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April 25, 2023

Kathleen Houston: A late in life discovery and a difficult divorce

We hear a story of coming out and divorce, and how it's important to live true to oneself and understand personal values. Our guest shares her experience of discovering a new sexual orientation after 35 years of marriage and receiving thorough advice from friends.


In this episode, we discuss the importance of midlife health awareness, women entrepreneurship, mental health, coming out, and personal values.

Our guest, a life coach, shares insights on how midlife entrepreneurs can prioritize their health and combat the effects of menopause. We also explore the booming trend of women-owned businesses and second career options.

We delve into the importance of mental health and self-esteem, and how they impact our body and self-talk. Our guest shares tips on fighting depression and increasing self-awareness.

We hear a story of coming out and divorce, and how it's important to live true to oneself and understand personal values. Our guest shares her experience of discovering a new sexual orientation after 35 years of marriage and receiving thorough advice from friends.

Join us as we explore these topics and more, and discover the possibilities that lie within us. Don't forget to subscribe and leave a review to help us reach and inspire more people.

 

Chapters:

00:01:24 Interview With A Life Coach Who Helps Women With Health, Fitness, And Relationships In Their Mid To Late Forties

00:05:40 Importance Of Health Awareness For Midlife Entrepreneurs

00:08:06 Focus On Mental Health: Ways To Fight Depression And Boost Self Esteem

00:11:34 Nostalgia For Simpler Childhood Times: Connecting With Friends Without Technology

00:16:32 Meeting And Dating At West Point Leads To Marriage

00:17:54 Rebellion And Inexperienced Love: A Story Of Getting Married Young And Pleasing Parents

00:22:07 Challenges Of Retail Stores In A Changing Yet Consistent Environment With Growing Technology

00:23:33 Comparison Of Walmart, Target, And Amazon In Technology And Logistics

00:26:03 A Pigeon Parent's Story Of An Internal Struggle

00:27:29 Discovering A New Sexual Orientation After 25 Years Of Marriage

00:31:01 Receiving Thorough Advice From Friends When Coming Out As A Lesbian To A Long-term Spouse

00:36:31 Maintaining Intimate Relationships While Married

00:40:51 Divorce And Love

00:42:02 Lack Of Conversation In A Small Family

00:45:03 The Importance Of Understanding Trauma And Its Effects On Behavior

Transcript

I learned a new term when Kay sent a request to be a guest on my show. That term is Lily and Kay is gonna define that for us and we're gonna learn a little bit more about her journey and how she got to where she is today. So, welcome to the show, Kay. Thank you. Thank you for having me. Yeah. Now, before we dive into, into your story, which is quite a unique journey here or maybe it's not so unique because you, you help other women in this process here uh in a, in a, a previous chat, I've learned that you're also a coach, but um you introduced me to this term, Lily and I wonder if we could define what Lily is. 

Uh, Lily is a late in life lesbian and it doesn't have to be really late in life like forties, fifties or whatever. In my case, it was forties and 50. It can be somebody who just doesn't realize it when they're younger and going through puberty in high school and they go into their twenties in one direction and realize they want to go in a different direction later on in life. So that's what, that's what late in life lesbian is. Ok. Fascinating. And, and this for you happened in your, your mid to late forties offender. So correctly. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. And so we're, we're gonna dive a little more into that before we do. 

I want to just give people a little snapshot of where you are right now. And what it is that you're currently working on. I am currently a life coach. I help mature women in health fitness and also relationships. I also am a Beachbody coach and I use that as part of the health and fitness platform to um get our mindset energies, right? Manage ourselves, our minds, our states and be better people for everybody else, you know, and, and I think health coaching itself is, is really fascinating. So I've been in this world for about eight years and I've seen sort of the evolution of it. Um even even like in today's modern technology driven world, like things, things change very, very rapidly. And so there's a lot of change that's taken place in this space. And I think the biggest shift that has taken place in this space is the level of kind of like self awareness and just our consciousness around our health. 

You know, before we were recording, we talked a little bit about our, our medical system and kind of the way that it's set up and we were chatting a little bit about differences between Canada and the US. But more importantly about the importance of someone becoming their own best advocate. And now with the advent of the internet and the access to information that we have, it opens the door to us um being much more effective advocates for our health and almost out of necessity because I feel as though and maybe you, you might, you might be able to uh reflect the sentiment as well. But there was this idea, maybe even in previous generations that the medical system was kind of there like a safety net to, to save us. And that there was like we had hopes for pharmaceuticals and surgical procedures and so on that, that would be there to save us if we encountered ill health. And as our awareness increases, we're discovering that this is not necessarily the case and well that we have the privilege of a very modern advanced medical system. It isn't necessarily saving us in the way that we thought. And as such. It's so much more important for us to be informed and to be advocates for our health. Absolutely. Especially when, you know, the, um, as, as we age now, the baby boomers are, everybody's getting older and we've come up through the ranks, sort of with this idea, but just take a pill and you'll be fine. And that's not necessarily the case because the pill could have all these side effects and all these problems and could cause all these issues that well. Then now, now you gotta take another pill and there we go. 

