Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Stagnant or Resting

I worry that I am stagnating. 

This is not an unreasonable fear.  I have moved very slowly through the process of coming out into a place where I know I cannot be married.  To put it another way - I know I am not moving too fast.  So the question about the few weeks is:  Am I stagnating or just resting?

My knee jerk reaction is that I am stagnating.

I've noticed a tendency over the years.  I will often be hard on myself when there is no cause to be.  And I will often cut myself a break when I need a boot in the ass.

In this case I think it is the former.  I am poking around looking at living arrangements.  I am helping take care of the kids and C.  I am doing what I need to take care of myself - I am back on meds for depression at least for the next bit.  I am trying to take care of things at work - but am VERY distracted. Perhaps most importantly I've done some heavy lifting.  I've told C that we can no longer be married - a couple of years ago I would have bet I would never be able to do that.

I am in other words doing the things I need to do.  At this point I am coasting or resting in order to recuperate from the recent heavy lifting and to prepare for even more heavy lifting.

Truth be told - I am looking forward to being able to just be.

Onward and upward.

 


Monday, October 14, 2013

Doing vs. Being

I've been a little caught up in how things are going to look when C and I part ways.  What will I do?  Where will I live?  What does this mean for me when I am older?  Lest you think I'm completely self-centered I worry about this for C too, but naturally spend more time on myself.

I don't know the answer to any of these questions.  The questions scare me; that I don't have a clue as to the answers scares me.

It dawned on me as I began my acupuncture appointment that I am not asking the right questions.  Now these questions are important - I need to live somewhere.  I need to know what my relationships will look like, etc.  But they are not at the crux of the issue.  They are not the reason I started down this path.

I need to integrate who and what I am into my life.  I need to be gay in a way that is authentic to my lived experience.  For me that does not include, very unfortunately and disappointingly, being married.  So the questions I need to ask don't revolve around whether I'll live next to C, across town or in P-town.  Instead they are what does it mean to be gay.  What will it be like to be able to be gay, to be authentic.  How will it feel not to be lying to yourself.

The being and the doing both have to be addressed and integrated.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Guilt

I work with a Jewish guy.  Over the course of the 18 months or so that I've been working where I currently work we've gotten to be friends.  I've told him more than once that our mothers must be sisters.  Mine is a good Irish Catholic woman and his is a good Jewish woman - both in many ways wonderful, but also very good at throwing guilt. 

Even though that I have long ago walked away from Catholicism I still am a guilt-catcher - if there is guilt in the air I get it, even if no one is throwing it in my direction.  It seems to be in the DNA - my son can do much the same.  We're working on it with him.

Right now I am not quite paralyzed by, but certainly affected by guilt.  C is, of course, in a good bit of pain.  Her marriage of 27 years is coming to an end.  And I've been a good husband to her and for her.  Not perfect, but we've been good with and for each other.

My reaction the seeing the pain is to feel guilty.  The guilt and not wanting to see C in pain lead me to wondering if we can somehow stay together.  C's pain would be alleviated as would my guilt.  A couple of things came together in the past half day or so.  The first is that I realized last night that C will be okay.  This is big and painful.  But in the end it will not destroy her.  My guilt and shame over the past few years blew all that up to be significantly out of proportion with reality.

The second thing is a re-re-realization that I cannot stay together sanely.  And thus separation is better for C and better for the kids as well as myself.  I cannot be if we are together.

Both were confirmed by C this morning.  Last night she had texted saying she was sad.  I feel responsible for that sadness - she is not throwing guilt; she is letting me know what is going on.  C noted this morning that her feelings were all over the map.  That at times it was all overwhelming and at times she thinks we can do this.  I noted that I feel responsible for her pain.  She noted that in my action there is no reason for this feeling.  She is right.  The responsibility and guilt I feel is misplaced; it is inappropriate to the situation. 

Guilt is a wasted emotion.

In my case here guilt has and could lead to staying married and continuing on the cycle of depression I've been on. 

I have a friend, who I think would be shocked and dismayed to know I'm gay, who likes to say guilt is a wasted emotion.  He is right.  If I have done something wrong, it needs to be rectified; I need to do something to change it, to make it right.  Guilt may be helpful in initiating that process, but that is about it.  In my experience it quickly gets in the way.  If I didn't do anything wrong, then guilt is inappropriate.  It may indicate something in me or something in someone else, but it is not an appropriate emotion.

Goals
  1. Breathe
  2. Remember guilt is a wasted emotion
  3. Remember C will be ok - you are not the be all and end all
  4. Remember the cycle - avoid repetition of it

Thursday, October 3, 2013

New Life

Life is amazing.  It seems to be able to survive all sorts of difficulty.  I've always been amazed to see life sprout through the cracks that we people put in the way - sidewalks, walls.  A little dirt, a little rain, a little sun and something is growing. 

I've been under that concrete sidewalk for so long.  I've seen the light for quite a while now.  But I haven't always moved toward the light.  Indeed, sometimes I've been repelled by it.  However, now I feel the breeze and I can feel the rain.  I have begun to sprout through to new life.  What a long strange trip it has been.

Now I know that the struggle is not over.  Parts of the next months will be excruciating.  Life can be painful, sometimes unfairly so.  But I am squarely on the path in a way that I don't think I ever have been before.

The goals for today are:

  • Keep breathing - I notice that this is easier now
  • Keep my gay contacts going - have coffee tomorrow night with a friend; call another today.
  • Keep letting C know where I am/how I'm feeling while treating her with kindness and compassion.  In other words proceed with mindfulness.
  • Try to focus better at work.  Today has been better so far.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The times they are a changin

October 1st.

