FIRST ROUGH DRAFT

Chapter 2  ~ 1977

Move to TN. & Meeting Becky 

 

After several days of driving and camping, we arrived at our new rented Tennessee home. We unpack and settle in. I feel enormously scared inside. How can I find a job, how can I be happy?

There was furniture to buy, a whole house to set up. I had put aside enough money, but I am alone with my girls and I earnestly want them to be happy. Our large back yard and the woods beyond make happy playing grounds for them. There is a tree house for added excitement and ponds for exploring. We are very happy and excited and there are still a couple of weeks to go before school starts. 

Now that things seem calmer and I am living in a place I love, I can concentrate on what I’d love to do to for a job. I know I’d love to do something with children, but what? A strong desire to be an “at home” day care Mom came to mind. It wasn't long before I was caring for eighteen month old David.

His Mom drops him off each morning and for the first several mornings, I just hold him while I watch TV. He looks up at me seemingly studying my face and I let him just look silently and he doesn’t even try to get down. He just lets me hold him for a couple of hours and I am pleased he feels some degree of safety and comfort. I am very gentle with him. At nap time each day we lie on my big bed together while he goes to sleep. His mother is very grateful for my care.

Sunday night and I write in my journal…November 6 — I am nervous. Usually on Sunday nights I am afraid and hate for Mondays to come. I don’t know why I am so nervous tonight. I don’t want tomorrow to come. Pam doesn’t really want to go to school tomorrow and Katie keeps counting the days until Thanksgiving vacation. Tomorrow my errands include going to the post office to mail a letter, getting material for a dress, shopping for food and gifts, going to the bank and maybe I'll get an application to teach in public schools. I should send for a teaching certification paper. I also need shoes, a purse, stockings, jewelry and makeup. I'm full of anxiety.

Nov. 5 — Tuesday - With much regret and sadness, I inform David’s Mom I will not be able to continue caring for him, because I need a job that pays more money. She is understandably disappointed. I’m soon hired as a part time assistant to two teachers at a local Day Care Center. I am so happy for this job. 

One day one of the teachers, Becky, and myself are sitting on opposite sides of the same table with the children. She was guiding the children through a learning experience and I, as only an aide, dared to speak up and suggest a more effective way of getting her lesson across to the children. Her response is not one of, “You’re only an aide, what would you know,” as I expected. It was one of gratitude and acceptance of my knowledge. I immediately loved her openness and willingness to learn a different approach. I began to notice her more and talk with her whenever I got the chance.

I was soon looking forward to work each day. I loved the way Becky talks, the things she says and the sound of her voice even. She seems different somehow from the other teachers at the Center. She is also a full fledged Montessori teacher, which is how I taught my daughters to read, when they were very young. Becky loves my fudge that I brought in one day. 

We continue having good conversations. She has a way of making my fragile and sensitive self feel equal to her as a person, even though I am only an aide. That is the biggest gift she gives to me, the gift of acceptance that I am needing so much at this point in my life. I also want and need a good friend because I now feel like I am ready for one. I would like to be friends with Becky because we have so much in common, especially where children are concerned and I am so ready to experience real friendship. 

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Another Sunday night is here. Instead of feeling anxious, I think of how long I've wanted to write about my internal growth; my feelings, insights and breakthroughs. Today, after several years of applying information from the self help books I’ve read, I begin. It's almost midnight. If anyone is to know me, they can know me from these writings and today is the first day of the rest of my life. I will be 38 soon.

It has been about five years since I read Victor Frankyl’s book, “Man’s Search for Meaning.” I still remember the profound lesson I learned. I have the ability to change my thoughts to give myself a better life. I know now it isn’t the world that is the problem, it is my perception of the world that needs changing. Now I know I have the power to notice my thoughts and change them, like Victor did in the concentration camp. I reenforce that power within me.

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Nov. 28  Monday — Tomorrow’s my birthday. I’m going to be happy. I’m usually not very happy, but long, long ago before I was married, I thought of how wonderful it would be to have children of my own, because I felt certain they would love me. I loved my Mom, but didn’t feel her love. I somehow believed having children was a sure way for me to feel loved. Today many years later, I think I was right! My three beautiful daughters are delighted with me and have bought me presents for my birthday and are very excited. Cakes are made and I feel really loved tonight, anticipating tomorrow. It feels so very wonderful. I don’t want to go to my cold bed alone, but I must. Good night.

November 29 — Tuesday - I am very excited about today and I felt so good last night. But for the first time since summer I have a tension headache and no time to be alone and relax so it will go away. The girls fixed up the table and everything looked so nice when I got home from work. Party time went great. It was beautiful. My presents included pretty candles and I loved everything so much. It was truly a special occasion I'll never forget.

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Dec — I talked briefly with Becky again at work and I notice how pretty her eyes were and something about her makes me like her a lot. She seems so authentic and seems to like me too. I hope I can overcome my fear of closeness to another person so we can become close friends. I read more today in my current book, “The Problems of Being Human.” It's all about how a counselor can facilitate growth in a client which all makes sense to me.

Neighbor, Carol came home today after being gone five days. I realized I missed her a lot, but couldn’t bring myself to tell her. I don’t know why I couldn’t. I think I was just too scared or self-conscious to tell her. I didn’t like missing her. I’ve not missed many people in my life. Interesting, I thought.

One day, after a couple of weeks of working together, Becky and I sit quietly talking on a work break. Suddenly she looks at me intently for a few elongated moments and then with an attitude of determination, asked me if I'd like to go out for lunch tomorrow and talk some more. I was elated to say the least, and accepted her invitation. My first experience at relating on an emotional level, is about to happen. I am nervous about going to lunch because I’m not sure I’m worthy of her invite, but I go anyway.

