Posts Tagged ‘living the tension’

I am a dad.  I will always be a dad.  I love my kids no matter what.  The moment they each were born, I fell in love with them and will love them until my dying breath.

The problem is, my kids don’t want me to be a regular part of their lives right now.  They are hurt.  They are wounded.  They are embarassed.

I haven’t spoken to my two oldest kids in over a year.  They refuse to speak to me…they refuse to see me…they refuse to interact with me at all.  They are both in high school and they have basically chosen to write me out of their lives. 

My youngest kid didn’t want to see me at the beginning of this year…then he let me back into his life for several months…and now he doesn’t want to see me again.  I think it hurts him too much and he’s too embarassed by me.

I can’t tell you how much hurt I have experienced in the past year because of my estrangement from my kids.  It is a pain that just won’t go away.  And no matter how hard I try to change things, I can’t.  Nothing works.  So I am forced to let go and ride this out.  My counselor told me a year ago that it could take 10 years for my kids to come around.  I just didn’t know that it would be so painful in the process.

I have cried a lot over all of this.  It’s a horrible feeling to be so completely rejected by your kids.  I know that part of this is because of past mistakes I made with them.  Part of this is them punishing me because they are so hurt.  Part of this is their faith, which tells them that I am a huge sinner.  Part of this is their mom, who is letting them make their own choices about how they relate to me.  It’s one big giant painful mess and this is, by far, the worst part about my journey in the past year.  A large piece of my heart has been torn away from me and there is nothing that can heal that pain right now.

Some might chide me and say, “Was it worth losing your kids in order to gain this new sinful lifestyle you now have?”  That way of thinking is ridiculous.  I didn’t choose between my kids and my sexuality.  I had to choose life over death.  My former way of life was killing me and I had to make changes in order finally to begin to live.  It’s just that the cost of life and wholeness and health ended up being my kids…at least for now.  I trust that over time, we will be able to work through all of this and have some sort of relationship in the future.

I desperately miss my kids.  I can’t write any more right now or I’m going to break down into tears.  So I just have to say that this loss is far more painful than I ever imagined.

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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.