Category Archives: Counselor, Counseling

The Life Changer

How are you feeling today? What are you dwelling on? How are your thoughts and circumstances affecting you, right now?

If you have found my blog through a search engine on Google or because someone recommended it to you, then my guess is that all of the questions above could be answered with some version of the word crap.

That’s okay. I get it. Been there…done that…bought the Tshirt. Some days, I am still in that place; however, it has gotten better for me overall.

I am going to let you in on a little secret this Thanksgiving holiday. Here is why my life has improved:

One of the best things I ever did for myself, to keep making the best choices possible during my second bought with colon cancer, was to write something everyday that I was thankful for. I did this publicly on The Book of Faces, because that’s how I live: out loud. Plus, as a writer, I like the feedback (and let’s be honest: I like an audience and attention).

When you are going through the crap, like all of the shtuff that happens to your marriage and relationships after a spouse comes out of the closet, it is tough to see anything in a positive light. But you know what? That is okay. If I could be trite for a second, that is actually a part of the process.

Once I commited to doing this gratefulness exercise everyday for a week, a week turned into a month, and suddenly a year had gone by. Even when caca happened, I accepted the challenge to find something…anything…to be thankful for that day. One time, I was even thankful for my Mexican Blanket, and another, I was thankful for a much needed shower.

Even if I missed a day (and at one time a week), I willed myself to write something. Forcing myself to find cause to be thankful changed my life. It allowed me pause to analyze my heart and my mind. It gave me the opportunity to know myself at my core.

And knowing who you are at your core, apart from anyone or anything, is one of the best key points of advice I can give to someone who is struggling in life. If you don’t know who you are at your core, despite the hurt and devastation going on around you, you are unsettled with a mind that races 24/7, and this ship that you are sailing on will sink faster than you can say the word help.

So do something, starting now, to help find out who you are at your core. How about you start by committing to write something you are thankful for and why? What’s the worst that can happen? You feel a little better for two minutes? That’s a win in my book.

Then, during one quiet moment tomorrow, write something you are thankful for again. If you forget, do it the next day. Keep a journal with these writings in some fashion. Even one year later, I can go back and see myself transforming and getting to know who Emily is at her core, apart from anyone or any circumstance. It is pretty amazing to see how far I’ve come.

One of the interesting side effects of this commitment to gratitude is that it was contagious. My thankful heart became full and it was natural for me to encourage others, even when I was in the throes of battling for my life against cancer. That, my friends, was amazing.

You can have this experience, too. Invite others to go on this journey with you. If you are a visual learner, like myself, attach a picture, a symbol, or a drawing you make to your Thankfulness Journal entry. It can truly be a life changer.

Feel free to comment below with what you are thankful for and why. Challenge yourself to find something that can be perceived as bad, and turn it on its head into a silver lining.

Change the crap into something that helps you know your core. Be thankful. Know yourself. Watch yourself grow. The attitude of gratitude is one of the most powerful life changers the human spirit has. Tap into it. You will feel like a winner, at least for a moment, everyday.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, with love, from me.


Be Thankful, Live Life, Love Life, Imapact Others,

Emily

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The Conflict Avoider

 

Check out TEDxUniversityOfNevada’s Facebook page for details of the Jan. 23rd event. Find it here at https://www.facebook.com/events/840345259417185/

 

Without revealing too much of my upcoming TEDxTalk in January, I have received some feedback about it that has been deemed controversial.

This is quite weird to me, because I have been a conflict avoider for much of my life. It has always been my goal to heal, to bridge gaps and to encourage. When I laid out my plans and practiced my speech in front of others, I never dreamed that what I would be saying would be controversial.

Clearly, if you have read my writings, you will know that I consider myself an Ally, even though it took my ex coming out of the closest a decade ago to get me to that point. I can relate to those who think that homosexuality is a choice and a sin, because I used to think that way. It was easy to think that way until I actually experienced my husband coming out of the closet, which is something many people can relate to once they are deeply touched by his issue, because of a spouse or a child leaving their closet. I had all of the answers before that…you bet I did. But once I knew the truth, I was forced to grapple with my beliefs.

The interesting thing is, the above isn’t even the controversial part of my TEDTalk. I am not even going to address it. It is controversial because I speak directly to the LGBTQ spouse who comes out and call on them to make the situation better by telling the truth and asking for forgiveness for specific things they have done to hurt their straight spouse.

