Sunday, May 13, 2007

Dissonance

A topic of late has centered on telling people that we are separated – co-workers and neighbors. It is not that we have a pressing need, but particularly at work there is a strangeness to answering: “Yes, Carrie and I had a great weekend – life is just great.” So it is time to practice a little honesty, if not on being gay at least on the fact that it is a very nice basement, thank you very much.

The thing is that people have an image of separation – voices raised, plates flying, an anger that is palpable. People separate for a reason – personal dislike, disagreements on child rearing: anything you can imagine but always – ALWAYS – a reason. A good reason, a bad reason, but a reason all the same.

Yet we talk at work and it is frequently quite an accurate answer in some strange way: “Carrie and I had a good weekend. We had dinner with friends, we had the big kids over: we are fixing up this or that in the house.” Separating couples do not typically spend an afternoon looking at new kitchen cabinets.

When I tell these friends that Carrie and I are separated, they suffer cognitive dissonance. Without knowing the gay, they cannot really comprehend the picture. Accept it on faith: yes, but really understand, no. Now I am somewhat okay with this. I do not have a responsibility to defend my life and the gay thing will come out sooner than later.

Today I realized that the cognitive dissonance is real, a very tangible problem. But the thing is that the problem is not co-workers or neighbors. The problem is ours: Carrie and mine. We are treading on such undefined ground. If we want to practice for a divorce, there are role models, on TV, in books, down the block. Hell, we have both been there, lived with the screaming, the lawyers, the loathing.

We joke about Will and Grace, but Carrie points out that Will and Grace were never married. They have no children and ultimately do not have a lot of – if any – sexual history. So on a day like today – Mother’s Day – what is the etiquette? (I brought flowers and we had a family day.) When is it appropriate to nod, to do a semi-low five or just to give a little hug? When is it appropriate to share with your best friend and when is that an imposition, sharing morphing into a reminder of all of the pain. Last week after my night of personal hell I called Carrie and she was there for me. But it also hurt her – being called on to listen to me feel bad about the pain I brought on both of us.

So yes, there is tremendous dissonance between our hearts and our heads, between the life of being separated and the life of sharing a home. And I do use the word “home” advisably – we are not living as college style roommates, I am no mere boarder. I go to work and all that I reap is shared and I come home and partake of whatever was made for dinner. Ozzie and Harriet on LSD.

I do not want to change it – living as a family, interacting with my children without the imposition of set times. And with luck we will pull it off. But is an ongoing act of creation as we both learn every day.

4 comments:

A Troll At Sea said...

HakaN:

You are not only on unexplored territory, you are on holy ground. What you have is so special, that would, to my mind, be REALLY wise to make sure that you don't jeopardize it. That may mean not "sharing" when you want to. That may mean staying in the basement more than you want to, or not being in the house ["at home"?] as much as you want to.

I would, myself, be inclined to ask Carrie point-blank what she wants, but even I can see now that that is already asking her to take on more of the problem than is rightly hers.

No, I am thinking that what you need to do is pull back and wait for HER to approach YOU.

You know how well I walk this particular talk, so take it with as large a grain [pillar?] of salt as you like.

Hang in there.
T@C

Raven in NYC (aka Mark) said...

I think part of what T@C is saying is right on. I think you certainly do need to find that line of what you are. As much as you know you are best friends that has always been in the context of husband and wife so of course you would always share your joys and pains with each other. However, when one of your pains inadvertently inflicts pain on her it's hard to think that your definition of best friends needs to be rolled back.

Mother's Day though I think would be easy. She will always be the mother of your children. That roll will never change. You will never adjust your appreciate and love for her in that roll. Sure it might be awkward this first year, but I long term she will always appreciate that you care and acknowledge her role in the well-being and health of your children.

I think the thing you are both most afraid of is severing that final tie. That domestic tie. You are both still in the same house of course you would still fall into the same patterns of things - picking out cabinets together. But maybe just once or twice you should drop back and not engage it. It'll suck and it'll hurt, for both of you.

Because I think the point that T@C was getting at is that as long as you don't adjust the little things she's not going to figure out what she needs for herself.

jas said...

I have been a better blog writer than I have reader (and given how bad mine is that is saying something). I have no words of advice, nothing clever to say, nothing that will make it any better. I completely and totally understand where you are. If we had a basement in our house, I suspect I would be there now.
I adore Mrs BB, and she adores me - that much I know. But where our future lies, heaven alone knows - and heaven ain't talking.
Just make the most of what you have. Love the woman, and be true to yourself. How to square that circle I have no real idea.

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