The Death of a Superhero

Guest blogger, William Dye, expresses his journey of his wife coming out of the closet in this heartfelt piece about his process of being a man who was in a Mixed Orientation Marriage without knowing it. Thanks, William, for your transparency.

The Death of a Superhero

Someone once said, “The only way to hurt a man is to take away everything he values and degrade it, and remind him of it every day of his life.” Perhaps the greatest measure of a man is the amount of strength required to carry all of his pain.

Ask every man if, above all else, he’d wish to be someone’s first choice, and they would all probably agree. Marrying a lesbian not only means that a man wasn’t his mate’s first choice, but it means he was chosen as just a means to an end, a fool – A man’s greatest wish becomes his greatest fear.

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A boy fashions a cape out of a towel. He may jump off of the roof because, for just a moment, the boy can be Superman. Even if he breaks an ankle, there’s a chance that affirming this belief in himself was worth it. Superpowers are simple, and the bad guys always wear black. The boy knows he is a hero. All he needs is someone willing to let him prove it to them, someone to make him their first choice.

Then the boy grows up to discover hidden agendas, emotional abuse, and retroactive humiliation. The boy takes off his cape and hangs it in the bathroom where it belongs because the hero game just isn’t fun anymore. If there is a Superman, it certainly isn’t him. He doesn’t have the strength to bare this pain.

Urban dictionary defines unrequited love as drowning but you just won’t fucking die.

From the moment of his wife’s disclosure that she is gay, the conflict between what a man knows and what he feels results in his slow, recurring death. He feels it each moment of every day. He stops petting puppies not because of germs but because what’s the point? He takes unnecessary chances with no helmet on a motorcycle daring God to just go ahead and do it already, dumbass. He pulls his own tooth, not because he’s afraid of the dentist, but because he doesn’t like being touched anymore. By anyone. His heart now fights for each gasp while his mind watches from the soundproof box of over analysis. He smothers the better parts of himself with a pillow in order to survive.

Marriage, love, and sex are supposed to be, for both men and women, happy and safe places. When a woman leaves her husband for another woman, all of that is not just simply taken away from her husband. Instead, it becomes an altered state of perpetual, surreal confusion. The pathways in the brain that used to lead to comfort, self-esteem, and masculinity now lead to pain, doubt, and weakness—the very things boys know are distinctly unmanly. He is forced into a closet of someone else’s making.comingoutofacloset

A man is left in anguish wondering what it was that he used to believe in. He thought he knew what it was like to be loved, to be desired. He thought that above all else, he knew the one person who would always have his back. Now every time he takes a shower, every time he looks in the mirror, he must grapple with the idea that he and his man parts are and always were repulsive to the person who mattered most. How could he have been so wrong? How could he have been so stupid?  He thought he was the hero.

A man sits alone twenty-seven out of every thirty-one days while his children are raised by a woman he no longer knows and her new girlfriend. He’d spend more time with his kids if he wasn’t working a second job in order to make his child support payments. A man contemplates, if you want the villain, I’ll show you the villain, but instead chooses to do the right thing. Most of the time. The man tries to withhold harsh judgment even though his gay wife used him during her journey of self-discovery along the spectrum of sexual identity. A man just has to man-up. After all, she’s just living her truth. Meanwhile, his life has been a fraud.

“You don’t have to be a hero in order to get the girl. The right girl will bring out the hero in you.” – Deadpoolimages-14

A boy takes off his cape, hangs it in the bathroom where it belongs. Even Superman dies. Then the boy grows up to realize Deadpool, the foul-mouthed antihero from the comics, doesn’t wear a cape either. In fact, Deadpool wears red so the blood won’t show.

 

William Dye, originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma, now makes his home in Summit County, Colorado. Thirteen years after his Str8 experience began, he finally found support and SSN. It was an experiment in isolation that he wouldn’t wish on anyone. He currently teaches high school World History along with a course he created called Xtreme Literology. His goal in life is to write the book that gets Joaquin Phoenix an Oscar.  