What is so controversial about that? Isn’t that what everyone should do who is worth their salt in life and who wishes to live in integrity? It’s not like I am asking an LGBTQ person to seek forgiveness for being gay. It is about their actions and choices that hurt someone who didn’t deserve it.

I can guarantee that all of us straight spouses want to hear humility from our LGBTQ spouses, after the truth has been revealed, because so many times we don’t hear that. If you are one of the lucky ones to have experienced your spouse asking for forgiveness with humility, you will get it. It really helps us to heal and move forward.

As a side note, isn’t that what every spouse needs to hear from their husband or wife, no matter what the betrayal is?

So, even though this is apparently controversial, I have been encouraged to own my content and say what I plan on saying. If that causes controversy, then maybe in needs to be said.

So much for conflict avoidance. Sally forth, Emily. Let’s do this!

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,

Emily

Giving Advice


When your spouse comes out to you, the burden that they have secretly carried is lifted off their shoulders, more or less, and gets placed squarely on your back without consent from you. It is an awful thing to grapple with, and while they can finally be free to begin some sort of a process of usually moving on (even though it certainly isn’t easy for them), you are left holding a huge weight that you never expected to have to carry.

Unfortunately, our modern world often leaves us feeling ignored while their bravery is celebrated. It is most often left to us to pick up the scattered pieces of our narrative, without much support from society…and sometimes from the people closest to us.

This happens time and again to us Straights.

I am preparing a TEDx talk for this coming January that addresses the above issue in part. It is pretty exciting for me personally, and I hope I represent us well.

This is the first thing my students see when they walk in my classroom at Rainshadow Community Charter High School.

 

This morning I read an excellent post on the Straight Spouse Network’s blog section. In it, they set the record “straight” about some poorly handled advice given in a column from the UK. I couldn’t have said it better myself, so I thought I would share it with you. My hope is that it helps you feel encouraged and lends insight to those who may need to support you, when they are unsure to how to help.

The Straight Spouse Network is an excellent resource for many straight spouses. Thanks for stopping by here to get encouragement, too. You can email me anytime and I will always do my best to NOT say the things that the advice columnist in the UK did.

I get you. I love you. You are not alone.

Here’s the link: Giving Good Advice in the Worst Way -Straight Spouse Network

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,

Emily

 

One of my favorite songs ever by Stevie Nicks, “Landslide”

 

What Your Kids Probably Want

 Having kids and going through a spouse coming out is horribly painful and difficult. Besides each family’s situation being unique in how it is handled, our kids are our biggest responsibility in helping them come out of this on the other side, as healthy and happy. I think the kid in the video link below says it all.

What do you think?

Kids take our cues on how to view and handle this tough situation. Protect yourself and protect your kids. Gosh darn it! What a difficult thing to do.

Much love to you all. I hope this little girl can give everyone the insight and wisdom we need.

Click here to view the video.

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,

Emily and Her Three Little Birds

Hitting Home

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Bonnie Kaye’s life has impacted many straight spouses over the years. Her story and writings have given encouragement and insight into the tough road we straights have laid in front of us to trudge down.

Instead of writing some of my own words, since I have been quite busy with school st arting for my students at Rainshadow Community Charter High School, I thought this would be an excellent article to share. Enjoy it, gain insight and hopefully some encouragement from it.

Also, I love you.

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,

Emily

Bonnie Kaye’s Storyhttp://www.out.com/news-opinion/2015/8/13/meet-women-who-pick-pieces-after-their-husbands-come-out

Dad Wisdom

I am thinking about all you dads out there this Father’s Day.


Some of you will get cards and go out for brunch as a dad or with your dad this special day. But…some of you won’t.

Maybe you have little kids or grownup kids. Maybe you have a dad who has passed away and part of this day will be painful knowing he isn’t here anymore; you will look through pictures and relive memories in his honor.

More tragically, maybe some of you never had a dad in your life. That may be particularly sorrowful. Maybe you had a dad figure or figures in your life to help you develop into the person you are today: a coach, a stepdad, a mentor.

And maybe, as I have met many of you, your kids are estranged. Perhaps this is because of some fault on your part, but if you could change something to make it better, you would. Maybe you still can. Ugh. I am guessing it is painful.

