Happy Anniversary, WuzBand

Today, June 28th, is the day that Devon and I were married, back in 1997, in that sweltering hot, Civil War Era church in Ft. Scott, Kansas.

Look at our baby faces.  And my eyebrows.  I wish someone had encouraged me then to get my uni-brow waxed!
Look at our baby faces. And my eyebrows. I wish someone had encouraged me then to get my uni-brow waxed!

I have decided that weddings are like funerals in this way: It is the one day while you’re alive, where all of the people in your life from all of your circles (family, friends, co-workers) are in one place to celebrate you and the love of your life.

No one who attends has in mind, unless they are negative in their thinking, that your marriage will be anything other than ‘til death do us part. The next time that all of those people will be in one place will be the day of your memorial service… or celebration of life.

When I walked around the corner to march up the aisle, with my arm locked in my dad’s, I fully expected to start sweating and bawling and have my makeup melt down my face. Instead, I turned the corner and locked eyes with Devon, who was bawling uncontrollably with joy.

And I knew that I wouldn’t have to cry. I would wipe his tears and snotty nose as we lit our Unity Candle and exchanged vows. I had a job to do, and that was to help Devon.

… for the rest of my life with him. And I did JUST THAT. I was his helpmate and happy to be so. This could also be phrased as his submissive wife, letting him lead our eventually growing family, and standing by my man.

ALoyalHelpmate

10 years later, during Devon’s Big Reveal that he has been gay all of his life, was a true boat-rocker. My June Cleaver pearls broke in that instant and I realized that all of the moments up until that point were not what they seemed to be.

That’s how I felt anyway.

Was he crying at the alter because of shame, guilt or saddness of trying to cover up his true core by bringing me in as cover? The furniture we bought together for our first home, the prayers we shared, the decisions I backed for him as his submissive wife… were they all a part of his own life and his desire to look like something different than what he really was?

I have since met and spoke with hundreds of men and women who have gone through something similar. The feelings of betrayal and being duped, used and lied to, are very real. Some people hold onto those things and continually punish their gay spouse… and ultimately punish themselves and all of those around them.

But for some of us, me included, we learn to deal with those and find truth in our existence as a loving wife or husband, who unknowingly was living in a Mixed Orientation Marriage.

UserManual

There is no How To Manual for straight spouses. No yellow and black Mixed Orientation Marriage for Dummies book. I wish there was. Unfortunately, the only thing available to help us through is our own moxie, fortitude and perserverance and the offerings of other people’s support and stories who have been down this road before us.

As I worked through my own emotions for about a year and a half (and then some) I sought out others who could help. It’s tough putting yourself out there because a situation like ours (especially with the added layer of Church and Christianity) is shrouded in shame, secrecy and bitterness. Many people that tried to “help” only wanted to find misery in my company, and that isn’t how I operate. I wanted to work through it and come out on the other side healthier, happier and more fulfilled. I wanted to believe it was possible because I didn’t want to die and have my celebration of life attended by circles of people who pittied me or my family.

There had to be hope. There simply had to be.

I finally found it by working through my stuff and began to view my wedding day, our furniture, our prayers and our decisions as REAL and true. Our love was not fake. Mine certainly wasn’t, and the day that I accepted as truth that I was sincerely the only woman that Devon ever loved was the day that I could let go with a smile. I also slept for 14 hours straight that night and woke up without a burden on my shoulders of “How am I going to fix this?” which ran my waking hours.

I could move forward and found out who I truly was without him. And I can honestly say that I love myself. I may even marry myself and invite everyone to the marriage sacrament. Sue Sylverster of Glee, you had a great idea when you did that.

SueSylversterMarriesHerself

So, how do you get through it? I really don’t have the answers. But what I do know is that if you want to come out a better person, you will.

The word accept is not something that says “I’m going to just roll over and take it.” What it entails is understanding what you can and cannot control. I could not control the choices that Devon made, my history of falling for him, my desire to stay married for the rest of my life or my attempts at trying to make him see the light that he was choosing himself over his family.

What I can change, which is hard enough, is my own self. My ability to work with something I could not change instead of against it. My desire to love unconditionally, which meant giving up my own control issues, finding ways to make lemonade out of lemons, and sharing the wisdom that I acquired and could use to help others just like me.

I can choose to love without agendas or desire to control. That is all I can control.

Me. Myself. And I.

Who do I want to become? What do I want my children to remember? What kind of legacy will I leave behind when I finally have everyone that I know and love at my celebration of life?

It is love that I want people to see and remember. It is empathy that I want people to feel coming from my heart and lips. It is a joy that surpasses any temporary circumstance that I want to have in Emily’s Scrapbook of Life.

InTheEndBuddhasInstructions

That is it.

