Just over three years ago, I told my wife that I had a same sex attraction and that whilst I had never been unfaithful to her, my feelings had wreaked havoc on my emotional state of mind. [Earlier posts explain this in more detail].
We came to an agreement, and Here is the Deal!.
- We love each other and we both want to stay married.
- I will not pursue a gay lifestyle.
- I will seek help to enable me to accept my feelings.
- I will be more open with her about my feelings and I will be more responsive to her feelings too.
- We will move forward from past troubles and we will have a calmer relationship, less arguments, less shouting, less sulking, less control.
In the intervening years. I have made a huge effort and progress in my acceptance of self. and my focus on self. as a means of presenting differently to my family and to the world.
I still carry the emotional scars of the past, in fact we both do, and occasionally old issues re-surface and have the potential to cause us both pain.
Last week, I sensed that my daughter was unhappy and in discussing my concerns, my wife began to relate the effect that my past behaviour had had on them – it hurt me to hear it.
It hurt, because I have acknowledged the past, and what I needed was someone to bring some balance, not a judgement, and in that moment the whole “Here’s the Deal” felt hopeless and unworkable.
After a difficult couple of days, we were able to talk again and I addressed directly the accusation that my focus on my own development is self obsession.
I addressed this by explaining clearly why I believe my development is not a self obsession:-
- I am calmer
- I am less controlling
- I am more self disciplined
- I have very many resources to support me when I am feeling low
- I accept my sexuality
- I accept that my adult children want to make their own decisions/choices which may differ from my own.
- I am less dogmatic in my faith, but still faithful
- I have withdrawn from been news-centric
- I watch less TV
- I exercise and I have lost weight
- I have reached out to my siblings for a network of support and broke down the barriers I had erected between us.
- I have separated my work from home to establish a good work-life balance
- I have given up my voluntary work to make me more accessible to the family and to my wife.
- I paint, I read, I write my blog, I keep a journal, I write a diary.
- I drink less alcohol.
- I take my development and guidance very seriously and I make strenuous efforts to apply the learning to my life
- I try to live in the present, being mindful of the past and aware that future anxieties are mirrors of the past not reality of what will happen.
- I spend more time with my elderly parents
But I did something else on Sunday which moved us forward in a big way:-
- I made it clear that I had failed in the past in some respects as a husband and a father and that this failure has had an effect on my wife and children which I cannot deny.
- I could not cope with aspects of my parental responsibilities.
- I could not cope with pressures of work and family and financial responsibilities.
- I could not cope with life choices that my teenage children made which were different to my own.
- I was driven for my children them to succeed where I had not and this put undue pressure on them and stressed them out.
- I could not cope in relationships with my parents and siblings.
- I had a tendency to dislike people.
- It was my fault – not yours – I am conscious of my past failings but not so good in remembering the good things I did.
I can’t change the past, but I can change the future and that is what I am investing my development in doing just that.
I asked for something else:
- Love and understanding and recognition for my efforts to change
- A narrative of the present and the future not a crushing judgement on the past.
- A balanced view of the past when aspects need discussion – it was bad here, but look how good it was there.
It looks like I might have got myself a new deal!
My next blog will be: Yellow Boat
I live in Cape Town, am straight; 64 years old; doing the Professional Coaching Course at UCT GSB. Linked to New Ventures West, in San Francisco. I enjoy your e-mails – very thought-provoking. I have forwarded them to a gay friend of mine, a man who finds it impossible to “come out”, even to his mother. (I was very blunt one day and asked him outright, which he denied for months. Then admitted, so we are best of friends but I grieve for him being so conflicted). Anyway, I thought you might like to know that you probably have a very diverse and interested audience.
I subscribe to Justin Wise’s daily e-mail and he had mentioned you a while back.
Best wishes, Ken McKenzie
Hi Ken – It is kind of you to comment on my posts. One of my motives for writing this blog was to overcome my sense of fear and isolation and to reach out to men and women who are unable to accept aspects of self. I can relate very much to the experience of your friend in struggling to accept and communicate his truth, especially to close family. I eventually told my wife expecting my marriage to end, but she wanted us to keep going in our marriage which is what I had feared losing. Your feedback that my work may be of help to others is very pleasing and satisfying for me to hear – thank you. Justin is a very generous and caring supporter of my journey for which I am very grateful. I wish you all the best with your Professional Coaching Course. I am so pleased that you took the time to write to me – William Defoe