For my own life circumstance, my kids now have two dads, both of whom love our kids and I appreciate them for what they do and add to Maddie, Kate and Thomas’ lives. Now that I am down a path of healing after finding out about Devon’s sexuality, I am happy to live this unexpected life of mine.

It is never boring, let me tell you.

One of the biggest things that has gotten me to this point is my own dad. His experiences, his sincere faith and his wisdom has come to me at many times during my adult life to help guide me. I love him so much.

I am going to ask you, Reader, to share phrases and memories that your own father or father-figure may have passed on to you as wisdom, which you can live by…and even pass on to your own children.

Here are several biggies from Don:

  1. Worry is like a fast getaway on a wooden rocking horse.
  2. I will bring back the Fanny-Pack under the brand name: I B Cool.
  3. God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the Courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference.
  4. Stick to the Letters in Red.
  5. Always assume that the other drivers on the road can’t see you.
  6. We don’t need a dishwasher. We already have two: You and your sister.
  7. There is a difference between reasons and excuses.
  8. Saying “sorry” is easy; asking for forgiveness is key.
  9. The best car is the one that is paid for.

So…what kind of wisdom can you share that you remember from your father or father figures? I want to hear them in the comments below.

Happy Father’s Day to all people who do any kind of fathering. You are loved and appreciated.

Have a Wonderful Day,

Emily

A Case of the Clingons

You’ve built a life with someone; a life financially, with offspring, social circles, extended family, memories galore.

And then they come out, rarely willingly. It usually happens because they get caught. Maybe a Craigslist ad was carelessly left open on a computer screen. Maybe some texts or dirty pictures from an iPhone were downloaded to an iCloud account. Or maybe they were caught in some other red-handed way.

No matter how you find out, your world as you knew it, as you planned it, explodes into chaos. Nothing makes sense, and things make sense, all at the same time. The truth was right in front of your schnoz, sometimes for years, but you couldn’t, and sometimes wouldn’t, see it. This Truth is something you want to know all about, but don’t want to know, simply because of the pain it brings.

Earth shattering, gut wrenching, baby-barf in your mouth…painful Truth.

How could this have happened? I loved my spouse. What did I do wrong? How could I be so stupid? What did I do to deserve this? Was anything real? Was my entire marriage simply a sham?

Can I fix it? I need to fix this. They are saying some of the right things, like:

I love you and want to make this work. I won’t do it again. I am not really gay. Please forgive me. I will change. Don’t tell anyone. I want and love no one but you.

We cling to those words. We are afraid of what lies ahead, the unknown, without them.

I can’t make it alone. Our kids will be devastated. I have invested my best years in this marriage. Who am I without them?  I love him/her enough to stand by them, help them through this…believe them.

Actions speak louder than words, and their actions don’t match. Not even a little. Sure, there may be a few times where they hold you, listen to you, send you flowers…but those are not consistent. They distance themselves emotionally and physically, sleep in a different bed, do irrational things like make a large purchase without telling you, secretly spend time on the computer doing God knows what…and the whole time you try to cling to what they say, not what they do.

Your whole focus becomes them, changing things to keep them close, and keeping your marriage intact. In fact, maybe even your dual-life spouse revels in that. They see that they’ve got some control over you and milk it for all it’s worth. They don’t want to change things either, but from an even more selfish standpoint. You, your family, the life you have built is their beard, their cover. The idea of giving that up is painful, just as it is to you.

You both have so much to lose. So, you get an acute case of the Clingons.

I mean, who wants to believe that they made such a life altering mistake? No one. Not a single one of us.

This is not about divorce, even though you may be considering it in some fashion. This is actually about finding yourself. Really knowing who you are apart from anyone else. The major portions of your identity are wrapped up in your spouse and this life you have made together, which actually is turned on its head.

It comes down to taking care of you. Sure, you need to think of your kids, your finances, your friends, your extended family. But…

If you aren’t taking care of you, apart from anyone else, those things are going to crumble anyway.  Depression is common, and if you don’t seek professional help and others who have been where you are, you will be eaten alive.

The overwhelming panic is the toughest thing to deal with, it seems. If you aren’t taking care of you, standing up for yourself, facing things as head-on as you can, then this ship you are sailing on is going to sink, fast.

