Category Archives: Devon

Politics and Tango-ing

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Since my experience on the TED Talk stage this winter, I have been mum on my website. Politics became my world and it was difficult to filter my life through anything but policies in education during my bid for our school district’s Board of Trustee position. I didn’t win in the primaries, but had an amazing time learning firsthand the process of grassroots campaigning and stretching myself in the world of civic duties.

 

Right after my TED Talk, my ex husband, Devon, also threw his hat in the ring for a position with the Nevada State Senate. He is still in the running and doing well; I have joined his campaign, along with my three kiddos and his husband, Felipe, to walk and knock on doors to help overturn the Republican majority in our state’s capitol in Carson City, Nevada. He stands an excellent chance, and the support at the national level to help him get there has been amazing.

When I look back on our lives, before the disclosure of him being a gay man living in a Mixed Orientation Marriage without my knowledge while he did all he could to become straight, I often pictured myself standing by him on a stage, supporting him as he sought an office with the Republican party. How ironic that I am still standing by him in a different way, as we all marched in the Reno Gay Pride parade with so many supporters, cheering him on to make a difference in the lives of people in Northern Nevada.

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I am glad I did my Ted Talk about my experience with him. Little did I know that when I was chosen for this opportunity, my transparency would help us both in showing that while there are many troubles in this life that we cannot predict, healing is possible and impacting others can happen in real, tangible ways. We are real people with real struggles that want to make a difference in the lives of others.

Life is definitely stranger than fiction, to be sure.

Politics aside, I have met many straight spouses along this journey. Most of us want harmony and peace in our relationships, and strive to make things amicable. Unfortunately, the adage “it takes two to tango” is more true than I can sometimes relate to. So many straight spouses experience narcissism, selfishness and untruthfulness from our LGBTQ spouses, that it is difficult to know how to encourage those who ask questions that I cannot relate to through my own experience with Devon. We had our tough times, to be clear. He messed up, but so did I. Somehow, with time and hard work, we made it to where we are today.

(Are there relationships that cannot be healed? Of course, especially those that are damaging to a person, emotionally, physically or spiritually. If that’s the case, tango-ing should not be attempted. I am speaking pragmatically to those that stand a chance.)

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When there aren’t two people tango-ing, bitterness and defensiveness occurs, often from both sides of the isle. We feel the need to protect ourselves and salvage something from a relationship that was based on dishonesty, particularly from a spouse who was hiding their sexual identity. There really IS no how-to book on how to make it through this road that so many have travelled because we are dealing with people and hurts that happen in relationships.

It seems that there are more negative outcomes than positive ones from the perspective of straight spouses. The advice that I gave in my TED Talk for the LGBTQ spouse in a Mixed Orientation Marriage is often unheard and unheeded. It makes me sad, but that does not mean that I won’t continue to speak out for both sides, within the perspective of my straight spouse experience.

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The one thing that heartens me when I hear from people, are the messages coming from LGBTQ spouses who have come out to their straight spouses, especially when they ask: What can I do to help my spouse who is hurt? My heart feels some hope for their relationship and future healing.

I wish there were more of those emails than the ones of pain and betrayal, though I welcome all dialogue. One of the things that I see as a common thread is many LGBTQ spouses who write OpEds in places like the Huffington Post Queer Voices section who make it all about the gay experience and overshadow their spouses who were hurt. In all honesty, I would love to see more LGBTQ people write in defense of their straight spouses and their experience. There are a few out there who do, but it isn’t happening enough.

I recognize the few of you who do attempt to show the same kind of empathy that many of us straight spouses try to show to the LGBTQ experience. People like Chet DeRouen, who speaks lovingly and transparently about his own experience and that of his ex-wife’s, Christa. They have a beautiful family, even though we differ politically. Here’s Chet’s blog if you want to check it out: https://whyamigayblog.wordpress.com

I have recently befriended a lovely couple in Northern California who have been on quite the journey together. They have taken their time, exhausted all possible avenues of keeping their marriage intact, and have made the difficult decision to divorce. They have finally announced their decision and life experience to the public, and I am thankful for their transparency. I know that they will still have difficulties, but the thing is, they are traversing this road together as much as they can.