You know, so that's why we need to do our own homework, our own research and work on our own health and nutrition to help prevent these problems and, and to manage them, manage our health ourselves. Absolutely. And I think there's, you know, it used to be like 40 is the new 30. And I, I think we're, now we're recognizing that even 50 is, it doesn't in our minds, it's not as old as it would have been for previous generations because we're also understanding, you know, I am, I continue to like, be fascinated by and marvel at the human body. And it's its ability to not like to like endure years of kind of misuse, but the ability to adapt and to respond to positive inputs even later in life. 

When we start to think about like, oh, maybe I'm over the hill or maybe it's too late. For me. And it's actually quite remarkable how well the body will continue to respond when we give it healthy inputs. And I know you mentioned that you work with um mature women, perhaps we could sort of define what that might look like for you and sort of what your client base tends to look like. But just this idea that, hey, you know, 50 or, or whatever the number happens to be, it's not quite as old in her as we might have thought it was in our minds because we recognize if we take our health into our hands, that we can actually quite powerfully positively impact our health and regain a degree of youthfulness that we thought maybe wasn't previously possible. Uh That's so true and especially um for women, mature women as, as we want to say, and that, that could be any great for 40 45 50 you know, maturing in age, empty nesting college kids are leaving home. You know. Now, what do I do kind of thing? What do I do financially? What do I do with, with my free time now that I have, what do I do with my career? Do I want a second career? 

You know, I never really liked this job. Um Now it, maybe it's a time for me to go do something else. Now, maybe it's a time for me to be an entrepreneur. Um But it's definitely a time to pay attention to our health and we start to, to feel it more and we've got the snap, crackle pop in our knees and that's telling us, you know, what do we need to do about that? And, um, what do we do about this extra weight that I'm putting on now with menopause? You know, how do I combat that? What's metabolism? What's my hormone level? You know what, what does all that mean? You know, what do I need to ask my doctor? What tests do I need to have run? Mm. Really? And a really important question there. What, what do I need to ask my doctor? 

I think that's, it's, it's incredibly important that again, I, I'm a coach as well but that, that we, we educate our clients and give them the, the tools and the encouragement needed to be their advocates because sometimes the medical system can be quite a daunting. I don't know, behemoth to face. And there's this fear of, I mean, uh of course, our medical professionals are highly educated, they're very, very well educated and asking questions isn't a challenge to their education or professional status, but rather a greater desire to understand. And we are going into this more informed, we are no longer in this era of well, the doctor knows best and I don't know anything. It's I actually have a degree of understanding probably enough to be just, just enough to be problematic. Um But really to cause the doctors to have to dig a little bit deeper in terms of the answers that we might get as well. And given how sort of burdened our medical system is, health has never been more important because that sort of medical safety net that we thought was there is under a lot of strain and may even break at some point in time in the near future. 

I, I don't know the exact numbers but I think I heard something like for, for the US, like it might be like 40% of GDP expenditure is going into health care, which is boggles my mind when I hear that figure. And so, um in your experience when you do end up working with uh mature women, what do you, uh what do you find is because I often, I wanna, I wanna put it this way. I often look at things like weight loss and nutrition coaching and even fitness coaching and things like that. The really the cover story, the, the, the cover story for something else. What is it when when someone comes to you? And maybe they, maybe they come to you saying, hey, I want to lose some weight or, or whatever, but really what is it that these women are looking for when they come to work with you? Um They're looking for ways to fight procrastination. 

They're looking for ways to fight depression. They're looking for ways to increase self esteem because all those things go into our body and what we do to our body and what our brain is saying, what our self talk is saying, what do we, what do we see when we look in the mirror? You know what is the, is there negative self talk? Are we self aware? Are we taking care of our mental health and all that goes together? And of course, mental health awareness is such a big thing right now and I'm so glad we're talking about it. Um Out in the open, you can even get therapy online now. 

Better health is, you know, you can get a therapist online now. So that's, that's, that's amazing. And, and in, and in a good way that, that we're talking about it, but most of the physical issues come from the mental issues that, that, that's just the big, that's just the beginning and you, you said something earlier and some folks might have missed it, but it's at this stage in life, what's next? So maybe the, the, the challenging years of raising a family, for example, or, or some of the, the years of sort of slagging at the bottom of the barrel in terms of a career and working your way up or things like that. Like those are behind you, you're not yet uh advanced in age or a senior citizen or things like that. You're not, you don't necessarily have the youthfulness, but there's, there's like this door of possibility that's waiting, there's more life to be lived. And so there's this desire. 

Well, what comes next now that I've sort of ticked all these boxes that maybe I was supposed to, supposed to tick. And I, I'm still looking for something and I wonder, you know, what sort of answers you get from your clients in that regard. Um, sometimes looking for a second career to, to do what they wanna do their passion. A lot of that revolves around entrepreneurship, you know, starting their design business, starting their clothing line, opening up their cake shop. Um There's a ton of that going on. Um And, and a lot of women owned businesses are starting that way. 

A lot of women owned businesses have started since the pandemic. So they're, you know, getting out of the workforce and saying, OK, this is what I'm gonna do. I can control my own destiny, I can control my own finances, I can control my own business and do what I love and what I really want to do and the dream or, you know, something I've thought about and um and, and just do it and that's, that's very freeing and, and amazingly happening right now. Yeah, which is, which is remarkable to see. I'm a huge fan of entrepreneurship. It is not an easy road. Uh I think sometimes it gets painted with a degree of glamour that it's maybe undeserving of because there is a lot of work that goes into actually running a successful business for a sustained period of time when that initial excitement dies down. 

