Where do I start? Well I don’t really know. I don’t really know when I admitted I was gay to myself! Everybody talks about telling their friends and family, not many talk about how they let themselves know.
For me my earliest memory of liking someone who didn’t fit with the norm was at Secondary School. I used to walk home with her. I loved that walk and often went out of my way just to be with my pal longer. I didn’t fancy her, she was just a friend. She was! It was only a teenage crush, you know what you get when you are in puberty and your hormones are confused? As time went on I had the odd boyfriend, nothing physical or too heavy. I told myself I was a Christian and I wanted to wait till I got married. That’s what I told the chaps too! Fortunately, the men in my life have been decent and understanding. Frustrated but very decent. I didn’t get on with my own father, but I soon realised other men weren’t like him or at least the ones I chose weren’t. I was very careful that they were totally opposite from him.
When I was 22 years old I met a woman who turned up at the front door! I was in the middle of a breakdown and had only just come out of hospital. She similarly had only just recovered from bad health. That friendship soon blossomed and my life began to revolve round her. She invited me round for tea, for meals and was always buying me little gifts that were so thoughtful. This love she showed me was so different from the love that my mother showed me. It was more emotional and sweet. At home nobody talked to me about how I was feeling but she did. My father was a selfish cold person who hurt me daily. This woman put me first, thought of me all the time and made me feel wanted. Weeks and months went by and our friendship became painful (or it did for me). I wanted more from her, but I didn’t know what? I needed to have little physical contacts like tapping her arm, resting on her shoulder and stroking her face. BUT SHE WAS A SHE?!
I told her if you were a man I’d know what to do, but you’re not. She amazingly felt the same confusion. We were like magnets that were just drawn together by an invisible force. Then in a moment of weakness we had a physical contact that was more than friendship. For me it was a two edged sword, I was delighted and felt it was so right, but then she was traumatised and felt it was so wrong. We both were Christians and rightly or wrongly, we believed it was not the right way to be. We were lovers, but only when we were too weak to fight our love. Then I felt guilty for making her do something she didn’t want to do and she felt she had failed again. We were torn. I felt responsible for making her feel guilty and knew it couldn’t last.
One day she said NO more and I became the most devoted of friends for over 20 years. Nobody knew what we had felt or what had happened basically, because I couldn’t let her have a blemish on what was a faultless loyalty to her Christian faith. It also meant I didn’t have to face my own sexuality problems. I was going to be faithful to her and hence I was not committing any sins myself and ignoring my confusion.
Then I found I was lonely and feeling life was passing me by and at 40-ish I was talked into going out with a lovely chap. I honestly told him I thought I was gay and that I’d hurt him. That only impressed him more and he insisted we be friends! I was thinking maybe my first gay experience was unique and maybe it was because we were both mentally unwell at the time. Maybe it was because my father and my brother in law had been such a disappointment to me and that I had been put off by men.
So this was my last ditch chance to have kids, a home, my faith, my family’s respect and openness with the World. So I gave it a go! He had his faults, but essentially he was a kind compassionate man who would make a good partner and father. Unfortunately, I put him through it and it wasn’t great for him, but I wasn’t feeling what I wanted to feel. Then he made one mistake and I grabbed the opportunity to jump ship.
I think it was because of the fear of being gay, childless, alone, not accepted, rejected by my faith and my parents getting old…that made me have my last breakdown. I thought if I can’t feel something for this man who’s pretty lovely…I MUST BE GAY!
I’m not going to describe my years of ill health and the trauma that it brought. At 46-ish I finally recovered enough to be independent of my elderly parents. At this time, because of the miracle of feeling well again (something I never thought I’d feel) I wanted to move forward and leave my old life of dependency and denial behind.
I moved from Clacton in Essex to the Watford area and I was free to be myself at last. I was ready to look for a girlfriend too! Not everything went right. I had bad treatment by a friend, homelessness three times (too complicated to explain) and all sorts of bad times. The worst being the loss of my dear mother, BUT despite this my mental health has been good and I’ve been more happy than I’ve ever been in my life.
I believed though, that I was too old and clapped out to have a reciprocal relationship with a woman. So I put all my heart and soul into voluntary work for a few charities and made lots of friends who I love. You know what they say, “Love comes along when you least expect it.”
One of the many voluntary jobs that I did in this time was running a support and social group for lesbian women called Voila. Then one fantastic day a woman emailed me asking for info on my group. I wrote back and told her what she wanted to know and tried to encourage her to meet up with the group. She kept saying she was busy teaching or marking. At this time I was having a bit of menopausal troubles and stopped socialising with the group for a couple of months.
So when I felt better I remembered the poor young teacher who I dropped when I began feeling unwell. I thought I should explain why I hadn’t contacted her lately and put things right. She’s since told me that she thought I had given up on her, because she had kept saying she was busy. Also when I finally did contact her again was too polite to say, “No actually I’m moving out of the area now anyway.” So we met, she came along and got to know the group which she soon grew to love.
Since I had emailed her two months earlier, she had resigned her teaching job and put her house on the market to move near home to Cheshire where her parents live. I was thinking how I so deeply understood her and how she moved me so much, but I’d better not be too close as she is selling up and going home. Anyway, she would be bound to like someone else knowing my luck. I realised that she found face to face openness difficult, so I suggested she download MSN Messenger. This is how we grew to know each other and say things that we might not say in each others’ company. We messaged for whole days and long evenings and eventually knew each other very well. This form of revealing our inner feelings and souls worked for us and soon, after a misunderstanding that had Jane thinking I had found someone else (no way!), we got together.
Now all I can say is thank goodness she was a teacher (I trained as a teacher too) as it was that that stuck in my mind about that faceless emailing woman who seemed reluctant to take a risk. For the last 18 months we’ve not been out of each others’ sight, unless we were at work. We know how each other thinks, feels and what she wants. We are totally dedicated to each other and love each other deeply. Jane supports me in everything that I’m interested in and that is so important to me. She has become a volunteer at Henry Smith House where I work and she has even sat painting with me which is an unbelievable joy. She never did move back to Cheshire and my life has become complete.
At last it’s NOT unrequited love. We love each other equally. Well no, I’m sure I love her more than she could possibly love me!