Many thanks to Robert Lopez, who mentioned this blog in his interview with Janna Darnell. So grateful, Bobby. Thank you.
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.
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.
Despite my anger over what has happened between me and my ex-husband, and in the gay agenda in general, I have learned that there is a lot of woundedness there which truly warrants compassion.
Gays aren’t born that way — twin studies have always verified that — but they are born with a personality, a disposition which renders them at odds with the traditionally masculine world and sets them up for possible imprinting and identification as same-sex attracted. In a gender that applauds athletic prowess and physical agility, the more sensitive or artistic male may have a sense of alienation from other boys. He identifies more with girls.
Sadly, the sensitive male — and this includes my ex-husband — often possesses great moral insight and a strength of character that deserves to be recognized and respected as manly qualities . . . but are not. DH was a force of nature when it came to personality, strength of opinion, power of persuasion. In our circle of friends, he was universally regarded as a chaplain or sorts, a spiritual mentor. He was loved and looked up to . . . but it wasn’t enough. He couldn’t recognize our esteem. Years later, when I told him how we’d felt about him, he wept. He was still wracked with disbelief in his own worth.
That strength of mind and will and faith are what made me fall in love with him. Of course, my love couldn’t begin to heal his broken spirit; that required the affirmation of a masculine man; I, a woman, couldn’t meet his deepest emotional needs. It takes a man to teach a boy how to be comfortable in his own skin as male. His father, a good man, a brilliant man, was also of a more sensitive nature: quiet, gentle, studious. Introverted. He could teach his sons how to handle the basic mechanical maintenance of their cars (masculine skills set), but he wasn’t in possession of those interests and skills that would have helped his boys fit in more easily with the other boys in the neighborhood. DH preferred music to sports; he built up the self-defense of dismissing ordinary boys, then men, as “idiots.”
I wanted to be his all-in-all. This was an unrealistic expectation, particularly given the circumstances. Men need other men in their lives to push them to be stronger, better — “iron sharpens iron.”
Not only could I not be his all-in-all, the fact is that his misery with himself rendered him too wounded to be able to love me at all. I can pity him for this woundedness now. It does not justify how he treated me after we were married, during our divorce, and after, in his continued insistence that, first of all, he wasn’t gay, but then, yeah, he was gay but that still had nothing to do with the divorce.
But it does allow me to look beyond my own sufferings and loss to find something in him that I can pity. And I’m able after many years to remember that beautiful boy we all loved and looked up to — and to realize I still love him.
And in loving him, interestingly, I’m not tied to him by sentiment, but I’m at long, long last! liberated to get well, myself, and to build a proper life for myself, in which I can be my best self and not be entrapped in the bitterness or the resentments that had been my daily fare for so many years.
Thirty-nine years. That’s how long we would have been married.
That’s an enormous number. I’m not sure I have quite gotten my mind around it. Of course, we have been divorced for twenty-five. That’s another big number.
It’s bigger, still, when I realize how old I’m getting, and when I have conversations with men friends and feel myself keeping them at arms length, looking askance at what might well be ordinary male behavior or perspective (Particularly Alpha Male doings) —
because the fact is, I don’t trust any more. I’d like to. I look at some of my men friends and I know they are good men.
But DH was also a “good man,” and look how that turned out. If he could deceive so completely, how can I trust anyone?
Moira’s tied up this week, and I was impatient to introduce her, so I’m sharing this here, with her permission, and letting you know she will be posting here from time to time as a Contributor to this blog.
Here’s her story. It’s upsetting and distressing, but I can’t help feeling it’s not atypical.
There are more victims of this rainbow movement than anyone has yet considered.
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.