Sunday, December 31, 2006
The thing is that I would do it all again. Would I try to be more sensitive, have less of a tin ear to my surroundings: absolutely. Do I wish that I was still a straight guy giving bj’s: not on your life. It is not the sex, though it is good. It is the feeling that maybe there is this real me that was buried so long and the warmth of the sunlight on that soul feels liberating.
In a normal year if I add one or two people to a list of those I call friends, it has been a good year. So how do I describe a year where I have not added one or two, but found a whole community? That has been the most fascinating, exhilarating and humbling part of the whole journey – a few “bricks and mortar” friends and many, many “cyber” friends. I put cyber in quotes because the word connotes a distance, a lack of reality that I eschew: many of you have become as real as could be imagined.
It has been an honor to be in this community and I wish all a happy and healthy New Year. (That sounds so banal: Take two) I wish you all a year of continuing your various journeys and finding peace- both inner peace and peace with your loved ones, ones who have suffered with us every step of the way. May peace be with us all.
Saturday, December 30, 2006
My new home is not bad – the size of an average prison cell, but I do not need to share it and the full size bed is quite comfy. I lie there considering my new life and I hear noises: there in my doorway is Carrie. Unlike me Carrie does not have a boyfriend, she is not on the prowl, she is expecting a long time before her next opportunity and now we make love again. No, not exactly: we have sex, the raw sex that has been there for decades.
Before I go forward I must go back, back about eight hours to the mid-afternoon. I thought I knew what lay ahead and it included my own bed but did not include sex, excepting my hand. A long holiday weekend lay ahead, so there was a little party: Sam and me, a motel, a few beers. Let’s face it: I no longer need worry about being caught. We had a good time but truth be told I am not the sexual animal I once was – age and biology have stepped in. Maybe all those drug ads are more relevant than I care to admit.
So back to the evening. Carrie and I have made love, we have had sex, and my afternoon was still successful. The body is spent but the desire – well, has that not always been my problem. We try for more and Carrie reverts to to our personal pattern, one that has served us well. She “whispers”, she tells me what it was like when I bottomed earlier, her description is uncanny, as if she was in my head. And yes, I am excited, God, am I excited and against all odds I am cumming yet again.
Now all of you read the title and thought of an F word – don’t deny it. But it was the wrong F word for at least on this one day Fantasy trumped Fucked. I find this strangely troubling. I am giving up so much for reality only to have the fantasy kick in so dramatically. Carrie and talk about this. She suggests maybe I haven’t found the right boyfriend, or maybe the fact that there is an underlying reality empowers the fantasies even more.
Not to worry, I will just have to continue with my new reality for a while longer. The journey, undefined as it is, will continue but I would be lying not to say this gives me both pause and hope: pause that I am not chasing an illusion and hope that I will find the right path for me and for Carrie.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
As I listened, I knew. It was time. We had already carried the mattress down the stairs this weekend and when I came home from work, we set up the frame and had the outline of a room. Then Daddy time – children to the movies, a 5:30 show (Night At The Museum, quite enjoyable); Carrie did not join us, some time for her. When we finally got home dinner was on the table but Carrie was not feeling 100%, time to rest in bed, her bed now.
After dinner I went downstairs: the bed is made, my essentials are in some drawers, a soft lamp on. Other little touches, a portable phone, a bottle of the good scotch and a snifter, some books and the envelope with the printed version of my blog, something I have been planning to read. I look around and tears start to flow.
It is the right thing. Carrie has been patient, more than patient: she even apologizes for doing this. I tell her all she did was choose the night: everything else gets credited to my column. In a little while, I will tuck the kids in and head down to my new home. The children will not realize tonight and tomorrow morning we will tell them – not TGT, but that there are big person issues.
There will be tears shed tonight, two floors apart but shared tears all the same. And tomorrow we will start the rest of our lives. But right now, it does hurt, for me and especially for her.
Monday, December 25, 2006
For those of you who may have blinked – or not kept up with the comments – Flip looks at my oft-stated beliefs: love of wife, devotion to family, definite bi-ness. He then wonders if all this is true, why can I not just zip it – or at least attempt to zip it – and return from the precipice. We both have approached our gay side from the land of physical attractions. I may be attracted to the smell of ozone but would still avoid standing in a field during an electrical storm. Health – physical or mental – traditionally trumps fulfillment of base desires in mature adults.
This all resonates with me. I would like to think of myself as a mature adult and surely my entry into the gayness was driven by my sexual desires. Yet I am on the verge of moving from a psychological separation to a physical one, albeit in the same house. I have started coming out to my children. Carrie no longer hesitates in telling her friends the reason for the separation. (My favorite is the personal trainer who looked at Carrie and said: “Other woman?” and without missing a beat Carrie responded: “Other man.”)
The terrifying part is I do know why I continue down this path: however I have no idea whether I am right. In some fashion I see being gay as a core issue, not one of “I like” or “I desire” but one of “I am”. And if that is truly the case there is the selfish aspect, the “I want to be who I am” point of view. But to me there is the larger issue. How much of my life has been dictated by repression of my gay side. This is the part that can only be answered empirically in the laboratory of life. It may be that I swim like a fish thrown into a pond or maybe I will be found floating belly up (in the emotional sense) in six months or a year.
There is only one thing in all of this that I am sure about. It is too late to turn back now because if I do the future is clear: a lifetime of wondering what would have been. Carrie has reminded me many times this past year of another core belief in mine. I have always regretted what I did not do much more than anything I have done.
Friday, December 22, 2006
The only debate concerns beans. She likes the Starbucks style – bordering on burnt – and I am slightly less intense on the matter. Recently I tried some new beans – too mild for her so we are using them up during the week and saving the Starbucks for the weekend.
Last night I came out to Anna. I have yet to figure an easy way – it always comes down to a declarative statement: I am Gay. All of the feints and moves cannot avoid the ultimate sentence. She listened, somewhat impassive, no tears, no anger: stunned I suppose. After I said my piece, Carrie and she went to Anna's room – the famed basement – to talk privately. The hour they were downstairs was an eternity for me – what were they saying, what was Anna thinking.
Finally they emerge and Anna sees me in the kitchen. She looks around the counter and asks where the Starbucks beans are: she says, with a wistful smile, she will need the Starbucks – the stronger beans - tomorrow. I tell her I know: they are already in the machine. We both smile.
And in that moment there was the comfort and knowledge of a lifetime. She is still my daughter and I her Dad. That will not change. And for that I am grateful.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
The obvious answer, at least to me, is that my gayness is not a choice and that once the gayness is accepted, there is no longer deniability. Some have said being gay may not be a choice but acting on it sure is. The keep it zipped contingent. There is a surface truth to this - we are humans of free will. The thing is in my short sojourn in this bi/gay blog land, I have seen many permutations. Men like me - open to the point of insult. Others who hide it better. Some put up the good fight - they try much harder than I ultimately did. Some choose semi-anonymous - safer emotionally, easier to walk away on a moments notice. Oh yes, I left out a group - gay celibate. I have heard of it and accept it exists, but we all know that it is a minority. There is another group that deserves mention, my original tribe: those of us who have sealed the door so tight that the light does not leak in or out.
So choice - when I look at the permutations I ultimately see men who have acceded to their desires or are fighting them. Fighting who I am does not feel much like a choice for me.
There is another aspect of choice - fantasies. We do not choose our fantasies, not when lying in bed, alone or with our partners. A few nights ago I was spooning Carrie - no sex, but still a spoon here or there (I know - not really healthy) and she pointed out that I get excited by men, I like spreading my legs. And then she took note of the obvious: we were spooning and I was hardening. It was not a matter of choice.
Of course Carrie has choices too. This may have once been all about me, but those days are receding in the rearview. She can choose to live with a man knowing he is gay. She can choose to have a greater sense of herself than that. Funny how the more she rejects being a stand in, the more I love her. And I realize that loving her means accepting the path of separation.
As I thought about Flip's question I had the seeds of a realization. A few minutes later I was speaking with Carrie about my imminent coming out to our daughter and our concerns with the boyfriend you have come to know and love. Would Bill maintain our confidence once Anna told him? Carrie thought for a moment, and said let him tell.
