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how to get over the guilt?

Discussion in 'LGBT Later in Life' started by Dave Dutch, Nov 13, 2017.

  1. Dave Dutch

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    So here I am, out at 50, Just shy of 25 yrs married to my wife. Three beautiful kids, 16, 17, 20.
    So many feelings.............. My journey culminated after 10yrs of ongoing recovery from addiction. Always knew but the denial and walls and terrible experiences hitting on straight guys over the years and of course the suppressed fear . I basically devoted my life to my kids but now there older and I couldn't deny it any longer. My wife was devastated. I didn't come out at first, I thought she was on the same page. We had grown apart, almost no sex for a couple of years and was on the couch most nights. We were however dealing with a lot with one of our teenage daughters.
    I do feel a sense of guilt but the more I'm writing now I feel its generated from her. I don't know. Very confused about how I should be feeling............
     
  2. silverhalo

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    Hey welcome to EC. Are you saying you were intimate with a guy behind your wife's back?
     
  3. Dave Dutch

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    No. Feeling somewhat guilty for not being honest to myself earlier.
     
  4. Markieg64

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    Hi Dave
    I' m 53 and married for 30yrs I have not come out yet to my family . Try not to be so hard on yourself it was hard to come out all those years ago but you have done it know . that is more courage than me im just not ready and when i am it will be the hardest thing to do for hurting my wife and girls but just talk to people on here it might help you

    Hope you start feeling better in yourself
     
  5. silverhalo

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    Hey I totally agree with what Markieg64 said. Coming out is tough even now and back then it was harder. We all have our own journey and have to deal with things when we are ready. Back then wasn't your time for whatever reason and you were only doing what you thought was right at the time. Give yourself a break.
     
  6. Biguy45

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    I haven’t come out as bi and right now I don’t have plans to. The guilt I feel is that when I realized I was bi, I had a brief sexual encounter with a man. It was just one time. I really enjoyed but I still love my wife and don’t want to betray her. I feel the guilt of cheating on her every day. If it ever gets so bad I can’t resist being with a man again, I will tell her. Until then, I will stay in the closet
     
  7. Dave Dutch

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    Tks everyone for your support.
     
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  8. Choirboy

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    I felt very guilty at first. Came out to my wife in my early 50's, two teenage girls, 20 years of marriage, and more importantly, I knew I liked guys when I married her but was very convinced that my love for her and my desire for a family would make the gay slowly fade off into the distance. I thought, I'm wrecking the girls' family life, destroying my wife's sense of security, and then despite planning to hold the family together another 4-5 years till the youngest was out of high school, I met a guy only a few months after the big reveal and moved out a year later.

    One of the things I did to help myself through the guilt was to try and take a high-level view of the situation. I asked myself at first if I was rationalizing it, but came to the conclusion that really, I was trying to be as neutral and distant as possible.

    My daughters have many activities that they are involved with, and while we are definitely very close, the actual amount of time during the course of the day that we spend together is really minimal. I was disturbed at first that I wasn't sleeping under the same roof with them, but we all have phones and I make a lot of effort to talk and, more importantly, to listen. My oldest is in college now, a 14 hour drive away, so where I live is basically irrelevant. The youngest is a junior in high school. She sometimes wishes I was with her, but we've adjusted well. Their mom and I had talked divorce when they were very young; I think I'd feel much more guilty if I had left back then.

    My wife was tougher. I really did love her, but she has some emotional problems that have made her increasingly hard to deal with. They have also made her increasingly irresponsible and she's developed a bad hoarding problem, has a volatile temper and can be extremely manipulative. I finally had to look at what's happened between us over the past 2 decades and came to the realization that it wasn't just my homosexuality that I was keeping under wraps. I was basically denying myself all happiness of any kind to keep the peace and prevent some kind of new blowup. I have come to the conclusion that it's like living with an alcoholic, and no matter how much you may love them, at some point you have to escape before it kills you emotionally. I felt awful leaving the girls there, but we communicate well and I knew that they were approaching adulthood and independence anyhow, and needed to figure out for themselves what their relationship with their mother was going to be like.

