Category Archives: Transparency

TEDx Crying

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

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

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

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

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

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

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,

Emily Fay Reese 

 

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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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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

Finding Your Own Narrative After Betrayal

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When I read the article link below, I was all:  How come I didn’t write this?

Perhaps I just didn’t quite know how to put into perfect words what the betrayer experiences versus the betrayed.  I simply had to share it on my blog, because if you’ve experienced a spouse coming out to you (or any monstrous betrayal in life), then you will be able to put into words the feelings you have been going through.

And the message in the end?  Making sense of your life before that moment of realization that the life you thought you lived was overshadowed by your Love’s Lies.  How do we make sense of ourselves and our memories?  That is SO tough.

But we have to.  Somehow.  This is the process of moving forward, and while it will take an absorbent amount of time, it can be done.  We need to make what we thought was our life’s narrative into a new and real narrative.

I’ve done it.  I think.  I know you can, too.

Breathe.  Express.  Move.  Get up in the morning.  Allow yourself to feel.  See a psychologist, a psychiatrist, a doctor, a shaman, make some voodoo dolls… anything that will help you create your new narrative.

And stop by here, every once in awhile, to receive what I hope is encouragement that you can get better.

Love, The New Emily

Read the article Great Betrayals here.

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Unbecoming Emily

There’s just something about my daily thankfulness posts on The Book of Faces that really gives me clarity and perspective.  There’s a part of me that wishes I could go back in time and be this person of perspective during those tumultuous years after Devon’s Big Reveal.  But then, it wouldn’t work out the way it has, would it?  Of course not.  I’d be like that episode in Family Guy where Brian and Stewie have to keep going back in time and fixing the mess they created.  Don’t be Brian.  Don’t be Stewie.  Be who you are in this moment, and look forward to a day where you can see with clarity that you, too, are Unbecoming the very person you are meant to be.  Along the way, hold on to the positives when you can and find something to be thankful for, even if it is the fact that your two feet were placed on the floor from your bed, after the realities of your life hit you square in the schnoz, to keep moving forward to face your day, for good or ill.  Much love, Emily.

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Day 312: November 21, 2014

Thankfulness for Unbecoming

I’m not talking about being unbecoming with my words, dress or attitude, as in being offensive. I do that enough on a daily basis, naturally. I’m talking about a different way of thinking.

This image said it all to me. It reminded me of myself and of people, especially those who (like me) made their lives center around another person and THEIR identity, and became who they thought they wanted to be with someone else in it.

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It has been so good to be alone. Yes, I had a relationship since Devon, a very serious one, and while I knew a little more about who I am before I met him, I didn’t REALLY know. While I sometimes get a woe-is-me attitude about not having someone in my life, when I look at the scheme of things, I really am blessed to get to figure out who I am by unraveling the person I thought I wanted to be or was becoming… without another person in my life.

Let’s just say it this way: If I hadn’t have found out about my ex, if I hadn’t have been cheated on by my past boyfriend, I wouldn’t have figured out the true me. I haven’t arrived yet, but the journey (despite the ka-ka) has been all worth it.

I love myself… now. I have learned who I am, and without having tried to be someone I am not, I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am today.

Man, that sounds confusing. I hope it makes some sense to you. If it does, then you probably have gone through some stuff that caused you to understand this.

I’m still figuring out who I am, but the core of me is recognized by my intellect. I am better equipped to let go of things and people that clash with that core, and I can let go with confidence, knowing that if I compromise who I am at my core, I will be right back to square one.

I don’t ever want to be in that square again.

So, comment and let me know if you get it. Let me know if you, too, are unbecoming. It’s a great place to be, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Love, Unbecoming Emily

P.S. Here is the quote by Mark Twain that I hang my hat on often: “There are no accidents, all things have a deep and calculated purpose; sometimes the methods employed by Providence seem strange and incongruous, but we have only to be patient and wait for the result: then we recognize that no others would have answered the purpose, and we are rebuked and humbled.”

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Those Pesky Plans We Made For Our Perfect Lives…

On my personal Facebook page, I have done my best to post something to be thankful for everyday since January 1, 2014, when I was diagnosed with Colon Cancer for the second time.  These thankfulness reflections truly helped me to stay as focused as possible on the positives during a really rough 7 months of my life.  I thought I would share this one with you all because maybe, just maybe you will find a little encouragement in it.  Blessings to you, big time.

Day 300: November 9, 2014

Thankfulness for Plans Not Working

Oh, those pesky plans!
Oh, those pesky plans!

I saw this picture today representing plans. It really struck a chord with me. Anyone who has lived a life open to whatever the Universe has in store for them will totally get it. And actually, ANY human will understand this, regardless of your life’s views.