C and I both bailed on work this morning.  Last night was a rough one.  More tears.  More pain.

I feel the guilt of being gay and causing harm to my family, but it is different now.  I know the guilt is false, unhelpful, and counterproductive.  I do not stay there overly long.

I do feel the pain.  I see the pain in C.   And I anticipate the pain that I will see in the eyes of the kids.

But we are committed to continuing to move forward.  Therapy yesterday was rough, but we know we need to have a plan.  C knows for certain that I cannot live with something like the status quo.  And we are committed to doing this as well as possible for ourselves and the kids. 

All the options we are considering include different living situations for each of us. 

When I can pause and put the pain aside, real hope starts to seep in.  As C has noted I haven't always been that fun to be around for the past 4-6 years as I dealt (or didn't) with being gay and married over the past bit.  I've been miserable and it has shown in my interactions with others including the kids. 

The hope is that now that I can simply be who I am I can settle in to a new life, a different life that is more integrated.  It is not a life that will exclude C or especially not the kids, but it is a life where I am.  Where I am able to just be.  Where I am able to be whole and authentic.  Where I do not have to hide.

That gives me hope.  The nice thing is even in the pain of all this I see that hope starting to come to fruition.


Friday, September 27, 2013

Progress?

Wow.  I feel both lighter and heavier today.

On Monday at couples therapy I was able to indicate, while crying like Niagara Falls, that the marriage cannot go on as it is.

This is the big one I've been avoiding and fearing for a while.

The world did not come to an end.  While I knew it would not intellectually, I still did emotionally have concern about that.

C is okay.  She's only lashed out once - and was correct in her assessment that our move to the Midwest from the east was a mistake.  At least it was in the sense of the gay thing.  She then apologized.  I do not think I would be doing as well as she is.  Her poise and strength here make it all that much harder.

I know there will be tough times going forward - but we have the chance to do this well.

Goals for the day:

1.  Show up - be available for C
2.  Breathe
3.  Keep taking the psych meds - yep I'm back on anti-depressants for the past few days.


Monday, September 16, 2013

Overwhelmed

It's been a long time since I've been paralyzed by all of this.  I'm not sure why I am paralyzed now or why it's been a while.  I suspect both are because I am on the brink of something different.  I have decided that I cannot sanely be married and gay.  I can't be not-gay.  I've tried that; it doesn't work.  Therefore, I cannot be married to a woman.

Then the waves crash in.

They threaten to overwhelm.

I was feeling the wave today - and it was not pretty.  I was anxious enough to find a place at work to curl up in.  Reading email was too much - everyone wants a part of me - there are too many things to do and setting priorities was overwhelming.

In looking for a picture of a tidal wave - which is what I felt I was in the midst of - I found this picture.  I may have used it before.  It is not a tidal wave, but a huge wave on the open sea. 

It puts it in perspective oddly enough for me.  Peoples of the sea, including some of my ancestors in Lough Foyle and the cold North Atlantic, have for millennia survived inundation.  That realization has helped.

I too can survive the wave.  I will get wet; I may get battered around.  But I will survive.  And a newer feeling - I want to survive.  Shades of Gloria Gaynor and I Will Survive.  Damn I really am gay.

    



Friday, September 13, 2013

Sadness

I've been thinking about sadness.  I've been feeling it quite a bit too.

Yesterday in my individual therapy appointment it came up.  I am just plain sad about where I am.  That includes that it looks like the marriage with C is over.

When I fully consider that - when I can hold and really look at that the sadness can seem overwhelming.  Or I fear that it can be.  But the more I really look at it the more I realize the size of the sadness.  It is large, but not gigantic.  It demands attention and accommodation, but it  does not have to overwhelm me.  I can let it, but I no longer have to allow that.

I find it odd that I hadn't realized that before.  That some of my reticence in moving forward is fear of the feelings of sadness and grief that it will engender in me.  That the sadness is of course real.  And that it too shall pass.

I found it odd when I looked for an image of sadness that there wasn't a lot out there.  Or rather there wasn't a lot out there that was really about sadness.  Many of the images were stylized.   Do we avoid grief that much?  I certainly have.

Today I am sad.  Today I know it will not last for every.  Today I will feel my sadness and not let it overwhelm me.  That is amazing progress. 

Today I will continue to move forward through the sadness and grief. 

Tomorrow I will be okay.  Today I am okay.

Breathe.  (which is becoming a mantra, and rightfully so)






Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A week?

Has it really been a week since I posted?  Time does fly.

Work has slowed down from the insanity that was August.  I'm still working too much - a 13 hour day yesterday, 10 hour day tomorrow and another 12-13 hour day tomorrow although some of that day will be fun.

We had our introductory couples session last Friday.  I survived.  I still feel stressed around harming C in couples therapy in what is likely an overblown way.

The therapist already has pushed for me to get on meds.  Since I have no health insurance this isn't likely to happen any time soon.  She noted that this is hard work and the depression could return.  She is undoubtedly correct. 

Things I learned. 

  1. I still can check out very quickly - that is just go away mentally.  Although I did it less than I have in the past.
  2. The fear of being overwhelmed by all this is still very real.
  3. The therapist agrees that there is no good solution; our job is to do the best we can with what we have - it was good to hear that from someone else.
  4. Most troubling - C has outed me to my mother.
I'm not really sure what to make of #4 yet.  Knowing my mother she pushed and prodded C to know what was going on.  I really don't know what to make of this bit of information.  I am a little surprised I am not angrier.

