Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Fear of June 20, 2006


June 20 is West Virginia Day!

This is the day that celebrates when West Virginia was admitted into the Union in the year 1863.

In 1963 when I was five years old, the West Virginia Centennial was a big deal. I still have some trinkets at home from that time period and I remember quite well the little black bear that was the symbol of that celebration.

Not only did I learn the June 20 was West Virginia Day, but I also learned that the state flower was the Rhododendron; the state song was something called "Those West Virginia Hills," I saw a play on the West Virginia Showboat called THE RHODODENDRON. It was docked downtown in my hometown...then the largest city in West Virginia...on the Ohio River. The adult I was with at this time was excited to take me to see this fascinating boat. So on the day prior to the performance, we walked down to the river...and there was a lady sunbathing on the sternwheel. I was amazed! I couldn't imagine how she got on the paddles! What site...and here some 43 years later it seems like ysterday.

The final thing I remember from that year was the state motto: "Montani semper liberi" -- Mountaineers are always free!

I'm from West Virginia...and I guess that makes me a mountaineer. So I have always been and will always be free!

Throughout my adult life, June 20 has always been a day of special fondness. No matter what I'm doing I always let those memories of age five drift across my mind...and I smile.

This year I fear...and almost dread June 20. But all through this past 12 months, I"ve dreaded all sorts of other days....like September 28, 2005 which was the 24th anniversary of my proposal to Lovey. December 12, 2005 which was my 24th wedding anniversary. February 14, 2006 which was Valentine's Day. May 1, 2006 which was my 48th Birthday. May 25, 2006 which was Lovey's 51st Birthday. BUT...I sailed past those days...without any issues.....without any tears....without any painful memories.

But I fear June 20, 2006. It's because this is the day it all becomes final physically....Lovey leaves for the last time.....with her stuff.....her multitudes of boxes......the furniture.....the keepsakes......and I'm left...here, with my daughter and my memories, my regrets, my feelings of failure, and, yes, some feelings of insecurity and inadequacy are mixed up in that mess too.

Yes, it's building to this crescendo of sadness....and I feel trapped. I feel like I need to do something....anything to get my mind off this terrible day. Anything to keep me from imploding.....melting into tears and profound sadness.

Gosh, I wish it were all over. But I have to face it. I have to go through this one final day.

I'm a Mountaineer and I'm free.......and I'm afraid.

Tears and Memories

June 20, 2006 is the date of the move.

As of this writing…”Lovey” has not produced a revised separation agreement. She received my edits in October.

“Lovey” has not yet completed her portion of our joint tax return.

Today is “Lovey’s” final day at her full-time job – the job she has held for the past 11 years – the job she took an $11K pay cut to have because it would save her a bundle as she pursued her Divinity degree.

They threw her a big farewell shindig yesterday….and gave her tokens of esteem for all her hard work.

Daughter #1 was invited to go and to also take pictures. She didn’t want to go. She then said she would go, if I went. I told her that it would be highly inappropriate for me to show up. I wasn’t invited.

“You could take pictures, Dad,” she said.

I still declined.

It just didn’t feel right. I wasn’t invited. I’m the former spouse. There’s no reason for me to have gone.

Daughter #1 did not go either.

Was I wrong for not going?

Guilt begins to rear its ugly head…and it’s glaring at me.

This weekend we had dinner at Mom O’Lovey’s. It was a calm affair. The meal was great.

I never talk a lot at these gatherings. I guess I fear that whatever I say will be taken wrong and I’ll be verbally attacked. Worse yet, I’m afraid I’ll cause tears.

I’m good at causing Lovey to cry.

Flashback to July of last year: after the grand pronouncement, “Lovey” and daughter #1 and I went to see “Monster In-Law”. I enjoyed the film.

Following the movie, discussion centered around weddings and what Daughter #1 was thinking of how her wedding might be. “Better hope that your mother marries into wealth next time ‘round,” I said, trying to make it light. “God knows, I’m gonna be a pauper!”

Lovey burst into tears. “You’re being so cruel” she sobbed.

Yup, that’s me. I think in another life I was the Marquis de Sade.

I vowed then and there to not say anything again to try and lighten any situation. So, in close family situations, I don’t say much. I keep my thoughts to myself.

Also this weekend, Lovey purchased herself new bedroom furniture. The style isn’t anything like I would have thought she would purchase. Guess I don’t know her.

Flashback to a morning in October: my bedroom door bursts open…..and there are those tears….and the screams. How dare I give her these changes to her agreement! Is this how little I thought of her for all those years? How dare I put in a reservation for alimony should my circumstances warrant! How dare I say that she owes me money to bring my retirement accounts on par with hers! I’m cruel. I’ve not been supportive of her. She fled the house that day in tears and didn’t return for 3 days.

Flashback to an evening in November: at the closing on the house. It’s mine. She has her money. She’s signed the documents. The lenders and lawyers step out of the room. She thinks I screwed her out of money. She wanted the proceeds from the HELOC that I've received.

She’d been advised that I’d take advantage of her. Tears…

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Proud


This post is going to be a little different and somewhat shorter than my usual whinings.

I’ve found that the LOGO network on my local cable system is a wonderful resource as I continue the process of becoming more comfortable as a gay man.

The other night I happened to see a music video that I hadn’t seen before of a song that I had never heard before. It was a catchy tune…and something about it is one of those songs that just affects you on an emotional level in a very profound way. It’s uplifting. It’s got a great message.

