Sneaking In Some “Me” Time

 

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“Oh my god,” I finally breathed. “Everyone is out of the house.”

It is a rare moment. My father is out with my brother-in-law, and my sister has just gone out for what I figure would be a 20-30 walk with the hounds. The house is mine!

Being that my father is retired, and my brother-in-law and sister happen to be disabled, they almost never leave the house all at one time. It is time to have a little me time. I peer out of the front window to make sure that my sister is down the road. When I determine that the coast is safe, it is time to quickly squeeze in some good old fashion self love.

I run to my bedroom and close the door. Just in case, I lock it and shove a book bag in front of it. I walk to the bookshelf from across my bed and light an amber scented incense stick. With it aflame, I gently light the tea lights in my altar. One sits in a Buddha’s lap and the other in a rose quartz rock. They are surrounded by all sorts of other crystals I have collected over the years. Amethyst, obsidian, lapis, quartz of all kinds…designed to bring creativity, love, abundance, and protection. I light them to honor this special time. It brings a sort of holiness to the whole ritual.

I lay a towel on my bed, sit down, and reach under the bed for a special box. I take off the lid and pull out my good friend. It is a “Magic Wand.” I pause as I hear a car drive by; I am still a little weary of anyone arriving back home unexpected. I reach for a small bottle of lube and put a dime size amount on my fingers. I lay back and rub it towards the front of my vulva, right over the clit.

I look around my room. It is the tiny bedroom I spent my entire youth in. I can remember the cut out letters my mom stapled onto one wall when my kindergarten teacher told her that I didn’t know my alphabet. They had stayed on that wall until I graduated high school. I never thought I would be living in this room at the age of 38. I had left the coop and lived in Spain and Chicago, I had even bought a house in Kalamazoo, but the economic downturn circa 2008 mixed with fighting uterine cancer left me with no choice but to start over.

While on my back, I slipped the wand down my underpants and turned it on its lowest setting. As I start feeling the vibration, I work to relax. I had never successfully masturbated until I was in my thirties. My friends, wanting me to put myself out there, encouraged me to try to hook up with some guys after I had lost 60 pounds. In one weekend, I doubled the amount of people I had ever slept with. Bringing the total to a robust four. I slept with two guys in 24 hours, and I wasn’t really that satisfied. I felt like I was trying to accommodate them the entire time. I endured one guy titty fucking me, and another guy trying to forget he was in bed with a 300 lb woman. I became so frustrated that I decided I had to figure this whole masturbation thing out. I read internet articles, attended Pure Romance parties, and tried to peruse adult toy shops. I never felt comfortable talking with anyone else about my dilemma.

Eventually, I won a small bullet vibrator from a Pure Romance party. It laid dormant in my house for a while until I got so frustrated that I threw in some AA batteries and decided I had to figure this thing out. A friend once told me that she could only really orgasm from clitoral stimulation. At the time, I had no idea what she was talking about and I quickly changed the subject to something benign. Maybe she was right. I had played with fancy dildos that vibrated and had all kinds of things going on in them, but it didn’t do anything for me. Eventually, I decided to find this “clit” thing.

I tried going up and down the vulva until I figured out that something was going on when the bullet was at the very top. I felt so dirty trying to figure this out, and filled with so much self-hatred and self-judgment that I often stopped well short of orgasm. I didn’t even know what orgasm was still. Upon further exploration, I discovered that I felt I was driving up a cliff and about ready to jump off. I would get so scared that I would stop just before lift off. What if what I was doing was wrong? Was I going to hurt myself? I read some more articles that kept saying you have to relax and ride the wave.

Finally, one afternoon, I rode myself up to the cliff and against my better judgment, I jumped. My body lit up in ways I had no idea it could. I felt like I just plugged myself into an outlet and I was short-circuiting. Tingles and sparks flew through my body, tears came out of my eyes, and my crotch became warm and wet. More than wet, I felt like I had peed myself completely. I immediately stopped. What had I done? How gross?