So, what are some things you can do? I can give you a random list, but I would LOVE to hear from others who have been where you are, in the comments below. Comment anonymously if you would like, because I know many of you will read this and have some practical advice for people who have found this blog, desperately searching for answers.

Here is a small list of my own. Again, add to it, readers, so you can help those who need it.

  1. Find a good counselor that isn’t there for saving your marriage only. Find a personal one just for you and your needs.
  2. Find time to journal.
  3. Go someplace quiet on the regular, by yourself, and cry.
  4. Read uplifting quotes.
  5. Find a confidante who will not try to fix the problems you face and won’t get annoyed listening to you.
  6. Take bubble baths.
  7. Watch funny movies.
  8. Read funny books.
  9. Take a daytrip somewhere that you have always wanted to do.
  10. Stay away from negative people or triggers, as much as you can help it.

Above all, find the things that you cling to and move toward reality, which is who you are at your core. Get to know yourself. Forgive yourself for mistakes. Allow yourself to feel. Try not to beat yourself up for not seeing the truth. And if you do beat yourself up, keep telling yourself that you are loveable, you aren’t alone, and you are worth so much more.

The more you get to know and love yourself and your core, the easier it will be to make seemingly polarizing decisions.

Cling to those things that are wonderful, praiseworthy, beautiful, and lovely. Eventually you will find yourself transforming from a Clingon to a Superhuman. One who can hold their head high and move forward in life with the confidence of a powerful, loveable and dignified individual…

Apart from anyone and anything.

Not A Clingon Anymore,

Emily

Balancing

I mean, sure this image can be applied to all kinds of things, but it seems to be very pertinent to the situation of finding out your spouse is gay.

  • When you first find out, however that happens, your mind screams “You a-hole!” …but your heart aches to love them anyway.
  • Your mind may tell you logically what you should do, what any sane person would do…but your heart fights back a says: “No! What about [the kids, our money, my career, my church…insert whatever it is here].
  • Your heart aches horribly with a pain you have never experienced nor ever expected to in your life…but your mind says, “Get over it. As fast as you can. Like, tomorrow!”
  • At some point, both your heart and mind may love your spouse…then the next day, both your heart and mind may hate them. There is never a balance, or so it seems.
  • The entire time, you may be walking on a tightrope of fear: afraid people might find out, afraid to lose the only life you’ve ever known, afraid of trying to make it on your own, afraid of what others may think of you, afraid of some narcissistic outburst from your spouse, afraid that you may say or do the wrong thing…or insert any other kind of fear you can think of for that day.

Ugh. The heart and mind. How the hell do we balance them?

You know, even though it has been a decade since I found out about my now ex hubby, I still find myself on that tightrope from time to time. It’s called growth, moving forward, changing, or acceptance.

No kidding…it never ends.

But it does get easier. I think about that person walking in the image above as someone who might dare to learn to walk an actual tightrope across Niagra Falls or the Grand Canyon. It’s not like they took a dare one day and tried it. Nope. They went to a park, tied a strap between two trees and practiced two feet above a soft, grassy area. Eventually, they became more daring. They fell less. They learned the value of not looking down or backward, and they learned to just keep moving. In fact, the movement forward actually helped them to stay on that rope! Sometimes, they had to take a step back to get their balance. But they kept moving.

Just keep moving. That is one of the keys, I think.

Adding a balance apparatus helps, too. Sometimes, one end dips so your body can gain its center again. And then the other side dips. Eventually, you’re able to move forward without falling, and neither side dips.

So, where is your heart today? Is it low? That’s okay. It serves its purpose in balancing and moving forward on this journey.

Where do you know your mind needs to be? Give yourself the patience to let it correct itself and bring that heart back up.

Wait for them both to balance out so you can take another step forward. Heck…perhaps a step backward is needed. Do it, deal with it, wait ’til everything is all centered, then move forward again.

The key is to just keep moving.

Side to side, backward, forward. It’s all movement, right? All of it plays a part in getting to the other side.

But…but…what if you fall?

So what? I mean, it’s not like you fell into Niagra Falls or a dusty canyon 500 feet and died.

