A World of Secrets
Dear parents who make major changes in their lives related to their sexuality,
When I was around 12 my parents suddenly announced to me that they were splitting up. I was very surprised and devastated. My dad moved out and my mom started hanging out with a woman I'll call Joan. Joan looked very masculine to me. My mom was spending a ton of time with her. They were going on trips together and my mom would spend hours on the phone with her. My mom didn't say anything other than that Joan was a friend. I knew that my mom and Joan were a couple and I was so embarrassed!
This was in the 80s in LA and lesbians were not considered cool at all. I was in junior high and on the lower tier of the popular crowd. Everyone had to wear the same clothes and listen to the same music to fit in. Having a lesbian mom was about the most shameful thing you could imagine. Even though my dad had moved out, somehow I decided not to tell anyone that my parents had split up. This was my brilliant way of trying to hide that my mother was with a woman. When my friends came over I would tell them that my dad was on a business trip. I didn't even tell my best friend!
Somehow I managed to keep this charade up for a while. I started smoking a lot of pot and staying out late. My brain started to do strange things. I started to feel separated from reality. I felt like I was going crazy. The feeling became so unbearable after a while that I felt I needed to end my life. I decided to tell my mom that I wanted to see a psychologist. I got it in my head that either a professional was going to help me or I would need to kill myself.
I finally worked up the courage to ask my mom to send me to a shrink. I started seeing this shrink. I told her that my parents were separated and that I was keeping it a secret. But I didn't tell her that my mom was a lesbian. I was so devastated by this that I couldn't even tell my shrink! I think it took me about a year to work up the courage to tell the shrink. I remember being really nervous and not knowing how I would get the words out. When I finally told her, it was somewhat of a relief. The shrink was smart enough to explain to me that no wonder I was feeling separated from reality - I was living in a world of secrets where nothing was supposed to be discussed.
She told me that what would help me feel better would be to confront my mom and get this big elephant out in the open. I think it took me another year of therapy to get up the courage to talk to my mom about this! By that time I think about 5 years had passed since my mom first started seeing Joan. When I finally confronted my mom it was a relief and things started to get better little by little. I had many more years of therapy but now, in my mid 40s, I am very happy and successful. I just wish my mom had opened up to me at the very beginning. I think she was trying to protect me, but keeping secrets can be very harmful. Thank goodness I found a good shrink. Otherwise I might not be here.