Category Archives: Felipe

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

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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

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!

 

 

 

 

I Knew It! Now I’m Going to Punch You in the Coccyx!

When Devon first came out to me, I simply did not know how to handle telling people. silence1

As in, telling people at all.  I felt like I needed to keep it confidential because I just knew in my heart of hearts that he would “choose” to live the heterosexual lifestyle we had always lived and that his homosexuality was just a struggle (a.k.a. “sin”) that was his to fight.  And I was going to help him fight it by doing everything he needed me to do.

And so, I initially chose not to tell anyone that we knew, even my own family, because if he came around and realized that we could work through it, I didn’t want him to have to backtrack and have to explain himself to friends, family and colleagues.

In addition, Devon actually told me that I couldn’t tell anyone during our discussion after he revealed to me that he was gay.  The people in our church circles?  Well, they would likely jump to conclusions that he was some kind of pedophile, since we worked with the youth.  Perhaps an exorcism or a “Matthew 18” reprimand would happen.  This was mortifying, both to Devon and me.  The people he knew professionally?  He was afraid of losing his job over it.  My family?  That was an absolute no-no, especially because he didn’t want to be looked at as a home-wrecker, a person living in sin, or be lectured by anyone who felt his struggles were a choice and that he could “pray the gay away.”  (Honestly, he has always been afraid of my dad.  He was the last person Devon wanted to have find out.)

The submissive wife in me at the time obeyed his desires.  I could see some of the logic in it, but the biggest part of it was that I didn’t want to do anything that would potentially push him away from me.  If I “outed” him (which he felt was his job to do and not mine) I would be damaging any chances of him choosing our marriage over his homosexual core.  I actually felt that everything fell on me to handle this the right way.

What was the right way?

cryingOnBeachSo I isolated myself.  I cried alone.  I drank lots of wine.  I took day trips to Tahoe when the kids were in school and just cried on the beach, all alone. I sought the Lord in prayer with primal screams out in my van in the garage after the kids and Devon had gone to bed and my mind wouldn’t stop spinning.  I went to work out at the gym at 3 a.m. for four hours just to escape for awhile.  I sought online support groups, of which there were very few at the time.  The main Christian one that I reached out to, Exodus International, was a complete joke… they didn’t have any answers or advice that was based on the reality of my situation.  They existed for the sole purpose of turning gay people straight.  Unbeknownst to me, Devon had attended an Exodus International support group meeting the first year of our marriage while he attended KU.  He went running from that meeting and never wanted to go back, and ultimately, the spouses were an after-thought.  The Straight Spouse Network was around, and while they seemed to have a grip on how to get me some support through chatting with others who had experienced this, they did very little to address homosexuality, the straight spouse and the kids in light of our Christian beliefs.  They did support staying together if I wanted to, but they were a secular group… and that didn’t jive with my reasons for staying.  God wanted us together.  He hates divorce.  I couldn’t be a part of a group that was okay with divorce or didn’t espouse Christian beliefs.

Yes, I used to think this way.  The Straight Spouse Network seems to have more to offer these days, but a decade ago, they weren’t as extensive as they are now.  They are still considered a secular group, and anyone coming from a Christian background has an added layer of ick to deal with.

And so I floundered.

About 2 months after his Big Reveal, I couldn’t take it anymore.  I told our best friends about it over the phone at 4 a.m. in my van in the garage.  And then I called my sister.

Devon came unglued.  Enraged.  Scared.  And he blamed me for wanting to “out” him to everyone.

Devon was very used to being in control of his life.  He had to.  Looking back, he had a lot to cover up in his own mind and wanted to look like something on the outside that he wasn’t on the inside.  I am not joking when I refer to him as having OCD.  He may not have been clinically diagnosed with it, but he displayed many symptoms.  Ultimately, he nit-picked at things that didn’t matter because it gave him a sense of control when he couldn’t control the things that really mattered, like his homosexual leanings.  The kids and I got the brunt of his controlling issues in the form of having a neat and hyper-organized home, portraying perfection while in public settings,  showing that outwardly he was the head of the household and I was his submissive wife, and the kids were perfectly behaved, just to name a few.

