Today’s intro is from Amanda Munday, the founder and CEO of The Workaround and one of our new regular Mama Bear newsletter contributors. Content warning: This intro mentions suicidal ideation.

Given it’s Pride month, I want to include a bit of my personal journey to this beautiful Chairman Mom community. Last November, on an unusually warm night for Toronto, I told my husband our marriage was over. I had rehearsed my speech for weeks in therapy, having planned and thought about it for months prior. I only worked on one line: 

“Our marriage as we know it is over, and I’d love to co-create a plan with you to rebuild as co-parents.”

The catalyst for ending my marriage was the realization that I was queer and wanted the freedom to explore it, but it wasn’t the only reason. There are many successful poly marriages, and we could have maybe discussed an open marriage that allowed me to figure out what a queer identity means when you’re in a heterosexual relationship. You can be married to a man and be queer, after all. But shifting the definition of our marriage wasn’t of interest to me because I knew it was over. Some of you who saw me at previous Chairman Mom events (hello, Fleeeeeeeers), including my book launch for Day Nine, know that my now-ex-husband has never really been supportive of who I am, straight or gay. I’ll never forget the room of 65 women yelling “WHY ARE YOU MARRIED TO HIM” during a CM event.

Am I angry that he pressured me to breastfeed when I was locked up in a psych ward just nine days after I gave birth? Probably.

Am I disappointed that he didn’t support my mental health challenges in the years after that involuntary commitment, including after my father died by suicide? Very.

Was I surprised when he responded to my news with “I always knew you were gay”? Not one bit.

Those questions are a bit obvious, and there are others much less so. Why did I marry him if I always knew I was attracted to womxn? Why didn’t I leave him before we had children? Why did I pick now to say something?

Because we needed each other through the hard times. And because being queer isn’t linear or finite. I wanted to have children, and in many ways him and I are still very good friends. Also, I have forever believed that my needs are secondary, that caregiving is my primary role, and that I made a commitment for a lifetime and needed to uphold it. A ton of that is patriarchal brainwashing.

Then last fall, I started to feel suicidal again. Not in the same urgent way as after I had my daughter Fiona, but in a quiet, back-of-my-mind feeling that I’d never be free and never be happy because I was still married to him. That finding love wouldn’t be available to me and I deserved this punishment. I knew I had to change something. When I told my sister-in-law that I was coming out and ending my marriage, the first thing she said was, “You know, being in a hetero-marriage was always the most boring thing about you.” When I called Sarah and asked for divorce advice, she couldn’t have found more ways to say “It’s about time.” Even as I asked others for permission, it was clear the only person who needed to be okay with the decision was me. 

Even now as a queer, single mother who is quarantined with her ex and two kids, there are days I don’t feel like I belong anywhere, at work or personally. My coworking colleagues like Equal Play, The Riveter, and The Wing have mostly closed up shop. I’ve dated a bunch of ladies since last fall and been met with a ton of skepticism about how queer I really am if I was married to a man. Even after I made the leap to end my marriage, I still find myself seeking external validation and approval for my decisions.

It’s full-time work to practice self-love and self-care, especially in a non-obnoxious way. I identity as a femme lesbian, but it took a while to decide if I even wanted to wear that title. Sometimes I’m so over it. Other days I freak out when I see the term femme used for straight white women who like lipstick. Even though I built a company that is designed to redefine who and how a primary caregiver works out of the home, I still find myself defaulting to all homeschooling and pandemic emotional labor. 

I gave myself a word for the year, as a way to remind me of a project or idea I’d like to focus on, and for 2020 it was patience. My choice couldn’t be more hilarious given all of this. My word helps remind me that I can’t dismantle my 10-year marriage overnight, or reconcile all of those feelings above in an instant, and instead want to work on nurturing who I am today with the space to evolve. Patience.

I’d love to hear from others who’ve been there through later-in-life coming out and divorce, a topic I know is huge on CM!

Today’s new questions on Chairman Mom:

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