Sometimes we don’t get everything we want in life, and we have to prioritize. You want your mom to accept your girlfriend – and by extension, you, for who you are, sexual identity and all – and for your mother and your girlfriend to get along. You want to buy a house. You don’t want to have to choose between two women you love. You may not get all of that, and I think you need to reframe some of what you want so that you are better able to prioritize in a way that best supports your personal happiness and well-being. For example, you aren’t really choosing between your girlfriend and your mother here. You’re choosing between living authentically and living inauthentically, and both your girlfriend and your mother are welcome to join you. They will have to choose, too, and in a way, this should be very liberating for you.
You love and care about Amelia, but your mother, who now has a problem with your being gay, thinks your relationship is an abomination and that you will go to hell because of it. Where does that leave you? What are you supposed to do with that information? End your relationship so your mom will continue loving you? Is her love dependent on your relationship status? Your sexual identity? Your likelihood of getting into heaven, based on a belief system that you may or may not prescribe to? If you were to end your relationship to appease your mother and “earn” her acceptance and love, who would she really be accepting? You’re still who you are. You’re still a lesbian, whether you’re in a relationship with a woman or not. If she isn’t able to love the authentic you, what is her love of an inauthentic or an unhappy you really worth?
On the other hand, you have Amelia, who knows your relationship with your mother is important – you live together, even! – but refuses to meet her. How dependent is your happiness with her and the success of your relationship dependent on her establishing a relationship with your mother (or at least putting in some effort to meet her)? To answer this, you probably need to think about how authentic you can be independent of your relationship with your mother, independent of your identity as your mother’s daughter.
Weighing how you are most authentically yourself and thinking about which relationship best supports your authenticity will bring you to what I think is a better reframing of your question: “Does either relationship bring me to my most authentic self? Does either relationship ask me to deny my authentic self?” From there, I would urge you to just… live your damn life on your terms and invite both these women to join you on your path if you want them to. If your mother cannot, then maybe it’s time for her to find her own home and not live with you anymore. If Amelia cannot humble herself to meet your mother because she is – understandably – so insulted by your mother’s rejection of her role in your life, you can decide that who you are with her isn’t worth the sacrifice of your mother’s acceptance. But understand that if your mother’s acceptance is based on your not being in a relationship with another woman, then the sacrifice you’ll have to make for her acceptance might not be worth the loss of your… self, your authenticity, your happiness. It wouldn’t be for me. I don’t think it would be for most people.
The choice really comes down to living your mother’s dream for you or living your own. Living by your mother’s belief system or living by your own. Being yourself – your wonderful gay self – or being an inauthentic version of who you are for as long as you can handle pretending so as to keep your mother in your life in a way that is most pleasing and comfortable for HER. The choice is kind of a no-brainer, no? And, really, it should be a no-brainer for your mother, too. She can continue loving you and enjoying the privilege of being part of your life. Or she can lose you to her homophobia. You can’t control what she does, but you can honor yourself by being true to who you are even when you risk losing someone so important to you.
I’m curious what your fear of being naked around other women is stopping you from doing that you think you would otherwise enjoy? I’m struggling to even think of more than two things – showering at a gym and going to one of those Korean spas that are popular here in NYC – where I’d have a natural opportunity to be naked in front of other women. But then, I’m more than 20 years older than you and maybe your lifestyle naturally lends itself to a wider array of naked opportunities. At any rate, my advice to you is the same as anyone who wants to do something she’s afraid of: just fuckin’ do it! Shower at the gym! If you freeze (either metaphorically or literally), you freeze! And then you… move past the freezing. You hurry through your shower and grab your towel and quickly get dressed. If it helps, go to a gym far from your home where you’re less likely to see anyone you know. Then do it again, maybe even at a different gym. Do it enough times that it no longer scares you because it’s something unfamiliar. It might still scare you because it’s uncomfortable, but even that kind of fear is different than the fear of the unknown.
Two personal anecdotes: I used to be like you and avoided women’s locker rooms and such because I, too, didn’t want to be naked in front of other women. Then I got pregnant with my first kid and, ooh boy, did that cure me of my modesty. You’re naked around other people so much when you’re pregnant that you kind of forget you don’t have clothes on. I lost count of how many people saw my vagina over the course of several months. And then I did it all again a few years later and even more people saw my vagina and boobs over and over and over. Now, I just don’t care anymore. Modesty cured! So, getting pregnant is one way to “get over yourself” though I don’t recommend doing that solely for the sake of facing your naked fear. (Showering at the gym is lower stakes.)
Another thing I’m afraid of: ice skating. I’m afraid of losing my balance and falling and it hurting both my body and my ego. But it looks like fun and my kids enjoy ice skating and I want to be able to enjoy it with them, so I am facing my fears and last week I bought some used ice skates on eBay, and later this afternoon, while my kids are at school and the rink near my home should be much less crowded than on a busy weekend, I’m going to go lace up and take a spin around the ice. I’m scared. I’m probably going to fall down and it’ll be embarrassing and I might hurt myself. I’m going to do it anyway. I have to at least try. A few times. I have to try a few times. If I can face my fears, I know you can, too. So, I’ll hit the ice and you hit the showers, and maybe in a few weeks we can compare notes?