We got married at 19, and I was married for 12 years. Which means, by my expert calculations, that I was pretending to be straight until I was 31. Now that I've been a practicing homosexual for 12 years (and all that practice has really paid off. I rarely have to consult the manual anymore), that means that I've given each option equal consideration. At 43, this is my big chance to once again shed this tiresome old sexual orientation and take up something new. Celibacy, anyone? Perhaps woman/cat love? Parthenogenesis?
The inescapable moment of truth came for me when my husband and his brother offered to take all three kids camping and give me a weekend alone. I hadn't had more than a few hours to myself in 8 years...since my oldest was born. I'd pretty much spent every waking moment of every day keeping busy so that I could avoid spending any time doing that kind of reflective thinking that inevitably leads to unwanted self-awareness.
So when I finally ran out of things to do, I decided to spend my three days of solitude having an existential crisis in which I reexamined my most fundamental beliefs about myself, and admitted the unavoidable truth about that pesky gender-orientation thing.
In retrospect, it would have been more relaxing to rent a movie.
However, at the end of my quiet weekend, I was no longer able to deny my gayness. In fact, when my ex-husband and I talk about that time now, I tell him it's his fault. "If you hadn't given me quiet time, I would never have had to face the fact that my whole life was a charade. So I blame you."
He's a good guy; he shoulders that responsiblity pretty well.
So now (since it's after midnight), I've spent more of my adult life identifying as a lesbian than a heterosexual, and it's a much better fit. I'd kick myself for being so intentionally obtuse for so many years, except that I feel like I got the best of everything; I have had the experience of raising three nifty kids and watching them grow to be fine adults. I spent 12 years married to a man who patiently fumbled into adulthood with me. Together, we learned that maturity isn't a windsprint...it's a marathon. No one's impressed with how many people you pass in the first mile, the important thing is how well you're holding up over time.
And now I have the relationship of a lifetime with a woman who's such an excellent fit for me that I feel like doing the "I could have had a V-8" head smack for not finding her sooner and getting more time out of our life together. Except we were pretending to be heterosexuals back then....
Life is a lot more complex than you think it's going to be when you're a five year old, isn't it?