From how the video was put together, it looked as if it appeared to be from the popular family movie, “Akeelah and the Bee.” I haven’t seen this movie. I don’t know what it’s about, but something about that song made me embark on a quest to find this song.

So on Sunday Evening, I spent quite a bit of time trying to find it. I didn’t write down the name of the song or the name of the artist. All I knew was that it used the word pride or proud……and it apparently was from the movie. It took about an hour for me to even locate a copy of the soundtrack album from this movie. The store was down to its last two copies…and there it was: Track #12, “Proud”. I listened to the demo the store had….and sure enough…that was it! So, I purchased one.

I ran out to my car…..unwrapped the CD….and fast forwarded to the cut.

There it was! I was now the proud owner of “Proud.” (No pun intended.) My daughter even commented on how great the song was. (This, from my daughter, was quite a compliment!)

It’s a joyous piece…that’s guaranteed to uplift your very soul!

The song is simply entitled, “Proud”, by Heather Small. Here are the lyrics.

I look into the window of my mind
Reflections of the fears I know I've left behind
I step out of the ordinary
I can feel my soul ascending
I'm on my way
Can't stop me now
And you can do the same

What have you done today to make you feel proud?
It's never too late to try
What have you done today to make you feel proud?
You could be so many people
If you make that break for freedom
What have you done today to make you feel proud?

Still so many answers I don't know (there are so many answers)
Realise that to question is how we grow (to question is to grow)
So I step out of the ordinary
I can feel my soul ascending
I'm on my way
Can't stop me now
And you can do the same (yeah)

What have you done today to make you feel proud?
It's never too late to try
What have you done today to make you feel proud?
You could be so many people
If you make that break for freedom
What have you done today to make you feel proud?

(yeah) We need a change (Yeah)
Do it today (yeah)
I can feel my spirit rising
(change, yeah) We need a change (yeah)
So do it today (yeah)
'Cause I can see a clear horizon

What have you done today to make you feel proud? (to make you feel proud)
(let me hear ya X3)So what have you done today to make you feel proud?
(yeah X4)'Cause you could be so many people
if you make that break for freedom
So what have you done today to make you feel proud?

In this season of Gay Pride Celebrations throughout the world….ask yourself that question….whether you’re in the closet or out.

“What have you done today to make you feel proud?”

Friday, May 26, 2006

The Pill


I just read the latest installment of “Drew’s Next Step.” In it he talks about whether or not he would change to be straight, if he could. I responded to it and I was fairly shocked by how I responded.

My men’s group used to ask a set of icebreaker questions every time we would meet. Here are some of them:

• How many of you identify as gay, bi, or straight?
• How many of you have felt depressed as a result of your same-sex attractions?
• How many of you have told your wives?
• How many of you have told your kids?
• How many of you are married? Separated? Divorced?
• How many of you would take a little pill to make your self straight?

Not many hands go up for the last question.

To be honest, I guess I wouldn’t want to take the pill to become straight…simply because I have worked so hard to become happy with the person I currently am…namely gay!

I love male bonding….and the closeness. I love the camraderie. I love the intensity.

I think when we’re dealing with the issue of our gayness….there comes a stage where we feel it would be so much easier to make it go all away. To move with the current as opposed to going against it.

To play along with what society says is normal.

But…if we look at it objectively….what IS the big deal about being gay? Oh yeah, we’ve wrecked others’ lives in the process. We’ve taken times from our wives and at least in my case, made them live like hell, as she likes to say.

So, one must ask in the process….why did we marry in the first place?

In my case, I married out of love…but also out of societal pressure to conform and be like everyone else: get married, buy a house, have children….the American Dream!

For me it has been more of a nightmare really.

Had I really had the nerve to be the person I was made to be, who knows? Perhaps I would have been happier. Perhaps I would not. Perhaps I would not have had children. Perhaps I would have. Perhaps I would have gotten AIDS and died by now. Perhaps not.

I guess we’ll never know.
Only a few things about my life are certain:

I’ve got my 3 wonderful children.

I’m gay.

I’m beginning to enjoy my life.

I would not take the pill.

Happy Birthday Lovey!


Yesterday, “Lovey” turned 51 years old and I sent her an email greeting that wished her a happy birthday.

Her email response said that she was glad that I had remembered.

I guess the real problem I have is that I remember lots of things….some good and some bad. It’s the remembrances of things bad that tend to haunt me the most.

As we continue to bob and weave to the end of this hellish divorce finale, I find that I struggle the most with trusting her….of wondering when she says something how much is sincere…..how much is the “real” Lovey.

She has said more than once that another one of the reasons for the divorce is that I never allowed HER to be herself. Good heavens…if I hadn’t done that for almost 25 years, then who has she been?

A friend of mine from the office came to me and was asking how I had been doing. I told her. She then asked me, what would you do if “Lovey” were to ask for your forgiveness and seek to reconcile. I responded by saying confidently…. “That wouldn’t work. It’s over!”

Why?

It’s all the memories of the bad stuff. I want peace in my life….I’m tired of living as if I must walk on egg shells in order to survive. Trying to remember all the rules “Lovey” instituted:

• No wooden spoons in the dishwasher.
• No pots and pans in the dishwasher.
• All items are arranged HER way. No other way is correct.
• Items are folded in the linen closet cylindrically so that more items can be crammed together.
• Keep the toilet seat down at all times.