You fell into a grassy knoll. At worst, you only fell a few feet. Maybe you’re bruised, scratched or you twisted an ankle. You gather yourself, heal a little if you need to, then you hop right back up there. Because you need to just keep moving.

I got knocked off of life’s tightrope just the other day…a decade after thinking I had finally healed. I fell, hard. I am taking stock of my balancing apparatus right now. Both my heart and mind are a little bruised. I am letting them heal by making logical and emotional lists of what to do when I get back up on that tightrope. I am getting ready to hop back on it, though.

Probably Monday.

I can do it. I know I can. All of the practice I have put in this last decade will pay off. And in the end, when I get to the other side, I am going to feel so damned accomplished.

I’ve got my heart and mind to help me balance. I’ve got my will and I know myself. I know I can do it.

The key is to just keep moving.

Loving the Backward, the Side-to-Side, the Forward, and Even the Falling,

Emily Reese

 

This crazy dude, Nik, actually did this…and lived. If he did this, you can walk the tightrope of life and balance your heart/mind, too!

 

Keep It Secret. Keep It Safe.

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One of the most common things in this “situation” of our spouses coming out to us straight husbands and wives, is the theme of secrecy.

Not only has our spouse likely been keeping a secret and lying about their orientation during our heterosexual marriages, but then this burden, that we have been forced to carry, becomes shrouded in secrets from ourselves. The very thing we need is help, support and the ability to share, yet there are so many reasons we keep ourselves from being transparent.

This is perhaps one of the most painful experiences that us straight spouses can go through: the secrets we feel like we must keep.

I have experienced this for myself, even if you wouldn’t know it now. Now I live very transparently, sharing things I only dreamed about sharing during those first years of the Big Reveal, but couldn’t. I am one of the few lucky ones. So many live with those secrets for the rest of their lives, and it seems like it slowly eats them up inside, unless they can find a way to live with those secrets and still move forward.

For the person who has never been through something like a spouse coming out, it is difficult to understand. Even 10 years later, I sometimes forget how difficult and detrimental this secrecy was for me. Here are some of the hundreds of reasons the straight spouse doesn’t spill the beans:

1) The straight spouse (SS) desires for their gay spouse (GS) to change their minds. They still love that person and want their marriage to stay intact for them, for their kids, and for their social lives. They stay quiet, waiting, not wanting to have to backpedal on their story and have their GS have to apologize to the world, in a “oops! Just kidding and so sorry” kind of way.

2) The married couple will have to face criticisms, advice and emotions from family members and friends. The SS may even feel like a failure, and it feels like it is just easier to keep it secret than face the pain it brings to them and others.

3) The married couple may have to face the Church. Speaking from experience, this can turn out very ugly, for both the SS and the GS, and it seems like the worst option possible, during a time where the people they fellowship with should be loving them without judgment and surrounding them with empathy. Knowing how the SS may have judged others, if someone else had shared this secret in the past, keeps a SS from speaking out and receiving help that they know will not be constructive. Been there. Done that. Bought the T-shirt. I was the most judgmental person on this earth.

4) If the GS comes clean on their own (or not) and admits freely that they are gay, many GS’s insist that you cannot “out” them because it is not your job to do so. This happened to me, even though I was eventually willing to move forward and be accepting. I was accused on numerous occasions of trying to “out” my husband and ruin him, even though what I needed was support, and that was my only motive. I. Just. Couldn’t. Win.

5) In more cases than I like to admit, the GS is so selfish during that time, that they will do anything, at any cost, to intimidate their SS into staying quiet. They don’t want anyone to know because they sincerely believe that they will lose their jobs, their kids, their reputation centered around being “straight”, their financial life, and their comfortable ideas about what life should be like while they have lived a charade their entire lives. Many of these GS have been “caught” unwillingly and are not ready to face the truth about themselves, let alone to have others know the shame they have had in their secrecy. I have met SO MANY people who have been manipulated into keeping their GS’s secret because the GS uses the love the SS has against them, even threatening them emotionally, physically or financially.

The hardest part about number five is that there are more SS’s who fall under this category (unlike my experience), but they feel they cannot possibly come forward to prove this is happening. I want to speak for you without revealing who you are. You know you aren’t alone if you have found others like you, but how do you know you aren’t alone otherwise? No one talks about it! It is quite a conundrum. (I am not judging you for not coming forward. I am just trying to show that this secrecy thing is real and so difficult for those who feel alone. I want you to know that you are not alone, if this secrecy thing is new to you. Trust me.)

