Parts of this update are as funny as Tina Fey and there are parts that make me sad to report. Such is my world these days but I remain confident that things are going to be better and all four of us will be happy at our core again.
The kids came to the house here last weekend and it was great. We met at the halfway point and did the baggage swap routine. I’ve watched those happen for years and now can’t actually believe I’m one of those statistics but, again, here I am. The good thing was that we could enjoy a nice dinner together before we got both cars back out on the road. My son had been angling earlier in the week for my wife to come too and spend the weekend but she and I agreed that there was no real reason to delay the inevitable and she did an admirable job convincing him of this. A few tears all around as the three of us got into my car and she got into hers but soon enough we were talking and laughing and enjoying being together. My daughter has a knack for finding funny things on YouTube so she kept us laughing as long as we had 3G coverage on the trip. A quick stop at the grocery as we got back into town and back home. The dogs were as excited to see the kids as the kids were to see the dogs. We spent some time sitting and talking and to bed we went. I was worried about bedtime for my son and, as expected, there were some tears. He told me he was sad that we weren’t a family living together any more and then verbalized his fear that he, too, might be gay. I did my best to talk through the idea that it was OK to be sad and that I was too but we needed to figure out ways to not dwell on the sadness. I also tried to navigate the “gay gene” minefield. Suggestions on answering that one are welcome.
The next day was just like a normal Saturday. Breakfast, a quick trip to the gym for me, and then off to the soccer fields to watch the cousins play. Lunch with my mother and then back home for what was probably our last day on the water for the season. Steven came over and brought his dog and spent the afternoon with us. I’m pretty certain my daughter has figured out who he “actually” is to me and that’s OK. She gets along very well with him and when she’s ready to talk, so am I. I think my son still sees him as just my friend “Mr. Steve” and that’s perfectly fine too. We had a great afternoon on the water then got cleaned up and met back up for pizza for dinner. There’s a saying in the dog training community that a tired dog is a good dog and to a certain extent the same can be said for children. My son was exhausted and bedtime was a non-event. No tears, no questions, just the comfort of his bed with his dog beside him. I’ll close the loop on these next two items later but just keep in mind that my son tried on Steven’s glasses at dinner and Steven is blind as a cave rat. We also joked with my son about putting him in dance lessons (I can’t even remember how that one came up but it plays later in the story).
Sunday was another great day. My son wanted to go fishing so we got up really early and went to the water. Caught one bass and a mess of bluegill and bream. All catch and release and he had a great time. Also kept us from watching TV and the non-stop coverage of 9/11. That’s really an abstract idea for a kid his age and with everything else going on in his world I didn’t really think images of jumbo jets slamming into the WTC were really what he needed.
Then time to pack up and head back to our meeting point. Quick lunch with my Mom and we’re on the road. And we get back to the same meeting point and go in for another meal. Missed communication but it’s not a crisis…I thought I had made our lunch plans with my Mom clear and my wife is wondering why no one is hungry…we’ll figure it out, I say…this is the first time we’ve tried this thing. But she’s perturbed. I can’t fix it that my kids aren’t hungry 2 hours after eating a big lunch. So we’re sitting at the table snacking on bread while she eats and she asks the kids what all we did. And in the “kids say the darnedest things” category, my son starts talking about “how blind Mr. Steve is”! So I get daggers while she asks what that means. And he matter of factly reports on trying his glasses on at dinner. He then tells the story of us threatening to put him in dance lessons. More daggers. OK, guilty as charged. I should have cleared it with her ahead of time that he was going to be spending part of the time with us. I get it. But in my defense I think it’s important for my kids to see that I do, in fact, have friends left here. I don’t know how my son views Steven at this point and I’m not sure it matters. They like each other, he respects Steven, and Steven enjoys spending time with him. Can I ask for more on that one? And even if my daughter has figured out who he “really” is, is that a bad thing either? Don’t kids want to know their parents are OK? So we wrap up and get the bags exchanged again and away they head. A few more tears but all four of us thankful that we’ve survived the first of these.
I spend some of my free time reading the trials and tribulations of others “like me” but so “unlike me” we would hardly recognize each other. Men caught in some cruel version of purgatory. Knowing full well who they are but not knowing what they want out of life. Some living with a wife who knows or suspects the full story, some in a closet so dark they cannot see their hand in front of their own face much less their own face in the mirror. Yes, there is pain for the four of us. Some flashes of anger from her that I have expected and, to a certain extent, have even encouraged. But I know that grieving the death of our marriage is just like grieving the death of a person and anger is one of those stages. To ignore the anger stage shortchanges her healing. I’ve gone through my own anger stage. My anger was directed at God. And I realized that God has bigger issues than my orientation and I’ve moved past that. Healing in my own time.
So that’s my update. My new normal is just that…normal as can be. I’m realizing when I’m with Steven just how unfulfilled I have lived. And I mean that as no disrespect for my wife and children. I love them, and will always love them, dearly. But I know who I am, I know who I am meant to be with, and I’ve never felt so content in my entire life. I love more deeply and expressively than ever before and I’m thankful that God answered my prayers by giving me the courage to live authentically while there’s still time enjoy that life.