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.
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.
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…
layers to the onion peeling away
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.
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.
May you have all three, and see—really SEE—how strong you actually are.
Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,