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Women Who Leave John For Jane, Page 2

Women Who Leave John For Jane...By Theo Pauline Nestor

Page Two


What were the social aspects of the transition like for you? Did you have any trouble telling your friends or family what was going on?

Walsh: It’s been awkward, for sure. I still run into people who haven’t seen me for a few years and assume I’m still with my ex. It’s like, “Well, we got divorced, and I went on to pursue a same-sex relationship, and this is Laura, my partner. What’s new with you?” It’s a lot to communicate, and sometimes I’m perfectly happy to turn towards the dairy section instead of the produce section in the grocery store to avoid that whole experience. I was very afraid of telling my parents. My mom was supportive, and my dad was, too — with caveats. They’ve gone on to express their misgivings here and there about my lifestyle. My siblings have been great. I have noticed, though, that it almost seems more acceptable to some family members to overreact about other things as a way to create distance between us — as if their emotions are coming out sideways.

Stuart: I had much anticipatory anxiety and worry about the transition. Once I did start telling people, I found that — without exception — friends and family just wanted me to be happy and were quite accepting. I waited until my marriage was over to tell most of my friends. All of them were surprised and none had a clue that I had any interest in being with women. A few people thought that my being with a woman was a phase (and some people still think that). It turns out that those people have more or less gone out of my life.

Rauch: I didn’t have any trouble telling my friends and coworkers, but I was more cautious with my family. I waited until I met someone I was serious about before I broached the subject with them. Despite my worrying, my family has been incredible; they are unendingly supportive and they adore my partner.

What advice do you have for readers who might be feeling confusion about their own sexuality?

Walsh: Try not to pressure yourself too much or feel like you have to jump into this black-and-white universe of “gay, not straight,” or “straight, not gay.” Try to meditate or float in the experience of coming to grips with your sexuality. Journal, connect with an online community like lavendervisions.com, or join the discussion group on our Dear John Facebook page.

Stuart: Be patient with yourself. There’s no rush in finding the answers about your sexuality. Exercise daily. You’re doing the best that you can, and there is no shame in developing into your authentic self. Put one foot in front of the other and live your life with honesty — everything will work out as it is meant to, one moment at a time. Find other women who have been married or in relationships with men and are now questioning their own sexuality and talk to them. Join a support group; read books. The feelings of hopelessness, loneliness and isolation are the darkest parts of this tunnel… please know that you are not alone!

Rauch: Acknowledge it. The more you ignore it, the more miserable you will be. It took me years to own up to being the person that I really am, and if I regret anything, it is that I didn’t accept myself sooner.

What have you learned from your transition from one sexual identity to another?

Walsh: It was scary, confusing and disorienting… but it was also ecstatic, exciting, and it filled me with a whole new level of bliss. I definitely feel like I have more energy now that this important aspect of my life is no longer obscured or occluded. I feel like I “show up” more in every level of my life — as a mom, an employee, a friend, a person renewing my driver’s license, even. I’m more present, and I have so much more personal power in the mix.

Sauter: I’ve learned a lot of important things from this major change in my life; I don’t need to settle for anything less than wonderful in a partner. Identity shifts take time, even if your life changes dramatically overnight. How I feel about myself is more important than how other people feel about me. Sex is more incredible now than I ever thought possible (this might be the best part, actually!).

Stuart: I learned that true love and self-acceptance are possible. I also realized that unhappiness, anxiety and stress — all things I experienced during the first half of my life — have deep roots, and that mine stemmed from being in denial that I was definitely, without a doubt attracted to women. Now that I have given myself permission to be who I really am (which wasn’t possible without the support and acceptance of my family, including my former husband and children), many of my emotional difficulties have decreased. There is much more space and time for me to just be happy and free.

Rauch: There is no point in leading an unhappy life in order to please others. Remarkably, I’ve also learned that accepting my true sexuality hasn’t changed me; I am still very much myself… except now, I’m happy and fully engaged in my life.

What advice would you give readers who are going through a similar experience?

Walsh: Be kind and gentle with yourself… and also, push past your comfort zone, because you’re not going to truly figure it out by sitting in your easy chair with a cup of tea. It’s helpful to attend women’s events, even if the first few make you feel as awkward as the adolescent you once were at the junior high school dance. I am so gloriously happy with my partner. I almost went through my entire life without tapping into that.

Sauter: My advice to anyone struggling with a similar transition is to follow your heart. Not everyone you know will support you, but in the end, you have to live with yourself first. Stay open-minded. Be patient. Love knows the way. I have 15 years and counting with Leah as proof that happiness is possible in ways you never imagined.

Rauch: Talk about it. Seek out support and a network for yourself; be honest with people. And read Dear John, I Love Jane.


Theo Pauline Nestor is the author of How to Sleep Alone in King-Size Bed: A Memoir of Starting Over and a regular contributor to Happen magazine. Follow her blog at WritingIsMyDrink.com. Learn more about Dear John, I Love Jane here.
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