Already embarrassed, I threw all my clothes and bedding into the washer and threw myself in the shower. I felt ashamed. It wasn’t until I conducted some further research that I realized that girls could cum too. It wasn’t “pee.” It didn’t smell like it. It was something else, something even the scientific community didn’t even understand.

I was proud that I finally figured out how to masturbate. I probably spent a few weeks doing it at every conceivable moment I could. I quickly learned that AA batteries were expensive and only good one or two times before I required more power. The “Magic Wand” was an investment. An investment in myself and a guarantee that I didn’t have to hold out til my next paycheck or raid my remote control for batteries to get me through.

As I started to warm up my body, I began to rub my hands over my breasts and play with my nipples. My skin is so smooth and my flesh is soft. I started to pinch my areolas as I worked my thighs together and apart. It felt good, but I was still a little too worried about my session being interrupted. You can’t rush it. I take a deep breath and switch the wand up to high. I start to tickle as the hum starts to match the vibration of my own body.

I begin to vocalize with the hum. As I feel the ripple of waves of exultation, I continue to grunt and sing out. My toes begin to curl with anticipation, and before I know it I am overtaken by the crash of magical, mystical, energy. I scream til my lungs empty of oxygen and ride the ride until I can’t take it anymore.

I immediately turn off the wand and pant. My body starts to calm, but it is hungry for more. I eagerly give it what it wants. I turn back on the wand and ride it. Over and over again, I ripple and scream with pleasure until I am drenched in my juices and exhausted of my desire.

I lay back and rest. I feel whole. Before I can fully enjoy the moment, I remember that I am on borrowed time. I quickly clean up my wand and put my toy box away. I throw my clothes and towel in the hamper and run to the bathroom. As I stand under the warm water, I know that I am safe. I take a long shower, gently caressing every area of myself. I try to love ever bit of me. My belly broken into three rolls, the saggy skin under my upper arms, my thick legs, and my flat ass. I lotion up and towel off. I slip on some fresh underwear, clean jeans, and a t-shirt.

I come downstairs and sit on the couch, beaming with renewed energy, smoking a cigarette, when my sister reenters the house. As she starts to recount all that occurred on her walk, I take a deep drag on my cigarette and know that I can handle it. I have taken care of myself. Today will be a good day no matter what.

The Ideal Relationship

Okay, I have been focused on love a lot. I know I have so much to learn on the topic that the words are pouring out of my hands. I want to grasp it, feel it. I want to taste the deliciousness of it. I feel like I have been preventing myself from tasting the juiciest, most decadent cupcake in all of the land.

Honestly, I do love pastry but the sadder part is that cupcakes represented the joy I was missing from life. A cupcake didn’t judge. It always looks cute. It doesn’t discriminate. My younger self would gorge on these items, which lead to weight gain, PCOS, and in all honesty…uterine cancer.

The problem is we often make fun of the fatty eating the cupcake. We don’t dig deeper to see what that means. For me it is the lack of love and acceptance I felt, which ultimately led to swallowing my sexual confusion and frustration down with pastry. It was a talent my father passed down to me. Seriously.

I crave pastry when I have gone awhile with out it. I can’t go a week without a cupcake. I have gone without sex for years. At one point, it was over a decade. When you are looking for an object to love, one that hasn’t betrayed you, one that has never made you feel worse, I look to the humble cupcake in all sizes, shapes, and flavors. My love is unconditional when it comes to this pastry.

I remember a great conversation with Alex and Max when I was explaining my love of all things cupcake. I could describe every aspect of the experience, from selection to devouring. They explained to me that the feeling of craving is exactly what they experience when they are hungry for intimacy with one another. As a self-professed prude, I didn’t think that eating a simple pastry could be as tantalizing as having sex. It made it almost feel dirty. They told me I needed to stop hoarding, and start sharing my cupcakes.

That judgment is exactly what I have to counteract when it comes to really trying to connect with a partner. Being intimate with someone is not dirty. There is nothing wrong. It is natural. Our bodies were made to express pleasure in the experience. Why we have demonized sex is beyond me. I bought it for so long. I drank the kool-aide. I just wanted to be a good girl. A respectable girl. Meanwhile, girls who were whoring it up and getting pregnant at young ages were actually better adjusted than I was.