Essentially, I was enabling him to continue to live in the closet by remaining silent to others about the traumatic Big Reveal.

LineInTheSandAfter a couple of months of counseling with a wonderfully non-judgmental Christian man, Larry, I set up a boundary that Devon would ultimately be unable to keep:  He had to not be friends with Felipe, whom he claimed was just a friend and nothing else.  The ultimatum was that if he continued to remain friends with him, then he would have to move out.  My line in the sand was drawn.

It lasted two weeks.

Then I told my dad.  He flew out a couple of days later to confront Devon as he moved out that weekend.  Yes, it was ugly.  Needless to say, there was no “repentance” on Devon’s part, no realization that he had made a mistake, no asking for forgiveness, and the final words were not pretty… from both sides.

Finally, I was somewhat of an enemy to Devon.  He was constantly accusing or assuming that I was out there to spread the news that he was gay.

I wasn’t.  I kept things as quiet as possible… until I felt I needed the support, regardless of his wishes.  I usually let him know before I told someone, but it wouldn’t have mattered.  He got angry whether I told him beforehand or not.

This is the part of being the straight spouse in a Mixed Orientation Marriage that is one of the toughest issues.  The straight spouse feels completely alone in dealing with it.  No How-To Manual, no step-by-step tired and true way of dealing with a husband or wife coming out.

Gradually, I involved a very small group of people from our old church to help us in any way that they could.  The men tried to meet with Devon, which was fruitless, and they actually believed him when he said he wasn’t cheating on me with Felipe.  The ladies met with me through Bible study and prayer, and they offered their support.  And when it came down to it, the majority of them (barring J and K) felt that my decision to divorce was unfounded.  It was ugly, actually, and I was very hurt.  I still work through that to this day, and my bitterness toward how they handled things is lessening.  I would love to have them ask me to forgive them, but it was much easier for them to reject me as a scapegoat than to admit that maybe their own thinking and handling of things was wrong.

So be it.

None of the above mentioned people had any clue that Devon had struggles in this area until they found out from me.  It was always a shock when people would find out.

But, there have been a handful of people, mostly those who were friends of ours that were not in our family or Christian circle, who didn’t appear to be too shocked.

Here is the phrase I hated hearing the most from them once I finally started sharing my story more openly:  “I knew he was gay from the first day I met him” or even more expressive by proclaiming with a smile or some sort of joy “I KNEW it!”

To put it bluntly, don’t ever say that to someone who tells you their crushing heartbreak of a story about their husband or wife coming out.  EVER.  Even if you think it.  Just DON’T SAY IT.

It is hurtful.  I remember feeling like I was being punched in the coccyx when someone proclaimed their all-knowing gay-dar to me.

I was married to the dude.  I had sex at least three times that produced three kids, loved him, he loved me… and you knew the whole time?

Seriously, shut up.  Not helpful.  At all.

And if you really did know, because apparently your reaction shows that this scenario is all about your wisdom, why didn’t you tell me?  I realize that ultimately people don’t think before they speak as often as they should, but this is the very last thing you should ever say to someone who is experiencing a spouse coming out of the closet in a heterosexual marriage.

I will also admit that even if you had told me because you really did know, I might not have believed you.  Love causes a blindness that borders on the irrational at times.

It is certainly true that I can now look back after finding out the truth on that day of Devon’s Big Reveal, and see some signs.  But they aren’t as clear as the insensitive proclamation “I knew it!” would make it seem.

Please be aware of how you react to the news when someone you know experiences this life-altering event.  If you have said this to someone in the past, I encourage you to ask them to forgive you for it.  It might not bug them now, but I am guessing at the time that it felt a bit like being slapped in the face… or punched in the coccyx.

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That was a little bit about me and the early days of finding out (nearly a decade ago), being isolated, finding bravery to tell people and the very worst thing you can say to someone.  There is so much more to the story than that, but I hope that what I have written here helps you to not feel so alone.  Because you aren’t.  And I love you unconditionally.

