This is one of my favorite quotes because it is an idea I had to embrace after learning my husband was gay. My journey down this particular path started towards the end of 2002, just a few months before my mother passed away when I came across the first clues that he might be hiding something. I confronted him, but he was able to convince me that my fears were unfounded; probably because I wanted to believe him. I knew I would be losing my mom soon, had just lost my grandmother and my son had just had major surgery. I wasn’t exactly in the best place to embrace the fact that my marriage was a sham and that my husband would never love me the way I hoped and prayed he someday would.
When I came across additional evidence 5 years later in 2007, he didn’t even try to deny it. Well, he did to some extent actually. Part of him still tried to hold on to something that would keep him in a “safe” place; a place that wouldn’t find him singled out by society, by family members or even friends that couldn’t accept what he couldn’t change about himself. To say I was devastated goes without saying. My world was rocked to its very core and I honestly didn’t see how I could ever recover. I’d spent almost half my life with this man; woven a past, present and could see the pattern of our future laid out before us and then all of a sudden….it all just unraveled.
Most of you have heard this story before; especially those of you who have been with me a while. Recently, someone in my str8 network posted this story about the swan and the scorpion. I’ll cut and paste the story below:
"There was a Swan at the edge of a river and a scorpion approached asking the swan if she would kindly give him a ride to the other side of the river on her back. The swan said "no, you are a scorpion, you will sting me and I will die." The scorpion assured the swan that he wouldn't do that, all he wanted was a ride to the other side and he promised she was safe with him. So the swan gave in and allowed the scorpion to climb upon her back. She swan to the other side and just before reaching the shore the scorpion stung her and jumped to safety. As the swan was sinking, slowly dying from the poisons she asked the scorpion why he broke his promise and stung her. The scorpion said "I'm a scorpion, that is what I do."
Typically, most gay spouses tend to be incredibly narcissistic. It makes sense and I’ve always made the observation that only the worst sort of person would knowingly entrap someone in a faux marriage, make children and a life with someone just so that they could “have their cake and eat it too.” Erik didn’t really fall into this category entirely. I really believe he wanted more than anything to be able to be happy living the straight life. He never cheated on me and to this day I don’t know that he has even acted on his same sex attraction. We had our issues when he finally “came out” to me, but they were short lived and for the most part, he has been decent and assumed responsibility. Many str8 spouses are not so lucky. They have spouses who cheat on them their entire marriage, expose them to countless STDs, belittle them and project their own self hatred onto the str8 spouse. Even when disclosure comes, the gay spouse continues to manipulate and attempt to control the str8 spouse’s life. Believe me, I have heard HORROR stories.
The interesting thing about this story and the commentary on the blog on which it was posted was that so many of us str8s saw ourselves in this allegory. Basically, the point is that we tended to project our own good qualities onto our spouse which they were more than happy to own and exploit. I know I definitely did this in my marriage; put Erik on a pedestal. He is a decent guy, but looking back, I can definitely see that there were times when I would extol his wonderful qualities and while he wouldn’t necessarily OWN them, he wouldn’t refute what I was saying either and at some point on my journey from disclosure to now I would say those were the things that ate at me the most.
I honestly think I got a bit off track here, but I’m not going to edit myself. The whole point of me addressing this topic today was that I read the following post on a fellow str8s blog and wow, could I remember what it felt like to be in THAT moment; to want more than anything in the world to undo what was no longer undoable. Tiffany expresses herself in such a beautifully heartbreaking way that I remember SO well, but while reading it I realized: “I remember, but wow…I’m not that woman anymore.” I could remember the Michelle who ached for her husband to say he’d made a mistake and couldn’t live without her; that they could go on as before and grow old together and I can feel sad for her, but I realized that I am a different woman today so much happier for the Michelle I am today.
She didn’t know it then, but this event, disclosure, freed her in ways she wouldn’t realize for a few years. She was finally free of all the self doubt, the self loathing for never being what she needed to be to make her husband love her the way she craved. She was free to discover who she was apart from this disingenuous relationship, to seek out something real. She was free to rediscover all the things she had willingly given up (my choice, I’ll own that) in her pursuit to find the right magical combination of qualities that would make her what he needed her to be. So many things I put off, or did away with that I loved because he didn’t want to do them or didn’t value them the way I did. Again, it was MY choice to abdicate my own interests and passions, but I am now enjoying my life and enjoying being able to fill it up with what I love.
And yes, I believe that there is a special someone out there for me; someone who crossed my path several times over the last couple of decades, but for one reason or another we never actually connected until just the right time in our lives, or almost the right time lol.
So yes, I’m grateful for that horrible moment 5 years ago when I felt the world crumble at my feet. Out of the detritus of yesterday’s shattered dreams I’ve realized an inner strength I wasn’t aware of. I’ve gone on to experience things (both wonderful and some not so wonderful) I might have otherwise missed and I can honestly say, I wouldn’t trade where I am today for where I might be had I not discovered my husband was gay and continued to live in ignorance. Fellow str8s just beginning this journey? Trust me, you will find your way here too eventually.