To the Women Who Are Just Like Me

I remember being a young mother. I remember the joy, the pride and love I felt so deeply for my kids. Every milestone they reached, every first; first smile, first word, first step, seemed like a sign that I had made the right decision. I remember going to bed late at night, every night, and praying to a God I wanted desperately to believe in. I spent hours begging him to change me. I wanted more than anything to be “normal”. As hard as I tried, I still felt different, so I learned how to fake it. I became the person everyone wanted me to be, my husband, my pastor, my children, and I forgot about the real me. I know you understand what I mean, because you do it too, and that’s why I’m writing to you today. I want you to know I see you, and I understand exactly how you are feeling right now, because I have felt the same way. I know that no matter how many blessings you have in your life, no matter how good things are for you, you always feel like something is missing. I can tell you with certainty, that doesn’t make you bad, or selfish. You deserve to be yourself. You deserve real happiness. You deserve to live, and love on your own terms.

The beginning is scary. Beginnings are hard, at least the important ones are. I know you don’t believe me right now, but the first step is the hardest. Every step after that gets a little easier, but that first step? You will be amazed by how happy you are once you take it. It’s like walking into a well air-conditioned room after spending the day in 106 degree heat, It’s like taking a long drink of really cold water on a hot day. You will feel the relief through your entire body. Saying the words is hard, painful even, but please believe me, you will be so happy you did.

Once you have said the words out loud, it starts to become easier. Your voice will start to sound a little stronger every time, and one day you will say them and you won’t hear even one note of shame. This is a really good thing, because you have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. One day soon, you will meet a woman who will make you wonder how you could have ever felt shame to begin with. You will fall in love with everything she is, and she will love you back, the same way. I’m telling you, you do not want to miss out on this! Loving her freely, and honestly, without hiding will feel like nothing you have ever felt before, and it’s nothing I can accurately describe. It has to be experienced first hand and she is waiting for you. So no matter how hard it is right now, no matter how dark the place you are right now is, don’t give up, okay? Don’t miss out on this.

Please know that I am here for you, now and always. Never forget that I am here, I understand, and I really do care.

Cosmicness

I first realized I am gay when I was 18 years old. Up until that point, I had always had “best friends” who I would become completely obsessed with, and wanted to spend all of my time with. I would become insanely jealous if my “best friend” wanted to spend time with anyone else, and eventually I would suffocate her until our friendship ended. This scenario repeated itself several times throughout high school, and somehow I never thought it meant anything. I assumed that everyone went through the same thing with their “best friends”.

Until this time, I didn’t really know many gay people. I knew one, actually. He was a good friend, but he was a boy, and although I knew what the term lesbian meant, I certainly had never met any women who admitted to being gay. This was the 1980s, and times were much different. Being “out” could mean being disowned, institutionalized, or even killed.

After high school, I took my first full time job in a nursing home. I enjoyed my job, and the people I worked with. One girl in particular. Her name was “B” and from the first day I met her, I wanted her to be my “best friend”. She was amazing. She was funny, and smart, and really good at her job. I remember thinking how obvious it was that for her, this wasn’t just a job, she really genuinely cared for the elderly residents we cared for.

She was also brutally honest, and shortly after I met her, she told me that she is gay. I remember being really curious about her life, and relationships, and having a thousand questions that I was far too shy to ask. I wanted to be around her all the time, and I was, until one day she told me that she had gotten her girlfriend a job with us and she would be starting to work with us the next night.

As upsetting as it was to be pushed to the sidelines, I will never forget watching her with “M” her girlfriend. She was so thoughtful, so attentive, making sure to think ahead, to meet every need “M” may have, before she even had them. As jealous as I was, I remember thinking I wanted someone to care about me as much as B cared for M.

Despite my jealousy, I really liked M. She was a really nice girl, and soon we were all hanging out together outside of work. Honestly, I probably would have even if I didn’t like M, I wanted to be around B enough that it wouldn’t have mattered. We started going together to a local gay bar that was known not to card people. I remember the first time I went there, I wanted to feel awkward. I wanted to feel out of place, like I didn’t belong. I wanted to feel uncomfortable seeing people of the same sex kissing, but I didn’t. It felt normal. It felt right.

One night at the bar, B and M had a fight. I don’t remember what they were fighting about, I don’t even remember if it was a big fight. I do remember that B went to the bathroom, and I followed her. In the bathroom, I sat on the sink while B paced back and forth, fuming over her argument. She stopped in front of me, and looked at me with the most adorable smile I have ever seen, and said “I’m going to kiss you.” I think I said ok? I don’t know. All I know is she kissed me, and when she did, a light bulb went off for me. I knew why I didn’t feel the way my friends did about boys, although I had had a couple of boyfriends in high school. Kissing them made me nervous and uncomfortable. Kissing B made me incredibly happy.

There was one more kiss, shortly after that, at B’s house, and then she eventually told M that she had kissed me. The fallout was devastating to me, I literally had no friends at work anymore, and I eventually quit my job.