God forbid you do any of these things any other way…there would be hell to pay. Then, in the scorecard she keeps in her mind, the infraction is but another way of showing that I, the husband, do not respect her!

Then, there are the shoes…

Another reason for the divorce says she, is the fact that I never allowed her to buy shoes. Hmmmm….I guess she figured me out. Since I couldn’t keep her pregnant, I decided to keep her barefoot.

Oddly, the clothes closet in my room that was hers still has a multitude of shoes in them. She now owns a carousel in her room that allows her to admire her collection very effectively! All she has to do is to turn the little handle on the top….and her shoes REVOLVE! She has shoes in boxes AND in her closet in her room there are shoes!

When we used to have this barefoot discussion, I’d point to the shoe collection. Her response would always be, “Those old things….they don’t fit!” I always wondered, then why did she buy them? I guess it’s a man thing.

Oh well, I’m gay. What do I know?

Still no word from Reverend Harold. I don’t know if he is still in tears and sobbing uncontrollably because of the news…or if he has gotten a grip on the news.

Officially, “Lovey” has not told me of their conversation. So, I, the Great Satan, await rebuke from Reverend Harold about not letting “Lovey” be who she is…..or for keeping her barefoot all these years….or the wooden spoons, toilet seats or about my gayness.

Perhaps he’ll feel better once I tell him about the shoe carousel!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

"Lovey" Finally Levels


Well, “Lovey” finally had the courage to tell her friend, the minister who married us, the sad news of our imminent divorce!

Allow me to drag you down my memory lane for a moment.

As posted earlier, “Lovey” and I entered wedded bliss on December 12, 1981. Harold, the minister, had been her friend forever. He came from his little Pentecostal church driving some 2.5 hours to our bigger church and performed the ceremony at “Lovey’s” insistence. Because he knew her so well, he performed the ceremony and waived his rule of premarital counseling he always provides to couples.

So, on December 12, 1981 at 2pm, I heard Harold’s booming deep voice inform the congregation, “And there was a marriage at Cana of Galilee…” That recording of the ceremony is priceless. His voice booms. My voice is strong and full of youth. “Lovey’s” is breathy and with a southern twang. (She’d returned not long before from the hills of Appalachia….a story for another day.) It’s amusing to hear her twang as she says “I, Lovey, take THEE, Frank, as my lawfully wedded HUZband.” For meanness I would load an audio clip for you pleasure, but won’t.

I’ve enjoyed talking to Harold through the years. Although he’s wound a bit tight and is VERY fundamentalist in his beliefs, he is a good man and I believe means well. However, he is one of those straight men that I have intentionally kept at an arm’s length. He’s even remarked to "Lovey" that I am not easy to get to know….and that I’m rather distant.

Well, after I came out to “Lovey”, I found out that Harold was one of the first people she outted me to. He responded that he already knew this. (I love it when straight folks make this pronouncement.) This was probably one of the reasons I distanced myself from him.

Harold also had a gay brother that was an interior decorator I became friends with. But, the gay brother joined one of those “ex-gay” ministries and was delivered and he was able to change. I never was able to confirm this directly with the brother because he died about six months ago.

I digress.

After “Lovey” decided to divorce me, she said that she did not want Harold to know that we were divorcing because knowing Harold as she did, she was afraid he would drive up here and try to fix us. Looking at it from hindsight, it’s kind of odd that she was afraid of this.

I agreed to not tell him. So the many times he has called and talked to us, we have played happily married couple! We did this even when he told us about his eldest son getting a divorce from his wife. (Harold performed that ceremony too. However, I guarantee he did all the premarital counseling on that one!)

It seemed so hypocritical to me to play happy, when in fact were such miserable wretches.

But, I cannot be accused of not being a team player. I went along.

So, today the little game we played is over.

Harold cried.

I assume that “Lovey” told him that it was because of my gayness. He probably will call and talk to me about it. He’ll probably think I have lost my Christianity or better yet, “turned my back on God” or something awful like that.

We’ll see.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Everything Leaves Its Mark


This past weekend I went to a church that’s not my “home” church.

I didn’t go to my “home” church for many reasons, but mainly because “Lovey” is still on staff until mid-June. I also didn’t go because I don’t know if I really want to continue going there or not.

Primarily this is due to the fact that the pastor, the associate pastor and the interim pastor, key staff members, and various church members have done an excellent job at making me feel invisible. I suppose that they, along with a lot of my other “friends” have felt the need to take sides over the “divorce” thing, and I’m not considered to be the winning team to gain their affections or even their concern.

While I realize that this is a normal part of the divorce process, I am surprised that trained ministers cannot pick up the telephone to just say something like, “Hi Frank! I know that this has been a little tough on you. Are you okay? I just wanted you to know that I’m thinking about you.”

I’ve not been at the church there for several months now. Only a very few have made such a call to me….and for this I am quite grateful. When I’ve spoken to “Lovey” about this, she says it’s because that the ministry staff feels that this is such an “awkward situation.” You’d think that such highly trained and skilled professionals would find such awkwardness easy to navigate – especially since none of those involved are novice ministers.

One of my kids said that it’s probably because I’ve not been around….maybe I should call them. My feeling is that Jesus never waited for the “lost” sheep to call him to say, “Hey Jesus! Just thought I would call to tell you, I’m lost.” He sort of went looking for those he thought were missing….or sick….or injured…..or wounded….

