FIRST ROUGH DRAFT

Chapter 5

1978  CA. ~  Inner Turmoil ~

 

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I am not happy about being gay again. It disturbs me deeply because of the secrecy and illegality. But I am so infatuated with Becky, I ignore my disturbed feelings. I share with her that I was in two gay relationships from 1957 to 1962 and how uncomfortable I felt with the secrecy, so I was a bit hesitant to live that way again. 

I also share that I don't have gender boundaries around sexual relationships. Having no boundaries, to me means that I do not need male intercourse because the hands of both women and men seem to work very satisfying sexual miracles of pleasure, both in foreplay and orgasms. 

I feel disappointed in a way, because I really wanted to be straight and have a close straight friend. But having been love starved for so many years, I am delirious with joy at feeling loved by another adult human. I feel like I have found my soulmate, even though it is still considered by society to be “sick” and "abnormal.” It still seems unhealthy to me also. However, Becky is incredibly sweet, loving and always ready and willing to please me. I'm in emotional heaven. We now spend our afternoons, evenings and weekends together.

It isn’t long before we become official “lovers,” which is the word used to describe two women who are “going together” in the seventies. We used to say we were “friends” when going together, in the late fifties. Now, relationships are called being “lovers” and Gay women are called “Lesbians." The “Gay” label now pertained only to gay men.

I am not physically attracted to my dear friend’s overweight body, yet my sexuality is aroused. I overlook being gay again, because of Becky’s genuine openness to emotional growth and her inner “feminine” heart qualities, that I never seemed to have. The ones I adore,  those of warmth, acceptance, caring, love and especially her interest in my well being. 

This stressed, love starved mother of three, was easily taken in by her heartfelt acceptance. I love her, as best I know how. She is the only one in my life so far, that I have actually felt really loved by. I believe my Mom loved me, but I never was able to feel her love. May, Ursula and Joe loved me, but I couldn't feel their love, either. Now, after much emotional work, I am open to feeling, Becky’s love. This is progress for me.

I continue to feel like I’m in charge of everything and everyone in my family. My needs are important to me, even though I do care a lot about my daughter's needs and try to meet them, as best as I know how. I am focused on making me happy so my children can have a happy Mom, but in reality I am a left brain, analytical, type A, logical, linear thinking person. Compassion in me is quite lacking, unfortunately. I have an underlying sense of anger at my life situation; being poor and single with three kids to figure out how to support and bring up in a healthy manner. 

I wish I was a kind, nurturing, caring mother, but I just couldn't be that way. I’ve tried hard to be, unsuccessfully. I don’t actually know how to be nice, kind or caring. When I try, it feels foreign. I can't really tell how others are feeling either. Attempts to act nice is a struggle. I wasn't ever taught how to be nice, or even to say please and thank you, so I'm leaning on my own. I notice my overall anger, comes out “sideways” or indirectly towards others.

My lover/friend Becky moves in fairly quickly as Lesbians often do and becomes part of our family. We continue  ongoing deep conversations, mostly about what makes us tick emotionally. My life long quest is especially how and why I am ticking the way I am. Life seems so wonderful now and I am happy because Becky is in it. I sit in my recliner and sing along with a 45 record of, “You Light up my Life,” over and over, much to the exasperation no doubt, of my three daughters and maybe Becky.

