Coming Out in Later in Life - Letting Go of Fear - Divorce - Part III

copyright Austin Schmid

copyright Austin Schmid

IN ACKNOWLEDGING MY SEXUALITY I KNEW THAT EVERYTHING WAS GOING TO CHANGE AND THAT BROUGHT ME TO MY KNEES IN FEAR.  EVERYTHING I HAD WORKED SO HARD TO ACHIEVE WAS NOW SO VERY FRAGILE AND VULNERABLE. 

Several weeks later, on a tearful Saturday morning after I spoke those words, “I think I am gay”, to my therapist,  I came out to my husband for the third and final time.  His response was one of relief and he honestly said to me, “Oh thank God.”  When I tell this story people are always puzzled by this response.  At first, I too was also confused.  I realized later that he felt a mistaken relief, or belief, that all the problems in our marriage were not his fault.  They were mine and could now be placed on my gay shoulders.    

Thus began the long painful process of uncoupling.  This is where my story of coming out becomes intertwined with divorcing after a very long marriage.   Nothing about this was easy.  It was so painful for me, my then-husband, our children, our families, our friends.  John and I did not have an easy marriage.  It was filled with arguments and misunderstandings.  It was filled with reconciliation and understanding.  It was filled with great joy and happiness.  It was filled with sadness and anger.   Perhaps, it was a typical marriage, filled with the ups and downs of being in a long-term relationship with another human.  I don’t know.  I am in a very different committed relationship now with a woman who loves me deeply and we do not have the same problems.   Maybe by the time I die, I will have an answer about my marriage.    

I do know that I really wasn’t happy most of this marriage.  The first fifteen years were very hard.   After that, John finally began to take anxiety medication,  I went into therapy for postpartum depression and a couple of years later we went into marriage therapy.  After this long struggle, we came to a peaceful detente.   Why did both of us stay for so long?  We were both ACOA - adult children of alcoholics.  We were taught to hang in there and that is exactly what we did.   We also were taught that it was weak to seek help.  Initially, it took a lot of strength and courage for me to seek help when I suffered a severe bout of postpartum depression after my youngest son was born. Really, I had no choice, because the depression was insurmountable on my own.   This was the first step in discovering who I was created to be by God and not by my family and society.   

That summer I began to realize that I was going to have to leave my marriage.  I had to leave the amicable detente achieved by brokered therapy. I had to leave the place of “I am restless and something is missing, but at least things are calm.”  After my chaotic childhood, peaceful was good.   I vividly recall weighing the pros and cons of all the things I was leaving behind.  What pained me the most, although my marriage was challenging, our family was awesome.   We were a tight-knit group and I enjoyed being the matriarch of this amazing clan.  John and I were extraordinarily proud of our four children. Together we had created something for our children that neither of us had, a warm loving environment with involved parental support.   In our community, we were a family that was admired, who appeared to have our "shit together" and our children were well-behaved and overachieving.   In acknowledging my sexuality I knew that everything was going to change and that brought me to my knees in fear.  Everything I had worked so hard to achieve was now so very fragile and vulnerable.   Metaphorically this summer was the pulling back of the ocean, the exposure of the foundation of the churning waters before the Tsunami hit.