ll briefly and broadly record what I think happened, and what I understand. Much of it, I don’t understand. I know lots of gay people and, like anyone else, there were those childhood acquaintances who always seemed gay and turned out to be gay. These days, I think the line for women is harder to see. Younger gay women (older ones too, but not as much) are harder for me to peg. Lots of gay women are very feminine, and lots of straight women are very masculine.
I seem, in every way that I can perceive, to be straight. By that I mean that nothing about my looks or mannerisms, voice, talents, interests or anything else is easily identified as gay. I don’t know how or why that happens. I find it interesting to wonder about, but not crucial to my peace of mind.
That I always acted straight is harder to explain. Without too many more embarrassing details, I’ll say that at some level, I have always known I was gay. When I first started with the guy across the street, it was really his wife I was attracted to. Emotionally and physically. When I started a relationship with him, it was really because he was the first one to pay attention. As I passed through being 16 and 17 and 18, I formulated the plan for my life that told me I wanted children more than anything else. I had other plans, too, and I went to college. But children were the main objective. When I got it through my very thick head that that man wasn’t my route to children, and when I hit bottom with drinking and got it through my thick head that drinking wasn’t my route to growing old, or even to middle age, I got a sobriety and a relationship that were much more promising than anything in my past. I don’t know what else to say about it. At that time, in 1984, lesbian couples were certainly having and adopting children together, but not many, and not famously. I didn’t give it a whole lot of thought. I saw marriage to a man as the way to realize my dream.
As soon as my marriage was certainly over, I knew that part of what had gone wrong had been this. Maybe even before the end, I knew I had done the wrong thing. I would have stuck it out longer, given the choice, but I wasn’t given the choice. Once single, I really vowed not to get into a relationship with anyone of either gender, and I stuck to that for a blessedly long time. I did know, though, that if I did it again, it would be with a woman. I consciously knew that.
So toward the end of my time living alone there with the kids, I started to publicly identify myself as gay. One of the meetings I went to was a gay meeting, and I purposefully befriended two women who were just like me, although they were both involved with other women. The three of us each had two children with the girl being older and the boy being younger, each from marriages to men. We did things together, and I wanted my children to see that there were other families like this.
Briefly, I’ll record that my upbringing and the area where we lived were very very liberal. Being gay as being wrong never entered my picture, and I tried hard to keep it out of the picture for the kids. I can only imagine the pain I hear others tell about being rejected by their family or community or church or friends or anything. I can only imagine because I did not experience it. People I went to high school with had come out as gay when we were teenagers, and it really didn’t cause much excitement in my little world. I’m very appreciative and grateful that I had it so easy.
So I was going to gay meetings and having gay friends, and …….