Becky isn’t troubled being a closeted Lesbian. I don't like it at all, mostly because I've had to keep my relationships secret, from co-workers, neighbors and everyone basically, except other Lesbians of which there are none in TN. This is a very uncomfortable way for me to live.

~~~~

Relaxing on the couch one evening, I ask Becky, 

"What qualities, traits and abilities are you attracted to in me?" 

“Well, I like the way you think mostly. I like your intelligence, honesty and dependability. You’re conscientious, dependable, strong, reliable and have your "feet on the ground." I like those qualities and here's nothing wishy washy about you. You seem to know what you want. I like your determination and strong mind. You have a good outlook on life, which I like. You also tend to be judgmental and critical sometimes, which isn’t so attractive.”

“I know, I don’t like those qualities either, but I’m amazed at the positive stuff you like in me.” 

I continue, "Are you also attracted to men with those qualities?"

"Yes, pretty much."

I reply, "I call people with your qualities "heart" people, or more "right brained. That's why I'm attracted to you, as well as men with those qualities. I think I use much more of my left brain than my right. I can't feel my emotions like you. I think I'm afraid to. They must come from the right brain area.”

“Yes," says Becky with a chuckle, "I understand. Society mostly prefers the stable, reliable and dependability traits like you have. They're the ones most men have, but sometimes they can be quite stoic and believe they are always right, are rigid in their beliefs and seem hardened by life somehow. "Feminine" qualities are not valued as much in this society, especially in men."

"What are your negative qualities, if you have any?" I ask with a slight smile. 

"Oh, things like being indecisive about something, can't make up my mind about things fast enough, too soft on things, being too passive, not so logical or dependable, changing my mind too often instead of sticking one decision I’ve made. People like me are sometimes seen as flighty, weak or wishy washy and we get often taken advantage of. We get accused of trying to please others too much. You are the opposite of all those things. I’m attracted to your qualities."

"Hey, maybe that's what "opposites attract" means. People are attracted to the opposite qualities and traits from what they themselves are, whether it's in someone of the opposite sex or the same sex, like us."

"That sounds about right."

After a bit of silence between us, I share my thoughts about our attraction to each other. "

"Why do you think it doesn't matter to you which sex you are attracted to?"  

"I'm just bisexual I guess." 

"The “Bisexual” label seems less negative somehow, less so than the “Lesbian” label. I feel reassured that I'm at least also attracted to men, but with “feminine” qualities."

I want confirmation, that I might be bisexual instead of Gay, so I ask.

"I must be bisexual like you, then."

Becky retorts back with a chuckle, "Yes, I'd say so."

What I don't disclose to Becky is, if I am going to be physical with a woman, I prefer a slender feminine body, so I can be the "Butch." I feel like a "masculine" woman, which doesn't feel right. I'm also very visual like men are. I love the softness of a woman's body too. Becky's body is nice and soft, but she has a lot of extra fat which turns me off visually, however I don't ever resist any sexual play she does.

~~~~

In my auto mechanics class a woman named Willie appears to be gay, but it takes a while before I can confirm it. We finally get together and share our discouragement with the total lack of social support for Lesbians here. I suggest starting a woman’s rap group and Willie agrees that it's a good idea. 

We pick a date and put up flyers at the college which are either defaced or pulled down almost immediately. Frustrated but undaunted we keep putting them up until eventually, enough women respond and we begin plans for a meeting. It is set for Friday, July 14th at the public library downtown in a large free meeting room. We are hoping nobody will notice that only obvious looking Lesbians are coming to the meeting. We probably would be kicked out if someone outed us. 

The turnout surprised us. About two dozen women showed up. Many shared their real and honest negative experiences of living as Lesbians in this society. They range from the secrecy and lies we’ve all had to experience, to the disrespect and negative experiences from the public and family members, if discovered as being Gay. Just about everyone wants to continue getting together to share and receive support. We agree it is best to meet in someone’s home for safety. One couple volunteered their home for the following Friday evening. We want to meet weekly and call it our Women’s Rap group.

Becky would like to meet May in LA, so we went for a visit. I introduce my two “orange” friends to each other and they seem to like each other. May takes us to their SCW meeting which is held in a private home. I was very impressed to say the least. It was an unbelievably large group of Lesbians all sharing similar and often painful and scary experiences. 

After the meeting I ask the founder of the group, Myra, if it would be possible to start a group in Ventura. Ventura needs a Lesbian group. Myra responded with a resounding yes, saying that there were already two other Chapters south and east of LA. She also volunteered to come and give us whatever support we needed to help us get started. Others were overjoyed as well to hear we wanted to start a group in Ventura. I now realize that one of my strong abilities is to notice a need somewhere and fill it.

I was given some brochures to hand out and learned that professionals especially, did not want to risk getting fired from their jobs and so they met only in private homes. The rational for the “professional” category seems to be a way of eliminating Lesbians who may be less fearful of being “outed” than the professional women, because they could be fired. Secrecy was a top priority.

There was extreme fear of being exposed as Gay because in 1953, under President Eisenhower, homosexuality had become by executive order, “a necessary and sufficient reason in itself to fire any federal employee from their job.” This executive order stayed in effect until 1993. So the professional therapists who started SCWU and who worked for the federal government needed to insure they wouldn’t be discovered. Understandably, nobody wanted to risk being fired.

