Monday, March 19, 2007

Telling Shame

This evening, in a counseling session with my wife, we talked more about how to tell our children that their parents are separating, and that their father is gay. We did not come up with a plan. It did not go well.

Details are unimportant here, but I left feeling a deep, very intense feeling of shame. I have ruined the lives of so many folk, now and in the future. I wish this would all go away.

I am way past wanting to "do myself in." This whole coming-out process has convinced me more than ever how much I want to live. But there are times (like now) I would like simply to disappear, leave the scene of the crime, vanish into never land. Just leave them all be. And leave me be, too.

And, of course, when one is living in addiction, all it takes is a little bit of shame to set things off. Oh, how I want to go and find some bear to @$*)$&%($)) with. But, that course of action only starts the cycle over, feeling more shame, spiraling downward. Maybe one day, I will be able to @$*)$&%($)). But not because I'm trying to drug the shame and make the feelings go away. Maybe when it's just me, these things won't be "so bad." But not today.
Perhaps some sense of shame will never go away. Perhaps life will just go from bad to worse to worser. But at least I have been a little honest with myself and a few others. I am gay.
I am so very sad that I didn't figure this all out a long time ago. Yes, sometimes, I wish it would go away, if only I knew how I could change into somebody else. But then, I wouldn't be me. And, even though "being me" right now doesn't seem so great, it's the only life I've got. And I want to live it. And I want the pain to ease.
I know there are some resources on-line for "telling your children." Any suggestions are welcome.

Today. Just for today. One day at a time.


Lemuel said...

I do not know about "doing all that punctuation", but I would love to be near just to hold you with a reassuring bear hug until the shame evaporated in the still night air and you breathed again as a man who had no place for shame, only for life and for love. Remember always that you have been and are ultimately loved, and you can live, love, and move into the future without shame because of that love. His unconditional love for you puts everything else in perspective and frees you for life.

Ur-spo said...

shame is an innate human instinct, so it is not possible to be rid of shame. What is possible to to exorcise the shame for which we are snoockered. In other words, things that are not shameful. such as who you are.
When I told my parents I was gay I was scared. of what? that they would reject me/not love me. it evoked shame in me -an old ingrained internalized homophobia. but I rose to the occasion and said matter of factly that this is a part of who I am. To hide is further is shame in itself.
It all went OK of course.
I hope that when you tell your kids matter of factly the simple facts, they will be accepting. I suspect they won't be surprised. Be prepared for 'well we kind of knew".

David in KC said...

There's no getting around it, times are tough now. I agree with all of your commenters that you tell your children the truth, answer what questions they may have, and assure them that this in no way changes your love for them. Children want to know the truth and, if not now, then eventually will be glad that you believe they're mature enough to handle it.

I've probably said it before - coming out to my daughter has enriched our relationship immeasurably. What we thought was intimacy has been superseded by the real thing.

Jeremiah said...

Sweetie darling...

Living in shame will only retard the rest of your life. I mean we all make choices. You made choices, so did your wife. Had you made a different choice way back when, there would be no wife and no children.

Your separation is between YOU and Your wife - your children will be your children until the day you die, there is no room for shame.

You should not be ashamed of yourself by any stretch...

Your children are the most important thing right now. Be honorable and true to yourself.

Stop beating your self up Augustine and pray for wisdom. Manage today and stay in your day tomorrow has not come yet.

Be honorable in your decisions to inform and if you have any inkling that it is too early then don't say anything until you need to.

Mommy and daddy are separating and that is between you and her. You don't need to put any new ideas of shame or that "daddy is shameful or less than into their heads," because you will fuck them up for life.

So mind your words and only inform when necessary. Your children are what is important and that you show them that you BOTH can cope with separation and be happy IN FRONT OF your children will keep them secure and free.

Please, for the love of god do not put shame into their heads, because in time they may become addicted and self abusive and possibly blame themselves, and you will perpetuate this generational PAIN and Dis-ease.

You are NOT shameful in the eyes of God because he created you.

You made a decision to marry - now you are separating, Be the Man and stand up and be proud that you are still alive. AND WELL, you could be me.

Try gratitude when you get in this piss poor me shame state.

You must be strong for your children and what they don't know right now might save them years of therapy on their end. Divorce and separation is hard on the both of you, don't lay that shit on your children's shoulders, or they may grow to resent and hate you. Do you want that to happen???

So Engage Brain before opening mouth...

The Preacher Jeremiah

A Troll At Sea said...

Toasted One:

Yes, you have to wade through the shame. The worst for me was not the shame for myself, but the shame it seemed to VISIBLY bring on my wife.

Well, that is something you just have to get through. And you know who will be there with you. All of us will be with you in spirit, but HE will be at your side, in your heart, in your suffering.

Hold onto the fact, when you wish "things could have been otherwise," that "otherwise" would mean several lives on which your heart hangs not coming into the world. You cannot wish for "otherwise." "Thiswise" is a blessing, for all the pain that visits you now.

I know that sounds trite, but I think if you hold it in your heart you will see that it is also true.

I think of all of you, often.
Persevere, Joe, persevere.


BentonQuest said...

I don't know what you are going through, but I can understand the shame. The world still tells us that being gay is bad and whether we hear it directly or absorb it for society. But society is WRONG! And until we get positive gay role models, the stereotype will continue.

I have found that by paying attention to what I felt, I was able to navigate the "Coming-Out" maze. There were just times that it felt right to tell someone and times when it did not. Try to find "natural" times to reveal and try to avoid a manufactured event. This is part of your life and who you are. What I found it the more matter-of-fact I was, the easier the process went.

Anonymous said...

They say shame is what lets us know we've done wrong, but you know, what you've 'done' wasn't a deliberate, planned act, it happened for a multitude of reasons that are the real shame. The reasons of society that still make us feel the need to hide, be ashamed of what we were born, which back us into these corners.

I know all about that feeling of wanting to just disappear. sometimes it seems to be the only way things can be dealt with. As for the shame, there comes a time to say, 'yes, I acknowledge it, some of it is mine, some is circumstance, but it's done now, time to go on'. You'll have left a whole lot of positives in your family too, and you will in the future. If you were a shit, you wouldn't even care. You do, so you are a decent man in circumstances too many find themselves in through the way things are.

I've never had to tell children, so can't help you, but I'd say don't do it with shame, do it with honesty and love.


Daniel, the Guy in the Desert said...

Shame can come from so many directions. I felt shame at one point because I thought if I truly loved my wife, she would satisfy me, and those troublesome desires would go away.
It helped me to realize that I had no control over the content of my desires, but full control over the expression of those desires.
For some reason that helped me to honor both myself and my desires.