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Foregiveness, the essential component

We go through a lot, we wives of homosexuals. The manipulations, the spiritual and psychological abuses… I think I’ve mentioned before that every one of the ex-wives I’ve ever spoken to or communicated with live with depression of some degree or other. Then there are the family battles, the drive to try to protect our children, or – I wonder whether this is prudent or a big mistake – even our husbands in the early days when we’re just discovering their homosexuality and geared toward “protecting” them and maybe even their families from knowing the truth…

And we carry this enormous load of sorrow and suffering and how do we survive?

The answer is simple: we forgive.

When we consider how he lied to us, we forgive.
When we consider how he mocked and ridiculed us, we forgive.
When we stand under a barage of insults, we forgive.
When we agonize in the neglect, we forgive…
When the manipulations get ugly and things we never dreamed of happen… we forgive.

Now, I want to make something VERY VERY CLEAR. Forgiveness is not shrugging our shoulders and pretending something awful didn’t happen. That’s not forgiveness – that’s unhealthy self-sacrifice. No! We can draw our line in the stand and take whatever reasonable steps are necessary to protect ourselves and our children – and in fact I am increasingly convinced we must, not only for our own sakes or for our children’s but also for his sake – so that we don’t become complicit in his self-destruction.

What we cannot do, however, is clear: we cannot, we must not, harbor bitterness, entertain thoughts of recriminations.Not toward him, not toward his mother, not toward the kids who decide he’s telling the truth and his being gay had nothing to do with the divorce…

No, Forgiveness means that we let God dispense the justice.

“Don’t Deny the Rage” — Part Three

Anger can be a powerful barometer to alert us something is Not Right in our lives, in our relationships.

It can be a powerful impetus for needed change. Anger at being abused, for instance, can motivate us to make changes to stop the abuse or to get away from it.

We have to be careful, though.  Anger, badly or recklessly heeded, can lead to some irresponsible or self-destructive choices.

Anger can be turned inward.  This is self-destructive. It’s been said for years that depression is “anger turned inward.”  It’s my personal opinion (and I’m not a psychologist) that that’s too simplistic an assessment, but there’s enough truth there for it to become an easy platitude. We punish ourselves for others’ wrongs, fault ourselves for not being able to “help” or “fix,” things that aren’t ours to begin with, and we become depressed.

I’ve seen anger lead to irresponsible and dangerous choices.  People who can’t cope turning to alcohol or drugs, for instance. Or flashes of rage and temper that cause us to hurt other people, in turn. Or a seething resentment that builds into a dishonest idea that we have a right to — get even, to get a bit of our own back, to have our needs met however dishonestly or dishonorably we have to do it.  I’ve known men and women who justified adulterous affairs by saying their spouse was “asking for it.” “I have a right to be happy” isn’t necessarily true — certainly no one has a right to be “happy” at the expense of others’ trust or if it means violating sacred principles.

I think more often anger is just a low simmering flame that reveals itself in our restlessness, an inability to find peace, an edginess in our relationships with others, punctuated by occasional yelling bouts and the like. Maybe we can’t stop replaying a conversation we had (or wish we’d had) and what we said or wish we’d said or would like to say. .     Maybe it shows up in an unaccustomed use of profanity, or door-slamming, or some other behavior that isn’t so self-destructive as alcohol abuse or the “I’ll show him!” affair — but still gives us that nagging warning that we aren’t doing so well with everything as we’d like to believe we are.

This is where we have to take ourselves in hand and be adult.  Some of these things, we can handle ourselves, and should. But there comes a time when you might just need some professional help to move beyond the rage to a place where you can start to be productive again, and to find some peace.  There’s no shame in getting help, although it can be hard to get started, especially with a stranger.  It’s worth getting through the discomfort in order to find some peace.

And life is far too short, and opportunities for joy far too infrequent, to have your life sabotaged by unresolved rage.

