2 people walking under an umrella on a rainy day My advice to you is that it’s your timeline. Answer to nobody. You don’t have to fit in a box

At 42 I came out as a lesbian. My ex-husbands were not surprised, they planted the seed of sex with another woman, hoping that it would blossom into their cliched porn-based, long finger-nailed, false-titted dreams come true.

I suspect rufty-tufty egos were as battered as my mum’s Saab after an unfortunate flip-flop incident.

Male friends asked questions, wanting another chapter for their “lesbian” fantasies. They must know that real women can’t fuck with long fingernails? Nobody wants talons in their nou-nou.

I rejected dolls for action men. I shaved Sindy’s head. I hated skirts and dressed like the lads. I walked with a swagger. I was a Tom Boy. My father and brothers were mechanics and took me stock car racing, I had overalls. I remember my mother explaining that I couldn’t be topless in summer as the boys, I was growing tits.

Family legend speaks of the day mum made me wear a dress for the school photo. It was horrific, navy blue with pink frilly roses. I wanted death to take me early but made do with a bout of diarrhea, it was doing the rounds and that was the day it got me. I’m sure my mother thought it was a dirty protest.

My hometown was still eons behind the world. I didn’t even have the internet. My people were not accessible or acceptable. We were wrong for loving one another. We were treated like rapists or child molesters. I was strong-minded but not brave or sure enough yet. Slowly slowly had yet to catchy monkey.

So, I did what I thought people expected of me, to a degree. But, I lived in jeans and hoodies making no effort to look girly. Several male partners made gentle (and not so gentle) suggestions that I should be more feminine.

It struck me as odd then and now that “comfortable” clothes were for men. Women can’t be comfortable apparently, nor do we need pockets in our trousers.

In my college days, I finally got the opportunity to have a physical and romantic encounter with a girl. The curious girl in question wanted to experiment. She freaked out and all but legged it. It made me feel awful like I’d done something non-consensual, which of course I hadn’t.

It put me off trying anything with a girl for a long time.

I married husband number one. He was easy enough, I could settle with him even though I often returned to my feelings for women privately. The internet had been invented so I looked at gay dating sites which terrified me and I didn’t like the thought of being part of a “scene”.

Even now I’ve been out for a while I still don’t like it, I’m not a “fitter in”, I’m introverted, which doesn’t often go hand-in-hand with gay culture.

I divorced husband number one. Sometime after I met a woman who expressed feelings for me with a snog that I wasn’t expecting.

I told her I wasn’t gay and that I’d rather be friends. She said she could tell I was gay the moment she saw me. It all got messy and thus a negative pattern was forming that made me feel even more uncertain about women.

Husband number two was a terrible choice, we had nothing in common but stuck it out for eight years. I decided that I would go and live like a spinster by the sea and own more dogs than I could afford. Beach walks and books would do. People were exhausting.

Then I met someone. Physically she gave me a double-take moment, the kind you see in films.

She was funny, had an attitude and was respected by those around her. We chatted. I didn’t think I was flirting but part of me hoped she was. I knew the minute she touched me! Everything felt utterly natural for the first time ever. She is now my partner and I’ve never felt more at ease.

I visited Brighton and Manchester but felt like a fraud because didn’t pursue my true feelings earlier. I didn’t feel at ease there, and then realised it’s just because I’m introverted. What matters is I’m happy.

My advice to you is that it’s your timeline. Answer to nobody. You don’t have to fit in a box.

Take your time. Be yourself. It’s worth the wait.