    I don't know what your family and marriage was like. But it sounds as though you had plenty of challenges over and above just being gay. I know in my heart that I made more of an effort, and put up with far more unhappiness and abuse, than most straight guys in a similar situation would have. (Her first husband didn't last 3 years with her.) And particularly if you were faithful and didn't sleep with guys behind her back (I didn't either), you don't have infidelity to beat yourself up with either. Some of it is rationalization until you believe what you're telling yourself. I will admit that. But chances are good that you did all you could, and if that's the case, there's no point in feeling guilty. You can't do more than you are able to do.
     
  9. Biguy45

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    I commend you gentlemen for not cheating on your wives. I wish I was strong enough to do that. It was almost like temporary insanity. I got so excited over the thought of it that I felt I had to do it. I never said I was a good person
     
  10. Dave Dutch

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    Wow, such a similar story! More "less unique" I feel, the better.
    Thank you so much for sharing that with me.
     
  11. Dave Dutch

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    My above reply was for Choirboy
     
  12. Biguy45

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    Yep I figured that
     
  13. Choirboy

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    Biguy45, don't be too hard on yourself. I may have been faithful to her technically, but my browser history would have a very different story to tell. I was also watched like a hawk and served as the ATM, chauffeur and general servant and go-fer, so trying to cheat on her would have been like trying to read War and Peace in the one bathroom of a 6-person household.

    Dave Dutch, I can assure you that you're not at all unique in this. That was one of the most comforting things that I realized here. A lot of us were confused, or uncomfortable about the gay lifestyle of the time, and were genuinely committed to our families and wanted things to work. We also seem to have a knack for ending up with women who exploit our weaknesses and often are abusive or manipulative with us. My ex and I have come to a certain understanding, and she's now dating a guy that is apparently too dense to realize what she's like (or else he's thick-skinned enough not to be hurt by it). But I don't trust her and I can see how she's still trying to bring up the old feelings of guilt, even if I'm largely immune now. But we can be in the same room and not make everyone around us feel awkward. And the kids are as close to me as ever, and are much more accepting of my boyfriend than hers. My partner's story is more complicated and is still developing, but his relationship with his ex was similarly toxic and unhealthy.

    What's important to know is that he and I survived. It wasn't always pretty in either of our families and there are still rough spots sometimes. There are days when I'm profoundly depressed that the perfect life I had dreamt up fell to pieces before my eyes. Some days I'm angry with myself for not coming out in my 20's when I realized pretty clearly that women were not any kind of a turn-on for me, but guys left me breathless. Or that when my mother, a few months before her death, tried very hard to open the closet door for me and offered to be accepting, and I assured her I was straight as an arrow and still looking for the right girl. We have wasted a lot of time that we could have been out and gay, but we've had experiences we could not have had if we had been, and they have enriched our lives and our understanding. As one of the moderator here has said in the past, if you find yourself at Disney World with an all-day pass at 2 in the afternoon, true, you can't go on all the rides you could have if you got there at 10, but don't waste time whining about what you missed, when you can still get in there and have fun. Come on in - there are a lot of us here catching up!
     
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  14. Biguy45

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    Thanks for understanding. All of us are human and make mistakes I guess. As guilty as I feel about it, I don’t really regret it. I cherish the experience
     
  15. I'm gay

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    Hi Dave Dutch,

    I relate so much to your post. I came out last year at 47 years old, married for 20 years with two boys 17 & 13, and like you, I didn't cheat on my wife. I understand the guilt all too well. Of course the guilt was a big part of why I didn't come out years earlier. I only came out because staying closeted was killing me. I felt guilt for having married her when I knew that I was gay. I felt guilt for taking away the future she believed we had together. I felt guilt for robbing her of a life with a straight guy without her knowledge. And I felt guilt for denying myself and losing decades of my life with the wrong partner.

    A common definition of guilt is: a feeling of worry or unhappiness that you have because you have done something wrong. I did do something wrong, even though I felt I had no choice at the time. So, the guilt I have felt is righteous guilt. I reject statements from people who say that I shouldn't feel guilty. Of course I should feel guilty - it's righteous guilt. However, I have forgiven myself for my actions so long ago. I did the best that I could at the time given my circumstances and what I believed at that time. You did the same, Dave. So, own your guilt, forgive yourself for your mistakes so long ago, and move forward now with your best authentic self. It's really all you can do.