My wounds are healing. But they have left their marks upon me….scars.

It’s funny how when I’ve been in a bad way and I go to church, the sermon always seems to speak directly to my situation.

This week’s message at the church I attended talked about how one can tell the age of a tree, based on it’s rings that’s made by the substances that accumulate over a year inside the trunk. The rings mark the age of a tree.

The minister then went on to discuss how various life events mark us and help develop us as individuals and how encounters with God also leave marks. When we wrestle with God about His plan for our lives, it leaves its mark.

However, in spite of all the marks life leaves on us, God still loves us……unconditionally…in spite of our foibles….our dramas…our quirks.

This sermon has been a source of great comfort to me so far this week. I’ve kept that it mind as I have beat myself up for my shortcomings…..for my failures……for my divorce…..for my gayness…..for my drama…..for my quirks.

This journey isn’t an easy one.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Celebration!


Yesterday I got to spend again with “them.”

Yeah, you know those people…they’re the ones I spent Mother’s Day with.

This time we were at my mother-in-law’s house. The house where “Lovey” grew up. The one where all her sisters grew up. The one where I have spent countless hours at similar family gatherings in.

Everyone was in a festive mood. It seemed like everyone was there to celebrate something. The prime reason, of course, was to celebrate my daughter’s graduation. They also celebrated the wedding anniversary of Suzanne’s oldest sister and husband.

Then, there was the other couple…”Lovey’s” niece and her fiancee’s wedding which is scheduled for October 14.

I overdosed on all the marital bliss.

I walked into the living room and there was “Lovey’s” picture – hanging just under her mom’s wedding day picture. “Lovey” was smiling broadly, holding her bouquet, every hair in place, and the gown was exquisite!

Gee, what a difference 25 years makes! Bet it won’t be too much longer for that picture to be taken down…

I find myself in a different place today. Perhaps it’s a bit of melancholy. Perhaps it’s a bit of longing for the olden days.

I keep telling myself that those days are gone forever….and that really, when you stop and think about it, those days weren’t all that good.

Still, there is a comfort in what used to be…; the future, right now, is just way too scary and uncertain...

Friday, May 19, 2006

Rubble


Back in the years when “Lovey” and I were dating, there was a pizza place that she and I frequented. We even went there when she was pregnant and she ate for lunch, an entire bowl of Jalapeno Peppers – ONLY!

Yesterday, I was in that section of town. I drove to the spot that had once been so familiar to us.

The restaurant was nothing more than a pile of rubble.

The sign says that it will be replaced by a fast food restaurant.

As I sat there looking at the rubble before me, I couldn’t help but feel how appropriate this was. After all, look at my marriage. It’s nothing more than a pile of rubble too.

I got home and let my dog out.

I went inside and looked around at my house. It, too, is nothing more than a pile of rubble. Boxes and boxes everywhere…piles of papers…..tupperware…..pictures…..everywhere I looked, pieces of a marriage that once was.

Yes, in about four weeks, “Lovey” will be history. She’ll walk out the door of my house for the final time.

Her boxes will be gone. The furniture will be gone. The bookcases will be gone. The books will be gone. The china will be gone. Her clothes will be gone.

Us will officially be me. We will officially become I. Ours will officially become mine.

I will rise from the rubble….out of the ashes….I will become master of my own destiny. out of the ashes….

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Having My Cake and Eating It Too!


It’s really odd to reread some of my entries during the period in 2003 of my meltdown and the time that “Lovey” said that we were divorcing in 2005. It was during this period of time that I felt I had made some really good personal growth. The writings show it and they also reveal that I’m pretty good at sensing things. This is good and bad.

What follows is only part of a very long and drawn-out entry where I had come to “Lovey’s” defense with her family. (One of hundreds over the course of our marriage.) Sister #2 had written her fundamentalist opinions on such varied topics as John Kerry’s lack of spirituality, George Bush – the man of God, the evils of gay marriage and of gay people in general, and some rather caustic comments of Lovey. My lighthearted response was met with a flood of tears by Sister #2, and some downright nasty assertions that sadly weren’t too Christian and left me full of questions and hostility. I won’t bore you with that long analysis and recount of the details. What’s really important in that long journal entry is the following last part:

October 18, 2004 -- I’m still operating on the fears of 12 short months ago – discussions of divorce – going our separate ways. I find myself after all this time looking over my shoulder half expecting this to all surface again. I could get paranoid and wonder what all “Lovey” tells Dr. B. What does she or has she told her friends about me?

I don’t have the vocabulary right now to adequately describe what it’s like to live in my skin…or how my gayness clouds my every waking moment. Nobody knows how much energy I have wasted just by trying to conform and be like others. No one knows the tears I’ve shed because of my differences or the frustrations I feel when I’ve tried to be who I am only to be accused of being selfish –thinking of my own wants and desires. “Wanting my cake and eating it too!”


There’s that comment that has seeped into my consciousness more times than I can count: “Wanting My Cake and Eating It Too!”

My dear wife loves to throw that comment at me at the oddest of times. She did it when she first announced in 2003 that she wanted us to end. She made the comments to me at our joint sessions with her psychiatrist. She’s hurled it at me all during this separation.

My response is: “Where’s the cake?”

Cake, in my mind, is a reward for good behavior. Cake is for celebrations of fun events. Cake is for desert. Cake is a treat.