And in that instance I realized this no longer had anything to do with my choices. Carrie had made her choice.
I have made my choices. Those choices have put me where I am today. I accept them, will live with them, and believe I will come to embrace them.
My reference to Carrie relates to the fact that she has now also made a choice: if in a moment of denial and weakness I would ask to come back, she would have the honesty and strength to say no. And I am proud of her for that.
But make no mistake, this was my "game" from the start.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
So a week of talk has ensued: the tides have ebbed and flowed. Not just Carrie and I, but a whole community has joined in with words that sometimes stung: a sting that only comes from truth. Talk of the “Golden Ticket” abounded: the thing that has been lost is that I could have had the ticket, at least for a while, but I never could accept. Carrie points out it was never enough – whatever she offered was never enough. And she is right.
So again I step back and ask why I always needed more. Spider suggested that I save some time: skip reading my entire blog and just go to my last post. Good advice. I wrote of the missing piece:
Is that found in simple self acceptance? Maybe in the Holy Grail for married men – a full night in the arms of another man – or simply found by borrowing Thom’s boots and kicking down the closet walls?
And as I re-read that section, I realize that I have in my best writing style said the same thing three different ways. I am a gay man – I did not choose to be, did not ask to be, not even sure that I want to be, but I am a gay man. It has taken a lifetime to be able to say that, to accept that.
I started this post yesterday and then stopped. It was the start of a work day and there were interruptions. But that never deterred me in the past. But now, I did not know the next sentence. It is one thing to accept being gay and another to understand what that means.
I have come to realize there are many next sentences and that I will have to read the whole book to learn the ending. Can I look a sentence or two or three ahead? I can and I will in this post. Can I see paragraphs into the distance? No way, but maybe that is okay because the boy who started this blog almost a year ago in many ways bears no relationship to the man writing today.
The next sentence is simple in its foundations: Be a Man. Specifically be a man in my treatment of Carrie, in respecting her, in granting her dignity through this difficult process. It is also simple in its execution: it is time to move out of the bedroom. It is time to accept that once I can say “I am a gay man” I can no longer hide behind the façade of married life, hide behind Carrie’s skirts.
It is the holiday season, Christmas morning is nigh upon us. It will not be the day to tell the children, to ruin a lifetime of Christmas mornings forever more. (It will be the day for Carrie and me to sneak in the new puppy: some joy for the family and some joy for her). So Carrie and I will celebrate Christmas in our closet, anxious to see this year come to a not quick enough end.
The New Year will also start in a closet but within a week, the walls will come a tumbling down. We will tell our children – the truth they deserve. I will grab some clothes, head down two flights and take up residence in the basement, my own bedroom. The Master suite will belong to Carrie. In my wanderings I have heard men ask why the husband moves, why not the wife. To them I say: it is as it should be. I have torn our marriage vows asunder. I accept it was not malicious and I accept it was ultimately not a choice. But rip them I did and that room – our room – is now rightfully hers. Just one more piece of learning to be a man.
There are some who question the wisdom of the basement, who believe that an apartment should be high on my priorities. They may be right. But for Carrie and I this seems the logical step in a progression, something which may work for a longer term but can at least be a transition for the children and for us in the short term. Once January rolls in, work is busy: I have already confessed in these pages to my chosen profession – public accounting. Life is more than a little hectic until May. Come that time we will need to reassess and if it is time for an apartment, I will gladly do that for Carrie.
We wonder, what will Saturday nights be: I am not a bar type of guy. I have a boyfriend who is married and is not going to join me for dinner and a movie. There will be some Saturday nights where the four of us will watch a movie on TV, still be a family. But at the end of the evening, Carrie and I will take different staircases. There will hopefully be nights when I am with my children while Carrie goes out with some friends – women to start, but a man will be okay – not easy but right.
There will be Saturday nights where I will need to force myself: maybe a bar, maybe a gay related activity, maybe a date – all those nice dot com’s where I can “sell” myself. I will need help with those nights – a gentle push from you, some steering in the right direction from my mentors.
The thing is that Carrie and do not claim much joy this week, but now that we both have realized the next step, we both are finding a certain peace - for me the peace of self acceptance and for her the peace of no longer needing to hide in a closet of my making.
I wrote earlier that this year cannot end soon enough, but that is yet another form of self deception. How can I deny a year when I have learned to accept myself? Will it always be remembered as a difficult year, even hellish: absolutely. But in some way it will always be remembered as a good year – the walls may need to wait a week or two more before they crumble, but I can hear the trumpets blasting – a carrion call for my future.
A season of peace to all of you – new friends who have shared this ride and much more with me: A season of peace and prayers for a year of happiness.
And yes, I have sure blown that damn word count today:)
I am used to living a dual life -- a reality and a
fantasy world, and I'm ready to merge them into one.
I'm ready to be whole! To be complete. To be me.
A HOW Brother
Saturday, December 16, 2006
There are some simple facts in my existence. I love my wife, she is my best friend, my ally in life. Simply put, it is a land of emotional gratification. But while we can still enjoy sex, it would be disingenuous not to qualify that with the truth: I enjoy sex with men even more.
And I am not exactly hurting when it comes to sex with men. I have a boyfriend and we usually get to see each other every week. We are friends, he reads this blog so there are no secrets, and we have wonderful dizzying sex. Simply put, it is a land of sexual gratification. But while we are good friends, it would be disingenuous not to qualify that with the truth: neither of us would give up everything to be together.
So I have the home life, I have the sex life. Most would think the problem is that Carrie would not tolerate knowing of Sam. But no: it seems that I have found Willy Wonka’s golden ticket, complete with Carrie’s signature. And what a ticket it was: see your “friend” discretely, have occasional sex with me, present a unified family to the world. It did come with a caveat: do nothing to embarrass her and the children. That should not be so hard – I am conservative in dress and manner and devote many waking hours to my profession.
So I sit here on an early Saturday morning and need to ask myself why are things spinning, devolving by the day. I have written of last weekend, watching Cold Case, the “Kiss”, of Carrie’s response, of the subsequent hurt, jealousy and anger. But that was just the trigger: it seems the gun was loaded long ago and the trigger was jimmied to take only a fleeting touch. Yes, the foundations for this week were set long ago.
I could go back and blame it on my upcoming trip to Chicago: it is hard to fit a weekend into a lunch hour. Carrie never knows if and when I see Sam: it is hard to ignore a weekend away. But that begs the question – defining a “disease” by its symptoms.
There has been a question floating around, a sub text to what am I looking for: am I trying to force Carrie to kick me out, if not literally, figuratively. I was struck by a comment on my blog from a gay man who I have come to greatly respect:
Welcome to the real world... I think that in your mind this is what you wanted and expected all along...
But what is it that I so clearly want; that everyone else seems to see so clearly yet to me is still shrouded in fog? Maybe of greater import is the fog borne of not being so smart or I am so engaged that I have lost the picture in the pixels? Or did Dylan say it best – I quoted this a few weeks back:
When the truth's in our hearts and we still don't believe?
I keep checking the word count, hoping that I am at the magic 850 level when I can say the post is going too long, time to end and save some thoughts for another day, but I am only at 600, plenty of room left. The thing is that I do not want to finish this post because I can feel where it is going and it hurts so much, too much. I write with tears in my eyes.
I consider myself a rational man, not one to say as in the old accountants joke, how much is two plus two: what do you want it to be. So I do not need to go back and re-read what I have written here. Carrie has suggested I re-read my whole blog and I will, but it is not necessary. I know where she is going, where she is steering me. As the old saying goes: you do the math: it seems that I have all the pieces yet am unable to finish the puzzle.
Therefore something is still missing. Is that found in simple self acceptance? Maybe in the Holy Grail for married men – a full night in the arms of another man – or simply found by borrowing Thom’s boots and kicking down the closet walls?
I can hear my therapist saying time’s up, see you next session. And so you will.
(And never having been one for inside jokes, Thom is a bear of a man on my HOW group who has used his boots to kick down his closet walls and I am sure would be happy to lend them to any others ready to take down their own walls.)
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Last week Carrie wrote me a letter relating to the current status of our relationship, a very personal note and I responded in kind. I considered whether to post all or some of the exchange – issues central to our lives: there is a time for discretion, a path gladly followed. That was last week.
