A friend of mine on Facebook posted a link to an article written by a nurse who works with people in their final weeks of life. She said there are 5 common regrets that people have. The article is here.
1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life that others expected of me. 2. I wish I didn't work so hard. 3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings. 4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. 5. I wish I'd let myself me happier.
As I read through this list I realized as a gay man coming out of the closet late in life, there is a special significance for me here. With the exception of number 2, I have all of theses. I fear that T and his sister D, will have all of them including #2.
Disclaimer: Before I go too much into this I want to be clear. The goal of this post is not to complain, whine or anything else. While I am not entirely happy with where my life is, I am happy with the direction it is moving. I know it will get where I want it to go.
When I look forward on my life, I am not afraid of getting old and dying. But I am very afraid of having a long list of regrets on my deathbed. I know I have been given this one life by God for me to live as best I can.
For a long time when I was married to K, I thought about who I am and where I was in life. My straight life was not so bad. I was living the normal life that everyone expected me to have. In fact, it was the normal life that I expected. Except, it was a lie. It was not the true me. It was a fabrication I created based on what I saw other straight people do.
I think one of the things that pushed me out of the closet was the fear of regrets. That I would live my whole life and die without anyone knowing who I really am. K knew that I was attracted to guys, but I never told anyone else. I never told my mother, or anyone else in my family. I even knew that my sister is gay friendly, but I never told her either.
After I met T, but while K and I were still trying to "work it out" I wondered if I was going to live my whole life without the love of a man? While I enjoyed K's companionship, was that enough? And while I did not think about it at the time, would being roommate with a gay man be enough for K? (It turned out it was not.)
I think even at that time, I knew the answer.
I knew that I had to be who I am. I knew I was not going to be able to live in the closet anymore. I wanted to come out so fucking badly. I wanted people to know who I am!!!
But for a long time I could not. I could not even tell myself who I was. Even after I met T and fell in love with him, I could not admit my myself I was gay.
Part of the reason that I lost contact with my friends and could not make new ones, was I could not tell them who I really am. I could not tell them I am gay. I remember when K was telling about this cool new thing called Facebook. She wanted me to join. I though it sounded cool, but why would I want to join this networking thing if I could not be who I really am? If I could not tell the truth? What was the point of connecting with people to lie to them?
I let a lot of my old friend slip away. I did not create new friends.
Now things are different. Now there is a dawn breaking in my life. There is light where there was darkness.
I think the reason this article was so moving to me is not only for me, but for others. There are countless gay people who are not living the life that God had intended for them. They are hiding. They are in their own darkness. They are held there by fear. If they do not find the courage to be true to themselves, they will live their lives and eventually be at their deathbed regretting.
I am grateful K is supportive of me and T has been my rock while I moved from the darkness into the light. For all the pain and suffering I endured (much of it in my head) it was worth it.
I am who I am supposed to be. I will live my life openly and honestly as the man I am. A gay man. A father. An ex-husband and best friend. One day, a husband to the man I am in love with.
I am gay man in his 40's who was married for 18 years to a straight woman, who is still my very best friend. We have 4 children together. She is now remarried and we still want to be supportive of each other and make a stable family for our kids.
Cast of Characters
Jim: That's me
K: The wonderful woman I married in 1993. We divorced in November 2011, and she is still my best friend.
T: My ex-boyfriend. We were together from 2008 to 2013. He is still an important person in my life.
AJ: K's new husband. They got married December 2011.
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