Throughout my marriage I strove to be the person that everyone seemed to want. I was the family man. I put everyone’s needs and desires before my very own. I tried to live as a straight man in all aspects. I tried to be a good, church goer.

But in that whole other life, I lost me. I lost what I wanted. I lost who I was. I lost the ability to think of the things I enjoyed.

Where’s the cake in all that?

My wife thinks that because I have had opportunities to express my sexual needs that this is the cake.

She thinks that because I have had her as a “covering” that I have been able to “play it straight” and continue to enjoy men.

She thinks that this is the cake.

Had I not been trying to be the “perfect husband” and to be honest with her out of consideration of her safety and her wellbeing, she would have never known about my other needs. I could have kept them secret. Then, in her mind, where would the cake have been?

I think I am learning just where the cake in my life is.

It’s in the fact that I now have a peaceful life.

It’s in the fact that when she moves out in about a month, my household will be peaceful.

It’s in the fact that I can live my life the way that pleases me.

It’s in the fact that I won’t have any more domestic arguments.

It’s in the fact that I won’t have to defend any of my desires.

It’s in the fact that I won’t have to make excuses for my shortcomings.

It’s in the fact that I can finally be me.

Boring, peaceful, me…living with my dog….and my eldest daughter.

Enjoying what life has to offer.

And in the end, enjoying the love of a good man physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Feeling his big strong arms holding me as I drift off to sleep at night.

Yes, there’s my cake.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

My Balcony


I don’t know who said that the whole world is a stage, but as I get older, I have to agree with the concept.

If the whole world is a stage, then I’m the star of my life. My wife, children and dog are co-stars. Guest stars include “Lovey’s” sisters (all 3 of them), their husbands, their children, and Mother O’Lovey. Then there are those folks who make cameo appearances….who float into and out of my life periodically.

Finally there are those people who are in my balcony.

Residents of any balcony generally are the greatest distance from the stage. They are the ones you may see in the shadows of the spotlight. When the star appears, they are usually the first to applaud or provide cat-calls.

The ones in the balcony see the whole stage – the whole picture. Depending on the location of the balcony and select boxes, one may even see the actors preparing for their big entrance from stage left or stage right, just beyond the scenery.

Since I’ve begun to blog, I’ve learned that my balcony is filled with more people than I could have ever imagined. You, dear reader, are one of my balcony residents!

Lots of people have appeared unexpectedly and I’ve found that I have a number of what I call unexpected friends. They have written to me to provide insight and to provide feedback into areas of my life that have become jaded by my own preconceived notions.

My balcony is made up of many fellow travelers on this journey. They, along with their wives and other family members, know the heartbreak that the gay thing can bring into a marriage or relatively stable family life. Each person there has their own story….each unique…..but each strangely the same.

I’ve received so many wonderful comments of encouragement submitted here, and sent to me backchannel. It’s quite fulfilling to know that my writings are doing something rather than rattling around in cyberspace without any effect.

Still there are a number of you out there that I have not heard from, but still you still pass through my balcony. The reports I get from my blog tell me that I have readers in Indonesia, Jordan, Croatia, France, Britain, Mexico, Peru, Austin, and the like. It amazes me how the little journal I have been keeping for the past month and a half has taken wings and flown around the world!

To those fellow sojourners who have added my blog to the links section of their’s, thank you. I only hope that you know that I’m cheering you on from your balcony as well! The same holds true for those men who I have linked to.

I’m also amazed by the number of wives out there who continue to support your husbands through their journey. Today, I was moved to tears as I read a posting on Nate’s blog that his wife had left him as an anniversary gift. I’ve never had that. What a blessing it must be to Nate to have such support.

No one ever promised us that life would be easy or fair. Those of us who struggle with the gay thing know all too well that the complications of being gay and the strain on our marriages aren’t fun. But I do understand from all that I have read, and from the people I have talked to who have come through to the other side that things do get better.

For this I thankfully look forward to.

In the meantime, I keep pushing forward and watching the smiles of those people I can see way up there in my balcony!



Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Mother's Day 2006


Mother’s Day was certainly “different” this year.

Since 1984, I have always tried to honor my wife because of her exalted role of being a mother. I’d get a card, some flowers, maybe some of her favorite candy, and even take her to dinner with the kids.

It was odd this year.

After much thinking, I decided not to do anything special for that day. I guess part of me wanted to see what would happen. I wanted to see if anything I used to do would be missed. I don't think it was.

At the last possible moment on the Saturday before Mother’s Day, I was informed that I was in fact invited to the family gathering to honor “Lovey’s” mother. It would be at one of “Lovey’s” sisters’ palaces.

I didn’t’ want to go and spend time with those people. #1 informed me that I HAD to go…if nothing else to be there with HER. So, since #1 had said she wanted to go to church wherever I chose to go that morning, we could leave for the palace afterwards.

So, this is what we did.

Earlier in the week I had given Mom O’Lovey a pot of mums and a special card from me. It contained a refrigerator magnet that was styled after an old magazine cover from the 1960s. Something I thought she’d like…and her refrigerator always can use another magnet. She was pleased.

Lucky me! I got to spend time with all these people.

How do I refer to them now? Ex-family? Former family? Old family? Family?

Who knows?

I felt like a stranger anyway. This was probably because of my own thinking. It’s probably because I was continuing to think in terms of “I wonder which of these people know that I’m gay?”