I want to remember for myself the happiness that I felt in marrying Devon as I helped him wipe away his tears and snot. It was real. It was sincere.

Happy Anniversary, Devon. Our marriage shaped us both (and our children) into who we are today. And we love ourselves.

We also love all of you. Unconditionally.

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,

Emily Reese with The Reeses and Their Pieces RockChalkFamilyPic1

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5 thoughts on “Happy Anniversary, WuzBand

  1. Thank you so much for your story. I have been hunting for something like this and feeling there is not much out there. What you just described is what I am hoping for as I start this journey. Here are some thoughts I have been having. Any support you could offer would be immensely appreciated…My husband of 17 years just told me he was gay 2 days ago. I was completely shocked and dumbfounded. I knew something has been wrong for a while and that he was going through some other “mid-life” issues but never una million years would I have guessed he’s gay. I have been hunting for people in a similar situation to mine that have a MATURE, LOVING grasp on things. So many of the stories I’m reading tell of the hellacious way spouses have treated each other upon discovery and afterward. We have 2 beautiful daughters. I recognize what tremendous courage my husband must have needed to admit this to himself and to come to grips with this. Then he found even more courage to tell me and is accepting the fact that I have mixed emotions. He is being very kind and sensitive to how I am feeling. I know he did not make this decision lightly to come out to me. I can see the pain he is in knowing that there is no way to be honest without causing us pain. We also can’t continue to live a marriage where neither of us are feeling completely fulfilled, emotionally or sexually. Ironically, I feel more close to him in the last 2 days than I have in a long while. He is a wonderful man and I cannot be hateful towards him I for something he can’t help unlike many of the posts I’m finding. Anger will not get us anywhere and life is too short to spend in hate. He has not cheated on me but, understandably, does not feel he can continue to be married to me. There were other feelings in our marriage we have both been burying for a while now to avoid hurting the other, in addition to him being gay. What are our biggest fears? Making this ok for our daughters. Creating 2 stable loving homes for them. My fears? Not wanting my family to hate him, blame him, or stay angry at him indifinitely. I don’t hate him or put the blame solely on him. I know my family will want to be very supportive but at the same time be upset and angry. But, I can’t feel supported by them if I know they are continually angry with him. He is a good dad and will continue to be active in my girls’ lives and remain one of my best friends for life. I would love the support of other straight spouses since I don’t have any family or friends who have gone through this, but I can’t get mired down in the angry words many others have posted about their gay and lesbian spouses.

    1. Loving Through Change:

      Your pseudonym says it all. You also said a mouthful that I can relate to in so many ways.

      I, too, felt closer to Devon in the first few days after his Big Reveal than I ever had in the previous 9 years we had been married. That’s because I knew ALL of him… not just the parts that he showed me previously. What a strange thing to experience. To be so close to someone who really hurt me in ways that no other information could… and loving him anyway. I totally get it.

      I, too, didn’t want people to hate him. That’s why I didn’t tell a soul for a couple of months after he shared his secret. My family, friends, church family, kids… I wanted to protect him and US from experiencing the pain of something so intimate and potentially damaging.

      I, too, knew that he was a good dad… and a good husband in the most important things.

      I, too, loved him so much that I was ultimately willing to do anything it took.

      Which actually came down to me wanting to save our marriage, stay married… and I truly thought I could fix him because I believed (at the time) that being gay was a choice he could overcome.

      Took me awhile to change that, for sure, and once I did, I could let go.

      None of it was easy. None of it. I knew I didn’t want to live in anger and bitterness. I will tell you that I did have to go through some of that. Well, even a lot of it. I am not proud of some of the things I said and did, but you know what? Now I can relate to all kinds of things and people experiencing this ride we’re on, even though each story is unique and sometimes even more tragic than my own. But I did get through it because, like you, I didn’t want to stay there.

      Let’s keep chatting. You can always email me. I have a few women who would likely be willing to hook up with you to bounce things off of since just me alone might not be enough.

      I’m going to give you a couple of links from my old blog at the end of this comment that might show you how I can relate to you… especially in those early days. Keep in mind that most of these posts have a central theme of amicable divorce, since that was what our main topic was on our old blog. I will gladly share snippets of my first attempt at writing a book with you through email (I am starting over with it to shape it differently) that gives more details of my story. I am planning on releasing parts of that material in this blog in the near future.

      Anyway, know that you aren’t alone, that there are MANY people who have been where you are besides myself and our stories are going to be helpful to you as your unique process unfolds.

      You are loved. You are supported. And I am proud of you.

      Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,
      Emily Reese

      http://samesides.wordpress.com/2013/04/10/two-dishwashers/
      http://samesides.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/the-pseudo-counselors/
      http://samesides.wordpress.com/2012/07/25/sweaty-mcsweater-tackles-hot-yoga/
      http://samesides.wordpress.com/2012/07/02/feeling-bubbly/
      http://samesides.wordpress.com/2012/06/12/mutual-respect-part-1-emails-gone-wild/

      1. Thank you so much for your personal email. It is very appreciated. I am just a flurry of emotions. One minute I’m crying because I know our marriage is coming to an end and I don’t have any say in that. This is not a “fixable” issue between a man and his wife. The next minute I don’t know which way is up or how to put 1 foot in front of the other. I’ve reached out to my family and friends who have been more supportive than I anticipated. But I know that their main concern is me making sure I’m taking care of myself so I can better take care of my kids and figure out who I really am, and hopefully find my own new definition of true happiness.

        In other moments I feel great relief to have finally figured out why my husband’s not been completely happy for so long. It’s a relief to know that wasn’t me who wasn’t able to make him completely happy.

        I’m struggling to come to grips with the fact that he will be indeed moving out. I’m also struggling with the fact that he wants to be a part of his new community, which I do want for him, however that means the place he will likely be renting will be about 45 minutes from where we currently live. We have laid out attentive plan in which he’ll come out to be with the kids and help around the house/with homework a few nights during the week and then one day on the weekends that he doesn’t have them.

        We haven’t told them anything yet, because we wanted to have him have a place secured for them so we had more of our ducks in a row before we had a discussion with them. In the past he has always done the mornings before school, because I am a high school teacher in a different district, and I have taking care of more of the evening things since we live in the outer ring of the suburbs and he works downtown.

        I am really hoping as he gets involved in his new community he remembers how important it is that he stays involved with his kids. I know he really wants that. But I also know what it’s like to talk about ideas and then reality sets in and the aspirations you had can change very quickly. However, as you said, I need to let go and like the serenity prayer, I need to accept the things I cannot change. One of the things I cannot change is where he chooses to live.

        But it worries me, how will I work full-time and balance everything? We will both need to continue to work full-time in order to try to keep our children in the only home they have ever known, keep as much normalcy in their lives as possible. But the distance concerns me. He tells me it won’t be a major issue because he will be much closer to where he works and so it will be just like driving out to Delano and he normally does every night now. I want to have faith in us.

        And I’m trying very hard to make sure I have faith in this. I truly believe he cares for me and he cares very deeply for his children. He grew up with an absentee and drug addict alcoholic father and I know he does not want to become that to his girls.

        Any advice or comments would be appreciated. Thank you again for your support.

        LovingThroughChange

        Sent from my iPhone

        >

      2. Thank you so much for your response. It is very appreciated. I am just a flurry of emotions. One minute I’m crying because I know our marriage is coming to an end and I don’t have any say in that. This is not a “fixable” issue between a man and his wife. The next minute I don’t know which way is up or how to put 1 foot in front of the other. I’ve reached out to my family and friends who have been more supportive than I anticipated. But I know that their main concern is me making sure I’m taking care of myself so I can better take care of my kids and figure out who I really am, and hopefully find my own new definition of true happiness.

        In other moments I feel great relief to have finally figured out why my husband’s not been completely happy for so long. It’s a relief to know that wasn’t me who wasn’t able to make him completely happy.

        I’m struggling to come to grips with the fact that he will be indeed moving out. I’m also struggling with the fact that he wants to be a part of his new community, which I do want for him, however that means the place he will likely be renting will be about 45 minutes from where we currently live. We have laid out attentive plan in which he’ll come out to be with the kids and help around the house/with homework a few nights during the week and then one day on the weekends that he doesn’t have them.

        We haven’t told them anything yet, because we wanted to have him have a place secured for them so we had more of our ducks in a row before we had a discussion with them. In the past he has always done the mornings before school, because I am a high school teacher in a different district, and I have taking care of more of the evening things since we live in the outer ring of the suburbs and he works downtown.

        I am really hoping as he gets involved in his new community he remembers how important it is that he stays involved with his kids. I know he really wants that. But I also know what it’s like to talk about ideas and then reality sets in and the aspirations you had can change very quickly. However, as you said, I need to let go and like the serenity prayer, I need to accept the things I cannot change. One of the things I cannot change is where he chooses to live.

        But it worries me, how will I work full-time and balance everything? We will both need to continue to work full-time in order to try to keep our children in the only home they have ever known, keep as much normalcy in their lives as possible. But the distance concerns me. He tells me it won’t be a major issue because he will be much closer to where he works and so it will be just like driving out to Delano and he normally does every night now. I want to have faith in us.

        And I’m trying very hard to make sure I have faith in this. I truly believe he cares for me and he cares very deeply for his children. He grew up with an absentee and drug addict alcoholic father and I know he does not want to become that to his girls.

        Any advice or comments would be appreciated. Thank you again for your support.

        LovingThroughChange

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