And, and, you know, maybe there's some parallels in people's health journeys as well. You know, we, we encounter this sort of initial stage of excitement and uh as that wanes, how do we create sustained health as, as time goes on now, I wanna shift gears a little bit here as we dive more into your, your own individual story. As much as, I mean, obviously as a coach, I'm very passionate about the work of, of coaching and health and things like that. And so it's great to, great to know that this is, this is a field that you're in as well, but we want to explore more of your, your, your um own individual story. Um Can you just tell us a little bit about where, where was it that you grew up and kind of what was life like for you growing up? Um I grew up as an only child primarily in Sarasota, Florida. 

I graduated from Sarasota high school and we rode our bikes around the neighborhood looking for each other and, and finding friends down the street. Um You know, where are the bikes in the yard? Well, that's where the kids are. Ok, I'm gonna park my bike there and go see if the kids are out back, you know, what are they doing? And I love this because of course, sometimes it's hard to imagine life without the internet and life without instant communication and so on. 

But, uh, I'm a child of the eighties. You're a child of the seventies, I guess. Give or take. And this idea of like, we didn't have cell phones, I mean, maybe we didn't use even phones all that often. So it was like, hey, I, I, I want some companionship. 

I'm gonna hop on my bike and ride around and see if there's bikes in the yard, there's probably kids playing there. So that's where I'm gonna go and, and play and play. Happened outside. Yeah, especially in Florida. We were outside all the time, you know, and that thing about when the street lights came on, then it was time to come home or, you know, your mom would stand out in the driveway and just yell your name and then it was time to come home, you know. 

So, and, you know, now as a parent, of course, to me that's, that's fascinating, sort of that level of freedom that Children have. And I'm trying, I, I'm a father of a toddler and I've got another one on the way and I'm trying to sort of strike a balance here because it's thinking about the internet and just the level of awareness that we have of potential like hazards and safety risks and things like that and that, that exists nowadays and maybe it feels like it's greater because the stories come out more and more and they can be spread faster and be more sensationalized and so on. But I, I recall, yeah, the same sort of idea. Like we just went and played with the kids in the neighborhood, rode our bikes up the street or whatever. Mom and dad are like, yeah, be home for dinner at, like, five kind of thing. 

And, and that was, that there was no cell phones, there was no whatever it was like. And if we didn't come home at five, ok. Well, now maybe we get a little bit worried but I, I, I don't sort of see that level of freedom sort of existing today. So, I, I love that you shared that as a, as a childhood memory because I think it's, it was a really kind of a neat time in, in, in our society. Completely different. Yes. And so, um, after high school you ended up going to, I think it was, what is it? 

West Point West Point Academy, which is a, as the US Military Academy. And, uh, this would have been back in the 19 eighties if I'm getting my timeline. Correct. Yes. Now, I, I would imagine that in the 19 eighties there probably wasn't as many women going into the military. I mean, that, that they were obviously a part of the military, but I, I, my impression would be, I spent six years in the Canadian military and we had we, we had plenty of women, but I, I'm kind of imagining that there may be, there weren't so many back then. You know, what prompted you to join the military in the first place? 

I was in the R O T C in high school. And my parents pretty much told me if you get an R O T C scholarship or you get accepted to one of the academies, that's the only way you're getting a college education. So figure it out. Ok. So in, in preparing for college, I had started preparing in 7th and 8th grade and taking the right classes and doing the right thing and all that sort of thing to make sure that I had the right resume, so to speak. And then with the R O T C really helped a lot and I had, you know, another part of my resume finished with that. And so I applied for the R O T C scholarships and I applied for, you know, West Point and the uh the Air Force Academy, I was declined from the Air Force Academy primarily because of my vision. And then, um I received an Air Force R O T C scholarship to Duke University in Computer Science. And I was tentative about that. And then the West Point acceptance letter came in and I was like, oh, that's it. Hallelujah. I'm going there. I had no idea what I was getting into. Right. I was thinking did you, did you, I, I mean, I, I think in the US, there, there's a different perception of the military and service, the military than there is say in Canada. 

I mean, it's, it's respected and whatnot here, but the military seems to hold such a different, like presence in the, the American psyche in terms of, of what it is and its ability. Of course, because America for the US for a long time has been really like a, a superpower with that. It's kind of a dominant military force and so on. And it's um and so there's kind of this different perception about it, but going into it. 

Did you, I mean, other than, hey, this is a route to me getting a college degree sort of thing. Did you have any sort of aspirations militarily or was it purely like, hey, this is a transactional relationship where I get what I need and I get out? Oh, no, because I've been in the R O T C. I thought it was really cool and I wanted to be an officer and I was gonna be an officer and I was gonna stay in and I was gonna make colonel and gosh, maybe I'll be a general and you know, the whole thing and then Children happened and Desert Storm happened and so the plans were changed. But um no, from the get go, I wanted to definitely be an officer and I was very straight and together and as my, um, my West Point sisters remind me now I was, um, very Strat and very strict and very straight laced and, you know, just do, do the right thing. So they were, they found and some of them actually said I was scary and, and then they, and now they see me and they're like, oh, my gosh, you're such a hippie. What happened? Right. Right. It's funny how, how, how life can change us. And it was at, it was at West Point that you, um, that you met your, your husband and how, how did you, how did you meet and I guess who approached who about the prospect of this becoming a relationship? 

