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.