Saturday, March 23, 2013

On the Outside

When I was married to K, we really integrated into each other families.   When we would visit her mother or her sister's house, I did not feel like I was K's boyfriend who was visiting for the day.  I really felt like I was part of the family.

Even now, they all know I know I am gay and I have been divorced from their daughter for almost 2 years, I still feel like family when I am there.  

Once or twice a week I am at T's house and around his family.    Usually I have dinner with them and then hang around the house for a few hours before I have to go home.  

His family's attitude toward me is always polite and usually friendly.  His 2 younger sister make a point to say Hi.  One of them will often engage me in conversation.  His mom is friendly and will usually smile when I come in.  She remembers the foods I like and if she makes one of my favorites, will often send me home with enough for the next day.  His dad will acknowledge me, and make sure I get enough to eat.  He is somewhat hard of hearing, so conversation is not something he does much of.

Despite their friendless I always feel like an outsider.  It's kind of like, they are OK if I am there, but  doubt I would be missed if I was not there.  I am not part of the family.  I am T's friend.  It even occurred to me the other day, if something were to happen to T, would anyone in his family even think to call me?

To be fair, part of this is my fault.  I do not speak Vietnamese and I have not put much effort into learning.   They have most of their conversations in their native language and it's not reasonable for me to expect them to change just because I show up for dinner.  So in that regard, I have put outsider status on myself.

Part of it is because his family does not really accept him as a gay man.  To me it feels like a dirty secret that everyone knows about.  Like the uncle in the family who has been in prison or used to be a drug addict.  Everyone knows about it, but no one talks about it. 

I also think part of it's because we don't live together.  He lives with his family and I am an occasional visitor.  When I was married to K, it was rare that K would see her family without me. Over time, it became natural to them that she and I were a unit.  We (the two of us) were a new, complete family unit within the larger family.

Despite our love, T and I are not a family unit.  We are not together as a family.  We do not function as a family unit so why should his larger family think of us that way?  They shouldn't and they don't.

So, I even though T and I think of each other as partners, his family does not.  I can tell and it makes me feel like an outsider.

OK, so I told you that story so I could tell you this story.

The other day, T invited me out for dinner with his family.  They were celebrating some good news in T's business and he wanted me with him. (Which was totally sweet!!).  During the course of dinner, T did something that was very embarrassing to me.  What happened is not important, but I was very upset about it.  I know he did not mean to embarrass me, in fact until I told him afterwards, he was not even aware that I was upset about anything. 

After it all died down, I reflected on it.  If K had done the exact same thing to me with her family, would I have been upset? Of course, was my initial reaction.  The more I thought about it, however, the more I knew that was not true.  The fact is, I doubt I would have been upset about it at all.  

Then I had to figure out why not? What I think it boils down to is feeling about being the outsider.      With K's family I am in insider.  With T's I am not.  When you are on the edge of a tight knit group that you want to be part of, you are self-conscious.  Because you want to be accepted by the group, what they thing of you is important. T is always going to be close to his family.  The scenarios that have us living together mostly involve us living together with his family, so it is important they like me.  It is important they accept me.

T has assured me for everyone else, this was a non-event.  They didn't even notice anything was out of the ordinary.  But still it nagged in the back of my mind.

Will we (he and I as a family unit) ever be really accepted or will I always be an outsider looking in?

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Want to Meet Me For Diner Tonight?

It does not happen often, but once in a while I get surprised.  T is very predictable.  (No, honey, I am not saying you are boring.)  He works a lot, his work happens on a schedule, so his discretionary time is predictable.  It actually makes it easier for us to get together since my kid-driven schedule is kind of crazy.

On Thursday I was with my kids, and I promised the younger two, they could stay at my house on Friday night.  T and I rarely see each other on Fridays, and since K and AJ like to go out, it makes it good for everyone if I take the younger kids to my house.   

On Friday morning, I got a text from T.  "Want to meet me for diner tonight?"  Just getting a text from T at all during the work day is unusual, but getting invited to dinner with short notice, is almost unheard of.

Of course I told him I wanted to go, but I would have to see if I was OK with the kids.  Since I had promised them, I didn't just want to ditch them.  

"Where do they want to go?" came the next question.  So not only was T inviting me out, he want the kids to come too.  (How can you not love this man??)

After work, I headed to K's house, packed up the kids and headed to a restaurant about half between my house and his office.  

