Sunday, February 26, 2006

Grief

I love butterflies. They are beautiful, a real wonder. But I do not like butterflies as an Easter symbol. Sure, the caterpillar goes into the cocoon and changes, emerging as something entirely new, but the creature does not die. It does not experience the grave.

I know we are moving toward the season of Lent, and it may seem premature to talk of Easter. But there is no Easter without Good Friday. There is no resurrection without the crucifixion. No new life without death. Right now, I feel like I am in the midst of death.

This Saturday afternoon, I told my wife. I am gay.

Of course this topic is one that has been part of our marriage for most all of its twenty years. But we always thought it was something else. I could get over it. I could make some choices and things could stay at status quo.

Now, she knows otherwise, and the news is devastating for both of us. I have had months to think about this. She has not. I am not sure what the next step will be, but it is one we will make together. Pray for us.

Every time I see a couple walking together, holding hands, laughing, playing with their children, I think, "Oh God, why couldn't I be normal. Why can't I be straight and regular. Why can't I fit in and make it work out." What would I give for that? Of course I know there is nothing I can give. There is nothing to be done. I am who I am, what I am, the way I am. This is devastating.

Even in the midst of my mixed up mind, I have had thoughts of our growing old together. What will we do in retirement, when the kids are grown, with grandchildren. Now, a lot of dreams are altered forever. There is much to mourn.

Once the cat is out of the bag (or rather, the bear is out of the closet), I cannot go back. For a fleeting few moments, I wanted to. That comes from that part of me that is driven to make everyone happy, to keep the peace, to please. I can do it no more. Despite my desires to be straight and normal (whatever the hell that means), I am feeling at least a bit content with who I am. I know that there will be a lot of anguish to come. But I know it will be better in the long run.

In the midst of this crucifying pain, I can only hope and pray for an Easter that will reveal new life to me, and to my wife, and eventually my children, as well. I do not understand why God is calling me on this journey, but I trust that he is with me. I ask your prayers.
We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see—we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything. 2 Corinthians 6.8b-10

16 comments:

cp said...

I will pray for you and with you tonight. God made you and loves you and will stay close by you. But you know all that already.
And all shall be well, and all shall be well.........

Ross said...

Joe,

You did it. Wow. I'm both awed and proud. It was a huge step, and you had the courage to take it. You also obviously care a lot about your wife, so you can be there for her.

It may sound trite to say that I'll be praying for you, but please know that it's true. This is another major milestone. You are becoming fully known, and it's exciting to see.

Be well.

Fr. B said...

Oh Joe, my heart aches for you and for you wife. I shall pray that your continued journey will yield to peace, for you and for her. oh my. God be present to you both.

Fr. B.

geek_boi said...

Bless you, Joe. Things will work out somehow.

God's Heretic said...

I read your Feb 26 post and my thoughts and prayers are totally with you. I know how terribly hard it is but I pray that you will find the strength you need to continue being real. It is the hardest and best thing we can do. You're in my prayers.
David

Michael said...

Prayers, of course. I am facing something only remotely as difficult in my family, but it gives me a hint of how this must be for the two of you. Since I have seen couples come through it as friends, I know it can happen. I will pray that this be the path you walk, though it is a rough one, too. There is no easier, softer way.

I am struck by your suffering remarks: "Oh God, why couldn't I be normal. Why can't I be straight and regular. Why can't I fit in and make it work out." What would I give for that? Of course I know there is nothing I can give. There is nothing to be done. I am who I am, what I am, the way I am. This is devastating. The idiots who think you are choosing to "be that way" out of selfish hedonism are clueless, although it may not be their fault.

There are lots of us here to hold you up. Don't hesitate to reach out and grab a hand.

zvznw -- the sadness we feel when the sweet realease of sleep doesn't change the world by the time we wake

Bibydays said...

I add my prayers. I was going to use the phrase "The truth will set you free" in a posting the other day and not wanting to quote the unknown, I googled the phrase. I did not know it was from the Book of John. Freedom is not easy on the best of days.

I am of another religion, but prayers are universal and mine are with you.

freethnkr said...

Dearest Joe,

I've been following this blog (quietly, I know) and wondering when this would occur. I remember too well feeling what you're feeling when I told my wife that I was gay. One moment it was like a giant weight had been lifted from my shoulders, the next I felt like the worst traitor since Judas. You are about to take a roller coaster ride of emotion that will make the trip to this point seem like one of your nice weekend hikes. But know this - KNOW this - It WILL be worth it.
My thoughts and prayers are with you. Any knowlege or advice I have is yours to glean, just drop me a note on my blog.

Flip said...