    One of the important lessons I've learned over the last year is that I am not responsible for the happiness of anyone else, including my wife and children. Each of us is responsible for our own happiness. Your wife might try to place her unhappiness on you, but that doesn't mean you have to agree with it. She will need to find happiness on her own. If she fails to reach that point and remains hostile and bitter, please know that it's not on you.

    Please feel free to message me if you want to talk outside of this thread.

    Take care. :gay_pride_flag:
     
  16. heythere1971

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    I see truth in each of these posts. Guilt is a beast. My lie is a bit different. I never knew I was gay. I always knew I was hetero. Insisted on it. Male massage, I had at a young age changed things, though not initially. I was shamed I found enjoyment in male touch. I then fled from it for years. Until my then wife was unfaithful. The extreme pain in a divorce, a nasty divorce at that..I was a raw wound. Able to face things for the first time as well being so broken. I was dating again, women, at the same time I went back to massage. I kept my eyes open and free from religious guilt or family ties let myself admit what I felt was ok. Well, I ended up remarried..actually do love my now wife, though find I can't enjoy sex. My mind is just on other things if you get my drift. She has emotional issues and I am her rock. Her financial and emotional support. I don't want to cheat, and refuse to hurt her let alone go though another divorce. At same time I can't deny where I am. Was I always gay? Am I bi? Is sex just fluid in everyone? I know it's painful as hell not being able to talk to someone. Good luck finding a gay friend on the normal online ways us closeted people lurk. Try as I might, those are all scams or worse and impossible to find someone that wants to talk. So I live in shame, still. As I have in one way shape or form since I was 19 or 20. I have an occasional massage and hope the masseur will want something deeper, failing every time. I ramble. Just found these stories hit home and I am in feel sorry for myself mode. Hell I feel sorry for my wife as well, who has no idea the rate my self discovery that s disconnecting us.
     
  17. slowmo

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    Choirboy ... I too have given a lot of thought to why I ended up marrying and staying with a not-very-nice or balanced woman for 30 years before divorcing her. In my case, I never let myself accept that I was gay, nor did I ever act on it, although my browser history sounds a lot like yours. With the benefit of hindsight -- and a lot of therapy and self-assessment -- I now attribute my poor choice of a wife to two interrelated factors. First, I think I was so full of self-doubt and so inexperienced in the ways of dating and women, that I latched onto the first girl with who I ever had a serious relationship. We met at 18 and married at 22. All the signs were there that she was a classic narcissist, but I chose to ignore them. And that points to the second issue. I had a very poor sense of self-worth and a feeling that I was not deserving of love or respect since I was not "normal." As a result, I came to believe that I deserved to live a life of misery with this woman. I put everything I had emotionally into my kids. In fact, it was the growing harm her narcissistic personality was causing the kids that eventually caused me to leave her. It took me another five years before I was able to admit to myself I'm gay, and even now I still haven't mustered the strength to come out ... but I'm getting closer.
     
  18. SiennaFire

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    Hi Dave Dutch,

    We both come from a generation where being gay (that is, being a homosexual, fag, or queer) wasn't as accepted as it is today. If you were like me, you probably learned growing up that being gay was wrong, bad, or otherwise a sin. It's understandable that given such pressures we might chose to stay in the closet and deny our true selves. You were responding to deep societal pressures, and you should not feel guilty or bad for doing so.

    As for your wife, it's quite natural for her to feel devastated because you dropped a bomb on her. You've had 40+ years to accept your sexuality, so she'll need time to process her reaction to the news. A therapist or the Straight Spouse Network might help her.

    You are doing what is necessary for you to find yourself and live authentically. You don't need to apologize or feel guilty. I've been down the same path and can say that life is genuinely better on the other side of the rainbow :gay_pride_flag:

    Best,
    SF
     
  19. Ashlee Greene

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    It’s easy to be hard on yourself, to feel guilty etc. I have been seeing a therapist, which has helped tremendously...what I did realize about myself is that the marriage ending, enjoying sex for the first time (with the same gender) were symptoms of having repressed a lot of emotions for many years. Getting through therapy is not easy, but worth it. My therapist has a PhD, and writes articles for Psychology today- she is amazing!!!
    Good luck!