The Nightingale’s on the TEDx Stage

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Luanne: I began the most significant walk of our life.

Matt: But, I have a secret. A secret that I live with everyday of my life…I feel guilty all the time, like I am failing everyone.

Matt and Luanne Nightingale got to share their own unique journey on the TEDx stage in Sonoma County. Their story is very familiar to me, as I could relate to much of what they shared. You might, too.

I am very proud of them for their courage and collaboration, and I hope that you will take the time to listen to their story. They are very beautiful individuals, and to share what they did was surely not easy.

I am grateful for their friendship. You may glean something for yourself in it. Whether you’re a straight spouse or the LGBTQ spouse, I think you will appreciate them.

Matt and Luanne Nightingale’s TedxSonomaCounty Talk

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,

Emily Reese

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Matt and Luanne have chosen hope over regret. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

The Implications of the Election for Straights

There are many things I would love to say, but I don’t want to turn off too many readers. If you voted for Trump/Pence, it is your right to have done so.

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If you’re a straight spouse, I hope you can think clearly about what the implications of those two leaders are for straight spouses in the future and their husbands or wives who come out of the closet.

Trump stated very clearly that marriage equality could be overturned if the right justices were in place (1). Pence has deliberately tried to pass a bill that would make it legal for businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ people based on religious grounds (2).

Now, before you say: “I don’t really care what my Gay or Lesbian ex-spouse does; they shouldn’t get to marry. It’s bullshit.”

Fine. I get where you are in that place. I have been there myself, actually. That is coming from your place of pain and I will honor that. But I want to talk about what Trump/Pence means for future straight spouses.

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In a nutshell, this type of thinking is partly WHY LGBTQ spouses don’t come out to us. They are already afraid of the ramifications with us; but what about what happens to them AFTER they come out, should anything change according to what Trump and Pence would like to accomplish?

They’ll be even more afraid. That’s what will happen. The very atmosphere that has existed for centuries, which has kept men and women closeted and in heteronormative marriages, will continue to possibly keep them there.

With more pain and more suffering and more lying toward future straight spouses.

This might seem alarmist, but it is the truth. If you don’t see that yet, it’s okay. I don’t want to minimize your pain right now in the middle of your crisis, and I definitely am not advocating that you should become an LGBTQ activist. You may not get to the place I have been led to travel.

But if you’re like me, and like so many straights who are far removed from their initial knowledge of their spouse, you will see the wisdom in what I am saying here.

I think of my own ex-husband, who is happily married now to his husband, and my own kids, all of whom support LGBTQ rights, and the ramifications for THEM. I am sickened and sad.

Now, I have to believe in the checks and balances of our glorious Constitution. I have to have hope that something drastic doesn’t undo what has been accomplished in the last eight years.

But I am alarmed. Big time. Please keep these things in mind as you watch the new President and Vice President try to implement what they want to do, even if they don’t really have a plan yet. Remember what I said here and keep an eye out for those who might harm others to keep them hiding their sexuality.

Because we know what happens when they do hide to straight spouses and families.

I will support our country. But I will speak up if I see someone harming us straights and the families that are affected by someone being too afraid to come out because of policies of Trump and Pence and those who make and pass laws.

Thank God for checks and balances. And thank God for all of you, whom I love and want to see succeed and heal. I will be praying and sacrificing all of the small chickens I have saved up for just this occasion.

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Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,

Emily Reese

  1. http://www.snopes.com/trump-plans-reverse-marriage-equality-elected-president/
  2. http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2015/03/indiana-governor-mike-pence-to-sign-anti-lgbt-bill-into-law-on-thursday/

 

Thank You, Straight Spouse Network

The Straight Spouse Network, or SSN, is something that many of us have found some solace through as we began our journey on the road we never pictured. If you’re looking for resources on your own journey, there are many out there, and the primary one I use is SSN.

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I just wanted to give them a shoutout to thank them for mentioning the podcast I was on with Rick Clemons and The Coming Out Lounge. One thing I have found in this 10 year journey I have been on is that healing is possible, and bridge building between straight spouses and the LGBTQ community is something that I find myself venturing into. Rick was great with this idea, and I have found a new friend and confidante in him.