Since then any one reading these pages has felt the tides and sensed the impending crescendo. Some have commented to that effect. In my last post I told of an episode of Cold Case, two cops, partners and yes lovers. I wrote of a kiss, a deep kiss, a real kiss. I wrote of our glancing at each other and then back to the television. That one kiss – yes the whole show – but that one kiss seems to have been just the little shove needed to destabilize a tenuous situation. For in that one kiss Carrie saw that my gay life is no longer built on a buddy booth, a quick CL blowjob. It is not even built on going all the way – raw sex, anal sex. In that one kiss Carrie understood that I must have kissed Sam or Jerry, that there is an emotional content, maybe not love, but way beyond the land of anonymous hookups.
We talk, every night we talk, exhausting talks, talks from the core or our souls. Every night we waver, we draw different lines in the sand looking for a mythical middle ground, a Disney moment. This morning I received an e-mail. While I have edited it slightly for privacy, this is it, essentially unchanged.
I do not know where this will take me, but I need to speak in the light of the day. This past week has been a watershed for me. The pressure behind the dam finally exploded. I wish I could explain the physical pain that surrounds me all the time. I suppose you would tell me it's like the voice in you that wants to yell out. I suspect however, that they are polar opposites.
There is so much of me that wants to say stop the presses. Rework the front page. Problem is that only works for a little time, then another paper picks up the story. I don't want our world to change. I always wanted what our young daughter so wonderfully described as home. In the darkness of night I can almost believe it will be so. By the light of the day, the reality is blinding. The pain and fear settle in and by evening I am a wreck. I need to get beyond this phase. I know the way to get there, but I don't want to leave this place. As long as I remain standing here wanting you to find a way back over the broken bridge, I will never find the next and so we will never have that chance to meet.
The time has come to find our paths and move along. I do not want you to leave this home for that is what it is. As our other young daughter knows, love trumps everything. We have some housekeeping steps and advice to obtain before the next act begins, but as they say, the show must go on.
The tears still do not come easily, but when they do it helps. I suppose this is like sitting Shiva for someone who has been ill a long time. On one hand you want them to come back regardless of their pain. On the other you are glad they are at peace, but it still hurts like hell.
A modern day Dear John letter. My therapist pointed out a few months back that one day I would discover that I had passed the point of no return. The thing is that when he said that, I had already crossed over. It is just that I did not have the courage, my wife did not have the inner strength, to acknowledge it. The age of denial is over.
We will continue in the house together and share a bed until we can figure out where to put me, but for the first time I realize that it has all gotten away from me. It is probably good in the long run – I will learn what gay means to me and Carrie has discovered a voice she never knew. But today, tonight, there is no joy – only a sense of the impending reality.
This will test my mettle, all of the things I have espoused. It is easy to talk of telling the children, crashing the closet doors, truly coming out when it is an intellectual exercise. It seems that I will have to face these challenges much sooner than I truly anticipated. I will again learn who I am.
I said tonight I write for you – of course it has been for me for in the act of writing these few words I have continued to learn and grow – but it is ultimately for you. For close to a year you have ridden the roller coaster, felt the dips and rises. How could I deny you what feels like a final death plunge? But there will be more dips and rises to share as I forge into the unknown.
Many have offered their prayers and I thank you. I fear I will need them for this is not only the end of the line, it is the beginning of a new one.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Tonight was a catch-up on TV night, last week’s Cold Case, one of our faves. It is a family show, intelligent dialogue, mature but tasteful. One ten year old joined us and the other reminded us not to erase it. The show’s formula is simple, an unsolved murder from years past. The episode opens: 1968, a christening and then fade to a desolate spot, a windshield shattered and a dead cop in the front seat of his cruiser.
The show proceeds, the peeling of an onion, each layer getting closer to the truth. We learn that the dead cop, a single guy, a ladies man, was a fixture with his partner and partner’s family. It seems that Cooper was having an affair with Jimmy’s wife. Keep peeling the onion. Jimmy’s wife is confronted: yes Cooper is a regular at the house, but an affair, the two of them. She talks and we go back in time: a young woman looking out the window and Cooper and Jimmy in the backyard, a disagreement voices raised. A brief fight and it ends…….. Yes with Cooper and Jimmy kissing, first a “stolen” one and then real kissing, hands running over each others backs, fraught with emotion.
It is compelling and I glance at Carrie. I confess to giggling, a defense mechanism for what can I say: this is unimaginable. The onion gets peeled some more. Other cops knew. 1968. Whispers and more. Cooper is confronted by his father, a man who cannot give words to his horror, cannot say the word “Gay”.
Did I mention our ten year old daughter is watching: she is upset with the father. She cannot understand how one could not love a child, gay is rather irrelevant. We have talked of telling children, an eventuality in my life and tonight I get a glimpse and it is good. She understands love trumps all. The father will learn that too, but by then it is too late.
Carrie looks at me afterwards: The Gods of TV, our little joke of life. And I point out a passing gay reference is the Gods, this is so beyond that. We watched the show together, the three of us. But other than a glance at each other during the first kiss, the bombshell moment, we each watch alone, eyes on the set, no hand holding for this one.
Jimmy is married, has kids, and cannot conceive of taking the plunge. Cooper talks of marriages he has seen: dead marriages between straight couples and alludes to the two of them. “We are the lucky ones”, he says, a refrain throughout the second half of the show. “We are the lucky ones.”
The show always ends the same way, an image of the dead person alive again. Jimmy, an old man, a sad man walks back to their spot. There is Cooper and there is their love and then Cooper fades and Jimmy is alone.
Reruns will arrive this spring, don’t they always. The episode is titled Forever Blue. It took Brokeback Mountain 134 minutes. Amazing what was done here in less than fifty.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
It is the season so Friday after work, happy hour with the staff. A few beers – large beers – and time to leave the kids to their party: homeward bound for me. Carrie calls as I start the car and we chat for a half hour, a pleasant ride. I tease her – Friday nights are Perfect Manhattans, not beers, and she says she will make a pitcher. I protest but when I arrive our favorite pitcher is filled and we start to drink. A brief interruption to feed the kids but two hours of sitting at the kitchen table – drinking and talking: Carrie and I have a few things to discuss.
Among our many topics are boring things that married couples cover, children, and our unique issues: kicking Bill out – the status of our marriage and our sex life. There are times Carrie wants me but she is afraid – afraid of how she will feel in the morning, afraid of sending the wrong message, sending that message to me and to her. She is afraid of creating a relationship built on an unhealthy foundation. But there are still desires, we are still married, still lovers underneath it all.
Finally I get to return some visiting children to their Mom and it is our nuclear family. The twins are downstairs watching TV and Carrie is in our room. The TV is on – some soft core HBO show and Carrie is in a skimpy thing, one I have not seen in a while. It is a beautiful sight, the covers pulled up but the top of her breasts exposed, inviting.
Now alcohol is an interesting drug and does highlight some gender differences. We were both loose, we were both amorous, we were both ready. Well, maybe ready is a wrong word in my case. There is this little thing which comes pretty naturally to me – the brain directs certain blood flows and a little part of me ceases to be quite so little. As I said a natural process, but not so natural after three or four beers and three or so Manhattans.
The kids are watching TV and our door has a lock: we use it. Eventually we take a break and I put the kids to bed. Our door still has a lock and we use it again. Now I have already confessed to my limitations on this night but we own a Rabbit. We have started to experiment with it on occasion and Carrie is coming to enjoy it so long as it is in my hands. As she becomes more comfortable accepting I become more comfortable giving. Let’s just say the Eveready bunny was blushing.
We are wild, we are having sex, we are making love, but to a great degree the main performer is named for a small animal and hums. It adds a level of strangeness, but we are both feeling pleasure and while my “blood flow” is not what I would have hoped for I still manage to climax. Then Carrie is sated and suggests ways to take care of me. The toys are still there and there need for denial is long gone. Of course they work - too well - and of course Carrie is left wondering as to what I am all about.
