Saturday, April 25, 2009

Three Days Later

Three days - fells like three months. The wife's reaction is amazingly compassionate. Mine is more mixed - loathing, fear, anger. On the one hand, I want to jump ahead 5 years. On the other, I know there is no way over but through.

In a way we are closer than we have been in a very long time. The closet was a barrier that was pushing us apart. We are able to talk a lot more candidly, or at least I am, than I have been able/willing to in years.

I think I mentioned the Pink Floyd song Comfortably Numb above. Numb sums it up very nicely, but it is anything but comfortable.

I've cried each day; talking with the wife is difficult at times. At others it is life saving. Thank you God we can laugh. We laugh at the situation more than daily.

Her goal is to keep us married. I want not to hurt her or the kids with every fiber of my being. As I've told her there is no one waiting in the wings. But I don't know if I can commit to continuing. I can for today and even next month. But I cannot at this point commit for ever. I said so today - a pall fell.

This still sucks.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Out we go

Well I did go to the men's group. There were about 10 of us or so from 30-something to 60-something. Not being alone was helpful. Saying "I'm gay" to more people than Roy was a good thing. Still surreal, but good.

Not a whole lot else came out of the meeting. But I am beginning to realize how numb I am and how deeply that numbness goes.

After the meeting I came home - the wife and kids were home. Back to normal, but not.

The wife suspects something is up and tells me we have to talk. I dodge and weave and feel the blood pressure go up.

Last night we went shopping. Still getting the comments that she knows something is wrong. We get home, get the kids to bed and watch a little TV.

We go to bed at 10ish. It's the first time I've gone to bed at the same time as she has in a long time. I have been determined to tell her today what is going on and have avoided several opportunities to do so. I turn of the lights, she begins to make a pass at me and I stop her. I tell her that it's time we did talk and cannot say anything else - the words don't come.

Then they do. Tears. Fears. Guilt. Tears. All rolled into one. She is bizarrely understanding - it fills in some gaps for her as well. We tell a few bad jokes and laugh. Then cry. We talk, hold each other until midnight. Then get up to watch TV. I have no idea what was on.

Telling her that I am gay is the hardest thing I have ever done bar none.

I tell her that I do not know what this means for us or where we will be going. She is my best friend and I am hers. She thought that that was gone.

At one point she quips that she hopes tomorrow she'll wake up and I'll say April Fools. More tears, a lot of tears on my part. I wish the same - for all of this to just go away.

Sleep - probably the best sleep I've had in a while.

Wake up and things seem "normal". We talk; she's been up looking for answers. She's talked to a close friend of hers who low and behold is in the same boat unbeknownst to us.

I go to work - maybe I can be productive. Fat chance. Go to the bookstore and get The Other Side of the Closet and a book by Mel White - his autobiography.

The wife calls while I am at the gym and doesn't sound good. We talk an hour or so later. "I feel like I'm losing you," she says. More tears, now more on her part than mine. We promise to listen to and be sensitive to each other. And that if the conversation gets too much or too little that we can let the other know.

We have no idea where this is going, where it will take us. This sucks.

(Haven't edited and won't - it is less raw than I feel)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Old story continued

So Roy and I meet. I tell him the story about how I thought I would have to tell him what a nut I am, but that when I saw him the closet door opened. Again. Maybe a little wider this time.

My chat with him is anti-climatic in one sense. He is not much help - it is outside of his experience and I appreciate that he doesn't try to BS his way through. In another way it is productive - I realize Roy is cute.

I leave unsatisfied and not knowing where to go/what to do.

Back in the closet we go.

This time it's a lot shorter.

This time I try a different track. In searching the LGBT Center in a nearby city I see a group that is for married men who are gay/bi/questioning and decide to give it a try. One has to contact the facilitator first and I do.

He emails back their guidelines - sensible ones - confidentiality (my biggest worry at this point - I use a bogus email and name in this first email), no picking up, don't come drunk . . . He suggests I call him.

I do. We chat. I decide to go (next meeting is soon).

I tell him the story thus far - the fear, confusion, desire not to hurt the family - not to fuck it up. Two things stand out - he is speaking from experience, that helps. He points out the obvious and easy to forget - confusion is normal in this situation, everything is for now, i.e., there is no reason to make long term decisions. Indeed there is every reason not to make them at this point.

I emphasize to him (and therefore to myself) that hiding in a closet so deep that I don't see who I am is not helpful in the long term. Sure maybe it served some purpose when I was 8 or 9, but not now.

I feel both heavier and lighter.

That's the short story and brings me to the present.