And truly, my life is beautiful now, so don’t forget that part of my story.  I always want to encourage and not discourage or feed anger that you may rightfully have.  Be in the moment, work through your stuff, but don’t forget to keep moving forward, even if you feel like you’re walking backwards.

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,

Emily Reese

What has been your experience as it relates to telling others?  I would love for you to comment below here, but if you would like to keep it more confidential, you can always email me by using the contact form below. 

Two/To Dads on Father’s Day

This morning, I woke up with Devon on my mind.

It’s Father’s Day and I know that he is happy thinking about our kids and enjoying the handmade cards they gave him, but he is also thinking about his own father, Fast Freddy, who passed away a little over a year and a half ago.  Knowing him, he is experiencing some sadness right along with the joy he feels over being the dad to our Three Little Birds.  Devon and The Reese Clan:  I loved Fred very much.  I am thinking about you all, too.

While we were married, Devon was a great dad, and still is today.  He has always been very silly with them and kept them in mind when making decisions for our family, with exception at times to the crisis we went through after his Big Reveal.  Decisions then were often a lose-lose scenario for everyone it felt like.  But ultimately, we made a great team as parents and sought to always provide a united front to our children, even if we didn’t always agree on particular topics.

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!

Devon and I were married a little over 2 years before we had our first beautiful daughter, Maddie.  Before she was born, I cannot remember any fights between us of significance. We intentionally didn’t have TV and went places with each other that kept our love and friendship strong… and some of these things we did were uber nerdy: we played ping-pong a couple of times a week at the rec center in Lawrence, Kansas (I kicked his arse most of the time… or at least, that’s how I want to remember it); we played board games; went on old people Sunday drives around neighborhoods and dreamed of the day we would own our first home, how it would be decorated, what we would name our kids, and trips we wanted to take together; we prayed together, read Scripture together and went to every church potluck we could schedule.

Dynamics changed once Maddie was born.  When people say their first year of marriage was horrible, I cannot relate at all.  It was the first year that Maddie was born which caused us to stress and argue the most.

I often say this:  When you get married, you don’t realize just how selfish you were.  And when you have kids, you REALLY see just how selfish you can be.

Sacrifice becomes your daily life.  You have to give up yourself – your dreams, time alone with just you or as a couple, your hobbies – more than you’d like to.

And with that first child comes the gritty reality that you don’t know what you’re doing.  It’s a lot of floundering and mistake making, and Devon and I had several fights over what to do when neither of us really knew what to do.  As the mom, I felt that I had the ultimate say over how to handle middle of the night crying fests, chaffed nipples and sleep schedules, and as the dad, Devon wanted to be included in on the tactics for dealing with things neither of us had answers to.  He would give his two cents worth, I would out right dismiss them, he would be hurt, we would argue… and then the argument became more about our own pride than sensible solutions that needed to be implemented.

I’m guessing most partners and spouses with kids have experienced the same thing.

And to this day, when we do occasionally argue, it’s almost always about the kids and how to handle things.  I’m thinking this will not end anytime soon.

DevonPlayingWithKidsOnFloor2
A dad on the floor makes him fair game as a jungle gym.

Fast forward to 2014.  Three kids, a coming out of the closet experience, 2 times dealing with cancer, a change of mindset about homosexuality not being a sin and a choice, my kids having two daddies… and still Devon is a great dad, and his husband, Felipe, is wonderful to our kids. I will never have to worry about having that evil step mom to compete with regarding who is the real mom of the family.  It’s all about me being the only mom they will ever have.

I kinda love it.

One of the most important revelations that I had after dealing for a bit with my own hurt after Devon’s big reveal, is that my children are NOT me.  As in, the betrayal I dealt with, the trust that was ruined, the crisis that was created by Devon coming out and the feelings of anger and working with instead of against the new life that I was to live… did not mean that my kids would have the same reaction, feelings, hurt or lifetime of distrust toward romantic/love relationships.  I often projected my own experience onto my kids, expecting that they would have to deal with or feel the same way I did.

Now, did they have to deal with this new life and have some hurt or emotions to work through?  Absolutely.  And maybe stuff will come up in their lives that stem from the Big Reveal in the future.  But their relationship with their daddy, while it may have changed in some ways because we didn’t live under the same roof, was not damaged, especially because they saw the example that we set when it was all said and done.

