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Well, that went about as badly as possible

Discussion in 'LGBT Later in Life' started by quadratic, Jul 6, 2020.

  1. quadratic

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    Subtitle: how to destroy a family and the lives of everybody in it

    Me: 60yo cis-gendered male

    So yesterday, on my 60th birthday, I came out to my family (my hand was in a sense forced, but that's not relevant). I've been living apart from my family for over three years, but until the recent lockdowns had been a very regular visitor to the family home. I have a wife and four children at home.

    In the course of very long ranging conversation, the family learned that I'd never not been attracted to men, but the level of attraction has grown over the years from when I was much younger to the sense that I don't think that I can consider myself bi any more: "gay" will do nicely. Now my sexuality is neither here nor there really: one of my sons is gay; I have lots of gay friends. That in itself was a problem for me: gay was their personas, not mine. Also in the conversation it was revealed that I've met a nice man to whom I've become very attracted, although our relationship (if that it be) has been entirely platonic.

    As you can image, trying to work out who I am and who I might be has been an almighty struggle for 20+ years, and I tried to compartmentalize myself into a loving husband and father in one part; and the other a gay man. It says much for my emotional incompetence that I tried this for so long. Naturally I've had enormous difficulty responding emotionally to my wife, and she has spent 20-odd years as a vigorous life-coach trying to get me to be more emotionally honest and open. I could have avoided all her hard work by simply saying..."err - you know what... I'm gay" 20 years ago. But I didn't. I kept trying and failing, trying and failing.

    The upshot of yesterday's discussion is utter fury on the part of my family: fury that I've abused and betrayed their trust, that I've been living a lie; that I've been deceitful and dishonest. My wife has always said that the thing she hates most is lying and dishonesty, and that's been my life - and hers - for the last 20 years. She can't speak to me now without vitriol "If I were you, I'd kill myself" she said earlier, along with "Do you know what it means to hurt and destroy another person?" and speaking of one of my sons "He will never speak to you again."

    Lest you think I'm painting a picture of my wife as a bitch from hell, you could not be more wrong. She has been loving, incredibly forgiving, hopeful, good-humored and a fantastic wife and mother. I quoted her above to demonstrate the level of her hurt and betrayal. During the 3+ years I've been living separately, not a day has gone when she hasn't hoped that I might come back to her, that I would want to be with her, and we could, in the sense of her hopes, pick up again.

    So yesterday saw the complete dashing and shattering of all her fondest hopes, as well as the realization that for 20 years she's been hurt by my emotional distance, and worked like a dockyard navvy to build bridges between us, only to realize that all that effort was wasted.

    It's a complete shitstorm.

    Al
     
  2. LostInDaydreams

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    Welcome to EC and well done for coming out. I am, however, sorry that it did not go well.

    How does your wife normally process shock, disappointment, arguments, etc.? I appreciate that this is not a typical argument, but do you think might come around with time?

    How old are your sons? Are they old enough to form their own opinion?
     
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  3. Vesta

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    I think the reaction elicited from your wife is just as you've said, she feels hurt. She spent a good portion of her life with a man she loves and adores, only to find out that he is gay. The problem with this line of thinking is that she doesn't see, nor realise, how much difficulty and pressure has been placed on you. She fails to see how hard the situation has been for you and the fact you've had to essentially repress being your truest self for her and your family. However much she may look down on the situation, you did it all those years with the best of intention. You didn't do it out of spite or to upset anybody.

    It would be selfish of her to think that you should be expected to continue living a lie just for their sake. The fact she brought in your children into the mix, speaking on their behalf, shows the depth of her hurt. Given that one of your sons is gay, I am confident that he will remain a little more understanding because he has a unique perspective on the matter that your wife does not.

    For now I think the best thing to do is to give her some space and to work through the hurt.
     
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  4. DecentOne

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    Welcome to Empty Closets Quadratic,

    It sounds like you did not cheat on your wife, which may make the healing easier.

