Sunday, November 10, 2013

Gabbie Gets a Restraining Order

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.

9 comments:

  1. Part of me would like nothing better than to see you reconcile with Gabby. The thing is, she has issues and Charlie is only the symptom, not the cause.

    If things work out and Charlie's finally deported, your work will be just beginning. You'd both have a lot of work to do, both individually, and as a couple. Are you up for that? Then she has to find a way to repair things with her kids. That will take a level of honesty and maturity she hasn't shown till now.

    Lest you think I'm laying all the blame on her, I'm really not. I've always had no small degree of sympathy for her. It can't have been easy for her. She never really had a chance to develop into a fully mature woman, comfortable in her desirability as a woman. Finding out your husband is gay can do that to a girl. So the first man she finds who makes her feel desired, as a woman, turns out to be a pig. Is it any wonder she's had so much trouble extricating herself?

    But don't fool yourself by thinking that if Charlie is deported and permanently out of the picture either of you have any chance unless she's willing to look at how she's gotten here. And she has to do the hard, hard work of repairing things. For both of you there would be a hell of a lot of work and pain. Can you do it? And is she worth it? Do you believe she has what it takes...the guts and determination and the self-awareness...to choose your marriage and your family..and really mean it? And are you still in love with her? Or is she a way for you to avoid facing continued disappointments of trying to live your life as an out gay man?

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    1. I'm not sure if I agree that Gabbie necessarily needs to take any responsibility for herself. In theory, couldn't we just compartmentalize the bad stuff of the last seven years and focus on moving forward from here? And although the kids would certainly not be understanding or forgiving, it's not their marriage. They can't stop us from being together, if that's what we want. Theoretically speaking, I mean.

      If we did get back together, I wouldn't expect any changes, apologies, greater self-awareness or hard work from Gabbie. Any of those things would be a gift. It's against my nature to ask for gifts.

      I am I still in love with her? Absolutely. Would reuniting with her be a way to avoid the (many) frustrations and disappointments of being an out gay man? Definitely.

      If I only consider those two criteria, does that mean we should reconcile?

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, Anonymous. I appreciate your thoughtful and thought-provoking comment. I really value your perspective and input.

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  2. "That's the question that's been very much on my mind as we wait....."

    I'm confused. What's the question here? Are you seriously thinking that Gabbie will move back in with you and the kids? She is technically still your wife and the mother of your children. So I understand that you want her out of harms way and for Charlie to be gone. But you in Gabbie back together again?

    A year ago it seemed that both of you were moving on in your lives in different directions. Seems like there's a long rubber band that, when stretched far enough, pulls you back.

    Based on what you've said before it seems like this is inconsistent with your longer term plans. Perhaps you are frustrated with making the longer term plans work and this becomes the path of least resistance.

    Making your 'happily ever after plan' come true as a >40 gay man is difficult. I know that from experience. Believe me, I have empathy. It just seems like you're headed into more drama and a delay of finding happiness for yourself.

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    1. I've never considered a rubber-band analogy. Our connection has certainly been stretched but it hasn't snapped so maybe you're exactly right.

      I think of her as being like the center of a spiral galaxy...tremendous, inescapable gravitational pull...everything rotates around her...yet she has a natural, stunning beauty that, all things considered, leaves me in awe.

      You're right that a reconciliation would require that I surrender all my current long-term plans - and not just the ephemeral ones that pertain to men.

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  3. Having followed your story for years, I'm going to tell you something. You ex wife Gabby is not healthy for you. Just as Charlie was not healthy for her.

    Did she stay away from him? No.
    Will you try to make the healthy choice for you and your children?

    One can only hope.

    Jack.

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    1. You're right and I know you're right. And yet here I am, writing posts like this.

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  4. I agree with Anonymous. Your ex-wife is not healthy for you. She has dragged you and your family through all of this.

    One aspect of the past three years might be considered fortunate--her terrible behavior with Charlie motivated you to contemplate a life with a man and to pursue that. Were you really going to live happily with Gabbie? It seems that the answer would be "no." You are better off without her. Even if you were totally straight, you would be better off without her. She has too many problems and it is not your life's mission, unless you really think it is, to take care of Gabbie.

    Be glad that her terrible behavior set you on another course. Being a single parent and coming out so late must be difficult. Drop your concerns for Gabbie and live while you are alive.

    You have been down in the dumps about not having a man in your life. Perhaps this empty place is causing you to think of Gabbie and the way that your life might have been or could be with her. Find happiness for yourself and let go of the past. Gabbie needs to take care of herself.

    Do you consider yourself bi? Do you have sexual desire for women at this stage in your life? The reason for these questions is that you seem much more gay in your postings. Has your identity shifted or did I miss something?

    You need therapy. (As annoying as that by-line might seem, it is meant with respect and care.)

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    1. Hello my therapy-loving friend,

      The answer to the question, "Were you really going to live happily with Gabbie?" is yes. She's not perfect, but who is?

      Marriage requires commitment and compromise, two of my best talents. I'm so good at them that I can cover both my obligations and hers. That works, right?

      There's some truth to the idea that my frustrations with men make Gabbie more appealing, however, it's our connection that most appeals to me.

      I've never felt that the "bi" label fit me; I accepted myself as gay at 15. What's unusual is that as I've gotten older, men have become less attractive while women have become slightly more so. For that reason I won't say "never" to another relationship with a woman, but I would never actively look for one. Any interested woman would have to pursue me, which is what Gabbie did. She'd also have to be totally accepting of my sexuality. Neither of those things seem likely to happen.

      Blogging is my therapy. Not only am I forced to articulate my thoughts as concisely as possible, I'm also blessed with the kindness of strangers who take the time to read and comment. The feedback I get, even when it misses the mark, is always helpful.

      Thanks for your respect and concern. I sincerely appreciate them!

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  5. Blogging may be your therapy, but it isn't clear to me (or, apparently, other readers) that it provides you with as much of a benefit as seeing a therapist would.

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