Today marks the 5th anniversary of my "coming out" to my wife. I can't believe that it has been five years already. I've shared some of this story with you on this blog, but not all. I've never felt ready to share it completely. I don't know that I am ready to do so today either, but let's see where this goes:
When I reflect on that day (2 Jan 2005), I really felt like it was the "beginning of the end". We had a very ugly fight about my continual pulling away from my wife, both physically and emotionally - this after years of doing so - and she came to the breaking point of either finally ending it, divorcing, and moving on with our lives, or coming to grips with what was going on inside me and spilling it. It was a particularly difficult holiday season for me. One of my dear friends had just committed suicide on Christmas eve and had left a wife and four kids behind wondering why. I was wondering why. I found myself distraught at his funeral a few days later and still distraught on this particular day. I had been asking myself all the unanswerable whys... why him? why did he do it? why did he get to that point and not let me know? why didn't I do something for him? And those whys went into the whys about my current situation and the pending disaster that I was feeling inside me not knowing where to turn or what to do or who to talk to about the self-realizations that were now so obviously imprinted on me and my memory forever. It was this day that I wanted to be alone. I couldn't talk to anyone, especially my wife, though I knew I would eventually have to. There was no plan for this day to be the day. It just so happened that my self-pity and reluctance to come forward triggered something in her that sparked the fire.
For the six months prior to this, I had finally come to terms with my attractions, desires and passion for men, and had, with the encouragement of a friend, finally admitted to myself that this was who I was and who I always have been. I was in a period where I was involved in a serious bromance that was taking my focus completely away from my wife and I felt no desire to be in my marriage anymore and had decided that I wanted a committed relationship with another man.
This friend told me of the dangers of "coming out" to my wife (he himself a gay man, having done the same revelation to his wife some ten years earlier) and that once I do, there is "no taking it back". He predicted with conviction of a man knowing the truth about the road that I was on, that within a year I would be divorced and that within another year I would have severed all ties with the Church. He strongly encouraged me to write my story of my attractions, desires and passions for men and of the perspective of reflecting on my earliest memories up until the current bromance and tie all the loose pieces of my life experience together to finally break down the walls of denial, built up for decades, and come to terms with being a gay man.
So, when my wife saw my distraught nature and moodiness and distancing attitude toward her, and when she demanded to know what was going on inside me and why I was being so distant from her to the point of not being able to endure any longer the feelings of loveless marriage and rejection from her husband, when she gave me an ultimatum that she was leaving me if I could not open up and be honest of what was going on, I sat down terrified of the consequences and wrote a 37 page epistle of my life's recollections, concluding with the statement that I was "wired to be this way" and that I still "loved" her and yet, I didn't know where this revelation was going to lead us. Quite frankly, I was convinced that it would be as my friend predicted: within a year I would be divorced and within two years I would be excommunicated (either by my actions or by my request).
As I handed her my epistle, my hands shaking in fear, I wept uncontrollably. I curled up in the fetal position and hid under my clothes in the back corner of my closet. Here I was "coming out of my closet" and yet I literally hid as far back in the dark corner of my closet as possible and cried like a baby in a complete meltdown. I don't know if I was regretting telling her the truth about my feelings for men, or that I was feeling guilty for having those feelings and keeping them from her (at first because I didn't believe they were real - I couldn't be a gay boy! I was a good boy and always had been a good boy so how could I now be a gay boy? For aren't gay boys bad?), or that I was feeling sorry for putting her through this and causing her such pain. In reflection, I think it was a combination of those emotions, but it was mostly fear of what her reaction would be and whether my life as I knew it had just come to an end.
What happened next was obviously what you'd expect to happen: she started crying, overwhelmed at the revelation (a revelation that had she put it all together before should have been more obvious, but she was in such a state of denial with me that it had the affect of - at least at first - not being a possibility - it couldn't be true that she was married to a gay man). She pulled back from me in bitterness and anger. She felt abused and hurt beyond her imagination. Though she knew that I was "different", though I had been honest with her about my relationships with men in my past before we were married and the closeness I felt and the happiness I cherished being in and around other men's affections for me - she never suspected that my feelings and attractions for men resonated so deeply within me. As she read my story, she started to put together the pieces of what she knew of me, of my extreme attachments to certain men on my mission, of my romantic attachments to missionaries that I taught in the MTC, of my bromantic relationships with my YM in the ward. It all added up and she saw the house of cards constructed before her, and the realized that our marriage was a sham. I was in love with other men and not with her, and I admitted to her that I was still infatuated and emotionally "in love" with these men in my life.
