Shattering the Clay Part III: PFLAG Fail (by Anonymous)

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*** Please read Anonymous’ previous installments here and here, and please share on Twitter and Facebook! Such an important story!**

 

I clutched the phone in my shaking hand, listening to it ring on the other side.

PFLAG, this is Mary.”

“Hi Mary.” I tried to keep my voice from trembling. “My, uh, husband, um, just came out and I was wondering if you have any support groups.”

“Your husband came out?” I could hear the note of enthusiasm in Mary’s voice. “Why that’s wonderful! Good for him.”

“Yeah,” I said dully. “It’s fantastic.”

“We have a group that meets twice a month. You’ll learn how to support him on this journey and how to help him come to terms with his new life.”

“Oh. Um,” I swallowed the lump in my throat. “That’s good. But see, the thing is,” I stared at the ceiling willing my eyes to stay dry, “I need someone for me.”

“We’re really about helping friends and family of gays and lesbians support their loved ones.”

“Isn’t there anyone for me?” I swallowed the lump blocking my throat.

“Well, I honestly don’t know.” Mary rushed on. “But I’m sure you’d get along great with us! We have so many wonderful members. Do you have children?”

“Yes. They’re 18 months and five.”

The line was silent. Mary’s voice was quiet. “Oh.”

I stared out the window at the budding tree. I promised to attend the next meeting, knowing I’d never meet Mary. I hung up the phone and walked to the computer.

What to do when your husband tells you he’s gay

I typed the words into Google. Google had never let me down. Google always knew all the answers. This time was no different.

I clicked on a site, its plain black and white format comforting. I clicked on the Open Forum. I scrolled down the list of conversations, reading faster and faster. I opened a new box and started to type, my heart pounding.

My husband of eight years told me he was gay two hours ago. I don’t know what to do. What do I do? I need help. I need someone to tell me how to fix this. I need someone to tell me it’s going to be okay.

I hit publish and stared at the wedding picture next to the printer. I looked so happy in that picture. So in love. I hit refresh. Responses filled the page.

“Go to the doctor. Get tested for STD’s. Get a lawyer. But most of all, know you are going to be okay. We’ll be here for you.”

“Get tested as soon as possible. Even if you think he’s been faithful. We know how you feel. You’re not alone.”

“We’re here. This is my phone number. Call me, please, if you feel like you can’t handle this.”

“Don’t worry. You’re going to be okay. I promise you’ll survive this. We’re here for you. Welcome to the familee.”

“You can’t fix it. But you CAN survive it. You WILL survive it.”

Message after message filled the screen. I clung to them like a lifeline. I held tight to their words. I’d found my people.

I  was walking a path – a tough path filled with brambles and potholes, but a familiar path. One day, my walking partner pushed me off a ledge. I landed, bruised, confused, disoriented. I looked around and nothing was familiar. I stood screaming for my partner to send down a rope, a ladder, help. My voice echoed off the walls of the cliff. I waited to see his familiar face looking down, to see the comfort of his smile, but the top of the cliff remained empty. It got dark and cold. I wrapped my arms around myself and turned to see where I was. I saw a light glimmering in the distance and walked toward the warmth it offered.

I came upon a group of shaken, confused people huddled around a lantern. There was someone else there, someone who kindly handed out warm drinks and said, “Don’t worry. You’re not alone. I fell down that cliff not so long ago.”

When dawn snuffed out the stars and the sunlight illuminated my new path, I realized, quite suddenly, that it isn’t as rough as my old one. There aren’t as many brambles or loose rock. It’s flat and smooth and populated by more people than I ever imagined.

The Straight Spouse Network was a haven during those first blurry months. They’re a haven still.

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  • http://misadventuresofmrsb.com/ Mrs. Jen B

    I’m so glad you found a place for you, for your support through all of this.  And that you’re sharing your story with us.

    • Erin Margolin

      Thank you. I am, too!

