By Sarah Miller
I was always thankful for the relationship I had with my mom. We were close, spoke often, and she was always an encouragement to me. My ex-husband used to jokingly tell me that my mom ruined me. He said she talked me up so much that I felt like I could do no wrong. And that was mostly true. Growing up I was always encouraged and celebrated because I was so “good.”
I followed all the rules, I was sweet, and I had a heart for helping others. My older brother was a disaster and caused a lot of strife in the house. I did my best to be good and keep the peace. Part of this is because of who I am, (hello, Enneagram 9w1), but the other was that I wanted to be loved and I felt that my obedience and goodness would earn that love.
I did all the right things in life. I did great in high school and college. I had excellent grades and never got in trouble. I graduated, got married, and started a family. I know my mom felt some sense of pride when she talked about me. I was living the perfect life after I had made all the perfect choices.
During college, I sort of fell away from my faith practice. I didn’t renounce my faith or anything, I just stopped going to church. During this time, my mom would question my faith and ask when I was going to go back to church.
After I got married, my ex-husband and I decided we wanted to raise our children going to church, and we started going back. We were the perfect example of a great American Christian family. I know my mom was pleased that we were back “in the church.”
We found a wonderful Methodist church right in our neighborhood. I can’t say my faith was flourishing, but I was going to church every Sunday, and I was part of a small group that I loved. I often felt like a child feeling proud of myself when I told my mom that we went to church or did some church function. It was like I wanted her to know I was faithful so she could be proud of me.
Well, all that pride my mother had in me ended when she found out I had an affair with a woman. She felt nothing but shame when I told her that I was getting a divorce and that I was in love with this same woman. I’ll admit, most people were completely shocked when I told them I was getting a divorce. People were even more shocked when I told them it was because I was in love with a woman. I gave my mom space and time to process. I thought that after a couple of months things would blow over. I was wrong.
It’s been almost a year. I’m one month from my divorce being finalized. I’ve been dating the same woman since the separation. We are a month away from moving into a house together. Yet, my mother still refuses to support or come to terms with my new life. We’ve had countless arguments and “discussions,” and I can’t seem to make any headway with her.
Some days the issue is that I had an affair. “What kind of woman would pursue a married woman?” she questions. (Apparently, I’m the victim of a very pursasive lesbian and that’s the ONLY reason I left my husband.) Other days, it’s that I’m living in sin and it’s not okay to be gay. It’s like a game of whack-a-mole. If I address the affair, she brings up sin. If I address my view of queerness in the bible, she brings up the affair. It’s a battle that I cannot win and a battle I no longer want to fight.
I don’t like conflict and I don’t like debating. When people want to debate politics or religion, I shut my mouth. I want nothing to do with the conversation, even though I have opinions. I’ve always been this way. So, the idea that I have to debate or try to convince my mom to support me in my new life is very stressful.
As a person who has lived their entire life as a people pleaser, I have a lot of shame, guilt, and anxiety related to the affair. I’ve always made my mom and my family proud. I’ve always made the right choices and been considered “moral” and good.
It’s hard feeling her rejection and her judgement of my life. She’s said so many hurtful things to me. It’s hard knowing that she thinks the worst of my partner. It’s hard not being able to share important details of my life.
Divorce is hard, but I don’t feel comfortable telling her how hard things are because I’ll get an “I told you so.”
If I tell her how happy I am, I end up disappointed that she doesn’t share in my joy.
I’m at the point now where I don’t know what else to do but to take a little space.
She wants me to “get right with the Lord” and not be gay.
I want her to love and accept me and my new relationship.
It seems neither of us is going to get what we want any time soon. The only thing I can do is stay strong and stand my ground.
I am fully loved and affirmed by God. I am gay, and I am happy with who I am.
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Sarah Miller is an overly optimistic, conflict-avoidant, newly queer educator and mom of two. She finds joy in writing, sunshine, good salsa, and coffee with too much creamer. She believes everyone has a story that’s worthy of being told.
“This life is mine alone. So I’ve stopped asking people for directions to places they’ve never been.” -Glennon Doyle