Well - tomorrow is my individual and this Saturday is couples session #2.

Question to consider now is when do I say what.  And how do I say it.  Do I want to leave the door open for other conversations.

And the worry around work.  C and I have been out twice for work meetings in the past week.  We are known as a couple that works well together and we do.  What are the repercussions at work.  Is it time to start looking again. 

Damn this sucks on so many levels.

Can't go over it.
Can't go under it.
Can't go around it.
Got to go through it.

 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Holding my breath

I've been holding my breath a lot recently - both literally and figuratively.

And the depression and thoughts of self harm are raising their lovely heads.  Today was overwhelming at least 3-4 times.

It's that damn fear of the unknown.  Friday is the first couples therapy in a long time.  While I wasn't happy it got moved forward a couple of weeks at first,  I am glad now.  Another couple of weeks of this would be no fun.

Breathe, breathe, breathe. 

It does help to slow down and just breathe deeply fully aware of that breath. 

It does not help that I am burnt at work.  I've taken maybe a day or too off in 18 months isn't a good plan.

Plan for the next few days:

Breathe
Breathe again
Make a plan to go visit my mother
Make a plan to take a detour to visit a gay friend who lives near by
Breathe

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Hot August Blues

August has been a month.  It has been on of the busiest at work in ways that are utterly beyond my control.  I haven't had the time to read other blogs much let alone post here.  But the work is over and is done reasonably well.

On the personal side things are sort of plugging along.  No real tension.  C notices that I am "doing
better."  And I am.  The depression is substantially gone.  Attitude about life and myself is better.  There is hope for the future, but at the same time new fears are cropping up.

They are I think related to the couples therapy. 

I had an appointment set up for mid-September.  I was working up the gumption to chat with C about it.  I avoid talking with her about us in large part because I know where we're heading or at least I think we do.  Even here it's almost too much to say separation or divorce.  Before I did tell her I got a text from the therapist (not the best means of communication in my opinion) asking that we move the appointment up.  I don't answer.  The next day she calls and I honestly say I haven't said anything largely because I am avoiding it.

Yesterday I got all the ducks in a row.  I told C about the appointment.  I got coverage at work since the appointment is at 5pm. 

The appointment is next week.

I spent a bit of the morning worrying about the kids' reactions.  In particular, if they would have anything to do with me.  No, it's not a fear that is likely to come to pass.  And if it does there is not a lot I can do about it except being the best father I can.

That is some of the rub - this sort of thing kicks up old stuff.  I remember the day my parents sat us down to say they were divorcing.  I placed 100% of the blame on my father.  A good part was indeed on him as an active alcoholic who was  never home and was not a good provider.  I don't think he ever paid much if any of his child support.  But I digress.

My reaction was to walk out of the house.  I'd walked maybe 3/4 of a mile when my father caught up.  My response when he tried to talk to me was a quick, "Fuck you."  I'm sure he went off to get drunk.  I went off to get high.  The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

That is my fear with my kids - that their response will be rejection.  And it may be.  And it will likely be hurt and pain.  But I will continue to show up as I have.  And that is the difference that makes a difference.  It is what I did not experience.

And I remember the alternative - it has almost become a mantra.  For the past 6 years to the extent I have tried to suppress, repress, sublimate, divert . . . being a gay man and living in honesty as a gay man I become depressed and suicidal.  It's then that I won't show up for the kids.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Couples Therapy

I knew when I started down the road towards therapy a few months back that I wasn't going to like a lot of the work that would result.  I was afraid of the work.  I don't like it when people are upset with me - typical child of an alcoholic stuff.  Ah, yet another tale of woe - not really or at least not anymore.
At any rate this morning I got a call back from one of the couples therapists I had contacted.  We set up an appointment.  Now I have to bring C into that loop.  As I was thinking about this quick blog post I googled "Couples Therapy" for images.  One of the images that came up was the one here.  It made me laugh out loud literally. 

Laughing is good.  Thought I would share.

The road for the next little bit will be a tough one.  Laughing at the unexpected and the difficult will help.  Laughing at myself will be essential.



Goals:

1. Keep breathing (still).
2. Keep moving forward - the only way through is forward.

The Joy of Text

I don't like texting all that much.  I find the little snippets to be not all that helpful.  The conversations I've had while texting have never been that enlightening.  It is great for a grocery list, however. But so is a sheet of paper. 

So yesterday I get a text out of the blue from a guy I'd been chatting with - he'd been sort of mentoring me further out of the closet until he moved with his partner out of state.  To be fair I knew this was likely too happen.  He wanted to know how I was.  We texted a bit - he gave me a recommendation for a couples therapist that I've already called.  That alone shows great progress - I no longer feel caught in the middle of a quagmire - the edges perhaps, but not the middle.

Then I got into an briefer texting context with another gay guy I know.  He was reaching out for himself, but then checked up on me.

It felt wonderfully hopeful to be the object of care and concern.  

Then it dawned on me.  Here I am carrying on two simultaneous conversations via text.  Perhaps my problem isn't the medium for the conversation, but the conversation.  Or rather that this was an out conversation.  Both men know I am gay.  I was not hiding; I was not letting someone assume I'm straight. 

I just was.

I just was happy.

Or as Geoffrey wrote yesterday - I gave myself permission - to be happy, to just be.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

MBTI

At the suggestion of my therapist I took the Myers Briggs today.  I am an INFP - I assume this test will confirm that.  I also hate these tests - probably because of my p-ness.  Yes pun intended.  The goal is try to get more insight into me.




