Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Snake oil solutions

Communications with readers is an interesting task. I love to hear from many of you, and with some people I am making friends. With some others I decide to not communicate further. I try to decide what comments to allow or reject, and it is totally subjective on my part. Honest questioning is allowed. Anonymous posts are allowed. But I will not allow anonymous posts that make claims that say that change of sexual orientation is possible. There are already enough sites where ex-gays may state those hopes, and for me, I just don't think it is valid.

This week an online friend said to me:
I don't even know you and I worry about you. It seems from your blog that you are so focused on defending your ex-husband. Which is ok. But taking care of yourself is important too.

I take this seriously, because sometimes I wonder if I take too much time to write and monitor the blog, and I ask myself if I'm too involved with GLBT issues. I acknowledged to this friend that I needed to consider my focus, evaluating what I do.

I know that blogs made such a difference and HELP in my life since 4 years ago, and I feel that it's important to make the new connections that I am making. I LIKE that, and I feel it's important. It has meant a difference in going forward to make new friends, and many of those I've made online, then later, in person. When so many of my formerly close friends don't or won't understand, it has been critical to make new ones! So, I don't just defend my former husband. I'm defending MY life, validating it, and finding support with new friends.

From an anonymous writer, who has written to me several (at least 8, maybe more) times, one of his messages said this:

I entreat you to email me regarding the biology of sexual orientation. Orientation can be in some cases quite fluid and in some cases not. There is a genetic basis for this. I am ex-gay but I do not foist my opinions on my gay brothers. I cannot determine who can and who can't change with a simple glance. However, biology does indeed not preordain sexual orientation. Email me at ***************** if you want to hear more. I've changed but Ray doesn't have to.
And yes, I am happily married with a son with special needs. I cannot and will not leave the side of my wife and my child. There is too much at stake in my son's precious life.


I replied to his e-mail with this:

Hello ***** (and by this time, he had given me his name, but I've omitted it),

I have received all of your messages, and I have also decided to reject your comments that assert that gay/lesbian people can change their orientation. If it were true, that would be great, but for Ray it was not possible. I know there is nothing in the world that would have caused Ray to leave MY side, and your repeated assertions don't make it any easier.

It is my position that to tell people, most of whom cannot change their basic sexual orientation, that they can change, is to do them a disservice. If you have such information, then by all means, submit it to the medical and psychological authorities, so that they may help people.

If you left homosexual behavior and are happily married to a straight woman, then I hope that you are fully up front with her, and I would hope that she knew the truth about your sexual orientation before you married. So many straight spouses hold out hope that their loved one is not really gay, that they might be bi-sexual, or have a sexual addiction, or some other not-so-gay problem, and it causes more pain, of which you may have heard.

Maybe you think that you can solve this, but we have sought professional help. We are doing the best we can with this difficult situation. I do not see a need to seek your advice. Although you think you are being kind, this is not something we want to pursue with you.


Yes, I hear defensiveness in my reply. However, I hear from many gay/lesbian married people, saying that they truly love their spouse, but that they are not able to share the intimacy (emotional connectedness, if you will) demanded in a marriage. This is due to the fact that they are critically wired differently, and it causes intense overload to their system. It's not that they are selfish, it's that they are self-preserving. To not recognize this on my part was to cause even more harm, both to my husband, and ultimately to myself.

As much as I wanted things to be different, I could not return to something that didn't exist. I could never again believe that I was the first choice. That is very hard to accept, but it is how I feel. I still, though, refuse to throw away the good memories. And if that seems defensive on my part, so be it.

In my search for help after I found out my husband was gay, I tried to find other straight spouses. Many were very angry for how their gay spouse behaved - and they were absolutely justified in their anger. Many saw that they'd been lied to and felt deceived, and they resented it. The despair in not knowing what to do is sometimes overwhelming. A lot of us straight spouses feel terribly overwhelmed, without the words to describe the pain we are going through. These are just PARTS of the ordeal that straight spouses face. Added are the questions one has to face about faith, self-worth and value, money problems, children, legal issues, health concerns, and all the day-to-day, ongoing problems of living. And then you hope - hope - hope - that there is a solution. And you will try just about any snake-oil product on the market. And reality sets in that there is nothing you can do, nothing you can change, nothing but to accept the truth.

