Saturday, August 21, 2010
I'm perpetually stuck!
I am intrigued and I must admit that I’m a bit surprised and I don’t understand it.
I tried to put together a list of really positive things that are happening in my life with my “lessons learned” series trying to demonstrate how a mixed-oriented marriage could survive and even thrive, and I get three comments from the community.
I then proceed to articulate about one item that isn’t working as well as the others and I end up receiving (gratefully I might enthusiastically add!!) tons upon tons of comments offering advice and support (the second most amount of comments in my 4+ years of blogging with only my introducing “Thomas” , my Italian more-than-friend , receiving more input and postings). Why is this? Is it the rubber-necking philosophy of life where we much prefer witnessing a train wreck about to happen than a train zipping by in normal monotony?
That noted, I’ve tried to group the advice I’ve received about my desires to still need male connection and freedom to express myself naturally and “normally” with other men, while still abiding by some sense of decorum within my marriage, and not being able to do so. I am at a point of blockage… I can’t seem to go forward or backward. I sense a stagnation of immense proportion. I am stalemated. I am stymied. I am stuck!
The combined wisdom of this MOHO blogosphere has produced the following. I have grouped them into broader categories:
NOT YOUR FAULT / OUT OF YOUR CONTROL:
1. Your wife’s insecurity is the bigger issue that you can’t control, not her lack of trust in you.
2. Stop feeling guilty about the past. It is what it is. Move on and stop dwelling on who did what or didn’t do what in the past.
3. Stop blaming yourself for the way she feels.
CONTENTMENT WITH HERE AND NOW:
1. Be content with where you are.
2. Enjoy what you have.
3. You need to have her “put up with” you verses you “sucking it up” and enduring and being okay with where you are.
HONESTY / ILLUSIONS:
1. Tell her how you really feel.
2. You are hiding your true feelings. Be honest!
3. Stop lying to her – she doesn’t get what it means to be “gay” because you hold back and don’t let her know what’s going on.
4. Stop protecting her. It’s cheap and unforgiving.
5. You’re living an illusion. The status quo isn’t good enough – it’s dishonest.
THINGS SHE NEEDS TO DO:
1. Your wife needs to try more to understand what it means to be gay.
2. She needs to accept ALL of me.
3. She needs to deal with her low self-esteem and self-worth and insecurity.
4. She needs to meet other gay guys to become more comfortable and less afraid of the situation.
5. Your wife needs to understand, even though it’s hard, that there is a place and need for you to have male companionship.
6. She needs to be willing to talk to another wife who is going through this.
7. She is jealous. This jealousy has led to her wanting “all of me” and not being willing to share. She needs to be willing to share.
THINGS I NEED TO DO:
1. Live life! Get on with it!
2. Stop feeling guilty.
3. Negotiate a compromise of some freedom and privacy that can lead to good things.
4. Seek a healthy balance.
5. Stop being “all or nothing” in your approach.
6. Need to find social connections of bonding – bonding with other men is essential and nurturing to the soul.
7. Get to the point where you can have healthy guy time verses seeking dating.
8. You need connections that are positive for both of you.
9. Take her away for the weekend and share this series of posts with her helping her to know how you feel.
10. Blog about it! Write! What do you really want?
11. Learn to have more trust in yourself. Build trust in yourself.
SPIRIT OF COMPROMISE:
1. Be alive without hurting the ones we love the most.
2. If you love, be willing to let go and set free and let fly. If it is real love, it will come back.
3. Find something between satiation and deprivation.
4. Don’t be so all-or-nothing.
5. We both need to worth for a common solution, not just one side giving and the other not.
6. Seek a healthy balance.
So… where does that leave me? What do I want?
What I want has not really changed much, but it has softened in the last year. I am happy, believe it or not, with much that is good in my life. I just want ALL of me to be happy, including the part of me that I feel I am holding back, hesitating to give expression, or denying the possibility of connection with others.
1. To be able to have a discussion about how I feel about my “needs” without it destroying her self-esteem or threatening her sense of where our marriage is going, or if I even still want to be married to her. This, I recognize, will require me to be more honest and having to face the fear of causing her stress and pain.
2. To be able to have her comfortable enough to be in a position where she sees good in my having these male non-romantic relationships. And I recognize that it is my duty to put these friendships in a way that they stay non-romantic (which will require me trusting in my own sense of propriety and boundaries).
3. To be able to have male friendships outside the stable ward family, even young guy friends, and gay friends and fellow MOHOs, which are positive, uplifting and mutually edifying.
4. To be able to have the freedom to explore these friendships without fear.
5. To do so with sensitivity to her and with honesty (not behind her back), but without a sense of guilt or mistrust.
6. To be able to express my emotions, affection, and need-for-touchness with other men without repercussion or interrogation. To be able to do so in front of her (not behind her back, or me looking constantly over my shoulder), but with sensitivity to her.
