My first blog in this series addressed the questioning phase of coming out when you’re married; in this issue I’d like to focus on what happens when you are no longer questioning – but know.
There are numerous considerations and decisions when you come to terms with the realization that you are gay. Do I stay in my marriage? Do I tell my husband? Do I talk to my kids? The huge impact on your life when you come to terms with this realization can’t be underestimated. Below is a break-down of just a few of the thoughts and feelings.
As married women and moms, we may have lived our lives with a desire to embrace diversity. There is nothing like the realization that YOU are the one who is gay to shake that foundation of surety. It was only when I was the one with the feelings and desires and when it was ME who would be in the same-sex relationship that my internal homophobia surfaced. It took me years of processing feelings before I felt totally comfortable and open about who I am. And it’s not because I ran up against blatant discrimination – it all came from me, from what I’d accepted as homosexual stereotyping to facing the fact that I was no longer in the majority. I was now someone who could face prejudice and the pushback of “it’s not normal.”
Guilt and shame are very common for women who are on this journey. It’s been suggested that shame is a sense of disapproval or embarrassment about who you ARE while guilt involves the same feelings about what you’ve done. We may feel shame when the way we are thinking and feeling are totally different than what we’ve always believed to be right. We feel guilt when we act on feelings of attractions that go against long-held values. If you have no one to talk to about your negative feelings, it’s easy to create a loop in your mind that keeps you from moving forward into self-acceptance and love.
The ups and downs we feel during this odyssey are huge. For me, feelings of anger at myself for hurting my kids and my husband when they had no fault in what was happening were terrible (we live address this particular issue in more detail in a later blog). Grief and sadness over the loss of my family were everyday emotions. On the flip side we can experience feelings of euphoria. Feeling like you are “waking up” for the very first time can make you feel like you’re 15 years old. Being self-consumed is not a-typical when you are going through this feeling of awakening. There are times when we feel we’ve lost all control of our lives – we’re on a roller-coaster ride of highs and lows that can both happen in the same day!
Decisions that need to be made about your future should be taken with care and patience. Making decisions while you’re in the midst of major emotion – positive or negative – may be something you regret. Pay attention to your feelings during the time when you’re preparing to make choices and decisions; they hold clues as to what you really want. Fears can be addressed and you can determine whether they are exaggerations or real. While it is very hard to feel uncertain about the future, it’s important to feel as grounded and sure of yourself as possible before you make long-lasting decisions.
Empowering women to envision, believe and create a new life at midlife
Denise LaFrance, CPC
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