Along the way I have considered every possible solution. If I had turned over one in my mind, I've pursued another. And every "solution" brings me back to this reality: I know the truth. I know the truth about Ray. I know the truth that he tried everything to change. I know the truth about our life. And, yes, I will defend what I know.

I now have had over four years to deal with this, but only recently have been able to express the feelings that I've gone through. Some of the feelings and plenty of the opinions have been simmering for most of that time, and I am now finally putting forth what I've processed.

Every time someone tries to tell me that they changed, or that they know some secret way to change, it is like pushing me down some dark, basement stairs in a dream that I can't wake up from. It is like holding out candy for a baby, then taking it away. I don't want to do that to people. Not to another wife, not to another spouse.

In closing this long post I want to be perfectly clear: I will not hold out false hope for "change." I know some still want to try, and that is fine. I am not for breaking up marriages, and I still wish things were different. For couples who opt for various arrangements, those are not options for me.

Thanks for your comments and e-mails, as they mean a lot to me. (I might even post some for the heck of it!) Thanks for reading!

14 comments:

hillsideslide said...

That was great!

I am so glad that you have this blog. I'm grateful to know that there are people out here to connect with- who really understand.

It's such a relief to hear truthful messages about the struggles that the GLBT community/family/loved ones deal with- especially within the realm of "The Church."

Actual facts, personal experience... thank you for putting it out there and spreading the word.

Keep it up!

petersontoscano said...

I love you Carol! I especially appreciate your thoughtfulness in regards to these issues and even with the many comments and e-mails you receive.

In the traditionally recognized steps to coming out (see http://www.psychpage.com/learning/library/gay/comeout.html), people go through various stages. Part of the process is coming to a place where we strongly identify with being gay (I call this the rainbow stage). Everything we read, talk about, write about is, well, gay. We launch our own personal Pride Parade.

After being silent (and silenced) it's important to soak in a nice hot gay bath (um, well, metaphorically, unless...)

I don't know about the coming out process of a straight spouse like yourself, but I imagine some of the stages may apply. I wouldn't worry too much about a current over identification of gay issues (although some folks may wish you would back off). Seems you take good care of yourself, set boundaries and take on the issues you feel suited to take on. Don't forget to eat well, drink lots of liquids and laugh as much as possible.

Much love
Peterson

Carol said...

love the metaphor, Peterson! And I did laugh - out loud - right here by myself!

Anonymous said...

Carol

Thanks for featuring my post. I'm not writing for you and Ray but for others that may be reading. I was upfront with my wife before we got married. She was very supportive and still remains supportive. Although I identify my self as "straight", I do not think much about my orientation these days. I'm much more focused on my son who has low functioning autism. These children need serious healing from God. I have many gay brothers and sisters that I believe are destined for heaven. I just wanted folks to know that some people can and will change. I also want to encourage those folks that they do not need to leave spouses, and especially small children to go "be gay". These little lives are just too important.

Much Love,

Carol said...

I am going to jump in here with allowing your post, even though I don't agree with you.

To the just-posted Anonymous,

But you HAVE been writing to me, and to our website, and you HAVE been making claims that sexual orientation is changeable. You have not put forth the information that you claim, nor have you referenced your findings by website or publication, even though you insist you have this information.

