My teenage/high school years were rough, I am not going to lie. On the surface, I had a great life; I was outgoing, did well in school, had many acquaintances and friends, had the trust of my parents, and appeared to be very, very happy. But inside I was dying. I was still very different from my friends, and I was actively fighting my attraction to girls. While I don’t want to blame this on the depression I suffered, it certainly added to the pain of it. I often missed school for days at a time due to my depression (untreated), though I kept my grades up. My parent’s “hands off” approach to my schooling, especially as my grades were often A’s and sometimes B’s, seemed to extend to them not really wondering why this occurred and we never addressed it. I am type A and a perfectionist by nature, and in later years they shared that they just assumed that I was dealing with that at the time. And they were partially correct, but a bit and undiscovered reason was that my entire life was a lie. I was “on” 24/7, presenting to the world what I thought they wanted to see, and inside I knew (even if I didn’t acknowledge it in words) that what I presented was not authenticity, but a complete lie. I was NOT happy, I was NOT perfect, and it became clearer with each day that I was NOT straight. I talk about this a bit in my blog here. I would encourage you to read this blog entry as it touches, at a high level, what I had intended to share with you via these “entries”.
I accepted Christ when I was 16, and He changed my life in countless way. I believed at that moment that my struggles would end. That I would be whole, and that meant I would no longer be attracted to women. I felt as though being saved and loving Jesus would create a new Gina, and He did, but I soon realized that this new vessel still very much was pulled to women. When I realized this truth, I immediately felt as though I was doing something wrong; I was not faithful enough, I didn’t work hard enough at church or on my walk with Christ, maybe when I accepted Him I didn’t really give Him everything…….the list went on and on. Bottom line, I believed there was a deficiency in me that was holding me back from everything Jesus had planned for me, and I needed to fix that. I remained in that realm for the next 19 or so years.
I married a godly man at 20 and we were uber active in ministry. Worship band, marriage ministry, children’s ministry, were in a traveling Christian band that ministered all over the state. I tried to be selfless, I tried to be so many things. I cried painfully in my prayer life to God, begging Him to heal me, begging for direction on what I needed to do to move from my attractions. Through it all, I was an empty shell, while continuing to present to the world the perfect wife, perfect Christian, eventually tried to be the perfect mom, and always stared at the mirror knowing I was none of those things. Worst of all, I was a liar and a fake. I couldn’t be saved and serve Christ when, really, I was gay. Even when other’s met Jesus through my actions and ministries, they felt like failures, because I REALLY wasn’t a “true Christian” because of my sin. And I hated myself for it.
At 25, my husband, 3 year old daughter (my only child at the time), and I moved to San Antonio, Texas. He and I began to work at the same small company, where a very out and “butch” lesbian worked in the kitchen (it was a fresh food vending machine company). I was dumb struck – not because I was attracted to her, but it was the first lesbian I met in the flesh. We couldn’t be more different, but I was drawn to her out of curiosity and maybe because I felt like I was not the only one on the earth like “me”. She also fully embraced her sexuality, which was something very new for me. We became friends and she awkwardly fell in love with me, which was very flattering but also terrifying. I also was going through a very real life crisis, as hearing about her life made me want to be honest and open, too. But the truth at the time was that was impossible; I was a Christian, I was married, I was a mom, I was a daughter, and everyone in my life would be SOOOOOO upset and/or disappointed if they found out the truth about me. And, truth be known, I was also very ashamed that I was gay. VERY ashamed. I wanted to be able to embrace it, but I really thought it was wrong. My husband and I were also having marital problems; I knew I had married him for the wrong reasons (I wanted to be straight and needed a strong, church loving man to keep me accountable and also help indirectly make me appear to be normal) and we were also struggling financially. I also resented very much moving to Texas. It was the perfect storm of horribleness.
As we were losing our apartment, the electricity having been disconnected for non-payment, I refused to go to his parent’s place and remained alone in the apartment. I called my dad crying (I was super close to him throughout my life), fully intending to tell him the truth about my struggles, but I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t be honest. I was so afraid of losing his love, and his comments throughout my childhood about gays resonated in my mind. He begged me to come home, but I refused. After hanging up, I sat in the dark room, where no furniture remained, and for the first time thought about suicide. I mean, Jesus evidently didn’t love me enough to heal me and I was sure it was because even He knew I was not worth it. My parents would hate me if they knew about me. My husband would be devastated. And I believed I would damage my daughter. I went all the way to actually slitting my wrist about 2 inches, but then I had the horrible vision of my daughter being told when she was older how I died. Despite having no desire to continue in the struggles I was facing, I just couldn’t bring myself to do that, and stopped right then and there. I still have the faded scar from that night that reminds me how close I came to ending my life.
