Category Archives: What About Our Kids?

What Your Kids Probably Want

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

What do you think?

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

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

Click here to view the video.

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,

Emily and Her Three Little Birds

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Dad Wisdom

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


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

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

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

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

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

It is never boring, let me tell you.

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

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

Here are several biggies from Don:

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

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

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

Have a Wonderful Day,

Emily

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

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

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

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

Weekend at Emily’s: that’s a wrap.

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

Straight Spouse Network Blog

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

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

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

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

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

You can do it. I believe in you.

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,
Emily

Under One Roof: Ridiculous Rainbow Family Holiday

What a holiday!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here ya go!

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

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

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

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

Next came Christmas Eve.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Holidays and may your 2015 be extraordinary!

Emily

Rainbow Family Christmas Vacation

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

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

Day 340: December 19, 2014

Thankfulness for This Time Last Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Holidays,
The Survivor

A New Hope

It’s Sunday.  I have taken an unusual break from sitting on my front porch this weekend (a.k.a. The Coolest Porch in Reno… where a huge bear decided to take an evening jog by my house last week.  Let me tell you, it was freaky.). I am in South San Francisco for a much needed sabbatical from my busy life of raising my Three Little Birds and teaching other people’s kids.

That bear who ran by my porch scared the poo-poo out of me!  And yet... I stayed on the porch.  I'm analyzing why, still.
That bear who ran by my porch scared the poo-poo out of me! And yet… I stayed on the porch. I’m analyzing why, still. Any ideas?

As I write this, I am enjoying today’s unique sunrise from The Coolest Porch in San Fran.  I can see the bay and city from here and am wowed at the complexity of creativity and ingenuity of the humans that God created.  I mean, look at this place!  Not only did God allow for such a beautiful coastal area, but the Creator endowed us with the ability to come up with major technology and expansion prowess (even if some people may consider that a bad thing).  To piggy back on that thought, I am sitting here being able to write all of my thoughts in my head down into a computer connected to the world for anyone to read who feels inclined to simply “click” on my link.  Wow!  We are pretty amazing and intelligent people to have such a thing.

I love Sundays when I take the time to truly worship the Maker.  Life is so good!

If you want to get a copy of this book, you can do it at this link:  http://www.amazon.com/Walking-Bridgeless-Canyon-Kathy-Baldock/dp/1619200287/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1414874423&sr=8-1&keywords=kathy+baldock
Yes, I know this woman. Do you want MY autograph? For a small fee, of course (-:

I finally have the time to read the book that my good friend Kathy Baldock of Canyonwalker Connections recently published.  It’s good.  I mean, REALLY good.  What was supposed to be somewhat of a memoir when she first started tackling the topic of LGBT inclusion in the Christian church, turned into a lengthy research project that spans time.  It is insightful and in my humble opinion, an excellent piece of literature to be able to give to Christians and non-Christians alike.  It gives history, testimony and examples of God’s work in all people, including the LGBT community.

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And yes, my story is also included on page 326 in the chapter section about Mixed Orientation Marriages.  Some of the people I have had the pleasure of being introduced to (Chet, Lynn, Jerry, Mark and Cheri) are also included in that chapter, and their stories lend insight to affirming and non-affirming Christians as to changes the Church needs to make in handling families in their congregations when a spouse comes out of the closet.

There needs to be change. End of story.

I have never met an individual who has gone through the tumultuous time of a spouse coming out of the closet whose church and leaders handled the situation lovingly and with compassion.  And if yours did, PLEASE contact me.  I need to know your story.  We need some added hope here on this site regarding how churches handle our unusual situation!

Whoa.  That's a lot of letters!
Whoa. That’s a lot of letters!

It’s all about relationship building, when it comes to the Church and Christians finding a way to understand the LGBT community. If you’re new to this site and have recently found out that your spouse is gay or bi or whatever other letter represents your spouse, please know that you can find positivity here.  I understand if you are in the position I was in, nearly 10 years ago, finding out your spouse, Christian or not, is gay.

It simply sucks, to put it mildly.  There’s no other way around it.

