I am coming to this discussion quite late as I have been taking a hiatus from the forums and most of the stuff I had been doing online throughout the past year or two, but I was drawn to your story because I can so relate to it.
I was in a straight marriage for 21 years and have three children from that marriage.
I knew that I was “different” long before I got married, but because of my faith background, I could not even apply the word ‘lesbian’ to that difference. I was heavily in denial and quite happy to stay there. Mind you, I probably didn’t have the clarity and vision about it then, that I do now, so whilst my actions may have been selfish, I don’t think that, at the time the decisions I made were consciously selfish, if you get my meaning?
I had heard the message in church that you can’t be gay. Not even that you can’t be gay and christian, it was ‘you can’t be gay.’ full stop and I didn’t want to be “different.” even though I knew I was.
The only problem I faced was that none of the young guys in my church was the least bit interested in me 😀 I’m not saying I am/was butch, but I am obviously “different” enough that none of them wanted to know about it.
So I did the next best thing, went outside of church and faith and bought a rod for my back as my mum put it, by marrying a non-christian. Talk about complicated! I was gay, he was “unsaved” it was a total mess… and then the kids came along.
I can hear your heart about your children, I honestly can! I know exactly where you’re coming from. I stayed in my unhappy, un-fulfilling marriage for 21 years making both myself, and my husband miserable, because I was afraid of hurting the kids. *sigh*
In the end, my kids were begging me to leave, because the whole situation had become completely toxic. I believe I did them more damage by trying to stick it out, and by suppressing my true self than I have done by coming out and being authentic–truth to tell, they knew all along, anyway. My son’s words when I told him I’m gay: “So you finally figured that out, huh? Took you long enough.” (this was said lovingly, not cruelly).
It was not until my physical health completely broke down that I finally decided I needed to leave my husband and work on finding my true self.
I’m still on that journey. I have good and bad days, and the past few months have been intense with medical tests and seeing doctors and what have you as I also work to repair the damage I feel was done, in large part, by my suppressing my lesbian orientation for such a long time.
None of this means that if you stay, that will happen to you. Your journey is yours and all of us handle things in different ways, and all of us are called by God to walk in different paths. I can’t tell you what’s right for you, although I sure wish it was that simple.
I’m now in a committed relationship with Sandra, my partner of almost four years. Both of us have left the church some time ago.
For quite a long period–about 4 years, I think, I had thrown out the baby with the bathwater and wanted nothing more to do with religion. Even now, I am unsure if I want to be involved in church or with “christian” circles because of the harm I feel has been done to me. Perhaps they didn’t deliberately set out to hurt me…I don’t believe any church or believer sincerely would want to damage people by the things they believe, but they do damage people and I haven’t been able to fully reconcile that yet.
I’m sorry that this is a bit long winded. I will stop here, for now. I just wanted to let you know you’re definitely not alone!