Tuesday, April 6, 2010

"Too much for anyone..."

Another former spouse of a gay man wrote me today. She said this:
I didn't know I could hurt that bad and not die from it

I was reminded of the song by Paul McCartney, "Too Much Rain," which was the first song I bought on Itunes, and I still remember how I felt as I lived the pain I had to deal with.

Often I find it difficult to write, and to distance myself from the emotional intensity that has been my life. I don't want to ignore it, and I surely can't honestly say I'm past it all. I'm not. On the other hand, when I reflect, I know there are ways that I've moved on, moved forward, and that I'm now different, or, in a different place, than I was at certain points along the way.

Where my journals used to show the constant drain of hurt, now I honestly write about some other things than being alone, not knowing what I was going to do, and wondering why, why why this happened to me.

You may ask, "What changes have you made that helped?"

First, I had a good counselor - and that was after trying 3, but the fourth was a good one!

Second - I faced the reality that I couldn't live with having a gay husband. I WANTED things to be different, but the REALITY was that my husband was a closeted gay man. He couldn't be someone he'd tried to be, and now I knew the truth. I'd rather have the truth than continue in a falsehood.

From here the order gets blurry - but I started finding other people who were affirming, and could understand the situation that was my life. I confided in a few close friends who were non-judgmental, and looked for new friends. I visited churches that were and are affirming, where I could look around and see role models of loving relationships. I talked to the minister, who was understanding of both Ray and myself. He was supportive and kind, and it felt good to hear this support from a non-judging Christian minister.

One very difficult part was holding up my head and knowing that I had nothing to be ashamed of. I was fairly well-known in my community, as was Ray. In spite of this, I had to go grocery shopping, go to local functions (like the Covered Bridge Festival, or the Hamilton Twp. Hog Roast) where I knew others were watching me. I put on my best smile, and I went anyway. It hasn't been easy, but like they say, "one day at a time..."

I rediscovered some of my favorite things, like sewing. I've made several quilts, sewn clothing for my granddaughters, and given away hand-made gifts. I realized how much I enjoy putting together the textures and colors of so many fabrics, and I get a lot of pleasure from the finished products. I filled up a whole room (emptied of kids and a husband) to gather ALL my sewing equipment and supplies, and turned it into a sewing room! That's something I always meant to do, and now it's done!

Some things I didn't want to change, like staying in my own home. For as long as I could, I delayed and avoided any too-quick-decisions. Because of a vacation home that we owned, I tried spending time there, away from the community I knew best. However, I missed my kids, my hometown, and my long-time friends. Because of all those reasons and more (especially financial) I made the decision to offer that home for sale, a difficult decision.

As many things as I could, I maintained the same. One thing that was in my best interest was that I keep up with Ray's website. I kept on with product orders and delivery, e-mails, licensing, and office necessities. This meant I had to dedicate space and time to doing a job where I was relatively anonymous, something that is not like me at all. I've always lived openly, without any disguise.

Last fall I went back to teaching, even if it was only substituting for a few days a week. (My degree was in Special Ed., 1977, yet I've worked in business since then.) Now I'm pursuing a job that will be more regular - timewise and for budgeting!

And through everything, each day I had to deal with my faith: What did I still believe? What changes had occurred? And...where do I fit in at church? All these things were broken down and had to be reframed, if not re-built. It's been a process, but I still believe that God has a plan/purpose for what I've experienced.

So these days, since it's been 5 whole years (!) I can say to this fellow spouse, "I know where you've been, but things will get better." It may happen suddenly, or it may take years. For me, connecting with others helps TREMENDOUSLY, and since I'm a social person, I love hearing from others.

Summing it all up, here are my suggestions. Do things that are for yourself, in your best interests, and hold your head up. Support others. Don't stay closeted! Be supportive of others! And cry all you damn well please!

Here's Paul McCartney's song, "Too much rain."

Laugh when your eyes are burning...
Smile when your heart is filled with pain.


Anonymous said...

Carol, I marvel at your journey. I have a similar, yet different story, as a Christian coming out of my lesbian closet. You have been such an encouragement to me, whether via this blog or your amazing interview on GCN. Thank you for sharing your heart so authentically and for loving others so thoroughly. You are a wonder!

Jenny wren's nest said...

Carol, I love you, and think you are so brave to post you thoughts and feelings, I cant imagine how it would feel to be in your shoes.

I love to sew also, I just wish I knew how to make things fit when I'm done.

Anonymous said...

1. Good counselor -- check. And she's a wonderful Christian woman who understand that my husband didn't choose to be gay.

2. I couldn't live with having a gay husband -- ditto. Especially when that gay husband had been cheating on me for the past 4 years, often bringing men into our home and having sex in the marital bed. I know he had no choice about being gay. But he had a big choice about being unfaithful and promiscuous.

3. Finding an affirming, supportive church -- check. I have a WONDERFUL church filled with people who accept our gay music minister and his partner, the gay men who sing in the choir, the woman I just learned found herself in my same situation a few years ago and with just a look can let me know she understands what I'm going through.

I didn't know I could hurt that bad and not die from it. Neither did I, and 14 months after discovering my husband is gay, it still hurts so bad, especially since he initially told me he wouldn't fight me in divorce court and would make things right, and now he's doing just the opposite.

One thing I've never done is ride the guilt train. I did nothing to deserve this. I do ask "Why me?" sometimes and hope that maybe I can use this experience to help others.

But because my husband insisted I sign a non disclosure clause at mediation (and then later reneged on the settlement), I'm in limbo and have to stay closeted right along with him. And that just plain sucks! I don't want to ruin him, but it would be nice to be able to discuss the situation with my grown children and correct some of the misinformation their father has sent in their direction.

I look to you, Carol, as an example of a woman living her faith, not always an easy task, but a task you feel honor bound to do. I just hope I can be half the woman you are.

Blessings to you.

Carol said...

To anonymous 11:12 and 10:10, and to Jenny Wren - I don't deserve the wonder or appreciation you share, but I DO feel a ton of love from your comments you leave, and I humbly say, "thank you."

Anonymous 10:10 - I'm so glad you share bits and pieces of your story here. I know you are going to emerge from this...strangeness that you didn't ever expect in your life. You are welcome to say whatever you want to, as long as it helps you. (If you want, you can make up a name and sign at the end of your posts, so that readers can distinguish your anonymous posts from others.) I'm so glad for your input!