This is gonna be a tough one to write, but you’ve heard me say that before right?
The past few days have found me lying on the couch lethargic and sad. This usually happens to me when my depression kicks in. I have a buddy in Kansas that has the same issue with depression as me so we often lean on each other when this happens. Thanks buddy for being there for me with past week. Sometimes I feel it coming on and other times I don’t until a few days later when I realize that I’ve spent more time sleeping than awake. It kinda just sneaks up on me like a snake or cat, both of which I just can’t stand I don’t understand it, it’s just a side-effect of depression. For those of us who deal with “regular” depression, it is common. I regress…
When I knew that the time had come for me to be honest with those around me about my “gayness” I wondered how to do it. Ya know… how do I deliver this “news” to friends and family. What would be the most diplomatic, self-preserving way to deliver a difficult message to those that I knew would be hurt, ashamed, scared, freaked-out and some down-right angry. I had already covered the most difficult ground by coming out to my now former wife. I have said it before and I will say it again. That woman is the epitome of GRACE and MERCY. So I decided that instead of having multiple “meetings” with literally hundreds of people who would have allowed the news to travel to people before I could personally tell them, I would write a letter.
When I write, I am free to express my conscience and clear thoughts without being questioned and without snotty-crying all over the place. I’m a REAL ugly crier in my ever so humble opinion. I knew that I would take my licks for this. I knew some would be undone that I chose that format and I knew that they would feel that it was impersonal and yet public. I stuck with my choice. I will not apologize for it. I apologize if it made some of you feel uncomfortable and sad or whatever other emotion you can come up with, but I will not apologize for the delivery. I don’t care how the truth is delivered… it must be delivered nonetheless. I am still a fan of proper, time, place, context and the actual need to know. I knew that it would be impossible to please everyone at the same time, so I began writing.
My first letter was to my parents. While I copied my siblings on that letter, it was not directed or addressed to them intentionally. For almost two years, I have not been in relationship with some of them and I felt that they would only twist it into something that it wasn’t. I did however intentionally put it in writing format so that my words could not be twisted and so that there was a “permanent” record of what was “said.” I wanted to eliminate the he-said, she-said crap that had likely caused the damaged relationship in the first place.
I began writing the letter on the back patio of my home at 4 AM. I simply could no longer sleep that day. I was anxious and my heart was racing. For anyone who knows me, I have NEVER seen 4 AM in my life willingly… 8 AM is considered the crack of dawn for me… Now that is funny stuff. So anyway, I began writing the letter to my parents. My parents have not been the perfect parents ever. I have not been the perfect child ever. I do believe that they did the BEST with that they had been given, and when they knew better, they did BETTER. I realized that writing a letter would make it difficult to establish tone. Tone is SUPER important when you speak and most especially when you write. Remember the old saying… It’s not what you say, It’s how you say it. Well I tried to keep that in tact, but unfortunately the reader has a right to interpret your tone. Yeah… that bit me in the butt just like I figured it would. But I still stand by my decision to deliver my news in writing. It’s easier to remember what you said when you write it and much more difficult to deny it too. I made my choice consciously and with no regret.
So after several hours of writing, crying, writing, crying, editing, crying, crying, crying, (snot and all), writing, crying and writing some more, It was complete. I said what I had to say and there was no turning back. I was scared but I felt relief. Even if I NEVER sent the letter, I felt like a load was off of my chest for the first time in 42 years. Now the hard part. To hit the send button. HOLY COW! I almost threw up. The sun was up now and I knew that the kids and My soon to be former wife would be stirring and I need to get cleaned up from all the snot and I was in my underoos as well. Yep… sitting on the back patio by the pool in my underoos. Don’t worry… I’ve been in that back yard in less clothing before. We have a pool and I enjoy a good skinny dip.. oops…did I just say that out loud…??? So I mustered up enough courage and hit the send button… oh my… nooooooo…. I couldn’t take it back. I wanted to so bad, but I couldn’t .
Couldn’t I just go back in the closest, manage the depression, anxiety and constant suicidal thoughts and plans to execute it so no one would know it was a suicide? Why did I have to tell? OOPS and that night was the night of a family event that I would not be attending. I didn’t check my calendar to make sure there were no life-events happening. Oh no…now I’d have to take the blame for that too…and I did too. SHOOT… I just couldn’t win if I wanted to. Oh crap, there was no un-ringing that bell.
So with every bit of confidence that I had, I prepared myself for the phone to ring or an email to be returned. Even if it was a mean and nasty email or phone call… at least it would be something right? I already have this weird kink in my psyche that I’m literally afraid to answer my phone at times and without conscious alertness of this kink, I will go weeks without answering my phone or listening to voice messages. I don’t even know why I do that. I’m anxious to get into that one with my therapist… that should be fun.