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So, what do you do now? You so desperately want to share your story with others so you can get the support you need, but you cannot, because it is just too much for you in your situation.

I wish I had concrete answers for you. I really do. This MOM thing is very complicated.

The thing I would like to offer here is encouragement and strength. You need to deal with your marriage relationship, while moving forward at your own pace, to start taking care of YOU. Whatever it is that you need to do, I support you. Just, try to work toward facing all the fears you may be experiencing, one fear at a time. You likely want to see light at the end of the tunnel, but you don’t know what life will look like and you are afraid of that. You think the worst, most of the time, even when you desire to think the best.

I have said it before, and I will say it again: whether or not you are a praying person, the Serenity Prayer offers the most simple focus anyone could ever ask for. Write it down and paste it on your mirror, your dashboard, and your forehead. Memorize it. Say it like a mantra.

The wisdom you are looking for in your unique situation can be boiled down to control. Accepting the things you cannot change. Courage to change the things you can. Wisdom to know the difference.

It is impossible to control others, even if we try. It is hard enough controlling ourselves, so why do we continue trying to control others, our marriages and any other situation we may face? Ugh. It is a life-long lesson. Even I still have to remind myself of this every day.

Letting go of control is so tough. So seemingly insurmountable.

But it can be done. Just like there are so many out there like you in your tough situation with your “out” GS or your “living in secret” GS, there are thousands of others who have come out on the other side of this painful closet situation. They are living fulfilling lives that look different than they ever imagined, and they are looking back on their pain and are proud of how they handled themselves, even if they have made mistakes.

I made TONS of mistakes. Ask my friends. Ask my kids. Ask my family.

Ask my gay ex husband.

My fulfilling life includes constantly learning how to let go of things I cannot control. It also includes forgiving myself and loving myself. That is what I can control. Myself, the thousands of others who are going through this, and those who have moved on to something more beautiful, love you and support you. You really can do it. Borrow our faith that we have in you. Believe that you will make it.

You will.

In the meantime, get a tattoo of the Serenity Prayer and repeat it like Rainman would. What have you got to lose? Control? You never had that in the first place. You have everything to gain, which boils down to having you. You are loved. You are loveable. You are stronger than you think you are. You have wisdom, peace, and courage. Believe in yourself, because in the end, you are all you really have in this life, and you are worth it.

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,
Emily

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It’s Sunday! Wake Up, Church!

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I still love Sundays, even though I cannot step foot in a church, nine years later.

To say that my husband coming out of the closet shook my faith, is an understatement. Looking back, my faith needed to be shaken; but at the time, for a year and a half, I believed with all of my heart that if I prayed enough, read scripture enough, and loved Devon to death, that he would choose my kids and me over his “sin.”

I knew the scriptures inside and out. Devon had been an elder and lay youth pastor, for Pete’s sake. We raised our family “God’s Way” and understood that nothing was impossible with God. So, of course, I relied on that fact when I faithfully proclaimed that this was just a test, and his “same-sex attractions” were temporary and a choice.

But once I had the epiphany that I could not change him, that I could not control him, that I could not manipulate him into staying and I needed to let go for my own physical, mental and spiritual health, I did not realize just how ingrained this idea of homosexuality being a sin is, within the Fundie church body. It actually can cause more hurt and derision for the people who need the church the most.

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My pastors? Their reaction went something like this:

Regardless of what he is doing, you need to do these three things: 1) Get involved with a ‘Life Group’, 2) Strengthen your faith, and 3) Remain faithful so that you won’t be tempted yourself. We have found that the faithful spouse tends to cheat also to get their needs met; you are still married. Don’t forget that.

Then they handed me a cassette series on the “sin” of homosexuality…that I already had in my plethora of resources.

Hmm. Like I didn’t already know or do those things. Like I needed to do anything at all, as though it was in my control. Like I hadn’t already remained faithful to a “T.” Like those tapes were going to bring me comfort and save my marriage.

They kept looking at the clock during our meeting, as though I was bothering them. They prayed for me, handed me the tapes, and pushed me out the door.