In September, Becky and I decide we’d like to become foster parents, but only one of us can be the foster parent on paper. We cannot divulge the nature of our relationship, or we would not be allowed to become licensed. I fill out the application, go to the required meetings and get our home licensed. 

Pam and Katie agree to share a bedroom, so the foster kids can have a bedroom. We both love the idea of having young children around. Becky really would like the experience of being in charge of little children. She agrees to be responsible for putting them to bed every night and I am quite happy to let her do that. 

Soon we welcome four year old Michelle and three year old Matthew into our home. Becky enjoys reading to them every night at bedtime. I enjoy teaching and playing with them in the daytime. It isn’t long before Becky can take them to the school where she teaches. This leaves me much freer in the daytime to look for a job.

Our weekly Rap group continues to meet and there are ten to twelve regular members. However, my interest is now turning towards initiating an SCW group here. Willie, who is Black is not interested in an SCW group, mainly because she is displeased about what she calls the discriminating policy of allowing only “professional” women to join and I understand. I don’t quite feel like a professional myself, but I was accepted as a member. My ex-lover May is a non-professional Black woman, but is a member.

Willie continues the Rap group, while I direct my energies into developing a local SCW group. Becky is very supportive of my endeavors. 

~ The Quagmire of Internal Fears ~

In the past few months together, I have learned a tremendous amount about myself. However, I cannot understand what all this terror inside of me is about and why I am not able to speak from my heart to Becky about how I really feel? I have so much trouble voicing my emotions and feelings, why?

I also have a growing desire to be free of the secrecy. I want to be able to share openly with others and the world that I am in a significant coupled relationship, especially with people I work with, or at church or anywhere. If I could do that now, that would make my relationship with Becky feel more legitimate. But I know that is totally out of the question. 

Wed.  I’m beginning to think Becky is not satisfied with my wanting a friendship instead of a relationship. I hope I learn how to make friends before I am living alone, or I'll go crazy. I hope Becky will be my friend, but probably not. 

I began on a friendly basis with her. I remember being so proud of myself for opening up to another person. I did not suspect she was Gay, even though she thinks I knew she was gay. The thought only flew through my head once or twice. I am so sorry I misled her with my sick needs. I was lonely, but still… I did such a terrible thing. I got too close, but it was a first in my attempt to make a friend. Her gayness and my loneliness complicated things. 

When I just imagine the slight possibility of us maybe becoming best friends, I get elated. Becky would make a wonderful friend. I want a close friend so bad it hurts. I've wanted a close friend all my life, but still don’t know how to get one. Now I think I know, but not really sure. Will Becky become straight and be my friend? Probably not. I'm so afraid of everything; being alone and talking about my feelings. At the same time I'm so happy to be living among seven. Go figure. I finally have the large family I’ve always wanted, including Michelle and Matthew.

This is so stupid. Tonight I am so distraught to find Becky in bed sleeping. I didn't even know she went bed. I wish she had said good-night. A few nights ago I lay awake crying because she went to bed and to sleep before I got in bed. I can't wake her up to talk, but I so want to talk. I triple hate, hate, hate this. We ought to get together. I want and love getting into bed and talking about things before going to sleep each night. I should have asked her if she would like to do that, talk before going to sleep. But I didn’t because of some kind of fear inside me.

The things I want to say are important, but now have slipped away. One was to ask her why she gave me sex in the night and then cried. Two or three other important things have slipped away, now this pain I am suffering. I continue asking myself, why am I so terrified of talking about my real feelings? No answer comes.

Another thing, Pam wanted a $7 handbag today at Penny’s today. I refused to get it because she has a blue one someone gave her for her birthday, but it's outdated. The seven dollar one was neat and I liked it. She loved it. I must get it for her. I want her to look nice and have the things other girls have, but I haven't the money. 

I wanted to ask Becky if she had a hard day today and talk about that. I never got around to it. I wanted to tell her how awful I feel when she has gone to bed and to sleep and I don't even know she's tired. Well, now I'm going to try and do my homework.

Sept. - Sitting in the library, supposed to be studying, I gaze lovingly at the huge California map on the wall. I walk over to see it closely because it is a map of earthquake faults. Ventura seems relatively safe as I had assumed. I feel in a very good place today. I have decided to volunteer at the Mental Health Center and that will be happening soon. 