So, thank you, SSN, for bringing the conversation full circle from his original article, a response written by Kristen Kabli, and our discussion on his podcast. I think it is a good start to getting some more acknowledgement, and I hope that more and more people in counseling roles can find resources that will help us all on our journey.

Blessings, Healing, and Conversations,

Emily Reese

Off Topic and the Feels

As a bit of a side job, which has turned into a huge blessing, I have been given the opportunity to be the official Editor of a newer magazine in my area called Bliss Babe. The circumstances that brought me to it are purely from being open to new and interesting things.

This is one of the things I discovered about myself in the last 10 years: I enjoy the English language and writing with a nerdy, fiery passion, and it has given me great opportunities to be open to what is out there for my future.

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So, I am going to attach a link to the magazine, and while I want you to read it all, I would love for you to turn to page 20 and 21 in order to read about a Shero of mine named Brittany Gaines.

It’ll make you feel all the feels.

I am planning on doing a topical review of a book I am reading as well as an interview and a couple of articles regarding straight spouses. Keep a lookout in a few months for it, and I will share it here.

So here’s the link to Bliss Babe and turn to page 20. I hope you like it.

If you are interested in connecting with the Gaines family, you can do so at the following links:

Camo Queen: The Elegant Outdoor Woman (owner Wanda Gaines)

Miss Shingle Springs Cameron Park Facebook page (Brittany Gaines)

Brooke Gaines Professional Singer (Brooke Gaines)

Thank you, Brittany Gaines, for being available to inspire others. I consider you a friend, and I am grateful for you and your family.

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,

Emily Reese

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The People Who Have Gone Before You

When a husband or wife first has the realization of the truth about their spouse not being straight, it is difficult to describe all the things that happen. I will say a few words here to attempt to label it.

unknown-1Polarizing.

Petrifying.

Pissed-off.

Pretending.

Painful.

Panicky.

Pressure.

And that is just using the letter “P” in the dictionary to find words. This stuff we deal with is extremely multifaceted.

When I receive initial contact from a person who found my blog in a slurry of Google searches to find help and some HOPE, I feel so much for them. All of us who have been through this have our memories of finding out and it gets played over and over again on the movie screens of our mind.

I do happen to know a bunch of straight spouses since starting my own journey on this road 10 years ago, and what I have learned from them is priceless. I can also attest that straight spouses are some of the strongest people on this planet.

That includes you, in case you are new to this.

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One of my straight spouse friends recently asked the question: “How have you changed and grown since finding out about the gay thing?” It inspired me to write my own blog post here with fellow straights answering this question, and as you will see, they are some seriously strong human beings.

Let their answers to How have you changed and grown since finding out about the gay thing? encourage you right now, in the beginning of your journey. Borrow our faith that you will be okay in the future, and while you go through it, rely on those encouraging words from those who’ve been there and made it through.

By the way, these answers are coming from people in all different places in their journeys. Some are years out, and some are only months out. In all of it, preserving is a strong-suit of ours, and I am so proud to know so many amazing straight spouses in this world.

So, how have you changed and grown since finding out about the gay thing?

1. For me, it made me more aware of what’s really important. More aware of trying to live fully and wholeheartedly instead of just existing (I knew this before but my gay spouse drummed it out of me). Made me less innocent/naive about what people are capable of (there is a good and bad side to the loss of that innocence). Made me a lot more conscious of authenticity, more aware of the subtle instinctual reactions of my body to different situations and listening to that. These are a few I can think of. I feel like the last year has been so hard but I’ve grown so much.

2. This bit of wisdom didn’t come over night or naturally, but it came. I am worth sticking up for. I am worth sticking up for. I am worth sticking up for. And so are you.

3. I remember sobbing alone in my car.  Within the span of a minute, I felt my heart harden, break and splinter. Years later, the pieces still bicker inside my chest. I now assume relationships are never worth the trouble, that any prospective other must have some hidden agenda. My circle is small, and I depend only upon myself. It made me pare life down to only that which was essential; I embraced the pain because it gave me focus.

