Category Archives: Mixed Orientation Marriage

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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The Life Changer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Emily

Giving Advice


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

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

This happens time and again to us Straights.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,

Emily

 

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

 

Hitting Home

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

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

Also, I love you.

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,

Emily

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

A Case of the Clingons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Apart from anyone and anything.

Not A Clingon Anymore,

Emily

Brought to You By the Letter “T”

Finding out your spouse is LGBTQ, while you are straight, is painful, without a doubt. My own experience only includes the “G” in the acronym, but I have had the blessing of meeting so many who can relate to the other letters, which has given me much needed insight.

The themes and feelings are mostly similar, though. Here are several:

  1. Shock
  2. Duped
  3. Reality vs. Perceived Reality
  4. Anger
  5. Hate
  6. Vengeance
  7. Sorrow and Mourning
  8. Desire to know the truth…all of it
  9. Secrecy
  10. Shame

Then there are the questions of what to do. Can they change? Can this be fixed? Is divorce the only option? What about the kids? My church family? My extended family? Will I ever find true love again? Am I even loveable? What could I have done differently? Who am I without them?

You feel alone. Are there any books, a step-by-step program to help me through this? Is anybody out there who can help me? Give me answers. Give me solutions. I need them now!

In my own unique journey in this (because even though there are similar themes, each person’s scenario is different) I came to the realization that if society, religion, bullying and inner painful thoughts hadn’t have been a part of my ex husband’s life, maybe he could have lived authentically and not caused the hurt and pain that myself, my kids, my friends and my family had to endure. We wouldn’t have married. I wouldn’t have spent years with him building a life, a paradigm and a geriatric future with him, only to find myself alone.

But then…I wouldn’t have my beautiful Three Little Birds with him. I wouldn’t have grown to know who I am at my core. I wouldn’t be sitting here today on my amazing front porch thinking and writing these thoughts and loving others without condition.

So I stop right there. I cannot soak in regret. I am thankful that I married him.

I learned to get to know and love myself without anyone else in my life except those who the Universe brought to me as a gift. We only get one life that we really know of for sure, and wasting it away by staying stuck in the list above in is not where I want to be.

I intentionally chose to change my way of thinking about LGBTQ people, from one of a “choice” and “lifestyle” to love, empathy and acceptance. But it took me a long while to get there. Even if you don’t ever get to where I am, that’s okay. I love you unconditionally, too.

Out of all of the letters in the LGBTQ acronym, however, I have had the toughest time grasping the “T”. Transgender, for me, is tough to understand. But I am trying. I am accepting. I have empathy.


So now, we come to Caitlyn, formerly Bruce Jenner. It is non-stop chatter in the media, and people’s true selves and ideas of “authentic life” are brought to the surface. Sometimes with support, but sometimes with vitriol.

In my high school English class this week, my students immediately brought Caitlyn to my attention, as though they were sharing brand new information. God bless them. They know me well, and often seek to know my opinion on subjects. Most of the time, we teachers have to tread lightly on so many tough subjects, but in my small charter school, it is much easier to be transparent.

“Oh my God! Did you see the cover of Vanity? Isn’t that crazy? What do you think, Emily?” (At Rainshadow Community Charter High School, students call teachers by their first names. Weird, I know, but it really is a good thing for these at-risk teens.)

What I said and what I thought were two completely different things. What I said was: “She is beautiful. It has been a long journey for her and she needs love.”

However, what I was thinking was: This must be so painful for those who are experiencing the reality of a spouse coming out as transgender. It is all over the news and they can’t escape it. They must be reliving the memories of someone they thought was one gender, but lived a lie and sucked them into it.

Like, maybe they are revisiting some of the stuff that I listed in the beginning; I dare say even more than what I listed. Maybe a wife or husband or their children are seeing a mom transform into a dad, or vice versa. I cannot imagine the pain they must feel when people joke in comments or memes about Caityln being prettier than Kris, or the Wheaties box of Bruce being changed into Fruity Pebbles. “She totally knew! No sympathy!” Or jokes about makeup or harsh comments that God only made male or female and that transgender people are pedophiles.