No sense weeping over lost time, but it is time to get a handle on things.  I don’t have any more lady bits to be ripped out from neglect.

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When you really want something, you often have equally as intense emotions about not wanting it. This has confused me for years. I have had a paralyzing fear of being alone for a good portion of my life. All those years of feeling desperately alone in my bedroom, begging for someone to love me, didn’t set me up for long term mental health. I feared the lack of love so much, that I was obsessed by it.  Little did I know, you get what you think about, whether you want it or not.

On the rare moments where I felt love or attention from an adult in my life, I was so ecstatic that I became frightened by what lied on the other side. It is rational, or at least I was taught, that I should look out for the other shoe dropping. The vulnerability of loving and being so connected to myself created a fear of lack that morphed into foreboding joy.

Somehow I was taught that I had to find my worth outside of myself. When I couldn’t mold myself to be worthy in someone else’s eyes, I felt excruciating alone and disconnected. I stopped looking for objects to love, and I stopped hoping to be someone’s object of attention.

On occasion, someone would surprise me and shine a little attention onto me. As much as I felt excited, I became super paranoid. First, why would they ever hold me as an object of attention? I wouldn’t, so they must be flawed. If I got passed that, which was almost never, I had trouble relaxing into the acceptance of that attention, or desperately focused on not losing it. I would begin doing everything I could think of to prove to them that I was still worthy of their attention at even greater sacrifice to my self.

Some people could smell this desperation and milked it for all they could. There are people who are drawn to these situations because the pickings are easy. I was easy to control and manipulate. You could do it to get something, or do it for show.

Eventually, I released these people. I found other friends who made me feel so great when I was around them that I became terrified that I couldn’t live with out them. For these non-sexual soul mates, our relationship was filled with ease. Time flew by when I was around them. The stark contrast of how good I felt with them, made the darkness of my isolation when I was not around them seem unbearable.

I became so dependent on them to make me feel good, that I released any accountability on my part. I was an emotional leech. I would do anything for these individuals, but I couldn’t take responsibility for my own happiness. They loved me, but I was draining them.

When I was the object of their attention, I felt great. I felt fed. I felt love. I demanded that they kept focused on me, because when they let go…I was a puppet cut from its strings. They saw the crash and wanted to do anything they could to prevent that, but they knew they were killing themselves. No matter how much someone loves you, they will never be always available to you. It is impossible. Their mission on this Earth was never to be that for you.

This was a really difficult lesson for me to learn. As someone with almost no relationship experience, I was so emotionally unintelligent that I could understand what was going on. I just felt the pain from the lack of love and connection. It got so bad that these friends moved 21 hours away to restore balance. I am pleased to report that we are now closer than ever, but I couldn’t have done it without them.

Sometimes your worst nightmare has to happen in order for you to get the biggest a-ha. I believe that it wasn’t really meant to be this way. The universe whispers what you need to do all the time. When we don’t listen, the result can feel like that impact of a car crash on the soul.

So, back to finding a significant other.

There are so many reasons why I am so grateful that I haven’t met “the one” or others in my life. First, how many women are in their late 30s, discover they are lesbian, and are stuck in a bad marriage with children? It is more than you can imagine. If Law of Attraction states that you are matched to that which you are a vibrational match of, I am grateful that I have held off. I am sure in my depressed state I would have ended up in a miserable relationship.

On New Year’s Eve, Max asked me what I wanted most in life. I told him a relationship. On that night, he made me call it out into the universe and we actually talked about action steps for making it happen.

This year in particular, as I have grown and expanded on my journey, I have had a lot of close calls. In January, I dated a man who had every item checked off my Cosmo inspired husband checklist. He fit every expectation that I thought I had for my partner, but we met and he disappeared. It was spooky.

