Saturday, December 25, 2010

It's Not the Same

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring – except me.  I am downstairs in my room, writing this blog post.  I wasn’t going to post on Christmas Day.  I mean, get a life, right?  Who would post a blog post on Christmas Day unless he didn’t have a life?  Right?

Yet, here I am, typing away.  Real time.  Nothing is the same this year.  Is that bad?  Not necessarily.  Am I sad?  Not really.  Things are just different, and that is not necessarily bad. 

That shouldn’t be surprising, right, that things are different?  I mean, I came out to my wife almost two months ago, and a month later, she told me she wanted a divorce.  We continue to live in the same house, but we have been effectively separated for almost two months.  Living around each other has created strains, to be sure, but things have been a little better this past week or so.  More civility, less feelings of hatred emanating toward me.  Heck, yesterday I almost felt like giving her a hug at one point, but I resisted (fairly easily), not sure what would happen, but knowing that chances were pretty good that it wouldn’t be good or “productive.”

Like most families, we have always had certain traditions for Christmas Eve.  The same food every year.  The same activity – watching “White Christmas.”  The same schedule, the same procedures for setting out gifts.  Everything always the same, as if the sameness itself is was gives meaning to the event.  Which is not the way it should be.  Not really.  Traditions for the sake of traditions become a false reality, masking the meaning-less-ness of the actual reality, distracting us from this awful fact.

As I thought about this, I thought what an appropriate metaphor this is for my life, for my marriage.  We went through the motions for so many years, thinking that it was the procedures that gave meaning to our marriage, when in fact there was no underlying meaning there.  Activities distracted us from the cold, hard reality that lay there under the surface, until, of course, all that pretense was shattered when I acknowledged the basic reality about myself:  I am gay.

I decided to give up pretense and instead embrace reality, deciding that reality was more important than pretense.  Real life was more important than going through the motions. 

Which brings me back to Christmas.  Last night was not the same as it has always been.  Today will not be the same as it has always been.  Nothing will ever be the same as it has always been.  But I remind myself that traditions are not what give meaning to life.  Life is what gives meaning to traditions.  If there is no life, the traditions are dead.  If there is life, however, one can let go of old traditions that are no longer meaningful and embrace new ones that are reflective of that life, that reality. 

The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life (2 Cor. 3:6).

Which makes me reflect on Christmas gifts.  This year, I am thankful for the wonderful gifts I have been given by so many of you who have reached out to me in different ways, each one appreciated.  I am grateful for life, for moments when my “face lights up like a boy,” (how wonderful is that!?) for genuine happiness, for delight and joy (and for friends who have helped precipitate these precious gifts). And I am grateful for the feelings of love and life and appreciation that fill my heart as I contemplate these gifts.  I am grateful to feel alive.

I am also of course grateful for my children and for the love they bring into my life.  As a dear friend pointed out recently to me, my relationship with them will also be changing – and has already started to change – as a result of coming out.  Substance is going to take the place of form.  Old forms will die.  New forms will be created, but will not take the place of substance.  Too much of life is made up of forms that mask the reality of little or no substance.

And so, I come back to my opening thoughts.  Get a life?  Well, I guess I am, i.e., getting a life.  And I guess, now that I think about it, that it is appropriate to have these thoughts and feelings on this day of all days, when we celebrate rebirth and redemption.

Cheers, everyone.  I hope you have a good day today.  Merry Christmas.


  1. As I read your "Christmas" birth post this morning, I couldn't help but return to some previous posts of yours, in particular the one entitled "The Family"

    As I look back on your evolution of coming out, going through doubts, cleaning house in your relationships ... it seems that you have come to see that there isn't option 1, 2 or 3..

    There isn't a planned course but one of spontaneity, creativity and rebirth. YOU are creating who you are each day. You are also redefining your family to include:

    - your "wife" who is the mother of your children and a friend. You now know that this relationship will not be one of husband and wife because it would not allow both of you to be true to who you are. The dynamics in this family is changing and will continue to change as you all age and grow.

    - your new and old friends that give you support, strength, counsel and encouragement. These dynamics will also change in the future.

    Nothing will ever be the same because the sameness isn't needed, as you said so well, to instill security (a false security) that comes from a memorized script dictating how to act and where to be and whispering the words to say. As you've said, these learned motions were the rite of passage ... a passage that you've had the courage to say isn't your own.

    I find it amazing that you are able to accept this with peace and a creative energy that propels you to write and move forward. I remember that holidays would often get me in a rut after my divorce-separation. In the insecurity of standing before my future, I seemed to long for familiar sameness! But as the definition of tradition suggests: tradition is the manifestation of the PAST in the present. It is also a habit. While your past has contributed to who you are today, you don't have to hold on to your past as a means of affirming your identity. What was done out of habit masked the meaning. You are making your identity today, and every day as you move forward in Life.

    As on the Icarus post, I mentioned that Icarus' wings were made by his father... you are now rebirthing with your own wings ... free to fly high or low or to rest and contemplate ... the path is yours. Merry Christmas Invictus!