We sleep – yes we cannot get to dreams without first finding sleep. And I awake in the pre-dawn hours. Carrie is in a haze but we both know better than to start talking. She rolls over and I place my hand on her side and rest. I pleasantly lay there, my hand touching her and then I am excited. The alcohol is gone and my dick is hard, throbbing hard. But Carrie is sleeping and even if she were awake her thoughts would be: we had fun last night but to do it again now would send the wrong message, it would ignore all we have spoken of for a week. So we lay there, my hand still on her, still needing that little bit of contact. She sleeps and in time I join her.
This should be two posts, this one is way too long, but it seems strange to stop here, to tell you to come back when I am in the mood. So feel free to stretch, visit another site for a few minutes but when you come back be ready to dream with me.
Yes she sleeps and with my hand still on her I drift away.
We are at an outdoor party – not a backyard party – a true outdoor event. On a ridge are simple tables strung together, a pleasant day. Carrie and I sit with the twins and then for some reason I see our best friend’s daughter alone at a table, one of the many strung together. She is an only child and is perfect – just ask her parents. She pulls on the table cloth as if a napkin and everything is being pulled askew so I go to help her – to tell her not to pull the cloth off the table, to attempt to put it back. It never really does go back, but the moment passes and I go back to our table.
Carrie and the kids are not there and the food has been put away. I have missed eating and am quite hungry so off to the kitchen where they are cleaning up. I seem to know this “camp” kitchen and find a plate. I put the plate down and when I go to pick it up again the plate is gone but Carrie has arrived. She asks me if I fed the kids and is upset that I had left our table and maybe the kids had not eaten or eaten enough. I am enraged and after words are yelled she leaves and I go running out after her.
Then I am with the twins and also with a man – no one I know, just another person at this strange gathering – and we are walking through some little town, more a façade of fake stores for show. At one point he asks me if my wife runs ads – I realize this is a question of sex ads and I stop him – the kids are with us.
We leave the town and there is an old boardwalk – the style that goes over the dunes at a beach: it is old but the kids run ahead and me and the guy follow. I quickly realize the boardwalk is rotted – incredibly dangerous. I try to catch up to the kids but they are ahead of me. I am alone now, the guy has been left behind I suppose. I come to the peak and the boardwalk is fully rotted and the kids have scampered down the rocks towards the ocean. All of this time I am worried for them and also worried as to Carrie’s reaction when she learns that I allowed them on this rotted structure.
I start to go down the rocks and end up falling and sliding until I come to the bottom and find myself sitting on the edge of the water, sitting in mud. I look for the girls and they are in the distance, in a field with other kids, running and playing. I call out and they raise their hands so I can see them.
The alarm goes off. I am not one to remember dreams but this is still vivid. There is so much to the dream – interpretation will have to wait, though you all can feel free to pipe in. Carrie sleeps and I deal with the children – they want breakfast. This time I feed them.
Then I am with one daughter and we stop in a store on the way. As I pay she announces she will meet me at the car and scampers off. And I realize the end of my dream is coming true.
I once quoted a Dylan song:
You either got faith or you got unbelief and there ain't no neutral ground.
This morning the song again appeared on my iPod and another lyric struck me:
When the truth's in our hearts and we still don't believe?
Shine your light, shine your light on me
Shine your light, shine your light on me
Shine your light, shine your light on me
You know I just couldn't make it by myself.
I'm a little too blind to see.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
And while I was considering this bit of whimsy – I do realize that helping at home is not really a gay characteristic – another bit of whimsy came my way. I imagined my life as a football game. I could here the announcer in my head:
Team Nate has the ball. This drive started way back in the shadow of the straight goal post but they have been moving down the field.
Yes, John, if it wasn’t for those penalties Team Nate would have had quite the drive, but they have persevered – a few big third down plays in there.
Well they are driving now – the gay end zone only twenty yards away. Wait they call a time out. Back in sixty.
As the game plays out in my head, I head back to the huddle. The crowd – on both sides – is loud. It is an exciting game – tie score, outcome in doubt as time winds down. I look around and there are familiar faces. Wait – there is Flip and Paul – what’s that – I’m running the wrong way? And there on the other sideline is Spider. He once crossed that goal line, though I am not sure if he did a victory dance. In the distance a heckler – “your wife wants to remain married to a gay man? She has serious issues regarding self-esteem dude.”
Yes, whimsy, but I share it with Carrie, another pre-dawn talk, enveloped in the soothing darkness. I share and the result of that sharing is anything but whimsy. We have made some serious decisions. The football game is fun but delays my having to write about, and face, real issues.
Carrie’s Line In The Sand – I tell the kids and its basement time for me: I never understood that because its basis was not in us but in others – what they would think. And on some level Carrie did not understand it either. The real issue is how she feels about herself – her ability to live with a gay man who is actively having sex with other men. The other night Carrie finally gets this piece – heck with what the kids will think: she no longer wants to play make believe with me.
She has spent her life in the closet of childhood abuse and now that she has opened that door, she does not want to walk into her husband's gay closet. She will do what is necessary to protect her children but there is no joy in maintaining false façades.
As we lay there and she reveals this, her choice, I realize my choice. I can insist on being her lover, I can fight her. We hear of couples making a mixed orientation marriage (MOM) work, we need to be flexible. My will is strong and I am good with words. I can persuade, I can cajole, I can insist - we will have a marriage. And I will win, for a day or a week: maybe a month. But then I will lose, I will lose everything.
I look down the other road: we are best friends, the best we both will ever have. And I ask myself what would her friend advise, what is the right thing. And then it is easy, or as easy as a stroll through hell can ever be.
The basement is not available and we are not in a hurry. But as of two nights ago we emotionally moved: we may still share the bedroom, but that is her home now. Eventually there will be a physical move, but there is time, for that entails much more. The children’s questions will be unavoidable and I will need to leave the closet, at least the closet at home. And once that door is opened, it can never be closed.
I readily confess that yesterday it struck me – while continuing to live in the same house, this is closer to a separation than a variant on a MOM. I came home wanting to shout “Stop The Presses – No Basement For Me.” And then I saw Carrie and realized yet again that I must be her friend first and I also must be honest with myself as to what I want, the fear and doubts aside.
So as dawn broke and another day was upon us, Carrie asked me how the game ended. I thought, hesitated, almost cried, and then I softly answered. Team Nate scored.
Sunday, December 03, 2006
And Carrie listens, she realizes this is not an “if” issue, this is a “when” issue. Her position has been clear – this is a private matter best left that way. Then surprisingly to me, and I suspect to her, she raises the ante. Hell, she takes all the chips and pushes them into the middle of the table. It is okay, I can tell the kids anytime but that will be the last time we share a bedroom, share a bed. Nothing major.
It has to do with her self perception, with an implication that if I am coming out as gay, presumably I am not celibate: a reasonable expectation. And it has to do with the message to daughters of how they should expect to be treated by their mates. It is a message dear to her. Carrie explains that based on her childhood, her life, she would normally be glad to acquiesce, glad to be a “doormat”. But I have spent many years telling her she is worth more, that she needs to believe in herself. It turns out she has been listening.
We get back to the central question: why tell the children. And again, there is the frustration that comes with trying to answer when the question itself is wrong. Telling the children is not the issue: the issue is my desire to come out, to proclaim myself. A friend has likened it to born again Christians who need to publicly declare what is ultimately a very personal matter.
There is no gain that I can see in coming out further – I am not even sure what it means. Surely no ad in the local paper, no need to send a firm-wide e-mail to the office: yet somewhere between where I stand today and some public declaration it feels like there should be a land where I feel more of myself.
Carrie tied this in to the upcoming trip to Chicago (five weeks, but who’s counting). I point out that the trip has taken on totemic proportions, not unlike my first visit last May: that it is just one weekend out of a life. She does not disagree but feels that it is still more than a trip to the supermarket or the mall. Then she said that the trip was my trying on a pair of shoes, seeing if they were comfortable. And it made me go back to last May.
For those who have joined the story in progress, every May I spend the first weekend in Chicago at a small conference. When I was there in 2005 I was still a “straight” dude who just found the sex district with their buddy booths. If I had tried CL before 1 AM there would be more to tell.
