Better Late Than Never - Coming Out As An Adult
by Patricia Brush
(Ottawa, Ontario, Canada)
Childhood Abuse Caused
In my childhood, I was severely abused by a family member, not sexually but physically, mentally and emotionally. I had not one shred of self esteem, believing myself to be stupid and unworthy because of the abuse.
As we know, the abused child is evident to other abusers. Abusers gravitate to an abused child. Physical, mental and emotional abuse left me vulnerable to sexual abuse by men outside my family. I was sexually abused by a stream of random men. With no self worth, and no training in how to protect myself (but why would I protect what was worthless), I was a sitting duck.
As a result of this abuse, I suffer from a very severe anxiety disorder. I have to be able to control my situation (I drive, I don't take the bus). I have to be able to leave or I won't stay (I won't sit at the back of a table or in the middle of a row). I wouldn't stand in front of people and be seen (standing up at a workshop and saying my name would throw me into a complete panic attack). Yes this is about coming out,
I'm getting to it!
Another result of my horrendous childhood is that I lost track of who I am. I developed behaviors and ways of being so that I wouldn't attract attention, even from myself. I conformed, conformed, conformed.
I went to University, even though I didn't want to. I dated men because it was expected that I would marry and have children and eventually I did marry and have children. The marriage wasn't very good. The children are delightful.I went to church but
didn't feel a spiritual connection
Throughout my life I have been an active member of my church. I even work for the church. But I never felt a spiritual connection. I liked that the church did good works and I liked the pomp and ceremony. I certainly didn't have a personal relationship with God.
Ten years ago, I was meditating, trying to achieve some calm, when Jesus
came and stood before me. He didn't say anything and he didn't stay long but I was washed with the most incredible sense of wellness.
My panic disorder went away for a while. I don't often tell this story because people, even church people, tend to look at me like I have three heads. Still, I began to have a better connection to my faith instead of it being merely an intellectual exercise.God prepared a partner for me
Two and a half years ago, I met Bev. It became clear very quickly that Bev was my anamchara, my soul friend. Soon, I found myself thinking about her in ways that I found quite unexpected.
When I found out that she is two-spirited, my spirit danced. I realized who I am. My panic disorder abated. Immediately, I talked to my clergy person, received complete support and ended my marriage.
Bev has always known who she is and has suffered from being told that she is an abomination but I could see she also suffered from self-shaming. I decided that I wasn't going there so I came out
to my family and friends, my church, and my work, all within a few days.
It was a remarkably freeing experience. The only person who had any difficulty with the news was my Dad and he came around in 6 months and has been supportive since then.Now I can worship God
as a whole person
What this has meant to my spiritual life
is that in my relationship with God, I am a whole person. I worship God with my complete being.
I don't have any problem reconciling being a lesbian
with being a Christian. I am the way that God meant me to be.
If any Christian has a problem with that, I suggest that they take it up with God. Their belief does not affect the fact that I am loved by God
and that I am living my life the way that God intends.
I have not encountered any opposition to my being a Christian
in the gay community in Ottawa.
My church family has been wonderful, supporting Bev and I whole-heartedly. I know that I am extremely lucky to be a member of a progressive Anglican parish and to have a lesbian priest.
I have also been tremendously graced
by the ministry of Integrity Ottawa. I highly recommend seeking out a church-based gay organization.
All blessings to you in your spiritual journey,