I was devastated for a while and took a break from looking again. I worked on myself. I found things to do that made me feel sexy. I tried to look at things in a less prudish way.  Shortly there after, I had the epiphany that I was most likely gay.

This realization opened so many doors, but I remember being discouraged because I couldn’t find as many ladies interested in dating as I could find men. I became impatient. I tried to force things on for size. I would talk to girls that I was not clearly attracted to. This felt like swimming upstream.  The universe knew I wasn’t ready and wasn’t yielding me what I wanted; I was dissatisfied.

I finally came across a lovely girl named Juliet.  She looked like a girl, not a man. I thought she was cute and went and saw her at a bar on the same night we were introduced to one another. She was younger, but more experienced. She had a bad childhood and rotten mother. She recently survived cervical cancer. She was smarter than hell and loved Shakespeare.

For everything that I found positive, I could find a negative. What I couldn’t ignore was that I felt the most like myself when I was around her. When I saw her, I knew she thought I was cute no matter what I wore. I didn’t have to try and be anything other than myself, and it felt great.

I started to see what people were talking about. Step one: coming together. We see only the positive aspects of one another. We see ourselves being vulnerable and true to who we are, and being the object of the other’s attention feels so good. We are both aligned with source on our own accord, and find ourselves even more aligned together.

Then, I started seeing things I didn’t like. I got judgmental. What would others think? Each item I saw and disliked separated me from her and my source. I held her responsible for how I felt. I knew I felt good before I saw it. The next thought becomes, she isn’t the one; I must go somewhere else where that thing that is displeasing to me is not present. In reality, that is nowhere.

The more I realized this, the more I felt like I was such a loser. I knew my problem had nothing to do with her. I was more honest with her than I had really been with any other partner, but I couldn’t keep the door of communication open. I was still questioning my worth, my homophobia, and my sexuality. As long as I was poking at my vulnerabilities, the more I felt like I had to protect her from me.

Hence, I took a break.

The momentum wasn’t flowing from ease. Besides, by now I knew I had cancer. There were a lot more fish to fry. I realized that it was crucial to keep people with the right energy around me, a positive one. I realized that part of my difficulty with Juliet was the fact that I sensed such negativity in her. It was the same negativity I had worked so hard to process in me. I knew that I didn’t want to revisit it. The problem was, I still wasn’t assertive enough to tell her what I felt. I was too concerned with people pleasing. I wanted to be polite, not honest.

Feeling a little stronger, I am ready to give things another go. I am the attractor of what I want and can attract it from anyone I want. I am in the process currently of picking out what I want. So here is the request list:

I am looking for someone already tuned in, tapped in, turned on. They already get it. They are already in alignment with source and won’t hold me responsible for how they feel. This is someone with a majority of things I feel at ease with. Not someone who satisfies me on every level because expansion is fun. This is someone who understands who she is and who she is expanding to be. She is eager about life and willing to keep up with what she is becoming.

I take responsibility for how I feel. I will focus myself on being in alignment with who I am so I can attract someone else who is in alignment. By learning to control my thoughts and take responsibility for my emotions, I can go with the flow and be deliberate.

We understand our own autonomy and can both be expansive without being joined at the hip. We can do our own thing and root for the one another. I will do my best to stay in alignment with source, but will not hold the other one responsible when I slip.

I like you pretty good. Let’s see how it goes.

I am going to only focus on positive aspects.

I want to go with my flow. I plan to go with my flow and I don’t hold you responsible for going with my flow. But, if we can make it easy to go with the flow together….there is nothing we can’t achieve.

And let’s not forget to share your cupcakes!

AGAIN…I am heavily influenced by Abraham Hicks.

Womanhood

If it wasn’t for Judy Blume or Rosanne indoctrinating young ladies about the thrill of womanhood in the 90s, I am sure I would be a bigger prude than I already am. The only conversation I had with my mother about the birds and the bees was before I attended Girl Scout camp around 5th grade. There must have been a question on the application for camp that asked if the girl attending knew something about periods and such.

My mother’s line of questioning was as follows: “There are pads under the sink in the upstairs bathroom if you ever need them.”