By the time I was planning the 2006 trek, I was already a bi guy, out to my wife, a blogger, a man on a mission. Weeks in advance I post on CL – an honest accurate post: Bi married man looking to explore, interested in drinks or dinner and seeing where it leads. There were responses, a surprising number, and after a few e-mails my trip was set. Thursday: dinner with a bi guy and when the evening was shorter than expected, a visit to a gay bar. Friday I head to the suburbs to meet Jerry. I will just say that Friday dinner became Friday night and when I woke it was Saturday morning. Fifteen Hours – that was the extent, but a magical fifteen hours.
So as I look back I was struck that my last visit was like cruising shoe stores, trying on some pairs, looking in the mirror and then off to the next store. I lingered a long time over the last pair, they looked right, they were comfortable. But the carpet in the store was soft, forgiving. I have had shoes before that were right in the store but were hiding blisters to be.
So in five weeks I return to Chicago, return to Jerry and I will spend the weekend. Not a lifetime, but much more than fifteen hours. Jerry is of course a part of the story, but not the totality of the trip. It is ultimately spending a weekend as a gay man, with him, with any friends of his that may be around, out in public – a straight restaurant, a gay bar. It is spending long enough to have it feel real.
And when I return, Carrie will have a simple question for me. How did the shoe fit?
And my protestations to the contrary aside, the answer will speak volumes.
Friday, December 01, 2006
“Vietnam makes her glow in the dark. She wanted more. She wanted to penetrate deeper into the mystery of herself and after a time the wanting became needing which then turned into craving.”
The Things They Carried
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
We celebrated Thanksgiving and as I have already written, the maintaining of a false façade, the putting on a brave face, took its toll on us. So I wonder why not tell Anna – I am not ashamed, or at least should not be. It is a fact of life. She is close with her Mom and this would explain all sorts of things. But there is the other side of the coin: her plate is full, she is still our child, not our equal: so my therapist questions who I am sharing for – her or me. The answer is easy – this would be for me, for my own guilt, my own needs. It is easy to step back and not pursue this.
Back from the therapist and there on my HOW group: an e-mail. Jasman writes of his choice not to tell his children, similar in age to my younger ones. His logic mirrors my own and I jump right in with my assent. Simple enough. A series of fifteen responses later, I am unchanged in my conclusion but deeply chastened and changed in my thoughts.
I have written of coming out – my siblings, some close friends, of course my wife. And most recently to myself, for when I came out to all the others I was still quite in the dark. But as I read the e-mails yesterday, I realized that I am not out at all. I have remodeled – traded in that little closet for a walk-in: quite roomy, well appointed, large enough to hold a few people. It cannot hold the entire group that knows because they are segmented, they would never crowd in at the same time. The whole crowd at once would almost be like being out – can’t let that happen.
Simultaneous with this, another thread, different yet really the same: I have Sam, my lunchtime squeeze. We get together, we talk, and yes we do more, much more. It works well. But Sam is more deeply closeted than me – his is not a walk-in – and our meetings are limited, stolen moments during the work day. Still not a bad deal and one Carrie seems inclined to tolerate for the moment.
So what does Nate do – he goes online, visits American Airlines and voila – a roundtrip to Chicago, a return to the “glories” of last May. First week of January: we are good to go. Now one can leave a spouse guessing as to whether today is lunch or “lunch”, even I can maintain a silence. But a weekend away – we have discussed it in these pages already: there will always be the leaving and worse, there will always be the return home.
The tickets are cheap enough – they can be burned, I can stay home. But it is too late for that: I have made a statement and frankly Carrie and I both want our lives to move forward. To skip Chicago now only to re-visit in six months – what does that really do for either of us? So Chicago it will be but it is now clear that when I return there will be a simple enough question. Is the trip to Chicago with its underlying premise of truly being out, if only for a weekend, a beginning or an end?
For it is now clear that upon my return I can remain in the newly built closet, have my discreet dalliances and maintain our home. Or I can choose to make return trips to “Chicago.” And if I choose the route of “Chicago”, even if the play moves to Broadway, there will be a price – a substantial price: the closet will be gone and I will find myself in uncharted waters.
Oh yes, the title: “That deaf, dumb and blind kid sure plays a mean pinball.” The thing is that none of our kids (at least not mine and god willing, not yours) are deaf, dumb and blind. And treating them as such carries its own set of risks: issues of trust and respect. Issues not to be taken lightly.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
For every candle lit, Bristol-Myers Squibb will donate $1 up to $100,000 to the National AIDS fund. You can find more information and light a candle at Light to Unite.
Friday, November 24, 2006
I am not part of that group – my marriage is intact, my day is with my family. It was a small gathering by our standards – eleven instead of our typical sixteen or more. It was a success – eleven worked well – we could all talk at the table and all sit around afterwards. Carrie of course knew things were a little different and so did my sister. To the rest: just another turkey, just another incredible meal. (Have I mentioned that girl can cook!)
Before the company arrives Carrie and I lay down for a few moments. We had a good nights sleep, a relatively relaxing day, yet we are both drained. Can you spell depression? When the family is gone and the cleaning is done, we lie in bed and watch TV. Carrie finds Pretty Woman on cable – a movie familiar enough to fade in and out of., a movie about fairy tales not coming true, until of course the end when it does.
We hold hands and when they talk of the fairy tale – Vivienne in the tower and the knight on the white horse – I feel the tightening, I know the thoughts. For after a life in the tower – a life of abuse, of the unspeakable – I was the knight and only during the last five or ten years has she believed I would stay. To say that belief has been shaken would be gross understatement. She is quietly teary and for the first time in over four months I can finally find the tears. I have wanted them, looked for them, but they have been hiding.
I remember the last cry – it was the day after our daughters wedding, the day after I chose Fields of Gold for our official parent’s dance, the day after the lyric “there are promises I have broken” put an end to our dance, to our evening. It was still months before the realization, or more accurately, the acknowledgement that the marriage as once was will never be again, the acknowledgement of my being gay.
So Thanksgiving became the first milestone in this new life and while not separated, I find I am not as distant from Drew and Troll, from Frank and Thom as I had believed. And I start to think of other milestones, markers on my journey. The next is clear: Christmas, a day Carrie is already bracing for. She recently wrote and asked what she did to have a lump of coal in her stocking. The image will stay with me and worse, I suspect with her. She would have liked to have gone away, made believe it was not Christmas at all, but we started too late and it is not the easiest week to travel.
Next stop New Years. Not so bad. It always was a strange night and our best friends – yes they know – have suggested the four of us, a restaurant. Not a year for parties. And anyway, what can be so bad about a night that ends with Auld Lang Syne, the perfect maudlin moment to end the “perfect” maudlin year.
Then, not a holiday: just the moment that could break it all in a heartbeat. Last May while in Chicago for a conference I met a man: a gay man, a sweet man. We had a brief e-mail exchange, it felt right, and we had a wonderful fifteen hours together. For the first (and only) time in my life, I was free to be a gay man even if I was still working so hard at being “bi”. We have since corresponded spottily – we are both busy and we both felt an emotional connection that would only cause pain.
So on the first Friday in January I will board a plane, I will be met at the airport and I will again see Jerry. I will see if the remembered fondness was him or if the circumstances colored my vision. And either way on Sunday, back to O’Hare bound for home.
But in order for there to be Chicago, there will be two moments. The first when I walk out the door on Friday morning, carry-on in hand. Carrie will need to sleep alone Friday and Saturday nights. And then, hardest of all, the moment I walk back in the door Sunday evening. We spoke of that moment earlier and neither of us can envision it. A weekend, no explanations required, no illusions, and no need for don’t ask, don’t tell. I will not attempt a kiss as I walk through the door, yet I expect to climb into her – our – bed.
The hope that I walk in and announce he wasn’t so nice, it wasn’t such fun: can I come home now? We both know that will not happen. And if it is a good weekend, good for me that is, what is the conversation. Some mono-syllabic answers – “Fine”, a little lie – “Okay”. And beneath it all the fear: the fear that the answer will be a desire for more weekends.
They call today Black Friday – a retailers term - and as Carrie and I gaze forward there are clouds are on the horizon and the palette is dark.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Normally I do not have the patience to read a nine page memoir but something caught me and kept me. If Prancer was a person, his last year would be described as advanced Alzheimer’s, something I never associated with a dog. But as I read the descriptions they rang true.