Luanne, you have my heart and my ear anytime you need support. Matt, I am thankful that in our conversations you were willing to acknowledge the need to not overshadow the straight spouse experience, even while traversing your unchartered territory of coming out. It is people like you and Luanne who help ME to know I am not alone, and that healing really is possible.

Here is their most recent blog post that is short and sweet. Hopefully other LGBTQ spouses in Mixed Orientation Marriages will read it and take to heart the delicate issues that are not one-sided.

https://medium.com/@mattnightingale/living-the-truth-d2058f937516#.6kzb018wd

It is also my hope that more LGBTQ spouses who have come out of the closet to their straight spouses will begin to share with humility, in places like the Huff Post, how to support the ones who often feel overshadowed: the straight spouse. When two actually do tango, things can be stranger than fiction, and a safe place for healing can happen.

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If it isn’t possible to Tango and make things amicable, take care of you. Below is a little something I like to look at with frequency. It keeps me focused on the larger picture of my own personal motto: Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others.

Love,

Emily Reese

InTheEndBuddhasInstructions

TEDx Crying

  
Life is truly amazing. It really is, especially now that I am at a place in my life, 10 years removed from my husband coming out of the closet.

In the picture above, I am starting to shed tears of gratefulness on stage at the TEDxUniversityOfNevada event on Saturday, January 23rd, 2016. It was at the end of my talk/story, with advice for both the straight spouse and the LGBTQ spouse. I shared how thankful I am for Devon coming out to me, as it set me on a path to knowing and loving myself, apart from anyone or anything else, including loving my imperfect life. I pointed to him in the crowd, and teared up.

After the audience stood and clapped, I walked off the stage and bawled like a baby. It was surreal. 

I am so thankful for coming to this place in my journey. I am here to witness that you, too, can get to this place. No matter what, you are loved, loveable, and not alone. 

As soon as the video is edited and posted on TEDx’s YouTube channel in about three weeks, I will post and share it here. 

Thanks for the love people. My life is blessed and I am thankful to be able to be transparent.

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,

Emily Fay Reese 

 

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

Worst Little Story

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I live in Reno, The Biggest Little City in the World. At least, that’s what we call ourselves. We probably should have been called The Windy City, but that one was already taken. I have seen trees, on way too regular of a basis, being uprooted when the winds roll off the Sierras. It’s a creepy thing to see the ground boiling up where the roots of a sequoia are located, getting ready to fall on my minivan.

Mama needs a new car. Please fall on it.

This past week, I was invited by my friend Rory Dowd, to be on his local podcast, called the Worst Little Podcast. It is a very “adult” oriented show…as adult as sex jokes and swearing can be. It was an absolute blast, and I was allowed to talk a bit about my story.

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If you can handle the adult content of it without getting offended, take a listen at the link below. If you have time to listen to the whole thing, you should. Great music, featuring PJ Ruprecht, is among the chaotic antics of the show, and is fun to listen to. If you just want to hear the section where my story is mentioned (including my awesome charter school, Rainshadow), you can start listening at 51:50.

Get your story out there, too! Contact me if you want to share your journey on this website. You can receive encouragement from people who stop by here as well as help others who struggle with their spouse revealing that they are gay.

Sometimes, the only way to get through this thing called Mixed Orientation Marriage, is to rely on the support of others who have been through it before you. In fact, it’s the best way, I have found.

Enjoy the Show, and Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,
Emily

The Worst Little Podcast with Emily and PJ

And after listening, if you’d like to give to my amazing charter school’s annual fundraising campaign, click the following link.  Every little bit helps our students to be in a school that helps meet their individual needs.  Rainshadow Charter High School Annual Giving Campaign

Movin’. Shakin’. Gettin’ the Word Out.

Life really is sweet. Sometimes, life is super duper pooper sweet…like this last weekend. Lots of writing, cleaning out my closets (literally, not figuratively), getting to spend time with just my oldest daughter (which is rare) and sleeping in. That sleeping in thing never happens, so that’s what made this weekend super duper pooper.

