Thursday, June 5, 2014

Ceteris Paribus - all else being equal

C and I  talked with the kids Friday last.  I began in such a way that the kids were pretty relieved that I wasn't going to die of cancer soon.  C's dad is sick and I had my stroke so it's not all that far-fetched.  To be clear I did come out to them and told them that there were welcome to tell whomever they pleased, but that with some friends there could be repercussions - not on the parts of the friends necessarily, but on the part of the parents.  It is clear to us in subsequent conversations with the kids that they do understand the gravity of what is/will be happening. 

The advice we got from just about everyone was off in significant ways.  Tears and confusion followed.  We left time for questions and there weren't many.  We left time over the weekend and there were not a lot of questions.  Their world was not rocked.  One of the kids in conversation with C both hoped that she would be able to have another relationship and that it never occurred to her how difficult divorce is for the parents.

I'm not sure what we've done to raise kids with so much maturity - actually I do have a few suspicions.  But I am certainly not complaining.

That leaves me with the bittersweet task of finding a place to stay.  We've bounced a lot of things off of each other - right now the thinking is that I'll get a two bedroom apartment so the kids can be over 2-3 times per week.  I'll pop over at least once per week for a meal we'll all eat together.  The kids have requested that I should be close by.

At this point two emotions are competing with each other.  One is guilt.  The other is a combination of anticipation and peace.   I feel a peace in a way that I have not in quite a long time.  I know there will almost certainly be things that are very difficult with the kids going forward.  But since the kids seem reasonably unharmed by my revelations I can look to the next stages.  The peace and anticipation come in when I look forward to who and what I can be.

- - - - -

So after a couple of days of writing the above I feel on a roller coaster again.  The change I'll undergo in the next few months is profound.  I don't like change much; I never have.  Generally, it causes me to freeze up.  Which is what I've done albeit briefly.  I don't want, I cannot, live in the pain of yesterday for any period of time.  C noted that a lot of the pain on her part has already passed.  Yes I know and she knows that the next bit will be tough. 

That (freezing up) is not something I can afford to do.  If I do that nothing will change.  And nothing changes until I do.  If I don't change, the circumstances around me will not change.  And that will be harmful to C, the kids and to me.  It is time to again write goals down for the coming week so I can hold myself accountable. 

Most of all I want to be accountable for moving through the pain.  I noted that C has moved through some of hers.  I have been less able to do that.  I've been holding on, trying to maintain the status quo. 

I've worked hard for things to be otherwise.  But they are not.

I've tried to maintain the relationship with C and we have done well.  Ask folks who know us about our kids.  But I cannot maintain it as it currently exists.

All other things being equal we have a wonderful relationship.  But things aren't equal.  Things cannot be equal.  There is that one pesky independent variable floating around.  I'm gay. 

It is time to change, to be the change I wish to see, to honor who I am.  More importantly, it is time to go to bed so I can play hooky tomorrow to take two of the kids out. 


  1. Jim, I'm glad that your conversation with the kids went reasonably well and that C says her pain has mostly passed. Those are both major, positive milestones on your journey.

    I didn't quite understand what you meant by, "The advice we got from just about everyone was off in significant ways." Tears and confusion followed by mature acceptance seems to cover both bad and good reactions. Maybe that's what you meant?

    As for change...just last night, as you were typing this, I was attending my men's group and we were talking about the fear of change. Some guys in the group are exactly where you are. For those who had already taken the plunge, the consensus was universal: change isn't particularly easy, nor is it free of hurt and disappointment, but overall, the fear of change is far more damaging and worse than the change itself. Even men who'd been rejected by their children agreed with that sentiment.

    One observation about change I've made is that fast changes are the most risky ones. What I mean is, some people need time to adjust to big news before they're mentally and emotionally ready to progress to the next step. When changes happen quickly, the slow-adjusters are the people who get stuck. They feel hurt and often become resentful. Sometimes, people don't even know they need time to adjust. They're in shock, they don't realize it, and they just agree to everything that's happening because they literally don't know what else to do. Figuring out all those dynamics in your family (in any family) is not easy, especially in real-time. In retrospect a lot of guys will say, "I should have done X," or, "I should have waited to do Y," etc, etc. It's easy to look back and know those things but much more difficult at the time.

    Perhaps the only realistic way to get a handle on where everyone is, is to have one-on-one conversations with everyone on a weekly basis. That at least gives their buried emotions a chance to come to the surface and be addressed. Also, when it comes to talking to the kids, I'd suggest that you individually talk to them about how they'd like the family to adjust now that you've been honest with them. What they say could be very revealing, and could give you key information when it comes to making the best decisions for your family's future. By making them feel included in the process, there's a much greater chance they'll be (relatively) happy with the result.

  2. Congratulations! That was a huge step that you took!

    In the experience of my family (when I came out to them over three years ago), your kids will quickly discover that it is better living in two relatively happier households than one fraught with tension and unhappiness.