    I realized I am bisexual a couple years ago. I’d been straight up to then, but I found my fantasies had switched to guys. I came out to my wife right after discovering this, with a therapist’s help. She too was furious. It started an emotional roller coaster. Despite the fact that I have never been sexual with anyone but her, and never strayed from monogamy, nor am I asking to. In my case I love her and want to be with her, so that is different from your situation, but I do want to let you know that the emotions level out over time. Now, my wife does not like to be reminded of the words she said to me.

    My heart goes out to you and your family. It is a big step to claim your orientation and declare it to those you love.
     
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  5. brainwashed

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    Welcome to ECs. I've never read here on ECs where moving forward is not a good thing. What does moving forward mean? Living authentically. I'll put my Mr. Analogy hat on. A person breaks their humerus bone - upper arm bone. The arm is clearly kinked. Does the person get the bone set so it can be straight for life? (the person will be more productive and happy) Or does the person let the bone heal kinked?
     
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  6. I'mStillStanding

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    Well first congratulations... I know that sounds weird, but the fact that you have made huge step in accepting who you are and living a life where you can be open and honest with yourself and get to explore and experience all things you’ve held yourself back from your entire life is something that should be celebrated! I know there is guilt for those who are hurting, and they need their time to go through that... but you can’t take on that. You’ve spent your life in torment with this struggle and spending one moment more because someone wants you hurting because they are doesn’t make sense. I’m not saying don’t let them have there pain, I’m saying the opposite. Recognize it’s theirs. You go about your life and live it and love it. When you can be there for those you love do so, and if things start going left (like someone saying kill yourself, calling you a liar, etc.) remove yourself from the conversation and go back to living your life in a happy place till they are ready to discuss it openly. They aren’t expressing their pain, they are trying to hurt you because they are hurting. I’m saying they are bad people just nothing productive comes from that so don’t waste the time...

    Secondly... I wasn’t married no where near that long and didn’t have kids either so my story is way different. But I did a lot of soul searching. I’m not angry I lied to others... because I told them the truth I had at the time... I lied to myself and that pisses me off. So be honest with yourself. At the end of the day that’s the most important thing.

    Hopefully the kids will come around quickly... but give them some time... the ex well not matter how much you want to you can’t fix this because the problem she has is the gay and you brought it to the party. So let her sort it out... you guys will have to come together for sure but she’s gotta get her side handled on her own! You honestly don’t owe anyone anything but the truth and sounds like you’ve given them that. Taking abuse isn’t penitence though we all think it is...

    Congrats again :slight_smile:
     
  7. silverhalo

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    Hey I am sorry it didnt go well but dont lose all hope. You didnt hurt them on purpose and I am sure in time it will settle down. For now be kind to yourself it wasn't easy to get to where you have gotten.
     
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  8. quadratic

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    Thank you all for your warm and positive replies. I do have one other child who's studying overseas, and I wrote a long and heartfelt message to him, to which he responded in the warmest tones - I wept when I read his email. "I'm really really happy for you" he said. So hope there is, although at the moment it's pretty bleak. Thank you all again - having found this wonderful forum I will aim to post more.

    cheers,
    Al
     
  9. silverhalo

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    I'm glad you have hope, however small it might seem right now.
     
  10. quadratic

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    Just to continue the saga: as of yesterday, while I was teaching an online class (I'm a university academic) two of my sons came round with all of my books and CDs still in the family home and dumped them - in masses of shopping bags, in the carpark at the rear of my block of flats. So now where I used to have floor space and a nice rug I now have books... and more books... and more. It's like the family want to expunge me from their lives; I am certainly now completely unwelcome in the family home. And now my city has gone back into lockdown, so I can't even meet a friend for a hug! That will have to wait 6 weeks...
     
  11. I'mStillStanding

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    Well... not sure what to say about the dumping of your stuff... seems a bit unnecessary to me but I’m not gonna say anything rude about it!

    The lockdown and going through this... I can’t imagine how you must feel. Just know you’ve got an entire community behind you! Sending positive vibes your way....
     
