Last night I had “the talk” with my youngest daughter, the talk I had been dreading, but it came out better than I thought it would. Saturday I may be having the same talk with my oldest. K17 told me I need to tell K20 everything I told her, to write it down. K20 doesn’t understand how I raised them one way and then did the exact opposite. So here, as best as I can recall, was our conversation. I am trying to commit the important points to memory. I am leaving some things out, of course. It was a 1 ½ hr conversation. I know that Saturday’s conversation will not go as smoothly:
Me: I want to talk to you about something. I want to apologize to you.
(I can tell she thinks I am going to apologize for leaving. Wiggles in her chair and a tear drops already.)
Me: I never should have let Daddy and L go back to the house October 10th without me. I should have been the one who told you I was leaving, not them. I was a coward. I don’t even know what they told you. I was too scared to watch my beautiful girls crying and break their hearts. I had already watched their dad and it was also unfair to put him in that position. So now I am going to tell you in my own words why I had to leave. And you can yell at me, cry, hug me, cuss at me, whatever you need to do.
I have known I was gay since I was five years old. Well, I didn’t think about sex or anything, but I just knew I was not like all the other girls. I felt very different. And by 11, I DEFINITELY knew that I was gay, even though I had never heard the term or any other term that meant homosexual. I want you to know that I tried everything to make it go away. I dated boys, I prayed, I went to therapy, I had people pray over me who thought they could “heal” me. Nothing worked.
I want you to know most of all that I did not marry your dad to hurt him, deceive him or even use him. I cannot say that marrying him was a mistake because that would mean that you and your sister are mistakes, and you are not. I loved you both before you were born. I got married twice because I wanted to be like everyone else; I wanted to be what society thought of as being “normal.” I really thought that getting married would cure me. So when I met your dad, I knew he would be a good husband and father. I loved him, but not the way you are supposed to love your husband.
I also want you to know that J is not the reason I am gay, but she saved my life. About five years ago, before J even came back into my life, I decided that after you graduated from high school (which will be May 2011), I was going to leave. After I had “raised” both of you. I felt that you needed a mother at home at least until then. I only told a couple of people about my plan. I was going to leave because I had been putting your dad in bondage. You see, for years, he had known something was wrong, and he always assumed it was his fault. He tried everything to make me happy, but nothing worked. He felt like he was a failure, and I just couldn’t mislead him any longer. It wasn’t right. So I waited for the five years to get here.
Only I started stuffing the feelings and what I was doing to him and you with alcohol. I started taking pills and, as you know, almost died twice. K14, I was not going to live much longer. I just could not stuff it all down any longer. I felt like I could be a better mom to you alive than dead.
Her: I know, Mom.
Me: Anything you want to say?
Her: Well, we discussed it about a week later and decided that it was kind of a good thing, what you did. We were more at peace. We didn’t have to worry any more about whether Mom was going to drink tonight or if you would wake up the next day.
Me: You know that we raised you in a fundamental church. That was my fault. When we lived in Houston we were going to a liberal Presbyterian church. The choir director was gay, and we even let K20 stay at his house for a party once. Then we moved to the country and I started going to a Bible study there. I asked your dad if we could start going there. It was extremely conservative, and I thought that maybe it would cure me or that at least I could hide my sexuality better if everyone that I was a fundamental Christian. I honestly thought I was doing the right thing. But then it backfired.
Her: You need to tell K20 this because she doesn’t understand why you did that.
Me: Remember when I stopped going to church about four years ago? It was because I just couldn’t sit there any longer and be around people who thought that my Jesus, my Saviour, loved me so much (sarcasm) that he would send me to hell for being who I am. I was baptized as an infant and again as an adult. Everyone celebrated and thought that was wonderful. But then when they found out I was gay, it was like my baptism never took place. And now for the big question. Do you think your mother is going to hell?
Her: No, I don’t. People at church ask about you. They are glad when I tell them you are doing better.
Me: Well, you know that the church sent me a letter and told me that I was no longer “allowed” to take communion and that I was going to hell?
Her: (She hadn’t heard about the note that I could tell.) I think they had the right to tell you that you could not come back because you didn’t agree with their beliefs but they didn’t have the right to tell you you were going to hell.
Me: It took me about eight months until I was able to take communion without crying.
Her: (crying) And this weekend on the way home from retreat they were bashing Catholics (really crying). (Her paternal grandmother is Catholic)
(She said that her adopted mom and family that she hangs with also don’t think I’m going to hell.)
Me: We raised you in a bubble. If you believe what they are teaching you, that’s my fault. There is a whole other world out there. Your church is in the minority way of thinking.
(and then I told her about our church, the organ music, the old hymns, the people, about some of the teens who have been kicked out of their homes because they are gay while their pregnant 16 yr old sisters get to stay home. I told her about Prayers for Bobby, about how God didn’t heal Bobby because there was nothing wrong with him. How he killed himself and that could have been me. How there are probably quite a few closeted gays in her church and that there are definitely some gay kids in her theater group.)
Her: Yeah, at least two I can think of.
Me: I don’t want you to think that you are better than other people. I told her that when the church is gay bashing, there are gay kids in the congregation who are listening.
Her: I don’t.
(She proceeded to tell me about how she is tired of the way her church talks about other denominations and that the Bible says if you take Jesus as your savior you are a Christian. Yes, people worship different ways and believe different things, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t Christians. I reminded her about the time the people across the street told us we weren’t Christians because we let our kids watch Disney movies. I went to their door one time and the kids were playing in the living room while Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom was on the T.V; you know, the one where they have a live sacrifice and take the guy’s beating heart out of his chest?)
Me: Remember how I used to get you two to watch Rosie O’Donell’s movies and Ellen? I wanted to see how you would react when you found out I am gay. I told you about Clay Aiken coming out so that his son would always know his real dad.
(I also told her about A Fish Out of Water and what it is about. I told her she could watch it one day with me if she wanted to.)
We talked about J. She thinks that someday in the future she will be able to meet her but not right now. I’m sure I left a lot out, but that’s all I can think of right now. If you made it to the bottom of this post, congratulations, and please feel free to comment!