Horrible stuff.

So I am writing this, ultimately, to support you, the straight spouse, during this most difficult time. That goes for everyone’s experiences, whatever letter describes your life in the acronym, but especially those of you who understand better than I do regarding Transgender people.

So, this post is brought to you by the letter “T” as in transgender, tough, and transition.

And for the word “transformation” for yourself, the straight spouse of a transgender individual. Because not only is your spouse transitioning, but what you are going through can at times feel tragic, troublesome and traumatic. And where you will be, after you come into your own, is something beautiful and transformed, even if you can see it yet.


Hang in there. I love you. And so do many others who have been where you are.

Talking Ts and Transcending Travesty,

Emily

Keep It Secret. Keep It Safe.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ask my gay ex husband.

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

You will.

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

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,
Emily

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It’s Sunday! Wake Up, Church!

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

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

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

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

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My pastors? Their reaction went something like this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s not Jesus’ way.

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

Blessings on This Blessed Sunday Morning,
Emily F. Reese

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No More Mr. Nice Girl

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It has been nearly 10 years since my husband came out to me, and while I contend that things are amicable at this point, every once in awhile, I still feel the twinge of not feeling so nice.

No, Devon, you didn’t do anything wrong today to deserve my pissed offedness. It is simply stemming from about four emails that I received over the last week from readers who are so fresh (like days) who have just found out their spouse is gay.

It makes my heart sink every time.

I think about the road and emotional roller coaster I went on, for a very long time. And I LOVE roller coasters.

But not that one. That one sucked.

I so desperately wanted to not be angry. The love I had for my husband, the desire to always be by his side no matter what happened, caused me to cringe whenever I felt the heat of anger rise up my neck. How could I accept being so angry at someone I loved so deeply?

Most of the time, I would try to ignore it and swallow my pain. However, when I did this too many times, I would explode with irrational words, almost like a pressure cooker threatens while screaming over the flame. I ended up hating myself for the words I would yell with vitriol, the irrational behavior I would portray, and the horribly unloving thoughts I would have.

So much for always trying to be nice.

I am no counselor, but I have a feeling my counselor would say not to let that happen. I needed to deal in a healthy way with each feeling and scenario.

Easier said than done. Thank God for counseling.

But over time, I began to understand that if I didn’t, I would end up a bitter shell of myself. At that point, I didn’t even know who I was without him, and it scared the crap out of me. I did know that I didn’t want to be bitter, so I learned to express myself, deal with my own shite, and accept the things I could not change. Really, I could only change myself, and that was tough enough.

I am not sure how to end this, except to say that I understand. I know what it is to try your hardest to be understanding and nice all the time, especially when you want to save your marriage, desperately. But sometimes, you just can’t be nice. You aren’t a person with superpowers.

But if you deal, look forward to a day where you will be okay, you actually will look back and see that you may be a half-breed Super Friend.

It’s okay to be angry. Forgive yourself when you aren’t nice. Just…don’t be a pressure cooker. That’s messy and dangerous.

I love you and I feel you.

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,
Wonder Woman

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I Love You

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What a blessed life I live.

I am a mom of three Tweens/teenagers. That alone is enough to give me license to not get things done. On top of that, I am also a teacher of teenagers. Add that in my life, and you can only imagine how exhausted I am at the end of each day.

Honestly, I barely have time to take a proper dump when nature calls.

But I wanted to let you know that I love you. I have received many emails from oodles of amazing people since my piece The Real Learning Channel was published in the Huffington Post Gay Voices. Some of them were simple but profound thank yous. Others are heart wrenching stories from people who are just now going through what I experienced nearly a decade ago.

I wanted to let all of you know that I have read your messages, and to apologize for not getting back to you sooner. My intention was to respond back right away; however, my life has gotten in the way a bit. Please know that you are not bothering me, though. Keep writing.

I plan, over the next several days, to start responding to all of you.

Remember that I love you. Deeply. You are not alone.

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,
Emily