7. To be able to meet with these “friends” and not have it be considered a “date”.
8. To do all these things in a reasonable and semi-regular manner, but still placing priority to family and marriage.
9. To keep doing all the good things that I mentioned in the previous post about what is strengthening and sincerely improving our marriage.
10. To be able to do all this and find in me a deeper love for her in the process.
Is this possible?
I don’t think so.
The other night we were at a garden poolside wedding reception of one of my young men. He was a bit older and so, it was obvious that we would run into several of my other young men who were now married and moving on with their lives. And we did. At first it was a bit uncomfortable as three or four of them that I hadn’t seen for quite a few years now, came up to me one by one, and manhandled me into fierce and strong bromancy hugs! And all while my wife anxiously looked on as an uncomfortable observer. One of my young men (a tall and very strong one) grabbed me from behind and lifted me up off the ground and held me over the pool teasing me that he was going to drop me, all while I squirmed to be free of his grasp). It got to the point that my wife had had enough of this and left me to their horseplay and continued in the line, signed in the registry and moved on to the wedding party without me.
Once I got free of the man-vice body grip, and finished with the hellos and head slaps and special brotherhood handshakes, I caught her out of the corner of my eye way ahead, and I knew I was in “trouble”. I abruptly excused myself and worked my way through the line to where she was standing. Nothing was said, but it was obvious that she wasn’t feeling good about what was going on.
When we got to the bride and groom, I gave the bride a gentle hug and then slapped the groom in the head and then we warmly embraced. Afterward, I reach for my wife’s hand. Surprisingly, it was still there. "What?" I asked. We clasped but she said nothing. I could sense tenseness in her grasp.
"What was she thinking? Was I wanting to run away with the groom, or one of my young men and leave her and the bride behind?"
As we rounded the pool, she and I both spotted “Tim” and “Will” up ahead on the other side of the patio area. Tim and Will are well… I’ve blogged about them incessantly in the past, as they are the ones that helped me to see inside me for the first time, and opened me up to myself five years ago and needless to say; they continue to be a source of difficulty for my wife.
As we passed them from across the patio, I nodded slightly and winked at them in recognizing their presence. My wife asked me poignantly: “So are you going to go over there and start hugging them, too?”
“No,” I curtly responded, and I kept walking holding her hand and faking a smile. It was the way she said it, implying that I needed to be hugging everyone in the party, like that was something horrible to do.
“Do you want to have any refreshments?” she asked as we passed the patio of tables and food.
“No,” I again relied, “Let’s just go!”
So we got in the car and left. Nothing was said for a long time on the ride home. There was silence. I was feeling so upset that I find myself in this predicament. I did not seek any of this attention, hugging, or man-vice wrestling over the pool, etc. But, I really, really wanted to go hug Tim and Will, and their wives, and be social and free to do so without repercussions. And instead, all I could safely get out by way of communication was a wink and a nod. And that felt wrong.
“It isn’t fair!” I kept telling myself. “What have I done to get into this predicament?” I wondered as I drove impatiently down the canyon. “How can I get beyond this and back to a world of natural expression of affection and connection with my fellow men without feeling guilty or ashamed or embarrassed or worried about what she might be feeling or thinking?” And yet, I do worry about what she is feeling and thinking and I don’t want to cause any grief or pain for my actions… such an innocent thing, and yet, so poignant to me that I’m dying inside, unable to be who I am, who I want to be, who I know I am happier being than how I am now.
Thus, I am unable to connect the dots. I know what I want, but I don’t know how to get there from here. I can go back the way I was doing it in the past and do it behind her back, but then I become dishonest and mistrusting and I’ve gone down that road and it is a road to nowhere very quickly. I can be honest with her, but then all the feelings of hurt and anger and pain and insecurity and frustration and worry and guilt bubble to the surface and it’s too much to deal with and it adds so much unnecessary drama to our lives that it’s easier to just back off and say “forget the whole thing”, and then I go into the all-or-nothing mode of living – and in this case it is the “nothing” of having any contact with anyone in an open male friendship that isn’t with balding, fat and nearly dead high priests that are of no threat to anyone.
Where does that leave me? I’m like the hummingbird that was trapped in the vaulted ceiling of our bedroom yesterday morning. As much as we tried to help it escape out the balcony door swung wide open to freedom and survival, it resisted our encouragement, and kept flying in vain around the ceiling ridge with no way out, trapped and panicking. It could see the open door below and feel the air movement through it, but common sense was telling it that no way could there be success in flying down and out – the only way to freedom was to fly up! Yet there was no “up” - only the ceiling that held no trap door.
I’m that trapped hummingbird. I see and feel the breeze of what I want, but I can’t stop flapping my wings and beating my head against the ceiling.