Thursday evening report— Becky and I had lunch today at Burger King; the first chance at friendship since I've become more mature as a person. We have such an equal relationship because she listens to me as much as I listen to her. However, I miss her after we separate and I want to be with her longer. This has happened three times already.

Each time we talk, we communicate a little deeper, which contributes to the good feelings I get during our conversations. Really good moments happen during our talking. She is as willing to share herself as I am to share myself. I see genuine honesty in her face and I am especially drawn to her. 

These moments of connection with another person are the most joyous moments for me. It makes me feel truly alive. 

I believe that the intensity of my feelings for Becky, or anyone I have emotional contact with, seems directly related and dependent upon my existing state of aloneness and loneliness. I do need to keep that in mind. I am not interested in a romantic relationship right now, because I firmly believe that I need to learn how to have a friend first. I believe that I must and can control the intensity of my feelings, not the feelings themselves, because I don't want to get hung up on one relationship.

  ~ Becky and I get together ~

Becky and I have lunch regularly at Burger King now. We talk on a variety of subjects, discovering major life philosophies and interests in common. We both love Burger King and we’re becoming attached to it for the significance it is to our budding friendship. I learn Becky has just given up smoking cigarettes. I feel like we have an even relationship, which explains why it feels so good to me. My previous friendship attempts have not become close friendships and I sincerely hope this one will. 

As a teenager, I was isolated on the farm, five miles out of town and saw my classmates only at school. I was afraid of boys and didn't know how to relate to them. I basically skipped teenage socializing after school so I never got the hang of making and being friends with other girls.

The closest non-romantic friend I had when I was eighteen was MaryJane, whom I had a crush on and one other friend, Linda after I was married. I am more than thrilled now to feel like I have reached a higher level of relating. Finally, maybe now I am able to have a really close straight friendship.

One evening Becky suggests we go to a quaint basement restaurant and have cheeses which I'd never had before. Another time we go to a Pizza Hut and sit in a corner booth; it is chilly there, but I am so delighted to spend time with her, I didn't mind. I've not ever experienced this kind of sharing with another, even in my romantic relationships. 

I feel like I do indeed have a close friend now. Practicing what I've read in self-help books has gotten me to a newer level. I'm able to observe myself now. Becky seems to know who she is and we both value emotional growth and can talk deeply and honestly about our insights. 

I feel unusually attracted to this woman though and happily go to her classroom at days end, to help supervise the remaining children with her. I find this a little troubling, because I am not sure if this is how one feels about their close friends. Maybe my loneliness is contributing to my growing affection towards Becky. One evening we end up talking on the phone for seven hours, which thoroughly amazes both of us. 

We soon know quite a lot about each other. I do not share that I had two gay relationships prior to marriage though, because I am ashamed of them. I believed, like society did, that being gay was a mental illness and was considered unhealthy, abnormal and "sick." All this keeps me from sharing my past experiences. I’m ashamed of having been gay and afraid Becky might dislike me for it. I have absolutely no desire to ever be gay again and I'm not even wanting a romantic relationship, let alone gay one.

I can say things to Becky like, “I want to be emotionally close to you” and mean it, as well as feel it. Deep down I do believe I'm a good person, one of worth, not dependent on someone else's approval of me. A relationship like I feel developing now, enhances my already good feelings about myself because I don’t feel like I need someone else to love me in order to feel good inside. 

When relating emotionally with men there always seemed to be a sexual or romantic attraction that interfered with just being emotionally close with them. Emotional closeness is what I want most of all. This only seems possible with straight women or with gay men. I know it’s supposed to be easy and natural for a woman to have close friends. However, I've never been able to experience a close friendship, even though I'm considered a woman. 

I've always felt more like a boy/man inside, because I like feeling in control and determined about things. I don't have much emotional "softness" and definitely no nurturing qualities. Plus I don't like woman's clothes, bras, nylons or anything else women like. 

~~~~

Wednesday - This Saturday afternoon in February, it was beautiful, warm and peaceful in the park. Becky and I sat at a picnic table beside a creek. I'm truly enjoying talking with her, impressed by her intelligence which still amazes me. 

I suddenly had the courage to say to her what I was feeling.

"I'm really glad to have you for a friend," I said with true emotion.

After a few moments she got up and walked slowly toward the creek, while I stayed at the table. The next thing I hear her say is,

“I enjoy your friendship too, but I am wanting to explore my sexuality.” 

I am not quite sure what she means and I don’t like the sound of it. I am hoping she doesn’t want a sexual relationship. A sense of disappointment falls over me as I try to digest what she said, afraid of what she might be inferring. I do not respond and we have no further discussion about it.

A few days later, on a warm afternoon as we walk along the road in my neighborhood, we come to a resting place beside a church and sit on the rock wall in silent joy. We had been walking in a circle and in front of us through the trees, was my backyard. I suggested we walk through the field and trees towards the back of my house. My opened tent camper was sitting in the back yard, so I ask Becky, 

"Wanna see inside my camper?"

"Yes, I'd love to."

We go inside and end up sitting down on the edge of the bed very close to each other. 

Becky looks at me and talks in a way that signals an attraction more than platonic. I now realize I’m sexually turned on. My rational mind does not want this to happen. But there is such passion between us; such joy I've not known before. 

Then it happens. We embrace and kiss. I'm taken aback, not wanting to, but at the same time, very much wanting to and not holding back. I am engulfed by her feelings of love, warmth and acceptance of me. She laughs in her funny delightful way and says something cute, making me laugh and hug her some more. 

 

~~~~~

 

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.

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