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Moving Forward But Caught Off Guard

Discussion in 'LGBT Later in Life' started by slowmo, May 13, 2018.

  1. slowmo

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    It’s been a few months since I’ve posted here on EC. Frankly, I felt sort of pathetic about posting anything more until I had something more positive to share. Sorry for the long post here.

    To recap … I’m a guy approaching 60 who actively suppressed feelings of being gay until a few years ago, even though I always knew I “wasn’t like the other guys.” I forced myself to play the role of husband and dad pretty well. I married early. I stayed faithful for 30 years (mostly very unhappily) married to an emotionally abusive narcissistic wife. I’ve been separated and then divorced for almost ten years. Being gay had nothing overtly or explicitly to do with me leaving my wife – it was to spare the kids from their actively toxic mom. Anyway, I now have three great adult kids who are the focus and joy of my life. My youngest son is still living with me for another 6 months or so; the other two are out on their own.

    I’m self-employed and have largely led a very isolated life in just about every way possible. I’ve come to see it was that gnawing sense that I never really “let me be me” which caused me to feel dishonest and unworthy of seeking or accepting much of anything from others. And that’s still a problem for me.

    I’ve been seeing a very supportive therapist for a couple of years, and he’s really helped me move forward, albeit at my own slow pace. I also took to heart advice I got here on EC about not wrestling with when and how to tell my kids that Dad is gay until I had moved further forward in my own comfort with being gay and had gotten out into the world as a gay man. I concluded that “being gay in name only” was not a sufficient basis for coming out to my kids and disrupting their lives.


    Anyway, in the past couple of months I’ve gone from believing that being gay is a secret I’d take to my grave, to joining a couple of weekly men’s support/social groups at the local gay center. I’m fortunate to live in a populous area with an active gay community. It took me a few weeks just to work up the nerve to attend that first meeting – I thought I would faint, but I persevered. I’m consciously working more and more on putting myself out there.

    I even developed a mini-crush on a guy in one of the sessions, but then he stopped attending before I was able to get his contact info. Oh well. It still really opened my eyes to idea that I could actually have feelings for a real-live guy and want to explore those feelings with him. I can see my self asking a man for a date before very long. It hit me. Maybe I don’t have to spend the rest of my life alone and lonely? It was totally unexpected and very scary, but it also gave me some much-needed motivation to keep moving forward.

    Everyone has been very welcoming to me as the new guy at these groups, although most of the men are older than me. And I’ve felt surprisingly OK sharing my thoughts and feelings. In fact, I now feel less anxious in these groups than I would in other new social or business environments. Maybe I do fit in after all. Nonetheless, I’m wrestling now with two things I didn’t necessarily expect.

    First, I really struggle with this feeling of being “a man without a country.” In these groups, I’m fully OK talking about being gay and how I got to the place where I am today. There’s been no negative reaction or judgment, but I do sense some of the guys are really baffled how someone could wait until so late in life. BTW I accept that I’m especially sensitive about this topic and may be transferring my own insecurity onto other people. I also feel very much separated from the life experiences – both good and bad – that these other guys have had. I get it intellectually, but that emotional camaraderie and connection to their history is sadly missing. It’s like I just landed from a different planet. Again, this may be more my feeling/issue than theirs. But I do wonder if this will always be a problem unless I find someone whose story is more similar to mine.

    Second, while there is a certain something that comes from me and these guys all being gay, in a lot of cases that’s where anything we have in common begins and ends. I’m trying to get used to the idea of creating a network of acquaintance and friends with different degrees of closeness and synergy, but sadly there’s not a lot in my background to rely on in this department. Am I wrong to wonder whether “just being gay” is enough to create a bond?


    The main thing I tell myself is to not rush to judgment, not to pull back, and not to give up. I’ve proven to myself that I can get further down this path than I had expected even a few months ago. And that gives me confidence to believe I can keep moving forward. I’m finally letting myself feel it’s OK to want more in life and go after it. The really scary part is learning to let myself FEEL anything after have mastered the art of being emotionally numb for decades. I’m already thinking pretty seriously about trying online dating once my son moves out. It scares me … but the desire to have a deeper connection with a man is beginning to prove stronger than my fears.

    Thanks for the encouragement here and for the permission to try new things without insisting to myself that I need to have all the answers before taking the first step. Some days it's still amazing difficult, but I'm trying not to dwell on those time too much.
     
    lazybear03 likes this.
  2. quebec

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    slowmo.....Hello and welcome back to empty closets! "but I do sense some of the guys are really baffled how someone could wait until so late in life." You say that you're approaching 60....definitely not too old....I came out at 64. It sounds like you truly have made a lot of progress! As far as “just being gay” being enough of a connection....I think it's a great way to start if you're looking for a relationship. Any relationship starts with some kind of small connection that eventually grows into something that the individuals build on. As for your other concern, sometimes it really is opposites attract so I don't think you should limit yourself to only looking for someone who is like you. Hope this all continues to improve for you....you have made a really great start!
    .....David :gay_pride_flag:
     
  3. PatrickUK

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    The fact that you have taken this step is a sign of great progress and you must give it time. You've been to a weekly meeting for only the last couple of months, so we're actually talking about 10 meetings with other gay men (mostly older men) in almost 60 years. Even though you haven't fully clicked with the guys there, attending has opened your mind to new possibilities that were absent from your life and the idea of dating is now firmly on the table. Again, this is great progress.

    Being gay isn't enough in itself, but it's a foundation and a pretty big thing to have in common and build upon. I agree with quebec that opposites can sometimes attract and make things more interesting. If both parties are open minded and willing to give and take you can discover more common ground.
     
  4. Northern guy

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    It takes time to develop any kind of meaningful friendship, but you’ve made a really good start. It’s a daunting prospect for you , but you’ve begun to network , after all those years of being “emotionally numb” as you succinctly put it. You’ve made the first moves to attend these groups, one day you will realise the benefit of what you’ve started. You will achieve what you want... to feel what it’s like being you . You’ll gain in confidence, and you’ll find you have a lot to offer other people in terms of your life experiences. Underneath, a lot of the guys you’ve met are lacking in confidence and trying to find themselves, just the same as you.
    From my own experience, and I apologise that I’ve related this previously on this forum , I was left very much alone after my partner died . I had no gay friends and very little support elsewhere . I had to start all over , at 52, joining groups , helping at a charity, attending those groups alone and leaving alone for what seemed like forever. But eventually I found I had made progress , and friends .
    I joined an online social network site for gay guys , made a few friends there , one who has become a best friend who I still see , and then there’s my partner who I now live with. This has taken 6 years .
    I also tried online dating , with good and bad results , but at least I gained the confidence to do it , and it all helped me develop a new life , which I’m enjoying .
    I hope this encourages you to continue moving forward , you’ll feel so different in a few weeks, months, years .
     
  5. smurf

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    You aren't wrong. It would seem weird right? The thing is that we only need just some things in common to possibly create great friendships. People get together to just fish and they get great friendships, some people get together based on the car they own or just their religoius believes an they get great friendships. Sexuality can be that start for you for sure.

    The trick is that once you see someone who you think might be fun to get to know you try and do things outside of the group as well. So if there is a guy you think seems cool or a couple invite them for lunch one day and get to know them better. Think of the actual meeting as a starting point and not the end goal.

    That's the way I felt. Its a great feeling to find people who have very similar stories to ours. You get to relate to them in this very specific way.

    Have you asked around to see if anyone knows of a group for LGBT people who used to be in straight marriages? Some big cities have groups just for that. If not, way in the future, it might be something that you might be able to host for your city!