Oh, my. I don't know how to ask this question, or even if this is the place for it.
A little background: I am a bisexual mama who has been single and celibate for 15 years. Although I have had 2 near-relationships in that time, with women, I have really put my personal love life on hold, as my kids were very high needs, I was very busy as a therapeutic foster parent, and frankly, I am pretty gun-shy after my last extremely abusive marriage. I mean Lifetime Movie, change my and my kids' names and social security numbers, and start a whole new life in a new state level abuse. These days, I am feeling very settled, no more foster kids, bio-kids are nearly grown, and I have been thinking about relationships again.
So, about the 2 almost relationships since then. Carole and I planned our future together, imagining we could wait till our high needs kids grew up to live together. Glad we made that call, as it turned out that her daughter was molesting mine (I didn't know that until several years later, when my daughter disclosed). We had separate apartments in the same complex for 3 1/2 years, then moved cross country together. Lots of plans and dreams, then she died of pancreatic cancer.
Next near-relationship, and the point of this post. About 3 years ago, I met J, a transsexual woman, in the middle of hormone and surgical processes. She was homeless, and I offered her a room in my home. She stayed for several months; maybe most of a year. I accompanied her to surgeries, nursed her in recovery, and we formed a strong bond. Then I found out she was a registered sex offender. She explained the circumstances, and I totally believe and understand her explanation. But, as a foster parent, I could not have her in my home. It was very difficult for me to "kick her out" as I knew she had limited resources, and really no where to go. She attempted suicide, and I found and "rescued" her. I know I saved her life, but it must have been pretty dismal for her that I just walked away at that time that she needed me so desperately. I really had to cut off all contact with her, both to maintain my foster licensing, and because my daughter learned of the sex-offender status, and felt seriously betrayed that I would let such a person near her and the younger foster kids. I am not proud of the way I handled this. I just stopped responding to J's calls and emails. I knew she was very fragile at that time, but I didn't explain or even tell her anything. At the time, my relationship with my daughter was in crisis, and I had to give that priority. I really didn't know, until today, that J was still alive. And I have felt guilty every time I drive past the hospital I last saw her at (and it is just a few blocks from my house, so that is a common occurrence!).
Today, after a silence of nearly 2 years, she sent me a link to the sweetest video. http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?feature=player_embedded&v=341rybZ42vA I responded, and we have plans to meet for tea next week. I am so afraid. I feel like I am jumping off a cliff. It is entirely possible that I am taking the first steps toward a relationship here: this is not feeling like just seeing an old friend for tea. It is much deeper. We are nearing retirement age, and I would love to have someone to travel with, to age with. We felt we were soul mates - converging plans and dreams. We laughed and cried together, and I rarely have felt such a strong connection. I am usually sort of a loner, but she broke through my barriers. I have truly missed her.
The reason I chose the Queer Parenting forum for this is not the issue of my potential relationship with a woman. My teenaged kids know, understand, and accept my orientation. My 94 year old mom even knows and likes J! But I didn't feel I could tell this story outside the queer neighborhood, without J's sexuality becoming the focus. It really isn't the point of my question. The question is the conflict with my daughter. I feel I need to hide from her that I even received an email from J, let alone that I responded, and plan to see her. As you can see from the above, my relationship history has been a source of pain and conflict for my daughter. And my relationship with my daughter is just healing.
So, what would you do? Would I be betraying my 17 year old daughter to be seeing someone she distrusts? I would truly love to learn that J is doing better, has a job, a home, a life. The "J" chapter of my life has felt without closure for too long now. Even if it is only a one time check-in, and I get a chance to explain my actions 2 years ago, and learn how she has been doing, I feel guilty sneaking around behind my daughter. And what if the relationship grows? DD is planning to move out this spring, to Europe, where she would definitely not be affected by my relationships. But I have never been secretive with my kids before, and this doesn't feel right.
Oy vey. Just when life seems to be calming down, it goes and gets complex again. I would welcome any insight or observations. And thank you for the opportunity to talk this out. Sometimes, just writing out the situation helps clarify my feelings. Although in this case, it mainly reminded me how much I miss J in my life. Maybe that's a good thing, I don't know.