4. Oh boy…so many lessons….

that I mattered…

that I had a voice…

that I was worth it…

that I didn’t have to bribe people with baked goods to be my friend…

Still learning…

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5. So many. It really whacked my priorities in place. I was so much more relaxed and fun without having to “shelter” him. I’m less naive too (but I still have my moments). More spiritual and at peace. All that matters is love and joy.

6. I found my own voice; I felt more powerful as I learned to set boundaries. I had a crisis of faith, which at the time was painful, but I needed that. I learned what TRUE unconditional love was, which is what I had always prayed to understand. I learned how judgmental I was without even realizing it, and was able to change that. I learned what healthy anger was and when I crossed the line with it…how to reel it back in. I learned how to file my own taxes and live cash only. These are just the few things off the top of my head, and this is why I can say now (10 years later) that I am grateful for this experience…even though it has made people angry to hear me say that at times.

7. It has allowed me to stop justifying whatever I do. My gay spouse was so critical that I became hard on myself, too. Now if I feel like goofing off or eating chocolate I give myself a break and do it!

8. Everything. Just everything. It’s been over five years, but I am in charge of my own life now. For the first time. Love is what matters to me, love and respect and authenticity. I figured out a lot of my beliefs set me up for abuse. Educated myself and changed them. I don’t need anyone’s permission or approval to make important decisions. I still feel scared and sad a lot, but I have tools to deal with that now. And there is also joy and playfulness and curiosity and so much else going on in my life.

9. It has certainly made me more more willing to enforce my boundaries. I am still wrestling with how to be independent/feminist and yet notice when my needs are not being met. Or even really considered.

10. I’ve become more cynical. More jaded. More suspicious. More cautious. More callous. Less trusting. More judgmental. Less tolerant. Much more insecure. Fatter. Balder. More short-tempered.

…And more compassionate. More optimistic. More appreciative. More patient. More understanding more mature (no, not really!). More introspective. More urgent. More loving. More learning to love and accepting being loved. Stronger. More confident.

…Still not day by day. Second by second, but on an exponential rise. My ex-wife gets further in the rearview mirror with every breath I take, every step I take.

…Sail On, Sailors, on this big blue marble.

…Hugs and love to all who are guiding me on this mess, and allow me to guide them.

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I will leave you with three “P” words, with the hope that after reading all the ways that this journey has changed fellow straight spouses, you may be encouraged.

Progress.

Perseverance.

Peace.

May you have all three, and see—really SEE—how strong you actually are.

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,

Emily Reese

Straight Spouses Getting Acknowledgement on National Coming Out Day!

Rick Clemons, professional speaker, author, podcaster and life strategist, desired to honor us Straight Spouses on National Coming Out Day. This, for him, was a very important issue because he came out to his wife many years ago.

rickOne thing that I left with after listening to both parts (it was going so well, that he needed to extend it to a full hour!) is that he learned from the conversation. This, my fellow straights, was very heartening to me.

There may be things that you won’t agree with, though I didn’t leave feeling that way. However, it’s been over 10 years since The Big Reveal for me, and some of you may be in a space where it is difficult to hear from a gay man who came out to his wife and kids. So, proceed with some caution and try to take away a few things that encourage you.

Rick Clemons, thank you for being open to hearing from the straight spouse’s perspective on your podcast The Coming Out Lounge. And doing it on National Coming Out Day? That was great. Thanks.

So, here are the two links to both parts.

Episode 110: Bonus Episode For National Coming Out Day: The Other Side of The Story From a Heterosexual Spouse – Emily Reese, Part 1

Episode 111: The Other Side of The Story From a Heterosexual Spouse – Emily Reese, Part 2

Let me know if you have any questions about my conversation with Rick Clemons by emailing me at contactsamesides@gmail.com. Thank you to those of you who follow my blog and are sharing your life with me. You aren’t alone, and while you may not feel it now, healing is truly possible. Borrow that faith from me about that when you need it.