Well, we, we met through friends at the, uh, the, the dance hall, so to speak. And we had Friday night and Saturday night dances and we were allowed to drink this water down near beer. Right. Right. And so we had, we had that time and we, we kind of hung out and met each other through friends and then we started dating, we broke up for a little while and we started dating again, you know, then things went pretty well and he asked me to marry him in September of our senior year. And I said yes. And then called off the wedding three times between then and graduation and, you know, getting cold feet. 

My parents didn't want me to get married. Oh, you're too young, you're too young, you know, go be an officer, go do your thing, you know, that'll happen later, kind of thing. So, but, uh, yeah, so then it was fine. We were, we had a great relationship. Um, we had our son right away, um, in Fort Polk, Louisiana. So. Right. And, and so when, when you get cold feet, um, thankfully my wife never got cold feet. 

We only had the, we had the wedding at the date that we, we, we had set. But what, what sort of goes through your mind? That, that prompts you to, hey, I need to call us off because you know, this, this what, what is cold feet, you know, or what was it for you? Um, I was too young. 

I had, uh, not been with anyone else. I was very inexperienced in the love relationships, boyfriends. I had not had boyfriends in high school. Um, they thought that, uh my parents thought that he was too old for me and he was too experienced and too advanced and you know, that I needed to, to wait, you know, and kind of cool my jets, so to speak and not rush into anything. And of course, that's an only child. 

That's the only opinion I have is my parents and they're being, it's very important to me to please them and, and make that happen and be ok with that. But um then a little rebellion took over and I'm like, no, this is, no, no, this is what I'm gonna do. And, um, so I rebelled and, uh got commissioned one day and got married the next. Right. Right. And, and F MS. 

Um, and of course we're bringing this in light of, of, of your experience and, and how things changed for you in your, in your forties. But what was it that, um, let me be attracted you to this gentleman that he said, hey, you know, this is like, I'm, I'm looking forward to it. I want, I wanna be married to this man. 

He's a good looking man. Very good looking man. Um a a again a little bit older, more mature and a good student, very smart, super smart, um very together, very, very wanted to have a military career. Again, he was driven, he was, he had been enlisted before he came to the school to be an officer to graduate from West Point was very important to him. He was, um so we, you know, we were gonna make a great, a great power couple. So, um and he was, he was loving, he was kind. Um he was very patient with me uh in my wobbling back and forth and the parents and you know, being an only child and not, not having a lot of relationships. 

He understood that this was, this was a lot. Absolutely. And then uh uh your, your first child came along and uh that led to your, I guess, um, release from the military. Now, that was the second my daughter then. Yeah, my son was 3.5 when Desert Storm came around. So then I was pregnant with her and I said I cannot give her, you know, away and go join my unit and be gone for a year. 

I've got two very small Children and I was like, no, I'm gonna maternity out. Thank you very much. I really wanted to stay in, I really wanted to have a career, but it wasn't meant to be that way because I, I, so I got out and had my daughter outside in the civilian world. Right. Yeah. And, and you know, I, I, I applaud that step. 

Um, because I, I think motherhood now and maybe it's particularly like pressing for me right now because my wife is pregnant with her second child and I just, I, I get to witness every day her just being this incredible mom. Like, it's, it's this beautiful thing really. Uh, so I have, I have great admiration for motherhood. And so, um, and perhaps your kids are grateful that you, you also, uh decided to stay with them through their, through their, through the younger years and then they, they got more of you, I guess in their life as, as a result of that. So, as you, as you transitioned out of the military, did you start a second career? Were you a stay at home mom for a period of time or what did that look like for you? 

Um, I went right into retail, uh, went right into Target. Um, my husband had gotten out and he had joined Target as well. Um, so that's when we were in Houston, Texas. Houston was in Houston and we went to Florida for Target. Target was opening up all of Florida, the department store. And so we've been in Florida ever since. Ok. Yeah. Yeah. And so that's, that's my story was for 30 years of retail. Ok. And um, you then have some behind the scenes kind of experience just in terms of like, we, we all, we all just walk into a store and like go and pick something off the shelf and, and go to the cashier or whatever and complain about something or other, you know, um, probably you, you have some rather unique insights into this and into the industry as a whole. And um, like, I, I think about it now, like as a business owner, having a company that like maintains these, these giant sort of warehouse type spaces and stock and things like that. 

Like, there's a lot that goes into the running of a, of a retail store and, uh, you know, Target, I guess is, is still going strong down the US. They tried to make a, uh a dance into the Canadian market and it might have lasted two years before kind of flaming out. But, I mean, Canada's population is about the same as California's. So, um, we're just a logistically challenging country to try and put retail stores into, I guess. But, uh, what, what about that? Did you enjoy the most? 

What, what challenged you, um, it, it was always changing but yet it was the same. So you're changing out your displays, you're changing out your stuff that's always changing, but your seasons don't change, you, you still, you know, you've got back to school season, you've got Halloween, you've got Christmas and so where you put the Christmas trees may be different each year, but you're still gonna put the Christmas trees up. Um It got earlier every year, but so we put the Christmas trees up in September now, but um the same get different. So it, it was a lot of, a lot of change, a lot of flexibility, you know, if this doesn't come in, what am I gonna put here? 

