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The Mirror

How I Found Myself

By Valerie JacksonPublished 3 months ago 4 min read

I was married for twenty-seven years and had two children. I thought I was doing what was "required" of me, following the path so many others before me had done. I grew up in a large and loving family, went to college, met a man I loved but later realized I was not in love with, got a job, got married, had a family. Isn't that the way it's done? But the angle of the trajectory of my life changed.After all this? Or before. I'd always been intrigued by women. In movies it was the women I had crushes on more often than not. In high school I experimented with a female friend. Don't we all try different things as we discover who we might become? As I got older I had dreams of being with women. After a long and somewhat unhappy marriage I left my husband, went out on my own. I'd felt raw, unappreciated, disrespected for some time. Raw, like I'd been battered down to this vulnerable thing. I'd lost my sense of identity, lost my way. For five years, after I left, I felt the freedom from that marriage for which I'd longed. But at some point, while traveling to and from a friend's daughters wedding by myself, I realized I was lonely. I wanted to have someone in my life with whom to share my adventures. I joined dating apps but was not satisfied with what I saw, with the men I interacted with, all older than me while I felt so much younger than my age. And it just didn't feel right so I dropped the apps. I must have been about fifty-five when I went to San Francisco with a friend to walk in the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Awareness fundraiser. I met two women from my hometown, one with whom I'd been intrigued for some time. I called her after we got back home to see how she was doing and we decided to connect and have coffee. We became friends and started hanging out regularly. One night we ended up in bed together. It was the first time I had a sexual experience with another woman. I'll never forget how I felt the next day. After she left I went into the bathroom. As I faced the mirror I looked at myself. I realized that the person looking back at me, that person I'd seen in a mirror a thousand times, was not who I had been. It was as if I was seeing myself for the very first time. The person looking back at me was the woman who held my true identity. What a revelation! I felt free, as if I'd shed a heavy coat I'd been wearing my whole life that didn't quite fit right. I was free to be who I'd been wanting to be. That relationship turned out to be quite messy, short-lived, and painful. But it gave me the courage to go forward and look for someone else. And boy, did I succeed. I met my wife through Craigslist. We both wrote short blurbs about ourselves, who we were and what we were looking for. There were no photos involved. We met and something clicked. We've been together for over ten years. When I got to know her I discovered what it meant to be in love with someone as well as to love that person. As for my sons, they love my wife and she loves them. As hard and scary as it was to come out to them, and it was very hard, I found that they were accepting and open to this new relationship. I'm sure it wasn't easy for them but the bottom line is they wanted to see me happy. I think that is a tribute to the job their father and I did raising them. The mirror is about reflection. Melinda and I are a reflection of each other. In photos I see her looking at me and I see the love there. And it works the other way as well. When I see people who appear to be in love and happy I see them mirroring their feelings for each other. Melinda taught me that we are who we see in the eyes of others. The mirror was a door for me, a door that opened up and exposed me to a new relationship. One that is warm, solid, loving, and amazing. One in which I can truly be myself.


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