This Was A Lot Easier When I Was A Teenager

As I mentioned in other posts, in 2015, my husband, and the father of our young children, was killed in a motorcycle accident. The hole that it left me in was violent, but I was also left with this weird, guilt-filled sense of self-discovery. Here I was, at almost 30, with a new sense of freedom.

While others would complement our marriage—it’s strength, commitment, and ease– what they did not know that my husband and I never really had sex. It was always a chore for me– I would get anxious even thinking about it and I would sometimes have panic attacks in the bathroom afterward. I really, truly despised it. It wasn’t as though I found him unattractive; I could see that he was a traditionally handsome male. Many women were attracted to him, and I knew that. But it did not make me want to “jump his bones.” There was never a time I thought, “I want to screw that guy RIGHT NOW.” In fact, the children’s conceptions were so minutely calculated that I can actually tell you the exact date and time we conceived them. It was a science experiment with my ovulation.

I quickly want to add that despite our marriage not having the traditional sexual attraction, I loved (and still love) my husband with every ounce of my soul. That aspect should never be questioned, period.

While I often questioned the disdain, I always placed the blame on my hormones or exhaustion. I would watch TV and read books, I would listen to my friends talk about sex with their husbands: “Oh, I have a headache, hunny, not tonight!” They’d say. “Oh, I just lay there and let him get off, it’s such a chore.” So, my distaste for heterosexual sex seemed so normal. Society shows a wife who submits to a wild, rambunctious husband; so I did just that when necessary. I knew that I was married, that I valued that commitment, and there was no reason to sit and ponder my sexuality.

My late husband’s death broke that commitment (in the worst, most painful way). It wasn’t until later, at a wedding of an old friend of mine, did my internal questioning begin.

I was reintroduced to a family friend who had since come out as a lesbian. I was instantly attracted to her in a way that I had never felt with any cismale (that’s male assigned male at birth). Her mere presence felt like a magnetic pull in my direction. We began a relationship shortly thereafter.

Revelations seem to occur almost daily for me. Seeing her walk into a room will cause my stomach to flutter. Her touch causes electric shocks to my skin. There is a massive realization that I no longer despise sex. I feel as though I am a teenager, suddenly discovering lust. It both surprises and baffles me– is this how everyone else feels?

I also finally threw aside the “Suburban Mom” persona that I had so begrudgingly adopted. This time two years ago, I had exceptionally long, brown hair that had precise blond highlights and lowlights. I wore perfected make-up that took over an hour to apply. I had an extensive collection of black leggings and long tunic-shirts. I drove a silver mini-van filled with petrified chicken nuggets and children’s socks. I had Pinterest boards, TJ Maxx receipts, practically lived at Target and I DVR’d Good Morning America. I always felt like a fraud, but I chalked it up to Imposter Syndrome and moved on.

Today, there is so much more to me– I have started on a half-sleeve tattoo that I always wanted. I have begun to stretch my ears again and wear eccentric, wooden jewelry. I wear men’s cargo shorts and women’s sleeveless tops. I drive a new, sexier crossover SUV. I cut my hair short and dyed it every single color of the rainbow. My kids and I have dance parties to Imagine Dragons, The Beatles, and early 2000s hip-hop. I got rid of all my old decor and hung up tapestries, Tibetan prayer flags, and have an herb garden (and I killed it within weeks).

For the first time in my life, a life where I always desperately clung to the idea of “feeling like myself” or even finding myself at all, I feel a peace. I feel like I am finally who I should be (I still live at Target).

Do my clothes, my hair, my choice of jewelry mean anything in the grand scheme of life? Maybe not for everyone. But, to someone who had squashed who she was for so long, being able to live as person who I truly am means absolutely everything.

And yet, despite all of that, I have trouble grasping the idea that maybe, just maybe, this entire time… I’ve just been gay. Maybe I didn’t ever find men attractive “in that way.” Maybe I felt so beat down by societal pressure (even if it was subconscious) that I succumbed and assumed my sexuality. What if it was all garbage? People say, “Well, you have kids, so… [you had sex with your husband].” Well, yes, of course. It’s not as though women’s bodies mysteriously stop producing eggs and having the ability to grow humans just because they are lesbians. I was so committed to the idea of being married, and everything my marriage entailed (commitment to the ideal heteronormative, “picket-fence” life—a family, a house, vacations, retirement) that I never, ever stopped and considered that maybe it wasn’t everything.

I feel as though coming out to everyone was easier than coming out to myself. I also feel like I’ve come out so many times that my gayness is like an automatic revolving door to the most confusing closet– full of passageways and trapdoors. As a confused teen, I was “totally bisexual” and would make out with my friends to make their boyfriends jealous. In my early 20s, I discovered pansexuality and, well, of course, I was that. I justified it because I had been in heterosexual relationships so I couldn’t just be gay. In my late 20s I was married so it didn’t matter, right?

Coming out “later in life” has been as challenging as it has been liberating. There is a taboo surrounding this discovery; it is as though you either come out in your teens or early 20s or you do not come out at all. I aim to change that, albeit on a small scale. From my experiences and hearing from others, coming out is never a walk in the park. I believe there is an added level of trepidation when you are older, and especially when you have children and a previous heterosexual relationship. I’m sure it doesn’t help that I’m also dealing with post-loss new-relationship guilt, either.

I am ever-grateful for my path of self-discovery. It does not matter how I got here, it simply matters that I am finally on my way.