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A God of many chances

As a child I was definitely not a girly girl. I was very much a tomboy, preferring my brothers Action Man over my Sindy doll, hating dresses and generally thinking life was so unfair that I was a girl. I first became aware of my same-sex attractions during puberty, when I was confused about my sexuality and identity. It was not a subject that I could talk about, as the other girls in my form were daydreaming over the new male boys PE teacher whilst I preferred the girls female PE teacher! I did however have a best friend from the age of 14, Kevin, who has actually been my husband for the past 33 years. I married my best friend. Despite my mother’s frantic actions to ballet lessons, Brownies and Girl Guides, I hung out with Kevin and his mates and avoided all the girly hair and make-up chats! I did find an activity I really enjoyed for its sense of adventure and that was the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme. However, it was during my late teens on a DofE summer camp week that I was raped and subsequently sexually abused by a male youth leader, who was in his mid-50's.

I thank God for TFT’s hugely supportive ministry, which is a lifeline

Depression and hopelessness 

I started working in the travel industry and for some reason in the late 80s the travel industry was a magnet for gay people. I worked on the Greek party island of Spetses, where every rep was gay and proud...sun, sea, sand, same-sex and lots of ouzo was an average working day. My job took me to Spain too. It was full of old people looking for winter sun; I hated old people and couldn't wait to get home. 

Kevin and I married and before long I found myself at home, a mum of 3 children under 5 and very depressed. I made a serious suicide attempt and ended up sectioned into a psychiatric hospital. It was a cycle I went through several times.

In September 2002 I was existing, which meant being irresponsible, abusing prescription drugs, abusing alcohol, smoking cigarettes and cannabis. I was not the ideal mother or wife of a hard-working husband. Despite depression plaguing me for many years with several psychiatric admissions, I wasn’t taking responsibility for my own life. The downward spiral I was on led me to being arrested and locked in a police cell. I had hit an all-time low and I couldn’t deny it. Social services had given me enough chances to ‘get my act together’ and I was faced with drastic action. I had been given a choice either to stay away from my children, my husband and my home or the children would be taken away with an emergency protection order. As I stood in the rain looking up at the dark sky, my tears mixing with the rain on my face, I knew I didn’t want to live a minute longer. I had nothing left.

Help from Samaritans

I was going to end my life, but somehow I found myself banging on the door of my Doctor’s surgery. It was shut, but all of a sudden the door opened and there was my GP. He had forgotten something in the office, but needed to dash off again to a meeting. I don’t remember the conversation really, but I do remember that he would see me at 8am the following morning. The finer details of how I managed to find myself sitting in the Samaritans office, in another town, with an elderly gentleman, drinking tea at 5am in the morning are beyond me! He had arranged for a friend of mine to come and accompany me back to High Wycombe. I will always be grateful to the Samaritans. The next morning my GP referred me to the community mental health team, who got me a place to stay. 

Christian crisis centre

I was taken to The Ark, a Christian crisis centre and the only place that was willing to take me given my circumstances. I didn’t like Christians. I thought they were pushy and opinionated, wore socks and sandals, were judgmental and needed to be avoided at all costs. I decided to avoid them and go out all day, but we got snowed in and I had to spend 3 days talking to Wendy, the Christian lady who ran The Ark! She accepted me for who I was and showed me love and support. She offered me friendship for the next 3 months, even though I must have driven her mad, even when I got drunk once and she was supposed to ask me to leave. One day I was being particularly difficult and shouted at Wendy and she said “I really don’t know what to do with you. You need Jesus in your life!” I shouted back at her “Your Jesus isn’t interested in someone as bad as me.” My barriers fell away. Wendy told me about Jesus and gave me a Bible. I read Psalm 139 and cried and cried. I went for a long walk, fell on my knees in a cow field and gave my life to Jesus. I had an independent psychiatric assessment in London and was in court as part of the care proceedings. I was anxious. I decided to pray, telling God how sorry and scared I was and how much I loved my family. I couldn’t deny the bright light and an audible voice saying “Stick with me and everything will be OK.” I then believed that I would get my children and husband back. I just had to stick with God.

Salvation and renewal

I began to make huge changes in my life. I was given a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), which helped me understanding of the confusion in my head. I never touched cannabis or alcohol again. Smoking would go too but that did take a further 5 years! I completed an in-depth anger management course, attended parenting classes and enrolled myself on adult education classes. I fought my addiction to tranquilizers and I started taking my medication properly. I engaged with the mental health team and worked with social services. Eventually I was given more supervised contact with my children. By September 2004 I had demonstrated in court that I was capable of change. I was given a two-year supervision order to see if it was possible for us to be reunited in the future as a family. 

Things continued to go well. I did have bad days, but with God’s help I kept on track. My mental health team and social worker were amazing. My social worker was a Christian, who helped me in extraordinarily kind ways and my children’s health visitor became a brilliant friend. 

A year into the supervision order I was visiting my GP when he asked what had given me the strength to turn my life around. Sheepishly I said that I had become a Christian. He replied he too was a Christian and reminded me of the night I had turned up at the surgery wanting to take my own life. He had got his whole church to pray for me that evening! God was protecting me that night; he answered their prayers for me and brought me through to new life as a child of God. 

Returning home

I had increased contact with the children, having home visits, then home overnight stays and then increasing my overnight stays. I finally moved back home in October 2007. I had lived at The Ark for almost 5 years. After I returned home, I did miss the close Christian community where I had come to faith, but I was also far more thankful to God for giving me a second chance at family life. Everything was good for about 3 years, until my eldest daughter became pregnant at 16 and had my grand-daughter. My daughter got involved with a partner who used drugs and a serious incident happened involving social services. Our grand-daughter was placed our care (there was an irony in that, having previously being forced to live apart from my children!) Police panic alarms were installed in the house.

My daughter upsettingly turned against me, the panic alarms served to make me feel scared, as opposed to safe, and the child protection conferences we had to regularly attend brought back a lot of tough memories for me. I felt very vulnerable. I was contacted by one of the staff where my daughter worked and she invited me for a coffee. There were red flags flying, but I thought I was strong.

Battles with sin

Gen was the same age as me, but she was openly gay. In all the chaos of my infidelity, I heard God talking to me as His child several times saying "This is not what I want for your life.". Things got messy when I told Gen that I couldn't see her anymore – she Facebooked my children about our affair and turned up at my church ranting about how church didn't allow me to be myself. The worst thing was I had let God down after he had given me a second chance and I had hurt the people who I loved most.
God is good. He is a God of many chances. Kevin was aware of my same-sex attraction, but the infidelity hurt him a great deal. God has used the mess I created for good. We are now able to talk openly about my same-sex feelings, which helps me and God has healed the hurt I caused and strengthened our marriage.

Joining TFT

During the healing process from Gen, I went online searching for support and came across TFT. I joined and attended my first National Conference in 2017. Meeting others who understand the struggle with same-sex attractions is truly a gift from God. I thank God for this hugely supportive ministry, which is a lifeline in what has been a long and lonely road for nearly 40 years.

God does have a sense of humour, considering my hatred of old people when I lived in Spain. He has, through a programme called “Growing leaders”, which I attended through my church, called me into the area of older people’s ministry! He has given me a passion and heart for the elderly. I'm part of the pastoral care team at my church, do home visits to the elderly, as well as care home and sheltered housing visits with services and talks... everything elderly and I love it. 

This article was originally published in the Spring 2024 edition of the TFT magazine, Ascend. Click the button below to download your copy.

Download the Spring 2024 edition of Ascend