You see I know a little about the topic. My mom had Alzheimers, we watched her decline: she spent the last five years of her life in a facility, not knowing, barely existing. It was a strange thing in her case: with hindsight the depression throughout her life seems clear, but that was thirty years ago: times were different. So there was depression and there was Alzheimers and no one ever knew when that border was crossed but we all knew there would be no return.
I read Jerry’s description – Prancer’s world shrinking, the accidents – for humans we have the fancy word: incontinence, the changed personality. And I read of Jerry’s struggle – balancing his love wanting to keep Prancer alive and his love wanting to let Prancer go. After a year the time came to let go: the vet came to the house, Prancer lay on a window seat and in Jerry’s arms was freed from further suffering.
With fascination I read, I feel the emotion, I feel for Jerry. And then I lean back and think and my fascination turns to horror. My mom spent five years in the nursing home withering away. My siblings and I live in New York and she is in Florida – a common enough scenario. While dad was alive there would be the trips to see him and visit her. But age took him first and she lived two years after he passed on. A few months after my dad’s death, twins are born into our life, one named for him. Work, older kids and now infants – life sure is busy.
We make a trip to Florida, Carrie and me and the little ones, and we make a visit. A picture of mom and the twins on the mantle – all there ever was and all there ever will be. It was the last time I saw her. She lived over a year after that photograph, but life sure is busy.
Then one day a call from the facility – she has pneumonia, she will blissfully exit what passes for a life. One of my sisters goes to manage the situation, to be there should she die. I could have joined her – we had pulled it off a few years earlier to get to our father’s bedside, to be with him at the end. Yes, life sure is busy.
So I think about Jerry and Prancer and I think about me and my mom and – this is so hard to write, maybe the hardest thing I have typed yet – the truth is inescapable: In the end Jerry showed more kindness to his dog than I did to my mother.
There are reasons for sure. We were never close. I suspect she was suffering depression into Alzheimers for most of my adult life. My father was the towering figure commandeering the landscape. There was no level of communication with her for probably the last seven years of her life. There are reasons. There are rationalizations. There are no excuses. It is one of those things that one gets to carry, carry forever.
I speak with both of my sisters today – they call with holiday greetings and to see how their newly gay brother is holding up. I share this story with them; we have all come to realize we should have acted differently. My sister who made the final pilgrimage remembers how a few minutes before mom passed away, her eyes opened with a clarity that had been missing for years and those eyes shed tears. My sister never knew what the tears were for, but could imagine, imagine many things.
Another thought also crossed my mind as I considered Jerry’s story. A dog can die in dignity and in peace. Can pass on lying on a window seat in the sun, being loved and with an injection float away. There was a movie a long time ago – They Shoot Horses, Don’t They. It took years for me to realize the meaning.
Strange how Prancer was the lucky one.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Wednesday the phone rings: friends of my wife, by extension friends of mine. They have made the trip from out of town even though the wedding is cancelled. A short negotiation and it is settled: dinner at our home on Friday night. Now this sounds pretty simple but anyone who has been reading here for a while is starting to cringe. I need to think about the schedule. Support group – meets only once a month, a seeming first step on the new journey. Dinner with out-of –towners: really friends of my wife, a husband twenty years my senior who I never could connect with.
Much thought, discussions with Carrie, discussions with Sam. Friday morning dawn breaks, I shower, I dress and off to work. Clothing suitable for work and appropriate for heading into the City or just coming home: all bases are covered. Somewhere along the way rationality breaks through the narcissistic haze – I have lost my mind. A telephone call home and simple question of when the guests are arriving so I can time my leaving the office: a simple answer and as the clock chimes six, I am home.
Carrie had been afraid that my disappointment would arrive home with me – the sullen Nate. Her fears were grounded in the reality of our years together. Honesty easily morphs into tacky social behavior. But I am forewarned and I am learning. I pop in the door, smile on my face, a perfect host. Actually it was quite easy, the evening moved along pleasantly and our guests excused themselves at a reasonable hour.
It felt good making the right choice for a change. The meeting will be there next month: I am not exactly suffering between my e-mails, blogs and friends, and Carrie for at least a moment does not feel like I have one foot out the door. That night we lay in bed and hugged, at first a hug of comfort for comfort is something we will both need for this weekend. But as is often the case the hug of comfort became a hug of desire which led to a hug of passion. We were one again, if only for a while.
It was the first time we had made love since Carrie set very fair rules. It was the first time we made love since accepting who I am and by extension our future. It was the first time we made love without the lie that the storm was ending. It was the first time we made love in our new life. And it was good.
Good, yes: I love Carrie and have never argued with sex with a woman. (If Carrie was here she would add I have never argued with sex, period.) But it was not an epiphany. It strangely made clear that as excited as I can get for my wife – an excitement on all burners, physical and emotional – that my desire for men, the Gay side, remains alive and well.
Carrie and I have since made love again: a silent break of dawn love making, little touches speaking volumes. So I go forward with a ray of hope. I have always known that a relationship built on my being with men while Carrie learns celibacy could never work.
I have learned from this weekend. I have learned that Carrie, Carrie and our family deserves respect, a feeling of being first. This will be tested; it will be tested when I go to Chicago, if not earlier. But in many ways my actions will ultimately determine the success of our newly defined marriage. I just pray that next time the good judgment will kick in sooner, before leaving more damage in my wake, damage that always takes so long to repair, longer to repair than to destroy.
Friday, November 17, 2006
(I can hear people saying: this is a stretch even for Nate – where the hell are we going today?)
So we go back to last Saturday night, my closest friend, a friend of 38 years is over for dinner. His wife is away so it gives us some time to talk, talk quietly, and talk intensely. He has gone two months without a drink – a laudable feat after a twenty year run. He remains confused as to my circumstances: I have a strong will; I love my wife and family: why not step back from the precipice.
As we talk I realize that he has known me for 38 years but until one night this summer he did not have an inkling to my bi/gay side. From his perspective this is a newly discovered side of Nate, maybe there latently but invisible to all, even to me. So I rewind. I realize that much of what he has never seen has been written about in these pages. I realize that these scenes have come and gone in my consciousness over the ten months of this journal. So I rewind and I share with my friend.
The vignettes pour out. An eleven year old in a circle jerk and then in bed in a sixty-nine position: I know the game is to fake giving a blowjob in order to get one. I know if I wrap my lips I will be ridiculed. I am responsible even back then. I play the game, but I know what I really wanted.
I am in College and my roommate and I swap massages. It is the early seventies, the time of the West Coast “offense” if you would, and touchy feely does not warrant a notice. But every time I rub his lower back, I want to keep going, I want to roll him over. Who knows, maybe he was thinking it too, but I am responsible and I am afraid.
I am still in College – 1974, an apartment one block off Sheridan Square in Greenwich Village – ground zero for gays. I go to the supermarket one afternoon and find myself talking with an old guy – thirties – an Allen Ginsberg beard, a real hippie. I have a pony tail by then, but do not feel myself to be authentic like him. He invites me to visit him - gives me his address. On some level I realize the nature of his interest and I am good to go. But back at the apartment I mention it and my roommate is happy to assist, to warn me and save me: “the man is gay and wants to hit on you.” So I do not go: yet again “saved”.
College ends and I am in my apartment, in my mid twenties. I recently wrote of this afternoon: I may not have a guy, but I have a toy and so starts a lifetime of physical desire fulfilled.
It was those days that I discovered Buddy Booths: I remember that first time. I did not understand when a hand came through the gap – well maybe I did understand and spooked, I bolted. That night I fully understood and regretted, regretted an opportunity lost. It is strange how with all the pornography I have seen in my life I can still to this very day describe the movie: A view through a telescope and two naked men on a beach.
Carrie comes along and so do the toys – my partner in crime. Doesn’t every newlywed want to feel a strap-on in the honeymoon suite, be the bitch for one’s wife? The years of the Whispers, the trip to Washington and finally this past year: A dizzying experience.
I talk, a half hour, maybe an hour, time stands still. It all pours out with a quiet intensity. My friend is stunned but he also now understands. And finally, so do I. For the past year I have looked at each of those pages, each of those static images and thought about them. But every time, it is only one image, an aberration of a straight guy, okay a bi guy. But when you fan them all together, when you watch the movie in full speed, it is clear. I am gay.