I'm experiencing the growing of technology, the handheld computers now that they use for inventory and stock. Um that was just coming the automated registers of scanning and not having to type in, you know, all the automation was happening right in that during that time. Um So that was, that was very exciting. We were automating how we were stocking, you know, sello cases, get a case. Um All that software behind the scenes technology, calculating how much freight you needed when you needed it lead times and, you know, all that now that we take for granted now because it's just super technology now. Um, you know, Walmart and Target both have it down to a science and of course, Amazon just blew them all away with, with, with their technology and how they have it down to a science, um, and the distribution and, you know, delivery and all that. 

So, um, I'm still with that. That's, and beyond part time. Um, I, I worked there a couple of days a week. Yeah. Yeah. So, and, and I mean, um, like you had a background in the military, in logistics as well. And so I think that again that maybe carries over a little bit into kind of what you're doing. Although I, if I understand, right, this is more like a marketing thing. And so there's a lot of thought that must go into like the experience that somebody has when they walk through the doors of a store, you know, like Walmart has their greed or like, that's a classic sort of Walmart thing, you know, you get greeted and then, you know, do you need this or whatever or can I direct to you and so on? So you, you know, there's, there's this experience and, and then the first thing that you see in terms of display and, and products and things like that and as you sort of navigate this store, did you have to kind of plan all of that out. Like what is the experience for the customer that walks through the door? 

Um, it was pretty much headquarters generated in the larger companies like the, the targets, the staples. Um, the larger companies that's all corporate generated, they send you a map of your floor plan and it's color coded and you map it all out and you hand it out and here go set, set your app, here, set this. So, um, that was very preplanned and, and corporate bought. But when you move to a company like linens and things who went out of business or bed bath and beyond who is struggling, um, it was self directed by the store manager. So the store manager chose their displays and bought their own products. And in doing so you put the company into a lot of liability or you put the company into a huge growth and sales, um, linens and things would take a product from Shark tank and blow it out of the water that you, they couldn't keep up. 

I mean, we would sell hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of this shark sponge daddy thing that came on Shark tank. So whatever came on shark tank linens and things that, that back and bought it and they bought it big shit and the little company couldn't keep up and they're like, oh, no, that, that is, that's quite, you know, I never would have thought about that. But I suppose even if, maybe if something, maybe didn't get like investors on Shark tank, they still get like the exposure and maybe someone comes along and says, hey, we'd like to, we'd like to have you, have, you produce this thing here and so all along the way, you know, so you have this, this corporate career in, in retail. 

You've got your family. Um, did you have two Children or were there more? No, just the two, just one boy, one girl done? You got, you got you, you got yourself a pigeon parent and then you said, OK, that's it. We're done. Um You know, and, and things are going along well in your marriage. Like you, you described your, your husband as, you know, he seemed like just a really fantastic individual, you know, like loving, dedicated, good man, uh all this sort of thing. But at some point in time, I guess there was obviously this, this kind of like a stirring inside of you that something doesn't feel right or something isn't, isn't lining up? What, what was kind of taking place for you? It was um more of a bolt of lightning than a stirring. Um The bolt of lightning uh was happened when I was training in K with Kmart and we, I was training in Chicago and a particularly beautiful woman was hitting on me and I didn't really realize it. At first took me two weeks to figure it out and then the next two weeks I was like, ok, what do I do with this? 

And, um, I, I just, I didn't pick up on the signals. I didn't pick up on the queues until it was, it was just all too late. And it, and it was like, goodbye in the airport and I, I was never gonna see this woman again. She was going back to her home. I was going back to my home. We were gonna go work for Kmart separately on other sides of the country. And I was devastated that I wasn't gonna see her again. And it was just, I got, I sat on the airplane and I'm like, oh my goodness, I like women. Oh, no. Now, what do I do? Right. So, now this, this is really fascinating in a sense because you, you know, you've been in this, this marriage for, at this point in time, would that be like 25 or so years or 2020 about 25 25? You're right. Ok. And so in a marriage of 25 years, you're pretty sure that you love your husband. 

It, it, it seems like, you know, I'm sure you had ups and downs like sort of an any couple does, you know, but if for all intents and purposes in your mind at this point, you're heterosexual. Is that right? Like you didn't see yourself as, like, this wasn't something that really entered your consciousness. It did not, it did not. And um, again, red flags my entire life, women have always hit on me. And um, I was like, no, I'm not attracted to you. 

No, no, I am not a lesbian. What is wrong with you? I am married. I have Children. Go away. You know, I, I'll be your friend. 

So, one of my very best friends is a lesbian in Phoenix, Arizona. And I call her when I get back from Chicago from Kmart. And I'm like, oh my gosh, Alicia, I like women. She goes, duh, why do you think I was hitting on you 20 years ago? And I'm like, well, I didn't know it and she's like, what happened, tell me what happened. How do you know? So I told her the stories and she's like, oh my gosh. Right. Yeah. And in trouble now. So in, in, in your mind, you know, previously, when this, this sort of interaction had happened, you, you had dismissed it, but this particular interaction seemed to awaken it, I guess you see it like as a lightning bolt. And so now all of a sudden, you know, like with your world is kind of thrown into upheaval because you go hm. 