Hi Joe,

I just stumbled across your blog. I have faced a similar situation. My choice is to stay with my wife and so far hers is to stay with me - although she would have very good reason to walk and never look back. Please understand I don't advocate staying or leaving - it's an individual decision based on a lot of variables.
From the looks of the comments you have already received I can tell you have a lot of support. Please add me to your list of supporters. I will be praying that you and your family be given the strength you need to come out of this situation in better shape than you went into it. I also look forward to reading your previous posts as time permits. Take care. Flip

woe said...

I'll will start by saying I admire your courage for coming out to your wife.

I will be spending a lot of time here. Thanks for stopping by my blog and your words of wisdom.

Know that you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

*Christopher said...

Joe,

You are still in my prayers. This can all be so very painful, and I hope that you both are surrounded by folks who love you.

David in KC said...

Congratulations for taking this important (and scary) step. I add my prayers to those of your other supporters.

Yes, there's a lot to mourn but much to celebrate also. Don't assume the worst about your future. My ex-wife and I celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary last month. So, couples can remain friends and can grow old together - just not quite as planned. I almost live at her place when our daughter comes to town.

My thoughts are with you as you mourn and as you move into the adventure ahead!

Joe said...

Dear Joe,
Your story is my story. I wanted to cry as I read this. I found you via your reply to Out@ 48. I told my wife in Nov 2004. And it has changed our life forever. I thought she'd want me to leave. She doesn't. Now What? Will I grow old with her? I'd love to talk to you. Please feel free to contact me. We have stories to share. I'm Christian -- a catholic. I was a Christian Brother for 7 years, i know the contemplative life (and it wasn't for me) But I loved that experience. I feel lost, and unsure of my way. But I like your spirit, your faith.
i take great comfort in knowing that I'm not alone! us married gay men are legion. I need that support. And so do you! I'm here. I also take comfort in knowing that God loves us, and there is a plan. I don't know what it is. And I do not want my wife to be hurt anymore than she is. So I pray for wisdom for her and for me. Where do we go from here. But I also know that I ache for the love of a man. How do I reconcile this? That's the magical question isn't it.
Joe (Michael)

Steve said...

I am late to the party, it seems - but my prayers are no less fervent for all that, Joe.

My marriage disintegrated 15 years ago because of my alcoholism and the wreckage surrounding it. But only now can I see that much of the insanity of my drinking and other addictions have been part of the defenses of the central lie about my sexuality.

I have no children, nor do my sisters. I am now out to three of my five major female relationships. So as a single man, I have much less at stake than you do. Given that, your coming out to your wife is an act of extreme honesty and courage, and I'm very proud of you for taking that very bold step.

Two years ago, when my path to seminary was derailed (because of my finances, and not my sexuality), I remember crying out to God, to friends, to anyone who would listen to "just let me get back to normal, whatever the hell that is." One wise man in my Kansas AA circle said, "Hell, buddy, 'normal' ain't nothin' but a setting on a dryer, anymore..."

Two years later, a year after I first started the process of coming out to myself, and four months after starting my public coming-out phase, I'm coming to see the truth of that wisdom.

I am at a point where the struggles of work, finances, and coming out have me literally in "left foot, right foot" mode - just putting one foot in front of the other and trying to walk on. Sometimes, that's all we can do.

I do know this - I know several men whose families initially blew up when they came out, and I have seen those families coalesce back together in new and powerful ways. And I know one man whose relationship with his ex-wife seems stronger now than it was when he was married to her. So there's plenty of variation between what extremes you think might happen and what actually might happen.

I spend so much of my life in a very digital, on/off, black/white world. But while so much of life depends on binary decisions, there's one thing that binary math can't do.

It can't do thirds.

You can take a piece of paper, and try to divide 1 by 3, and it comes out an infinite series of .3333333...to as many decimals as you please. But then the human mind and hands can take that same piece of paper and fold it precisely like a letter in thirds with no difficulty at all.

It may become easy to see your decision to come out to your wife as a a yes/no, black/white, win/lose decision. I'd just like to suggest that it's nothing of the kind. That's been my experience, anyway.

My prayer will be for patience, for endurance, and the willingness to think twice befor speaking (or acting) once.

Anonymous said...

Joe, I came across your site about a month ago, and much of what you write about your struggle resonates with me. (I think it was CS Lewis who said that we read to know we're not alone -- well, I read blogs like yours to know I'm not alone. Thank you.)

More to the point: I think it took immense courage and inner strength for you to lay all the cards out on the table with your wife. I believe that God brought you along that bumpy, crooked road to the truth about yourself and His love for you. I will pray that He will touch your wife's heart in the same way and that He will lead her to be at peace.

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