I have my foster kids and prospects of jobs in the future. I have a friend to live with and talk to; a special friend she is, she knows me and my body like no one else. I simply love it. I don't want to be emotionally close to anyone else right now; just working on having regular friendships with people. It is the tops to be working on making friends and also have a close friend at home to hug me in the mornings. This is sheer pleasure!!! 

I suddenly realized I love building with wood. I had built a doll/dog house on the farm when I was a young teen and it was so much fun. I called a carpentry school in Camarillo and, to my surprise they are accepting females in their program, which shocked and pleased me. Their next class begins in January 1980. I am looking forward to using my building talents and abilities to become a carpenter.

I'm finally in a good place and I recognize that today. My life couldn't be happier. Oh yes and freedom from noon to 5 PM, because the kids can go to Becky’s school; the best thing ever. I have the little kids as well as freedom from them, who could ask for more? I feel like buying Becky a gift for the first time, but I have no money.

After watching "swingers" share their lifestyle on an Oprah show, I think I might like that life. Becky and I could go to an event, then get together with someone else with a mutual attraction. Then later leave with Becky to go home, sounds quite nice. This is a slowly emerging thing within, I’d like to explore. It is a strong desire in my series of jumps to new self identities. I also feel like I want to run free in the wind and sun, naked without clothing restrictions.

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September 27  Wed. - My highs and lows are in a vicious cycle. A few days ago I began to feel down. I lost my self-esteem and my self-worth somewhere. Yesterday when I couldn't charge anything in J. C. Penny’s because I didn't have the required second ID. I became so emotionally down. 

When I get like that I discover that I “withdraw,” but what I'm really doing is putting space around me. I don't know why I do this, but it feels better, centering only on me with no energy for anyone else. I feel comforted when I do that, but Becky doesn't know that is what I am doing. I put her down and find fault with her somehow. I think subconsciously if I can put her down enough, it will make me feel more up, or be seen as up, but that doesn’t work. I feel bad when I make her feel bad. 

Yesterday, I started to feel a little better, but even as I begin to feel better, I remain distant. Becky didn't know why though and I continued keeping my distance, which I felt was my space. When I was hurt in Penny’s I recoiled from everyone. This morning I was hurt when Becky came and said good-bye in a cold way. She looked so nice and I would have liked to have told her, but no time, she just left. My day is a fairly good one, but the meeting at the Mental Health Center, where I volunteer doesn’t feel so good today. 

I came up a bit emotionally, but Becky’s reaction to my distance and putdowns is coming and I won't be able to continue staying up, until I talk and explain what is happening with me. All the while in “my space,” I wonder, if I'm mean to her, will she still love me? Sounds like my childhood, wondering if my mother still loves me. My self-worth is threatened from the outside world and I challenge the one closest to me. Why? Am I still worth loving? 

I don't think Becky loves me anyway, but still she doesn't actually reject me when I'm mean to her. If she did, my self-worth would become nonexistent I think. When I'm down and distant I still do need her to not reject me, but someday, I believe she may walk out the door. I hope I have a job before she goes. 

It seems like she is growing to the point where she can comfortably say good-bye, I don't need you or your meanness anymore. I'm starting to feel that I would like to be with her for 25 more years, but the closer I grow toward wanting her, the further away she'll probably grow. 

She's working on becoming more independent from me, (strengthening her apple) and I'm working towards becoming more dependent on her, (strengthening my orange.) In our non-stoned life, it feels like she is becoming like I was…distant and I am becoming like she was…wanting understanding and closeness. Maybe residues of weekend pot smoking stay within my lungs during the week and I am closer to my feelings and emotions than ever before.