But perhaps some of the insight came with question 75 asking how in fact I behave:


 
  
75.
  
When making a decision, is it more important to you to
  

  
  
weigh the facts, or
  
  
consider people’s feelings and opinions?


 The answer for me is crystal clear - I do consider people's feelings over weighing the facts.  And that dear friends might explain why I've been stuck so long.   Not only do I consider other people's feelings, I can get in there, feel them for other people and then modify what I do based on what I think someone else might feel.  Talk about prior restraint!!   I bind myself up in a knot over that one.

That insight is helpful.  I can't change the valences, but I can recognize the weakness, the foibles to which I am prone.  And then to work to overcome them.  For me here considering other's feelings is still a good thing, part of who I am.  But when I do so to the detriment of myself, there is no benefit to either me or the people who I am trying to protect - it becomes a lose-lose situation. 

Today that's not okay.



Friday, August 16, 2013

The End - The Doors

So, I am trying to figure out what to blog at this point and The Doors song "The End" comes to mind.

It's interesting how much of this journey I've related to music over the years. 

In therapy today I talked about getting a couple's therapist.  My object, my chief object, my only real object for doing that is to unwind slowly (but not too slowly), safely and respectfully from C.  As she said the other day - our relationship has changed a lot in the past little bit - last few months.

As I said a while back before restarting therapy here, I was trepidatious about beginning thinking I knew that once I got on the road this is where the road would lead.  

Well I have arrived - one arm swung high and the other on my hip.

Goals for the week:

Call the various therapists we spoke about in therapy today.
Determine which ones have significant LGBT experience - preferably experience with mixed orientation marriages.
Find out about their fee structures
Next Thursday talk with S (therapist) about what I've found out - ask how/if I should let this new therapist know my intention
Present C with 2-3 to chat with.

Keep breathing!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Slow Movement is better than No Movement?

It is obvious, to me at least, that I've done a great job a moving intentionally and slowly.  So good a job that at times there seems to be no movement whatsoever.   For me at least the last post was freeing.  It explained to myself some of the reason.  I do find it interesting and amazing the lengths we go to not be who we are/feel what we feel.  Or rather I should say I am amazed at my capacity.  All those terms that were so hard to understand when I first encountered them (projection, transference) now make sense.

But anyway C and I went out to dinner today once I got home from work.  On the way we talk about therapy.  I tell her S is looking to get a therapist who will do couples.  C tells me she does not need one for her stuff - true for the most part - but that couples is needed since our "relationship has changed so much recently."   C then recounts that our oldest has asked her to stop making jokes about divorce.  You may recall I think the oldest has an inkling.  It seems C has been making jokes of that sort at least around the kiddos.  I'm not sure whether the oldest is protecting the oldest or the siblings. 

So it seems there is some passive sort of movement.  I will have to keep a push on in therapy to move towards couples.  I want to avoid that, but know it's time to forge ahead.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Faith

So this is a combination post - one that I worked on a ways back and a reaction to today's therapy.

Faith is a funny thing.  The quote at least some have heard is that "faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see."  More to the point here though is that - "fear is the absence of faith."

On its face that doesn't make a lot of sense.  I want assurance of things that I can't see - that are unseeable?   Really? And there are some things, many things of which it is rational to be afraid where faith just doesn't play in.

That is indeed a tall order.  I'm not so sure about faith as we usually use the term, but I know that I am on the left side of the pictured cliff.  I cannot see/predict/know the road ahead.  I do not know if it is a good road, the right road or the best road.  I'm sounding like Thomas Merton or Robert Frost with my road talk.  


But I do know that I am at the cliff where I have been before.  I know that I don't want to leap.  I know that I am shutting down again - sex of any sort is not attractive which is never a good sign. I know I don't want to go forward and that there is no healthy alternative.  There is a darker steeper cliff on the other side.   

So I've hemmed and hawed for years.  I've procrastinated.  I've avoided.  But I keep coming back to the same cliff.  

The choices are always the same.   Stay where I am - married, gay, monogamous.  Or make the fucking jump.  

If I jump I might fall. 

If I don't I will just continue to shut down.  

But then there is the fear. That's where today's therapy session comes in.  Much of my hesitancy has been about not wanting to harm (not just hurt, but harm) C.  I have blown up the amount of pain and suffering I will cause.  I've known this for a bit.  I don't think that this will be easy, but I've made it like Climbing Mt. Everest while dribbling a basketball.  I've set the bar so high that the pain I will cause to C - interestingly not to the kids is so much that it has cause me to freeze.

This fear, exaggerated fear of harming C seemed to be at the crux of things.

Then the words - "Could you be projecting this onto C?"  That did hit home, as did a number of things today.  The fear is my fear that I will be harmed in this.  That two or three years from now I'll go WTF did I do.  That feels like the source.  I know this won't be a cake walk for either of us, but my leaving will not shatter C's very existence.  In some ways I worry it will mine.  And indeed it will - it will shatter the perception that I am straight.

A side note - I know things hit me in therapy when I want to just plain cry.  That happened here.

But today I realized something else - that I can learn as much from the joy.  The therapist, S I'll call her, asked  how would it feel if C just said, "I want out; I want a divorce"  after I discussed some difficulties between C and myself over last weekend.  My response, the feeling I got caught me off guard.  

I was elated at the thought. 

Perhaps it's time to have faith. 

Faith that the elation is real. 
Faith that I am projecting this feeling of potential harm onto C.  

Faith that I can trust my feelings and who I am.

Faith that I will grieve.  Grieve the loss of what I thought I was and the relationship I had.  And that I will survive that grief.  That I will thrive after that grief.