After finishing reading my history, she threw all 37 pages into the fireplace and burned them, not wanting our children to find them and read them (note: I kept a digital copy). She threw pillows at me and ordered me to leave the house. It was a Sunday. We didn't go to church. She sent the kids alone without us (which we never did before). I disappeared for a while. I drove to SLC. I contemplated which hotel had the most accessible balcony from which I could jump off to my death (this was the first real suicidal thought I had had). I remember parking my car by the Salt Palace Convention Center and looking at the Marriott rooms and seeing the balconies and realizing that if I were going to do it, I wanted it to be high enough that there would be no doubt that I would be dead. I remember openly weeping in my car wondering what I had done to be in this position and how I had allowed my 23 years of marriage to be such a lie and to get to such a point as this. I did not know whether I should return or would be permitted to return, but as I looked up at the hotel facade, I came to the conclusion that I did not do ANYTHING wrong other than live in denial and homophobia of myself and that it was time to be honest about what was going on inside me and that I didn't want to lose my wife or my kids over this self-acceptance. I prayed more earnestly than ever for guidance and promptings of what to do next. Should I start heading down I-15 and end in California where my gay friend / advisor lived? Should I go get the hotel room? Or should I go home? Those were the three choices that raced through my head. I was overcome with a spirit of peace and comfort and felt prompted to go home.
So, after several hours of personal wrestling with the spirit, I returned home. My wife had sent the kids to the neighbor's home so that we could talk. She had obviously been crying and was still very hurt and bitter and angry with me, but upon seeing me, she reached out and hugged me and had me hold her for a very long time while she shook and quaked in my arms. After much discussion and follow-up questions about my feelings for men, particularly the bromances that were going on, (and as I look back on this, this was the best miracle of all), she took me by the hand and led me back to bed and exhausted emotionally, physically, and spiritually, we collapsed together and cuddled in what became "the new beginning" of our marriage.
For several days we continued the discussion and she started on the road of "discovery" of what it meant to be married to a gay man and all the realities and subtleties that come with that. I was invited back into her life. She still loved me. She still wanted me to be with her. She now saw who I was and why I was acting the way I was. We now began the long and painful process of healing.
A lot has happened in the last five years. I discovered this blogging community four years ago and have been blogging since - a little more frequently then, a little less, and more privately now. In that time, and time does give needed perspective, I've come to terms with totally accepting myself for who I am and being grateful for this blessing in my life. The road has not been easy. I still go through periods of denial with her and dishonesty, and yet... through the last four to five months, I must admit that we are happier together, we are connecting both intimately and emotionally, we are finding ways of supporting each other and strengthening our marriage and our relationship (as I've posted about) and have come to a good place: a place of understanding, a place of bonding, a place of love. I am still who I am, and am convinced that I will always be this way (at least as far as I can see), and that the journey of challenges and of authenticity are not over, that this is a journey of on-going trials and lessons to be learned...
but the miracle of today... the miracle of this 5th anniversary is encapsulated in my wife's words and sentiments. She explained to me that she now looks upon this day as our new anniversary date, the date "when our marriage finally began". We are celebrating this day as a "new beginning" not as "the beginning of the end" and will be looking forward to subsequent celebrations to come. We have learned that we need time alone, time for connecting, time together to make up for all the lost time. Our kids think we are "newlyweds" and act revolting and gaggy at times like such couples, and in our own way, we are just that!
As of today, as of this 5th anniversary, things are different. We have decided to use this day, no longer as a day of sorrow and mourning our loss in discovering the reality of our situation, but instead, as a day of "confession" and a day of "truth-telling". I am planning on confessing to my wife how grateful I am not only for the last 28 years, but for her willingness to stay, to be at my side, to want me as her partner on this journey. I am planning on confessing that the last few months have been the most fulfilling time of our marriage and I want to internalize all that is good and keep it going, recognizing that my head will still turn at the sight of a beautiful guy, my Pon Farrs will still come, and my desire for bromances will not diminish... yet, in the end, I am still here, too, beside her to the end!
Whether this is the end of the story remains to be seen. Whether my sharing this is of help to anyone, I don't know, but I hope so. Whether this is building false hopes in others, I wonder, as everyone writes their own story. But, I write it truthfully as it is my story - a story of hope as I said in my Christmas message. I still have hope that somehow I will be able to buck the trends of the common and well-used path leading to divorce and abandoning the Church, and will somehow find an alternate way that is just as honest and authentic and find strength in my marriage and in my testimony and in myself as I continue on...
BUON ANNO! Happy New Year!
P.S. As a post-script, I just spent some time going through my past post of Jan 2nd in 2007, 2008, and 2009, and it is interesting to note the progress - from one of no change and a sense of hopelessness and dispare, to one of hope and real possibility for the future; from one of clinging to "Will" and "Tim", my two bromance YM and longingly wanting more from them, more that they could not offer me, nor should I ask it of them, to one where both are married now and I can see them and hug them and accept them as friends but realize the bromance idea is gone and it is as it should be; from one where my wife is still in a lot of pain and wondering if it is worth it to hang on, to one of joy and excitement and even a spirit of celebration - she just passed through the room and wondered what I was doing. I told her that I was writing. She asked matter-of-factly, but knowingly, if I was blogging (something she didn't even know existed or that I participated at all in - especially this MOHO community). I said that I was (an admission of fact with no guilt associated with it), but added that I was writing "good things". She smiled and gave me a big, moist kiss and then asked when we were going to the hot tub! It's time for the celebration to begin!
Yes, I see progress...