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

Ghost Story

You tell me you watch ghost stories alone in the dark

When I tell you I can’t do that, you tell me ghosts aren’t real.

I laugh, because I don’t know how to tell you how wrong you are.

My ghosts don’t roam empty corridors, or hide behind doors that no one dares to open.

My ghosts inhabit my body.

They roam the corridors of my mind,

and hide behind the door of my heart,

that no one dares to open.

Panic is a phantom that dwells in me, sometimes for months at a time.

Anxiety an angry specter leaving my extremities numb and shaking,

my heart racing,

and the people I love alienated.

Baby, to be with me is to inhabit the haunted mansion that no one will go near.

It can be a hopeless place,

with a thick black shroud of depression blocking out any hope of light.

But today,

when you held me in your arms, you made all the light come back.

You told me I am amazing,

and my hands shook,

and my heart raced,

not from panic, but anticipation,

and today,

for once,

the ghosts were silent.

I believe

I believe:
– We each are responsible for our own happiness, and that no one can make someone else happy.
– I was born to be a mother.
– We can learn a lot of valuable lessons from hard or painful situations.
– The most important things in life can not be bought, and have nothing to do with money.
– There is good in everyone.
– True beauty is found on the inside, not the outside of a person.
– I am a lot stronger than most people give me credit for.
– It is vitally important to laugh every day.
– That sometimes smart people make stupid choices.
– Mistakes are a part of living.
– When we know better, we do better.
– Starbucks coffee, when combined with best friends, has healing properties.
– Love never makes people sad.
– Tears are not a sign of weakness, but they do make you stronger.
– Some of the most unexpected events can bring life’s biggest blessings.
– Age is nothing but a number.
– Wisdom comes with maturity.
– If you don’t take control of your life, you are a spectator, not a participant, in life.

Unraveling

Today I feel like I am unraveling. Little by little, piece by piece. I don’t think there is any one reason why. I am tired. I am physically tired, I’m emotionally tired, I’m tired of being stressed out, I’m TIRED! Mr. Wrong is being, well, Wrong lately, he’s probably tired too, but he is definitely adding to my unraveling right now. Communication is at an all time low in Casa de Wrong, and that worries me. No communication is what led to my unraveling before, and I am not going back to that time. I can’t. I won’t. I’m not.

During our entire separation, Mr. Wrong was The Great Communicator. Always wanted to talk, really talk. About feelings, about what we wanted, about anything really. I came to really enjoy that, and count on it. Now that I live here, does that mean that we no longer need to talk? I don’t think it does. It doesn’t for me anyway.

So we are stressed, and not talking. That really makes me feel as if I am doing all of this alone. With no one to share it with, no one to support me, no one to vent to. I don’t know, I guess for men that’s ok, for me it isn’t. So, how do I restore communication? Not sure about that one. If anyone has any ideas, I would love to hear them!

Sometime

Today I went to a viewing for a friend and co worker. I was planning to tell her story here, and make my case for health care reform. While I still think that health care is important, after this afternoon, that is not the story I want to tell today. I have been told that everything happens for a reason, and while I don’t believe that, I do strongly believe that we need to try to make something positive come out of terrible, tragic situations. I fall sadly short of that mark on many occasions, but today, I would like to try, for my friend.

So many times in life, we take for granted the people we are around every day. The co workers, friends, and family members that we see on a daily basis, sometimes never for a second considering the possibility that a day will come when we won’t see them ever again. We exchange cell phone numbers with vague promises to call “sometime” and get together. We work long boring nights together and remark that we should do something together “sometime”. Well, what if “sometime” never comes? Today I watched my co workers and supervisors crying over these very things. I saw my friends family devastated beyond anything a person should have to withstand because they will never have another day with their daughter, fiance, mother. There is a lesson to be learned from this experience, one I hope to never forget.

If you care about someone, please, do not assume that they know how you feel. I cannot express how strongly I feel about that. I will no longer make plans for “sometime” with anyone. I will make sure to make time, no matter what the situation, to have a cup of coffee, a beer after work, lunch on a day off. It is too important, too vital to let people you like and admire know how you feel. Much more important than anything else I might have to do that day. We lead busy lives, to be sure. We juggle jobs, and homes, and families and still try to have a few minutes of peace for ourselves each day. I get that, I really do, and I would be willing to bet the person you want to do things with “sometime” does too. Why not make sometime now, and find out?

The Art of Fighting

I strongly believe that the only way to have a good relationship is to have good communication. As I have openly admitted here before, I talk. A lot. All the time. One of the easiest, most certain ways to make me crazy, out of control mad is to walk away from me in the middle of an argument. Mr. Wrong does that. All. The. Time. If you cared enough to get involved in an argument, you have to care enough to see it through. Talk about it, yell about it, whatever. Just please finish it for crying out loud! We struggle with this often, lately. Mr. Wrong gets really angry, and walks away. I understand his reasoning. He feels that rather than saying mean, hurtful things, he would rather walk away and terminate the fight. This, however reasonable and rational it may sound, is not acceptable, or, in my opinion healthy.

Another issue in Casa de Wrong is that we don’t have the same approach to disagreeing. I really try to lay my cards on the table, tell it like I see it, be upfront. This hasn’t always been the case, I have downright lied in the past, and I am sincerely trying to make amends for that by doing better now. Mr. Wrong approaches things far differently. He hides. Everything. Then, when you least expect it, Bam! Out of the blue, he drops a bomb, it could be hours or even days later, like some kind of sneak attack. I am sure part of this is because I have lied to him in the past. I know the damage I have done. All I can do is try to do better now. I think part of this could also be just the difference between men and women. I don’t get men. I never have, and have pretty much given up on the notion. My question now is, how do we move forward together if we aren’t even speaking the same language?