Our hostess – the palace owner – is a fundamentalist Christian, so she blessed the food. In her blessing she talked thanked God for the “pain of her loins” or the “fruit of her loins”. Whatever. I wasn’t paying attention. My daughter nudged me and asked if I thought her blessing was appropriate. For the life of me, I didn’t want to think of palace’s owner’s loins in the first place – and before a meal? Ewwwww.

Dinner passed. Dessert was served. Then cards and gifts were opened by Mom O’Lovey. The first card she opened was from the hostess – the palace owner. The card she had gotten Mom was the exact same one I had given her 3 days ago! I chuckled.

We also got a chance to meet my niece’s (or former niece…or ex-niece….or old niece). (Whatever) fiancé. They marry in October.

He’s 29, she’s 23. He still lives with his mother. He brought a fruit concoction on a hot pink plate. He was very warm and outgoing. He then talked about his flair for being dramatic! And did I mention the very AVANT GUARDE glasses he wore?

Was that a blip on my gaydar? Surely not!

In the midst of all this was “Lovey.”

I truly wish her well in her future endeavors at the two churches she will be in charge of shortly.

But I still worry…

Ramblings

I feel like the old Frank today and this is a good feeling!

I had a conversation with a friend of mine a few days ago. We both agreed that there are times when we are tired of being gay.

Think about it.

A straight person doesn’t have to worry about their straightness. They don’t have to look at how their straightness has ended their marriages or at the very least strained them. (Unless their hormones have run amok and they feel the need to mate with everything that moves.)

They don’t have special “straight” media that help them to learn more about their community and affirm them. They don’t have to decide if they are going to have a “Straight Pride” bumper sticker on their car.

Why, they don’t even have to decide what they are were to their annual “Straight Pride” festival or parade. Heck, they don’t even have such a thing in the first place!

So, in my little life I find that I get overwhelmed at times by all my gay books that I read about gay history, gay lifestyles, famous people who were gay, the gay newspaper, the gay magazines that I subscribe to, the gay blogs I read, the gay radio station I listen to on my car’s satellite radio system or even the gay network I watch on my cable television!

Gee…straight people have it so much easier!

In the meantime, I’m a gay man trying to navigate the waters of his relatively new-found “freedom”.

This weekend was spent trying to make order out of the chaos that has descended upon my house. “Lovey” has finally decided to begin packing boxes of “her” things. Boxes are everywhere! Paper is everywhere!

Moving day is scheduled for the week of June 19.

I’ve been looking at various furniture stores to try and get an idea as to what my taste in styles is. Since “Lovey” is taking all the main level furniture with her, I will actually be able to find out. Keep your fingers crossed.

Friday, May 12, 2006

FLASHBACK: November 7, 2003


When I'm troubled about something, I write.

I don't know where I picked this up from, but I just do. I don't address it to anyone in particular, I just know that on some levels that writing makes me feel a lot better.

As I've been trying to make room on the computer for more important stuff, I've run across a whole file folder full of such writings. So, since this blog is about the demise of my marriage and rising from the ashes, I think it might be good to share some of this with each of you. Since I had no blog at the time, it will provide a little insight as to what I was feeling at various pre-blog states. There's really no need for it to just exist on my computer -- unread by anyone else.

Keep in mind that the feelings expressed in the following entry are not to be confused with current feelings. I've travelled quite a distance since these words were written.

This entry takes us back to November 7, 2003. This is a week after Lovey nailed me the first time. This is the time where, if I didn't have a nervous breakdown, I came the closest I have ever been to one.

November 7, 2003


Today I am numb. This is all because of the events of the past seven days. It was just one week ago today that my wife announced, at the breakfast table, that she thought we had come to the end of our marriage and that we needed to be heading in that direction within the next 3-4 years. I was simply devastated by these few simple words. So measured….so precise….so clinical.

What to do?

Upon reflection I suppose I also feel quite stupid. I mean, until she mentioned those few words, I had thought we were happy, that we did have something special going for us. Yes, I’m gay…but I thought I was compensating mightily for that. I thought that now since we were going through the pains of empty nesters, we could build on what we have going for us.

I was wrong.

She says that she feels like she and the rest of the family are in the closet because of me.

She is afraid that I wll jeopardize her ministry….especially if I come out….or I’m discovered while she is pastoring a church somewhere.

She feels as though she is a fifth wheel in her family even though she’s the mother. I made a boo-boo when I told the girls about her feelings…..and when I told my mother.

She doesn’t see that her feelings about being like a fifth wheel are self-driven.

She’s the one who has chosen to be busy with church work….with her degree…..etc……and not to totally focus of building relationships with the kids

She’s the one who has been doing things with the kids and then saying, “I could have been home studying, etc.” in order to make the kids be aware of the total sacrifice she is making in order to spend some time with them.

She’s the one who has been outing me to everyone. She’s the one who is adding additional strain to the relationship with my parents by her not developing any type of relationship with them. She has not darkened the door of their house in 5 years!

Yes, I’m to be blamed for all that has gone wrong in all these years. I guess this is okay!

Our pastor asked yesterday for each of us to decide if we are happy in the marriage.

Funny, until Friday last week, I thought I was.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Why?


Why do I feel like I do?

Why am I unhappy at the moment?

Why do I feel left out just because my wife is getting her long-held desire to pastor not one, but two churches at once?

