Many bi married men are tortured by their attraction to men. They hate themselves for it. They wish the desires would go away. They'd "do anything" to be straight.
I've never felt that way. My sexuality has always been a part of me. I wouldn't know how to be me if I was straight. And yet...I happily, willingly and (I thought) permanently gave men up in 2003, at the age of 37.
I did this rather spontaneously, all on my own, without any effort. One day I realized I just didn't feel like pursuing them any more; the happiness they brought was fleeting, but the guilt was tremendous. All things considered they weren't worth the trouble.
It wasn't until more than a year later that I realized the importance of what I'd done. Even then it wasn't a big deal. I was more amazed by my evolution than my end point. After accepting myself as gay at 15 and separating from my wife at 26, who would've guessed I'd still be happily and monogamously married to the same woman at 37? Certainly not me.
My happy straight life didn't last very long, however. Just three years later my wife met a charming Scotsman named Charlie...
Gabbie, my wife, has always been a very social person. When we met in college in England she loved to stay at the pubs until closing every night. But she was academically talented too. After coming home from a long night of drinking, many times she'd read 400 pages of an excruciatingly dull book, then hand-write a three page "A" paper for our 18th Century English Literature tutorial, then sleep for three hours before heading to class the next morning, only to repeat the cycle all over again the following day.
Charlie, on the other hand, was as smart as a tree stump. He offered Gabbie no intellectual stimulation whatsoever. His talents were being lewd, crude and "fun." Gabbie loved his very out-going, hard partying ways, perhaps because hanging out with him made her feel like she was 20 again.
The thing was, Gabbie wasn't 20. Nor was she single. She was 40 and married and the mother of three school-age children. She didn't have the option to be a carefree bar-fly. That's why I knew from the start that her friendship with Charlie wouldn't last. It didn't make sense that it should, their lifestyles and priorities were far too different.
It turned out I was wrong. Not only did their friendship last, it evolved into a romance. And worse, their lifestyles and priorities began to merge, in very disturbing Charlie-like ways.
Charming Charlie, it's turned out, has been an endless disaster. Besides being an unemployed illegal alien and a homeless, hard-core alcoholic, he also has a nasty, dangerous temper. Beginning about a year after she met him, Gabbie began to be regularly victimized by him. Most of the time he "only" did something that angered or embarrassed her, but every so often he'd do something seriously stupid, vicious or cruel. One time he broke Gabbie's clavicle by falling on her when he was drunk. Another time he gave her genital warts after cheating on her. A third time he pushed her out of a moving car.
Each time he did something awful I thought, "This is the last straw. There's no way Gabbie will go back to him again after what he's done." But each time she did. Enthusiastically.
After a lot of hand-wringing on my part I eventually decided that the best way for me to handle the situation was to be patient. If I aggressively took a stand against Charlie or their affair, I'd only push her further into his arms. Charlie was sure to implode, I thought, so if I stayed patient it would only be a matter of time before she'd be done with him. Until that happened, my job was to keep her as safe as possible and protect the kids from finding out about their antics.
In late July of 2010, nearly four years after Gabbie met Charlie, I finally got my lucky break. Charlie got pulled over for a minor traffic violation and didn't have a license or ID on him. When he refused to tell the cop his name, he was brought in for further questioning. Once they figured out who he was, and saw that he had thousands of dollars in unpaid court fines, they put him in jail for five weeks.
With Charlie locked up and out of Gabbie's life for a while, she finally began to understand how destructive his influence was. Even so, she said she couldn't leave him because he was too dangerous.
"If he's dangerous that's all the more reason to get away from him!"
"You don't understand. He killed a guy in a bar fight about twenty-five years ago in England. It was an accident, but still, I know what he's like when he's mad. I can't just walk away from him. He'd come after me. And who knows what he'd do. He has nothing to lose."
"We can get a restraining order."
"A restraining order? That's a joke. I'd be dead by the time the cops showed up."
"If he's that dangerous and he's here illegally, he should be deported! Would you miss him if he was sent back to England?"
"No. I don't think I would. I don't really miss him now."
