ANDERSON — Dickens, the cat, strolls through the living room. Two teenagers sit comfortably on a couch in the family room. There are smiles and laughter.
Mom and her partner sit across from the kids, thoughtful and listening as the teens talk. It is the picture of a typical family.
This is a family that was forged with love, and with an extraordinary amount of courage.
Mom, Angela Eden, 43, tells the heart-wrenching tale of the struggle to keep her loved ones in her life in her newly-published book, “If You Were Me.” Twelve years ago, the Anderson mom was faced with the unthinkable possibility of losing her children in a custody battle waged solely on the basis of her sexual orientation.
“How sad I was put in this place – choosing my children over my dignity as a lesbian,” said Eden.
For Eden, it was a question of denying the reality of her own self, and discerning the impact of that on herself, on her children and on the partner she loved. The story traces its path through Eden’s life and lands as a book in your lap today because Eden wants people to see what equality means.
“I’m trying to promote understanding of families like ours,” said Eden.“Our family is so normal.”
“People focus on the sexual part of homosexuality,” said Eden.
She looks at her partner, Angie Strickler, 41, to underscore their 13 years together. “The focus is not on sex.
“People say God loves you but hates what you do. I go to work. I pay bills. I take care of my kids. I mow my grass. 99.1 percent of my 13 years with this woman is that. Being gay is not what I do but who I love.”
Living one's truth
Eden's book is surprisingly relatable and relevant as it touches on subjects of parenting, divorce, depression, forgiveness and faith. That is, ultimately, the point: Eden, like everyone else, is a person striving to live her truth.