Still trying –

In the fall I went to a retreat for women who are married to men with same-sex attraction or sex addictions.  It was a profound experience, one of the key defining points of my life.  It was strange, and wonderful, and heartbreaking, to be in a room full of women who live with the same struggles and sorrows I experience.  So  many times, as they told their own stories, I found myself thinking, “What! You, too?” There was an unexpected universality to our experiences.

One woman spoke of how her husband cringes when she touches him. I know that cringe well. Another spoke of her anger at being deceived and lied to and blamed for what had happened in their marriage; I know that situation well, too. One spoke of how unfeminine and undesirable she had come to feel, and I wanted to cry (and, later, I did cry. Buckets, I think.  A box of tissues’ worth, at least — and I don’t cry) because that is what I have lived with every day of my life for many years.  More years than she has been alive.  More years than any of them had been alive.

And this retreat was glorious! – but coming home and returning to real life is so hard.  Living alone, I had a buffer and my season of grace dragged out much longer than that of the other women, who had families to return to, and family needs to address.  For once, I have seen my solitude as something of a luxury.

The luxury couldn’t last, of course. A visit from a beloved friend sent me into a tailspin.  I became so anxious during the visit – of being boring, or annoying, or that my house (which announces my coexistence with the black dog to anyone who comes in) would appall him . . .   when I wanted him to be comfortable and at peace and to see me at something resembling my best, I certainly was not.

There are still bruises and when those bruises are bumped, I yelp.  And my friend bumped into one I hadn’t yet encountered, and I don’t think I really recovered from that  – and I didn’t yelp, I roared.

It is so hard to love someone, and at the same time to feel that these circumstances of my past have so battered and warped me that I am no longer worthy of being loved.  “Would Christ Himself see you that way?” he asked, when I confessed this to him, in fear and trembling, one evening.  Ahh, Darling, but Our Lord is not so fastidious as mortal men.  He sees beyond the superficial things that are, so often, all that we mortals can see.  There are times when spiritualizing a corporal problem doesn’t help, and this is one of them.

Nevertheless, I will go back and re-read my notes from my retreat, and I will talk with these other women some more, and I will write, and I will try to live well and to see and honor my best self — even if.

But it is hard to feel condemned, rather than called, to being alone.

Holiday challenges — Part One

The holidays are upon us – which for me runs from a couple weeks before Thanksgiving (family birthdays) until after the first of the year.  This is the time of year which brings out the best of people.  And the worst.

This is my “Black Dog” season — short days, frequent bad weather, being alone in a season that highlights families.

But for many people who have families, holidays can also be difficult because of unpleasant family dynamics.  Sometimes families bring out our inner child – not in a good way, but the uncertain, insecure, emotionally dependent . . .   Family stresses can cause us, or people we love, to turn in on themselves, to put up barriers and walls, to push away the very people who love them/us the most.

There’s not much to do.  All the hype about holiday as an idyllic season only makes things more painful when idyllic is one of the last adjectives one would reach for, in describing the holiday realities.  The movie Love, Actually, is a pretty sad but realistic portrayal of how disappointing Christmas can be.

What to do?

I haven’t decorated my house in years.  What’s the point, when no one will come by, no children will come home to celebrate? But I find myself committed, impulsively, to buying a Christmas tree from a local businessman, and so I’m going to decorate.  —-  and why shouldn’t I? Am I not capable of enjoying the festive glow of fairie lights in the tree? and Christmas dishes and wreaths and candles and the Nativity scene (I do hope the pieces are still intact!) and all of it?  And is it not perfectly realistic and reasonable to decorate the house for my own pleasure?  And so I shall.

 

 

Why I Oppose Gay Marriage — Part Three: My Gay (ex-)Husband

It’s not “just about (me.)”  I don’t oppose gay “marriage” out of personal resentment.  This issue is a lot bigger than my personal feelings (which are a lot more complicated than mere resentment).

When DH left us and began to openly hang out with his gay friends, his personality underwent a distinct change.  It wasn’t for the better.  The energetic, cheerful, beautiful boy who was always eager to help others, kind, compassionate . . . the “chaplain” of our circle of friends for more than a decade! – became cold, angry, remote.  His sense of humor vanished; he became crude and sarcastic.

