I am normally a comedian, but anyone who knows comedians know we tend to be a little morose from time to time. And for some reason it seems to help me get past some of these dark moods when I write them down and put them on my blog. Don’t worry regular readers there are some things I wouldn’t never put on this blog, they are just too personal or might unintentionally hurt someone, so they stay on paper never to make it to cyberspace.
The other day a relatively new person in my life wanted to know the specifics of my ex-husband‘s realization he was gay. Most people assume at some point in our marriage, my ex simply found the courage to finally be honest with himself and with me. I wish that were the case, but I was not given that consideration. Like many straight spouses, instead of the truth being revealed to me, I had years of lies, excuses and finally betrayal. It wasn’t until I found hard evidence of his true sexual orientation that I could finally move on. Even with this proof right in front of his face, all pretense removed he still tried to deny reality. In the weeks that passed he finally admitted his inner-deception. I was then faced with the harsh realization that on some level my entire marriage was a fraud. The depths of deep sorrow are hard to describe really, and the confusion of others towards me never really ends. Many cannot contemplate how insidious the wound of being a straight spouse, cuts right through a person. Meaning well they will flippantly try to reassure me with lines such as…Well at least he didn’t cheat on you with a woman
All I can think is, well if he cheated on me with a woman at least I could understand that. Infidelity is common in many marriages and some even survive the trauma. If he had cheated on me with a woman we might still be together. Depending on the specific circumstances I might have been able to forgive him and move on. Marriage is a lifetime commitment and a lifetime leaves plenty of chances to make some fairly big mistakes. As it stands I have to live with the knowledge that he never really wanted me. That realization is horrifically painful.
You know he really loved you he couldn’t help he was gay
I guess but, if he really loved me he wouldn’t have used me in this way. He knew what he was doing to me, he knew his was keeping secrets, he knew he was lying. I don’t quite understand the concept of “The Closet” as he has admitted he has known since he was a child, and then in the same breath tried to reconcile his relationship with me. So which was it? I can’t help but think he was just suppressing what he knew was there all along and I was his collateral damage. And what damage, nine years of a life, years of sacrifice and compromise, and romance that wasn’t real.
The suicide rate for straight spouses is three times higher than those in a traditional divorce. A straight spouse has to deal with a lot: damaged sexuality, loss of trust, social stigma, and wounded self-esteem. To make matters worse, a straight spouse cannot even look back to happier memories, as even they become tainted. My happy memories, broken like crumpled photographs that cannot be flattened properly no matter what method I try. As if the photographic images have scratches ground into them permanently across smiling faces. The first time I met my ex, our first kiss, and of course my entire nine years of sex with a man who didn’t really want to be there. Our first apartment, our first Christmas, every memory is now clouded and defamed. And I wonder what are these memories like to him? I can’t imagine and I don’t really care. My feelings for him have changed so much, he was once so important so central to my being and now he is just someone who knows me so well but I really never knew at all.
My entire wedding haunts me now, as one big farce. I had an absolutely beautiful ceremony, perfect weather, supportive families, and a wonderful, gorgeous celebration. I look back at it now and want to erase it from my brain. I am not angry anymore as I gave up on the anger a while ago. The rage was doing no more than grinding me down, so I released it. But I still feel a deep sadness that will flare up from time to time at times completely unexpectedly. I will find myself staring off thinking about one aspect of it, and others around me will comment that I look sad or lost. I don’t realize I am doing this, it is as if my mind just takes over for a few minutes and I sink back into the sorrow if only for a moment. And the trust issues are tantamount, I can’t fathom being married again, it is just so foreign a concept after what I went through.
I could have chosen to keep it hidden, continued the secret to protect him and protect myself from judgment and labels but since “The Closet” nearly destroyed me I would rather leave its door in charred splinters and not continue the pretense one more day.
And now I live with the shame and the invasive questions along the lines of…
How did you not know?
As if there is something wrong with me, as if I somehow brought this upon myself with some type of shortcoming or character flaw. Not that I was just prey for a self-serving person who needed, a partner to hide his secret life. I know there are some that laugh at me and mock my situation. They aren’t surprised that this happened to me, as if it is a joke, or I am not worthy of a normal relationship. Or that my fiercely feminist bent lead me to a gay emasculated husband. Even though my ex is an extremely strong personality that dominated our relationship and marriage. He was hardly a push-over or hen-pecked wimp. He didn’t mince about or act effeminate, he didn’t lisp or act in a flamboyant manner. He was just a man who acted if anything somewhat asexual rather than overtly gay. We had a sex life that was normal, but it slowly become dysfunctional. And a decreased sex life is not unheard of in traditional marriages. I begged my husband to seek treatment for what he claimed was erectile dysfunction, and the more I pushed the worse things got.
So I look for solace, calm, and peace and I am beginning to find it. But in order to move on I have to wipe out whole sections of my past. Every memory is now clouded and opaque. I have to instead focus on how much stronger I have become after nearly being destroyed. How I have gained compassion and empathy towards others and courage I didn’t know I had in me. And learn to forgive myself for all the damage that I wrought in the aftermath of the fall. If anything this personal hell has taught me that no one has it easy in life, even those who seem to have everything they want. Their loved ones die for no real reason, they suffer loss, disappointment and tragedy. We can choose to wallow in the muck or pull ourselves up out of it. I strive every day now, to move forward. As painful as it is for me to write some of these blog posts, I know it is helping other people. For whatever reason when I throw these demons into cyberspace they grow quieter in my head.
One thing that has helped me in my recovery are the many straight spouses that read this blog and have shared their stories with me. No one really understands this torture except someone who has gone through it. And we will survive it, it just takes time, patience and a world of strength. Solidarity to anyone who found this blog who is going through the same thing. It will get better. 🙂
For more help a wonderful resource – Straight Spouse Network – Chat rooms, discussions, stories and you can even find local support groups in your area. I am a semi-regular member of the NY city chapter. You will rarely find people that truly understand our unique situation. I can’t say enough good things about this organization.
- Guide To Blended Families (simplysenia.com)
- Straight Spouses: Homophobia – an Equal Opportunity Destroyer (julietjeskeblog.com)
- Emotional Affairs – A brief introduction (danchar.wordpress.com)
- A straight support group fortifies the former spouses of gays (uk.reuters.com)
- Love, Marriage, and Battleaxes (mommameghan.wordpress.com)
- Coming out to my wife (salon.com)
- Infidelity: What to do after an affair (cnn.com)
My website www.julietjeske.com
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julietjeskeblog.com Thanks for reading!