I was raised to be a good girl — to follow the rules, respect my teachers, and obey my parents. Doing these things made me feel worthy. So over the years, I kept doing them.
I respected my bosses, obeyed the church leaders, and submitted to my husband.
I wanted to be good. I wanted to do things the right way. And from the time I was a small child, I understood that the right way didn’t come from inside me. It came from others.
I was raised to believe that nothing good lived in me. That I was a filthy sinner to my core, and left to my own devices, I was worthy of eternal torment. This was terrifying. And I believed it wholeheartedly from the time I was a small child staring up at my Sunday school teacher.
I learned that my own inner voice was not trustworthy. The heart is deceitful above all things, I read in the Bible. The scriptures told me that a wise man listens to advice. So I got advice about everything. Where to go to college. Where to live. Who I should marry. How I should eat. What I should wear. How I should spend my time.
I stifled my own inner voice so much that it all but fell silent. I lost the ability to make decisions for myself.
“Which ones do you like?” the glasses lady asked me. I tried on pair after pair, staring at myself in the mirror, unable to choose. Almost paralyzed by the decision.
“Which ones do you think I should get?”, I asked. She was the professional afterall. I left that day with a receipt in my purse for the glasses a stranger chose for me.
Of course there were times I had to make my own decisions. I would debate, make lists, and change my mind. And once the decision was made, I’d spend days second-guessing myself — worrying I’d made the wrong choice.
I believed that God had a perfect plan for my life. But in his ultimate wisdom, he has chosen not to tell me what it was. So it was up to me to have enough faith to figure it out.
The bible told me to pray for wisdom. So I did. All the time. I prayed about every little decision I made. I thought that would keep me on the right path. I thought that would prevent me from making mistakes — from getting things wrong.
I traveled through life doing what other people told me I should do.
The bible told me to deny myself. To choose what was right over what I actually wanted. It turns out that if you do this long enough, you can convince yourself that you actually want to do the thing you’re supposed to do.
But then life happened.
It turns out not everything is under my control. I never thought I’d get a divorce. I remember telling my eventual-ex-husband how happy I was that we would never get divorced and that our 4 children would never have to heal from that trauma.
But I did get a divorce. At the time I didn’t have much of a choice really. I had to protect my children. And the only good choice was to divorce my alcoholic christian husband.
Looking back, I think that was the first time I listened to my inner voice.
My inner voice had to be tricky though. It knew my heart was closed off to its murmurings. So it spoke to me through the pages of a book.
I sat up almost all night reading The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. I knew with so little sleep I’d be exhausted the next day. And there’s not much daytime rest for a mom of 4 kids under 10 years old — especially one separated from her husband.
But I couldn’t put it down. I empathized with Lily — a little girl trapped in a bad situation who couldn’t imagine a way out.
One day Lily captured a bee in a lidded glass jar. But her conscience got the best of her and she decided to set it free. So she removed the lid, expecting it to fly away. But it didn’t. The bee didn’t know there was a way out. Its jar was open, but it stayed, thinking it was still trapped.
Frustrated, Lily couldn’t understand how the bee didn’t recognize its freedom. All it had to do was fly out. That’s when she had her moment of revelation. Lily thinks to herself "Lily Melissa Owens, your jar is open." And she jumped up and ran away to start her adventurous path to a better life.
As I sat there in my quiet room all alone, late that night, I realized MY JAR WAS OPEN. And right then and there I made the decision to divorce my husband and move to another state. My inner voice finally broke through. And I listened.
That was a long time ago. And it’s taken me years to deconstruct the beliefs that were imposed on me and learn to listen consistently to my inner voice. But I’ve made big strides. Many of my choices have shocked and horrified the people around me. (You’re welcome, Mom).
If you’d told little me — the one riveted to her Sunday school teacher’s every word — that someday I’d leave Christianity and start dating women… let’s just say it wouldn’t have gone well.
I joked once with one of my daughters that I’m systematically checking off everything on my mom’s worst possible legal things her daughter could do list.
It’s not that I’m intentionally rebellious or trying to cause anyone grief. I’ve just finally ditched the indoctrination and started listening to my own inner voice. And sometimes that means disappointing the people I love.
Today, I live authentically — owning my choices, and honoring my inner voice. I may not be the good girl I once aspired to be. But I’m happy with the person I’m becoming.
About the Author
Kathy Kiger is a marketing strategist and copywriter who helps queer businesses and entrepreneurs build and connect with their ideal audience. As the CEO of Kathy Kiger Agency, she writes blogs, emails, and website copy for entrepreneurs, coaches, and small businesses. Kathy also offers copy coaching for business owning badasses who prefer to DIY their marketing.
Kathy was raised as an evangelical Christian and dutifully followed all the rules and expectations — from homeschooling her kids and baking her own bread, to suppressing her sexual orientation for decades.
Married for almost 15 years, and then divorced for 10, Kathy finally had her holy shit I’m a lesbian moment in early 2021. Kathy is now living in her queer joy as a cat-owning-dog-person and single mom to 4 adult and teen kids.
Kathy is the creator behind the Better Late Than Straight blog where she shares her own insights as a late-blooming lesbian, along with resources, and the stories of other women who have embraced their queerness later in life.
You can hear Kathy on podcasts like Coming Out With Lauren and Nicole, The Coming Out Late Podcast, and Redefining Family. You can follow along with Kathy’s Better Late Than Straight journey on Instagram.