Thursday, November 13, 2014

Life Since the Closet and What's Next:"Coming Out" Pt. 4

Coco Chanel had it right.

I've experienced a lot of beauty in the past three months, more than I ever thought I would in my life.

I've experienced the beauty in others (especially in those who commented or sent me a message on Facebook after I posted the link to my coming out post, as well as the many others who sent me a text or gave me a call after they read that first post.)

I've experienced the beauty of motherhood and how wonderful it is when you are happy and fully present for your children.

I've experienced the beauty of being in love with an amazing person who has stayed right by my side through everything these past few months and provides me with continual support.

I've experienced the beauty in myself as I continue to grow as a person, a whole person, rather than the shell that I once was.

Finally, I've experienced the beauty in understanding what those who have taken this journey before me meant when they said that it would be better once I finally decided to live my life honestly and without

However, that's just the beginning of what has happened since I hit "publish" on that first post while holding my breath, with my heart pounding.

(If you're new and not exactly sure what you've wandered into, you might want to read my previous posts, you can begin with part 1 here and then move on to part 2 and part 3 from there.)

Quite a few other things have happened since coming out as well, some of which were unexpected. One of those unexpected things was that I actually had to, and still do have to, "convince" people of my sexuality. I've heard the following phrase more times than I can count:

"...But, YOU don't look like a Lesbian!"

Mmmkay....First of all, what the hell does a Lesbian look like? I know I'm new to the scene, but I don't recall getting a memo about what I needed to look like when I was born and if it was, in fact, sent out then I'm not the only one that didn't get it because I know a lot of Lesbians that are feminine.We are not unicorns. We do exist. Yes, some women who identify as a Lesbian are more masculine than what we typically see in the general population, and some are, let's face it, really masculine. However, that's doesn't mean we all are. I like makeup, the color pink, girly glittery crap, and I'm a Lesbian. I'm not any less of a Lesbian than anyone who "looks like one" thank you very much. Yes, I realize that some people say it thinking that it's a compliment, but to me and many others it's really more of an insult because it implies that we are not "real" lesbians just because we might not own any flannel.

As far as the other things that have happened as a result of me coming out, I have to say that I've been pleasantly surprised for the most part.

Those who I thought would judge me because of their religious beliefs were actually some of the most accepting people, which was surprising and also a good lesson for me on the importance of not assuming what others think.

Most of my friendships have stayed the same or have improved since I came out and I have made even more friends as a result. 

Oh, and while we are one the subject of relationships, I want to address something that I said in an earlier post, which is that my family was less than thrilled when I came out to them. I think I need to clarify what their responses actually were especially because my sister was a wee-bit pissed off after she read that part of my post because it made her feel as though I was calling her homophobic when she isn't. Her reaction was less than ideal mostly because she was concerned about how everything would affect the kids and I can understand that. However, for the record, she's been pretty supportive since then and I really don't think she gives a crap about her sister being a total lez. 

My dad's reaction was actually kind of humorous. After I emailed him to tell him that I was gay (because I was too chicken shit to do it in person), his return email said, "What a coincidence, I like women too." and that was it. That's my dad for you. Brief and to the point. 

So, the only reason why I said that their reaction was less than ideal is because I wanted them to assure me that they still loved me no matter what and wanted me to be happy. I can admit though, that my expectation was probably too high, not because they don't love me or want me to be happy, but because we, as a family, tend to avoid sharing our feelings.

While their responses were less than ideal, they were still not as bad as what I expected. On the contrary, my brother's was much worse than I expected. It was actually quite devastating and probably the worst response that I've gotten from anyone thus far (and that includes my father-in-law who hated me anyway).

Unfortunately, I made the mistake of thinking that he would be the most accepting and understanding given that he has many friends that are gay and is pretty supportive of the community. It turns out that I was very wrong. He was not at all accepting or understanding. Instead of , "You're still my sister and I love you." It was, "You're a "selfish fucking bitch"  (which is actually a direct quote and something that he said several times throughout our conversation). He didn't stop there, though. He said many more really hurtful things, including that he believed that I wasn't really gay and that I just wanted attention. 

In summary, he yelled while I cried and then we hung up and I cried some more. 

According to him, his reaction was based off of his concern for my husband and children, rather than the fact that I was gay but even if that is the case, a simple "I have some concerns about some things I want to talk to you about later, but for now just know I still love you and you're still my sister." would have sufficed.

While I'm thinking about it, here's a little advice for those of you who will experience a friend or family member coming out to you. Please do me a favor and keep your reaction simple and sweet. The greatest fear that most people have is that they will not be believed or that they will no longer be loved, or both. Please just tell them that you still love them and then, for the love of all things that are holy, WAIT to talk to them about any other concerns you have. Choose your words carefully because they can't be taken back. I will NEVER forget my brother's reaction and the words he said to me and I don't think he will ever comprehend how painful it was for me to hear them. His reaction forever changed our relationship, and not in a positive way. 

