Thirty Years

Thirty Years.  It’s been thirty years since the morning he came in and announced he was leaving. “I can’t take it any more,” he said.

Of course, he dropped this bombshell on me as I was changing clothes to go to my first final exam of the semester — timing I can’t help but feel was not an accident. He had sabotaged me before. This time the sabotage was only a bump in the road; I still completed my work.

But how those years have flown by! Thirty years! In some ways it seems like just a couple weeks.  There are hours and days when I still feel fragile and raw, uncertain where to step, when my wounds still feel raw and I feel timid and weak.

There are times when I grieve deeply for lost family, dreams, and possibilities. I look back on the thirty years when, under other circumstances, I might have remarried, had another family, known love. . . but for the wounds and scars left by the very disordered relationship of marriage with a gay man.

“You need to find yourself a straight man and get married again,” he counseled me, when my first social outing was a large school event, and my way was paid by two gay colleagues. But he himself never acknowledged to me that he is gay, and he denied to others that his homosexuality had anything to do with our divorce,

So how could he admit that the dysfunctional relationship between the two of us had done any damage to my mind and soul, at all?  He couldn’t, and all these years later, still can’t. Or won’t.

I get by.  Right now, anniversaries being low points, that’s the best I can do.  Forty-eight hours ago I was happy and hopeful; perhaps in forty-eight more I shall be there again. But right now I am low.

It passes, so I hang on.

Forgiveness, the essential component

We go through a lot, we wives of homosexuals. The manipulations, the spiritual and psychological abuses… I think I’ve mentioned before that every one of the ex-wives I’ve ever spoken to or communicated with live with depression of some degree or other. Then there are the family battles, the drive to try to protect our children, or – I wonder whether this is prudent or a big mistake – even our husbands in the early days when we’re just discovering their homosexuality and geared toward “protecting” them and maybe even their families from knowing the truth…

And we carry this enormous load of sorrow and suffering and how do we survive?

The answer is simple: we forgive.

When we consider how he lied to us, we forgive.
When we consider how he mocked and ridiculed us, we forgive.
When we stand under a barage of insults, we forgive.
When we agonize in the neglect, we forgive…
When the manipulations get ugly and things we never dreamed of happen… we forgive.

Now, I want to make something VERY VERY CLEAR. Forgiveness is not shrugging our shoulders and pretending something awful didn’t happen. That’s not forgiveness – that’s unhealthy self-sacrifice. No! We can draw our line in the stand and take whatever reasonable steps are necessary to protect ourselves and our children – and in fact I am increasingly convinced we must, not only for our own sakes or for our children’s but also for his sake – so that we don’t become complicit in his self-destruction.

What we cannot do, however, is clear: we cannot, we must not, harbor bitterness, entertain thoughts of recriminations.Not toward him, not toward his mother, not toward the kids who decide he’s telling the truth and his being gay had nothing to do with the divorce…

No, Forgiveness means that we let God dispense the justice.

“Don’t Deny the Rage” — Part Three

Anger can be a powerful barometer to alert us something is Not Right in our lives, in our relationships.

It can be a powerful impetus for needed change. Anger at being abused, for instance, can motivate us to make changes to stop the abuse or to get away from it.

We have to be careful, though.  Anger, badly or recklessly heeded, can lead to some irresponsible or self-destructive choices.

Anger can be turned inward.  This is self-destructive. It’s been said for years that depression is “anger turned inward.”  It’s my personal opinion (and I’m not a psychologist) that that’s too simplistic an assessment, but there’s enough truth there for it to become an easy platitude. We punish ourselves for others’ wrongs, fault ourselves for not being able to “help” or “fix,” things that aren’t ours to begin with, and we become depressed.

I’ve seen anger lead to irresponsible and dangerous choices.  People who can’t cope turning to alcohol or drugs, for instance. Or flashes of rage and temper that cause us to hurt other people, in turn. Or a seething resentment that builds into a dishonest idea that we have a right to — get even, to get a bit of our own back, to have our needs met however dishonestly or dishonorably we have to do it.  I’ve known men and women who justified adulterous affairs by saying their spouse was “asking for it.” “I have a right to be happy” isn’t necessarily true — certainly no one has a right to be “happy” at the expense of others’ trust or if it means violating sacred principles.