In a week of change Carrie and I had already reached this conclusion: we had already started planning our new course, but seeing the movie... It is time for self acceptance, the hardest acceptance of all.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
The phone rings and he answers – I am not the only hard worker. Sotto voce he asks if everything is okay at home, am I alright. My heart skips a beat – what does he know, how does he know. Silently I brace myself and ask what he means? A pause and then he reminds of the postponement of the wedding – he had been invited and therefore he had been uninvited.
Jubilation – I am not outed. My professional life will not collapse, at least not today. Gladly I share the story of the postponement, of the fiancée with the staying power of a bad penny. We commiserate, discuss some business and then it really is time to head home. But first I call Carrie – as I share the story her heart also misses a beat at the appropriate moment.
Later in the evening we talk and Carrie tells me the hard truth. Someday that call will come – maybe months and maybe years, but as sure as the sun rises some day it will come. Maybe a slip of a tongue, maybe someone noticing a lunchtime pattern, maybe an e-mail left open on my screen. The possibilities are endless but the result is quite finite.
Now it is not that people do not know: my family knows; some of our friends know. Add it all together and probably a dozen individuals. Having them know is not a bad thing – almost comforting, a land without pretense. But that is different from general knowledge in the community, in my workplace. Would my job be in jeopardy? No. Would there be snickers? I’m sure. Would Carrie find it harder to work on a MOM in the face of the judgments? Absolutely.
But ultimately it comes down to the emotion I felt hearing those words over the telephone: A sense of feral fear. The road ahead is long indeed.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
After Bob and I got beyond being rather upset with each other - me at him for the advice and him at me for having done a "poll" concerning it - we had a very good session and will meet one more time to see if there is any further benefit or if we are done for now.
The bottom line is that he "heard" someone who was looking to keep his marriage intact and unchanged while continuing to act out - a classic have your cake and eat it scenario. His advice was based on those competing and ultimately mutually exclusive goals. It seems that sometimes an unrealistic question will generate an unrealistic answer.
After a 15+ minute monologue on where Carrie and I are today and on my own self definition, the landscape in the room was totally different than when I walked in. In a strange way Bob forced me (and by extension Carrie) to define ourselves. And so I have. He thought I showed great courage this week though I still think Carrie showed the courage and I just rose to the occasion. And of course while I make reference to "continuing to act out", that is no longer relevant in that the issue is who I am, not what I may do.
So Bob ended up being okay after all and while he did not have a secret "Kissinger style plan" the end result was to force a basic shift in thinking.
I appreciate your support and love in what is a time of unimaginable difficulty but also in ways I cannot explain (I know, 100,000 words of blogging: I should be able to explain anything:) a time of strange relief.
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Over the last month we have added a refrain at home – well actually Carrie has added a refrain: Not Enough. This is typically in response to my protestations that I love her, that I am attracted to her, that I am still noticing all the women around me. Not Enough. The words stop me every time in their simplicity and truth. One, who is totally in love, totally attracted, does not do the things that I do.
Then last week: the IM’s between SR and Mark. It was a long exchange, much ground covered, but twice SR said something – only two words, and twice I stopped short. Never Enough. I recognize them – a slight variation in words but Carrie’s message indeed.
Carrie and SR have come to realize that they are the Neville Chamberlains of the bi/gay wars. They have compromised, they have bent – one might say they have appeased. Carrie has looked the other way for me and SR has done her part with Mark. Yet the group of us continues to stretch the boundaries. In my post Whispers the escalation is detailed: no need to repeat it here.
In my last post, Bob, my therapist, was front and center. His motives, or lack thereof, aside it did have an effect. It forced me to realize that I will not lie to Carrie and it is probably time to stop lying to myself. It forced me to realize that the central question in my therapy was not how to save my marriage: it was how to find myself.
On May 17th Carrie wrote on this Blog:
It is because I love my husband as much as I do, that I must stand by him in this struggle. However, it is you who have become his friends that he needs to help guide his path on this journey to his soul.
And since then a journey it has been, a journey of stops and starts, not unlike driving in heavy traffic, not unlike looking for the next turn in a foreign land. This form of driving, annoying to the driver, is absolutely nauseating to the passenger. Carrie has been buffeted but Carrie has also grown stronger. Therapy seems to agree with at least one of us and with her strength has come pride.
It has been a few weeks since Carrie came up with her plan – sex with men equals no sex with her: A more than reasonable compromise to hold our marriage – our lives – together. And the rule remains. But this week Carrie spoke the truth. Our marriage as once defined has ended. We will remain together as deepest of friends, as parents to our children, as a family. But what once was is gone. Yes, we may still grow old together. Yes, we may again be lovers someday. No, it will never be exactly the same.
Carrie tells me I have crossed the bridge and while my journey may bring me to another bridge, another bridge back, there is no turning back. The realization – not immediate, but over the course of the week – is that the bridge was crossed a while ago, probably back in May. She knows and those who have read this Blog since then know. I know but I just do not want to admit it.
This week we admitted it. As I said nothing changed on the surface but the acknowledgement of what already has changed, changes everything – tectonic shifts. We will remain together, we will keep talking, we will share a bed and we will share much of a life. But we will no longer share the lie that nothing has occurred. We will no longer share the lie that our marriage is fine. We will no longer share the big lie, the one that says I am just a bi guy who has leaned a little too far in one direction. It is time to accept that by action and by fantasy, I am at this moment gay.
Carrie and I have often discussed what the end of the story will be. One cannot know the end until you arrive, arrive through an honest journey. But life is not one long tale: it is a series of stories and groups of the stories string together to make a book and groups of books string together to make a life.
So it is time to end the first book and start the second. The first book it turns out ends with Nate accepting that the journey will truly begin. It seems book two will be the journey. I do not need a new URL, a new name for my Blog. This is my writing home, this is still my story and the books are seamless. But make no mistake: this is for better or worse a new book.
Every year Jews read the Torah – the first five books of the Bible. And then we start again. On Simchat Torah we finish the cycle, complete the fifth book. But then, immediately, we rewind the scroll and read “In the beginning…” the start of Genesis; the cycle is never broken.
So in a perverse way while time for book one to end, it also time for book two to begin, to begin without breaking the cycle..
I am writing an e-mail to a friend and Sam comes up. How do I describe him? Fuckbuddy; Friend with Benefits; Playpal? None work for me. Carrie suggests “Lover”: no, there is an implication of an emotional bond that is not of that level, not yet. I know the answer, but it sounds strange to my ears, strange to my sensibilities, hard to say and hard to write: Sam is my boyfriend…
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Our session begins and Bob is surprised – he does not associate financial professionals with being Riverboat Gamblers; that’s what he thinks I am, gambling it all on this roll of the dice.
It is an interesting thought because in my pocket is a copy of Carrie’s post which ends with a quote from The Passion, the book which first brought Carrie and I from a deep friendship to the precipice of being true lovers. The Passion talks of gambling – true gambling – as only being real when the stakes are more than you can afford, when you are betting your life. And Bob will tell you, I am betting it all.
We cover some other things, our Freudian period, why I am not really gay, just longing for a penis to replace the emotional void of an emotionally absent father. I understand it, but still that penis....
Then towards the end, Bob tells me we need to save my marriage – I don’t disagree. The solution is simple. Tell Carrie I am not going to sleep with men anymore. Tell her it was a midlife crisis: not worth losing her over. He assures me it is what she wants to hear. He explains that when you get a phone call with bad news, you utter “Oh No”. We want to deny, to shut out the bad.
Stopping and not telling Carrie if I start again in six months or a year: it is conceivable, back to don’t ask, don’t tell. But telling her on Monday and hooking up on Thursday: that is lying. Bob is sanguine: he asks the difference, tells me I sound Catholic with my degrees of sin. He is serious, or so it seems to me. My excessive sharing with Carrie – yes I know there are times where I say too much – has always been an issue to him. Why do I tell her things, why did I come out to her originally? Bob would have counseled me to a life of quiet adultery.