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The middle and youngest of my Three Little Birds got to do something very special in San Francisco for their National History Day projects: they met with and interviewed Cleve Jones, a key player in AIDS activism, gay rights and was the main stud behind the AIDS quilt project. He also happened to be close friends with Harvey Milk, so both Thomas and Kate got the royal carpet treatment by Cleve, complete with a tour of the Castro pointing out key areas of interest for both Thomas and Kate’s projects. Cleve also had a surprise for them, as he asked Dustin Lance Black, Academy Award winning producer of many films (including Milk), to join them. Basically, it was a Cloud 9 Weekend for those two kiddos.

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If they don’t go far in the competition, I will be shocked.

Weekend at Emily’s: that’s a wrap.

Now, if you’re stopping by for the first time, you may be doing so because of a piece that I wrote for the Straight Spouse Network’s blog. I am very happy they published it, because it is a great resource and I am thrilled to be connected with it. If you are looking at the screen with a question mark on your face, here is the link and piece I am talking about. Check it out!

Straight Spouse Network Blog

I keep submitting pieces to as many news organizations as possible. I have been feeling led lately to speak out to people who have a little clout in this political world, and getting published is a great way to do it. Many of you know I am an LGBTQ Ally, and I have lots of reasons for this. I understand if you are not at this point in your life because the nightmare you may be dealing with hits too close to home. However, it has been a lot longer for me, and since my own Rainbow Family (called The Reeses and Their Pieces) has a bit of a stake in LGBTQ rights, I have a lot to say. Mostly, I feel that because Mixed Orientation Marriages have an incredible amount of shame and secrecy tied to them, the nation needs to know about us. We need some empathy, dammit! People need to know they’re not alone; people need to know what to say and what NOT to say when a family or friend is going through this crappy thing; and legislators need to know that the more laws that they pass that keep LGBTQ people as second-class or not equal, the more likely that MOMs will continue to happen…which means more hurt, pain, deceit and wreckage for straight spouses who get married to someone who is too afraid to be “out.”

Does that make sense? I haven’t finished my first cup of coffee this morning.

Basically, I am going to run my flip-top head off to anyone who will listen.

I love writing. I love people. I love being able to use the very thing of finding out my husband is gay, that caused me the most pain I have ever had to endure, to give meaning and purpose behind it.

Thanks for stopping by. If you are looking for encouragement, then be sure to read the link above. I meant every word of it. You really are stronger than you give yourself credit for.

You can do it. I believe in you.

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,
Emily

Under One Roof: Ridiculous Rainbow Family Holiday

What a holiday!

A full-on Rainbow and Glitter Gala Celebration, with our Three Little Birds, Devon and his husband Felipe… and me, the Clutter Whore Ally Momma.

Best Christmas movie ever, besides "A Christmas Story."  I fully expected some crazy antics occurring with our weird family this Christmas, not unlike Clark Grizzwold's world.
Best Christmas movie ever, besides “A Christmas Story.” I fully expected some crazy antics occurring with our weird family this Christmas, not unlike Clark Grizzwold’s world.

Last year was the first year we spent Christmas together under one roof, mostly due to necessity.  I was recovering from one hell of a pre-chemo surgery, complete with tubes coming out of all kinds of places for drainage and some really great pain pills.

I needed help.  And Devon and company were there for me.

But this year was by choice.  I heard on more than one occasion from the kids that they were thrilled we could all get along well enough to be together under one roof.  I didn’t see this one coming nearly 10 years ago, but I wouldn’t change a thing about it.

To say life is different now than it was then is a complete understatement, but I loved it.  The fact that the kids felt it was a blessing was wonderful.

So, to brag a little and share my life with you (and to document our Christmas together because it’s my blog and I can do what I want with it), I am going to post pictures here and memorable moments so that maybe one day, when the dust has cleared in your world of finding out your spouse is gay, you might be able to see what is truly possible.

Life is stranger than fiction, and more beautiful than we can imagine if we keep our minds and hearts open after moving forward and working through our shtuff.  Know what I mean?

Here ya go!

Our break started off by me finishing the semester at Rainshadow with my students and getting all of my grading done so I wouldn’t have much work to do while I was off for three weeks.  If anyone tells you that they didn’t go into teaching for the perks of great breaks, then they are lying.  Teachers certainly don’t get paid enough for all we have to do, but having these breaks makes things pretty peachy, I must say.

