Dear E. Jean:My beautiful, smart, funny 14-year-old daughter recently announced to me that she is a lesbian and doesn’t like boys. The news has thrown me into a severe depression. I’m not sleeping well, I’ve lost 10 pounds, and I’m barely functioning at work. I’m filled with a deep sadness and grieving for the daughter I thought I had. It actually feels like someone died.
All my dreams for her future vanished in an instant. I simply don’t want this lifestyle for her. In fact, it makes me downright queasy to imagine my little girl defiling her looks and taking up with a butch lesbian. I’m worried she’ll face bigotry and hatred in school, college, and the job market. I’m trying to heal myself, but it’s a daily battle. I’m on medication and seeing a therapist to understand my feelings and accept this news. Still, I’m struggling and wondering if all this pain will ever leave me. How can I get to a place of peace? Will I ever feel joy again?-A Mother in Pain
Good God, Pain: Pull yourself together! Aren’t you the mother who raised this confident young woman? Aren’t you the mother whose example provided this young woman with a strong moral compass? Aren’t you the mother whose daughter turned in the direction she knew was right when most 14-year-olds are conforming to every rule laid down by every other 15-year-old in their school? Aren’t you the mother whose daughter possesses such elegance and strength of mind (we used to call this trait “character”) that she has no distrust of herself? Aren’t you the mother whose daughter can expect as adventurous, heartbreaking, graceful, messy, brilliant, and marvelous a future as any young woman can hope for?
You are that mother, Miss Pain. And here you are moping around, not eating, screwing off at work, and telling yourself a sad, sad story about your daughter “defiling her looks” and that “someone died.” That story is a lie. An out-and-out fiction. Because the fact is, Pain, the town you live in is so exceedingly liberal that your daughter is more likely to be loved, admired-and hired, by gawd-because she is gay! You can stop struggling. Go eat some pancakes. Be happy! I’ve read your letter 10 or 12 times-at least-and have emailed you an answer. But it is strange. Only now am I struck by your questions: “How can I get to a place of peace?” “Wondering if all this pain will ever leave me?” “Will I ever feel joy again?” I didn’t notice before, but they all center on you-your “dreams,” your “worries,” your “medication,” your “daily battle,” etc.-and not on your daughter’s happiness. I am glad you wrote to me, but it leads me to suspect that the only bigotry your daughter will be facing in future is yours.
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This letter is from the Ask E. Jean Archive, 1993-2017. Send questions to E. Jean at E.Jean@AskEJean.com.
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