That…was it.

No warm fuzzes. When I did get my period, no one said anything. Even getting a bra came late. I had boobs in fourth grade, but my mom didn’t finally get me a bra until 6th grade, when a gym teacher told her I was distracting the rest of the class.

Due to this, I don’t think I was ever really comfortable with the idea of being a girl. I feel very much like a girl, but I didn’t want to deal with the mechanics of being a girl. When our health teacher told us in fifth grade about menstruation, I remember wishing I were a guy so I wouldn’t have to deal with it. The idea of giving birth was even worse.

I went through school trying to be as low key as possible. I was horribly teased in middle school for my weight. I grew up in a fat family, and I had been overweight since 3rd grade. I think this was compounded by the weirdness of everyone touching upon their new sexuality in middle school. I loved guys, but only to the point of wanting to play soccer with them at recess.

There were a handful of guys who made my life the biggest living hell during middle school. I always thought it was because I was fat and ugly. In retrospect, maybe some of them were hitting on me and I didn’t get it. In order to avoid the pain, I isolated myself. My parents, teachers, and friends never really took any steps to help me counteract the bullying. There was no real push to do so back then. I also didn’t ever complain or say anything about it. In some ways, I thought it would just solicit worse attention back at home.

During these years, I locked myself up in my room nearly every day. I felt like my mother HATED me. My father was usually traveling for work. My motto was to just be out of the way. I feel like I lost a lot during these years. I missed a time to be more social. I lost time to be more vulnerable, to feel loved.

I lost a lot of weight before high school, and things got better. I still always found it difficult to relax and be myself around people. I wanted to desperately find a boyfriend, but never really did.

I was so lonely in college that I would go for late night drives and cry in parking lots. Why could I not find anyone who wanted to be with me? I had started to believe I looked good, but I never really got asked out. As I grew older, I cringed every time that someone asked me if I had someone special in my life. While my friends got married, divorced, and remarried, I would be told that I was going to be a “mature” bride.

When my mom passed, while I was 24, I just sort of gave up. I figured that if it was going to happen, it just would. I was cute during my late twenties. Fat, but still cute. I would sign up for dating websites, but I was never really impressed with the offers. I refrained from sex for years.

When I developed PCOS and bleeding problems, I kept myself off the dating scene even more so. I thought I was so ugly and so unworthy of being loved. I definitely hated my lady parts.

I write this because I don’t think there is any woman under the age of 40 who gets endometrial cancer and doesn’t have this problem. It is through our hatred of our own bodies that we don’t seek the help we need on a more timely basis. If a doctor assures us nothing is wrong, we believe him because we don’t want to spend any more time thinking about our lady bits.

It was through the love of my friends that I began to learn to love myself. I found out that finding new people to hang out with didn’t have to be that difficult, and that you could really find a man in a minute if you wanted to. The problem wasn’t my physicality, it was my sexuality. I had spent so much time trying to mold myself to the example of a straight relationship, that I missed the inevitable signs that I was a lesbian.

Now, I haven’t had tons of experience in this new world either. I feel like it is so new and I am only beginning to wade through it. I have been so distrustful of others and so deeply afraid of being hurt that vulnerability for me is excruciating. I know that in order to heal from my current health problems, this is what I really need to tackle.

I know I might piss off people I love. I know that I am not who I might have previously advertised myself to be, but I can no longer be something that I am not. This has been revolutionary for me. I believe that if I would have been diagnosed a year earlier, I wouldn’t have what it takes to face my new demons head on.

In some ways, this has been a life affirming as well as changing experience. I believe I might have died if I wasn’t able to fully embrace the beauty of who I am. Everyone needs to embrace who they are. When we deny ourselves to be “deeply seen,” we deny our very existence. We can’t make proper choices. We can’t fully enjoy this gift called life.

If you are a mother of a daughter, reach out to her and let her know how beautiful she is. Don’t make her feel that having periods or having sex makes her dirty. When you can embrace what makes our human, or even female, we can embrace a fuller life. I only wish I would have received this message much sooner.