We left the day after school was out to go to Sacramento, all six of us, to watch Thomas’ basketball tournament and do some massive shopping.  The road trip was a blast, the hotel room situation was spectacular and we spent way too much money on food and gifts.  But that’s okay.

Here are the photos of our road trip, including me relaxing at the mall with my feet up.  What a rough job shopping can be.  My clods were killing me!  Next time I will wear my Birkenstocks and not my Kick Cancer’s Ass Boots.

The trip went really well and it was so much fun spending time with them.  We all got along, which 10 years ago, I never would have imaged.

Next came Christmas Eve.

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The beautiful Christmas tree with obscene amount of gifts at Devon and Felipe’s house.

I was slated to stay there for a couple of days.  We did our usual Reese Family Christmas Eve Dinner with Devon’s family at his mom Virginia’s house.  Good food and LOTS of laughs.  We were all crying from laughter listening to Aunt Wendy explain the rational thought that went behind her Sims City obsession.  Gifts were exchanged and we made out with some great loot.  Thomas and I took a poll with my Facebook friends to see who looked better in his SWAGish hat.  It was a tie, by the way.

My sweet Middle Bird, Kate, came down with an acute ear infection while at Grandma’s that night.  Christmas Eve.  Ear infection.  Welcome to the world of having kids.

The brilliant thing?  All three of us parents were able to pitch in and help.  I did my best to comfort poor Kate, while the dads braved the only 24 hour pharmacy that was open to get her meds… and were there ’til 1 a.m.  Nightmare?  Yes.  But isn’t it great we were all there to help make our Christmas Eve work out?

The sweetest thing came from it.  This picture.  I sent it to Kate after telling her that I wouldn’t want to spend Christmas Eve any other way (she was feeling horrible for “ruining” our Christmas) and she told me it was her favorite picture of all time; she would “treasure it forever.”  Bam.  It’s all about being positive and having a little perspective.

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Here is the picture I took, cuddling with my sweetie pie Kate, who was feeling like crap. She said she will “treasure it forever.” Awww.

Christmas morning was beautiful.  There was very little chaos and lots of thoughtful gifts, including the handmade gift that my dad made for the girls (he made my sister and me a hand mirror as well, just like the ones pictured below and we still use them to this day). All of this, including playing Risk as a family, made for a memorable time with our Freaky Rainbow Crew.  Here’s a video and some pictures from that morning.

And finally, New Year’s Eve.  This day is officially Devon and Felipe’s 1st Anniversary after getting married last year in New York City.  So, I stayed with the kids at their house, took them out to The Hobbit and Pizza with another good friend of mine, and returned to their house to bring in the New Year with gambling for Hershey’s Kisses as well as a hotly contested game of chess.  What a wonderful way to bring in this year with the three best people in my life.  And without Devon (and Felipe, too) we wouldn’t have been here, doing these things, altogether.

So, basically, the holidays are over, but the memories live here for myself and anyone to view, hopefully forever.  Life is beautiful.  Expect things to be that way.  You might be surprised.

Happy Holidays and may your 2015 be extraordinary!

Emily

Rainbow Family Christmas Vacation

Never in a thousand years would I have pictured myself having holidays with Devon and his husband and my kids all under one roof… 10+ years ago. I wanted to share my Facebook Thankfulness Post from today to give you some perspective on what time and moving forward can do for families who have a spouse that comes out. I am not guaranteeing this will happen for you, but I want to encourage you to be open. Take care of you. Let go of things and people you can’t control. And above all, LOVE. Love yourself, love your kids, love your friends. Love really can heal things because it is powerful.  Happy Holidays from me to you.

My wonderful sister, Lora. She and her family are beautiful people, inside and out.
My wonderful sister, Lora. She and her family are beautiful people, inside and out.

Day 340: December 19, 2014

Thankfulness for This Time Last Year

Nothing like receiving a text at 4:30 a.m. this morning from my Sis. That’s okay, Lora. I wasn’t sleeping or anything.

Actually, I was wide awake. And I was thinking about the exact same thing you wrote. Woman! We are so connected. Do you have telepathy?

“I was just thinking that a year ago today I was out at your place helping you recover from that awful surgery. I’m so glad we’re a year out from that. Miss you. Love you.”

