Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Mixed-Orientation Marriages: Dave's Responses


This is the concluding post in a series that began with this one. These posts, which include material originally published on my Invictus Pilgrim blog three years ago, have told the story of "Dave" - an active gay Mormon man in a mixed-orientation marriage. Today's post sets out Dave's responses to the comments left by others on the original post.

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I read the first comment early this morning before leaving for work, and while I am trying to remain open to all options, my reaction wasn't good … Perhaps my comments in the blog were unclear - I've tried this route, to "accept God into his life and tries hard enough, his homosexual attractions will diminish" for more than 10 years, without success. The result? Despair, self-hatred, hopelessness, anger, guilt...you know the cycle.

To be honest, I'm not sure where I fall on the Kinsey scale, but MohoHawaii is likely correct. Without coming to terms with whether I'm ready to slap a rainbow flag on my car or claim bi-sexuality, I have come out to several good friends by telling them about my years of silence and pain, and by describing the beginning of this journey. The reactions have all been supportive, but certainly differ depending on whether they're Mormon or not. I have felt some peace since my secret is no longer my own.

I've also sought out a second therapist that is Mormon, but who is on the same page with me as far as the likelihood one can change one's sexuality. And I'm working toward re-engaging my wife in this discussion. MohoHawaii is correct here as well: I need to know if she is ok living an emotionally vacant marriage. And while she may say that she is at the outset, that could well change as I work through this over the next several years.

When we discussed this several years ago, she was loving and supportive, but then I was still describing my feelings as same gender attraction. Which is very different from saying, I love you, but I can't love you in all the ways you deserve, and probably never will. Oh, and I'm gay, not simply "suffering from SGA [same-gender attraction]” …

Trev - you noted that I don't sound happy now. And as I replied earlier, I'm not. But there are many factors involved. Prior to reaching the tipping point, my unhappiness was caused by my anger at God for not taking away this SGA, for not changing me, and at myself due to my inability to live a good enough life to make this go away and for never coming to terms with my sexuality or acknowledging my true nature before burdening my wife and children with this dilemma. Now, I reject these ideas and accept that my sexuality will not change, but the guilt related to what I've done to my wife remains. And my angst now is related to the uncertainties that lie ahead. It's extremely difficult to give up on the future I always thought I would have.

Don - your words are appreciated, "You are of no use to those around you if you are suffocating. There's lots of air available, all you have to do is breathe." I agree. Until I am open with my wife about everything that is happening, determining whether I can be authentic with my family and also be happy is an unknown. For now, I'm trying take this one step at a time while I figure out what my true nature is and whether this acknowledgment changes the feelings I have for my wife. 

Joe Conflict - I've read your blog from beginning to end and it was a great help. I agree with your advice to Trev. Before giving a MOM a try, I would suggest that Trev be true to his nature and explore a same orientation marriage/relationship. Maybe that's easy for me to say, but I believe my choices would have been very different if I was trying to figure out my sexuality in today's environment.

Beck - I've also read your blog from beginning to end. And I appreciate your comments, including "It takes a lot of work, and some serious sacrifice on both parts, but it is possible. Communication is the key." Time will tell if communication helps in my case. Honest is certainly a necessary element to moving forward. My own self-deception has played an important role in the emotional roller coaster I've been on. And dishonesty is a skill I've mastered by living this lie for so long.

Trey - generally I relate to your martyr comment. Being in the marriage, but not being present, is no longer working. My advice to others is to meet this head-on by first exploring "the depths" as Invictus advised me, and then figure out which direction to take. Living in denial and in hiding hasn't solved anything for me.

Alex - you have captured the essence of my situation - "You feel at peace for the first time with yourself because you can accept something that you’ve been trying to change and fight for years. But it scares you because you don’t know what that means for your future, for your marriage." 

And until I reached this point, I didn't understand the dimension of emotional love that is missing. As you point out, it's not confined by the generic "same gender attraction" term, it is my sexual identity, which is part of me, it's who I am. 

At the same time, accepting my true identity makes me want to live in harmony with my identity, right NOW. But as you noted, everyone must find the path that is correct for them. And I won't know what that means for some time - I want to remain married, but my/our goals may change as we work through this. 

It's difficult to consider living differently than I envisioned. And just to beat Dan's analogy to death, "There's lots of air available, all you have to do is breathe" -- after holding my breath and hiding for many years, breathing doesn't come naturally or quickly. So, here's to learning to breathe …

Geckoman and Mister Curie - thanks for adding your experience. This weekend has been rough, but I'm more hopeful than I've been in a long time. On Sunday, the sacrament speakers both discussed the importance of following the guidance of the prophets/apostles, with the promise of being protected from harm. I couldn't hold back the tears as I thought, "that hasn't been my experience." On the way home from church I lost it, and I finally told my wife that I've been depressed for months, as well as the things I've discussed here. We've been talking since yesterday. A song by NewRepublic entitled, Giving my Secrets Away, captures how I feel. Carrying this secret has made this much more painful and lonely. But I feel more hopeful as I face this head on, instead of hiding.

Thanks for weighing in on this post. In the last couple months, I starting telling my wife about everything I've been feeling as well as my therapy sessions. We have both attended a couple sessions together and we're talking about all the questions I've avoided for many years. We're working through everything and although I still feel like I'm on a roller coaster ride of emotion, I believe I'm headed in the right direction. In fact, through this work, the source of the emptiness and loneliness I described in this post is now clear to me. Because it abated for a time and then returned during a discussion that brought back the sadness I've felt in the past when I think about what my choices have done to my wife. And as we continue to talk, things continue to get better. Our emotional connection is now better than it's ever been. And I don't want to throw away all the good things in my life because of this one aspect that I find difficult.

Thanks for the positive feedback.

- Dave

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for putting such time and effort into these posts. As a gay man, who is married to a woman, I have had to go through what you, Dave, and other commenters have had to in this journey. It can be a lonely and frightening path, but the burden is made lighter by those who have walked it before, and with those whom I come across on my own journey. As a side note, I started reading your blog (IP) over a year ago when I first came out, and like so many gay married Mormon men, I told myself that I was strong, and I was going to stay active and faithful, and clung so tightly to the hopes promised by "prayer and faith" that not only did I find myself back in the closet, but suffocating under the pressure. Each one of us needs to realize our own path, and our own level of comfort with everything, including being gay, the impact on family, and the relationship we have with the church. For me it was creating a greater distance, and saying "You have your expectations of me, and so I have mine of you." It is freeing and liberating in so many ways to take control like that.

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  2. Thank you for commenting, C O'Dell. Your comments encapsulate in one paragraph the experiences that so many men have had and are having. Best wishes as you continue your journey.

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