My mind is reeling, even by my distorted standards. Where to turn? I cannot ask Carrie, I cannot post – Carrie sometimes reads this Blog: if I take the lying route announcing it here seems beyond tacky – the social equivalent skipping the condom. As a few of you know I turn to e-mail – a letter to some friends, my fellow travelers. I am of course nervous – am I imposing, will anyone answer? Sis tells me I am a doofus for worrying about such things and she is right, my friends respond in force and with force.
They are appalled by the suggestion. They appreciate that honesty might be the last refuge left to me and Carrie. And they wonder about Bob: what was he thinking?
The next day, I send the same friends a follow-up e-mail:
Just wanted to thank you for reading and for the responses. As one of you noted the fact that I sent this e-mail was a sign that I already knew the answer.
I will at some point do a post because it interests me but the simple truth is that Carrie and I have never lied to each other in twenty years. Now is not the time to start. She and I talked last night on this topic and we both accept the issues in our lives and that a "quick fix" based on a lies is far from the answer. We are both committed to our struggle.
Strangely enough as we finished talking and held hands we both felt closer to each other than we have in a while. Honesty is a very potent force.
There were a few things in the responses that did catch my attention:. two friends reminding me “The Truth Will Set You Free.”
Jefferson manages to summarize the incident in fifteen words:
Perhaps you should offer to lie to your therapist if it makes him feel better.
Now I should note there is a small movement that thinks Bob was trying to provoke me, goad me into taking a position. I am skeptical, but next Monday either I will be truly impressed by Bob’s cleverness or I will be back to the therapy drawing boards.
Monday, November 06, 2006
This post was born with the title: Escalations: From Cigars to Rabbits
As we will learn, the real title was Whispers all along.
Recently Carrie has added yet another word to our lexicon – escalating. The word itself is of course not new but the context is – my escalating needs. Of course the problem with a nearly twenty year relationship, one of total honesty, is that trends become apparent. But I am getting ahead of this story.
Twenty-five years ago, a studio apartment, a close to full time live in girlfriend: not much privacy for this red blooded straight dude. One day I am given a cigar, one of those cheap cigars in a fancy aluminum looking tube. I do not smoke, I am straight. So I cannot really explain how one Saturday afternoon, alone and looking forward to a nap, that tube went places I will leave to your imagination.
Fast forward seven or so years and Carrie joins the story: I am still quite straight but do accept the physical pleasures of certain stimulation – sounds so much more urbane than saying things up my ass. I share these thoughts and graduate to the world of toys and like any kid in his first candy store the selection is dizzying – sizes, materials, power sources – and like any kid in his first candy store the eyes are bigger than... once again I defer to your imagination.
So a collection is born, but much of it ends up for show or the most occasional attempts – they are too big. The toys do get some usage but more as an occasional treat than a staple of our diet. And with the toys come the whispers – the occasional reminder of what a man could do to me. The thought even now works its magic.
With time the toys and whispers do not fade, they grow until a dozen years back Carrie tells me to enjoy Washington – to explore my desires, find myself. No cigar tube that night, something real, maybe too real. Fortuitously it seems my “friend” for the evening is easy to walk away from: the gay population would not choose him as spokesmen of the year. His is not a life any of us would really choose.
But now the whispers grow stronger, the real whispers of Carrie in my ear, the ghost whispers from within. There are still the toys, but they are occasional sideshows – the true sex organ – my brain – is hopping all around. In my own haze, I do not hear the slowly increasing volume but Carrie does. She realizes that she needs to whisper a little louder, her hands are more active and my subtle movements speak volumes.
Still for a decade and more it is only the whispers, maybe louder, but whispers all the same. And then crossing the border: Men. Strangely while the whispers were of being taken, were of anal sex, the reality I believed in was oral sex – sucking a nipple on steroids if you would. And anyway, those guys had real penises – they were bigger than the proverbial cigar tube. So I hook up with men, I think of being taken, but the encounters are oral. They are good, but that fantasy is still lurking, “Audrey” still crying out “Feed Me”.
And then comes Chicago – still not ready to be taken, I do the taking. I get it now – I am really a top – the fantasy was just reversed. But the whispers are still there. Then comes Sam, a regular gig, a slow patient gig. And we take each other. Not so difficult – Bloggers have written veritable manuals, but like any animal species, sex needs no guidebooks: nature knows.
Carrie reads my Blog, she learns that I have crossed this border. We make love one night and when she wants to extend the evening, the fun for us both, she suggests the Rabbit, first her, then me. With embarrassment and anticipation I forage in the drawer, hidden from prying eyes, and there it is and it is good. But Carrie is no longer whispering: the volume, while not yet a scream, has surely escalated.
There is a difference of opinion. Nate has reached the sexual Promised Land – a lifetime of waiting and the real fantasy being played out. No place left to go. Carrie cannot help but wonder: what is the next escalation. Sexual penetration – that she gets. Emotional penetration – terrifying to her, and truth be told, also to me.
So the second panel of our triptych is complete. The paint needs to dry, I need to step back and gaze, gaze at the sketch for the third panel, a difficult panel indeed
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Carrie has read the IM's between Mark and SR, she has shared the struggle, and she has rarely spoken. Today is her turn, this is her post. It is a letter to me but it also a letter to us all.
I can certainly understand Mark’s wife’s frustration. All along your journey, I have asked you not to share, but to no avail. At this point there is no going back to silence. I do understand that in some way sharing makes it seem more honest to you and there is a certain closeness that develops. However, I wonder what underlying issues lead you and the others to need our approval.
As you know I have carefully avoided the blog world and tried to compartmentalize the situation. I realize you and all your fellow bloggers have internal conflicts and a past that brings you to this point. I think it is great that you have each other for support. However, for all your claims of loving your wives, you still continue to push and hurt. You consciously or unconsciously play on our love and the “uniqueness” of the situation to justify your infidelities. While I do not approve of Sam’s actions anymore than yours, I believe in many ways he is more honest. He accepts that he needs sex with men, and that he wants his family. He does what he must with hurting the fewest number of people around him.
Perhaps that is too simple. I cannot really know his struggles. What scares me is that from what I have read among your blogs is a group who really don’t know what they need. Or if they do, that they do not know how to have everything they want. Life is by definition a series of challenges most of which we work through and celebrate. Some such as what you are now facing are life defining. But very few people, if any, get everything they want. If we did, nothing in life would be precious.
I think you and your fellow bloggers are lucky to have wives who love you so much that they are trying to work through this time with you, usually at the expense of their own emotional existence. With few exceptions, most did not know the men they were marrying are bisexual. Most did not sign on for a life of accepting that their husbands NEED to be with other men. Most of us thought we were the other half of a soul team. You can intellectualize the pain this must cause us, but I doubt you can fully comprehend the loss. Still, we stick with you and convince ourselves that if we really love you we will understand and by understanding this too shall pass and we will be one again. I am no different from all the others who believe in Santa Claus. I only wonder what I did to deserve coal in my stocking this year. I guess I wasn’t good enough.
To be fair, we should tell you what we want and need. We should be equal in this partnership. But of course we all choose life partners because of our needs at that time. Perhaps the caregiver aspects are what drew you to us in the first place. What we thought was sexual openness or kinky in our bedroom played into your fantasies. You cannot help us to be worthy in our own right because that threatens the foundation.
Perhaps the question I pose to you and your group of friends is this: If you knew your daughter was facing what we, your wives, are facing, what would you advise her to do?
You describe your soul as conflicted. Conflict implies a struggle of choices. If, as you say, you cannot change your desires, then the conflict is whether or not you need your spouse as a sexual partner more than a friend. Whether you can sacrifice your personal needs for your children’s well being. Health issues not withstanding. Can you make a choice? I suggest that while you intellectually know the right answer, emotionally you would choose your needs.
I have faced the same crossroads this year. By my being here, I have made my choice. My limit: you can’t expect sex with both of us. I can be your soul mate, but not your lover. That is all I can handle for now. Will that change? Things are always changing, but it is easier and healthier to understand the rules of the current game. You will choose to play or look for another game. The game will become a staple or it will evolve. Only the history books know the answer.
You talk about your Gods of music. I just opened up The Passion to conclude with a quote, but instead the first line I read was this:
She had made him possible. In a sense she was his God. Like God, she was neglected.
To that I would add: in my belief, God can never stop loving his flock. I can never stop loving you.