Thursday, June 23, 2011

Like No Other Gay?

There are certain events that seem to pre-sage a mid-life crisis for bi and married or gay and married bloggers. Most of these bloggers:

+ Grew up ignorant of or chose to ignore their same sex attraction in adolescence and early adulthood

+ Married at a young age and did not believe that they might be bi or gay at the time they married.

+ Have been married for about 20 years

+ Have kids

+ Have lived for years with either a weak or non-existent marital sex life

+ Are now in their 40s

+ Struggled for years before finally accepting their sexuality

(They're also almost all white, educated upper-middle class Americans. But those particular demographic similarities aren't relevant to this post.)

I fit the above description in many ways. And I suspect that my many similarities have caused some readers to assume that I'm just like everyone else. I'm not.

Unlike many others I have not lead a life of denial or repression. Nor did I wake up at 40, realize that I'm gay, and feel that I've been living the wrong life for decades.

Here are the fundamentally different ways my life has transpired thus far:

+ I came out to myself at 13 and fully accepted myself as gay at 15. I have never felt sexually repressed.

+ I have been out to my wife for almost 19 years.

+ When I came out in 1992, we split up. We both assumed our marriage was over. I had a boyfriend, she moved out, she told her parents and her sister. End of story. Usually.

My boyfriend was awesome. We clicked, he was supportive, we enjoyed spending time together. I had visions of us eventually moving in together. But despite all of the good stuff that happened between him and me, I never lost the connection to my wife. As the weeks of our separation passed, I found that I missed her more and more.

We got back together when *I* decided I wanted to be with her. My boyfriend remained perfect throughout and when I broke the news to him he was as kind and supportive as always.

+ I had my first gay relationship at 17. I had another at 26 (the boyfriend upon coming out) and I had three long-term friends with benefits situations in my late 20s and early 30s, including one that lasted seven years. I also had my fair share of hook-ups between the ages of 19 and 35. In addition, I've lived near San Francisco for most of my life.

All of my experience with men means that I am no stranger to gay life. I get it. I know what I like and I know what I don't like.

+ Most importantly of all, about nine years ago I realized that the emptiness I had felt my entire life, the emptiness that could only be temporarily sated by spending intimate time with another man, was never going to be permanently filled. This realization gave me the freedom to let go of the need to be with a man. I have no desire to hook-up and I don't daydream very often about what life with a man would be like. I've realized that I don't need a man to complete me. The inner voice that taunted me since puberty has been silent for nearly a decade.

What all of this means is, I see my marriage very differently than most other bi and married or gay and married bloggers do. Essentially I had my mid-life crisis at 26. Just as others are doing now, I had a permanent split and I started a new life. What is different is that I found that my desire to be with my wife trumped my desire to be single and free. That's ironic because it was an ideal time to split up. We were young and we had no kids. I had no reason to stay, other than my sincere desire to be with her.

I have taken a lot of well-intentioned criticism lately because I seem to be endlessly circling. You know, bitchin' but not really going anywhere.

Uncutplus has said he's stopped reading because I'm inept and incapable of making a decision.

Rob says that without a catalyst to leave I'll stay with the status quo.

Jim says that I need to accept the fact that because I'm gay I can "never be successfully married to a straight woman", and, I need to accept the fact that "things are probably never going back to what they were."

Well, my dirty little secret is that my mid-life crisis showed me that I can be genuinely happy as a gay man married to a straight woman.

My wife is a billion miles from perfect. I know all her flaws. But I've never met anyone like her and I can't imagine that I ever will. She fills me up in a way that makes me feel as whole as I've ever felt. No, I'm not complete, but I don't think I ever will be. Our bond is strong and our connection is real. She is a straight woman and I am a gay man. I realize it is possible that such a combination could be doomed to certain failure, but given all that I know and all that I have experienced, I owe it to myself, to her and to our children to do whatever it takes to make our marriage work.

If we are doomed to failure, I can accept it. I'm not afraid of a failed marriage. I have sincerely tried to make it work. Similarly, I'm not afraid of living as a single, gay man. I can be happy no matter what the outcome is. My responsibility is to give her every opportunity to make our marriage work. It's the right thing to do.