Thursday, August 8, 2013

But you're depressed . . .

Ah the words everyone wants to hear in therapy.

Depression sucks.  It robs a lot of life, makes every decision, every interaction that much more difficult.  It's like clamming - walking through the water at low tide through the mud that sucks at your feet trying to steal
your shoes.  Or even your legs.

So, recently in the Neverending Story of my angst over what to do, what to be, how to integrate being gay and married I mention in therapy that there is at least a part of me that wants to be able to just integrate the fact that I'm gay and leave it there.  Then the bomb, the realization again.  The response I hear reflected back is "but you're depressed."

Again, realizing that just integrating the knowledge, even though I have done it to a large extent, is not sufficient.  If all I do is integrate the knowledge I inevitably return to deep depression.

Later in the week I had someone give me advice I do not like - I should write about it.  Write down what I believe to be true and what I think I know about my relationship with C and what I think I need or want.


So I've been avoiding that for most of the week.  I am afraid of what I will find out - both afraid that it will be clear that I should stay and afraid that I should not!!  Self-centered fear is indeed at the root of a lot of the issue - realizing this makes me realize that I really need to do that writing.  I'll do that in a moment, but first today.


So work is blowing up - nothing to do with this or me, just a bunch of middle school behavior from the people we serve.  We - did I mention before that C works with me.  Actually, in the hierarchy that's there I'm above her.  Anyway, today is a tough one and C is out of joint because she is the target of some of the middle school behavior.  I have to talk her down a couple of times.  The stress of all this gets to her too.  The odd thing is that after a 12 hour day that included a lot of direct support and interaction with C I feel better than I have in a while.


So the list:


What I (think I) know
  • I love C and the kids.
  • I am a better person for having met her almost 30 years ago now
  • I cannot envision myself her in the medium term (2-3 years)
  • Every time I decide that I can stay for the long term I get dangerously depressed.
  • My life feels like a lie.  I do not feel authentic.  Some, but not all of this might be relieved if I came out to more people.  
  • I am suppressing sexuality altogether as a coping mechanism
  • When I am hanging out in a gay friendly atmosphere where the majority or totality of people are gay I feel at home in a way I never have before.
  • I don't trust the veracity to my feelings
What I believe
  •  That I cannot make the marriage work
  • That I should be able to make the marriage work
  • That an open marriage would not work for C
  • That an open marriage would not work for me
  • All to often that just dying would make it all better (hence the - "but you're depressed")
  • That various people have an agenda - e.g., the guy who suggested this list is married and gay and seems to be able to do both
  • That there are some people who can be married and gay both in open and closed marriages.
I will edit the list as I go on.  Time for bed - August is an insanely busy month; I need my beauty sleep.


Monday, July 29, 2013

Two posts in limbo

Okay, so I began a post today at work and when saving it saw I had another draft from the other day.  Interestingly they say much the same thing.

Here is the first:

Options are, we think, a good thing.  One of my lives was a philosophy graduate student.  One of the discussions I remember clearly was over options.  The claim was that having options, even ones that one does not utilize, is a good thing.  So if one lives in a major city, e.g., NYC or Washington, DC, the large number of museums is a good thing, adds something to one's life even if unvisited.

The claim wasn't that it was good for the society as a whole, but that it was for the individual.  A sort of freedom - I can do A, B, C, . . . Z.  I only have time for 3 things, but that I can do 23 other things is still a positive thing even though 20 of those things are left on the table, indeed even if they MUST be left on the table.

I beg to differ.  At the time, I agreed even though the "good" of being able to do something when one will not in fact do it seems diminishingly small.  Here with being gay and married extra choices are not a good thing.  So on Monday I chatted for an hour or so with a guy who is gay, is married, is likely to remain married, is monogamous and asexual with his wife and says he is happy about it.

This presents another option - C and I remain together and chaste as "brother and sister" - shades of my Catholic upbringing.

Sarcasm aside, there is something to be said for this option.  C and I are generally good with and for each other.  We raise the kids well together, generally get along, and enjoy each other's company.  If I were too choose this option then I would not have to break C's heart.  I don't mean to overstate, but that is what I feel I will do.  Not that I am all that, but I have a distorted sense of all of this.  I think I exaggerate my efficacy to reuse that lovely word.

But while this seems a good option, experience speaks otherwise.  Multiple options are not always a good thing. 


And here is the second draft from earlier today:

Faith is a funny thing.  The quote at least some have heard is that "faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see."  

On its face that doesn't make a lot of sense.  I want assurance of things that I can't see - that are unseeable?

Really?  

That is indeed a tall order.  I'm not so sure about faith as we usually use the term, but I know that I am on the left side of the pictured cliff.  I cannot see/predict/know the road ahead.  I do not know if it is a good road, the right road or the best road.  I'm sounding like Thomas Merton or Robert Frost with my road talk here.  But I do know that I am at the cliff where I have been before.  I know that I don't want to leap.  I know that I am shutting down again - sex of any sort is not attractive which is never a good sign. I'm distracted at work and elsewhere.  The spice of life is fading.  I know I don't want to go forward and that there is no healthy alternative.  There is a darker steeper cliff on the other side.   
So I've hemmed and hawed for years.  I've procrastinated.  I've avoided.  But I keep coming back to the same cliff.  

The choices are always the same.   Stay where I am - married, gay, monogamous.  Or make the fucking jump.  

If I jump I might fall. 

If I don't I will just continue to shut down. 

There is only one truly viable option.