Why am I sad that for the first time in 24 years, I'm not invited to the family gathering to celebrate Mother's Day, when I don't really want to be around those people anyway?

Why am I gay?

Why can't I get past all these confusing feelings and move on?

Why can't I be REALLY happy?

Why do I feel like such a failure as a human being?

Why do I feel like I'm floundering?

Why do I feel like I'm whining all the time?

Why do I feel like I'm stuck on a roller coaster and will never get off?

Why do I worry so much about my future?

Why am I so unsure of myself and what I can do?

Why do I feel like this?

Can someone tell me?

Why?

Detachment


Something new appears to be brewing at my house.

It's called detachment.

It's a very strange phenomenon.

"Lovey" appears to be preparing for her move with an enormous emount of enthusiasm and excitement. After all, she's moving to a new area....beginning a new job....and embarking on a new life.

So, as she makes her plans, packs her boxes, and makes her purchases, there's just not any interest in her old life.

I first noticed the detachment on Thursday evening of this past week. She and I were attending an awards banquet for our daughter prior to commencement.

The same was true on Friday...

Then on Saturday, the day of graduation, the BIGGGG DAY.....there it was again. No real warmth.....no exuberance.....no real emotion. It all seemed so very mechanical. Not like what one would expect from the mother of a beautiful daughter, graduating summa cum laude from a large college with a 4.0 average!

Maybe all mothers who are divorcing gay dads can't wait to leave the festivities of graduations (and have to be practically begged to haul some belongings back home from the graduate) in order to go shopping for things in their new house.

Do mother's not act happy and joyful when an offspring graduates with myriad accomplishments?

Isn't this strange?

Did I expect too much?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Graduation!


This weekend daughter number one graduated from college Summa Cum Laude!

It was quite a big deal...and I must say, I was more proud than anyone could ever imagine.

The other big event was the fact that my parents were there and it was the first time since all the talk of divorce that they had laid an eye on "Lovey." I gave my mother the same speech over and over again...."This weekend is not about you.....it's not about "Lovey", or "Lovey's" family...it's not about me and "Lovey"....but it's about your eldest granddaughter and her achievements.

So, at one of the ponds on the campus, my parents saw "Lovey"....and it went well, considering the tenseness. My mom and "Lovey" did not wind up in the pond fighting a la Linda Evans and Joan Collins in Dynasty.

Whew!

Watching the festivities and seeing my daughter eclipsed any attitudes. I ignored the drama and focused on her.

But there were silly moments over the course of the week...like when "Lovey" called my cellphone and she got what she thought was an answer and no one spoke to her, she immediately thought that my mother was in some way snubbing her. She left a very terse message that said that she was sorry that no one would talk with her.... Well, sorry to say, at the time, no one was there to talk with her because my parents and I were in a Mexican restaurant eating dinner. But the bitterness in the recording of her voice was something to hear.....especially since she is a minister!

After I got home...and my parent drove home to where they live....I found myself coming off the high that I have been experiencing over the past few days. I think what has happened is that with all the excitement surrounding my daughter's graduation, and the fact that my parents were coming, and the fact that Zach would be there....well, after it was all over...it seems like air has escaped from a balloon. I'm not "down" per se...but I'm certainly not as "high" as I was....

I guess the fact that I'm suffering from dual ear infections and a sore throat has not helped my mood....

We've gotten the word that "Lovey" will be pastoring 2 churches. This means that they are two small country churches and she will be required to preach twice each Sunday. They are in a town that is approximately 85-90 miles away from where we currently live. She's already gone to see the churches...and she has looked at the parsonage where she will be living. It's a lot better place than I thought she might get. The house is currently empty...and she is scheduled to officially move on June 28. Hopefully she will be able to begin doing some serious moving earlier. So we shall see.

My next hurdle of pain will be when she begins to officially move out. I dread it. But, one good thing is the fact that I have my daughter with me now. She will help make the transition easier.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Tears...


I went to my mailbox today and there was an envelope addressed to me from my daughter in Nashville, TN. She's the singer that is working toward two degrees... She has always dreamed of a career in the music business. One degree will be in commercial vocal performance and the other will be in music business. Her graduation will be this December. I fully expect her to attain her goal...and it's going to be quite fun watching her career progress as I get older.

This is also the same daughter who wrote Shades of Gray that was posted here a few days ago.

I opened the envelope from her and there was a birthday card. The card says:

For My Dad

As I get older, I realize more and more how lucky I've always been to have a dad like you. Thanks for giving me the kind of love that makes all the difference...all through my life. Happy 48th Birthday.


Then in her beautiful handwriting she wrote:

"Dear Daddy. You'll never know and I don't think I'll ever know how much your love, encouragement, and support have shaped my life. Every day I'm made aware of it by the conversations that I have with my friends. I hope the man that I marry will have the exact same kind of love for our children as you've had for us. I love you and I hope this year is an amazing new beginning for you! Love...."

Tears rolled down my face.

They are rolling now.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Smiles


I guess I'm in a writing mood today. So, look out, there could be more than one post for today. I don't know.

Life has been so rotten for so long, it's so cool to be able to smile again....and to laugh.....and to just enjoy being me.

A few days ago, I splurged and bought a camera for my Mac. I decided to do this for two reasons actually -- the first being that I could communicate with my kids and other family by voice and by face. The second reason is that I could enter into the realm of video chat with some of my friends out in cyber space -- some of whom I have never met.