I could make a Santa Clause list, starting when I was probably three-years-old, of all of the plans I made that absolutely did not work. One particular juvenile plan I had was when I was 5. I had the perfect scheme. The goal was to play longer with my neighbor Kelley Thomas, so I set my rusty but fast red Schwinn bike by the back porch door, waiting for my mom to fall asleep during our nap time, snuck out, and hightailed it over to her place. My plan worked! I played and played. Of course I didn’t see past the initial plan and didn’t make plans to get back home before Mom woke up. Let me tell you, I have never been spanked so hard in all my life… all the way home to my house. Being a parent myself, I’ll bet she was scared crapless, so I don’t blame her for tanning my hide. I can say with honesty that I never snuck out of the house as a teenager because of that episode. It taught me a valuable lesson.

Plans are great, until they don’t work. And looking back on all those plans, I’m so glad they didn’t. I wouldn’t be who I am today if they had worked.

I am pretty happy with how things turned out despite the fact that I made plans and tried to force things to happen.  I actually can include in those things to be thankful for that my ex came out of the closet.  Took me a long while to get there, but I really am thankful for it now.

So why do we even make plans, then? What is it that is so important about them when they probably won’t go as we have in our mind that they should? Should we just sit around and be led by some sort of spirit that will move us from place to place, making things happen without any effort on our part? I would love it if that were the case. Being open like that is pretty cool when it works out.

Some people would say that our plans are finite and God’s are often different than what we think we need or should be doing. I’m not necessary calling complete B.S. on that, because I think there’s more to it.  I don’t like the trite saying that well-meaning people often say:  There’s a reason this happened.  It isn’t that easy to accept, Man.  My spouse is gay and I’m supposed to be okay with that?  Don’t patronize me, okay?  You aren’t living it and I don’t want to accept it.  It’s just too much!

Plans often have to do with expectations, and while expectations aren’t inherently bad, they sure can lead to hurt, disappointment and even anger. Expectations are often coupled with control, or at least our perception of control that we think we have, and so when plans fail, especially big ones, our world crumbles. Are we actually angry at that person for ruining our expectations, or are we truly just disappointed that things aren’t going our way?

I love the movie Dodgeball, especially the training antics of Patches O'Houlihan.  Such a crack up.  But a wrench being thrown into your plans isn't so funny.
I love the movie Dodgeball, especially the training antics of Patches O’Houlihan. Such a crack up. But a wrench being thrown into your plans isn’t so funny.

I’m thinking about big and little things here. Big things like marriage without ever experiencing divorce or betrayal, or education we receive because heck, we are going to have that dream job, that doesn’t pan out in reality. We strive, we toil, we put in sweat equity, and then things might crumble anyway. As far as the little things, I often make plans to get out of the door on time to get kids to school and get to work, and then something comes up to throw a wrench in those perfectly laid plans. I always planned to win a basketball game, but sometimes we lost. Tears were shed, anger was felt, blaming occurred, but it is a reality because losing is never the plan.

It’s maddening.

But we need to make plans. Otherwise we’d all be a bunch of lazy slugs all the time, waiting for something to come to us in some miraculous way. We prep, we practice, we perfect skills, yet we still don’t see the plans come to fruition sometimes.

This is why we need to have larger life goals about our inner selves. When we compare plans working out or not to our hearts and ultimately our souls, plans can fail and we can trust that perhaps there may be a reason we will only understand in the future.

So, I keep my Inner Emily in mind when I make plans, and I keep my expectations in check as best as I can. I focus on the things I actually can control, accept the things I can’t, and seek the wisdom I need to evaluate the difference between the two.

And when I look at this graph, I see that the second image of how plans actually look in the scheme of things is a lot more interesting and even beautiful. I like the swirls, turns, twists and notice that in the end, it is still raising toward the goal of my Inner Emily, which is to live life, love life and impact others.

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I hope you make plans, but are open to them changing if they will make you a stronger, more loving, more living and more impacting person toward others. Because then, and only then, can you really know that the plans you made played a part in that, regardless if they work out or not.

Love, The Life Event Planner

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

Pedestals:  No Bueno.
Pedestals: No Bueno.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,

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

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

Happy Anniversary, WuzBand

Today, June 28th, is the day that Devon and I were married, back in 1997, in that sweltering hot, Civil War Era church in Ft. Scott, Kansas.

Look at our baby faces.  And my eyebrows.  I wish someone had encouraged me then to get my uni-brow waxed!
Look at our baby faces. And my eyebrows. I wish someone had encouraged me then to get my uni-brow waxed!