I know that when I find avenues to be gay, to be who I am, that I am content.  I am happy, joyous and free.  I got to hang around with a dozen or so gay guys tonight - chatting, joking around, sharing, no sex.  I felt whole.  I was not shut down.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Seeing penises everywhere


So I'm driving back to work from the gym  wending my way through some streets I don't usually travel because the main street is blocked.

And there is is - a neon sign that looks like a guy wearing a hat with an enormous hard on directly in front of me.

I couldn't resist sharing - so to speak.

Any thought I'm not gay is gone - I see penises everywhere.  Hell the thought I might not be gay is long gone. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Joy of . . . Anxiety

Hell of a day.  My therapist has been on vacation.  I've not seen her since before the 4th of July.  Over two weeks.  At around 9 this I started to feel


And as only anxiety can it started to cycle.  As the minutes passed it got worse.  I was able to suck it up and get a few things done at work.  I'm continually amazed that I am able to get anything done when this happens.

On my way to therapy around noon the



grew worse.  I gave the one fingered salute to at least 3-4 drivers - all justifiably of course!!  But one does not do that in this neck of the woods. 

I was barely able to get up to her office.

I've not seen my therapist for a couple weeks, and I'm still recovering from a concussion.  And C has been back east with the kids since last week.  So anxiety is understandable.

The source - the only antecedent I was able to figure out was therapy or, rather, the fear of going.  Just in the two weeks I was able to put away, to pretend, to not talk to a person.  Sure I've done a half dozen blog post since the last therapy session, but therapy is the only place where I am able to look another person in the eyes and say, "It sucks, but I have to leave my marriage for my own sanity."  Sure you all know that, but I can't know you're paying attention; I can't know you're listening; I can't look you in the eyes and see that you don't see something, someone horrific.  One of the revelations of therapy today or, perhaps, a re-revelation is that I have a butt load of internalized homophobia.  I don't fear/hate/despise that anyone else is not straight, but I sure hate/despise/fear that I am.  It's gotten better over the last few years, but it does rear it's ugly head when I realize I am leaving C.

But saying in therapy is a good thing.  Well not really, but is is helpful and necessary.  For the first time in a long time I cried in therapy.  I've come very close many times recently, but was able to show it more today. 

I am back on track as a result.

Of course, it was exhausting.  I left therapy and went to the men's room and cried.  I went out to eat for lunch and read How to be Gay  by David Halperin.  I'm not that far into the book, but like what I see so far.  I realized on the way home from work a few minutes ago the message I've gotten out of the book - fuck them all.  I am who I am.  I am the sort of gay man I am.  All you all can shove your expectations that I'm straight, that I should not like twinks, that I shouldn't like other bears, that what the fuck ever.  Ah that felt good.  Now no one is really putting much of that on me other than myself, but it still feels as if it is coming externally.

Today realize:

  1. I'm gay.  That's a good thing, albeit inconvenient since I'm married to a woman.
  2. That I will live with integrity in a manner that makes sense to me and mine (and fuck your expectations).
  3. That I have to move in the next few weeks to coming out to the kids.  They will continue to love me even though I fear they won't.
  4. That I have to then move to talking with C.  That this is necessary.  That it sucks and breaks my heart.  But I cannot return to the place where the anxiety and depression and suicidality return like they began to earlier.
  5. That I need to continue to make gay contacts and that meetings seem to be a good place to do that right now. 
  6. And most importantly I realize as I reread the post before publishing it - find another person I can look in the eye and say I have to leave my marriage and that hurts like hell.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Manhunt

I got the most appropriate email on Manhunt the other day.  I know, shocking!! 

The email was simple - "So what are you looking for man?"  Okay, I know, the email wasn't all that appropriate if your mind is on sex only - which was probably the case here.

But it made me think - what am I looking for.  I've been on Manhunt, Grindr and CL a bit more than usual recently.  I've also been emailing/chatting via them more than usual.  There's one guy in particular that I've traded several emails with - another married guy.  Am I looking to hook up? 

The answer is complicated - yes I am and no I am not.  If you will, I want to want to hook up.  I want to have that freedom and ability.  I want to jump ahead 12 months in the process.  Or rather I want to set up the process sot that it jumps ahead by my actions.  I don't want to have the "hey honey we have to separate/divorce" conversation with C.  But the "hey honey I'm seeing Joe who I met on MH or CL" would be an even tougher conversation.

My choice is to then avoid m2m sex until things are settled with C or to hook up on the DL.  I'm not sure I could survive the DL long.  Hell once I finally figured out I was gay I had to tell C in less than a month in part because I couldn't lie.  

Goal:

Therapy on Thursday - discuss just this to help me figure out "what I want man".
Keep authenticity in all areas.
(And still check out the eye candy online)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

I am (no longer) alone

I used to think I was alone; that there was no one out there who was the same as me.  I was different than everyone else; there was something fundamentally wrong about me. 

The result of that sort of thinking was isolation - isolation in a closet first imposed by society and then later of my own making.  I was successful in accepting and developing a closet.  So much so that I thought that there was no closet.  This was life, it sucked.  The theology of my youth was typically Catholic - life is a valley of tears, don't expect to be happy or even content. 

That sort of thinking is so very damaging to my psyche.  It corrodes everything it touches and it touches every part of my being.  The inevitable result is depression and despair.

