Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Guilt

http://hairyetc.tumblr.com/

Guilt seems to be  the commonest emotion among married men with children who figured out (or admitted) they were gay later in life.

I've been reading the blog  What a long strange trip, written by Jim, a late 40ish father of three college-aged children and married almost 25 years.   Jim is at a crossroads and is "about to burst" as he contemplates the possibility of life as a gay man.  Please check out Jim's blog and perhaps leave a comment.  I love his honesty, integrity, sense of humour and writing style.

Jim posted recently about his marriage, "It seems that guilt is mostly what is keeping me here.  It is - guilt and, more positively, obligation...... obligation to consider the well being of C and the kids."

Many married gay men with kids, closeted or not,  often feel overwhelmed with guilt.  They feel that being gay will ruin the lives of their entire family.  Worries include:
  • will my kids will be harassed / shunned when everyone finds out about me?
  • will the kids be messed up when our family breaks apart?
  • will my family be financially ruined?
  • will my wife ever be happy?
  • should I have told my wife sooner about my sexuality, rather than stringing her along for years or even decades?
Except for me:  I don't feel the slightest bit guilty over any of this, despite my estranged wife's constant efforts to lay a guilt trip on me.

I know in my heart that I entered into my marriage in good faith, without any hint that I would develop an attraction to men.  I worked very hard supporting my family.  I raised them for nearly twenty years, operating much of the time as a defacto single parent as my wife spent every possible moment away from the house.  I endured years of relentless criticism, anger and complaints but I chose to stay.   I felt I needed to be there to raise the kids and run our household.  Had I left, I would have feared for my kids' safety and well-being.

Now that we are separated, I continue to behave with compassion and responsibility towards my wife who is going through an extremely difficult time.  We still have our moments of drama, but they occur far less often.  She is no longer telling me that she wished I was dead, throwing furniture or threatening to get gasoline and burn my house down.  I really want her to be happy, although  I have long thought that she is, in fact, incapable of happiness.

I will admit that it took me a very long time to accept the fact that I was gay, but now I am fully out to everyone who matters in my life.  I don't regret any of it, even my marriage.  Having regrets is just allowing your past to cripple your future.  (I borrowed that line from Under the Tuscan Sun.) 

My kids are turning into responsible, compassionate and productive citizens who seem unconcerned by my gayness.   As I said to my kids recently, if your mom and I hadn't have gotten married, none of you would exist!   I am pushing ahead on my gay journey with no regrets and no guilt.
http://hairyetc.tumblr.com/

11 comments:

  1. Such feelings so common to the married gay man! It does get better, doesn't it! I recall having that same circular discussion with myself about if I was honest way back, and came out way back then, none of my kids would exist, and I wouldn't trade them for anything! Like you, I have a great relationship with my children. Life is so much better for all of us, and they even freely admit that!

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  2. Buddy Bear - the top picture even looks sort of like me. I'm not in as good shape and the beard I sport is mostly white, but hey I think I have a cute smile and a twinkle in my eye.

    I have a theory that a lot of us who are gay and married are in that bind because of religious based guilt. Just my observation given my experience.

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  3. Good for you! That is way cool! It sounds like you have been conscious throughout all of this process and having no guilt is truly healthy.

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  4. ARichNY: I would like every closeted/married/questioning gay father who is reading this to visit your blog, A Work in Progress. One look at all the beautiful, happy pictures of you and your adult children should convince everyone that living a life of truth is better for everyone.

    Jim: I'll bet you are very handsome, and your cute smile and twinkle could only enhance that! Yes, I had thought of religion-based guilt. The Catholics are the masters. Luckily, I was raised in a environment free of all of that, thanks to my parents.

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  5. anne marie in phillyJune 21, 2011 at 4:19 PM

    ummmmmmmmmmmmmm, hot menz...the first pix looks a bit like blobby, eh?

    oh, were you saying something? NO GUILT! do what you have to do to please yourself! in the immortal words of bruce springsteen: "no retreat, baby, no surrender"!

    smooches!

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  6. As RuPaul says, "How you gonna love someone else, if you don't love yourself?!!!!"

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  7. I hope everyone in your position could have a good experience like you. I think the more you publicize your story, the more other married gay men will find the strength to come out.

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  8. I know this feeling all too well. My partner has two kids and he constantly worries about coming out and how that would hurt them.....it's difficult - but I support him whatever he decides to do!

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  9. RG: you are very wise and perceptive! I hope I don't sound arrogant or full of myself, but I think I have a lot to offer some great guy one day, my future husband. And I'm talking about my personality and character, not what my body and face looks like.

    Cubby: Thank you! My present "good experience" is not just about me. Although I blog occasionally about my wife's erratic behaviour, she has come a very long way in accepting the situation that my gayness has caused.

    She is highly committed to our children and understands that destroying me would not be in their best interests. In her own way, she does still care about what happens to me.

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  10. Deveil: thanks for visiting and commenting. I lovedd the writing and photos on your blog. Fantastic! And may I say, you are an extremely handsome guy!

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