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  12. quadratic

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    Oh yes I'm getting those vibes, and thankfully I can throw myself into my work. But I'm really disappointed in my family, who've taken what seems to me to be an unnecessarily harsh line, without trying to look at it from my perspective. Anyway, I do now have lots of books! And thanks to some clever organization (and a few unsightly piles) I've regained a small sense of order in my flat. ​
     
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  13. I'mStillStanding

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    It’s def disappointing especially from the kids (how’s the gay son doing I’m just curious) but you keep your chin up :slight_smile: you’re an amazing person and it takes a lot of balls to do what you did!
     
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  14. NotTooLoud

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    Well, you cannot live your life seeking the approval of others. I am almost he same age as you and have chosen to devote to devote the remainder of my life to myself.
     
  15. Linning

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    It seems rough for you and I am sorry they are reacting like this but I think it's important to remember that while you have had 20+ years of realization and processing of both your sexuality and the reality of your mariage/family life, they have only had one week.

    For your wife it's however many decades, tainted, by the reality that she was married to someone who maybe loved her but didn't LOVE her and that's rough, especially if she is now 60 too meaning that most of her life is behind her rather than forward. If I was her and I had dedicated my life to someone and I arrived at 60 and realized most of my life had been a lie I would be utterly devastated and heartbroken (I would feel the same way now if I was to end up with a woman who in 40 years revealed to me she is straight and just went along with it). Your kids are seeing their mom heartbroken, they are focusing on the lies and also are revisiting childhood memories and feeling like they are all tainted, give them time and hopefully they will come around.

    It will probably suck for a while but understand that when you made the choice to not only marry and have kids but to stay after you realized you were gay, you have taken their choices away. Your wife could have walked away 20 years ago if you had told her but you didn't and so you removed the choices from her and you have banned her from having the option to another life where she would also be fulfilled. You are focusing on how big coming out is for you, and it is big and a massive step but your family shouldn't be the one you go to for support about this, at least not right now/immediately, right now, while it's tempting to make it about your new found freedom it's extremely important you make it about them, and ask them how you can best support them (whether by staying away, attending family therapy to talk things out or whatever else), make this moment about them, it's important for them, I think that you vocalize that you realize that your choices have both hurt them and affected their life in ways that potentially can't be fixed (your wife won't ever be able to be young again and get those 20 years back for example) and that you understand their sense of loss and grief. Once they start processing and absorbing the news, maybe you can start expecting a bit more support from them, but in the meantime, I would rely on friends and let them air out their frustration (while not taking it personally).

    Good luck. x
     
  16. quadratic

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    (No need to quote your entire message since it's just there above this one.)

    You are exactly correct. This is how it is, and lest I give the impression of revelling in any sort of new-found freedom, that's not the case: rather am I mortified, ridden with guilt, and unbearably sad at the pain I've inflicted on my family. As was said to me in a text earlier: it's not last Sunday that's the issue, it's all the Sundays before it. The only thing I can say in my defense was that for all of these years I tried to protect the family from myself, in an ill-advised notion that it would save them from hurt. Instead, as a more emotionally honest person would have realized, it has only magnified the hurt now. Now, it's all too easy for me to beat myself up, wallow in self-pity, and be blusteringly self-defensive - none of which are helpful. The thing now is to find a way to lessen the pain (time...?) and find a space in which some sort of discussion and understanding can grow. But now is not that time.

    Thank you again for your excellent appraisal.
     
  17. quadratic

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    The gay son (who's 26) is very hurt and confused. He can't imagine what I would have to hide, and why. His view is that I must have seen my own sexuality as something shameful, disgusting, abhorrent, and to be hidden, in which case what does that have to say about him? Or more particularly, what does have to say about my view of him?

    Thank you for your words, but as you might see from other messages: feeling amazing and ballsy is not where I am right now!
     
  18. Nickw

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    @Linning has provided a great summary of how it can feel to a spouse when she feels her life has been a farce. (maybe strong words).

    I think it is important to recognize that you didn't do any of this knowing that it would cause this sort of hurt and damage. Maybe at some point you did have some insight. But, I think we try and apply, sometimes, today's standards on something that began in another time. Little by little, things changed and we forget how it started. We realize we are living a lie and yet we never made the decision to deceive.