Some Interesting Reads:

What I Wish I Knew About My Period

Periods are a Wondrous, Horrible Thing

Ode to Vaginas

A Period Care Kit

The Care and Keeping of You

Life’s a Drag

One of the big take-a-ways from the movie The Secret or the talks from Abraham Hicks is that we are meant to feel good. Often times, we hope if X, Y, or Z happens, then we’ll feel good. In reality, it is quicker to make yourself feel better in order to make X, Y, and Z happen.

When you are already feeling crappy, it is hard to swallow that one. In my depressed state, I already hated myself. I felt as if I couldn’t feel better because I needed to be punished. I needed to feel impoverished because I couldn’t pay my student loans off. I needed to not spend money on food because paying off people was more important. I could think of a million reasons to deny myself fun.

During my “dead” years, I used to travel and see my best friends in Chicago once every three months. I called these “vacations from responsibility.” The point was to go somewhere and not worry about the million things I believe an adult had to worry about. I honestly felt that the mark of adulthood was to feel an over whelming sense of burden, constantly.

It got to the point that I often wondered what I was doing anything for. I was working 80-hour weeks, doing more than one job. The second I got my paycheck; it just went to paying bills. I often didn’t have any money left over to buy food or have fun. I would look around my empty house and thought that if this was life, I wanted to check out. It wasn’t worth living. There was no meaning, no joy.

When my best friends moved to Kalamazoo, I felt a little better. When we put our resources together, we found stuff to do. Just hanging out with them was fun. I had forgotten what that felt like. I became so worried that I would lose them or at least the excuse to have fun, that I became a little neurotic. I didn’t want to have too much fun, because the lack of it would just kill me.

Thanks to the unconditional love of my besties, I began to take a chill pill. One of the ways we decided to build fun into our lives was to put on little drag performances. Before I get started, I feel like I have to give a little background on my best friends, Alex and Max.

Max I met 17 years ago. We were young. We both loved theater. We met while rehearsing for musical shows at our local community theater group. I remember when I met him that there was just something so special about him. I felt like I had known him for years. We just clicked. He continued to contact me when I took off to live in Europe and Chicago. He stayed by my side as I watched my mother died. He was my rock.

Eventually, Max moved to Chicago and became my roommate. That is where he met Alex. Alex was 18 when we were 24. I remembered thinking he was so young and naïve. He was from the Upper Pennisula of Michigan and was attending school outside of the city. Alex and Max fell in love quickly. Before I knew it, I was in an old Jeep moving Alex’s things to our apartment. He transferred schools to pursue his relationship with Max. They were so cute.

I couldn’t be super happy for them, because I was commuting nearly every weekend to be with my dying mother in Michigan. Circumstances parted us physically, but I was always connected with “the boys.” A few years latter, they decided to move to the house across the street from me.

Alex and I became super close, as Max was busy holding down a job as a training manager at a ridiculous big box retail chain. Soon, Alex became as close to me as Max was. We went through a lot together. I loved them so hard I could barely handle it, and the fear of losing that made me crazy.

I think people naturally assume that a girl can’t be a friend with a boy without some sexual tension. It is really not the case. Our love is sort of a brother/sister one. They are my family. I would take a bullet for them, and I think they would take one for me. It isn’t Will and Grace but it is better.

No matter how much you love someone, sometimes events happen. We were all trying to figure out life. The boys decided to try and live in Key West. Watching them move was heartbreaking, but I knew the distance was only physical. When it didn’t work out, they moved back….still pretty close to me.

I think we know that we are somehow forever connected. That is why it was important to them that I feel better, that we feel better.

Now, we love RuPaul’s Drag Race. We have watched it since the first episode together. I know there is this strange contingent of gay males who think RuPaul is too gay for them, but they are seriously missing out.

When the boys and I were in some of our darkest moments, we started playing with my make-up. Over time, my wig collection was brought out, then my old dresses. We decided to try to lip sync for our lives. The iPhone captured our earliest attempts. Soon, ever weekend we would put together a little show.