  • http://twitter.com/dutchbeingme Julie

    I’ve read all of your posts here and am astounded by your courage to share all of this — even in an anonymous way — so that you can (hopefully) support others in this same situation… as well as help yourself heal. Someday, when you are ready, I would love to give you a hug. Just know I’m doing just that virtually for you right now.

    • http://janasthinkingplace.com/ Jana A (@jana0926)

      This is exactly what I was about to say. All of it. I’m in awe of your bravery and strength. Thank you for sharing. 

      • Erin Margolin

        Thank you so much. The funny thing is, I don’t feel particularily brave.

    • Erin Margolin

      Most of these posts have been written and sitting for months while I waited for Ford to open his door all the way. I feel that I need to respect his privacy and his timing on how he comes out. Still, the posts and the idea of the posts and the need to share my story started to fester and expand until I thought I was going to walk into Target and start telling everyone. I’m so very grateful Erin was able to host me and to help me get it all out.

  • http://www.thebigpieceofcake.com/ Kate Coveny Hood

    Such brave writing – and such a compelling story. It’s the one that people never talk about – possibly never evenconsider. Thank you for sharing yours with us. It’s an important one.

    • Erin Margolin

      Thank you. Prior to my experience, I’d never really thought about it myself. I think it’s important to share this side of the closet.

  • http://makemommygosomethingsomething.com/ Kimberly

    I am so glad that you were able to find a community of others who have been through the same. There is nothing worse than going through a struggle alone.
    Thank goodness for the internets and those wonderful people who reached out to you that day.
    PS that last paragraph blew my mind away. So wonderfully written

    • Erin Margolin

      First of all, thank you.
      One of the most amazing things about the internet is that we’re never really alone if we reach out and Google. I’m so thankful for that.

  • http://borderlessthinking.com/ Cherry

    I know the main thing is content, however, you’re writing is fabulous. It’s the train we ride to take us (someone who has not had a similar experience) through the landscape, feel the terrain, and have a sense of the world you live in.

    I’m glad you found help and can’t imagine (although, again, I had a glimpse through the clean window of the train) hearing: “Your husband came out?” I could hear the note of enthusiasm in Mary’s voice. “Why that’s wonderful! Good for him.” when you’re feeling lost and looking for help for yourself.

    Thanks again for sharing this. Cherry

    • Erin Margolin

      Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m glad you’re able to “see”. It was what I was hoping I’d be able to do.

  • http://www.fromtracie.com From Tracie

    I’m really astounded that PFLAG didn’t even have a referral to someone who could support you during this time. That is a major fail moment.

    But I’m SO happy that you found your group. 

    You are strong and courageous. Thank you for continuing to share your story. 

    • Erin Margolin

      I work for a man who is very involved with the local GALA chapter. He heard my story and said the same thing. In fact, he brought it up at a board meeting, telling the group they need to be sensitive and helpful for the straight spouses.
      It’s a step in the right direction.

      • http://www.fromtracie.com From Tracie

        I’m glad to hear that! It definitely is a step in the right direction. 

  • http://mamawantsthis.com Alison@Mama Wants This

    I’m so glad you found your support group – so needed, so important.

    You’re so courageous. You WILL survive. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Erin Margolin

      Thank you so much.

  • Katherine stone

    Several years ago this happened to our best friends.  The four of us traveled together, had fun together, adored each other.  And then, after five years of marriage, he came out.  She was shocked and devastated, as were we.  We never had the faintest idea.  We didn’t have a problem that he was gay; we were actually glad that he was able to come to terms with who he was.  Everyone should feel free to be who they really are and live who they really are, gay, straight, whatever.  We were just upset that he couldn’t have figured this out earlier and not married our dear, dear friend and put her through the hell of their divorce.  It took her a lot of therapy and time to get over it, but she’s doing so great now and is very happy.  I’m so sorry for what you have been going through and I’m glad that you have found support.

    • Erin Margolin

      I’m so glad your friend is doing well and is happy. That gives me more hope!

      Ford and I were friends with a great couple who were just as shocked as you were. As the husband said, in shock, “But we went to a strip club together for my bachelor party!” They too are glad he’s come out, but, at the same time feel betrayed.

