Friday, February 27, 2009

Lost And Found

To me one of the hardest things about staying married to a gay man for any length of time is that, once you have been given the full information, you are dragged into his closet and forced to live there with him. Suddenly you are living with this secret, and the shattering pain and humiliation it is causing you, pretty much isolated and completely alone. Often, understandably, he doesn't want you to tell anyone while he either experiments and figures out what he is going to do or stays closeted forever in an attempt to live the life of a straight man.

Every single thing suddenly becomes about, and revolves around, his "issue." It eclipses everything. All other marital problems, those that any couple deals with, are swept under the rug or filed under the category of "Because He is Gay" and become too big and confusing to deal with and work on. It consumes our every waking thought and often our sleep as well. It affects how we look at ourselves and our lives and how we do nearly everything. It is hard enough for women to not lose themselves completely in marriage and motherhood but when we find out, or finally face the fact, that our husbands are gay - it is nearly impossible to not disappear completely.

We find ourselves being held hostage in his closet. The clothes are his. The smells are his. The shoes are his. It is dark and frightening and miserable. The worst part is that we let HIM have the key and we wait for HIM to decide whether or not we ever get to come out. Unless a woman has been there, it is impossible to understand the despair this situation brings.

Whether we decide to leave the marriage or stay - it is imperative that we rescue ourselves, separate ourselves from his sexuality and reclaim who we are. If you are a woman that has chosen to live with him in his closet I cannot recommend highly enough that you not blast the "He's gay" information from the rooftops but share the situation with ONE trusted friend or relative. I do believe that every gay person deserves to come out to who they want when they want and that their privacy should absolutely be protected. BUT the wife of a gay man desperately needs at least one person to confide in and get support from. Talk to someone.

And if you choose to stay - Honey, you take your freaking sledge hammer to that closet and expand it into the biggest walk in anyone has ever seen. Put in windows and vaulted ceilings and shelves and artwork and your clothing and your perfume and every alive and beautiful thing that screams YOU because this is your life too and remaining lost is no longer an option.

There are many, many painful problems that accompany marriages between gay and straight people but I think we often make it mean more than it really does. We let it be far bigger than it is and let it eclipse more than we should. Is it confusing and painful as hell? Without question. But does it mean what we make it mean - that we are not attractive, desirable, beautiful, talented, fun, alive and worthy of love? NO. It simply means he is gay and we do with that what we will. We claim for ourselves what we will.

Still married, separated or divorced the trick, and task, is to find ourselves again. Take out old pictures and remember who you were before he came into your life. Pick up old musical instruments and hobbies. Put on music. Dance. Run. Eat chocolate. Have as many Girl's Nights Out as you can. Paint your toenails bright red. Stare at your naked body in the mirror and have a conversation with it. I am not kidding. Tell your body that it is beautiful and desirable because it is female - not in spite of that fact. Do this every day until you believe it. Slather yourself with yummy lotion. Buy pretty lingerie just for YOU. Read books that YOU like. See movies that YOU like. Prepare food that YOU like.

Remember that this is your life and you are ultimately here on this planet for you. The birds sing for you. The breeze blows for you. The flowers bloom for you. The moon rises and the stars shine for you. The world is overflowing with joy and laughter and precious moments and miracles and gifts and party favors for you.

And, guess what? It doesn't have one teeny, tiny, little, itty, bitty thing to do with him.


Kristine said...

This is possibly my favorite post by Emily. I think the worst effect of mixed-orientation marriage is the invisibility of the straight spouse. That is why this site is so important! I love you ladies. You are beautiful!

Anonymous said...

That's such an inspiring post, i'll be copying some of it into my diary to read on those days that are difficult to get through. It sums up so much of the state of mind that I need to strive to attain. Thank you.

Misti Hall said...

This post is one of the greatest things I have read on a gay/straight relationship! Truly an amazing post full of wisdom.