Getting over girlfriend #1 - first, you mope...
Welcome back to my self-revealing blog My Single Lesbian Life(tm)! I hope you will read this blog in the order posts are written because, often, posts on this blog tell a story by building on earlier posts.
I'm entertaining my snowbird parents and their sweet snorkie dog, Rosie, for the next 5-6 weeks or so, so it's a bit crazy over here. How about you? How are you living YOUR week? Choosing an exciting life full of love and meaning, I hope!?!
Are you ready to pick up from where I left off in my 1/17/07 post? Here we go...
As I said the other day, after my relationship with girlfriend/life partner #1 ended, I was quite upset, for a couple of reasons...
* it's normal to grieve when you lose someone or something you truly cared about and cared for
* I felt victimized - I rationalized that I didn't 'see it coming' ('it' meaning our relationship's demise which I told myself was caused by the fact that my girlfriend, who was a senior in college and had just turned 25, left me for a guy!).
Believe you and me, what happened to me at this point was the nightmare every lesbian dreads: finding out the love of your life is into men!
The deeper truth was that our relationship was ending long before girlfriend #1 met that guy, but I'll explore that at some other time. Another way of saying it is thus: had I known about a thing called 'conscious dating' and 'understanding my requirements', I might not have been in a relationship with a non-lesbian in the first place!
At first I moped alot (I remember one of my hyper friends telling me I needed a pill!).
At the same time, I was just starting graduate school and perhaps the stresses of that coupled with the financial stresses that were hitting now that I was living alone, distracted me from having nothing else to focus on but losing the love of my life.
The challenges of being the oldest, gayest child!
As I mentioned previously, I had already been living independently, without help from family, since the age of 18. Now, at this time I was 26-27 years of age and, you say, shouldn't I be a fully functioning, independent adult by that age? Rather than say I was a 'slacker' (how could I have been, as hard as I was working going to school and working jobs to put myself through school and keep a roof over my head?), I would say my lack of 'greater independence' at that point had to do with facts such as...
* the career I'd chosen required a graduate degree, postponing me entering the full time work world
* it took much longer finishing my studies because I didn't enjoy the support/advantages young adults who are able to either live at home with their parents (or live on campus) have
Now, I'm not going to discuss it here, but, at some later date, I plan to talk more about why parents and society need to better understand and help teens who 'drop through the cracks' like I did, but I digress...
My family might disagree, however, I believe there were two primary reasons I was asked to leave home at the age of 18...
* I was gay and, even though I didn't flaunt it, I wasn't going to hide that fact, which ticked my parents off and led to their donning what seemed like 'grey glasses' covering their eyes, coloring their perspective of me, in a not-so-flattering way (leading to their branding me as 'defiant'). By the way, even though my parents haven't disowned me and have always welcomed my partners into their home, to this day they don't see my relationships as equal to their marriage and I believe they treat me 'differently' from my straight sisters. More on that one (and the impact), later!
* I was the oldest child and 'paved the way' for my younger siblings - I didn't get away with some of the same things my younger siblings did (so I hear!). Parents learn to relax after they go through 'launching' that first young adult into the world.
All three of my STRAIGHT sisters lived at home until they married, had time to become more financially sound before 'leaving the nest' and did their fair share of 'getting away with things', without 'getting into trouble'.
Silver linings in the clouds?
So, I just want to say: thank the U.S. government for having the good sense to offer students like myself scholarships, grants and student loans! I try to remember that when I grumble paying my taxes now! ;-)
I also need to add that my parents did pitch in and pay off one of my many student loans after I finished grad school AND they've been supportive recently by helping me purchase my first home following the breakup of my second (14 year) relationship. Thanks ma and pa!
I've also encountered the suggestion by some that I need to look in a positive way at how what I went through in my early adult years has helped me become the 'wonderful' person I am today! And, I can't argue with that, now can I!?! It is true that the challenges I encountered have instilled character. However, I would argue that what I went through WASN'T ideal and, I am hoping by creating written accounts such as this blog, to raise consciousness in society, parents, teens, etc., so that others don't have to make the same mistakes I (and my parents) did.
How I survived the breakup, initially..
Financially, I needed to take in a roommate and did. I had re-connected with a friend from high school who, believe it or not, was also attending the same program. He had recently left the priesthood and we were quite a good team for a while. We had some great food fights, long talks about dating, stuff like that, so that relationship was a positive in my life.
However, as far as grieving the loss of my seven year relationship, being single and moving on, I was, as I look back on it now, on 'auto-pilot'. What do I mean by auto-pilot? Going through the motions, trying to live above my sadness and get on with it. Not that this is much different from what most of us do when we go through a breakup, especially at that time in history. Afterall, this was during the late 1980's/early 1990's and the 'Oprah-ization' of America hadn't quite taken hold yet!
Not All Help is Created Equal
As I mentioned in my 1/17/07 post, I did seek out a counselor at the school health center. He was somewhat helpful, but I would've loved to have had a lesbian counselor and/or contact with other lesbians going through a similar challenge. What a wonderful thing that would have been, to have had the opportunity to have such social support. I know now that it would be smart for me to seek out a lesbian therapist if I ever needed or wanted therapy again.
Why do I say all of this? For one thing, this doc couldn't empathize with my 'it's hard to meet other women' complaint. He told me basically that it was me because all his other lesbian clients had no problem 'hooking up'.
Well, I disagree Dr. so-and-so (can't remember his name). I wasn't ready to 'hook up' or get involved with another woman yet, I DID experience connecting with other lesbians (any lesbians, not even counting 'like-minded' lesbians), even in Baltimore, Maryland, difficult, and I DID know about myself that I didn't 'fall in love easily' (but when I did lost myself!).
I wonder if this male therapist got it that I was grieving the loss of a very significant relationship, just like he'd grieve his wife if she died or left him. So sorry if you are a gay male or straight therapist reading this, but I believe there is nothing like the support available from someone whose life experience is similar to yours, in terms of helping you feel better about yourself and move forward/deal positively with change. Now even some gay and lesbian therapists and coaches will disagree with my opinion, but I stand by it!
And, of course, on the family front there wasn't much support there, as no one in my immediate family (including myself) could openly talk about the fact I was gay, let alone the fact that I was going through what would equate in their world, to a divorce.
STAY TUNED...for my next post, where I'll share more about what it was like being newly single, gay and 20-something in the late 1980's/early 1990's.