This blog is from the heart, informed by having been married to a closeted gay man and understanding how that experience changed the trajectory of my life, both as a woman and as a psychotherapist. Please add to the conversation and "Follow" if you're so inclined; all voices are welcome!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sunday on the radio with Bonnie...

...with apologies to Stephen Sondheim.

On Sunday, March 24th, I was a guest on Bonnie Kaye's Blog Talk Radio show, "Straight Wives Talk Show." In preparation for the show, I had the opportunity to spend nearly an hour on the phone chatting with Bonnie, who is a fellow therapist and straight spouse. She has been offering therapy services to straight spouses since 1984; ironically, that is the same year I met my ex. I can't tell you how invigorating it is to talk with other str8 therapists who are doing this work; it's a small but powerful sorority.

Just like running into a fellow American in another country, when communicating with other str8s there is a certain knowledge of that other person, a connection that is immediate and unspoken. I. Know.You. No explanations, no painful questions, no raised eyebrows. 

Then the questions come: How long have you been doing this work? When did your husband come out? Have you remarried? Do you tell clients your story? What do think about this? What do you believe about that? 

Back in the Stone Age when my ex-husband came out, there were no internet groups, no str8 face-to-face support groups, no therapists that I knew of who had ever heard of such a thing, no anything. In the words of Jean Gochros Schaar, PhD, in her 1989 book "When Husbands Come Out of the Closet", there was only profound isolation, or what she so eloquently calls "a terrible sense of lonely uniqueness."

I hope that you will listen to my chat with Bonnie, and let us know if we can be of help, whether it's through resources and referrals, professional expertise, or simply hard-won wisdom. Your thoughts or comments are welcomed. The show can be heard at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/bonnielkaye/2013/03/25/straight-wives-talk-show.

Remember, you don't have to go through this experience alone. 

To schedule a face-to-face or FaceTime/Skype session with Kimberly Brooks, LPC, please go to my website at www.kimberlybrookslpc.com. For a support group, either in person or online, contact the Straight Spouse Network at www.straightspouse.org.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A letter to my gay husband

Recently, I was inspired to include voices of other straight spouses on my blog. I became aware that sharing our stories with each other, while helpful, just isn't enough. We already know all too well the pain and devastation of a spouse coming out. My hope is that you, the reader, will share this with others. Believe me, whether you know it or not, you have a straight spouse in your life. 


                                                                   Letter to my Gay Husband

The moment is both crystal clear and a haze of emotions. That moment. That moment at 8 am on an August morning when you hesitated and took a breath for a millisecond after telling me what bills you had paid and how D’s college tuition was being covered. The moment that is the bridge between the safe and comfortable world that I knew and the one that I live in now.  The moment that preceded the 9 words that shattered my dreams for the future and my memories of the past.  “And, I need to tell you that I’m gay.” 

Those words were the gateway to the many months I spent walking through fog in an upside down world, holding all known emotions side by side in my heart - anger, compassion, sadness, love, devastation, strength, resolve, darkness, self-love, self-loathing, fury, and peace. At the time, of course, I believed that had you been more thoughtful in your disclosure, or had you better anticipated what I might need and want, it would have “felt” better. In hindsight, I know that nothing could have diminished the pain and disorientation I have come to embrace as my own as a result of your truth.

We have talked more intimately in the past 6 months than we had during our 28 years of marriage; hundreds of hours by my estimation.  Almost certainly it is because of my need to know the watershed of thoughts, feelings and experiences that you kept hidden for all of these years. I wanted to know that part of you too. I have heard all of the things you have shared. Some of them have helped me believe that you truly love me, in your way. Some of them have helped me understand the myriad of forces that enable men like you to live a life-time trying to suppress or manage their same-sex attractions for the sake of normalcy. But when all is said and done, while you transition to living your life authentically, I still have a broken heart.  You focus on happy years we had together. I focus on this less; I didn't want a marriage that was going to end. I am trying to forgive you. I am trying to let go of the anger.   I am trying to give primacy to the love we still share. It is hard.

In Senegal’s Maison des Esclaves (The House of Slaves) the door to the quarters of captured slaves is known as “Goree”, The Door of No Return.  That is our door. Every possible path to the relationship we knew is blocked. Although we have tried and tried to navigate around this, to see what we can work out, in reality there’s no way back.  

I can’t imagine having survived the past 6 months without the support of other str8 spouses that are ahead of me in this journey. Sadly, there are hundreds of us.  We, collectively, can validate the feelings of pain, betrayal, deceit, loss that each of us experience as we let go of the person we loved so deeply but could not keep.

I know that you are sorry. I thank you for having been so present for me as I process where we are.  You have stayed with me and with our 4 boys.  But in the end, none of it matters.  I love you. I always will.  I only wish that you had loved me enough to have been more careful with my heart.   ~ Anonymous

To schedule a face-to-face or FaceTime session with Kimberly Brooks Mazella, LPC, please go to my website at www.straightforwardcounseling.com