Yesterday I got out of work late. The wife and the kids are away at her father and step-mother's. I naturally begin to search the internet for someone to go and be, perhaps to look (but not touch :-) ). On the way I stop at a bookstore to look through the gay and lesbian section. There's a book with a lot of Tom of Finland in it (so to speak). It all but jumps off the shelf.

Instead I pick up a book by Mel White - the gay minister who used to work for Jerry Falwell. It's autobiographical - the forward is by his ex-wife. In paging through I laugh and want to cry. The pain, confusion, sadness and desire to not be where he was is all to familiar. He talks about getting that tingly feeling when he sees a cute guy.

On reflection I realize I do not remember that feeling but twice - once with that husband of my wife's friend where I feel like a giggly school girl and another time at a Dunkin' Donuts where the cashier is so very cute - to young but cute and I am convinced that he noticed me notice him.

Anger then comes. I have been robbed of this by the Falwells of the world who create an atmosphere where being gay is reviled and indeed by my own complicity in keeping myself in the closet. While I am no where as desperate, I can understand the story in White's book of a young man who White is convinced is gay. Some time after they meet the young man disappears. Later the young man's father comes to White bawling. The son, Jeffrey is in a mental hospital. He castrated himself.

I understand the desire to be normal at all costs. To be like the other boys. Instead, I realize I like other boys ;-). I all but cry in the bookstore - good Irish Catholic boys don't cry ever.

After the bookstore I look for the night spot that caters to gays and lesbians - I'm not sure if I'll stop or not. I don't, but because I can't find it rather than out of choice. Here in the sticks gay bars aren't open on Tuesdays I guess!!

Going home I'm teary and angry. I've been robbed, I've robbed the wife, I've been fundamentally dishonest about everything; my life itself is fundamentally dishonest. I think of the fact that I love my wife, but never remember the giggly, sweaty palm sort of feeling. Rather it was safe; it was secure. At some level was I saying to the world hey - I'm not gay I have a wife. I know a bit dramatic and overstated, but there is part of me that buys it or at least fears it it true

Much of today I am simply numb - remember that Pink Floyd song on the Wall - Comfortably Numb - I thought I caught a fleeting glimpse, but then it was gone (or something like that). That's how I've lived life - Comfortably Numb - I have had a few glimpses, but chose in some sense of the term, of something, but chose numbness (the closet) rather.

Focus now on going to the Men's Group. I have to lie to go and have already set the lie up. That sucks. But right now that's what I am holding on to. I don't expect answers quickly, but do hope for them.

The facilitator of the group mentioned patience as well - I am fucking tired of being patient.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

How it all began . . .

How this particular journey began . . .

About 3 years ago now I had a sudden realization. Out of the blue it came to me that I'm gay.

Just like that. Now it was 3 years ago so the details are hazy. But as I remember it came like a bolt of lightening.

Sure I had had a diddling experience when I was a very young kid - 10 or 11 or so. Nothing serious or long lasting. Then nothing. Perhaps that's a bit of the problem.

I remember being 19 or 20 and crossing the street with a friend. He noticed two very attractive young ladies checking us out. Me - I noticed that his head turned around so quickly that he should have had whiplash. It's not that I noticed men either. I noticed no one. Never had a girl friend through high school. Two dates. One of which was to the prom - I was asked. Smoking dope every day before school numbs the mind a bit. One relationship with a woman before my wife - initiated by that person. The sex was not very good.

Then 20+ years ago met my wife while attending a Roman Catholic seminary - that haven of closeted men. I knew some who were obviously gay and in the closet and thought, proudly, that I was not. Talk about sanctimonious.

Anyway, 20 years later the flash of lightening. As I reflect it is not all that sudden. In 1995, or so I was in grad school and picked up a copy of Richard Mohr's Gay Ideas. I was particularly drawn to the Tom of Finland illustrations in the book.

No, I didn't need the book for a class, a paper, or anything else for that matter. I was liberal and wanted to display that I wasn't homophobic. But boy o boy did I find those Tom of Finland pictures fascinating. I can see them as I type this.

At that time we had our first child. Whoosh - back in the closet.

Fast forward a decade. In grad school again. WTF - that's it - grad school is the problem!!

So, a decade later is the flash.

It was around Easter then too. I remember because we were at an Easter party outside at the house of a friend of my wife. A few families were there. Then boom it happened - Frank walked in. Tall, handsome, dumb as a post, but very cute. I was in love, or lust. Nothing happened or could or would. I was infatuated with the husband of my wife's friend. Literally, I felt weak in the knees. WTF was that.