Now this is obviously in hindsight, but in hindsight, would you look back and say maybe there was this tendency before but, you know, you weren't aware that this was a possibility or is, is this something that can change over time. I think that it was probably always a possibility, but I hadn't had, um, an attraction. There was, there was no physical attraction. I think that if I had met someone that attractive younger I would have, I would have known sooner kind of thing. I think that, um, I was, there was, there was no attraction to any of these other women. And so there was, I'm like, no, yeah, I guess there would be no real awakening, so to speak because there wasn't actually attraction there, right? So this this incident in Chicago happens, you go back home or you're on the plane and you go back home and now what kind of conversation do you have with your, your husband at the time? Oh, I don't. Ok. Yeah. No, just push that down. 

Just push that down. Yeah, two kids are still at one's in high school, one's in college. We're upside down on the house. Can't sell the house, can't get a divorce, got the kids. No, push that down. Ok? And then till I was 50 and then the awake then a reawakening again at 50 and kind of the the midlife crisis, so to speak. And then I say, ok, I've got to do something about this because this is not healthy. 

I'm not happy, it's inside of me all the time. And um so I go out and, and visit the friend in Phoenix, Arizona and she takes me on the lesbian, um, circuit and I get all the advice from all the lesbian, you know, around the thing around the neighborhood. And, um, basically they said, have you talked to your husband? Have, have you told him I'm not happy. Have you told him? I think I'm a lesbian. 

You know, you've, they all were in agreement. You have got to go talk to your husband and you've got to figure this out and you gotta figure it out together and you can't just go home and ask for a divorce. That's like remarkably good, good advice. Yeah. Like, be considered of the other person you've been in a relationship with for, you know, 30 years at this point in time. Um, that, that's very thoughtful of them. Ok. And, oh, so, and, and the, the term seems kind of funny that you got taken on, on the, you said, I think that the, the lesbian circuit. So she has a lot of friends here and they come along and, you know, and you're having these conversations with these women and what sort of, uh, other insights did you get that? 

Maybe surprised you or really stood out to you. Um, the interaction of, of other women. And she had no, um, she's been a lesbian since she was 12 and she had no, had real friends at all. None. I mean, the only people that she knew that were heteros were men that worked for her in her construction business. She owned her own business. 

Uh, and she did and she was an architect. So the only people that she knew that had, were married with Children were men that worked for her in her construction business or electrical engineers or, you know, plumbers or whatever. So, there, it was a little bit of a skewed view. And I'm like, ok, you have no hetero France? No. Mm. Mm. No. Why would I, and I was like, ok, but, and then, um, just the different types of women, the different styles of women, you know, you've got the stereotypes of the, you know, the short hair and the butchie looking women. 

You've got the beautiful fem looking women who you would, would walk past, going down the street and you would, you would not know that they were lesbian or think that they were lesbian or care or whatever. Um, and it was all different types, motorcycle riders, you know, all kinds of stuff and that, um, was very intriguing, you know, that, that there's just so many different types of women. Um, and, and, and different styles and, and different, you know, whatever you want to call them and, and, and everybody had a name and like a title and a, a term, right. You know, but fan fan sporty. 

But, yeah, I mean, yeah. Right. Right. Right. Which is kind of funny. 

I mean, we probably have it, I mean, I guess I wouldn't even think about it but we probably have it in, in hetero terms as well. But, um, and so of course, it, it, it makes sense what, what's also kind of interesting to me is, is I think sometimes there's this perceived, maybe animosity, oh, um, between, I guess hetero and, and homosexual, like, cliques, I guess if you will. But that, it seems like that, like, that doesn't actually have to be, um, because, but it, maybe it comes from a perceived sense of, uh, what I say, like a threat or something like that. Like, oh, like if you, if you become my friend, are you going to influence me in one way or another or is this person influencing you and so on and so forth? But it seems like from like, what you're describing here, this is something, it was like, very innate, like, kind of wired into you just hadn't been awakened. Is that an accurate sentiment? Yes. I, yes, I think, and it was very freeing, um, to finally actually be able to, to say it, to come out, to come out to my husband, um, to say I want to date women, you know, to, to actually start dating women was a whole another process because I was still married. Um, and if I may ask, like, what, what sort of conversation happens with your, with your husband at the time? And, and I mean, how was, how was it received? 

Well, not, not, well, he was completely floored. Um, I told him I said I'm a lesbian. Um, I want a divorce. I'm not dating anybody. 

I've not cheated on you. I'm not having an affair. Nothing has happened. But I know that this is what the way I truly am. And he was very quiet. 

I, at first I had, I'm not happy talk because I, I, you know, then I have that, I'm not happy talk. I had that talk six months earlier, nothing changed. I mean, absolutely nothing. Um, and then I had to, ok, I'm really not happy. 

This is why let's really get to the story and um, he thought about it, um, and he went out and did his job for a couple of days and processed and I was quiet and let him process. I know that's how men work and I've been with him long enough to know that's how he works. So like he processed and he came back and he said, all right, let's give it a try, let's give it a try. He said, well, let's try the marriage. And I said, well, I still wanna date women. Ok, let's see how that works out. And I'm like, what? 

