Thursday, October 23, 2008


As long as I am stealing from my favorites, there is this, which Chris over at "My Journey Out" [click here] posted a year or so ago, his take on the lessons learned in his first year out of the gate. You may or may not be surprised at which ones I managed and which ones I fouled up. My only excuse, of course, is that we both made the move at about the same time, so he couldn't offer his accumulated wisdom in time. I would probably not have heard it any more than I heard the harder things Isis had to say at the time...

Looking back at the past year, there were some lessons to be learned. So if you're some married guy, wife and kiddies, little house in the burbs and found yourself shagging some dude some morning at the Sheraton Airport in Des Moines thinking, "Gee, I could be gay," let me pass along these valuable tips:

1. Get help--it's tough to figure this out alone--get a therapist, my biggest recommendation! If you get a bad one, get another one. Your friends can only carry you so far, you're gonna need a professional on this mission. Ask for medication early (can't hurt).
I think I managed to do that. I'd been on medication for some time... for reasons which may or may not have anything to do with my Mid-Life Crisis. I think not, but then, who knows, really?
2. Be honest--I dribbled the truth out to my wife in the course of several weeks. Bad idea, like ripping a band-aid off. You need to do it all at once. She's gonna have questions, lots of them, and you're going to have to answer them. So plan on telling everything, to the extent possible, all at once. It's painful, but better to have the pain in a single sitting.
Ah, that was never a problem. Telling where honesty ended and brutality began was more my issue, and I don't think I did very well there... see the first three months of this blog, if you have the patience.
3. Don't use the truth as a weapon--in answering questions try and refrain from phrases like, "God he was sooo hot" or "I'd never seen a dick that big in my life". Answer your wife's questions honestly, but you don't need to give full color commentary. They're going to ask that sort of detail, they just don't really need or want to know despite what they think. Be honest, but to a point.
OK, I may have crossed the line here, but then, nothing had happened. Yet.
In the flesh, anyway.
4. Be honest with yourself--this is a hard one and if you're semi-intelligent even worse, because you're going to try and rationalize all kinds of things about yourself. Listening to yourself is damn hard. Hold the mirror up and allow yourself time to see you.
I think I managed this one. God knows I dumped enough "stuff" onto these "pages" to cover that territory. Sorry, folks; most of you weren't around then...
5. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst--my wife was great, almost supportive. Yours may not be. In disclosing this, you may find your clothes in the street and her yielding a butcher knife as you run down the street with her lawyer ringing your cell phone to drain your bank account. Think about what she may do and have a plan and a back-up plan to that.
I was lucky. Isis was generous to a fault, right up till the end. If the end got a little nasty, who can blame her? I wasn't the one being left for some vague dream of finding someone as funny, smart, and nice but with a different distribution of hair and body fat.
6. Allow yourself time--everything works out in the end, so allow yourself some time to figure things out; it's not all going to happen in a week. On the other hand, dwelling on this for years isn't productive either. Life is too short, everyone's book ends the same way, you're dead. So set a time schedule and get on with it.
I took my own sweet time. Considering that I knew what I was in 1993, and laid the cards on the table before Isis in 1997 at the latest, talked about coming out as bi with some of my further-flung gay friends in 1999, and with the more local branch of the club by 2000, it probably is not a big surprise that things got "out of hand" in 2006. The kids were gone, we weren't doing more than getting along, and I just ran out of strength to keep up the silence...
7. Your friends are still there--the friends I told my story to were all very supportive. If you give them a chance, they'll rally around you, you're going to run into the wrong sorts along this rocky path so it's best to have a few familiar faces with you.
I was lucky here, too. Once it became clear that I was going public no matter what, Isis laid down some very strict rules as to who was to be in the know and who not: it was her life I was playing with, too, along with playing with myself and with fire. I did have a couple of enormously helpful friends, who just listened. Once we decided that we could not stay together, friends came out of the woodwork to be supportive--the Bean Curd People in particular kept me alive after I had to leave home. But at that point it could only help so much--I was a walking mass of pain...
8. Alcohol isn't your friend--I didn't venture too far down this road, but I could clearly hear the Siren's song. Be careful with booze, it can make you more depressed. Illicit drugs on the other hand, I recommend you take liberally.
I might have done better with illicit drugs--some of the greener ones I've become accustomed to since moving in with an aging hippie, for instance. Alcohol did become a pretty good friend, and we became particularly close once I moved to Nowheresville. I didn't have too many alternatives...
9. Your journey will be different--I kept looking for a model, a "one size fits all." The reality, everyone is different and you're creating a custom floor plan. Be comfortable that your decisions are your own and only you need be happy with them.
I think this is the best of what Chris has to offer, and I have echoed it to various folks on various points of their paths out myself. I usually use it here to defend the couples who are still trying to make it work; the single most painful thing in all those long months of indecision were the cheerleaders on the sidelines assuring me that there was only one way for this to end. In my case they were right in the end, but they were not right until the end, and they were really not right to chime in about it before the end. Tell people to shut up. Tell them twice. Then stop listening to them. There are only two people who can possibly know where this is going...
10. Keep a sense of humor & stay fit--the antics of gay guys is truly amusing if you step back far enough, I find myself chuckling as I write this blog, it helps defuse tension and keeps things in prospective. Laugh, because life is indeed funny. On the health front, I work out 5x a week, I'm at 15% body fat, weigh what I did when I was in my mid-20's -- exercise keep the stress off me and made me feel good about myself, now is NOT the time to develop a relationship with the counter guy at Dunkin Donuts.
OK, I'm all for a sense of humor--in fact, in the worst period I lived for the times when I could laugh out loud, and was tremendously grateful to have Netflix on hand. None of the rest of the above paragraph holds true. I don't work out at all, I am probably about 95% body fat, and I weigh almost half again as much as I did in my mid-20's. The only cheerful item is that I actually lost weight in the months after I left home. Since hanging out with a former chef who loves to cook and drink and get stoned and get the munchies and start all over again, I have put on more than I lost and then some. But I never did develop a relationship with the Dunkin' Donuts guy. I guess I can say that much.
Hope this is helpful.
Chris' whole story is helpful, as was that of that other Chris who came Out at 48 [and went on at some length about how hard it was to do so at 48--that did burn me a little], and Drew, the much-missed ClosetMan. I hope all of our stories are helpful: John Michael's, Bigg's, Jay's, Jen's, Nate's, and Joe's. Even Jas'. Even mine.

Hang in there, guys.

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