Alex was the most insistent. When Max and I were not feeling it, Alex would find a way to make us sit still long enough for a makeover. After our little productions, part of the fun was watching the footage. It started with photos and developed into videos.

I found that seeing myself on the television made me actually SEE myself. I began really enjoying the girl I am. I could see how pretty I was. I could see the real me just dying to come alive. The practice left me feeling empowered and alive.

Alex found the same thing happen to him. He discovered a passion for drag. When we uncovered an old tape of him, at 13, doing drag in his childhood home, we realized that this was more than a past time. He developed a character and started to hone his craft. Eventually, he actually did a drag pageant and won on his first try.

As Alex found his passion, Max went back to his theatrical roots. What did he love to do the most? His 18-year-old self loved theater. He would do countless productions. Unfortunately, when he moved to Chicago – he sort of gave it up in order to work for a living. It became clear to him that he needed to return to doing what he loved, whether he got paid for it or not. He began to audition and got the lead in the first production he was cast in.

So, what did I really want?

That question became more difficult than I ever imagined. I had discovered that I had been trying so hard to please others that I had lost myself. I had lied to myself for so long, that I didn’t really know what I felt. Drag inspired me to begin seeking the help I needed to answer those questions.

As I began to share more with my friends, I allowed myself the freedom to be me. It almost felt like the first time in my life that I was deliberately doing so. I began to accept what I looked like. I accepted that I have a little too much love for pastry. I could start appreciating who I was.

I started looking at things in the past that brought me joy, and began to try them back on for size. I loved to write, so I went back to journaling. I took out my paint supplies and started painting. Little by little, I started reclaiming myself.

During one particular drag session, I found myself taken back by the beauty of Alex in drag. As he whipped out a number, I exclaimed, “Maybe I am a lesbian.”

In my life, many of my friends would say that I exhibited “lesbian” tendencies. I don’t like purses. I wear Crocs, Keens, or Merrills. I have a clip that I keep my keys on. I don’t wear a lot of make-up during the day. My clothes are not super girly. I have only slept with a handful of guys. I had never really had a boyfriend. When the boys told me to tell them which boys I thought were attractive through my daily interactions, I had a little difficulty. The girls always looked better. When I watched straight porn, I was never really turned on. The signs were all there.

The boys kind of confronted me on this point. As I talked it out with them, I felt the knot in my throat. It felt as if someone found that I was the wizard behind the curtain. I was exposed.

That night, I went home and looked up some lesbian porn. I lit up inside. Could it be? Was this really true? I looked up lesbian website and chat groups. The more I read, the more I realized…there is something to this. I went to bed exhilarated.

I had always been pro-gay. I have lesbian and gay male friends. One would think that it wouldn’t be such a big deal to claim my new identity. That next day I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders. Oh my god, I am gay. I thought of my church family rejecting me. I realized that I was no longer part of the mainstream. I was living in the minority. Every lesbian stereotype you could think of went through my head. I cringed. I am not a big dyke! I don’t want to be a man. I love men. I like to be girly. Why was this happening to me? What am I to do? Who am I? If I could repress something so pivotal, what else was I hiding from myself?

The boys calmed me down and reinforced that my realizing I was gay didn’t mean that I was really any different. I had always been gay. My friends and family knew who I was and wouldn’t really be shocked that I was gay. I was still me. Gay is only a part of my identity.

After only one day of freaking out, I actually felt a huge release. Things in my life started to make sense. I had always been trying to live up to an ideal of what I thought I was supposed to be or do. I never operated from a place of being who I wanted to be. I didn’t need to try so hard any more. I could just be.

I became super enthusiastic. I changed all my profiles to women seeking women. As I sorted through profiles, I realized that there aren’t as many options for girls as there were for guys. I came across a lot of stereotypically manly women. It wasn’t what I had imagined for myself. I began to feel hopeless.