The endless circling and the inability to make a decision is not me, it's my wife. She is enough for me, I know that. But this is her mid-life crisis and she has serious doubts as to whether I am enough for her. I understand why. This is an important decision and it's hers to make, not mine.

Gabbie is a decisive person. She will not circle endlessly. She's pretty much made up her mind that she will never be satisfied with me, so I don't think this purgatory will continue much longer. But, however long it takes, that's how long is needed. Until she is certain about what she wants, I can be patient.

14 comments:

  1. I experienced every one of the seven certain events which lead to my gay/bi mid-life "crisis." What an excellent summary! Amazing!!

    You may or may not have noticed, but I am one blogger who has not criticized you in any way. It is your life and you are choosing to wait for events to unfold or not, before making a final decision.

    It would be very arrogant and presumptuous of me to think that I could possibly judge or advise you on your decisions. You are the one in your marriage; I am not.

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  2. Things got better for K, my kids & me the moment to realized I needed to end my marriage. It did not at all diminish my desire to hold my family together, in fact, it may have made it stronger. It was the act of trying to save the marriage that made my family miserable.

    Good Luck, my friend. I truly hope things work out in the way you want.

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  3. Cameron,

    Always happy to read your blog.

    Thanks for summing it up in 7 neat phrases... Totally sums up my journey.

    I won't be one to judge you either... I don't think anybody can judge what a person does, or how they choose to live their lives.
    Personally I haven't come out to my wife about my visiting my other urges and desires, and not sure if I will any time in the near future. My ''straying'' with men so far has helped boost my love life with her, and as long as I can compartmentalize both those lives, I think I'll be able to live with the status quo.

    Good luck to you.

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  4. After all the 'stuff' you've posted this is so to the point. This is very good and from the heart. I love my wife, but I have accepted my appreciation of a beautiful male butt too. Thanks for your insight here. I also like these comments. They are honest thoughts that touched me. Chase.

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  5. Cameron,
    I have read your blog because I believe in all your decisions are based on what you feel and not that the fact that you need do it.
    I like your blog because you can be married to a woman and not afraid to hide the fact that you like men.
    Finally, judging anyone on anything that we do is no one business but just yours and that you can write about for all to see is admirable.
    Take care and I will continue to read your blog.

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  6. Cameron,

    You are a brave and good man. This is your life, your marriage and your decision. I respect and admire you greatly and you know I would not be afraid to criticize you if I felt you were hurting anyone but yourself:)

    Few get through life "completed" in every way. Compromise is a fact and way of life for most. It may be unfortunate but having it all comes to very few. I think understanding and excepting that home truth is the key to surviving mid life intact. It may mean you move on or stay but it is the accepting of where and who we are that is key.

    I have immense sympathy for your struggle and can only hope Gabbie wakes up and realizes what a catch you really are. If she doesn't you will do just fine.

    Best,

    D

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  7. Not everybody fits into a neat little box. The gays want everyone to be defined as gay. The straight want everyone to be straight. Only you can define what you want to be, and how to live your life.

    "Any fool can criticize, and many of them do "

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  8. Wow! Thank you all for your kind support. It means a lot, it really does.

    I hope I don't sound unappreciative of guys like Jim, Uncutplus and Rob. I greatly enjoy being challenged. It's so easy to be stuck in my own muck that when a no-BS outsider shares his or her blunt opinion, I'm all ears. It's so much easier to tell people what they want to hear than to tell the harsh truth. So, as weird as it might be, I like being constructively criticized. It's very helpful.

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  9. I always try to shoot for somewhere in the middle: challenging without being judgmental. Hopefully, I don't come off being a dick.

    Having said that, in response to your post, one of the things I always have hated about relationships is the game. You know where one person is always playing mind games with the other? The biggest part of the game is that one person always wants what s/he doesn't really want because s/he can't have it.

    This makes me wonder what would happen if tomorrow, you said, "Gabbie, I'm through. I'm going to move on with my life and pursue a relationship that fulfills me sexually and emotionally." Do you think she would try and win you back? Would she be in denial? Or, do you think she would run off with the other guy?

    My other question is, are you ready for that moment?