I have decided that weddings are like funerals in this way: It is the one day while you’re alive, where all of the people in your life from all of your circles (family, friends, co-workers) are in one place to celebrate you and the love of your life.

No one who attends has in mind, unless they are negative in their thinking, that your marriage will be anything other than ‘til death do us part. The next time that all of those people will be in one place will be the day of your memorial service… or celebration of life.

When I walked around the corner to march up the aisle, with my arm locked in my dad’s, I fully expected to start sweating and bawling and have my makeup melt down my face. Instead, I turned the corner and locked eyes with Devon, who was bawling uncontrollably with joy.

And I knew that I wouldn’t have to cry. I would wipe his tears and snotty nose as we lit our Unity Candle and exchanged vows. I had a job to do, and that was to help Devon.

… for the rest of my life with him. And I did JUST THAT. I was his helpmate and happy to be so. This could also be phrased as his submissive wife, letting him lead our eventually growing family, and standing by my man.

ALoyalHelpmate

10 years later, during Devon’s Big Reveal that he has been gay all of his life, was a true boat-rocker. My June Cleaver pearls broke in that instant and I realized that all of the moments up until that point were not what they seemed to be.

That’s how I felt anyway.

Was he crying at the alter because of shame, guilt or saddness of trying to cover up his true core by bringing me in as cover? The furniture we bought together for our first home, the prayers we shared, the decisions I backed for him as his submissive wife… were they all a part of his own life and his desire to look like something different than what he really was?

I have since met and spoke with hundreds of men and women who have gone through something similar. The feelings of betrayal and being duped, used and lied to, are very real. Some people hold onto those things and continually punish their gay spouse… and ultimately punish themselves and all of those around them.

But for some of us, me included, we learn to deal with those and find truth in our existence as a loving wife or husband, who unknowingly was living in a Mixed Orientation Marriage.

UserManual

There is no How To Manual for straight spouses. No yellow and black Mixed Orientation Marriage for Dummies book. I wish there was. Unfortunately, the only thing available to help us through is our own moxie, fortitude and perserverance and the offerings of other people’s support and stories who have been down this road before us.

As I worked through my own emotions for about a year and a half (and then some) I sought out others who could help. It’s tough putting yourself out there because a situation like ours (especially with the added layer of Church and Christianity) is shrouded in shame, secrecy and bitterness. Many people that tried to “help” only wanted to find misery in my company, and that isn’t how I operate. I wanted to work through it and come out on the other side healthier, happier and more fulfilled. I wanted to believe it was possible because I didn’t want to die and have my celebration of life attended by circles of people who pittied me or my family.

There had to be hope. There simply had to be.

I finally found it by working through my stuff and began to view my wedding day, our furniture, our prayers and our decisions as REAL and true. Our love was not fake. Mine certainly wasn’t, and the day that I accepted as truth that I was sincerely the only woman that Devon ever loved was the day that I could let go with a smile. I also slept for 14 hours straight that night and woke up without a burden on my shoulders of “How am I going to fix this?” which ran my waking hours.

I could move forward and found out who I truly was without him. And I can honestly say that I love myself. I may even marry myself and invite everyone to the marriage sacrament. Sue Sylverster of Glee, you had a great idea when you did that.

SueSylversterMarriesHerself

So, how do you get through it? I really don’t have the answers. But what I do know is that if you want to come out a better person, you will.

The word accept is not something that says “I’m going to just roll over and take it.” What it entails is understanding what you can and cannot control. I could not control the choices that Devon made, my history of falling for him, my desire to stay married for the rest of my life or my attempts at trying to make him see the light that he was choosing himself over his family.

What I can change, which is hard enough, is my own self. My ability to work with something I could not change instead of against it. My desire to love unconditionally, which meant giving up my own control issues, finding ways to make lemonade out of lemons, and sharing the wisdom that I acquired and could use to help others just like me.

I can choose to love without agendas or desire to control. That is all I can control.

Me. Myself. And I.

Who do I want to become? What do I want my children to remember? What kind of legacy will I leave behind when I finally have everyone that I know and love at my celebration of life?

It is love that I want people to see and remember. It is empathy that I want people to feel coming from my heart and lips. It is a joy that surpasses any temporary circumstance that I want to have in Emily’s Scrapbook of Life.

InTheEndBuddhasInstructions

That is it.

I want to remember for myself the happiness that I felt in marrying Devon as I helped him wipe away his tears and snot. It was real. It was sincere.

Happy Anniversary, Devon. Our marriage shaped us both (and our children) into who we are today. And we love ourselves.

We also love all of you. Unconditionally.

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,

Emily Reese with The Reeses and Their Pieces RockChalkFamilyPic1