I am not alone.  Today alone two blogs I read touched on this.  Michael-in-Norfolk describes his stay in the closet here.  It is mine as well.  There were enough signs over the years that I was gay that it should have been obvious.  I listed some of them in a previous post.  The one that sums it up best for me is the second.  I vividly remember crossing the street with a friend when I was 19 or 20.  My friend said, "Hey did you see those girls checking us out."  I did not.  I did not notice.  Girls were not and never had been on my radar screen.  I know they should be, but they weren't.  My rationalization - I wasn't like my friend who would, as we said rather uncharitably, fuck a snake.  I was morally superior to him. 

I had to be morally superior.  The alternative was that I was gay.  My logic then continued - Since I am not gay (self-evident, fundamental, irrefutable premise), there must be some reason that I did not notice the girls and want to get in their pants.  If I am morally superior to Mark (the friend), then this offers an explanation.  Therefore, I am morally superior to Mark.  Twisted, backwards logic - arguing from the desired conclusion that I am not, cannot be, must not be gay.

Yet, I always knew that there was something more and different than that.  Before I came out to myself I avoided thinking of this incident (and yet thought of it regularly) because there was the feeling in the back of my head that something wasn't "right" about my reaction, that I should have at least noticed the girls.  

Then I realize years later that I am gay.  What to do?  Why, I have the perfect solution -  I should just stay the course and pretend it is not the case.  I can be gay, but not do gay so to speak.  After all I have a wife and children, life should be grand. 

Cameron reminds me here that that is bullshit.  My staying in a self imposed closet is no better than the closet I was in for years when I didn't know/acknowledge that I am gay.  Indeed, the self-imposed closet is worse since now I know what the problem is.  My solution when I try to stay in this closet is much like Cameron's man #1 who says, "I'd die and make it look like an accident before I'd do this [come out] to my family." I nearly tried that.  I had the road picked out - very dangerous cliffs, 150-200 feet into a river.  If I had an "accident" especially in a work vehicle, the problem would be solved.  I wouldn't have to "do this" to my family; I wouldn't have to live with the pain; and they would be provided for. 

That is the insanity of the closet.  I am not alone in that either.

But more importantly, I am not alone in finding a solution - acceptance that I am a gay man.  That being a gay man is, for me at least, incompatible with being married to a woman.  Sure that sucks, but life really is not a valley of tears.  It is a path that leads through joy, through grief, through suffering, through contentment.  My job is to act with integrity, to be authentic, to be who I am.  When I do that.  When I accept who I am and am in the presence of others gay men who do the same, I then feel whole in a way that I have never felt before with the exception of holding and caring for my children.  When I accept who and what I am it is like coming home, except that I never had a home before.  But now I do.  And I am not alone.

 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Efficacious Rambles

I love the word "efficacy" and its adjective "efficacious."  No particular reason - I just like the sound.  Well perhaps I'm a bit of a snob in that I can can use them in a sentence.  Like "Anti-depressants are efficacious because they have an effect that affects my affect.  

For the past few days at work I did not demonstrate efficacy.  I have hardly done anything work wise.  But my affect was good.

Yet, the days were far from a total loss.  On Thursday, I spent 2 hours at lunch with our assistant pastor and came out to her.  The congregation is thinking of coming out publicly in support of full membership for LGBT folks.  In practice, it has done this for years; it currently has out and partnered LGBT people in leadership positions.

It's interesting that when I googled for images of efficacy or efficacious I got many religious symbols - Jesus, people praying over people, the Buddha.  Some of my discussion was about the efficacy or rather inefficacy of prayer.

But I digress.  I think that part of the reason that I haven't gotten a lot done recently is that I am spending a lot of mental energy on coming out.  First it was whether and if so how I should come out to the assistant pastor.  Then it was reflecting on that.  C and the kids are away - so I spent a good bit of Friday thinking about going to a gay AA meeting.  It is continually amazing to me how much time and energy I spend on this.  And then I remember how much energy I must have spent all those years of being a total closet case - as opposed to the partial closet case I am now.

The difference now versus past times is marked however.  Instead of agonizing about it and then not taking action I followed through.  The results were typical - the pastor was supportive, I felt more real after the conversation, more genuine.  Dare I say more authentic.  The meeting was good.  I knew a handful of folks from the "mostly gay" meeting I regularly go to.  This too was a coming out for those who didn't know I was gay.  The result - a warm welcome.

This business of coming out is hard work.  It seems insurmountable at times.  But then I remember and reflect on the alternative.  It really does get better.  It really is so much better.


Monday, July 8, 2013

Trapped

I spent some of the weekend feeling trapped.  It's been a while since I've felt it that strongly.   By trapped I don't mean the sort lost in a maze in the picture directly below.  Here one might be trapped, but there is plenty of space in which to move around.  There might even be alternative paths to explore ; there might even be hope of a way out down one of those paths. 

Most days this is how I feel - trapped in a maze out of which I have to find a safe path. Most of the time I believe there is such a safe path, that I have found it and that I have begun to walk it - gingerly at times, but still walking.

But over the weekend I felt a different kind of trapped - the sort of trapped I felt when I first came out to myself and C.  I felt a suffocating hopelessness. Perhaps this was related to our recent anniversary, perhaps not.

This sort of helplessness is pictured below.  In it there is no person who can be identified.  The person has lost his or her identity.  Indeed, one can't tell if the person is male or female.  There is no hope here.  There is no way out.  One is trapped like an animal.


Fortunately, the moment was fleeting.  I am not trapped like an animal.  There is a solution to the maze.  I am working on the solution.

