Scared To Lose My Children If I Tell Them

June 15, 2011

Q: I have had feelings for girls since I was little. I didn’t think it was “bad” until I was a teen and heard how people talked about gay people. My religion was not loving towards people with different sexual orientations, so I thought I would go to hell if I was gay. I tried to convince myself and everyone else that I wasn’t gay. I dated boys, was promiscuous (but it always felt wrong and I never had intercourse) and then I did what I thought would make everyone happy (even myself), I got married at the age of 18 to a man 6 yrs older than myself. I buried my feelings for women to try to be a good wife. Little did I know that the man I married would be abusive towards me and then our children. After 16 yrs of marriage, being depressed and suicidal I started going to therapy. It helped a lot. I talked about my marriage and eventually opened up about my feelings for women.

About 8 months after starting therapy, my husband tried to put his hands on my throat. I hit his hands away. I decided that he would never change and that I was the only one that could protect myself and my kids, so I left. I noticed a sense of relief in my children after a few days of being gone. I felt good about my decision. After a several months, I began thinking about the posibility of dating women. I wanted to see if what I felt inside was real. I went out with a few women and it was nice. But, then I met a woman that I felt a strong attraction to and we connected on so many levels. We have been girlfriends for 2 1/2 years. We are in a LDR and only see each other every few months. We just saw each other recently and don’t want to be apart. We want to live together, but we are both concerned about the children’s reactions. My ex has been manipulating our children and I rarely get to see them anymore. My partner and I want a life together. We are happy when we are together.

I just started going to a local university and live in a very small, conservative town. We both agree that I should be close to where my kids are until they are grown. My 2 eldest have aligned themselves with their dad and blame me for the divorce, even though they don’t know that I’m gay. I would like to come out to my children to be able to live honestly and be fair to my partner, so we don’t have to hide anymore. But, I am also afraid that my ex will use this info as more “proof” that I am to blame for the divorce. I feel stuck. I want to be free, but I am scared to lose my children. Thank you for any help.

A: Dear Scared,

I am sorry things have been so incredible hard for you.  But you sound strong and were able to leave an abusive relationship; that takes a lot of courage.  Anything else will be easy compared to that.

Since you didn’t say how old your children were, its difficult to help with how much information you share with them.  It also seems that your ex will use any information to build a case against you.  Without more information, it seems the best thing to do is be a loving attentive parent in every way you can under this difficult situation.  Children grow up and make decisions on their own, based on what you did or did not do in being available and loving.  Is this really the time to share your personal life with them?  You are the parent and your job is to protect them.  If that means you maintain privacy about your life then that might be the best thing to do. As far as being with your partner, get creative, see if there are ways you can be together more frequently.  Can she move closer to you?  Plan your life.  Take charge of your future; but as a parent and a partner.  There are many different creative ways that people structure families.  Find one that will work best for all of you.  There is an answer.  Look outside the traditional box.  You’ve done a lot already, keep going.  And be sure you stay in a loving place, both with your children and your partner.  Make it happen.  You can do it.