I'm glad you told your wife before marriage. That is the right thing to do, so that the straight person goes into the marriage at least with knowledge. But claiming to have changed, well, to that I object. The reason I still object is that there is always that hope when you are in love with someone that your love, your prayers, your faith, your counseling, your behavior, that some of that will make a difference and CHANGE the gay person. There is the fantasy myth that, "IF I show my love, my grace, my way (etc., etc.) to this person, then I can change them." I feel that this is misleading to the straight spouse, to the young person who doesn't want to be gay, and to all of the families who refuse to accept the first person accounts of gay people that change is NOT possible. Holding that as a standard for gay people to not only live straight but to BE straight is wrong - because it hurts relationships, causes devaluation in self-worth, leads to depression and suicidal thoughts. It hurts spiritual growth and pushes folks away from God because they believe the ones in church that say,"love the sinner, hate the sin," and this is demeaning to the person.

I would never want another family to split up or divorce. Both husbands and wives have obligations to raise their children, and not to leave their spouses with no home or finances. Ultimately we are responsible for ourselves, with the help of God. But people enter into marriage with the expectation of shared obligations and responsibilities, and even when divorce happens, I feel that there should be a responsibility to continue those obligations. In many families it is imperative that they stay together, such as your situation. I hope you and your wife and your son are happy and continue to live a happy life.

Here is my point: Allow gay people to love the ones they love, with the legal protection of marriage. Do not tell people that they can change by entering into mixed-orientation marriages, especially without the knowledge of all partners. And do not give people the false hope that they can change, when most of them cannot.

And one last issue, there are many, many gay people who have learned graciously to accept themselves in spite of society's reluctance to do so. I think the straight people, even if you don't agree or understand, need to move in the same direction.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your gracious reply. I will hold you and Ray in the highest regard.

Dawn said...

After reading your post I am reminded of the praise song, -In His Time- and how he makes all things beautiful, in HIS time.

I think about that sometimes when I think I am focusing on something or another too much and realize that God has put this in my life for this time and if he should choose to move me in another direction, it will be in HIS time and not mine.

Personally, I think your openness has helped me understand that community of men and women who have gay Exes. I appreciate your honesty. Thank you!

Carol said...

Dan - are you able to reach out and be heard personally? Are you able to gather with friends who support you? I sure hope so. It's been so important to me, and I appreciate that you like it "here" in the blog-world. Write me any time.
Carol

Dan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mark said...

Carol,
Thanks for handling these issues sensitively. I echo Peterson's comments.

I'm just back home after attending the GCN conference in Anaheim where Ray performed. I appreciated his music, especially the stuff that he's written lately. One of his songs had me in tears because it tracks my own experience so closely.

Blessings on you as you share from your heart.

Mark

Anonymous said...

Carol

Thanks for being here. You are one of my heros. I am struggling and reading your blog gives me hope.

Carol said...

Anonymous - it's hard, but there is hope. What can I say except to send you a warm hug. There IS hope.

Carol

jordan said...

carol-

as a soon to be former wife of a gay man, i was struck by your friends' words regarding your involvement on glbt "issues." what i have been so convicted of this year as i have walked alongside my dear husband, is that this is a justice issue. as a woman of faith, i'm called to seek justice. so i will. it is clear this is what you too are doing.

i heard gene robinson speak recently when he came through seattle. the evening was replenishing and confirming. he directly addressed this by drawing the parallels of racism, sexism, and what he refers to as "heterosexism."

he drew on the truth that as a white individual, simply by getting up in the morning, he reaps the benefits of being caucasian in a society that has historically given an unjust degree of value to his race. by not actively participating in the undoing of racism, he perpetuates this injustice (my paraphrase). this clearly translates for me, for all of us: i am more and more aware of the privileges i am given by the mere fact that i am heterosexual-- and as a recipient of unjust privilege, there comes responsibility to seek equality, to speak truth, to advocate.

i appreciate the ways in which you continue to seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our god.

thank you.

Carol said...

Jordan, you are so right. I feel that I have to speak up for those who cannot. With all the negative things said about gay people, there is no reason that I can't speak up! Thanks for speaking up, even in what you and I know is a very difficult situation. You sound like a wonderful person, and I'm sure you have already been through a lot. Thanks for posting here.
Carol