By: Tanya Dodd-Hise
When I finally came to terms, for the final time, about who I am, there were still details to tend to regarding what that meant – like my marriage. He and I had spent many hours talking and coming to an understanding about how our relationship would need to evolve, rather than disintegrate. It was mid-2007 when we agreed that, for the time being, we would both remain in our home and attempt to continue to live together on friendly terms for the sake of our boys and my mother, who had been living with us for a little over a year. We decided that we would try this arrangement for as long as we could, until we felt like the boys were emotionally ready for our ultimate separation. I told him that if he met somebody that he wanted to date, then he had my blessing; I had his to do the same. By September of that year, we each had indeed met someone, and we cautiously began the dating game – for the first time in almost ten years. It was weird for me. I can’t say how it was for him, but for me, I was still fighting with that same sense that I was doing something wrong. The old and deeply ingrained guilty feelings followed me everywhere, especially when I attempted to go on dates or trips with my new relationship interest.
B and I decided that we would try a separation of sorts, where he would leave for a week while I stayed at the house with the boys; then we would switch off and I would leave while he would stay there. In the beginning, this seemed like the best thing to do for the boys –if we were going to be the ones making these big changes in their lives, then WE needed to be the ones who were inconvenienced, NOT them. It sounded good in theory. We sat our oldest down and told him a small bit of what was going to happen, and he seemed alright. We decided to tell the youngest only what he needed to know since he was only seven at the time. B took the first week away while I stayed with the boys. He went to his new girlfriend’s house and stayed for the week, and it really only seemed like he was away on a business trip, like he had done many other times over the course of our marriage. The following week was my turn to go, so I opted to go to my new girlfriend’s house as well. We took a camping trip for a few days, and I tried to stay gone for my entire week – but I just couldn’t do it. It was too hard on me to be away from my boys, across town, for a week, when I knew I was supposed to be with them. So I went home early, much to the chagrin of everyone involved. My mother was growing quite annoyed with both of us, saying that we were selfish parents who needed to work it out and stop acting so childish, that we were supposed to make it work for the sake of the boys. We didn’t give her the details of whom we were with when we were gone, or whom we stayed with –but it didn’t matter, she was NOT happy and made sure that we knew it. After my first attempt at being gone for that week, I came back and told him that he was still welcome to go away for his week, but when he came back I wasn’t going to leave. So I gave him the option of spending the week at home WITH me there, or else we would have to just go ahead and separate completely. He didn’t like it, but decided to go ahead and do it my way, since neither of us was really at a place where we wanted to separate once and for all. I dated that girlfriend for about six weeks. It became difficult because she didn’t have children and had never dated anyone who had children, so it was hard for her to understand why I couldn’t stay gone for a week with her, or why I would choose to be with my kids instead. I knew that it was going to be a trying time for all of us when the real separation took place, and I wanted to focus all of my energy on being there for the boys when it did finally happen. So, that was that. B’s new relationship, on the other hand, was going very well and he seemed quite happy – for this I was equally happy.
It was also during this time, after I had broken my relationship off, that I began to get lost in books (once again) about being “free” of homosexuality. Again I felt like I just needed to pray harder, read more, cry out to God more, and step out in faith that I was a heterosexual woman of God. Yeah, not so much. I even went so far as to go to B and tell him that I was walking away from it forever, and that I wanted my family to stay together –that I would go to counseling if he wanted, and I would be the wife that he had wanted me to be for all of those years. Yeah, he didn’t buy it either. I was trying to convince myself that I could do it, but I wasn’t able to convince him. He had found new love, and I had hurt him too many times for him to even consider one more chance. This was a hard pill to swallow, but it was the reality. Whether I liked it or not, the bed I had made was there, in front of me, and I was going to have to lie in it. So in December 2007, a few days before Christmas, I told him to go ahead and move all the way out – and that was that.
My mother wanted me to find a nice, “godly” man at church and start over, free from a past haunted with homosexuality. The more I thought about THAT, the more nauseous and anxious I would get. I didn’t want to date a man. But I didn’t want to date a woman either – that had caused all kinds of hell the last time I had tried it. And now my mother lived in my house, which meant there was no way I could possibly be out and open without her wrath and condemnation choking me every single day. My plan, at the beginning of 2008, was to enjoy just being me and to enjoy my boys. Once the divorce was final, I was perfectly okay with NOT dating, but rather spending time with friends and just having fun. I went to parties, game nights, movies, and concerts with friends, and began to find my smile again. Little did I know that a day in June 2007 (the previous summer) would be a day that would change my life forever…in June 2008.
In the summer of 2007, when B and I were in the height of our previous living arrangement, I went to the True Colors concert in Dallas with a group of friends. My friend Holly said that she had some other friends that were coming, and I would be meeting them for the first time that night – a married couple named “D” and Erikka. She had told me about her friend, Erikka, many times before; they had met while bellydancing together, and she had taken part in the couple’s wedding the previous year. When we met on the day of the concert, having dinner beforehand, we really didn’t say much – after all, I didn’t know either of them. By the end of the evening, I didn’t really care for Erikka that much. I thought that she was too quiet and a little weird. Turns out (all this time later), that she didn’t like me either – she thought I was too loud and a bit obnoxious! It’s funny how first impressions are often so wrong.
Over the course of the year in between concerts, I had several opportunities to gain new and different impressions of Erikka. When Holly would have game nights at her house, we were often both present, along with her husband, D. I knew that I didn’t like HIM right away, as I noticed that he would treat her like his property when in front of people, and acted inappropriately towards her. The first several times that I was around them after that initial meeting, I typically wouldn’t talk to them very much and would exit early for home. Holly had mentioned that they didn’t have the happiest of relationships, and whenever I saw them together, it certainly seemed that this was the truth. It wasn’t until we were at a party one night that I caught a tiny glimpse of the real Erikka, hidden behind gorgeous blue eyes and a mountain of insecurities that were perpetuated by D on a regular basis. Once I caught that glimpse, I wanted to see more; I wanted to know more. I’m so glad that I did.