This wasn’t just a matter of resentment towards me, as the villain ex-wife; he pushed away all our old friends, friends who loved him and would have accepted him regardless his lifestyle choices.  But suddenly they were “stupid,” “idiotic,” or some other quality that left them unworthy of continuing his friendship.

Through DH and a couple of gay neighbors and coworkers over the years, I’ve noticed that the gay community is badly mis-named “gay.”  Maladjusted, angry, resentful, hypercritical, backbiting . . .  the list of unhappy adjectives grows and grows.  It’s not about lack of social acceptance, either; even in safe, loving environments, even with a privileged status in our society, now, homosexuals are not gay by any stretch of the imagination.  Camp, maybe, but certainly not gay.

What does this have to do with gay marriage? And why would I want to deprive someone I claim I love of the comforts and benefits of a life partnership?

The real issue isn’t about “rights” or recognition; it’s about people being at war within themselves.  DH is angry because he’s at war with himself. His choices have violated the very best of who he is. I know that, and our friends see it, and on a deep level I think he knows it, too. Knows it and resents it.

See, the more you have that should make you happier, the more you resent that you aren’t happy, you blame everyone else and set a new objective to achieve, certain it will resolve the restlessness you’re feeling.

So the “program” isn’t working for gays.  When “progress” creates more bitterness and aggression, then the program is an utter failure.  Gay marriage won’t make gays happier; it is just one more false ideal to push toward.

Angry people make lousy spouses.  And legitimating gay marriage will, I fear, only further entrap miserable and bitter men and women in a lifestyle that has sucked the joy out of them, and replaced joy and well-being with misery and resentment. I see gay men and women becoming not more contented with the progress they’ve made in social recognition and approbation, but more and more hostile and aggressive. Fighting everyone as well as themselves, and getting more deeply entrenched the whole time.  

I want DH to be free of these traps. I want him to be honest with himself and true to his best self.  Gay marriage won’t give that to him; in fact, it will give him just the opposite, the inverse, of what he wants.

 

 

Still here

I just concluded a conversation with a new friend who, it turned out, knows this blog.  He told me I have more people watching it than I realized —- and that some had assumed that maybe I’d changed my mind about gay marriage, the whole fight, really, because I’ve been inactive so long.

I’ve not.  My opinions are not only unchanged since I began this blog, I find them being more and more strongly confirmed as more men and women come out with their own stories about toxic marriages to gays, or the sufferings of their being raised by gay parents.

The embarrassing truth of it is that having sole responsibility for this blog and being so immersed in this subject matter is oppressive to my spirit.  I live with depression (and, btw, I have yet to meet a former spouse of a homosexual who doesn’t also battle The Black Dog) and sometimes I have to budget my low energy levels as miserly as I can in order to cover the necessities.

But I’m so grateful — no, I’m still sitting here well after midnight shaking my head . . . simply amazed at being known and recognized and  told “Oh, yeah, you’re quite well known among my friends —” —

So let me take a moment to tell you all hello, and to thank you for looking for this blog and for your prayers and whatever positive thoughts you’ve had about what I do, here.

I’ve been collecting things to post here.  I’m looking for a couple other women to post, as well.  I won’t abandon this blog completely — even though sometimes I find I don’t have energy sufficient to post.

The fight really is just beginning.

An Open Letter to a Young Woman in Crisis

Dear Friend,

I am friends with your husband through an internet venue, and he’s told me that things are pretty rocky between the two of you right now. He’s also told me a bit about his past, so I feel so many things I wish we could sit down and talk about, you and I.

First of all, I don’t think anyone who hasn’t been through this scenario can even begin to guess what it’s like for us. Parents, siblings, best friends. . . unless they’ve been through and experienced our particular, warped dynamic, they just can’t understand. No matter how much they believe they do.