I think more often anger is just a low simmering flame that reveals itself in our restlessness, an inability to find peace, an edginess in our relationships with others, punctuated by occasional yelling bouts and the like. Maybe we can’t stop replaying a conversation we had (or wish we’d had) and what we said or wish we’d said or would like to say. .     Maybe it shows up in an unaccustomed use of profanity, or door-slamming, or some other behavior that isn’t so self-destructive as alcohol abuse or the “I’ll show him!” affair — but still gives us that nagging warning that we aren’t doing so well with everything as we’d like to believe we are.

This is where we have to take ourselves in hand and be adult.  Some of these things, we can handle ourselves, and should. But there comes a time when you might just need some professional help to move beyond the rage to a place where you can start to be productive again, and to find some peace.  There’s no shame in getting help, although it can be hard to get started, especially with a stranger.  It’s worth getting through the discomfort in order to find some peace.

And life is far too short, and opportunities for joy far too infrequent, to have your life sabotaged by unresolved rage.

Still trying –

In the fall I went to a retreat for women who are married to men with same-sex attraction or sex addictions.  It was a profound experience, one of the key defining points of my life.  It was strange, and wonderful, and heartbreaking, to be in a room full of women who live with the same struggles and sorrows I experience.  So  many times, as they told their own stories, I found myself thinking, “What! You, too?” There was an unexpected universality to our experiences.

One woman spoke of how her husband cringes when she touches him. I know that cringe well. Another spoke of her anger at being deceived and lied to and blamed for what had happened in their marriage; I know that situation well, too. One spoke of how unfeminine and undesirable she had come to feel, and I wanted to cry (and, later, I did cry. Buckets, I think.  A box of tissues’ worth, at least — and I don’t cry) because that is what I have lived with every day of my life for many years.  More years than she has been alive.  More years than any of them had been alive.

And this retreat was glorious! – but coming home and returning to real life is so hard.  Living alone, I had a buffer and my season of grace dragged out much longer than that of the other women, who had families to return to, and family needs to address.  For once, I have seen my solitude as something of a luxury.

The luxury couldn’t last, of course. A visit from a beloved friend sent me into a tailspin.  I became so anxious during the visit – of being boring, or annoying, or that my house (which announces my coexistence with the black dog to anyone who comes in) would appall him . . .   when I wanted him to be comfortable and at peace and to see me at something resembling my best, I certainly was not.

There are still bruises and when those bruises are bumped, I yelp.  And my friend bumped into one I hadn’t yet encountered, and I don’t think I really recovered from that  – and I didn’t yelp, I roared.

It is so hard to love someone, and at the same time to feel that these circumstances of my past have so battered and warped me that I am no longer worthy of being loved.  “Would Christ Himself see you that way?” he asked, when I confessed this to him, in fear and trembling, one evening.  Ahh, Darling, but Our Lord is not so fastidious as mortal men.  He sees beyond the superficial things that are, so often, all that we mortals can see.  There are times when spiritualizing a corporal problem doesn’t help, and this is one of them.

Nevertheless, I will go back and re-read my notes from my retreat, and I will talk with these other women some more, and I will write, and I will try to live well and to see and honor my best self — even if.

But it is hard to feel condemned, rather than called, to being alone.

Holiday challenges — Part One

The holidays are upon us – which for me runs from a couple weeks before Thanksgiving (family birthdays) until after the first of the year.  This is the time of year which brings out the best of people.  And the worst.

This is my “Black Dog” season — short days, frequent bad weather, being alone in a season that highlights families.

But for many people who have families, holidays can also be difficult because of unpleasant family dynamics.  Sometimes families bring out our inner child – not in a good way, but the uncertain, insecure, emotionally dependent . . .   Family stresses can cause us, or people we love, to turn in on themselves, to put up barriers and walls, to push away the very people who love them/us the most.

There’s not much to do.  All the hype about holiday as an idyllic season only makes things more painful when idyllic is one of the last adjectives one would reach for, in describing the holiday realities.  The movie Love, Actually, is a pretty sad but realistic portrayal of how disappointing Christmas can be.

What to do?