It pretty much ruined it, actually. 

Okie-dokie. Now that I've clarified all of that, we can move on to the other things that have happened since my coming out post.

The first of them is that my marriage is now over. After a couple months of negotiation and many pages of paperwork, I officially filed for divorce on October 29th. It should be final at the end of January as long as things don't change (In Utah, there is a mandatory 90 day waiting period until a decree is granted).

As far as my relationship with my soon to be ex-husband and I, things are pretty up and down. He has a lot of anger towards me that tends to seep out sporadically, sometimes in a pretty vengeful manner. His anger is understandable, but the way he handles it is not always justified. I'm hopeful that this will eventually pass and that we will be able to become friends one day, but until then I'm just trying to roll with things and understand that he's acting the way he is because he's hurt, not because he's an asshole (although sometimes it really feels like he's being quite asshole-ish). 

In the end though, I think we can both admit that our marriage wasn't a happy one and that we had many problems aside from me being gay. I think that even though he might not see it now, the fact of the matter is that he was miserable as well. I couldn't make him happy and he couldn't make me happy. We gave it a good try, 15 years to be exact. However, it just wasn't meant to be.

Our current living situation is a little different than most. We have chosen to do what  is called, "nesting" for the time being. "Nesting" is a type of custody arrangement where the children stay in the family home and the parents switch off living in the home according to when their scheduled time is to be with the children. In our case, I stay at the home 5 days a week and then stay somewhere else for 2 days a week when it's his turn to be with the kids and vice versa. It's not easy and I don't know how long it will last before we eventually decide it's too much for both of us, but that's how it is for now, at least. I do have to say that I think there are some positive aspects of it. First, it has helped us see how hard it is for the kids to switch off at each parents house so when the time comes we can understand what they are going through a little more. Second, I think it's made things a little easier on the kids and is a good way to make the transition as smooth as possible. Last, we are able to communicate more with each other about our time with them and let the other one know any concerns that we have when we make the switch.

(I have to say that the one thing about our divorce that is nice is that we are in agreement that we need to do everything possible to put the kids first. We've had a few hiccups, of course, but we really are both committed to doing what's best for them, which is part of the reason why we chose the "nesting" arrangement for now.)

Speaking of the kids, I'm loving being a mom more than I think I ever have before. I was a pretty good mom before I came out, but I'm a much better one now. I actually do things with my kids and truly enjoy the time I have with them. Sadly, this hasn't always been the case. In fact, if you told me 6 months ago that I would be taking my kids to public places, let alone crowded public places, I would have laughed in your face. Just the thought of doing something like that gave me severe anxiety, enough that I would usually make up excuse to get out of it, or even just flat out refuse to do whatever required me leaving my house. Luckily, things are very different now. I still get anxious, of course, but it's gotten a lot better. I even went ice skating with Destructo a few weeks ago. Ice skating! That's a HUGE difference, people! Huge!

That brings me to my final update, which is about my relationship with M and how awesome it is. I can't express to you how much that woman means to me and how much I love her. She helped me find courage I didn't know I had and has held my hand every step of the way these last few months. My kids absolutely adore her and I love watching her with them. She's just...well, she's just fucking amaze-balls, is what she is!! I enjoy every minute that we are together and miss her every minute that we aren't. I'm one lucky-ducky for sure.

(Okay, I know what you're probably thinking because I've been asked so many times and the answer is no, we are not u-hauling it (google it if you don't know what it is), or getting married any time soon just because marriage equality happened in Utah. We both know we have a good thing going and don't want to jeopardize that by doing something we aren't ready for. We love each other and that's all that matters for now. ) 

On a final note, I want to say that I truly cannot believe how much of a difference coming out has made in my life, most of it being positive. Living as my true self has made life much more fun than it was when I was living a lie. Life is just better when you accept yourself as is and stop trying to be someone you aren't. It's not perfect of course, and there are some days when things are actually pretty tough for me, but the difference is that I can handle the tough stuff now, rather than just retreating to my room, which I nicknamed, "the cave" because I was in it so often before. I'm actually living my life now, which is a great place to be in.

It only took about 20 years for me to start (I'm a slow learner).

So that's it! The final post of my coming out story is now finished. If you made it through all of them, congratulations. If they helped you in any way, whether that be in developing a better understanding for what life can be like for those of us who are fabulous enough to be gay or regarding something in your own life, then it makes it that much more worthwhile.

Love those dimples!

P.S. It really did get better.