You’re a bit ahead of the game from most of us, because your husband told you, before you were married, what happened to him when he was younger and what a painful wound that has left in his sense of himself. Still, until you lived with him, you couldn’t be sure . . . also, as you told someone else, you felt coerced into the marriage, regardless.  So you felt cornered, then, and you feel cornered now.

So.  Right now you have two choices: to go, or to stay. Sounds and looks simple, but it’s not. No matter which you choose, you’re facing a frightening set of risks.  Let’s talk about those.

First of all, women do choose to stay with a gay/ssa spouse. Sometimes, it’s easier, especially for older women who are not emotionally up to starting from scratch, after years not having to be self-supporting, or who don’t want to see their families fractured into bits. There’s a bit of safety in hanging on to the hurts and disappointments and the unhappiness we already know, rather than facing the hurts and fears and risks we aren’t sure we can survive.

No one will blame you if you stay.

Also, if you stay, you might have a stabilizing and redemptive effect on Hubby, and that’s not a bad thing.

However, if you stay you are going to have to learn not to play passive-aggressive games with your husband to punish him for not being quite who you wanted him to be.  You’re going to have to take the initiative to grow up, to build a life of your own within the marriage that brings you a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.  You’re going to have to learn to live your life, not be a passenger being carried where you do or don’t want to go.  You’re going to have to take some risks, and some of your efforts will be disappointing and possibly embarrassing, and you’re just going to have to accept that.

You’re going to have to own your depression and face it and work to master it.  You’re going to need to make choices about independence and self-fullfillment even within the marriage that, so far, you’ve been hiding from making.

If you stay, there are things you will lose.  You will not have the sort of husband you thought you’d one day have; yours has too many scars in too many places, and he has cultural shaping that probably can’t be altered.  You will have to come to accept your husband for who he is, not resent that he’s not who you wanted him to be.  Give your disappointments a proper funeral, mourn them for a day or two, then get over it.  This is your choice, now; you are not a victim of someone else’s choices any longer.

You say you don’t want to have children with a man who has same-sex attraction, so you have opted for a celibate marriage.  You will have to come to terms with that decision, too; it’s a painful one for a woman who’s always dreamed of having a family. Frankly, I think it’s the only responsible choice you can make when you aren’t sure how the ground is going to rumble and roll, next, or what part of your life might possibly collapse around your head. But he’s not happy about it, and he also has rights for marital affection and intimacy — even if it’s only “of a sort.”  You’re going to have to face that conflict head on and there isn’t an easy resolution for it, even using Natural Family Planning diligently. Again, you’re going to have to be an adult, not a dependent.

Of course, many of these issues are going to be with you if you decide to go.

If you go, you can’t just go home and expect your parents to take care of you.  First thing you know, you’ll be finding yourself “coerced” into another marriage, and another man might not have as many good things going for him as DH does now.  Face that.

If you go, you need to prepare sensibly, build yourself up to be self-reliant, and then step out in courage and determination, and deal with things.  You’ll need to face and fight back against your depression.  Granted, SOME of it will probably evaporate when you’re no longer in the ssa-marriage; but some of it will haunt you for the rest of your life and you might as well start learning to get the mastery of it now, before you’re utterly and completely crippled by it.

If you go, you have to own responsibility for making this choice.  It is, after all, your choice.  Don’t blame him – don’t punish him. Simply own your choice as your choice and be done with it.  Because, Dear, face it: under other circumstances, you’d probably like your DH a lot.  There’s a lot about him to like. And to respect. And admire.  So look honestly at who he is and admit you’re going because you want a different sort of life.

No one who has a clue what you’re going through will fault you for going.

And the rest don’t matter. They can take a flying leap.

You’re going to have to be able to grow up enough to be able to say that, by the way, and mean it.  Regardless of your choice.

Dear, you were a child, emotionally, when you went from your parents’ home to your marital home.  You cannot remain a child any longer.  DH has in many ways treated you as a child – I fault him for this, but I fault you for playing into that role.  You’ve both got a lot of growing up to do.

But you can do it, and I want you to know, I am rooting for you. Whatever you choose.

Much love,
E.