I am a 19 year old college student. I love my mom but hate her at the same time. She has three kids, has been married twice and all of her relationships have been with men. All my life my mother and I have been really close. Three weeks ago, I caught her kissing a woman from her work and we got in a big fight. She said that it made her happy. I am so ashamed and we haven’t talked since.
I miss her. The other day we both broke down and cried. Now she says she is not a lesbian. Yet this other woman sleeps at my house. It hurts that she has done this to my family, but hurts worse that she is a liar. I have no one to talk to because I am too embarrassed. I want my life back.
What should I do? I moved out because I know I have to respect her decision, but I don’t have to accept it. Am I wrong? Help me, please.
You saw your mom kissing a woman, this woman is sleeping at your house, but your mom tells you point blank she is not a lesbian. This does not necessarily mean she is a liar.
The break down of communication could be because of you and your mom having different ideas of what the label “lesbian” means. If this is her first experience with a woman, she might see her same-sex attraction exclusive to that particular person who happens to be a woman.
Maybe your mom’s concept of a lesbian is someone who has never been with a man, so she does not see herself as a lesbian. OR — as I have seen even with many mothers who have long-term same-sex partners — she learned a stereotype a long time ago about what lesbians are like: maybe very masculine, or very sexual, or very unhappy, or whatever she believes is true for all lesbians. She could be thinking “Sure, I am attracted to this woman, but I am not like those lesbians.” Do you see the distinction?
Or it could be she does indeed know she is a lesbian, but doesn’t want you to think she is. There are so many children whose parents have avoided saying they are gay, and it usually comes from the fear that their children will abandon them. They are so afraid of what it means to be gay and how their kids will react that they would rather lie to them than lose them.
Your mom said she was with a woman who makes her happy and you moved out. Your mom loves you and misses you. Since you left because you do not like “what she has done” by being with a woman, then logic would follow that your love for her is conditional upon her not being lesbian. She is telling you what she thinks you need to hear to keep you in her life.
Try the conversation again, but avoid the word lesbian. You can talk about it in context of her feelings for this other woman. What does this woman mean to her? Are they in a relationship? If not, why is she staying over? (Oftentimes mothers in this situation say it’s to save on rent!) Let your mom know that you love her no matter what, and you want to continue to have an open and honest relationship with her. Show her that your lifelong love for her will override your temporary feelings of shame and embarrassment.