I was born in rural Virginia, 20 minutes from the West Virginia state line, in a small town with only one road in and the same road got you out. I was around 11 years old when my best friend (who was one year older than me) and I started to have these wild, racing thoughts about the same sex. We sort of mentioned it to each other and then quickly reeled it back in because we didn’t know anyone else who had these thoughts and feelings like we did. We thought something was wrong with us, so we pushed it down and ignored it, in hopes those thoughts and feelings would go away.
About 3 years later, that same best friend came out as bisexual and introduced her friend as her girlfriend. I remember feeling so envious and wanting to be brave like that. My family, more so my grandfather with whom I lived with who was also a former pastor, told me that her choices were insane and they didn’t approve of my hanging out with her anymore. So I didn’t. I didn’t question it, because after all, I was only 14 and I was always told to respect my elders and that they always knew best. Her and I stopped hanging out.
Around that same time, I met a boy with whom I fell madly “in love” with. He was on the football team and the basketball team and had a lot of friends. He was a few years older than me, so I just felt so lucky to have the attention from him. We dated for about 3 years until I was forced to move from the small town I called home my entire life, to a new city in Central Florida, my junior year of high school. It was terrible and I loathed my parents for it.
I still refused to admit to myself that I was curious about the other sex, that those feelings would go away. I met new guys. I dated one of them long term, the others, a few months.
When I was 19 years old, I met my (now ex) husband. He was my manager at a BBQ restaurant that I had worked at for awhile. He would always say he was going to marry me someday and I just thought he was insane and told him as much. Finally when I was 20, he reeled me in. We had both just gotten out of some less than stellar long relationships and we were both extremely vulnerable. We dated for 3 weeks before taking it to the next level of our relationship. I mean, we had known each other for a while, so surely it was okay, right?
I became pregnant with my now 11 year old daughter. I thought for sure he was going to leave me when I told him we were having a baby. But he didn’t. He stayed with me and was way more excited than I was when I let him know the results of the test(s). In my mind, I had a man who I was about to start a family with and who loved me unconditionally, even though we had only been dating for a few weeks. I was proud and excited to have found my partner in life. We were having a baby together, so obviously I had to stay with him for the sake of our baby, right? Something still felt so off inside of me.
Fast forward to when our daughter was almost 4 years old. We decided to FINALLY tie the knot in 2011 in a small ceremony in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. I had followed him there 3 years prior because he told me it would be better for us there and his mom would be there to help us with anything we needed. Most wedding planning and decision making falls on the bride, but I gave complete control to his mom and sister because I really and truly didn’t have an opinion on any of it, nor care. I just wanted to get it over with. That isn’t the way your wedding day should feel.
In 2014, we gave birth to our amazing little boy and we showed those babies all of our love and gave them more affection than they could possibly ever need. Things became complacent in our relationship. We took care of the kids and did things with the kids and everything we did was FOR the kids. We were roommates taking care of these two innocent humans that we brought into this world.
In 2018, after a series of events, my husband filed for divorce. I tried to get him to go to marriage counseling for over a year, but I think deep down, he knew more than I did, that neither of us were happy. I thank him for taking that step.
One month after our divorce was finalized, at the age of 30, I told my mom via phone, since she was 800 miles away, that I was in a relationship with a woman. She was accepting, until she told my dad, who was not. I changed my relationship status on Facebook to “In A Relationship With LS” and posted a picture on Instagram of my “person”, a female. Questions and comments flooded in, my dad became distant and told me it felt like “someone had died”. Both of my parents stopped speaking to me on a daily basis. My family in Virginia dropped off the face of the Earth. I was (surprisingly)… okay. My kids asked questions and I answered them, openly and honestly and with as much grace as I could. After all, their mom and dad had just split up and now their mom is gay? What else could I do but lay my entire heart on the line for my babies?
Last August, I married LS, by a fountain at a local college, on a whim. She had proposed a month prior, but we didn’t feel like waiting. My parents eventually came around and they met my wife in January of this year at my brothers wedding (as did both of my aunts!). Everything went so well and they accepted her into our family with open arms.
I am still going through a journey of self discovery. I know who I am and what I want, but I still face daily struggles when I go out in public with my wife or we around friends and family that may not understand how I could go from there to… me. My wife has been out since she was a teenager, with a super supportive family, so it has never been a question in her mind as to how to act around other people. I know I will eventually be able to fully accept myself as who I’ve known I’ve been my entire life, but for now, I just want to be…. human.