There are times when I look at my girlfriend and realize…I could marry this girl. Not just because I adore weddings. Not just because we’re still in what could be considered the early U-Haul stage of our relationship. But just because she feels so incredibly right. We’ve been through our rough patches – hell, I thought for sure that we weren’t going to make it as recently as 2 or 3 months ago – but every time we’ve hit a set-back, we’ve somehow come out stronger. I know that sounds like the tagline to some terribly campy relationship movie, but bear with me. I think we worked really hard to not become the stereotype that befalls a lot of college lesbian relationships; quick to bed, quick to cohabitate, quick to break up…dramatically. We’ve tried to keep our own lives, interests, and friends. And while our relationship is by no means perfect, it feels more right than anything else I’ve ever done in my life.
So why does it terrify me so much to realize I think I’ve found my life partner?
Don’t get me wrong. The sheer thrill of being in a long-term relationship with someone I adore, and the blissful contentment of it all, far exceeds the fear. But I can’t deny that being afraid about what it all means is a persistent thought.
I think in some ways, it’s because I’m still coming to terms with my sexual identity in context of what it means for my future. I’d say it’s been about a decade since I knew I wasn’t hetero-identified, about 5 years since I accepted it, and coming up on 3 years since I came out to my parents. In that time, I feel like I’ve grown and changed a lot – mostly for the better – but my parents haven’t. If anything, my coming out has turned them more traditional and conservative than I remember them being throughout my childhood. While it gets tiring, I can more or less deal with them being awful to me. But I can’t stand the idea of my parents being rude to my girlfriend. And even though, I’m angry and resentful about my parents caring more about their social standing than about me, I still don’t want to hurt them. I’m very well aware that I’ve turned into the desi upper-middle class’ nightmare – a daughter who is actually proud of not conforming – and it hurts to know that by just being myself, I make them feel like bad parents. For days after I came out, my mom would try to corner me and ask in hushed tones what happened to make me turn out “like this”.
As much as I want to believe it, I hate when people say “oh, they’ll come around”. Because there’s no guarantee they will. I know 3 years isn’t a whole lot of time, but they continue to rail against the idea of even vaguely accepting it. Of course, we both maintain the farce that I’ve never dated anyone , for even a queer daughter has to be a chaste queer daughter. I can’t imagine how much angrier they would be if they knew that I’ve been seeing a girl for more than a year – a girl who has been wonderful and patient with me and helped me pick up the pieces every time they’ve torn me to shreds. At the end of the day I feel like all I have is uncertainty. I don’t know if they’ll ever accept me, accept my partner, or accept the validity of our relationship, and that in itself is devastating.
These thoughts constantly worry me because the future feels like it’s coming increasingly faster. I’m due to complete my Honors Baccalaureate degree in less than a year, and after that I’m taking a year off to apply to grad school. My parents expect me to return home and live with them, like a dutiful daughter. I know with untold certainty that a year at home would take a steep toll on my general mental stability. And yet, there’s no handbook with advice on how to tell my parents that I’d forgo their (free!) beautiful suburban home, with free food, laundry, and parking, for a (pricey!) cramped studio in the city, with top ramen, sketchy Laundromats, and no parking whatsoever, because I’d be significantly happier in the latter.
Somewhere along the line I started picturing my future with my girlfriend at my side – and being unable to picture a future without her in it. And in my ideal future, in my ideal present, I’d be able to take my girlfriend home for weekend trips, and they would love both of us. But that’s the one part of my future I’m unable to visualize. There are parts of me that wish I could cut ties with anyone that didn’t approve of my relationship, but I know I’d never be truly happy in my life without my family’s support. As Shri pointed out, “our parents’ approval and ‘blessing’ is an absolute must”. If only it weren’t something I had to fight for.