Saturday, May 22, 2010

Living Fiction, Selfishness, and Tough Love

I have never written a posting in response to a post on another blog before (at least I don't think I have), but I am today.

I closely follow "Living Fiction".  He actually started reading my blog, we exchanged some personal e-mail and the he started his own blog.  I read his because his situation is similar to mine in may respects.  I am posting here about it because he is struggling, much the same way I have been struggling for the past 2+ years.  I read a post he put up on May 20 titled "Status Quo" and it touched me.  I was going to simply comment on it, but as I starting writing it got longer and longer so I figured I would just put it here.

So consider this an open letter/comment kind of thing.


I am not even sure where to start with this one.  Please remember to take everything I am about to say with an understanding that I have walked the path you are on right now and I am supporting you, even if it may not sound like it.  (Think tough love)  Also know that this is based on my personal experience and I offer it only to give you my perspective to think about, not that you should actually follow my advice.  I mean, really, what the hell do I know???

The truth is, for people like you and me, like it or not, the status quo is no longer an option.  No matter how hard you pretend it is, no matter how much you debate, you are putting off the inevitable.  

Consider this made up story:

If you are working in ministry, I am going to assume you graduated from divinity school and are ordained through some "ordaining" body.  You needed these credentials to get your job.  Let's say for fun, you did not go to school and instead purchased a forged diploma, transcripts and ordination paperwork.  You got a job with your faked credentials.  No one discovered your deception and for the next 20 years you have a successful career.  Supervisors are happy with your work and parishioners like you.

Through some accident, your bishop (or whatever) discovers your papers are forgeries.  You have lied about your education and experience.  When confronted you admit the truth to the bishop.  Even though you are good at what you do, all of it, ALL OF IT, is based on a lie.  You have been living this lie for all this time.  You have lied to the face of every parent of every baby you baptize. You have lied to the grieving family every time you conducted a funeral.  Every Sunday you got up in front of the people who have trusted their souls to your guidance and lied to them, right to their faces.  Pretending to be something you are not.

Maybe the bishop over looks this for a while.  Maybe he does not tell anyone.  After all, you have done a good job over the years.  You keep God's commandments and give good advice and counsel to your parishioners. While your outward behavior has been appropriate, it is now known, to the bishop anyway, to be based on a lie.  If you will lie about your credentials, what else have you lied about?  The bishop can't help but question your integrity.  Whether you want to or not, once the cat is out of the bag, you can no longer run from it.  You can no longer hide.

Of course this is a made up story, but I think it is analogous.

You have come out to yourself.  You have come out to M.  The cat is out of the bag.  Your ship has sailed and you cannot return to your home port.  Now you must find another port before you run out of gas.  There is a lot of flexibility in which port you choose to stop, but you cannot go back to the one you started from.

Think about this:
If M is like most people today, when you told her you are gay, she did some internet research.  She will read everything she can about “the gay”.  She will come to realize that while you love her and the kids, you do not love her in the same way.  She will realize that, at least some of the time, when you are making love together, you may not be seeing her face when you close your eyes. 

You say that you have obeyed your vow to be faithful to her.  While that may be true in the physical sense, can you say that you think only of her?  I’ll bet you can’t.  In that regard you have already been unfaithful.  While you may live with your wife “until death do us part” are you really being faithful in the way that she believed you were when you said the vows? 

Keep in mind, I have no doubt you believed your vows when you said them.  God knows I did.  I believed that gay was just a set of behaviors and as long as I did not do them, I was not gay.  WRONG!  A gay man in denial is not a straight man.  A gay man in denial is just a gay man in denial.  I was.  For a long time.  Once I came out to myself and to my wife, that is what set me on the path I am on today.  Sometimes I walked the path willingly, other times I tried to back track, but in the end, it is a path I had to walk.  There was really no turning back.  I could not go back to the lie.

You talked about being true to who you are as being selfish, and you are being self-less by maintaining the status quo.  Then you answered your own question.

In my own life, especially the changes that have happened to me in the past 8 weeks or so, I have come to realize that my struggle to maintain my status quo was itself, selfish.  Yes, there is a concern for upending the kids, but I have recently come to believe that was a load of crap I just told myself to make me feel better. 

It was easier for ME to maintain the status quo.  For 2 years I tried and what happened?  I made myself and everyone around me miserable.  What happened with I told K that I am in love with T and that even though my love for her is strong, deep and permanent, it is not the love that she wants from her husband.  My passion is not for her, it is for T.  Now that she knows, she is free to open her heart to another man.  It has been VERY difficult for me to watch her move on with another man, but I know it is the right thing to do.  It is probably the most unselfish thing I have ever done.

Your passion is not for M, it is for an-as-yet-undiscovered man. And now she knows it, or at least suspects it. You have said before that you sex life has diminished.  That she is not as interested as she once was.  Why do you think that is?  Maybe because she knows your passion does not burn for her.  Maybe she sees that your marriage is based on forged credentials.  I don’t know her so I cannot speak for her, but you do.  Deep down you know what she is thinking.

Maybe the selfless thing to do is to admit how you are feeling to her.  You need to let her decide for herself what she wants, feels and needs.  It may be that she wants for you to work it out together.  That does not mean necessarily maintaining the status quo (remember that is still a lie).  But at least you would be giving her the chance to be an active participant in the decision making.  If you try to control everything (like I did) you will eventually make a mess (like I did) they you may not be able to recover from.  I was lucky.  K places a high value on our unusual friendship.  In our marriage, we faced many problems together and now we are facing separation the same way, together.  In the process she is free to find someone who passion DOES burn for her.

If you read the earlier posts in my blog, you can see where I puzzled about everything.  I weighed and re-weighed every option.  In the process I kept her on the edge.  Never quite ready to pull the trigger and tell her I was in love with T and I was not in love with her.  It kept her in this strange limbo for a very long time.   It was torture for her.  On more than one occasion she called it cruel.  So was I being selfless or selfish in my futile attempt to maintain my perception of the status quo?  At the time I thought I was selfless.  Now, I am not so sure.

What I have seen is now that she is free from limbo, she is happier.  She is a better mom to the kids.  She is a better friend to me. She smiles and laughs sometimes too. She is on her way to finding her happiness.  And so am I.  This time honestly.

I can't say how your situation will play out.  I hope it works out as well as mine is heading (there is still aways for me to go).  If I learned one thing from my long drawn out saga, it is to tell her the truth early.  


LivingFiction said...

Jim - Thank you!

Java said...

This is fantastic. The analogy is excellent. (May I use it, too?) It seems you have gained a lot of wisdom on your journey out of the closet.

And thank you for the link to Living Fiction. I'm eager to read some of the archives and see what this fellow is about.

jim said...

Of course, Miss Java.