Wednesday, August 3, 2011

You have nothing to fear but fear itself

FDR said "You have nothing to fear, but fear itself."  Cecil echos that when he asks, rhetorically, "Why do I fear the answer."  That is, why do I fear the choices I need to make about staying with C or not - and that I think the answer is I have to go. 

Interestingly, when I acknowledge that I have to go I can be more present to and with C and the kids - we're just home from a county fair and had a fabulous time.  Even more oddly when I acknowledge I should go I feel like I can stay.  My thought is that this is because I am finally comfortable knowing where and what I am and then I think - Hey I could live like this.  Then the cycle begins.

But back to the point at hand - what do I fear in leaving C.

Cecil is undoubtedly right - I fear the unknown.  I am one of those boring guys who will at least sometimes (not always anymore) choose a mediocre meal at a chain restaurant than try something new.  The unknown is scary - not knowing what to expect.  I don't think that the world will hate me fortunately, but I do know that coming out at work would not be a good idea and coming out to the people we went to the fair with tonight would be disastrous.  My kids would be upset if/when C and I did not live together because that would mean they did not live with both of us.  But they would not, I believe, reject me.

But the fear of the unknown is only the tip of the iceberg.  I also fear hurting/harming C and the kids.  Some of that is undoubtedly excessive pride, but a lot is real.  C and I grew up together in a real way.  We have been together for over half our lives.  I remember her younger siblings when they were younger than our youngest. Our separation/divorce will harm the kids - divorce always does.  It does not have to be devastating, but it is not a walk in the park either.

I fear the end of a vital relationship - some of that is above in length of relationship.  But I will also miss C.  She knows me FAR better than anyone else.  I trust her more than anyone else.  I fear losing her.  And her Cecil is right - I fear the unknown.  I haven't dated in a long time.  And I didn't do that a lot or very well.  Will I end up a lonely old guy.  And back to C - will she end up lonely.  The answer here is easy - no - not if we maintain the people we are.  Both of us are the sort who are good friends. 

I fear the financial consequences of separating.  They are real for both of us.  We nonprofit guys are far from overpaid - at least this one is.

So Cecil was right - the unknown is at the center of most of the fears; he's righter than I first thought he was.  The fear of hurting others is real and not an unknown.  But I know that doing what I am doing now is harmful.  There is stress and tension in the house and in our lives that is not spoken and named for the kids - just, "Dad is having a tough time."  What an understatement, but "Dad was seriously thinking of killing himself" would be too much.

To carry on with  quotes from WWII figures - "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."  Winston Churchill

And that is really the place to turn here.  The fear is real and not unrealistic, at least not entirely so.  The road is not an easy one.  But regardless of where it leads I can work to see the opportunity in every difficulty.  It is when I see the difficulty in every opportunity that I get stuck.

The difficulty is in being a gay man married to a woman.  The opportunities I see there:
  1. I am alive and well.  David is not.  He was the guy I explored with in the 1970's.  We parted ways.  I went into the closest as the AIDS crisis began.  David died "after a short illness" ten years ago.  His parents would not say more than that.
  2. I have three wonderful children.  I am not the same person I would have been with out them. 
  3. C - I value and appreciate the time we have had.
  4. I have the opportunity to have a redo - to relive adolescence.  It wasn't so good the first time!!  I was looking out at it through the doors of a closet.  
  5. I am not the man I was when I married.  I have grown up; I am stronger; I can now face that greatest fear.  "Honey, I think I might be gay." 


  1. There are also consequences which might occur if you continue on with the status quo.

    - you might worry that you are denying your children the chance to live in households (two) which are completely happy, free of underlying tension and stress.

    -you might worry about living out the rest of your lives where you or your wife are NOT given the opportunity to be truly connected, sexually, physically and emotionally to someone you truly love.

    I'm not trying to advocate for one path or another; I'm just pointing out there are costs and "fears" regardless of which choice you make.

  2. I'm having big trouble accepting that my marriage is irreparably broken. I think you are too. The reason I say this is because if you KNOW and ACCEPT that what you have will never work, then you only have one choice. You have to jump into the unknown no matter how afraid you are. (I suppose you could delay the inevitable for as long as you like, but I'm not sure how that would be doing anyone any favors.)

    On the other hand, if you're not sure if you can make your marriage work, then you have every reason to delay until you are certain.

    So...if you want to get yourself (and C) out of this hellish purgatory, I suggest that you focus on finding a definitive answer for the two of you. Focusing on your fears is akin to putting the cart before the horse.

    I can't remember if you two are in or have tried therapy? It seems to me that if you're both forced to talk about your issues, you'll be able to come to a conclusion about your futures much sooner than you otherwise would.

  3. Jim - you are going through what a lot of us are going through and there is no good answer. We are married to our best friends and have a terrific family - but we have strong needs that are not satisfied. But we can see the good points on both sides and it comes out a wash - just can't seem to decide which path would be best. So the way I now see it is that I am going to try to have it both ways - stay married but be allowed to have guy friends to satisfy that other need. My wife has known of my bi/gay-ness for 5+ years and now knows I have recently begun acting out on it. She said she would try to accept it but that it would be hard. She has even gotten over her anger. We are muddling through this so far (sort of a DADT mode now)- and I dont know if it will work in the long run. All I know is that I feel so much better now knowing who I am and actually being able to act on it. My constant simmering depression has disappeared. The blogs and my therapist were critical in helping me understand this. On top of this I understand my wife better too and we actually are getting along better than the last 2 decades together. So I would not give up on your wife accepting this - and both of you talking to a good therapist about this could be very helpful. Finally since my wife knows quite a bit now I do not feel so dishonest with her - it is now a fact of my life and our marriage - and I will not go back to suppressing it- and my wife knows that. So I hope you and the others can reach some sort of conclusion or at least a steady state that you can live with and be reasonably happy. (And perhaps 'reasonably' should be emphasized).

    Take care
    Tom from Cleveland

  4. Thanks guys. I think Tom hits it on the nose with "there is no good answer." My job is to figure out the best answer.