It was not a romantic dinner, but it was another night, that I thought would never happen.  It was extraordinary, in its ordinariness.  It was just a man and his partner and his kids our for dinner.

What's so strange about that?   

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Putting Me To Work

T is going a lot of work outside his house.  You can see some of it in this picture.  While he designed what he wants it to look like, he does not do the work himself, he has guys that do it for him.  There is some things that he does himself, among them is assembling patio furniture.

He asked me to come and help him.  Not because he could not do it himself.  He just wanted to have an excuse to have me come down and to put me to work. 

He actually bought 2 sets.  One of them was not made correctly so after a few hours of trying to put it together we gave up.  He will have to call the place he bought it from and either have them put it together or get new ones.

The other one when together much more easily.

When it was done, we had a nice dinner together of noodles, beef, and veggies.  I could not stay too late because I had to get back to the kids.  But it was a nice afternoon with my love.  The only thing that would have made it better is if we had gone to our room after dinner to make love before drifting off to sleep.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Amazing Together

Wednesday is my day to have T all to myself.  Well, we both work so I get in all my myself for the night.  Well, except for this week.  This week K got called into work and AJ was working late so I had to be with my kids longer than usual or Wednesday.  

Sometimes I don't even see them at all on Wednesdays.  Often I go home after work and wait for T to come.  This week I had to get out of work early and to bring my oldest son to the dentist. so after I hung out at K's waiting for AJ to get back so I could leave.

T knew my schedule was messed up for the day.  He could have given me the chance to back out of our date night.  He would have understood if I needed to spend the time with the kids.  He would reluctantly offer to cancel our date.  But he didn't

"Do the kids want to have dinner with us?" he asked me.

I was sure that that would but I asked them anyway.  The younger one quickly accepted the offer.  My middle son was all over it too.  They like T a lot.  Even the old boy, who was a little uncertain about being seen out with his dad and his dad's partner, agreed to go as soon as he approved the food choice. 

We had a nice dinner and once we got back, AJ was back.  I was able to leave the kids in his capable hands (after I tucked in the younger 2).

T and I went back to my house and had the rest of the night to ourselves.  We got naked, climbed under the covers and ....  watched "The Amazing Race" episodes I have been recording each week on the DVR.  T and I watch them together and it really makes me happy.

While holding him in bed is the most wonderful thing, it was really amazing to have my kids and my partner together, in public for a meal.  Of course it was not the first time we did that and yet  each time it's just wonderful. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

They Will Want To Live With Him

A few years ago when K and I were seeing a therapist, the therapist told K something that made her blood run cold.

"Eventually the boys will want to live with Jim.  I see it all the time.  Boys want to live with their dads."

A lot of divorced parents with kids have some kind of sharing arrangement with the kids.  A common arrangement is the kids live with one parents during the week and other on the weekends (or alternate weekends).    Sometimes, parents alternate full weeks, with the kids at one house one week and the other then next.  

K and I talked about this when we separated.  We felt that having the kids bounce back and forth between houses would be confusing.  We both think that it's important for them to have stability and a home.  Finally, we decided that the kids home should be with her.

It is inconvenient for me to be there at K's house all the time, but it is something I have gotten used to.  It is a hindrance in me developing my relationship with T and developing other friendships.  But I do it for my kids.  I do it because I refuse to let AJ raise my kids.  It's my responsibility to raise my kids and I am not going to cede that to him or anyone else.

Tonight, my youngest son is sleeping at my house tonight.  One of the things we talked about tonight, is his desire to spend more time at my house with me.  This is the second time he mentioned it.  It came up once before a couple of weeks ago.  He is thinking that the idea of spending one week with me and one week with K sounds like a good idea.

I am all in favor of any of my kids to come and stay with me as often as they want.  It's part of the reason that I keep my house.  I mean, it's not like I need a four bedroom house for myself.  I could be just a happy in a one or two bedroom apartment  and I might even save myself a couple of bucks in the process.

The younger kids spend a few night a month at my house now.  The older boys could if they wanted to, but they have not indicated they want to.  (Yes, I have specifically invited them, but also said I was not going to force them.)  K never offers any resistance when they has to come to my house.  I also do not ask her.  I simply inform her they are coming home with me.

I am afraid that might change if I told her any of the kids, wanted to spend an entire week, every other week, with me.   I worry if the prediction of the therapist that caused her to much fear comes true, there might be a change in her level of flexibility.   If were to happen that my son would want to to live with me full time, she would be crushed and I worry about what might happen.