Posts Tagged ‘divorce’

When I got married, I made a committment to my wife:  I committed to love her until death do us part.  I planned to grow old together.  I planned on working through any issues that we had.  I figured with God on our side and if we depended on Him, we could have a successful, life-long marriage.  I had decided that divorce would never be an option.

Yet in May of this year, my divorce was finalized.  I remember how I felt when I got an email from her saying that she had received notification that the divorce was final:  I actually got tears in my eyes.  It’s not that I still wanted to be with my now ex-wife…it’s that I was just so sad to have gone through it all.  I was sad that it didn’t work.  I was sad that I had gone against everything that I had believed at one time.  And I felt the sting of the finality of it all.  I am now a divorced man…something I never thought I would be.

And things haven’t gone the way that I had hoped they would.  Yeah, I know, I often see things through rose-colored glasses.  I really believed that my ex and I would be able to have an adult friendship after the divorce.  I really believed that she would know that I would never intentionally screw her.  I really believed that we would be able to have as “normal” of a relationship as is possible for two people who are divorced.  And…it just isn’t that way right now.  I left almost 11 months ago and things are still very shaky between us.  I hope that at some point in the future, all of those things that I believed will actually be true.

In no way do I regret getting divorced.  It had to happen and probably should have happened years ago.  I cannot be who she needs in a husband.  We really should have never gotten married.  In fact, I remember laying in bed on my honeymoon…just days after getting married…and thinking, “Oh my God, what have I done?”  I really should not have married her in the first place.  I should have been brave enough to listen to what my gut was saying…”you’re gay…this isn’t going to work!”  But that’s all water under the bridge now.  I am glad that our marriage is over because it was so unhealthy for so long.  I don’t miss being in a relationship where I was so unhappy. 

But…going through the divorce was still very painful.  We were together for 20 years.  We had kids together.  We were part of the fabric of each other’s lives for nearly half of my life.  And that is now over.  You can’t go through that without feeling pain and loss.  A part of me is dead and gone.  And despite moving on into a new relationship, that old part of me will never be replaced because she was the one that I had kids with…and that is a very powerful emotional attachment.

For me, divorce has been very bittersweet.  It’s been good and it’s been bad.  It had to happen and it is still incredibly sad.  I should have never gotten married to her…but we shared some very important years together.    B  i  t  t  e  r  s  w  e  e  t. 

Again, I am living with the tension and this is my reality. 

And believe it or not, I will always love her.

I’ve been doing a whole lot of reflecting in the past year.  How could I not after all that has transpired?  I’ve thought about the things I’ve done, the mistakes I’ve made, the ways I would have done things differently, and the reactions I’ve gotten from everyone around me.  To say the least, I have chosen a very difficult path in life.  One never knows when they start down a path exactly where it will end up.  I never knew when I started seminary that I would go through ex-gay therapy, get married and have kids, struggle with my identity for years, have a rough marriage, get divorced, fall in love with a man, become estranged from my kids, and struggle to have a good-paying job afterwards.  All of that causes one to think and reflect.

So today I start a series of posts on my reflections on this journey thus far.

One of the things that I’ve thought a lot about is “What if I had just come out when I was younger instead of putting so many people through so much pain?”  (((sigh)))  This is a biggie for me.  I have thought about it a lot.  Here are some things I’ve come up with…both positive and negative.

If I had come out when I was younger I would have…

…come out right when the AIDS crisis was hitting.  I was saved from that!
…had a lot more sex with men
…felt better about myself at a younger age
…possibly not had children
…had more disposable income
…not met many of the wonderful friends that I have in life
…possibly still be living in California
…not gained the emotional healing that I received from my former in-laws
…learned earlier that fundamentalism kills
…saved a lot of dollars on therapy, let alone the emotional wear and tear
…probably been happier for the last 20 years
…missed out on so much of life that I never would have experienced any other way
…not deeply hurt the people closest to me

Those are just a few of the things I came up with.  There are good and bad things on that list.  How can I even say, “I should have come out sooner”?  In some ways I would love to say that but in other ways I can never say that.  My painful, twisted journey has brought joy and sadness, difficultly and safety, and an understanding of life that I could not have had any other way.  There are times I think, “I should have…” or “If only…” and there are other times that I just have to be present to my reality and say, “It is what it is.”

So I live with the tension.  Even now as I write this, I am both content and disconent…happy and sad.  It’s not dualistic.  It’s not black or white.  It’s not good or bad.  It just is.  I have a feeling I will probably always live with such a tension in my life.  That tension comes when you make peace with your life and when you have a deeper knowing.  It’s reality.  It’s what I know.

It has definitely been a while since I posted.  Life has been very crazy, to say the least.  I will have to take a couple of posts to get updated.  The big things are that I have a new job and have moved out of my former home.  But today’s post will focus on the backlash that I have experienced in coming out over the past month.

The end of December and beginning of January was a roller coaster of negative backlash in my life.  For a while, it seemed like every day brought a new negative response from people in my life.  It was a VERY emotional time for me as I dealt with the pain of tons of anger and rejection.

The backlash began with a friend stabbing me in the back.  I won’t go into the details here but suffice it to say, this friend was upset with some of the decisions I was making with my life.  The ensuing fallout with the friend got very ugly and even spilled over into the new church I am leading.  The wounds of a friend cut deep, to be sure.

Additionally, my former boss (senior pastor) found out about the truth of my new life much faster than I had planned.  His response was typical of conservative Evangelicalism and I am pretty sure by my phone call with him that I am now considered to be the spawn of Satan.  While I would love to repeat some of the things said to me for shock value, I will choose not to do so in this forum.  I will say, though, that I am very glad to be out of conservative Evangelicalism and will never look back after what I have experienced in the past couple of months!

Finally, I have experienced a great deal of backlash from my kids.  At the moment, none of my kids want to see me nor are any of them speaking to me.  This, by far, has been the most painful thing that has happened in the past month.  Though my marriage has really been over for a year, the fact that I am already in a relationship even though my divorce is not final has not gone over well with my kids.  Ultimately, I understand their feelings and know that there is no way that they can walk even for a minute in my shoes.  So I just have to be patient with their process.  I miss them like crazy and hope that they will be able to forgive me someday.

It feels like I have lost a lot in this process.  I know there are probably still some relationships that will be lost as the news of my coming out touches more and more people.  Though there has been a lot of backlash and pain in the loss, I am positive that I have done the right thing by being honest about who I am.  Change couldn’t possibly happen without backlash and pain.  But on the other side of things, I am now happy and content.  Hopefully over the next year, things will calm down and I will be able to rebuild the trust and love that I once had with my kids.  And I imagine that I will find out who my real friends are in this process.  But in the process, I am boldly taking one step forward at a time…knowing that my happiness and destiny are now beginning to come to fruition.

Last week, I finally told my youngest son what is going on.  I have to say that it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life.  I will never forget the look on his face when I said, “Mommy and Daddy have decided not to stay married to each other.”  His head bowed…he looked down…a frown came on his face…and tears began to well up in his eyes.

And then I told him why…I’m gay.  How do you explain that to a 9 year old?  And how do you help him to understand that even though the family is going to change, that we will always be family.  And how do you help him to understand that none of it his fault?  And how do you help to heal the pain that he is feeling when he hears news that hurts so deeply?

I cried.  It hurt me to see him hurt.  I hugged him and told him that I love him and that I will always be his dad no matter what.

And it killed me.

It was seriously one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.