I haven’t decorated my house in years.  What’s the point, when no one will come by, no children will come home to celebrate? But I find myself committed, impulsively, to buying a Christmas tree from a local businessman, and so I’m going to decorate.  —-  and why shouldn’t I? Am I not capable of enjoying the festive glow of fairie lights in the tree? and Christmas dishes and wreaths and candles and the Nativity scene (I do hope the pieces are still intact!) and all of it?  And is it not perfectly realistic and reasonable to decorate the house for my own pleasure?  And so I shall.

 

 

Why I Oppose Gay Marriage — Part Three: My Gay (ex-)Husband

It’s not “just about (me.)”  I don’t oppose gay “marriage” out of personal resentment.  This issue is a lot bigger than my personal feelings (which are a lot more complicated than mere resentment).

When DH left us and began to openly hang out with his gay friends, his personality underwent a distinct change.  It wasn’t for the better.  The energetic, cheerful, beautiful boy who was always eager to help others, kind, compassionate . . . the “chaplain” of our circle of friends for more than a decade! – became cold, angry, remote.  His sense of humor vanished; he became crude and sarcastic.

This wasn’t just a matter of resentment towards me, as the villain ex-wife; he pushed away all our old friends, friends who loved him and would have accepted him regardless his lifestyle choices.  But suddenly they were “stupid,” “idiotic,” or some other quality that left them unworthy of continuing his friendship.

Through DH and a couple of gay neighbors and coworkers over the years, I’ve noticed that the gay community is badly mis-named “gay.”  Maladjusted, angry, resentful, hypercritical, backbiting . . .  the list of unhappy adjectives grows and grows.  It’s not about lack of social acceptance, either; even in safe, loving environments, even with a privileged status in our society, now, homosexuals are not gay by any stretch of the imagination.  Camp, maybe, but certainly not gay.

What does this have to do with gay marriage? And why would I want to deprive someone I claim I love of the comforts and benefits of a life partnership?

The real issue isn’t about “rights” or recognition; it’s about people being at war within themselves.  DH is angry because he’s at war with himself. His choices have violated the very best of who he is. I know that, and our friends see it, and on a deep level I think he knows it, too. Knows it and resents it.

See, the more you have that should make you happier, the more you resent that you aren’t happy, you blame everyone else and set a new objective to achieve, certain it will resolve the restlessness you’re feeling.

So the “program” isn’t working for gays.  When “progress” creates more bitterness and aggression, then the program is an utter failure.  Gay marriage won’t make gays happier; it is just one more false ideal to push toward.

Angry people make lousy spouses.  And legitimating gay marriage will, I fear, only further entrap miserable and bitter men and women in a lifestyle that has sucked the joy out of them, and replaced joy and well-being with misery and resentment. I see gay men and women becoming not more contented with the progress they’ve made in social recognition and approbation, but more and more hostile and aggressive. Fighting everyone as well as themselves, and getting more deeply entrenched the whole time.  

I want DH to be free of these traps. I want him to be honest with himself and true to his best self.  Gay marriage won’t give that to him; in fact, it will give him just the opposite, the inverse, of what he wants.

 

 

Still here

I just concluded a conversation with a new friend who, it turned out, knows this blog.  He told me I have more people watching it than I realized —- and that some had assumed that maybe I’d changed my mind about gay marriage, the whole fight, really, because I’ve been inactive so long.

I’ve not.  My opinions are not only unchanged since I began this blog, I find them being more and more strongly confirmed as more men and women come out with their own stories about toxic marriages to gays, or the sufferings of their being raised by gay parents.

The embarrassing truth of it is that having sole responsibility for this blog and being so immersed in this subject matter is oppressive to my spirit.  I live with depression (and, btw, I have yet to meet a former spouse of a homosexual who doesn’t also battle The Black Dog) and sometimes I have to budget my low energy levels as miserly as I can in order to cover the necessities.

But I’m so grateful — no, I’m still sitting here well after midnight shaking my head . . . simply amazed at being known and recognized and  told “Oh, yeah, you’re quite well known among my friends —” —

So let me take a moment to tell you all hello, and to thank you for looking for this blog and for your prayers and whatever positive thoughts you’ve had about what I do, here.

I’ve been collecting things to post here.  I’m looking for a couple other women to post, as well.  I won’t abandon this blog completely — even though sometimes I find I don’t have energy sufficient to post.

The fight really is just beginning.