You gotta be kidding me. He says I do not want to be had a divorce. We are not getting a divorce, this is not happening. Um, a lot of denial, you know, going on then obviously. But um, and then it, it just took, it, took a while to, to find anybody that would even date me because I was still married and, and was he still wanting to maintain a relationship with you? Oh, yes. Very much so, very much so. 

Um, he stepped up his game in the bedroom quite significantly. And, um, that was interesting. But I still want to date women. So, ok. And then, um, I actually found AAA woman, a girlfriend and we were together for about two years. 

Um, had her over the house for Christmas dinner. We, she came over for parties. Um, she was no threat at all to the marriage. He knew that she knew that. Um, I didn't know that but they knew that so and, and this, this also, I mean, it's kind of a fascinating dynamic, a relational dynamic, so to speak because you're what I mean, you, you're still maintaining this marriage at this point. Um If you, you now have a girlfriend, uh Do you decide that, hey, because I have this girlfriend, we're no longer going to be intimate or was there sort of maintaining of, of both intimate relationships for a period of time or how did that kind of play out? Maintain both? Absolutely maintained both. He was very adamant about that. Um There was gonna be no threesomes, three ways, no, three, nothing. But there was um definitely we were gonna maintain our bedroom and then I maintained and not, you know, separately, we would go out and do things in hotel rooms and, or I'd go to her house or whatever. Um, and I wonder, and of course, this is just me speculating, but I wonder was he, was he hoping that maybe there would be, it would be that you were bisexual and that you could maintain both relationships and somehow keep, keep the marriage or how did that sort of progress as time went on? 

I think that he was in denial basically the entire time. So, uh, you know, looking back on it now, of course. But, um, I think he, he didn't think I was gonna get a girlfriend in the first place. Then he didn't think that, um, and that obviously we weren't gonna work out, which is what happened. We, we didn't work out but about two years of, of instruction and then, um, she went back to a hetero relationship that she had been in previously. So then there, there was that and then, ok, so that's over with. All right, fine. I knew that wasn't gonna work out, you know, he's saying this to himself, you know, I knew that wasn't gonna work out. 

So, ok, but I'm still gonna still out dating women and I date a few more women and then I find my wife who I'm with now and that was tremendous and amazing for both of us. She was married in a 30 year marriage as well with two Children and um, she had known her entire life but pushed it down due to her hetero norms and, but she'd been in a couple of relationships her husband knew about it was, you know, again, no, three ways or three sus. But you do your thing. And so she did her thing. I did my thing and then we found each other online and then it was now what, then it was really, really hard to maintain the marriages, um, because we just wanted to be together all the time and it was very difficult. There was a, a seriously hard year of, uh, trying to figure it out. Right. Yeah. No, no kidding. And, and of course you're doing this because I, I look at it, I think of this from like, the perspective of even the human brain and I think you've had 30 plus years of certain patterns and certain conditioning and all of this and it's all sort of getting unwired in a very short window of time and it might sound strong to use language like this. But there's, it's almost like there's an element of trauma to this because you're, you're disrupting maybe a, a structure of life and a belief system that you've had for such a long period of time in a relatively short window of time. 

Like, you, you, you wrestled with it, I guess now it sounds like about it were maybe 5 to 7 years that sort of wrestling with this kind of thing. So there was, there was kind of a window of time, but nonetheless, then there comes like the break where it's like, ok, this is, this is it, we have to, we have to part ways. And when your husband realized that, ok, this is, this is kind of final. Um How did, how did that play out for you? Um, very difficult, it was very difficult. Um A lot of anger, resentment, jealousy, grief. 

Um, because basically you're grieving a relationship of 30 years that, you know, the depth of our relationship, so to speak. Um, a lot of denial. Um I asked for a divorce again. No, we're not getting divorced. 

Um, and I'm just, he just kept thinking I was coming back and, um, once I moved, oh, you know that she and I moved again when we moved to Saint Petersburg, which is our gayest of gay community in Florida. Um, the gayest zip codes ever. So we, we moved to our bubble and once we moved to Saint Petersburg, he was pretty much like, oh, ok. I think this is really happening now. And so, um, you know, she had this, we're coming up on our fourth anniversary. 

She and I, um, and two years of it completely separate together and, um, well, a year and a half, we dated and then almost 2.5 years completely separated. And so I asked him for a divorce again and he said, ok. And, and I was there an element of like, grief on your end as well for the marriage and time spent in the marriage. And maybe it looks a little bit different, maybe it comes from a different perspective. But, you know, um, despite all of this, like, did you still feel a sense of, like, maybe love and affection for this man and, and, and like who he was? Yes. And that made it even more difficult to, um, he made it a little easier, um, with his behavior and his, his, some of, some of his temperament and some of the things that were going on, he made it a little easier to leave. 

But, um, overall still, you know, the father of, of, of Children, my son-in-law to my mother, he still visits my mother. Um, you know, there's still that bond. It's, um, not nearly as strong as it was. We're not, we, we don't nearly have as much in common. We don't really have that much to talk about. I mean, we tried to go out to dinner one time and it was kind of a, a social disaster and I think we both again, both realizing, ok, this, yeah. Mm. Mm. No, we got nothing here. Right. Yeah. And, and how does that, how does that work for family gatherings? I guess, like, if, if there's gonna be holiday gatherings, you know, and the kids are coming back or whatever, how, how does that help? 