So I convinced myself that if my phone rang, that I needed to answer it. I got myself all pumped up. I would answer kindly and be ready for anything that came my way. Good or bad I wanted to hear from my family. I wanted to know that they would be there for me and my girls and of course my soon to be former wife that has been nothing but good, decent, kind and loving to them for over 15 years.
Well… that was months ago and while we have had several fruitless conversations regarding “other” topics, the topic of me being gay was diminished, dismissed, down-played and pushed to the side so that we could “talk about” how I’ve been the “cause of division” in the family over the past couple of years… Are you kidding me? When I was hospitalized last year and was given the notice that I may die, we were willing to forget the past and move forward with healing and family? But now that I’m better and not at risk of imminent death, that offer is off the table mister! “You will answer for your behavior!,” I was told. Yep… I single-handedly broke up a family. No one else accepted any responsibility whatsoever. It was solely my issue. Not being gay, but “breaking up the family.”
So now I’m forced to deal with being rejected as the “great-divisioner”…If that’s even a word and to now process being gay, divorced and scared. No concern about my well-being, no concern about the well-being of my children or former wife. Just contempt, shame and embarrassment about the “things that you have said and done in the past.” But to be honest, I just didn’t see that coming at all. It was like a bat-to-the-face. I have since made a conscious choice to sever ties completely until the day when my family is willing to attend a support group, watch a DVD, read a book, or anything about suppressing lifelong secrets and the obvious…being gay. A good start is a documentary on Netflix entitled “For The Bible Tells Me So.” I recently watched it and pretty much sobbed through the entire thing. It’s a good start for anyone who has or suspect your loved one of being gay. I just can subject to the pain of having salt poured into my wounds any longer. I need a time-out. I need a break from the rejection and blame. There is no point going to a place or being somewhere where you bring no value.
The Facebook posts directed at me, the order of protection filed against me and served to me publicly, the visits by the police department to my home (to check on my welfare, of course) has been embarrassing, hurtful and shameless. Yet I am scolded for not wanting to be a part of this any longer. Geez… I can’t imagine who chooses or signs up for this.
So now I come to the part where I have decided to share parts of my letter to my parents, family and friends with you. I have edited and eliminated some parts for the privacy of my family and friends, though some of you will argue that this blog is a very public forum. You are right, but this is my journey and if you care not to read then you have that choice. You are not being forced to participate.
May 30, 2012
I want to take some time to share with you something that you may not know. I want to pre-emptively squash rumors and gossip that is usually normal with this type of life event.
I will share some of the contents of a letter that I shared with my parents after much counsel, guidance and of course, prayer.
I don’t ask that you accept, condone or attempt to change your belief system; I just ask that you refrain from disseminating any information that is here-say, hurtful and unkind. This type of display can cause irreparable damage to my sweet children.
I am keenly aware that some will wish to terminate friendship out of fear and confusion and that is understandable. Please consider that outward appearances are just that… outward. You may never know what is going on inside of someone’s heart, faith and home.
Here is some of the letter:
“Dear Dad and Mom.
I Love you both Tons! You are the best parents that a boy and man could ask for. I have never been more proud to be your son than I am today. You have loved me, nurtured me, supported me, and taught me how to have faith in God and to be understanding of others.
Today I find myself in a very tough place. A place I have arrived at after 42 years of struggle with anxiety, frustration, physical and mental anguish, judgment, fear, anger, rage, lying, deception, denial, severe depression, and constant suicidal thoughts and multiple attempts at suicide. I even asked the doctor to just let me die when I was in the hospital in September. I changed my mind and continued treatment when I realized how loved I was by my family and friends.
I am happy to tell you that today that I AM NO LONGER THAT PERSON. I am happy and healthy and I Love God with all of my heart. I am a dedicated father, husband, son, brother and Christian. My life is blessed beyond measure.
I am a gay man. I am NOT a FAG, QUEER, SICKO, FAGGOT, SINNER, DISGUSTING, or any of the other hateful names that have been used to identify men who are gay.
I know you will have feelings of shame, sadness, anger, frustration and many other NORMAL feelings that you will feel as you read this today and as time goes on. I will not judge you or love you any less as you go through this normal process of grieving and acceptance. You did not “make” me gay. You have done nothing to “cause” me to be gay. This is not your “fault” or anyone else’s fault. No one is at fault, no one is to blame. I only ask that you love me and support me no matter what your feelings tell you. You don’t have to accept me being gay, but I ask that you love me.
I have been counseling with my pastor and two other counselors for some time now. We will continue this counseling as long as needed. I announced to wife on January 1st of this year that I am gay. I am at peace in my heart. Of course I only confirmed what she has suspected for years. I am not currently in a relationship with anyone other than my Sweet, Supportive, Kind, Gentle and Godly wife. She is my BEST FRIEND and my ROCK of support through all of this. She is truly the most understanding, non-judgmental and honest person that I know.