      I told Ford, not too long ago, that I can’t regret our marriage. Sometimes I wish I could. But regret would mean regretting my children and I can’t do that. I do, however, wish he would have picked someone else or, maybe just not married a woman at all.

  • Ann HOlmes

    Thanks so much for the courage to post these!

    • Erin Margolin

      Thank you.

  • http://twitter.com/juliecgardner Julie Gardner

    Because of your posts, someone else who is falling may find a ledge to hold onto.

    So out of your pain comes help for others. It’s a steep price to pay for such a gift to give; and you are generous to offer it in your story.

    I hope you’re feeling stronger with each word you share. 
    And also that you know how supported you really are.

    • Erin Margolin

      I hope, I truly hope, that someone will google “What to do when you find out your husband is gay” and find this. I hope that somewhere out there, a man who is sitting in shock or a woman who is in tears will come across this and know there are resources for them. And that they’re not alone.

  • Anonymous

    I’m glad to know that she found a resource — I’m sorry that PFLAG isn’t prepared to help both sides. We all know that coming out can be an extremely difficult process and deserves support but as she so poignantly pointed out, the straight partner has a very difficult road, as well. Thanks to Anonymous for sharing her story and spreading the word about The Straight Spouse Network. I’m sure this will help another one walking a rough road.
    Traci

    • Erin Margolin

      I think the straight spouses are, in a sense, the dirty little secret. Coming out IS a difficult process, as I’ve witnessed first hand. Those who do deserve love, support, understanding, and even celebration. However, not at the expense of closing someone else in another closet.

  • Christi Garcia

    This continuation kept me riveted just as the previous two have.  An amazing first-hand look into something that most of us will never have to live through.  Thank you for sharing your story with us.  The strength that you have found comes through in your writing, as does the helplessness that you felt at the time…a unique combination, but an amazing feat!  May your life continue on the path of fewer brambles!!!  {HUGS}

    • Erin Margolin

      Thank you so much for reading – and commenting! A mentor told me, when this whole thing started, that I’d just have to let go. I’m such a control freak Virgo, I couldn’t imagine letting go of the reins of my life. Until I did. I am so thankful. I didn’t realize how freeing and uplifting it would be.

  • http://www.DanaReeves.com/ Dana Reeves

    I started this journey in 1996 – didn’t know about PFLAG or the Straight Spouse Network or any other resource. Just therapists. Therapists who were focused on helping my husband come to terms with his ‘new life’. I had a 3-month old son, a lifetime of Catholicism, lots of confusion, and lots of friends and family with very strong opinions. It was a really hard path to walk alone. But your friends at SSN were right – eventually we are okay.

    Thank you so much for sharing your story so honestly and openly.

    • Erin Margolin

      Big hugs and love to you. I can’t imagine doing it alone. I’m amazed by anyone who has.
      Thank YOU for sharing your story – or part of it. 

  • http://www.misselaineouslife.com Elaine A.

    I’m glad you found a group to help you know that you are not alone in this. xo

    • Erin Margolin

      Once I realized I wasn’t alone, a weight lifted.

  • http://twitter.com/SaidKristin What She Said

    First? You are an amazing writer. AH-MA-ZING. 

    Secondly, I just read your entire story and, though I can’t relate to it, I still read it through tears. Your recounting of it makes me ache for you. And the analogy in this installment of falling off the ledge but then following the light and coming upon “your people?” It made me laugh through the tears. Utter perfection. I’m so glad to hear you’re finding your way, slowly but surely. 

    • Erin Margolin

      Thank you so much. It’s a crazy new path, but I’m learning how to walk it. Not without getting turned around a few times, but my people always point me in the proper direction eventually.

  • Gooddayregularpeople

    SO happy you found them.

    Thank God for connection support understanding acceptance.

    • Erin Margolin

      I agree. It’s one of the amazing things about the internet – that support.

  • http://www.leighkramer.com/ HopefulLeigh

    This series is so poignantly written. I am in awe of your courage to share so honestly yet respectfully. Praying peace for you and your family.