I must explain to Becky what has been happening with me. I'm sure she doesn't understand, but kids are around now. I hope I can share with her. She won't understand, but maybe she'll remember the next time I get down and become distanced, she'll just let me be. Now I know why I want to be left alone to just be… it's the space I am needing.

~~~~

Becky is so angry with me. It adds a new feeling to the ones I already have about talking. I think I could start to talk about all that is inside if she weren't so hostile. She really hates me now after my high a week ago last Thursday. I began to come down from the high, which led into my not speaking, which made Becky angry. I hate it like this. 

Last night I told her how I was down and needed space when that happens. Instead of understanding, like I knew she wouldn’t, she wanted to tell me how it made her feel. She was angry because I stated emphatically that I wanted her to give me space. She claims she did, but she didn’t. I don't believe she's interested in learning how to live with me. I can't hug and cuddle until I talk all this out. I have to talk about the space I need, before I can hug. 

The night before last she hugged me in my sleep, it felt good and I was responding half awake. But, to me hugging and touching means "all is well between us" and unless it is actually true, I can't touch and hug. I hate being like this. It is so nice when all is well. I get happy when I look forward to seeing and talking with her. I think she is happy for the most part, because right now all is fairly well, but I don’t think we will get back to the close happy way we were, before my distancing happened. This bothers me more, now that I've experienced some happiness. I want the closeness back. Will it come? I honestly don't know.

Earlier today I wanted to talk face-to-face like adults. I had feelings of brief tenderness throughout the day and other feelings. I want to get one night of  sleeping with her and just snuggle up and feel her warm soft body. One night I thought she was sick with a cold and since I put a high priority on feeling physically comfortable, I forgo sleeping with her to ensure I don’t get sick. 

Tonight I had two drinks and was very relaxed and about to go to sleep when Becky comes in. Now I am not wanting to talk about feelings, because of her anger and when we begin to yell, the girls get upset. Pam has said a hundred times, “Don't fight…all you do is fight.” Sometimes during the day, if she senses an argument coming, she'll say, “No, don't say anything, you'll start a fight.” For a week now there has been yelling and fighting, so my new priority now is, no verbal fighting and arguing.

October 2   Monday - No sun, dreary day weather-wise, but I’m close to happy. Saturday night I decide to do something different. I will get physically close to Becky first and hopefully I'll be able to communicate the next day. I never feel like I can be physical unless I get the emotional stuff said and cleared up first. 

It worked! I feel so good that I found another way; the “orange” way maybe. It feels good when I get in bed really happy. I get good feelings thinking about me and all of us and what's going on. It's like they say, enjoy life now, ‘cause “the now” is all there is.

For me, my future dreams have never come. I always prepare for them, but they have never come. Now I see my dreams have come true and I’m so happy. I had to allow them to come. I am well, healthy and feel good about me. The kids are all well and healthy. We don't have a lot of money but the rent is paid and we aren't hungry. We have some things we want; a nice house and nice furniture finally. We are living in a wonderful location with beautiful weather, finally and I have a friend to live with. 

Becky fulfills my needs; she's there when I need her. She does things for me; the things I most hate doing. She doesn't mind doing them and I love it. To come home and find the house cleaned up, to me is pure joy. It makes me feel really happy. To lie in bed at night, without being afraid, is pure joy. I can’t share this with Becky though, for some reason, I know not. This is the same way I felt as a teenager when I really fell in love with the pure joy of Nature and knew that I could not share such happiness with my mother, for some reason, I also didn't know.

In order to survive my life the way it's been, I've had to be a bitch. I'm petrified of Becky leaving. She says she won’t, for a while, but I don't know what that means. She could have a life of peace and quiet. I would like to have that life now, but before I know it, I will be alone. When the girls are grown and gone, I'll have my peace and quiet. My “nest” will truly be empty. Then I know I will cry and wish I were here now with six other people in the house. 

I truly and simply love the seven of us in the family, but everyone else hates it, except Michelle and Matthew. My family hates living with so many people but they don't know I love it! This is a first in my life and will probably be the last. I wish everyone knew how much I love all these people around me. I'll be alone soon enough, heaven knows. Yes, I might as well pour my heart out on paper, since I am ineffective at spoken communication.  

Two days before Christmas, Michelle and Matthew’s Dad picked them up for a Christmas visit. I spent a few hours in the very chilly garage wrapping the girls twelve present each. I always got as many gifts as I could for each of them. They seemed to love quantity over quality. On Christmas morning, opening all our gifts took a while. The girls delighted in the excitement of our routine. Each one gathers their pile of presents in front of them. Then we each take turns opening our gifts one at a time, until they’re all opened. 

We never saw Michelle and Matthew again because their Dad didn’t bring them back after their Christmas visit. I had a secret suspicion this would happen, but both the Children’s Services agency and Becky were surprised and saddened.

 

~~~~~