I never heard from them again, until Pastor B emailed me and asked for the tapes back. Good thing I didn’t burn them. I would have owed money for the garbage they fed to me that day.

I had a small group of trusted people that I eventually let in, after living in secret about this for many months, as an effort to help me and convince my husband to repent. They were close to us in our other church, served with him on the Elder Board, and loved my family and me. To make a long story short, their hearts were in the right place. They wanted me to save my marriage as much as I did. The men reached out to my husband and tried to meet with him, with very little fruit. (Looking back, I am glad you didn’t, Devon. Even though I am relaying pain here, I am so happy with our story, and I really do love you.) I spilled everything to them, including my own sin and my entire heart.

Then, with the exception of one couple, they chose to use my heart for saving my marriage, against me.

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Once I came to the epiphany that nothing I do can change what has happened, I felt free to let go of our marriage. It was the first time in a year and a half that I slept a full 14 hours. Peace reigned in my heart, and I knew I could move on.

But two out of the three couples did not agree. Essentially, their reaction can be summed up like this:

We believe him when he says he hasn’t cheated on you. It doesn’t seem like you want to save your marriage. You have no grounds for a Biblical divorce; perhaps you just want to go out and ‘sin’ yourself.

I became the scapegoat. Instead of facing the fact they they were wrong, and maybe even their paradigm about homosexuality and what God can and cannot do was wrong, they blamed me.

Way to go, Unconditional Love! Way to be a witness, Believers, of how to win hearts and minds!

I then had a flood of hypocrisy that I had to face. I would have likely said, done and thought just like them, until the coin was flipped. I became the scorn of judgement, and since then I have learned that Unconditional Love, by definition, does not place burdens on another person. “Speaking the truth in love” coupled with judgement does not work. It drives a wedge.

What I find most interesting, is that even though people (especially the four who made me the scapegoat) know that my ex is now married to the man they claimed he wasn’t cheating on me with, I have yet to receive an apology from them. I found that sometimes I need to forgive over and over again the hurtful words that were spoken to me, and it is especially tough to forgive people who haven’t admitted the hurt they doled out, nor asked for forgiveness.

They were wrong and judgmental and downright mean at the flip of a switch, even if they felt they were “speaking the truth in love,” to a woman of God who was experiencing the worst pain of her life. I have often toyed with the idea that I should confront them, but to what avail? Telling someone they need to ask you to forgive them does not create sincerity and humility. The only person I can control is myself, and that is hard enough. I have to forgive myself, sometimes daily, for bitterness and for words spoken judgingly toward homosexuals, which exacerbated my husband not being honest and hiding his struggles from me.

Obviously, today, I wouldn’t change a thing. I was able to forgive Devon, change my heart, see the truth about Unconditional Love, and realize the error of thinking regarding “love the sinner, hate the sin.” I love myself, my life, my core, Devon, Felipe, and my new and unique Rainbow Family. All of the stuff in my past is just a tool to use to offer encouragement and empathy to others.

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The purpose behind sharing this isn’t to bitch and complain and remain bitter. Actually, the purpose is twofold: 1) to share my experience so others know they aren’t alone, and 2) to help people in the Church to realize that there is an extreme need to offer resources for the straight spouse in a situation where their LGBT marriage partner comes out of the closet.

I certainly do not want to overshadow the LGBT person’s need for help, too. But through my experience, and knowing hundreds of straight spouses in this situation, there is a dire need for clergy and believers to offer true empathy and support for the straight spouse.

I am so thankful to the author of the article link below. In it, she shares her experience with the Church and makes an excellent case for a better understanding from them toward spouses like us. Don’t tell us that if we do this or that, or pray more, or read scripture more, or have caution in not having an affair ourselves, we will see the results we long for. If there is nothing we can “do” to be saved except to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, how could we possibly do anything to make our marriage stay intact?  Just give us love. Give us the support we need by pointing us in the direction of others who have been in a MOM before us. Don’t place burdens on us.

That’s not Jesus’ way.

Here is the article referred to above. It was spot on. Click here: Dear Church Leaders. If you are reading this as a pastor or Christian, the Straight Spouse Network, as well as Canyonwalker Connections, are just two of a handful of resources I can recommend.

Blessings on This Blessed Sunday Morning,
Emily F. Reese

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