That conversation marked the beginning of three very happy weeks for me. With Gabbie's full support and approval, I anonymously called US Immigration and told them that Charlie was in custody in the county jail, that he was in the country illegally, and that he was extremely dangerous. Because of my call, and instead of being released when his jail time was served, he was transferred to Immigration custody. They held him for several more weeks, until a hearing on his legal status could be held.
Unfortunately, for reasons we never learned, the immigration judge decided not to deport him. Two days later he was released from custody.
My disappointment was profound. After four years of tolerating his bullshit, I thought I'd finally gotten rid of him. With his horrible criminal record, I never imagined that any immigration judge would allow him to stay.
Despite that major set-back, I did not give up hope. Whether Charlie was in the US or not didn't matter. I'd won the battle for Gabbie's heart! She finally admitted she wanted him out of her life! My patience paid off! It was only a matter of time before our lives and marriage returned to normal.
Once again, I was wrong.
Not only was Gabbie not done with Charlie, but as soon she found out when he was being released from jail she raced there to pick him up. Then they went out drinking together.
Once again, I held my breath and kept telling myself to be patient. "This won't last."
Well, another few weeks went by and absolutely nothing about their relationship or behavior changed. This meant that even after Gabbie admitted she wanted to be done with him, her words amounted to nothing. Even worse, because I failed to get Charlie deported, I lost my best (and perhaps only) opportunity to get rid of him. Now there was no end in sight for this ridiculous situation.
With that very bleak future facing me, I made the decision to come out to Gabbie again. I said, "You know...since you're in love with him, and he's not going anywhere, and I'm gay, I don't know why we should stay together."
Her response: "YOU'RE GAY?!!!!"
[I'll never understand that reaction. How could she possibly be surprised when we already separated (and lived apart for two months) when I came out to her for the first time in 1992? Sure, I decided not to torture her by openly talking about my sexuality for 18 years, but how could she ever forget that was the reason we separated??]
Two months after my November 2010 re-coming out, I formally asked Gabbie to separate. That was very difficult to do, but even as I said the words I still had hope. I wanted a separation like the one we had many years before. I wanted a separation where she'd hold on to me, a separation that would show her how important I was to her. I wanted her to realize, and passionately feel, as I did, that ending our marriage was a horrible idea, especially compared to choosing a new life with a violent, unemployed, homeless, alcoholic criminal.
Gabbie did hold on to me, but only as friends. It turned out that she'd been wanting to separate for some time but she'd been afraid to say anything because she thought I'd be suicidal.
So much for my hopes that splitting up would bring us back together...
It took about eight months, but eventually I stopped looking backward and accepted the fact that our relationship had permanently changed. Obviously, a rekindling of our marriage was not going to happen.
As time has gone by since then, I've come to accept and appreciate our split. I actually feel much more empowered now that I'm single. I spent too many insecure years locked in the closet. I was always afraid to rock the boat because then maybe she'd leave. Living a life without fear is a good thing.
So here's the new twist...
About seven weeks ago Gabbie decided she really couldn't stand being around Charlie any longer so she got a temporary restraining order against him. He immediately violated it and was arrested for attempted battery. He didn't really hurt her, he only grabbed her arms (probably because he thought she was going to hit him), but that was enough to send him to jail.
The District Attorney dropped the battery charge two days later but it turned out that Charlie had a warrant out for bilking an old woman of $15,000 for construction work he never did. After serving three days for that crime (three days???!!), he was transferred to Immigration custody.
According to the Immigration website, the average wait time for a deportation hearing is three weeks. Charlie's been held for more than twice that long. Because of the restraining order, Gabbie can't contact him to find out what's going on - not that she wants to talk to him anyway. This means we're just waiting, hoping and wondering...will he be released? Or will he be deported?
Privately I've been wondering something else too. If he is deported, will very-social Gabbie want to live alone without her kids, or a partner, or any family? Or would she like to turn the clock back by three years?
"What would have happened to us if Charlie had been deported three years ago?"
That's the question that's been very much on my mind as we wait for word about what's going to happen to Charlie.