Instead, my mom (who was by now separated from my dad, and whom I was not very close to – another long story I will skip for now) called me and said she was flying me to live with her. She didn’t really give me much of a choice. I resented that really, and had no desire to open up to her at the time, but the idea of putting on my mask with my husband and his parents seemed much worse of a burden to bear. So I flew back to California and stayed with her. I actually opened up to her within days, as described in this blog entry, though it is less important to share at this time – so if you want to skip it for now please do! Well actually, it IS pretty important in that it was the first time I told anyone and, though I was looking for her to “scare me straight” instead of sitting at her house and doing nothing to fix my situation, she instead loved me and accepted me. It was a big moment. My life didn’t come together for many years in regards to my sexuality, but it was the beginning of me not seeing Jesus with an angry, disappointed face when I begged Him to heal me. Instead, He slowly began to take on a face that showed love despite my situation……
I returned to my husband out of “Christian guilt” and a newfound strength to get through my thorn in my side and become the straight woman I was intended to be. I also didn’t want to impact my daughter negatively with a divorce. We “worked things out”, but I still was very good at pretending most of the time and I can’t say I was overly happy in the marriage. But he was a nice guy, a kind man most of the time, a pretty good father, so I toughed it out and did what I thought I needed to do.
Jump forward about 9 years; I was starting a new job at a Christian Credit Union and I thought God would be pleased. I was excited to be back in a Christian organization (I had worked for a few others over the years) and I was excited for my future. Suddenly, this beautiful woman came into the lobby to meet me and the three other new hires to tell us that the Orientation Manager was delayed in traffic and would be with us shortly. It was the first time in my 35 years of life where the attraction I felt was overwhelming, and as I was sure I heard angels singing behind her, I thought for the first time “this could be the one” and then proceeded to nearly throw up. Imagine me, beginning to work at a CHRISTIAN ORGANIZATION, and be hit with a love at first site moment WITH A WOMAN! The dissonance in that moment almost killed me. In fact, I was so scared that I called my previous job and begged them to take me back. While they actually agreed, in reality my desire to get to know her overruled the part of me that wanted to run away from sure fire and brimstone.
We slowly became friends as I unofficially pursued her for nearly a year. Throughout that time I knew I loved her and I knew I’d like nothing better than to be in a relationship with her, but there were many problems with that idea; first of all, I was married. Second, I was a Christian and same-sex attraction was wrong. Third, she came from a very conservative religious background (Independent Baptist, where she didn’t even wear pants until she was almost 28 and caused an uproar when she finally did). Finally, dang I could lose my job if this came out! If you asked me then, I had no intentions of acting on my attraction with her, I just wanted to be friends even if I knew I would love to have more if it wasn’t so wrong.
One piece of info I missed – by this time my marriage was not great. I was not a great wife, and my husband was not a great husband. We went through the motions, we didn’t really fight, but we just sort of lived parallel lives, paid the bills together, etc. He had several different views about finances than I did, and that on top of my suppressed sexuality really built walls that we no longer tried to break down.
Then one day, as Deana was at my house helping me color Easter eggs with my kids (I had 3 by this time; Kirstie was about 12, Kenny was 7, and Josh was 2) I received a call from my sister-in-law that my 20 year old nephew had been killed in a car accident and my brother desperately needed me. I rushed to be at his side, and was with him until about 11pm that night. Being strong for him while also dealing with my own loss and emotions, I drove home and felt sorry for myself. I knew my husband would not be very productive in comforting me (even before our problems arose), and I resented that as the “strong person” for my family, I had no one to turn to where I could be the weak one. In that moment I decided Deana would and could be that person for me, and she was very empathetic as we’d become very good friends at this point. In the weeks leading up to this moment, I had also been struggling with the fact that I was a liar to her as well, pretending to be this friend of hers while hiding my true feelings.
That night, as I broke down over the loss of my nephew, I realized that life was fleeting and maybe the truth really CAN set you free. And there was a strong need for me to be authentic with at least those who cared enough about me – Deana, of all, should at least know the truth. If I lost her friendship, at least I knew I had some integrity left. While I didn’t plan on it, I ended up telling her that I loved her. The weird thing was, she didn’t freak out. Well, she eventually did ha, but not enough to stop her from telling me that she had feelings for me, too. That moment was so freeing and so scary and was the beginning of a road that was very difficult, but it felt very good to get it off my chest.