No kidding. Ditto on all accounts. Worst surgery I hope I ever have to go through.

I continued my recovery over Christmas at Devon and Felipe’s house. Lots of great drugs. Way too many tubes and bags coming out of me. But the silver lining was that I got to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas morning under the same roof as my Rainbow Family. That part was wonderful.

Then they all left for NY. That made me sad and feel sorry for myself. Again, thankfully I had great drugs and wonderful Wendiana to help me out for a week with those spazzing dogs and movie marathons.

I was sad I couldn’t go with them. That’s what makes this holiday so special. Today we leave for a mini Rainbow Christmas vacation to Sacramento. All of us freaks in one car being a weird family. Basketball, music, shopping, laughter and memory making. To top it off, the whole doing Christmas under one roof was a brilliant idea, so we’re doing it again.

This is going to be one amazing holiday. I couldn’t have guessed in a million lifetimes that I would be where I am today, thinking like I do, without all of the blessings that my life “tragedies” have brought. I love my family. I love my life. I love feeling thankful.

Also, F you, Cancer. I made you my Bi**h.

Happy Holidays,
The Survivor

Foot-In-Mouth-Disease and Letters In Red on Sunday

Pedestals:  No Bueno.
Pedestals: No Bueno.

Lest anyone forget, I have been where a vast majority of mainstream and Fundamentalist Christians have been with nearly every contentious issue and litmus test for being a “true” Christian.  This is especially true for the topic of Homosexuality.

This thinking/belief boils down to this:  You cannot be gay and a Christian.  If you are gay, you cannot “practice” homosexuality.  So, your options are:  1)  Live a life of celibacy (which is a “gift” according to the Scriptures and not something to force on someone), or 2) Get married to someone in a heterosexual marriage (because being gay is a choice and you can change to being a heterosexual)… and a third option during the process of #1 and #2 would be some sort of ex-gay therapy.  (Now, if you don’t believe the horror stories about those kinds of therapy, then you haven’t been willing to look into it.  Hit me up.  I can give you a plethora of people I know personally who experienced these kinds of interventions.  For every one person it supposedly “worked” for, there were 1,000 others that it didn’t work.  Which is why Exodus International finally had to disband after causing YEARS of harm to the LGBT community.)

One of the things that got me thinking today was this article in the NY Times, Pastor Led Son’s Gay Wedding, Revealing Fault Line in Church.  It’s well written and thought provoking about how the traditional and fundamentalist church treats its pastors and the LGBT community.  It made me think about how I would have reacted at one point in my life, before Devon’s Big Reveal.

Other people have the answers for gay people who are struggling with not wanting to be gay, wanting to have a relationship with God, and not wanting to hurt those they love.  It’s quite a pickle for the LGBT person to be in, to put it mildly.

I had the answers.  You bet I did.  And I was able to let them roll off my tongue as though I had the gift of prophecy.

This pic is awesome.  I love stuff that looks like kids made it.
This pic is awesome. I love stuff that looks like kids made it.

So, obviously, when Devon came out to me, I fell pretty hard from my pedestal.  I’m glad I did.  I wouldn’t change a thing… NOW.  But I sure tried to change things, especially that first year and a half.  I had people who loved me and supported my views that homosexuality was a sin and a choice.  I began to think a little differently as time moved forward, but not enough to question my beliefs regarding homosexuality.  It came down to me wanting Devon to remain my husband.  The very last thing I ever wanted was a divorce.  Heck, I was even willing to remain married to him if we never had sex again… as long as we were together and he did not seek a relationship or sex outside of our marriage.

I have shared a few stories on this blog and our earlier one (SameSides: Amicable Divorce)  that were words and attitudes I had which hurt Devon and all LGBT people, without me intending to be that way.  This was because of my worldview regarding homosexuality and Christianity.  I justified my judgement as “truth in love” when truly, at its essence, it was judgement.  To the well-meaning groups of ladies that I had the privilege of knowing through BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) during that year and a half in my life, I am very thankful that we weren’t allowed to get too personal in sharing prayer requests.  I couldn’t ask for Devon to choose to be straight or come back home to us during prayer time because that was a boundary BSF implemented, which kept a lot of gossip from spreading (prayer circles are experts at crossing gossip lines).