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Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,

Emily Reese

Words from A Gay Dude Who’s Been There

I recently have had some interesting happenings in the world of connecting up with people from the LGBTQ community who have come out of the closet during a heteronormative marriage. I won’t go into lengthy detail here, but I ended up chatting (and recording a podcast) with Rick Clemons.

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He is a professional speaker, author, podcaster and life strategist. To be honest, I didn’t know much about him in the beginning, but some of my friends here in Reno knew exactly who he was. This speaks volumes about his popularity, for lack of a better term. I can see why; he’s pretty rad when you chat with him, listen to his podcasts and read what he has to say.

He also is a man who came out of the closet to his wife. I reached out to him to offer any kind of support that I could for her, and I am grateful that he and I ended up chatting. I feel he has a platform that may help shed some light and acknowledgement of both sides of this closet, and I am thankful for him.

I will share more about the podcast we recorded when it is aired on Oct 11, 2016, which is National Coming Out Day. He kindly wants to acknowledge the straight spouse experience on that day, because for many of us, it is a day that will be a trigger for emotions and memories.

The link that I will attach here takes you to his Coming Out Lounge podcast blog section, and he speaks frankly about some pieces of advice. I felt it was spot on and may be something of interest to you as you go through your unique and often painful experience.

Here are his main points of what NOT to do and possible unrealistic expectations, and I encourage you to click on the link to read the whole post.

  1. Don’t tell anyone!
  2. Okay, you can be gay, but not in this town.
  3. Let’s not tell the children.
  4. Hey, I gave you what you wanted; now it’s my turn.
  5. Let’s make this work.
  6. Let me just go explore.

Now, to truly understand what he means, you really do need to click on the link below and read it. I found what he shared to be quite insightful, and he truly does understand that “there is no easy answer.”

Coming Out In A Marriage: 6 Unrealistic Expectations by Rick Clemons

Chat with you soon, Rick. Thanks for being a part of this thing called life.

And now I have that Prince song stuck in my head.

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,

Emily Reese

 

Here is his website if you are interested in knowing more: Rick Clemons

 

 

Grace and Frankie and the Huff Post

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I follow, fairly religiously, the Huff Post Queer Voices section. Partially this is because I am an Ally, but I also like to see what’s going on with Straight Spouses, which is sometimes a topic that is discussed there.

In the article link below, the series Grace and Frankie is used as a framework for a discussion about Straight Spouses and the reality of their experiences. I happen to enjoy the series very much, and while it may be a trigger for some serious emotions, it is a great show that uses humor and condenses a lot of the issues that we straight spouses deal with into each episode.

Watch it if you can; but remember that it may trigger some intense emotions in you.

Here is the Huff Post article, and I encourage you to read it so that you know you aren’t alone. Hugs to all of you on this roller coaster. It’s not easy, but there are so many of us out there cheering you on!

Thanks to Amity Buxton and  Kimberly Brooks Mazella for being a part of that article. You ladies are amazing and I am grateful to be able to know you.

3 Women Share The Moment They Found Out Their Husbands Are Gay

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,

Emily Reese

Concise Advice for the LGBTQ Spouse

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I often refer people to the Straight Spouse Network. While there are philosophies that people may or may not agree with on their site, overall, it is a wonderful place to connect and help the straight spouse to not feel alone.

For the LGBTQ spouse, the advice and encouragement I give is definitely filtered through my own experience and those thousands of people I have witnessed over the years of being on this journey. While I believe I empathize well as an Ally, I certainly don’t have all the answers. This blog article that was posted on the Straight Spouse Network was quite concise with tips for the LGBTQ spouse, and I believe it is worth the read.

If you do, please bear in mind that it may hit your heart and raise emotions in you. Go into it with an open mind, and look at it strictly from your straight spouse’s perspective. There are some golden nuggets of wisdom in it.

Thank you for caring about what your straight spouse is going through and wanting to help them, too.

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,

Emily Reese

http://www.straightspouse.org/how-can-lgbt-people-support-straight-spouses/