What came next is another story, or many other stories, for another time. For now, let’s fast forward 30 years. I have been married for 20 years to a man, divorced, given birth to six beautiful children, and buried one. I have been engaged to a woman who left me for her ex shortly before we were supposed to get married, and the downward spiral my life took after that led me to move from my home in Maryland back to New Jersey. I thought my life was over. I found a job that I really love, I have my youngest son with me, and I told myself that at my age, that is enough. I was over dating, and over love.

A co worker talked me into reactivating my POF account, and I did, not really knowing why. One night I received a message, which isn’t unusual, when you are on POF you get lots of messages, but this one stood out for some reason enough to make me want to respond. We messaged for 20 minutes or so, and then said goodbye. Hours later, my heart literally skipped a beat. It was B. I don’t know exactly how I knew, but I knew. I think it was the smile. I didn’t know how to begin to tell her, so when after a week of texting she asked me to meet her at a local bar, I was determined I was never going to tell her who I am. However, alcohol acts like a truth serum sometimes, and after a beer, I I told her. Thankfully, she took the news well, and talked for hours about the “cosmicness” of the whole thing. She told me she had a picture of me, from the bar back then. She sent it to me when she went home that night.

That night was six weeks ago. Since then I have literally spent every free moment with B. The amount of things we have in common is amazing. Her kind and caring heart astounds me every day, and her ability to calm me, even in the middle of a full blown panic attack is something I have never known before.

I don’t know where this will go, or how long it will last, but today I am happy. Happier than I have been in years, and so incredibly grateful. I am grateful for the events in my life that led me here, I am grateful to B, for being quite honestly, the wold’s greatest girlfriend, and I am grateful to fate, or as I now prefer to call it, cosmicness.

Betty and Jenn 198720170531_144430

An Ordinary Day

In the midst of my ordinary, same as usual day, I had a HUGE revelation. I can’t identify the exact moment of this revelation. Was it while I was playing with Baby G? Was it while talking to Mr. Wrong about ordinary, every day things? Maybe it was while Mr. Wrong and I waved goodbye to Bug on his school bus from our front porch, or when Mr. Wrong and I hung laundry outside on our clothes line, surrounded by the sound of our children playing. It could have been at any of those moments, or a thousand other moments in this ordinary day. At some point, I realized I am happy.

Happy and I don’t have a very good relationship, I should point that out. I have gone to ridiculous, life changing lengths to find happy, and ended up in a depression so deep I am still amazed that I survived it. The problem was, I think, that I wasn’t clear about what happy IS. I thought I was supposed to have adrenaline coursing through my veins, heart beating fast, my mind fuzzy all day every day. Writing it now, it doesn’t even sound appealing, let alone realistic. Sadly, I haven’t been happy in a long time, not really, and that is what I thought I was supposed to feel.

Another major problem happy and I have is that usually when I do get it, I worry myself right out of it. Every. Single. Time. I thrive in times of catastrophe and chaos, and when I have times of the peace and tranquility that I want so badly, I am waiting for the proverbial shoe to drop. My glass becomes half empty. I look for the bad in every situation, and if I don’t find any I CREATE bad. I’m not sure why I do these things, why I try to sabotage myself at every turn, but I do it well, of that I am sure. Hopefully, now that I am aware of doing it, I can stop.

My outlook on life is changing, slowly but steadily. I look for the good in situations, and people. I make a conscientious effort not to judge a book by it’s cover, and take time to get to know what is inside. I have removed toxic people from my life, and replaced them with positive, uplifting people who validate me and encourage healthy life choices. I make every effort not to hurt anyone, including myself.

I know myself well, and it is completely possible that I will be here tomorrow with a list of complaints about what is wrong in my life. Today, however, today I am happy. It was a really awesome ordinary day.

Beginnings

So I think Ive been looking at things entirely the wrong way lately. For months I have been sad and depressed, thinking about all of the endings that have been occurring at an alarming pace lately. I have listed and mourned all of my losses, bitterly regretted each one, and lived every day with an emptiness in my very being that comes with loss. However, if I know nothing else about myself, I know for sure that I am a survivor, and be assured, I have survived far worse than this. So in my disgustingly optimistic way, I have realized that there is a flip side to all of this, a mirror image, if you will. I feel that I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the beginnings that are occurring.

1. My roommates are here. All the time. They aren’t always here at the same time, but they are always here some of the time. The thing is this, they are here for me, no matter what. They are dysfunctional, they are loud, they can be obnoxious. They listen, they support, they care. They are my family, and I love them more than I could ever say or express.

2. For the first time in 4 decades, I am on my own. I pay my own bills, I make my own decisions. I live my life on my own terms, and make my own mistakes as I go. Its scary as hell, but I love it, and it feels right.

3. I am finally figuring out who my I am, really. In the words of Oprah, my authentic self. Living authentically is hard and takes real courage, but I would really like to think that I have courage. I really believe that the outcome will be worth it.

4. Probably most importantly, I have discovered who my real friends are. People who will tell you that you are wrong, and then let you find out for yourself. People that support you in your wrong-ness. People that cheer your right-ness. These are the people everyone needs in their life, and my gratitude is deep and eternal.

So for all the miserable, depressing blogs to come, I can now look back and see, for all of the endings, I am blessed beyond what I deserve.