But the times where homosexuality was brought up through our readings or discussions, hurtful things were said that cut me to the quick and made me bleed inside.  I learned very early on how much I had hurt Devon and others through my prideful “wisdom” before Devon coming out of the closet by hearing words from other ladies lips that were the exact things I used to say and think.

This is what I call Foot-In-Mouth-Disease.  All of us are prone to it, regardless of our beliefs, love, or intentions.  I have accepted this about myself and feel qualified to see both sides of the divide regarding homosexuality and judgmental thinking.

I have no idea who "Gob" is, but this album cover is perfect!
I have no idea who “Gob” is, but this album cover is perfect!

Which is why I feel the need, especially lately, to simply go for it and call hypocrisy and judgement from Church dogma out in public ways.  Sometimes I do this with anger, other times I have done it with gentleness, and a few times I have lost friends over it.  I am learning how to balance love with truth, anger with empathy, and honesty with compassion.  I don’t hit the mark very often, but I’m trying.  I am thankful to those of you who don’t agree with me on things but stick around anyway.  It gives me hope that we can all help make this world a better place for everyone.

So on this Sunday, while many Christians are in church, I still don’t feel comfortable walking into one.  Someday I might, but today I will praise The Maker, The Universe, God… from the comfort of my computer at Devon and Felipe’s house while I recover from my last round of chemo.  The people and space that represent God’s unconditional love are right here, under The Reeses and Their Pieces Headquarters, where we can be together in peace, love, acceptance of differences and in fellowship with each other, building each other up and reflecting a little bit of The Letters in Red that are so precious to me these days.

Jesus did things right.  He kept his cool.  He didn’t suffer from Foot-In-Mouth-Disease.  Ever.  So I will look to him before I look to anyone or anything else as my example of how to live and love.  I am grateful for getting to a place of desiring to balance Faith with the realities of my life.  I’m doing that with the very thing that my dad always said to us growing up:  “Look to the Letters in Red.”

And if you aren’t religious, you won’t get judgement from me.  I am thankful I have the background I have because I get it when words are spoken in judgement, which are masked as “truth in love.”  Is there such a thing as “truth in love?”  Sure.  But if it doesn’t match with the Letters in Red, then you should be thinking twice before speaking them.

Happy Sunday to all people.  Unconditional love is the bomb, and without me knowing that I suffered from Foot-In-Mouth-Disease, I would have never gotten to this place of remembering the best advice from my pops:  Look to the Letters in Red.

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,

Chemo-Done-And-Foot-Out-Of-Mouth-For-The-Moment Gal

Foot-in-Mouth Disease visits me often.  I think it is a virus possibly.  Wish there were an immunization for it.
Foot-in-Mouth Disease visits me often. I think it is a virus possibly. Wish there were an immunization for it.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Broke-Back to the Future

This is the final piece I wrote for the Reno Tahoe Tonight magazine in the May 2013 issue.  Devon and I were blessed to be able to share snippets of our story and journey as we navigated the waters of his Big Reveal that he is gay.  In it, I refer to the movie Brokeback Mountain, released in 2005.  It was a turning point for Devon and his desire to finally come clean to me.  Thank you, Oliver X, for letting us share our story through your publication.

BrokeBack to the Future

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You know, years can pass by after a major relational hurt in your life, and even though you’ve moved on, forgiven someone and have healed your relationship, something random can trigger those old feelings again. It’s like Doc kidnapping you in his DeLorean and forcing you to relive your crap in the past. You may just find yourself right back to the very moments of pain years earlier.

This is why I have avoided the movie “Brokeback Mountain.”

I remember lying in bed with Devon one night, almost nine years ago, having our usual chit-chat, which often included conversations about movies. Devon fancies himself a movie critic, so we usually debated about the value of various films. This particular discussion led us to talking about what movies we wanted to see.

“I really want to see the movie Brokeback Mountain,” he casually stated.

My reaction fell directly in line with my Judeo-Christian, Leave it To Beaver, beliefs at the time. I dismissed him outright by saying: “No way. That’s disgusting. I don’t want to see two guys having it out in the wilderness. Plus, they cheat on their wives, all for their own desires. It’s gross and wrong and I can’t believe you’d want to see that.”

