In 1997, the news of Princess Diana’s death had a profound effect on me mentally and emotionally. She and I were almost the same age; had married the same year; had two children and although our lives looked picture perfect, there was something missing. On day three after her death I had a crazy idea to book a ticket to London to attend her funeral. I was guided by my intuition as I called the airlines and felt oddly comforted by the airline reservation agent. I told my husband I needed to attend her funeral and he supported my decision. I had embraced the roles of wife, mother, daughter, in-law quite well, but this was a break from all that. I flew to England from New York. It was my first trip out of the USA alone. As I walked the lonely streets of London, I questioned my decision, until I walked up to Buckingham Palace and witnessed a sea of people and an ocean of flowers. Then I knew, intuitively, it was where I belonged. I found myself feeling comforted by the presence of so many strangers also drawn to attend this somber event. That trip was followed by a TV news interview, articles in the local paper and my story about the experience being published in a British Literary journal, which told me I did the right thing by going. Witnessing Diana’s death brought me to recognize my own mortality, which brought me to want a deeper experience of love and partnership. Weeks later, I awoke from a dream where I was kissing a woman. At age 37, it was something I had never considered.
I felt excited and terrified about this new experience of same sex attraction. I decided to put extra effort into my marital relationship, hoping the same sex attraction would wane.
I was teaching adult psychic development classes and had a strong connection with the executive director, Stephen. When I shared my struggle with him, he assured me that my mother who had passed into spirit ten years earlier and my spirit guides would help me find my way.
Months later, I fell in love with one of my students; a Norwegian woman nine years older than I, named Britt. The life I had built with a husband, children and family began to unravel. I had to trust and follow my intuition through the anger and rage of my husband and even though most friends and family stopped calling me. It was painful, but I kept focused on being true to myself. I had a few allies.
The next year, I quickly moved out from our custom built, ten thousand square foot log home into a modest house in town. Two days later Britt was diagnosed with terminal kidney cancer. Later that evening was my dark night of the soul. I felt deep sadness over Britt’s diagnosis along with humility and fear. It was my first night alone in my new home; the first time in my life I was on my own. I was happy to be in my own place and horrified by the uncertainty of divorce and disease. I set up pillows on the floor, lit three candles and knelt my humble body upon the ground.
“Mom, I really need you now along with my ancestors and spirit guides. If there’s an angel for me, I need you too. I’m 38 and I’ve never lived alone. How will I get through this? I know moving out was the right thing to do and I know I did it for me, not Britt, but really? Cancer, she has to have cancer? I fall in love for the first time in my life and am filled with excitement and cancer? I just don’t get it. I’m sorry for whatever I’ve done that’s caused hurt. I really am. I want her to be okay. I want me to be okay. I know there is some big picture I can’t see tonight and I want to trust. I have no one to talk to nearby, since Phil outed me. It’s like I have leprosy. Britt’s been the person I could talk to and now what? “ The talking, pleading and crying continued until exhaustion set in. I slowly climbed the pale blue stairs towards my bedroom. As I opened the door on this warm summer night, the pine scented breeze blew across the bed bringing with it a familiar fragrance; that of my mother, grandmother and great aunt. I collapsed in joy upon the bed and said,
“Oh my god, Mom, I can feel you. Grandma, Aunt Irene I feel your love. Thank you. Thank you for being here, for hearing me. I need you so. I felt alone, but I know I am not. You’re here with me. Your love is stronger than if you were physically here with me.”
I spent some time figuring out what it meant to be lesbian, which was the new box I’d been placed in by society. The bar scene was disappointing so I explored some unrelated interests such as African dance class and learning to be a life coach. I met many new types of people including an intriguing woman named Holly.
For the next year and a half, I used my knowledge of energy healing combined with my love to help Britt through her cancer treatment. She was cancer free for a few months, but it returned a week after my divorce was finalized. Phil married the mother of his new child and months later, Britt died. It was my connection to my spirit team and their support that enabled me to pick myself up, move forward and open up to new life possibilities.
Sometime later that year, Holly and I began to date. There was a strong chemistry and connection between us. We began our relationship by signing up for a leadership program. It helped us to be very intentional about our vision as we stepped into a life together. I moved in with Holly; went back to college to finish a Bachelors degree, as we got involved with LGBT activism. Joining a local Unitarian Universalist Church that welcomed LGBT folks with open arms gave us a community to share with Montana who was ten. Our leadership training taught us to create a life from everything without the roles we once knew as heterosexual wives. We each had our prior husbands surnames, so we decided to create a new name by combining our maiden names; Alff and Goodman became Algood. I also changed my first name from Eileen to Eila. In 2005, in Western Canada where it was legal, we married.
My most recent challenge was a cancer diagnosis which tested my intuitive abilities yet again. When the doctor said the medical tests showed uterine cancer, I felt frozen for a moment. Yet I knew exactly what I needed to do. I watched my older female cousins die from stomach cancer; then my mother at age 56 died from colon cancer; and of course Britt at age 49 died from kidney cancer. I was 58 and decided my outcome must be life.
I went deep within to connect with what spiritual actions I needed to take in addition to the physical, mental and emotional ones. I knew the healing process could propel me into the spiritual work I’d be pushing aside for twenty years.
My health decisions were based on my intuition, intellect and guidance from my spirit team. I made a very conscious decision to share my journey with everyone in my life, going so far as to start a blog. My vulnerability seemed to bring me closer to the many people who sent me love, healing and prayers. My wellness is thanks to the love and support I received from Holly, my family, friends and community. In contrast to my coming out experience, this has brought me closer in heart to my tribe.
The healing journey has brought me a new lease on life which has led me to coach, teach and speak to people about personal empowerment. Life is a gift!