For me living an authentic life means, being who I really am. And not being who everyone wanted me to be.
I always felt like something was not right, and it took me a long time to discover my authentic life. Being authentic to my true self was the hardest thing I have ever done. I had thoughts in my head of what others had said. Once I broke free from all the mixed up thoughts I was able, to be honest with myself and say. I’m gay, and I can’t live like a straight woman anymore. I did not care what people thought of me, so I came out and stood up for who I truly am.
The defining moment that enabled me to step out into my authentic self was when I decided to stop living a lie and admit to myself that I’m gay.
When I decided to shut my disguises, I was living with an abusive man who was very controlling and also abusive to my children. I started talking to a girl online about him, and we became very close. She help me find the strength to kick him out just by supporting me online, I also had to have help from social services. Once he was gone, I decided to find the real me. Every relationship I had with men went wrong. I started to think back to a time when I was 15 and had a girlfriend, but because of my abusive mother, I could at the time not be my true self. But here I was years later thinking maybe I’m gay and that’s why I keep getting into bad relationships with men. I found a support group online for LGBTQ+ people and the man that runs it helped me come out as gay. Now came the time to step into the light and tell my family. I was so frightened to tell my mother because of the way she treated me, but I thought no I’m going to do this, and if she doesn’t like it she can leave my life. I called her and told her, and she just laughed and said: “not this again it’s just another phase.” I told her I couldn’t live like this anymore, this is who I am, and I have hidden it for too long, she said okay, and that was that. Next, I told my dad he just said he thought it was because of all the things I’ve been through in my life. But in the end, my father was very supportive and still is. The hardest loved ones I had to tell was my children. My eldest son found it very challenging, and he told me what he thought, which was painful to hear. He has never forgiven me for leaving his dad, and as hard as it was, I had to let my son go and live with his father because I could not cope with his behavior towards me. My younger children were fine about it and seemed to accept it. I continued talking to the woman I met online, and we eventually started a relationship. It only lasted a few months as she had to go back to her country. She was working over here as a dancer, so when she went back home, I decided to end it. I’m glad I did because not long after I met my wonderful wife.
The obstacles I have faced while becoming my true self have been very challenging. I have had to overcome my abusive mum. She had pretended she was okay with my being gay, but finally, she told me what she thought and started sending me abusive voicemails. It got so bad that I have to get the police involved and they had to arrest her. I had decided to take her to court for all the abuse she had done to me over the years, but sadly the police decided to just caution her and told her never to contact me again. I had given my mother so many chances to be in my life but finally walked away as it was affecting my mental health. It was heartbreaking to let her go because deep down all I wanted was a mother that loved me, but after 41 years I had to except I was never going to have that.
Another obstacle was accepting that my two oldest sons did not want to be in my life anymore. My eldest son started to have a go at me and blame me for everything. It broke my heart that I had to let him go and live with his dad but I could not go on anymore trying to tell him that this is who I am. He was not having any of it; he didn’t even believe that I was ill and just thinks I’m a horrible person. I have no contact with him now because he said he doesn’t love me and he hates me. My second son lives with him now, and he feels the same way, so I have lost them which is so painful I feel like I’ve lost them just because I’m living as my true self. Due to all the abuse and not being my true self I have suffered mental illness. I had a breakdown and ended up in a mental health unit for three months. I had lost everything. I kicked my wife out, I lost my business, I became homeless, and then the most devastating blow came when my younger two children were taken into care while I was in the mental health unit. Sadly they have remained in foster care; due to my illness, my kids were frightened to come home. It was so heartbreaking because once I got home, I wanted them back. I have had to learn to live without them on a day to day basis, I do see them, but it’s not enough, it doesn’t feel right or fair because I was ill. I understand that they are settled and happy and for that I am thankful. Luckily I was able to get my wife back, and we are happy now and have a nice little home. Lastly, I had to overcome what people said about me. They said, “but you were married to a man and had four children”. The main obstacle for me was trying to explain myself to everyone which was not helping my mental illness. I’m stable now, but I still am learning how to cope with what’s happened. One thing I know is I’m staying with my wife, and I’m going to stay true to who I am.
I love the person I am today because I feel free to be who I really am. I love the way; I can say “this is my wife” and not feel ashamed anymore of being married to a woman. After all, she has helped me be the person I am today. I also love the fact; I can be open and honest about who I am as a lesbian without feeling ashamed. I used to say this is my partner so people wouldn’t know the truth. I love that God has made me this way and if he is not ashamed of me why should I be. I also feel better being honest and it has made me stronger for being open about it. I feel like I can do anything now and want to share my story to help other people who are struggling or broken-hearted.
I choose to surround myself with people who build me up and support me. I have surrounded myself with Christian lesbians, family, and friends that love and support me and don’t make me feel bad about myself. I also surround myself with people from projects that inspire me and give me peace of mind. I feel it’s so important to surround myself with people that don’t make me feel like I have to go back in the closet and hideaway.