He hummed and hawed a bit, mentioned something about the fact that it had wonderful cinematography and the conversation ended there.

As an English teacher, this conversation would fall under the literary term foreshadowing. Indeed, five months later, the truth came out of the closet.

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Lord of the Rings: My favorite movie. I thought this was a funny comparison.

I often look back on that conversation and wonder if he was trying to open up and tell me something. As usual, I dismissed him and said something hurtful without even knowing it. We had lots of conversations before his Big Reveal that I view now as clues that I should have been less naïve.

When I found out that the turning point in Devon’s realization that he is a gay man was due to him viewing Brokeback Mountain (he actually left town to watch it and I didn’t know about it), I despised that movie even more. Devon revealed this to the readers of Same Sides in one of our installments of the Reno Tahoe Tonight several months ago. He mentioned that I still hadn’t watched it because of the hurt I felt from it years ago, but that maybe someday I would.

Well, I did. Over Spring Break. And it hurt. A lot.

I will tell you that the scenes with the two main characters “having it out” in Wyoming weren’t really as disturbing as they might have been to me eight years ago. The thoughts that I had during those moments were ones of me picturing Devon watching them and his possible realizations that he was unhappy with his life and our marriage as well as the fears that he may have had in telling me.

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The scenes which hurt the most were the ones of the deception that occurred in the lives of their marriages. Good God. I knew almost exactly what those ladies were feeling, especially the wife at home with her beautiful young babies, realizing that her husband wasn’t finding true fulfillment in their relationship… and not knowing why. There was deceit, to boot. The shock she felt when she saw her husband in the arms of another man was so real to me that I had to stop the film in order to catch my breath so I could keep watching. I even grabbed a glass of wine at that point.

And yet, she didn’t say anything. She wanted to deny it was happening. She let her marriage deteriorate and allowed her husband to live a lie. Their marriage was one big sham and she allowed this, not just him.

The interesting thing about the movie, ultimately, was the cultural era and time frame in which it was set. These guys literally couldn’t live openly. They accepted their fate and continued with their charade because they had no other choice. One of them was brutally killed because of it.

It was just so sad.

As I watched it, old wounds were opened in my heart. These were wounds I never wanted to see again. I questioned my decision to rent it when I finished it, sobbing uncontrollably like I did eight years ago when I first confronted Devon jokingly by saying, “What are you then? Gay or something?”

I had to work through those things all over again. But you know what? It only took me five minutes. As soon as I started to think about all of the blessings that have come from his truthfulness with me, I became the New Emily again, instantly.

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This New Emily has so much to be thankful for, and she owes it all to Devon’s Big Reveal.

1) I am no longer judgmental toward people who are different than me, especially the beautiful LGBT people in this world.

2) I am no longer living in a marriage where my husband isn’t able to be fulfilled. I can find someone who will be fulfilled by me and we can fulfill each other completely.

3) I walk in truthfulness and bask in its light.

4) I still have Devon in my life. In fact, I know ALL of Devon, not just the parts that he was willing to reveal when we were married.

5) My kids see us as transparent humans, willing to accept, willing to forgive, and willing to parent together. We even have a wonderful step parent in Felipe. We are all blessed beyond measure.

6) I can relate to people. All kinds of people. I can relate to mistakes, erroneous thinking, changed hearts and people who are hurting.

7) And well… I get to write about it. Devon gets to live openly in a loving relationship without fear of being killed for his love of Felipe. He didn’t have to cheat on me for years with another guy in order to meet his needs at his core. Sure, there’s still hatred and misconceptions out there, but the tide is changing and I get to be in the thick of it.

8) I now grasp what I’ve always desired to understand since I was a little girl: true unconditional love and forgiveness of others.

As we close out our column in the Reno Tahoe Tonight, our family wants to thank Oliver Ex and our readers for allowing us to share our story with you. It has been our goal since working through our issues to be transparent, loving and provide encouragement to others because of our lives. We are honored to have experienced what we have gone through so we can spread hope to others.

So hey, Doc, thanks for the ride in the DeLorean. I needed that.

Love, Emily

Great Scott!
Great Scott!