You see, Devon will always be their dad.  It’s not like the kids had to decide between keeping their relationship with him or putting a retainer down for a divorce attorney.  There wasn’t a romance involved, only the love and respect that Devon and the kids had for each other.

Him being gay did not change his Daddy Status.  I was the one that had to change my ideas of what they would do and how I thought they would react.

My middle daughter, Kate, said it perfectly: When he told us he was gay, I don’t think I was too surprised, not because I knew, but because it didn’t make him any different to me.

Isn’t that beautiful?

And it helped me to remember that Devon is and always will be that fun, responsible and good example of what a father is to his children.

Now, to the many people who seek to use this site as support for their scenario of a spouse coming out of the closet, I am aware that this particular post may tug at emotions you are still working through.  I want you to know that I am in no way attempting to intentionally put something in your face that would try to hurt you in any way or sway you to handle your lives like I did.  I realize that each family’s scenario has intricacies that can make a situation more difficult than my own.  This post, however, speaks to my own journey with Devon’s Big Reveal and how far we’ve come since that Day.

And my experience is this:  I chose to work with my situation instead of against it.  There have been so many blessings that have come from this, particularly that my kids have two daddies who love them and would die for them, just like I would.  My kids are secure in our non-traditional Rainbow Family and there is so much love surrounding them from all sides like bubble wrap, which is really wonderful.

So, Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads out there, gay, straight, or otherwise.  If you are a dad, you are at your core, a dad forever.  And kids will love their parents, even if they can be hurt by us.  Keep in mind that kids are almost always quicker to forgive us than we are at forgiving ourselves, and I want to be just like them in my own grace, mercy and forgiveness toward others.

And to those of you who have households with two daddies:  Thank you for loving your children just like any human would.  You being gay simply does not matter when it comes to loving your kids.

Happy Father’s Day, Devon.  And also you, Felipe.  Two dads and one mommy?  People should be envious.  Our lives do not suck.

Love, The Only Mom Our Three Little Birds Will Ever Have

P.S. One of the earliest blog posts that I wrote was a special message to Devon from our kids a couple of years ago.  It’s precious and funny, and will reveal a lot about Devon’s relationship with our babies.  Check it out here:  We Love You, DaddyDFKMTJumpingFamilyPhoto

 

The Big Reveal: Been There, Done That, Bought the Tshirt

my_former_spouse_swears_on_the_bible_but_needs_tshirt-re0b0242342a444679f13742fa747b6a5_8n2up_324I remember the day of Devon’s Big Reveal like it was yesterday, even though it was almost a decade ago.

The feeling of betrayal that I experienced on that day has been unparalleled since.  This is really saying something because I have felt betrayed since then by a different love in my life.  Which is of course, another story.

But when I think about all that I’ve experienced since that day, there really is no comparison.

When I look back with hindsight, I think I handled myself better than some people might.  I was completely floored, of course, but my love for my husband was put to a true fiery test in those moments, and I survived.

So did he, despite the fact that it was probably one of the toughest moments of his life, too.

I think the hardest part was knowing that when I got up that day to go to church with my kids while Devon was out of town once again with his friend Felipe, I didn’t have a friggin’ clue that my life (which was so beautiful and perfect) would be shattered into oblivion.  No time to prepare myself.  No room for speculation about what was up until the very moment I jokingly and sarcastically said:  “So what are you, gay or something?”  His pause spoke volumes, but until he said, “You knew this whole time?” I had no idea what was coming.

And in that moment, his burden was lifted and placed onto my shoulders.  He had time to digest.  Time to process.  He ultimately had his entire life to work through everything that he could up to that day, within the bounds of still keeping it a secret.

His freedom turned into my nightmare.  My heavy heart, mind and even my physical body was crushed under the weight of it.  As I tried to make sense of my entire life from that moment backward, I received very little help from him, though I do know now that he did the best he could at that time.  My questions, which seemed insignificant to him, were of utmost importance to me.  I often received half truths, dismissals with a “none of that matters now” and stumbled upon things that I was never meant to see.

