I was fourteen the first time it happened. Her name was Mary and she lived next door to me. Our “relationship” lasted six months until I moved out of state. Becoming involved with Mary awakened in me feelings I never knew I had.
While I knew this relationship was different, I never felt that I was different from anyone else. To me, it was just who I was. Yet I never believed that I was born this way or that I couldn’t change, I just chose not to change because in the arms of another woman is where I found my safety and security – two things I had never experienced in any type of relationship with a male. Over the course of my forty-six years I have learned that the desire to be with a woman was driven by the chains of hurt, fear, anger, rejection and shame that bound me.
The transformation began when I was four and my parents divorced. My mother was given custody of my sister and I and my father moved out of state. From this, the chain of rejection was born.
At the age of six, my mother married a violent alcoholic and I gained the role of caretaker and wound healer. Many nights I would sit in the bathroom with my mother helping clean her wounds and promising her it would all be okay.
The chain of fear bound me this same year, as the night we tried to escape from him we were found and ushered home at gun point. Cementing the chains was the night I stood beside my mother’s hospital bed and cried, as I barely recognized the woman under the bloody pulp that was once her face.
When I was nine, my father showed back up and took my sister and I to live with him and his new family. I went with him, thinking that I would have the chance at a stable home life with a mom and dad who loved me and cared for me. Those dreams were shattered as I discovered he was an alcoholic who became emotionally, verbally and physically abusive. With him I learned that I was worthless, and that that my feelings, wants and needs didn’t matter. I was to never say no to anyone, I wasn’t to cry because it was a sign of weakness, and I was told that I would never amount to anything. The chains of hurt and negative feelings about myself were wrapped tightly around me.
The biggest chain that drove me to desire women was the day my grandfather raped me for the first time. I was ten.
From then on I trusted no one. I feared men, feared rejection and thought of myself as nothing more than a useless piece of trash that no one wanted, loved or needed.
I also found my escape at the age of ten, and it became my survival skill for many years to come – alcohol. When I drank, I was able to forget everything. By age 13 I had become an alcoholic.
My mom stepped back into my life when I was twelve and introduced me to a new world of escape – drugs. She and her friends taught me about pot, pipes, bongs, and so on. Oblivion was wonderful. When I was high or drunk, nothing else mattered because all was forgotten.
While I was looked at as different, I never felt different from anyone else. Guys rarely asked me out in high school because I was always considered “one of the guys.” I tried dating, but that never worked out because I was afraid of being alone with a male. The chain of rejection grew tighter and my alcohol and drug consumption increased. I withdrew into myself, where it was safe.
I dated girls on and off throughout college and into young adulthood. After breaking up with one girl I had dated for four years, I found myself entombed in my alcoholism, homosexuality and memories of abuse. What threw me over the edge was the death of my Grannie. She had been the only mother I had ever known; the only person that I knew loved and cared about me no matter what. I was drowning in the sea of destruction that I had created, and I saw only one way out.
One night, I sat on my bed with a bottle of pills in my hand and made the fateful decision to swallow the whole bottle. As the pills began taking affect I went into the bathroom and looked in the mirror and saw of shell of a human being staring back at me. At that moment I realized I didn’t want to die; I just wanted the pain to go away. I knew it was time for a change.
I began my slow road to recovery by taking the biggest self-destructive behavior I had out of my life – living the homosexual lifestyle. I became involved in an ex-gay support group and there I was able to see why I was drawn to be in relationships with other women.
I had to deal with the rejection, abuse, addiction, years of built up hurt, anger, resentment and unforgiveness. There were roles I had to shed and replace with more positive ones: rather than being a protector of others, I had to learn to protect myself. Rather than providing for everyone else’s needs, I had to learn that my needs mattered; that I mattered. Rather than being the rescuer, I had to be willing to reach out and let someone rescue me from myself. Rather than having to always be the strong one, I had to learn that it is okay to admit that I am weak and can not do everything on my own.
I had to reject the negative messages I had learned and replace them: I am not worthless, stupid, weak, ugly and unable to do anything right. Most importantly, and hardest of all, I had to learn how to trust and to both give and receive love.
It didn’t happen overnight. It has been twenty years since I began my journey toward healing and, while I am better than I was, I still take things one day at a time. My transformation took several years of counseling, a year of inpatient treatment to become sober and, more importantly, surrendering my life to Christ. He alone has healed my heart. Through him, I no longer desire to be with other women. Through him, I have been able to develop positive relationships with men. Through him, I have learned that I am loved, accepted, worthwhile, strong, courageous and so much more because I am his.
There are days I still stumble and fall in my walk with him, not in the self-destructive behaviors of my old life – they are gone – but he is always there to catch me, pick me up, dust me off, and tell me, “You’re okay. Just take the next step and do the next right thing.”
God is always faithful. He always keeps his promises. And it is through him I find my joy, hope, peace and strength. When I doubt, He reminds me:
“Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NASB).
As Paul writes, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, not adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such WERE some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God” (I Corinthians 6:9-11, NASB).
My chains are gone and I’ve been set free. I am no longer who I use to be and thank God, I have been redeemed!
Misty J. Grimes is a freelance writer who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.