Coming out to my wife
This is late-breaking news. I had already prepared everything in this post that follows, but this is just in: Last night, I truly came out to my wife. Life will never be the same again.
She has always known, since before we were married, that I was attracted to men. She knew that BKP’s talk had deeply upset me. Yet I had not shared with her the extent of the changes that this had wrought in me – until last night. I hadn’t planned to. It just flowed naturally out of a conversation that had started with discussing challenges we face in the church.
Last night’s conversation was surprisingly candid, honest, real. It was earth-shaking and ground-breaking. I will have to write more about it later; it’s too fresh, too raw right now. Suffice it for the present to say that I have now gone through the proverbial looking glass. We discussed calmly, coolly, rationally, lovingly, the fact that I am gay. I actually said the words, “I am gay, and I always have been.” She accepted that. Where we go from here will be something that we take on a day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month basis.
Revealing the Real Me to my Sisters
In sending these letters to my sisters (both of whom live on the other side of the continent and, primarily because of the geographical distances, have not even seen my family for a number of years), my objective was to reveal to them the real me – to take off the mask that I have been wearing practically my entire life.
Coming out to myself has been about embracing and affirming who I really am, then seeking to discover things about myself that have been smothered and hidden for most of my life. It’s about who I am as a human being – my identity. And in writing these letters to my sisters, my primary objective was to reveal that identity – something that is uniquely my own. For this reason, I chose not to tell my wife that I was doing this. I will tell her when I feel the time is right. But for now, this is between me and my sisters.
Getting back to my telephone conversation on Monday afternoon, it was so weird to openly refer to myself as “gay.” (Note the change at the top of my blog’s homepage?) It was as if someone was talking through my mouth. I (i.e., the old me) would NEVER say such a thing out loud. But the new me could and did. And you know what? It got easier as the conversation progressed. While talking to her, I had the oddest sensation that I was literally stepping out of the “costume” I have worn my whole life and that she (and me) were seeing myself for the first time. It was revelatory, it was affirming, it was liberating. Now, there is one more person on this planet, very close to me, who knows the real me.
Yesterday, I received a wonderful e-mail from this sister. She wrote many beautiful things which I’ll probably share later, because I think what she wrote could be of worth to other men like me, but for now, I’d like to share this
“I agree that you can allow yourself the time that you need to understand this: there is no rush and no timeline. You are the one making the rules here based on your transformation. As I think of this, I see the chrysalis of a butterfly: while inside the privacy of the silk cocoon, the caterpillar is transforming at a rate that only he can know and determine. Once his metamorphosis is complete, he decides when he will come out. So take this time to nurture yourself, gain your strength, write down your thoughts, explore your mind, body and heart ...”
Hubris, Icarus and Pilgrimages
I have had occasion in recent days to contemplate anew the on-line name that I have chosen for myself and what it represents.
In one of my original posts, I wrote about the meaning of the word “invictus” as well as the poem by
Henley that takes this word for its title. The term, which means “unconquerable,” inspired me to start this journey, and the concept behind the term has strengthened me as I have taken my first haltering steps out of the closet.
However, I’ve been troubled that there seems more than a touch of hubris in some of my posts. I am reminded of the Greek myth of Icarus, who tried to escape from
Crete with a pair of wings made by his father, Daedalus, out of wax and feathers.
Daedalus warned his son not to fly too close to the sun, which would melt the wax. But overcome by the giddiness that flying lent him, Icarus soared too close to the sun, which melted the wax, causing Icarus to plunge into the sea (thus giving the name to the Icarian Sea).
I have felt giddy moments these past days, but I have been reminded that I mustn’t fly too close to the sun, or I’ll crash. (Read: among other things, gay adolescence must be kept in check.)
There have been more than a few moments that I have instead felt very much the humble pilgrim as I have journeyed into what was foreign land only a very short time ago. A medieval pilgrim was one who embarked on a quest for something conceived as sacred. In doing so, a pilgrim had to make the pilgrimage himself in order to reap the spiritual benefits that would be the fruits of his journey; there were no “pilgrim-by-proxy” programs.
As he made the trip, which would be long and sometimes arduous through lands he did not know, the pilgrim would need hospitality – places along the route where he could seek shelter and sustenance. In these places of refuge, he would talk to other pilgrims, learning about places they had visited and valuable information about the journey ahead.
I have been a pilgrim this past while, seeking that which is sacred: my true identity. Like pilgrims of old, no one else can make this journey for me; I must do it myself. And like the pilgrims of old, I have been sustained, fed, nurtured and taught by others who have preceded me on the journey. I am so grateful for all those who have reached out to me since going public with my blog. You know who you are, and I just want to say, Thank You.
This past while, I have also had an opportunity to read more blogs out there and to learn just how many pilgrims there are and what marvelous insights and information these persons are sharing for others like me. I have read posts that have moved me to tears, such as Moving Horizon’s experience in the temple, described here. I have read posts that have triggered emotions deep within me, such as the experience Beck had, also in the temple, described here.
I have read other posts that have made me laugh, such as this one, and others have made me cry, such as this one and this one.
I have also read things – many things - that have made me say to myself, that’s exactly how I feel. One that I would like to focus on is something that Chris wrote here soon after he started his blog: “I really want to thank all of you out there that have let me silently stalk your blogs. You have given me a lot of insight and understanding into my own journey and you are loved as much as I can love someone that I know only through the words of your online journals.”
I would like to take Chris’ words and use them as my own: As much as I can love people that I know only through their online words and the caring and humanity that is expressed in those words, I love you. I love you for what you have done for me and how you have made me feel inside.
Lastly, I want to thanks those who have offered me something I have not tasted for most of my adult life – genuine male friendship that is caring, compassionate and – yes – loving. Words simply fail me as I try to describe what this means to me.