    I tend to put myself in your shoes when I read your posts, although your description doesn't quite fit me to a tee, either. I don't think she's ready to leave you either, or she already would have. I also feel some frustration for you, because you try so hard to make her happy, and it sounds like the result is that Cameron keeps taking another one for the team.

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  10. My concern about this originally started from the "I'm not sure what I want" angle, but you've mostly resolved that.

    My concern at this point is that you are, by the accounts you've related here, in a relationship with someone who is tending towards (if not outright) emotionally abusive. You're the one fighting to stay in the relationship, and she seems to be walking all over you for it - and you seem to think this is "okay", that she'll make a decision, etc. These are all hallmarks of emotional abuse and a kind of "Stockholm Syndrome".

    You might be right, but you also might be wrong. Either way, this doesn't seem to be a good relationship for you at the moment. It has nothing to do with gay or straight and everything to do with a partner who doesn't seem to respect you.

    It's your choice to do with your life what you will, but it is the responsibility of those around you to try and provide an objective or alternate perspective.

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  11. I agree with most everyone that it is your life and do with it as you will. But you say you like to hear other points of view. So, based on your last paragraph, and particularly "she will never be satisfied with me", what do you do if she decides to not decide? That is, she stays with you simply due to the momentum of the status-quo. Purgatory forever?

    Can you live with that (I am for now, so maybe you can too)? Is is enough to live out the rest of your days with someone who is not satisfied with you? Maybe you can provide some more resolution to the picture: Is she bored/content, neutral (neither happy or sad) or downright hostile toward you?

    If she is immobile with indecision, will your leaving help her build a better, more fulfilling life for herself?

    I have asked myself these questions for years and still don't know the answer. If only I could find that damn crystal ball. Whatever you do good luck and keep us posted!

    -Will

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  12. You wrote: "Well, my dirty little secret is that my mid-life crisis showed me that I can be genuinely happy as a gay man married to a straight woman."

    I beg the question "Can your wife be genuinely happy as a straight woman married to a gay man?"

    I think not. As a straight ex-wife, I'm aware of the situation you are in. Only my ex neglected to tell me until we'd been married 35 years and he'd been having secret affairs and one-night stands for 4 years. I was devastated. I cannot fault him for being gay. I can, however, fault him for being a whore. That's why I asked for a divorce.

    Please consider your wife and let her have the life she truly deserves.

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  13. Mack - How would she react if I told her I was leaving? She'd go through a variety of emotions. Think of the wheel on Wheel of Fortune...she could end up on any spot, some good, some bad. I don't know what would ultimately happen.

    Could I tell her I've had enough? Yes. She has some other major issues hanging over her, including Charlie, that (theoretically) should be resolved within a few months. I'm going to let those sort themselves out before I add any more pressure.

    Austin - I always appreciate your thoughtful comments. Could I have Stockholm Syndrome? Yes. Do I perceive myself to have it? No. My wife and I have a lifetime of history together. We're very inter-connected so making a unilateral or abrupt decision feels very wrong. With that said, I do not have infinite patience. I'm happy to be supportive for an extended period but I do have limits. BTW, if I was going through a crisis of my own I would expect the same amount of patience from her. She would not disappoint.

    Will - The purgatory you mention is a real possibility. As I said above to Mack, she has some huge pressures on her right now. When those clear, I'll push her again for a decision. Purgatory will not last forever.

    Maggie - Thanks for stopping by and reading! I'm always glad to have another reader, especially a critical one.

    Your question about whether my wife can be happy is THE question. That's largely what my blog has been about for the past 14 months. She's known that I'm gay for 19 of our 21 years of marriage. We split up at the time because of it and then got back together. This latest crisis began when she met someone six years ago - one of the biggest losers I've ever known. She's been struggling to decide what she wants to do with her life. It's a good old fashioned mid-life crisis. My sexuality is a big issue but it's not the only one.

    I've read about and interacted with many straight wives who have told me some stunning stories of betrayal. I'm very sorry about what happened to you. It takes most married guys a long while to understand, but the very best thing they can do for themselves and their wife is to come out. Every wife should have the right to decide if she wants to stay in a mixed orientation marriage. If gays should have equal rights, so should straight spouses.

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  14. I believe that you are in great denial, and afraid. Not of your sexuality: but of being single, and therefore, alone.

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