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.
Friday, November 03, 2006
The Rabbi asks us to imagine we are going on a journey. A journey to begin a new life in a strange place: the destination is unknown. He tells us the journey will be difficult – physically and emotionally. This is a game and the game (which could pass for a meme) is for each family to list five items we will need to begin our new life and five items we will need to remember our old life. I huddle with my children and we make our lists but all the while my head is spinning: journeys, the unknown, emotional trials. I didn’t realize the Rabbi read my Blog, could see inside my mind.
After we read our answers, had a little fun, the Rabbi asks if we know why he chose the game on this night. Some guesses, but we are all a little slow. It relates to this weeks Pasha – the portion of the Torah we will read in Temple on this Sabbath day. The Pasha is Lech Lecha which translates into "Go, Go For Yourself" and it is the story of Abraham’s journey. It opens with God telling Abraham:
“Go forth for yourself from your native land and from your birthplace and from your father’s house to the place that I will show you!” (Genesis 12:1)
The Rabbi explains that the order is important. Going forth from one’s land is difficult, but it is done for many reasons. Birthplace – getting harder now, and lastly from your father’s house: the pinnacle of difficulty, the height of leaving. And I have considered over the past year, what if my parents were still alive. Would I have the courage to share my journey, tell them of the struggle, of the pain I have caused? Truly, I do not know.
Of course while I had these internal thoughts, there was still a game to play. So in best meme tradition (my children should only know what they are part of), our answers:
Five items to begin the new life:
Seeds for crops (the persimmons have gone to our heads)
Five items to remind us of the old:
Carrie’s wedding knife (which has cut wedding cakes for four generations)
My daughter’s spoons
Grandpa’s pocket watch
Grandma’s music box
And a restful day of peace to all
Over the ensuing ten months Mark and I have had an interesting relationship. We read each others work though by no means religiously. We are strangely related: he is the “boyfriend” of my “sister”, a stretch to some but quite real to us. The thing is that I always perceived Mark and I to be in different corners of our small community: me with the married with children crowd and Mark in the footloose and fancy free corner.
I confess: I was always a little jealous of Mark’s story, a wife, both understanding and bi herself, threesomes with other men – the years I spent dreaming of that happening. What more could a man ask and really, what did we have in common. Sis always told me – I was missing the picture on this one and while Sis is always right, I still travel my own timetable.
So a few weeks ago when Mark left a comment on my blog, a long thought out comment, I began to realize that he understood the view from my – our – corner. In my best traditions I e-mailed him: I love to stand corrected. Little did I realize that that little peek was the harbinger of things to come.
Yesterday I get an e-mail from a friend – go check out Mark’s blog – the two postings of e-mails and IM’s between him and his wife. So I go, I read: soon my head is spinning. I will not re-tell it here, it is not my story. But the thing is that it is my story, it is many of our stories.
It seems when you strip away the veneer, the veneer of SR being in threesomes, the veneer of Carrie breaking out the toys, the veneer of wives trying to keep marriages together – when you strip away the veneer, you are left with women, women married to bi/gay men: men who want other men, want them sexually or want them for a drink and flirting or want them for emotional support. I will not speak for the women here: SR has already done that and done it quite well. As for us men, we each speak silently, the language of actions and deeds.
Recently I wrote of not repeating myself, trying to avoid the rut of self flagellation which has become thematic around here. My perceived solution to this problem is to try to broaden my perspectives, both on TGT and on other things dear to my heart.
Carrie gets it: she, with regret, points out that I am not capable of stopping. What I see as validation she sees as adoration. I tell her what I love most is when I am not adored, when I receive constructive comments, when I am “called”, but truth be told seeing my stat counter at 50 or 60 visits a day does supply massive gratification and validation.
When I start to repeat myself, the literary version of drool, please tell me for then it will be time to pack the tent. Until then, Carrie is right: I am not capable of leaving what has become a second home to me.
Should I be switching to Beta? Any advice appreciated.