Two things really stand out. The guys with whom I have had such chatting invariably comment on my eyes and my smile. Hmmmm...I never thought that my eyes were anything special than just being eyes. The smile part? Well, since I haven't had very much to smile about int he past few years, those comments took me off guard.

So, I took a few moments....got on my computer.....activated the camera and just looked at myself for a few moments. No...I have't gone narcissistic. But I tried to look at me the way others do. I looked at my face....my hair......my wrinkles (not too many of those for someone at 48)....and then it happened.

I smiled.

And as I watched myself smile.....the smile got bigger!

I think I saw it....what the other guys have noted. I guess as smiles go, it's a great smile. It feels good to smile. I have a lot to be happy about...really. So, it definitely seems that I have turned another corner in my journey.

And the smiles are beginning to expand.....into laughter! This is definitely different!!!

Last night, a dear friend, his wife, and elderly mother took me to dinner to celebrate my birthday. (Yeah...we're back to that again.) I arrived early...and was all settled in, when they arrived. But dumb me forgot that the mother was in a wheel chair and where the hosts had placed me was not conducive to wheelchairs. So I moved.

When we all got settled, our waiter appeared. He wasn't just a run of the mill waiter...but this one definitely could stop traffic. He was young and beautiful....and it set off the gaydar BIG TIME. My friends at the table, all of whom know I'm gay....and love me anyway sensed the gay thing. After the waiter departed, my friend's wife said, "Well, in honor of your birthday, I had him be our waiter!" (Not)....but we all burst out laughing. It was a priceless moment....where I didn't feel like such an alien. It definitely was a special birthday moment.

I laughed....heartily....

It was a great way to cap off my first birthday as single and gay!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Happy Birthday--2

What a great day! I've received a number of emails....cards in the mail.....and telephone greetings. Thanks to all of you for remembering me...and for your words of kindness. They are very much appreciated.

But that's not why I posted about my birthday today....

I suppose what it comes down to is the fact that I have a reason to celebrate. I survived the year and I am looking forward to the coming weeks, months and years to see what good things come my way! I am so thankful. You will never know.

It seems like the long dark night has passed.

Finally, for this post I want to end with a funny thing that happened last night that I meant to post before, but since I write these things early in the morning at the office before the day goes crazy...I can be somewhat incoherant. So I forgot this.

While driving to my daughter's college yesterday and my wife and I were talking about the overall shallowness of her family not contacting me....and the fact that the pastoral staff hadn't bothered to contact me, a song came on the radio that I hadn't really focused on. It hit the nail on the head...and further affirmed me. (Please note...that I'm no longer bitter about all this....but in some warped way I can see some humor in it.)

The song is from the latest JoDee Messina album, Delicious Surprise. This is the same album that contains the song, "My Give A Damn's Busted" another fun song!

This one's called simply, "Where Were You?" I hope no one ever has to say this to me after they've gone through a storm.

Where Were You?


It's good to see you come 'round, it's been a while
Sure is nice to see your smile
Yah I'm doing better now, thought about
Callin' you a hundred times

Oh I had left a couple messages
And I never heard a word from you
Not one


Chorus:
Where were you when I needed somebody
Where were you when the walls started caving in
I was waiting for someone to save me
When I was coming unglued
Where were you


A lot of things got pretty bad pretty fast
I never thought you'd turn your back
You left me out there all alone hanging on
I just have to deal with that


Oh I can count on you when everything is easy
But when the going gets tough
I guess not

Repeat chorus

I had to find my own way
Now that I've made it through


It's not a whiny or sad song...but comes on very forceful and with a tinge of attitude. I guess that describes me and where I am at the moment -- with a tinge of attitude.

Time to celebrate!

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Happy Birthday!


Today at 6:52am I turned 48 years old!

Goodness...time flies!

I've heard from all my children....I've heard from my parents.....I've heard from Zach....and even my wife wished me a happy birthday, along with her mother.

Life continues to be good.

Yes, it seems that I am definitely on the upswing...this is the longest period since June 9 that I can say that I am beginning to feel really good about things.

Yesterday I drove Lovey to visit our daughter who is graduating from college this coming Saturday. There was a special awards banquet for her honor's college last night. So Lovey and I had a total of six hours alone to talk -- uninterrupted. I told her that I was in a very different place than where I have been and that I'm calming down. I also told her that I have learned a whole lot of things about me during this painful time.

I also shared with her my disillusionment with her church and her colleagues for not reaching out to me or at a minimum, checking in with me. Likewise, I mentioned that I perceived her sisters and their husbands as being somewhat shallow in that they haven't checked on me either... even though they have said on a number of occasions how important and "special" I am to each of them. To my surprise, she agreed with my assessments on all fronts.

(I had to chuckle inside when I heard that one of my brothers-in-law has a gay friend that he spends a great deal of time with and travels with several times a year. I have these delicious scenarios that play out in my head....what if???? You'd have to know him and the woman he is married to in order to fully understand just how delicious all this could/would be...)

As I look back on the year I have just come through, I can't help but feel that it has all been for some greater purpose. I think I'm going to be a much better man for it. I think it will make me a better resource for other guys who find themselves in a similar situation....I believe it will give me a tremendous capacity to show genuine empathy I would not have ordinarily been able to muster.......and ultimately I think this will make me better partner material for the man I grow old with.