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.