Saturday, October 11, 2008


Pam F, a seventh-grade English teacher who blogs on our topic as "Willful Grace" [click here], seems to have been reading Jay and Anginae's blogs--or maybe I'm leaping to conclusions. But I was struck by what she had to say:

I've been reading one of those stories lately. I'll not link to it because I'm not sure they'd want more attention brought that way and they appear to have their own little blog circle of friendship formed much the way I have mine here.

Many of the circumstances of their story are different.
They've only ever been married to one another and their children belong to them together. They're not involved in any sort of therapy to try and change or manage the guy's attractions to other guys. They are both blogging about their experiences and feelings. Also, and I admire this so much, the guy came out to his wife of his own volition. He wasn't acting out sexually or forced to come clean with her because their marriage was in deep trouble. Basically, it appears to me that she is his best friend and he could no longer keep it from her, even though he apparently married her believing that it was something he could "work through" or "get past".

And that's where the stories, theirs and mine, intersect in a way that brings it all rushing back and gives me a kinship with them that runs deep, cutting to the very core of who we are as human beings... I want that couple to know that there is hope, so I'll keep checking in on them. And even though there are times as I read their story that I feel like I'm watching a train wreck in slow motion, I'm here for them. Just as so many of you have always been here for me.

That makes sense to me. I have to keep reminding myself that most of "us" do not in fact keep it in our pants--that most of "us" do not in fact consider it really cheating to see a man on the side. Now, I am not trying to say that the risk-averse or morally over-developed among us are any better as people than those who play both sides of the street at the same time; we're not, we're just "different." Yet again. But it does bring me up short to realize that most women seem to find out about their husband's "sexual ambiguity" when the rock is unexpectedly turned over and something never imagined is exposed to view. Since my motto is "all truth all the time, no matter whose feelings get hurt," my wife knew pretty much all from the beginning... but then, that's my story.

Jen over at "Kids of Queers" [click here] posted the following in the wake of the second anniversary of her father's death. She had written earlier about seeing the man her father had "been seeing" and deciding not to go say "hello," but this post reflected more reflecting on what her mother did and didn't do:

My mother periodically saw a psychiatrist. He didn't help much, though he did try: his advice was to move on. She didn't want to hear anything like that. My mother wanted my father not to be gay anymore. She wanted to wake up one morning and have it all be a bad dream. She did not want to have to make the horrible decision of making life better for herself.

She didn't want to because she couldn't even begin to think that her life could be better without my father. She couldn't imagine that she could ever find happiness with another man or alone. As far as my mother was concerned he was the man for her and she would accept him for what he was

I don't know why my mother was willing to accept her marriage the way it was. I can make all sorts of educated guesses and I would probably be right but I can't understand how she could be willing to live her life with a man who preferred to be with other men. Many other men. She was relatively young when she found out my dad was gay. Probably in her mid thirties if my math is correct. I'm in my early forties and I still think I have a lot of life left (even though my son thinks I'm over the hill). I can't imagine wasting the rest of my life with a man who would rather be with someone else.

"Willful Grace" chimed in with a comment on that:

This is just my opinion from my own experience...and in having relationships with other wives of closeted gays....but the reason your mom was willing to accept the marriage and not imagine life without your father probably had to do with her own self-esteem issues. Do you think that could be it?

Leave aside, for the moment, the fact that we all need to get out the other side of Therapeutic- Speak and start talking like humans again. [More on that later, as I'm sure you're aware...]

Me, I believe that many people marry the people they do because they love them
. Even women who marry bi men; even women who knowingly marry bi men. And the suffering that comes with the choice does not necessarily undercut their reasons for marrying.

I know marriages that have foundered on the intrusion of a third party, and in most cases it is not a queer event. Some marriages manage to survive the arrival of a "third party"; some people find a way of accommodating, of not having to have it be "all or nothing." I finally had to leave home because although I had promised not to act on what I had to name, I was told that I needed to promise 100% emotional fidelity.

I have any number of OLDER friends who can't understand why I left home at all. Admittedly, they are European and don't have the American winner-take-all view of anything, let alone marriage--but several of them asked matter-of-factly why we couldn't just work out an "arrangement." [I had another building on the same property I could have moved into and "no one" would have been any the wiser.] I had other, fully American, friends who didn't understand why Isis couldn't grant me six months or a year to find out where I wanted to be before making the ultimatum.

I don't think it was only self-serving wishful thinking that made me wish something like that had been possible. But it wasn't. Here on the ground, it was indeed "all or nothing." I had been faithful for 25 years, and I needed to find out what lay on the other side of what had once seemed such a clear-cut choice that I had never questioned what I gained from it [and yes, sometimes it is a choice]. I'm not proud of the fact that I never doubted that bargain as long we were a family, but did so as our children grew up and left home, and Isis' career seemed so much more interesting than anything I had to offer. And then it became clear that really seeing myself for what I was had changed the field. Once it became clear that I was not just a bi guy who had had a choice and made it, but someone who was in fact profoundly attracted to the very parts of gay life that had been the reason for turning my back on it, things began to shift. But I could have survived it all, if I could have just broken the silence...

Ten years on, the silence was beginning to cost too much. I had to be able to name myself for what I was; in the end, I lost everything I had valued most in my life just to be able to do so. Freedom is always dearly bought, but the worst thing was that I had to pay that price, take that leap, without the least guarantee that I could in fact find another man, that I could in fact love another man, or that I could in fact live with myself if I did. I am glad to say that the Goat has taken care of all three fears, in spades. But I had to take the leap before there was any assurance of anything but the bitter certainty of loss and inflicting untold suffering on those I loved most.

Human life is centered on suffering. We all have our crosses to carry; community helps us to bear the burden that at times seems unbearable.

But woe to those who imagine that suffering is what sets them apart, sets them up as judge and jury: suffering is what we all have in common.

Hang in there, everybody.
No matter how hard it may seem at the moment...

1 comment:

  1. Hi Troll,
    Thanks for the linkage...i think... ;)

    You're right...we all have our own experiences and have come to terms with "our topic" in our own unique ways.

    For me, the important thing is that I've grown in my ability to love others unconditionally and to accept folks for who and how they are. My ex-husband and I remain very close, but a special arrangement would never have worked for us. What we have now, our friendship and the love that goes with that, is of greater value to us than our attempt at marriage.

    Do you think I was being judgemental toward Jen's mom?? I can't really tell and I don't want to be defensive or anything...just wondering. If so, I certainly didn't intend it that way.

    Nice to "meet" you!