Daily Mirror agony aunt Coleen Nolan offers some advice to a reader who feels she needs to reveal her true self but can’t, as friends, family and the Church would not approve
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Dear Coleen, I’m 53 and come from an Irish Catholic background. I haven’t lost my faith, but feel the Church and my family are conflicting with who I am.
I grew up knowing I was different, but tried to conform to the norm. I got a husband, had a child and got a good job – boxes all ticked – and loved it until my husband had an affair.
I carried on doing the “right thing” for the family – my mum thinks of me as the strong, dependable one who helps everyone, and I’ve been there for every family crisis.
I also have a demanding job, which led me to a breakdown and I couldn’t cope with work, life and family. I went through counselling and dealt with how to set boundaries with my family, although my mum still doesn’t acknowledge my depression!
What is your view? Have your say in the comment section
Coleen Nolan is the Mirror’s resident agony aunt
I just want to be me, but don’t know if I can at my age. I’m gay (or I’ve just been in love with my best friend for over 20 years). I hide who I am because I don’t know how to integrate my religious stuff with who I am now.
There are so many friends and family who wouldn’t approve and there’s also the Church. I’m so unhappy and want to move on, but don’t know how. It’s crazy, but I don’t want to lose my mum’s approval or acceptance.
I think my son already knows I’m gay, as he keeps reminding me his generation don’t have issues with same-sex relationships. He and his girlfriend went to a Pride event and sent me photos. I’m stuck – can you help?
I totally get the Catholic guilt thing – I’m not religious, but still have that guilt sometimes and think about how my mother would be turning in her grave. But there’s no better time than now to be the person you want to be.
Will you lose some people along the way? Probably. If it’s your mum you’re really worried about, then I don’t see why you have to come out to her – you’re not with her every minute of the day. However, it sounds like your son knows you’re gay and is trying to tell you he’s OK with it, so have the conversation with him.
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It will be such a relief to come out to him and his girlfriend. They sound wonderful and supportive.
As far as going against your beliefs, well maybe they’ve just changed because the world has changed.
It doesn’t mean you have to stop believing, but don’t let it stop you living your life.
As women and mothers, we spend most of our time simply trying to please other people.
My kids are adults now and they’ve turned out well, and I’ve got myself out of two unhappy marriages and I don’t feel any guilt.
At 56, I’m finally putting myself first and anyone who’s not happy for me, well, don’t be in my life.
Live your life for you – not for everyone else around you.
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