Any other person would have thrown me out on the street and taken my girls from me. I have neglected her sexually and emotionally for years now, I had crushed her spirit, self-worth and confidence. She was beginning to blame herself. She has done NOTHING wrong. In fact, she has done everything right. She has held my hand and stood by me for almost 15 years. We have laughed, cried and loved each other and that will not stop today. She does however have my FULL blessing and support to move forward in search of a relationship that will fulfill ALL of her god-given needs. As a matter of fact I have encouraged it. I cannot provide for her what she needs in a marriage relationship. She is finally happier and healthier that she has ever been as well.
My Wife and I are both on the same exact page and place in this journey. There are personal details that I do not believe are necessary to share. We have been working on this for YEARS. Our relationship is stronger than it has ever been. We are NOT “going separate ways.” We are committed to each other and committed to the parenting of our children TOGETHER. We are committed to being a family, but we have not shared this with our girls as of yet. I will eventually move into the guest room where I will live and be the best parent to my girls and best friend to my sweet Wife. I have committed to never abandon or leave them EVER. They are my heart and soul next to Jesus.
Other than you and my counselors, we have shared this with very few people. We have been getting professional and personal guidance on how to navigate this. We have come to a very solid place in our family and relationship as parents. I understand and fully support you speaking to someone personally or professionally to help you both process this and work through your emotions, feelings and questions. I do ask however that you do not have corporate discussions in public settings. I have two very small, sweet girls to protect. We have shared this with her parents, and they have committed to support our decision to be unmarried.
I am still your loving, kind and creative son. I will not be dressing up as a woman, marching in parades, making announcements on Facebook or any other crazy stuff that would bring attention to me or embarrassment to my three girls, family and Christ. This is a personal journey, not a public one.
Please understand that I am not sick, nor do I have a disease, I cannot be “healed.” I cannot be “fixed” because I am NOT broken. I have FOUGHT this for as long as I can remember… since before kindergarten… no one CHOOSES this pain, confusion and sadness. This fight is over. I have won the battle and the war on this pain. This is who I am as a person, son, father, husband, brother and son of God. I did not choose to be gay any more than you chose to be straight. I cannot convert to being straight any more than you can convert to being gay. I have tried everything to be straight for 42 years.
I wanted to write this in a letter because I have clarity when I write. I also didn’t want to put you in a difficult place to not be able to express emotion or to force a response from you. I want you to have time to read this as many times as you like so that you can come to a place of understanding. I understand that it may take some time to digest this. Everyone processes this in different ways and at a different pace. Hey… It took me 42 years.”
Whew… that was tough to write and even harder to send to my parents, her parents and ultimately our friends. Before I go, I would ask that you not disseminate this email in any form or fashion in an effort to bring shame to our family.
I would further ask that you not speak to anyone in a “guess who?” fashion. I would ask that if you must share that you would simply say: “I would like to share something with you that may not know.” In addition please, however you may bend on this issue, do not sprinkle us with solutions, class suggestions, websites, quips, quotes or any other unintentional condescending “words.” While this may be new to you, this has been on-going with us for years and we are at a comfortable peace in our soul. We know what our resources are and could likely write a best seller book at this point.
Finally I ask that you not “feel sorry” for Me, My Wife or My Children. We have closed ranks and we stand together as a family. We are strong and committed to each other. I made a commitment on July 18, 1998 to honor, love, and respect, cherish and provide for My Wife and my family till death shall part us. I have not changed my position. I simply cannot provide My Wife with the passion that a woman deserves from a husband because I am gay.
I will not abandon my three girls.
I would ask that if you must pray, please pray for the hundreds of other Christian, Jesus-loving, God-fearing families who are in the same situation as our family is. On this journey I have met many and will continue to meet many more of them. Unfortunately we are given but two options; leave our faith or leave our family. I will do neither. There must be something in the middle. I aim to find that middle someday. Until then I will press on loving Jesus, my three girls and people as I always have.
So I shared. Not to bring shame, Not to bring judgement, but to bring awareness. Awareness that there are thousands of gay people of Christian faith that would rather die and take their risk of going to hell than to continue living in hell.
So in the kindest tone that I can muster up… I will not stop blogging, I will not stop bringing awareness of ADULT, CHRISTIAN people who are gay and love GOD. I will continue to return email messages and blog posts to people who are just like me and begging for my help. If I can give them a reason to live just one more day, then I will sleep in peace and with a smile on my face. I will choose to love, forgive, show mercy, grace and kindness. I will not though, be silenced, shamed and berated another day, another minute, another second. And… I will continue to share events that cause others to think twice before they deem themselves perfect and without blemish to realize that for without the grace and mercy of the GOD you profess to love and honor, you would be in my exact same position.
I am sick of believing that God MADE me gay to torment me. I choose to believe that God ALLOWED me to be gay so that I can become a better me and to help others to become a better them in spite of our “gayness.”
In my next post, I will post what response that I HOPED to receive from my family and friends but never got. Thanks for reading and sharing.