In a feeble attempt, I posted a Craigslist ad and got a response from a pretty girl. She was younger, but she seemed okay with the fact that I was only now embracing my new identity in my 30s. When I went out with her, I didn’t get as freaked out as I did when I was with a guy. I felt comfortable. I felt able to be myself and I told her very vulnerable things about me. It was very empowering.

I began to feel whole. It is with this strength that I went to my doctor’s appointments. When it became clear that something was wrong, I didn’t freak out. When they told me that my uterus needed to be ripped out, I became okay with it. When telling my loved ones that I had cancer, I had to consider whether they could handle knowing that I also realized I was a lesbian. For the most part, everyone I told was supportive. Several even stated that it came as no surprise.

I had spent years feeling like I had missed something. Why wasn’t I with a guy? Everyone was having kids, why didn’t I have them? I had already chalked myself up to never getting married, and bawled my eyes out over it. At the time, I was upset because I thought I didn’t deserve it or that I was unworthy of being loved. What I realized was that I didn’t go through that because unconsciously, it wasn’t who I was.

Any doctor who is about to rip out a woman’s lady bits is going to be very careful to see how they are going to react about taking away a woman’s ability to reproduce. I am sure there are several women who have breakdowns right in their office. I know my doctor had a few women bail on the surgery hours before it was scheduled to happen because they couldn’t handle it.

I had gone through that grieving process for months before I even knew it was a real issue. When I first met my gynecological oncologist, I knew what I needed to do. To my surprise, I signed up for surgery less than a week latter.

The next couple days were a blur. I had to notify work. I had to set up my classroom for a long-term sub. I had to get things in order. I was so busy that I didn’t really have time to dread what was coming.

My boys agreed to house me and take care of me after surgery. My sister took my animals. My dad grumbled about the boys taking care of me, but I knew I didn’t want to rely on him. I had the boys sign a durable power of attorney. All the paperwork was done.

On the day of surgery, Max brought me to the hospital. My sister and father were waiting to see me. Having been through this with our parents, my sister wanted to take charge but I made sure Max was the one next to me. I did not freak out until I was in the prep area with IVs in my arms. I knew there was no going back. Max squeezed my hand; I knew he had my back.

As I was being rolled into the operating room, I had a comedic conversation with my male nurses. I climbed onto the table and watched them take the plastic off the arms of the robot that was going to dissect me. I was happy. I was talkative. As the doctor and nurses were prepping me, I know my jokes were making them smile. I remember the doctor and nurse holding my hands as they were putting me under. I felt that they cared deeply and they would take good care of me.

When I came to, I was in pain but not as bad as I could have been. I looked at the clock and realized the surgery had gone long. When I could have visitors, only my father and sister were there. Max had left for a musical rehearsal. When my father left for the bathroom, I asked my sister what was going on. She told me that my breathing became so shallow that they almost had to stop the procedure. When they took out my uterus, they had feared that there might be more involvement so they took out a bunch of lymph nodes.

I am sure that should have been an “oh, shit” moment. It wasn’t. For some reason, I woke up feeling like the Universe was on my side. All the grief I had over my lack of sex and love, focused negative energy on my lady bits. In my most depressed days, I am sure I had asked to die or be sick. In some ways, the Universe gave me what I wanted…my worst nightmare. The bright spot was that it wasn’t as miserable as I thought it could be. I was stronger than it.

After a somewhat uncomfortable night in the hospital, I was released to the care of my boys. For the next week, they took great care of me. They fed me, made sure I took my medicine, screened my visitors, and made sure I had fun. I felt so much love that I could barely handle it. In some ways, I knew that there wasn’t another spot I wanted to be in the world than where I was.

The transition home, after staying with the boys, was rough. My house reminded me of the years of loneliness I had felt. I had no TV. My bed was so uncomfortable. I couldn’t drive. I felt trapped. It wasn’t until the boys helped me set up my bed with extra pillows and tucked me in, that I fell asleep.

I realized that it is okay to ask for help. I focused on watching or listening to things that would bring me joy and light. I made it a point to make sure I was fed. I focused on doing things that made me happy. I ended up recovering from surgery very quickly.