    I'm about your age. When I was in my early twenties, I had no idea what being a bisexual really was. I was uneducated about sexuality. So much of being gay, in those days, was the popular notion of what a gay man was...flamboyant and promiscuous. I was neither. So, many of us enter this life that really does fit who we are...with the notable exception that we desire sex with a man. We marry a woman we do love, we have children, we settle into the life we were taught to have. And, it is comfortable. Until it isn't.

    I, certainly, can empathize with your wife. My wife and I have had long talks about how she feels. In my case, she is forgiving of the "big lie" because the rest of our life has been what she wanted. But, there is this lingering question. "Was she not able to provide all of what I needed and how did that affect how I loved her?" It is a fair question and it is impossible for me to answer.

    Unfortunately, there is not much you can do right now to try and right the wrong your wife and children feel. They own those feelings and you can only offer to be there for them in any way that helps as others have mentioned. I will say that I have talked to a dozen or so guys that have been in your situation. For the most part, eventually, there is healing and rebuilding of relationships.

    Best of luck.
     
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  19. I'mStillStanding

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    I know you aren’t feeling amazing and ballsy that’s why reminding you that you are both! We sometimes can see ourselves clearly, especially going through stuff, so having others remind us how we really are helps!

    I was worried this was where you’re soon was... and honestly, I’d be in the same place I’m afraid. I also feel more alone, like all the type I struggled I had someone right their who understood the struggle of not being like the other guys and he wasn’t really there... not saying that to make you feel bad don’t! Do not feel bad... just that I understand the idea behind his hurt too... I’m not sure how you handled him coming out and it’s not my business. He has to work through this... hopefully y’all will talk soon and when y’all do listen to him, but make sure you tell him you need him to hear you at some point to. Explain how things were when you were growing up, how society has shifted over the years, etc. You can do things different so discuss that I never understand... but at this point he’s the experienced out gay man lol he’d be the one you can go to for advice is all I’m saying. Talk about roles reversed!

    Don’t forget how awesome you are :slight_smile:
     
  20. Chip

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    Hi, and a (somewhat belated) welcome.

    First, I can imagine how difficult it must be, and how you must be feeling right about now. I'm sure you did not expect the sort of venomous response you received, and that makes it all the more difficult.

    A couple thoughts I have that might help:

    First, it seems clear this came as a complete shock to them. And it's foundational to the stability in their lives, at a time when everyone in the world is already having their foundations shaken. Doesn't make it OK, but people who don't have the best of coping strategies to begin with are more likely to have extreme reactions during this era when folks are already on edge.

    Second, with it coming as such a shock, no one has had time to process it. As your wife and kids process the loss of what they thought they knew (and your wife is no doubt spewing venom about you on your kids, which is super fucked up in itself, and will cause them a whole lot of additional pain), they are processing the loss, and there are stages we go through in processing any loss: denial-anger-bargaining-grief-acceptance. So they are clearly in the anger stage right now, and your kids are feeling protective toward their mother. (Understandable, but incredibly selfish on your wife's part.)

    Third... and perhaps most important... get a copy of Dr. Joe Kort's "Ten Smart Things Gay Men Can Do to Find Real Love" (Not to be confused with another book of his with a similar title.). It's out of print, but usually available used from bookfinder.com. There is a chapter in there specifically written for heterosexually married gay men coming out later in life. I can't do it justice, but in a nutshell, Kort, who has for decades worked with LGBT populations and people in your situation, has found that almost 100% of the time, once the smoke clears and the wife gets past her anger, she realizes that she knew or strongly suspected years, sometimes decades, before her husband told her. So Kort argues that the wife is essentially complicit, because she conspires with her husband to keep the elephant in the room from being brought out and visible. This, in fact, is often a big part of what stokes the initial anger. And once processed, often the wife can move to a place of compassion and understanding.

    Likewise, the kids, once they recognize what the situation is, usually come around. But none of that is obvious in the moment, and it may seem impossible at present.

    I know this doesn't help in the immediate. Hopefuly, though, it provides a window for understanding and an opportunity for patience and the hope that things will improve significantly once the smoke clears.

    In the meantime, the EC community can be a great source of support and help.
     
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