And honestly, things started to make sense. I had a need to review every little thing that transpired since I met him.  Some of these things may have seemed insignificant to him, but I simply needed to know.

I don’t know what it is about our base need to know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, even if knowing that information wouldn’t change a thing about the situation.  But I needed it.  All of it.  And I began to get weary of asking things and not getting the truth I was seeking.swearingOnTheBibleI’m sure Devon justified not answering all of my questions because he thought, or knew, it would only hurt more.   We all do that.  We justify lying because the truth will hurt potentially.

But hearing the truth was usually not as bad as where my mind would trail off to.  Many times it was a relief to hear the truth rather than believe what was in my noggin that kept spinning and spinning and getting worse with every turn.  I needed the crazy to stop in my world so I could feel some semblance of control.

I came to learn the hard way that control is just a figment of our imagination.  I have a hard enough time controlling my mind, my actions and my life in general.  I cannot ever control what someone else does in their own life, let alone what they me do to me.

I learned how to accept.  Which stunk at first, but it got easier.

If I could say one thing to the spouse who has come out of the closet to their straight spouse, it would be this:  Remember that you have had much more time to grapple and figure out who you are as a member of the LGBTQI community.  Give every amount of time, energy and truth to your spouse that he or she asks, without justifying that you would only hurt them more.  And don’t put a time frame on it.  While you may need to set up some boundaries for your own mental health and sanity, when the person who never expected this to happen in their lives is asking you questions, you owe it to them to give everything you have.

And to the straight spouse with the burden you never dreamed you would carry:  Keep moving forward, even if you feel like you are going backward.  You will make it through this.  You will… if you expect to do so.  Write everything down.  Be as civil as you can while being real.  Share your story with people you can feel safe with and free of judgement… toward you and your gay spouse.

Move forward as you look backward and remember:  You aren’t alone.

Love, Emilyjust-keep-swimming-dgcarx

Keeping Your Feet Outside of Your Door

TheRoadToBreeLOTR“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” -Bilbo, Lord of the Rings

I (Emily Reese) am not new to the blogging world.  Devon and I have been running a blog together for two years now called SameSides: Amicable Divorce and Getting Along With Your Ex.  It has been enjoyable and encouraging, for us and for our readers.

We have met so many wonderful people along the way and have been given many interesting opportunities to share our story not just through our blog, but with other media outlets.  The Universe has been quite gracious in allowing our experiences with our own divorce to help others with their lives as they navigate the waters of the difficult issues that surround the break up of a marriage and a family.

Our own story, which ultimately centered around Devon coming out of the closet after 10 years of marriage and three young kids, is intertwined with the generalities of going through a divorce.

It is time to start a new blog that deals with the hot topics today of LGBT rights, same-sex marriage and how the Church and other religions deal with the hearts and minds of the LGBTQI community.

But most importantly, there is a dire need for there to be places where straight spouses can find encouragement and support as each unique situation is faced.  While it is a very big deal for a gay spouse to come out to his or her spouse and family, it is far too common for the straight spouse to be overshadowed by the news as the gay spouse deals with his or her journey.  The journey for the straight spouse can be lonely and isolation is often the experience that defines that journey.  Here, love, support, safety and encouragement can be found.

While many pieces that I will write about will include the added layer of difficulty that Christianity and the Church can bring into a MOM marriage, that is not exclusively what I will focus on.  It is the hearts, the minds, the feelings, the difficulties, the defeats and the victories that will be experienced in the straight spouse’s world… that is my heart.

It’s a tough road.  There’s no other way to state it.  But it is truly possible to come out on the other side of this closet a stronger, wiser, more loving and beautiful person.  Many have traveled this road before me, and many will travel it after me.  If you have found yourself on this road, you are not alone.  And you are loved.

Thank you for stopping by.  As I develop this blog, help me to grow it into a safe haven for all people to live, love, learn and grow with as much open-mindedness as we can muster.

Thanks for joining the conversation as we step out of our door and follow the road we have been given.  May we keep our feet grounded as best as we can so wherever we end up, it will be beautiful.

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,

Emily6thRoundSelfie