3:55 AM

Depressed

3:55 AM and once again I’m wide awake, feeling like I want to die. I can’t quite name the emotion — it’s not exactly sadness. Aching? Wounded? Bitter? Numb? Maybe bits of all of these. I can’t understand how I can feel this way, when just a few hours ago I felt fine: at peace, contented, even loved. I spent the day cheering for my daughter at her volleyball tournament, then came home and was lying around with the kids watching old Carol Burnett clips and TV commercials from the 70s on YouTube; laughing and cracking jokes. The kids were in hysterics watching me try to play “Flappy Bird” for the first time (I couldn’t even get that damn bird through the first wall!) How did I go from that wonderful feeling to “want to die” in just five hours?

Recently a dear old friend posted an essay in response to a challenge by one of her friends to “write toward your greatest fear.” Her post started with the memorable line “I’m ’m Beth, and I was an adulteress.” (followed up by “This just in: I’m a Harlot, not an Adulteress”). She wrote toward her greatest fear. “That memory or worry or idea buried inside, that truth about you that you hope no one discovers. The thing you wish you could forget about yourself. Write directly to that.” And so I shall.

I’m Greg, and I am gay. OK, so if you’ve read my earlier posts (or even if you’ve just read the title of my blog), you probably already knew that. Still, it’s taken half a lifetime for me to be able to say it. “I am gay.” After a lifetime of denial, a lifetime of playing terminological games (“Satan is tempting me with homosexual thoughts!” “I sometimes experience same-sex attraction.” “Maybe I’m bisexual?”), I finally recognize and accept what I am. I didn’t choose to be gay, any more than I could have chosen my parents or my hair color or my height. I’m not yet ready to say it to everyone, but at least I can say it to myself. So it’s a fear, but not my greatest fear. Onward then.

I, like my friend, am an adulterer. No wait — this just in: I’m a fornicator, not an adulterer! In case you’re wondering, an adulterer is one who has sex with another man’s wife. A harlot is a promiscuous woman. And a fornicator is anyone who engages in sex outside of marriage. I cheated on my wife. And it was with GUYS! How awful is that? how shameful! “Jeez, Greg, why couldn’t you have kept it together?” I was celibate before marriage, and faithful for the first thirteen years, so obviously I have the capacity. But then several years ago, in a time of turmoil and weakness, I wandered too close to the edge and plunged over. And while I’ve come to accept that I am gay, how can I accept that I’m a cheater? I broke my promise. I deeply hurt my wife. I’m not sure if our relationship can recover. And as hard as it is to write all of that, it’s still not the thing I “most wish I could forget about myself.” So what is it then? What is it that keeps me walking at the edge of this cliff, with an impending sense of doom; the certainty that someday some unexpected bump in the road or gust of wind will send me careening over and into the depths?

I’m gay. I’m a cheater. But what I’m finding even harder to accept is that I was so g*****mn stupid, so F***ING OBLIVIOUS, that I didn’t recognize what I was until it was forty years too late. And I don’t just mean too late for me; I mean that I’m too late to spare my wife the mess we’re in, and pain I’ve caused. She deserves better.

5:25 AM. Better get back to bed.

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9 comments

  1. This is really brave. I remember those emotional lifts and falls when I came out. There was a lot of relief in just being able to admit to myself who I was. But no one told me I would be paralyzed by fear and grief from time to time. I was really surprised by that. When I came out, I was just facing the fear of losing my church family and parents (like that’s a small thing), not dealing with how to figure out a marriage in the process. Still, I ended up having to go on anti-anxiety and anti-depression meds. I think all that change was just too much for my little brain to process all at once. Fortunately, the guy I was just starting to date (13 years ago. He’s now my husband) was rock solid and never bailed on me. Do give yourself a lot of time for your mind to accommodate these big changes. It’s a huge adjustment. And also, remind yourself that when you and your wife married, you, like a lot of very wonderful people, were doing exactly what the church, our culture, your family told you was right to do. You were making a good faith effort at being the man you thought God wanted you to be, doing the best you could with what you had to work with. Whatever happens in your life now, I hope you and your wife can honor that about each other. I hope you build a community of friends who can joyfully know the complete you. That will help more than you know. And the rough stuff will subside.

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    1. Thanks, Troy, for the thoughtful response. “Paralyzed by fear and grief” is an apt description – I feel that every day, and I suspect my wife does too. And I’m sure you’re right – that we’ll need lots of time to accommodate the changes. I’m definitely looking forward to the day when the “rough stuff will subside.” 🙂

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  2. Just got to this posting, as i’m making my way through your blog. Wow! I wept as I read. This is me. This is my marriage. This is my pain. Thank you for putting it into words for me.

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  3. This is a powerful piece. I so admire a writer with the ability to write THROUGH his/her feelings at the moment. It takes me years later before I am brave enough to record mine. The beauty is, sharing your emotions–the pain you put on the page–is helping those going through their own hell, My hope is that your words are finding their audience.

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    1. Thanks so much for your kind words. That particular post reflects a recurrent reality in my life: the significant disconnect between my public face and my inner turmoil. It’s not that my public face is phony – when I laugh with my kids at YouTube clips or cheer on my kids at their events, I really am experiencing mirth and joy and pride. But those feelings don’t outweigh or displace the feelings of sadness, shame, and hopelessness that are just as common.

      I guess somewhere inside I must still subscribe to a naive view of emotions. As if good and bad emotions are like soapy water and dirt. Scrub the dirt with soapy water, and the dirt goes away! Apply some good emotions when you’re feeling bad emotions, and the bad should go away! But they don’t. Joy and depression are more like soapy water and cancer. You can scrub all you want, but its never going to touch the cancer.

      Thanks.

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  4. Thanks for the honesty in your writing. This is not an easy road. Hope that both of you are doing okay. And I’d like to meet your wife (or both of you). A little community on this lonely road might be helpful.

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