But it was interesting to reflect how a few years ago I felt trapped in that second, more oppressive, manner most of the time.  More importantly, I need to remember that this second sort of trapped can return at a moments notice.  It begins to recur when I put myself back in the closet and close the door pretending that being gay doesn't exist or I can just white knuckle it - hang on, know I'm gay, but not act on it.  Perhaps there are others who can successfully use these tactics, although I doubt it can work for anyone in the long run.  When I remember this I am better able to stay the course.  Even when the path I am on seems difficult, it is obvious that it is better than the alternative.

Goals
1. Still have to reconnect.
2. Still have to communicate more with C
3. Keep remembering that the closet is for clothes, not for people
4.  Come out to another person this week




Saturday, July 6, 2013

Wedding Anniversary

My 27th wedding anniversary just passed. I should say our wedding anniversary just passed. 

No, the picture is not of the cake we had.

C pointed out that for the past few years we haven't done anything, even exchanging cards.  Yes, that included the 25th anniversary.  But this year I went out and got a couple of presents - a pair of earrings and a piece of artwork for her work.   Fortunately, one of the kiddos dropped a "I know what daddy got for your anniversary" so she wasn't flat footed.  I've been thinking all day about the whys and if I sending mixed messages.

First the why.  Mainly I think the why this year is that I feel good and feel good about our future.  Not our future together, but our future.  That is a shift.  I also value C and our relationship.  She knows me better than anyone else.  And despite my occasional whining she has been there for me over the years and through coming out.  We have grown up together and helped each other through some tough times. 

Am I sending mixed messages?  Undoubtedly.  Part of the reason is that I am ambivalent about separating.  I still do not think it is a good idea.  It is, however, the best idea.  Really, it is the only idea that seems to have promise of working in the long run.  Part of it is that I do truly value C as I noted above.  And part of it is that I still just haven't told her my intentions.  Nor is this the time to do that. 

I suppose the next thing to do in therapy, God help me, is to explore just that.  Between the therapist taking next week off and C going to visit family for 10 days it will be a bit before I am able to let C know what is going on in my head. 

So, added to the list from last time is:

4.  Talk to therapist about when is a good time to let C know that the marriage is over.  (Note, it took several corrections to remove all words of hesitancy like "let C know I think that marriage is over.) 

I don't think I can make it to 28.  That fills me with sadness and dread (mostly at telling her) as well as hope and even some joy.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

100th Blog entry

This is my hundredth blog entry.  The blogosphere is a wonderful place.  Thanks to the poster who put this on her blog a couple of years ago.  Perfect for the 4th of July.  (Happy belated Canada Day to  Buddy Bear and other gorgeous men to the north. )  I started blogging in April 2009 - about 50 months ago.  So on average pretty pathetic - 2 posts a month.  Of course that includes 2010 when I didn't post at all and 2012 when I posted once.  Those odd years will get you every time.

Buddy Bear has me a somewhat concerned about the long term viability of using Blogger.  See his post on backing up on WordPress. We'll see how that all develops - especially if folks start disappearing from blogger. 

I am in a reflective sort of mood recently.  As I reflect over the last 99 posts I realize what a contribution the blogs have made to me on my journey.  It has been an opportunity to pause and reflect.  Writing something down, especially when others can see it, causes me to pause and reflect on what I am saying and meaning.  Blogging has caused me to be more reflective and intentional.  At times to get feedback from men who have walked the same path.  Most importantly, blogging helps me remember - remember the insanity (and ineffectiveness of suppression), remember the pain and the fear and the "overwhelmedness."  I can forget pain so very easily.  Looking back helps me remember where I've been and why I don't want to return there.

But walking through that pain is the only thing that has worked.  A few months ago when I restarted therapy the therapist had me take a depression test - I scored about a 37 if I recall correctly.  I think I downplayed at least a few responses - my real score might have been higher.   She was immediately concerned.  She would check in each week to see how I was doing self-harm and suicide wise.  She'd contract with me to make sure I'd be okay until the next week.  She began to talk of meds.

I took the test the other day.  I scored an 8.  I am normal.  Well, almost :).

The only thing I can attribute this change to is walking through.  Walking through the fear, anguish, and pain.  I'm not trying to be melodramatic, but the pain and anguish are real.  My experience is that the longer it festers, the more intense it gets - think of aged cheese.  But it truly is a festering, a creation of pain that does not have to be as intense as it is.  That is, some of the pain has been caused by my reluctance to face it.  However the speed at which I have moved is both something over which I now have no control and has been good/healthy in the long run.

6 years ago and then 4 years ago when I came out to C I wondered if I should leave simply because I thought I would leave anyway in the end.  At this point I respect the process.  I didn't bail; I didn't run away and hide.  I tried and proved to myself and, I think, C that this is a lot more difficult than I thought.  Buddy Bear thanks for the encouragement in my last post.  I still will push back and say that the situation is not fair.  So what?  I was never guaranteed that life would be fair.  In fact, in so very many ways it is not.  Fighting that is like fighting a rip current or where I grew up a riptide. As one is moving quickly out to sea, the temptation is to try to swim directly to shore.  After all the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.  The results of the seemingly rational choice is exhaustion and death.  Rather the truly rational choice is counter-intuitive; one swims just a little to the side.  And thus escapes. 

Life is not fair.  Being married and gay is not fair.  Okay - but what do I do about that.  Today I choose to swim to the side and stop trying to do the impossible.  I choose to make a path that is as best as it can be for those I love, but cannot and will not choose one that leads to my destruction.

Goals for the next couple of weeks (therapist is on vacation):
1.  Coast - Stay Calm and Carry On.
2.  Keep some communication going with C.
3.  Reconnect with a friend locally and have some fun while C and the kiddos are visiting family.