Tuesday, June 7, 2011

For better or worse

It's odd.

I think I mentioned before that my therapist mentioned a couple of years ago that I should decide whether to leave C or remain together and see what happens.  Not to do it, just to decide.  I thought she was crazy.  How can you make a decision and not act on it - you can't really know you've made a decision until you act on it.   This is shown in the following simple problem:  There are three frogs sitting on a lily pad.  One decides to jump off.  How many frogs are left?  Answer:  3.  The frog only decided to jump.
But I've come to find out that my therapist isn't crazy - a good thing I suppose.  I've observed some interesting things about myself as I've slid back and forth between deciding I can't be gay and married and I can be.  So let me detail them.  I've come to realize it's vital to separate the short and long term effects of each decision. 

Immediate consequences (first few days, perhaps even a few weeks) -

I can be married and gay.  Note that in my situation this entails monogamy with my wife - nothing on the side.  I feel immediately better when I've made this decision.  It is like a weight off of my shoulders.  I feel complete; I feel whole; I feel hopeful.  I think, "I can see myself doing this for the next few decades.  C and I are good for each other."  All of this is true.

I can't be married and gay at least if I want to be authentic to who I am.  Here I feel pressure.  the room starts to close in around me.  I feel trapped.  I have no place to go.  I think, "How could I do this to C and the kids - I'm a selfish, self-centered bastard."  On and on.

So the decision seems easy?

Longer term consequences (measured in weeks or months) - 

I can't be married and gay.  To be honest I've lived with this one the least in the long term.  The litany of how can you do this breaks in and repels me from this as a viable alternative.  I may begin to make some preliminary plans, but usually slide into at least inaction.  But it's the next one that gets me.

I can be married and gay.  Here is the rub.  Read above for I can't be married and gay.  In the long term when I have made the decision not to separate, to remain married to a woman I ever so slowly begin to feel pressure, the room starts to close around me.  I feel trapped. I have no place to go.  I think, "How can I do this?"  I become detached from my life:  from C, from the kids, from work, from everything.  I slip into depression.

At least that has been my experience.  The short term and long term consequences for the I can/cannot be gay and married flip.  For better or for worse - in the long term or the short term. 

The decision then changes.  Sure there may be a way that I can accommodate being gay and married.  But I haven't found it yet.  Nor have I found an example that I think will work for me and C either individually or collectively.  There are those who seem to be able to do it and more power to them, but not in a manner that would given the circumstances I'm in.

I've spent a good bit of the past 6 years in the I can be married and gay camp.  If I ignore it maybe it will go  away.  I have been able to put it away very successfully from influencing my life.  Or so I thought.  But the result each time was that I would become more and more detached from everything.  Shutting down tgt (the gay thing) in isolation was not possible.  Sort of like a circuit breaker - there were other things, necessary things, that were also shut down.  As soon as I reset the circuit - as soon as I realized I had to just be gay - the lights when on and the machinery started to run again.  It was scary and it has some unintended consequences. 

Where does all this leave me?  Led Zeppelin comes to mind - sorry for that - Dazed and Confused.

But the making of the decisions has shown me something.  At least at this point with the information I have in the long term trying to reconcile being gay and being monogamously married to a woman does not work.  It leads to depression and detachment.

The question then is does it have to be that way? 

Can one be authentically gay and married?  More to the point can I?

Is it a choice between depriving C and the kids of me either way - one by separation and one by shutting down?  What does my experience show here?

Damn - a week ago, hell a few days ago, I thought again it could work.  A good friend shared a poem with me:

By Portia Nelson


I walk down the street.
            There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
            I fall in
            I am lost…       I am helpless
                        It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.


I walk down the same street.
            There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
            I pretend I don’t see it.
            I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
                        But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.


I walk down the same street.
            There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
            I see it is there.
            I still fall in…      it’s a habit.
                        My eyes are open
                        I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.


I walk down the same street.
            There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
            I walk around it.


I walk down another street.

I spent decades in #1.  I came out to myself 6-7 years ago and ran and hid in the closet:  Stage #2.  Two years ago I came out to myself again and to others - vacillating between stage 2 and 3.

Perhaps I'm at Stage 3 finally.  I realize I'm in the same damn hole.  It's my fault; it's time I take responsibility and either avoid the hole or walk down another bloody street.

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