  2. Dear Invictus,

    I've read most of your posts, and it's great to see how you have evolved in the last few months and found and rediscovered your other self. I especially enjoyed reading about how you talked with your daughter and son, and how they were so understanding and loving. I also enjoyed reading about all your memories of Christmas with the smells and sounds of the Catholic Church. Being raised Catholic myself, I could relate to that a lot. My personal favorite Christmas song has to be Adeste Fidelis, I think it is so beautiful and powerful.

    To extend the metaphor that you mention in this post, if you think of Christmas as the celebration of new life, this could also be reflected on your personal situation. So I hope you can embrace the spirit of the holiday, and move forward into the new year with all the positive energy you can tap into.

    Merry Christmas!!

  3. Not all change is bad, painful as hell? Well yeah, but sometimes we need that kind of pang to motivate us to move forward, forge a new way, new traditions and embark on the road less-traveled and yet what we might find out about the journey itself may be the biggest thrill of all.

    Wishing you (and your loved ones) a Merry Christmas, keep your chin up and sending you lots of good vibes!

  4. Matthew Arnold said: “Resolve to be thyself; and know that he who finds himself, loses his misery. “

    A friend shared with me some principles from the writings of Taoist sages Lao Tze and Chuang Tze: The former said “he who knows others is learned/intelligent; but he alone who knows himself is wise/enlightened”; and the latter said “a man who knows not himself, but regards only what others say, and takes possession not of himself but of others (ideas), does what pleases others instead of pleasing his own nature (true self); now one who pleases others instead of pleasing one’s own nature is just another gone astray.”

    And the Taoist master Po said “always be yourself, and never fear thus to be naked to the eyes of others.” Additionally, it was the real Jesus (not the one of the edited and censored “gospels”), as we know from the recently discovered earliest writings of the “sayings source” of the gospels of Thomas and Philip, who responded, when asked by the disciples to name the most important of all his principles: “don’t lie to yourself (about yourself), and don’t do what you hate.”

    Be yourself, IP, and don’t do what you hate. (I need large doses of this sage advice myself.) And I agree with the previous posts about letting go and re-forging our identities . . . I’m working on it.

    Merry Christmas! (And take a nap!)


  5. Terry,
    I find your Taoist insights very interesting and would like to know more about "unedited" gospels. What is the sayings source? Very intriguing for me! ... I love Jesus' counsel that you mention ...
    1. No cheating, wearing other's glasses: but be "true to thine self"
    2. don't waste such precious time with things that we don't enjoy doing or being ...
    I too am working at it!
    Thanks for posting your quotes from literature and philosophy. I eat it up!
    Merry Christmas,

  6. @Libellule – Thank you as always for your incredible perspective and counsel! You have given me much over which to ponder.

    @Saffron des Indes – Glad to “hear” from you again! I appreciate your perspective as well, along with your quiet support. It is felt and appreciated.

    @Miguel – Hugs back to you! How I have come to appreciate your support! Yes, as the saying goes, success lies in the journey, not the destination.

    @Trey – I have to admit that I have come to look forward to your comments, which combine beauty and profound wisdom borne of experience. Today, thank you as always for the support and understanding which undergirds each word you write, but special thanks for sharing this wisdom of Taoist sages and for introducing me to the Gospel of Thomas.

    After reading what you wrote, I immediately consulted my good friend, Google, and found this additional gem of wisdom attributed to the Savior (whom, really, we know so little about):

    “Let him who seeks, not cease seeking until he finds, and when he finds, he will be troubled, and when he has been troubled, he will marvel and he will reign over the All.”

  7. P.S. @ Trey - Yes, I think a nap would be an excellent idea! Hope you and yours are having a wonderful day!

  8. IP - just know that I am so grateful to you for inviting us on such a personal AND private journey. You have a way of connecting on the internet in such an profound way. You have truly covered so much ground in such a short time. My hope for you is that in 2011, you choose to invite the friends that you want to draw closer to you.

    What you write is so profoundly similar to what I was going through in 2003, before leaving the marital home in 2004. I only offer one thought - my future from that point on was not to be a guaranteed happiness. It was only a decision to be living truthfully and to stop the pain in me and the pain I knew I was causing in my ex. The taste: bittersweet. Sometimes wonderful, sometimes really painful - because time sifts through a lot of the pain, leaving me with good memories, memories that can no longer be. But, like a good chocolate as we get older, it is right.

  9. @Martin - Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I sometimes wonder whether I share too much of myself on this blog. Anonymity (for how much longer?) helps. But I have found it to be like an interactive journal. I look back at my old journals (which I kept pretty faithfully up until a couple of years ago), and they are deadly dull. In this forum, I have more incentive to speak truth, and others speak back to me.

    Beyond this, I have "met" a number of people through the instrumentality of this blog. And increasingly, I am meeting in real life many of those whom I had already met online. Some of these are men who have already made a profound positive difference in my life. And I look forward to the coming year in which I will no doubt pass through many valleys of despair but will also find more freedom, I am sure, than I have every before known. And I will find companions and friends with whom I can share journeys - mine and theirs.

    Thank you again for your thoughts and your counsel. I sincerely appreciate both and hope that you will feel comfortable in commenting whenever you feel so inclined. It will always be appreciated!

  10. Thanks for the thoughtful post. It made me think of traditions - since I separated from my wife a year ago I was kind of mourning them. But you provide a much-needed perspective; I realize my boyfriend and I are making our own traditions this year. Hope you had a great Christmas!