Well, we haven't had any birth deaths or funerals or marriages yet. So, I don't know. Um, fair enough. Yeah. That's, it's a very small family again. 

I only had two Children. I'm an only child. My mother is an only child. So, on our side of the family, a very small family. Um, my son graduated from, uh, college in Connecticut and got his master's degree in fine arts and we were both supposed to go. 

Um, my husband and I, and at the last minute he didn't go. Ok. Um, he paid half for the trip, he paid for his half for the hotel, you know, a rental car and the whole thing, but just at the very last minute didn't go. And I'm like, hm, not surprised. Ok. So, um so thinking about, and of course, a lot of this again is hindsight and we have that phrase, hindsight is 2020 but you look back over his pattern of behavior as sort of the relationship was drawing to a close and it sounds dramatic, but the relationship is kind of in its death throes, you know, and, and you look at like how he was conducting himself, trying to deal with all the different emotions that he was, he was kind of going through and imagine like, so, so if he was older than you, does that place him in, in his fifties and maybe going to his sixties at this point in time or where he is 63. And so when we look at that and we think about the era that he grew up in as well where men really didn't have the freedom to feel, experience process and so on, anger really becomes like, like there's certain quote unquote, masculine emotions that are safe, were safe for like men to express, he didn't have the freedom to maybe express so much like the grief, the sadness, the, the, the soft of emotions if you will. And so they, they come out expressed in this way instead, um, when you look back, does that, does it seem like? 

Ok, now I understand like him, him doing that and while it's obviously not a behavior that was comfortable or, or ideal, it's at least understandable why it was taking place. Oh, yeah, I am, I was, I had a therapist through this entire process and um I encouraged him to get one on several occasions, uh because he doesn't have anybody to talk to about this stuff. So, you know, while we're going through all this, I was, I was in therapy once a week during those days and of course she was helping me deal with him because he's not in therapy. So this is what he's doing. And this is, you know, you've got to see where you're causing what you're saying if he's grieving or this is anger or lashing out, you know, and um she was helping me see the behavior as? Oh, ok. Yeah. Oh. Oh, ok. Yeah, I see that. I see that. You know, so when you say this it's gonna spiral this? Oh. Right. OK. Don't say right. So you start, you kind of start to make, make sense of it and there's not, not exactly a direct parallel. 

I went, I went through a traumatic experience a little over 10 years ago and, um, going to trauma counseling helped me to understand like, everything I experienced and times where I would behave in a manner that I felt like it wasn't actually like me and didn't make sense to me yet. The behavior was kind of happening. There's a strange sort of dissociation, but the, I guess the point of this being having that understanding at least helped me to show myself a little bit of grace as I was trying to process some of the emotions of like what I had been through because I then didn't just pin it on. I must just actually be this terrible person. They started to make sense. Like, again, the behaviors weren't ideal, they weren't necessarily good or healthy behaviors, but at least I understood where they were coming from. And so it made it a little easier to not just want to, um, point it all at myself and say I'm the worst human being on the planet. 

I, I like, I love when you just said, give yourself some grace. That is um, a tremendous saying and a tremendous idea and tremendously difficult to do. Um, because I had to give myself grace on. Why didn't I know sooner? Well, how did I lead this family and lead this man down 30 35 years of marriage? You know, I could have, would have, should have did to death. Right. Yeah. You know, my therapist is like, you can't do that. 

You have to give yourself grace that you had to go through these steps. You couldn't just break, you had to, the process had to happen this way. And that's the only way you could do it. It wasn't ideal, it was, it, it hurt and it hurt people and it wasn't ideal, but that was the only way you could do it was that slow, like you said, death row, you know, that slow dragging out, you know, for several years of, of, you know, the actual leaving. Right. Right. Yeah. And so as we, as we close out because, you know, this is, I really appreciate your willingness to share very openly and, and vulnerability. 

I think it really, we, we as human beings, we, we, we read or listen to other people's stories and we find elements of ourselves in those stories. And that's why I think storytelling is so so important and why I love this podcast. But I always like to ask my guests, you know, if someone has listened to this conversation today, they've heard they've heard your story. What is one thing that you would like them to take away from this story? 

Be true to yourself. Whatever that means, it doesn't have to be sexual, it doesn't have to be lesbian, gay, whatever. Be true to yourself. As, as, as a father, as a mother, as a daughter, as a son, as be true to yourself, as an entrepreneur, as a worker, as a manager, as a leader, know your values, know your purpose and stick to them and be true to yourself. No matter what that higher power of yourself is the most important. I think you said something that you know, know your values because the the phrase be true to yourself gets used a lot. But I love that you've amplified that and said, here's what that actually looks like to know and understand your values and to live your values. 

Well, Cathy, it's truly been a pleasure exploring your story today. Thank you so much for being on the show and I look forward to when we get to chat again sometime in the future. Thank you, John. It was a pleasure. Thank you so much for tuning in to between the before and after. 

If you've enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and leave a review because that helps this podcast to reach and inspire more people. I love exploring the stories that take place between the before and after the powerful experiences that shape who we become and I love human potential. I love the possibilities that lie within us. So whatever you may be up against, I hope these stories inspire you. Because if you're still here, your story is not done yet. So keep moving forward.