Somewhere in here I called Fr. Roy (or did I call him Ray?). I had heard of him and thought he would be a safe place. I had once attended church there with the family when we were looking for a new church. He was safe place. I pulled into his parking lot a warm spring day. Smoked another cigarette. Walking in was so tough. But I did. We sat down in his office - may have started with prayer - but remember blurting it out - I think I'm gay.

I have no idea how long we talked. At one point he asked if I wanted to explore what I was fantasizing about sexually. I recoiled like a he was getting ready to pour molten iron on my foot. There was no way that I was going to share where I wanted to go there. I do remember we ended praying in the sanctuary.

We had left it that I could contact him and that I had no plan to be unfaithful. That was and continues to be crucial. I left feeling about a million pounds lighter. Sure I was gay, but the world was not coming to and end. I did not call back. I can handle this on my own now (yeah right).

I continued to try to live a normal life and did. Then the one, two punch.

One - during sex with my wife she asked if I was gay. WTF!! Again recoil big time. I have no idea what I said. I was raised Irish Catholic while we remember faults for generations, we can ignore the elephant in the living room even if it is purple and standing on our foot. Perhaps it was that we were not having sex that often-I know I was using my imagination and was not fully present during sex.

Two - my wife was walking a friend through finding pictures on her computer. The easiest way to do that is of course to do it one your own. Thank God, she was doing this by phone. I had joined and browsing through people there, even chatted with a couple until it went right to sex. But the bastards at store pictures in a file on the computer other than the usual ones for internet files. Again, played dumb and dumber. And ditched the files. Had to ditch them at work too. None of the files were explicit, but many were clearly queer - especially the one of the cock.

Not sure which punch came first.

Some where in here the closet door slowly closed again. Slowly, gently, and firmly. Things returned to normal. Three years pass - damn this is getting to be a theme.

I get invited to a series of meetings for work that will likely include Fr. Roy even though his church is almost an hour away from my work. Whew! he's not there at the first meeting I attend. That saves me from trying to explain to him how I had been so confused. Clearly, there was something wrong, but those gay feelings were gone.

Roy is at the second meeting. He does not let on that we know each other. Swoosh - all those feelings swoop in. In think my blood pressure got to about 350/250. I was on the spot for a lot of the meeting - they had called me in to consult on a project they were trying to get going. I was able to speak and look around the room, even at Roy. Cool as a cucumber I was.

This was October/November 2008. I emailed Roy - can we meet . . .

In the beginning

Easter Sunday 2009

What a long strange trip it has been (and promises to continue to be).

I love the 'Q' in LGBTQ. Queer and questioning - that about sums it up. Questioning sanity, questioning orientation, questioning everything at this point. There are some things I know. I know I am blessed with a wonderful family. I know I am not sure where I am going or how I will get there. I know that I don't want to cause devastation to those I love. I know that writing this could cause that very devastation. Queer - odd, different, strange - sums it up too.

So - today.

Church was nice. I noticed myself looking at the men in the choir. Not terribly attractive men - at least those my age. Then I thought (hoped?) I noticed one noticing back - too young.

After church we had some family time, a wonderful meal, a movie we watched together, a walk. It was a bit chilly, so the girls turned back. My youngest and I continued on. I came to the realization that I needed to be writing, but could not think of a safe space to keep a journal.

Then the realization struck - hide it publicly. So these are my musings; if they help someone else great, but that is not the purpose. My intention is to be honest, brutally so. This is a journal after all and they say that its therapeutic. My plan is to continue as long as it is.

My goal over the next week or so is to play catch up on the story. But where I am now . . .

I'm a 40-something who has been married for 20+ years with wonderful children.

A couple of days ago I contacted a clergy person I know who is gay for advice. Fr. Ray, I'll call him - he's an Episcopal priest. I wanted input as to the efficacy of going to a group at a LGBT center's group for married men. Fr. Ray is the only person I've come out to at this point. Hell, I haven't really come out to myself at this point. Punxsutawney Phil - that's the name I should have used for the blog.

Feelings are all of the map. On that walk I took today, over and over the thought kept coming - as I walked with my youngest - "Jim don't fuck this up, don't fuck this up!" As of yet, I haven't in any sense of the word. But I want to walk. I want to be straight. I want to go back 20+ years and take that other path - not that I thought it was a choice. I want the voices to go away. I want peace. I want to be able to be out. I want to be into having sex with my wife. I want to explore beyond that. I want space.

And this, dear reader, is the space - space to reflect and be; space to say what I mean and mean what I say, even knowing that what/who I am and how I view that will change over time.