And now what you have to go through, from this moment on, really sucks.  The only hope you can cling to is that if you keep moving forward in your unique situation, you are not alone.  You can also begin to hope that you will make it through this, however long it takes, by relying on stories and encouragement from others.  But you have to keep moving forward, trusting that you will turn out to be a more complete and whole person than you are now.  Because if you don’t cling to that, then you might be a miserable person in the end.  And no one wants that.

Be hurt.  Be angry.  Be bitter, even.  But move forward with all of the strength you can muster, even if you take 17 steps back.  You have to want to get through it to the other side, whatever that may look like for you, in order to get there.  And along the way, know that you are loved by many, especially the ones who have been through it before.

I guess this is ONE way to remember the Serenity Prayer.  Or, you could just get a plaque.  That would work, too...
I guess this is ONE way to remember the Serenity Prayer. Or, you could just get a plaque. That would work, too…

And if you are not a person of faith, you will get zero judgement from me.  If you are a person of faith, memorize the Serenity Prayer, stat.  Repeat it like a mantra, because the only thing you want is peace (serenity), and the only way you’re going to get there is to accept the things you cannot change, change the things you can, and understand the difference between the two.

I wrote a little piece about this prayer awhile back, and if you would like to read it, click here.

Love me some Star Wars... and some hope.
Love me some Star Wars… and some hope.

On a related note, there were some interesting things that happened this last week during one of the nation’s largest denominational get together conferences, the SBC.

Thank you, Kathy Baldock, Matthew Vines, Robin Lunn and Jeff Hood (and all you other warriors) who attended the SBC Conference this last week.  Your mission was to build relationships, and it looks like that’s what happened.  For those of us who have been hurt by the Church in some way because of the MOM that we didn’t ask for, your efforts to find a bridge between our stories and the Church is appreciated.

Here is an article posted in the Baptist News Global that mentions all of us straight and gay spouses who needed some bridge building between our faith and our situations, but didn’t receive it.  There is hope for us straight spouses of faith, and I am thankful these people are taking our issues to the front lines.

Emotions Mixed for Pro-Gay ERLC Conference Attendees

Life is wonderful, God is good, and there is no fear in love.  Find hope, find it somewhere, and cling to it.

Happy Sunday from The Coolest Porch in San Fran,

Emily

P.S.  If you want to purchase a copy of Kathy’s book, you can do so here.  Much love to you, my dear friend.  Our meeting was divinely inspired.

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

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.

SlapInTheFaceComic

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. 

Sophia’s Story

Sharing is an important process of our journey.  And when told in confidence, trust is of utmost importance.  Thank you, Sophia, for sharing your story.
Sharing is an important process of our journey. And when told in confidence, trust is of utmost importance. Thank you, Sophia, for sharing your story.

I received an email from a wonderful woman who finally felt comfortable to share her story on my blog.

Her story? She is one of the rare women who has stayed with her family and decided not to dissolve the marriage. Her reasons are unique, and on this blog site, I try to approach the issues of Mixed Orientation Marriages and the people affected by it with an open mind: I won’t encourage people to get divorced, as though that is the only option. While it is very rare for two people in an MOM to choose to stay together, I admire those who try.

With her story, which is very lengthy, I felt that our conversational tone through email was a great way to present things. I have honored her by changing her name and a few of the things that may reveal her identity. She and her family have told very few people about their scenario for good reasons, which you will understand as you read her account.

Sophia, you are not alone and I feel honored that you trusted me with your story. Also, I love you… and your entire family.

If any of you have any follow up questions for her, feel free to comment under her story and I will relay her answers.

Also, if you would like to share your story, please do so by clicking on the tab Stories and reading the parameters that I have set forth there.  Sharing helps you and helps others.  It really does.

Thanks for loving and supporting those of us spouses who often get overshadowed in the very traumatic journey of a spouse coming out of the closet. Please click the link below, Sophia’s Story, that will take you through her journey under the Stories tab, and may you find some interesting tidbits that you can either relate to or will give you empathy and understanding of the journey and road that straight spouses and their families are often forced to travel down.

Keep your feet as best as you can outside of your door.

You can get to her story by clicking here:  Sophia’s Story

NeverAloneAubreyHepburn

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