The following is the final installment to Anonymous’ Shattering the Clay series.
“I think we’re good here.”
I collapsed into the soft sofa cushions of my therapist’s couch. “What do you mean?”
“I don’t think I need to see you anymore. If you feel things slip, just call me and I’ll get you in.”
I walked to the car, my head buzzing. I was…done.
The first two weeks post disclosure is a haze of pain. I wandered around the house, numb at first and then sobbing. I didn’t work. I didn’t sleep. I didn’t write. I didn’t eat. I was a ghost.
I kept up the facade for friends and family, filling their ears with pie in the sky happy chatter. I told them that Ford and I were going to look for a duplex so we could still live near each other. I told them we were going to be best friends and this whole gay thing was just a bump in our relationship. They listened. They worried. They kept silent.
And then, one day, I cracked. I watched Ford clear way a blackberry bramble. He was wearing a shirt I’d bought him for his birthday and ratty old shorts he bought on our first trip together so many years ago. I remembered that trip so vividly, the memory an ache. I remembered how sweet he was. I remembered walking in the rain and holding hands. I remembered telling him I loved him.
The sun glinted off his wedding band as he worked. The glint stabbed through the haze and ate up the fog.
I realized, with a pain that left me gasping, he was no longer mine.
I closed my eyes and accepted that truth and another:
I was no longer his.
I forced myself to shower, to brush my teeth, to eat. In typical fashion, I came up with a proactive, organized plan to move forward with my life. I determined I would have a happy life. I would have love again. But first, I needed to love myself.
I spent the next few months trying to discover who I was as a single woman with two kids. Every time I felt the pain suck at me, I pushed it back, brutally, mercilessly forcing myself to move forward.
There were times when I hurt so badly, the only way I could cope was to run. I pounded the pavement in the heat of summer, the pain shooting through my legs as I pushed myself harder and harder. The more I hurt on the outside, the better I felt. There were nights, late nights, when I paced the hallway, shaking with anxiety. Sleep was difficult and my days lasted 20 hours. It was a lot of time to fill, but fill it I did. I painted walls; I scrubbed baseboards; I moved furniture. My house has never looked so clean.
But sadly, as I pushed myself forward, Ford began inching his way back into the closet. He started drinking heavily, moodily ranting and picking at me. He blamed me for everything. The divorce was my fault because I couldn’t be satisfied with the life we had. He contended I was selfish. He bargained with me, asking if I would just wait to leave until he’d slept with another man to make sure he was truly gay.
It finally became too much and I asked him to leave our home.
He panicked when he realized he was losing his family. Unlike so many other gay spouses, he wasn’t cheating on me and didn’t have someone to help ease the ache of the break up and introduce him to a new lifestyle. And unlike me, he didn’t search out support and therapy. He continued his negative spiral into the fall and early winter until finally, he hit bottom.
People assume I’m angry with him. I’m not, really. His is a journey that will be far more difficult than mine. I hope with all my heart that he will one day find love and happiness again.
There is one thing, though. One thing that makes me angry. One thing I need to learn to forgive.
You see, for five years I let this man I loved tell me I wasn’t good enough. I let him tell me I was too fat to be attractive. I let him tell me I was bad in bed and that all our issues were the result of me, of my obsession with sex, of my inability to be satisfied with what he could give me. I listened to him tell me I needed plastic surgery to fix my body and therapy to fix my issues.
And for years, I wondered if he was right. Was there something wrong with me?
In his inability to come to grips with his own sexuality, he chipped away at my self confidence, my trust, and my faith in myself. For that, I’m angry. It’s not an active anger, but it’s an anger that gives me the strength and power to say no when he tries, still, to pressure me towards reconciliation.
Besides, I’ve had sex with a straight man.
The difference is unbelievable.
I started dating a mere six weeks after disclosure. I needed to know that someone out there might find me attractive. I went on several wonderful dates, met some very nice men and some not-so-very nice men. And I met a great man who very happily helped me come to the understanding that it wasn’t, in fact, me. I’m actually good in bed. Who knew?
Now, nine months since disclosure, I’m growing accustomed to the new normal or single motherhood. I’ve moved out of Ford’s house and he’s moved back in. I have a nice little cottage I can start fresh. Ford and I get along fairly well, even having dinner together once every couple weeks to talk about the kids and life. He’s starting to reach out to his community and I hope he’ll one day find himself. He admits he handled the last six months with very little grace and is working towards making amends.
I still have moments when the dark shadows push past my defenses. I still have nights when I lay awake and try to keep the monster of pain at bay. I’ve learned to push it harder and harder away and to remind myself that I have so very much to be grateful for.
I’m doing very well. I’m still dating that very nice man, but we’re taking things slowly. I have trust issues. How I hate that phrase! But, honestly, I’m not sure anyone is who they say they are anymore or if I’ll ever be able to let another man in the way I did with Ford. There’s a lot I don’t know about my future. What I do know is that I will survive this.
Shoot. I might even thrive.
Anonymous and I do not want to end the conversation here. We’re both wondering if you have any questions for either of us? We can answer in the comments…Thank you, Anonymous, for sharing your story with us. I am so proud and in awe of you.