Coming Out Later in Life - Letting Go of Fear - Finding Hope - Part V
My therapist asked me at the end of the six months, “As you move forward what kind of woman would you like to meet?” After some reflection I said, “I would like to meet a woman who has been out for a long time and who has no children ." Why did I want a life long lesbian also known as a woman who came out in their teens or twenties? There is a lesbian culture and I wanted to be with someone who knew it and could explain the intricacies to me. Many later in life lesbians often end up with someone who comes from a similiar situation and they learn together. I just didn’t want to do that. No children? I have four and that is a lot. I did not want to worry about integrating more children and I didn’t want my kids to worry about that either. I did not want to raise anymore children. I was in my twenty-fourth year of actively raising children and I could see the finish line.
I had a plan. I was going to come out as a lesbian, live on my own for several years, and then start dating. I would have never fully come out if I tried to follow this plan. I most likely would have returned to my marriage due to the enormous pressure I was getting from my family and my own guilt and shame in leaving my marriage and coming out. In retrospect this weak plan just doesn't make any sense, because I still was questioning my sexual orientation and I needed to be in a relationship with a woman so I could put my fears and doubt aside. I would like to confirm that my suspicions were correct and I am undoubtedly queer. Life plans never seem to work out, do they? Often whatever exists in its place, it is something better then we ever dreamed or imagined.
Three days after I told my therapist about my ideal women, I received a Facebook message from a woman named Hope, who was in the same online support group. She joined the group, at the request of the founder, to help support other women coming out later in life as a “lesbian mentor," for the lack of a better word. She contacted me because she saw I was a chaplain and a minister. Hope was seeking support after the break-up with her partner of thirteen years, which had happened the year previously. We began to talk and I provided counsel. It was the perfect situation for me. I was so unsure of myself and if she had started to flirt with me (although she tried a bit, but I quickly shut her down stating “I just want to be friends”) or come on to me I would have quickly unfriended her. Talking to Hope, while she was grieving the loss of her previous relationship, fit perfectly into my wheelhouse. At this point, talking to woman flirting or romantically would have been way outside my comfort zone. Over the course of several months, these FB messaged conversations, and eventually texting, allowed us to become friends first. It is a good way to start a relationship. It was gentle and I needed gentle.
When my therapist asked me what I was looking for in a woman there was actually something else I longed for but did not articulate. I wanted to meet someone who understood the importance of faith. My ex-husband John was always supportive of my ministerial ambitions, but religion was not his thing. Hope has serious theological chops (she is a recovering Southern Baptist) and her eloquence in describing her beliefs caught my attention almost immediately. Did I mention that she came out over thirty years ago when she was 22 and that we were the same age? And that she didn’t have any children? The therapist asked, I answered, and the universe responded with an additional bonus. Much quicker then I ever expected and not at all according to my plan. In retrospect that was a very good thing.