Last Tuesday "Anonymous" responded to my post on "What if?" One of the things she said struck a chord with many readers, who have responded with great love and compassion in the comments. She said,
I could never expose my husband and children to the fallout of such a decision. I made a choice to surround myself in a lifestyle so that I would never be exposed. And there is guilt over that decision as well. But, today I found your blog. Today, I did not wonder whether it would be better to die than to live this life.
I can well remember a time when I was married to my husband, with two small children, and desperately, painfully in love with a woman who was also one of my husband's best friends. (I wrote about it here. I called her "Delta.") I was in a haze of longing and guilt. In every fiber of my being I wanted this woman... physically, spiritually. And my husband was a good man, a good father, though withdrawn. I had been dissatisfied with our marriage, in a vague way, for a long time. I had taken his assurances that all was well at face value.
But I had also shared with him most of my attractions for women. (Usually, considerably after the fact.). That is not to say he was unaware of them, however. About a year and a half after Delta moved across the country, he and I were driving to a city several hours away for a weekend, without the children. As often happens in long car rides, our conversation was wide-ranging. Suddenly he asked, almost out of nowhere, "Did you sleep with Delta?" I didn't hesitate to answer. "No. But I really wanted to."
In the most technical sense I abided by my marriage vows. But that doesn't mean that they weren't in some sense shattered as I came to recognize my feelings for women, which only grew more and more persistent.
Though it was painful at the time, I have come to believe that my husband did me a great kindness when he left me for another woman. When my children were small and I was in such great pain over my unrequited love for Delta, I could not imagine leaving my marriage... I couldn't see my way clear to hurting my husband and children in that way. But I have come to believe, not that I made the wrong choices then, but that there were a number of different choices, which, if done with care and love, could have been "right." The decision of my husband to leave a marriage that wasn't life-giving was right. I was devastated at the time, but I have come to believe it was right, for him and for me. And my children are remarkable in the breadth and depth of their love for me, and their father. They are more accepting, even affirming of my life and love than I could have dreamed. I know this isn't always the case. But I am blessed to be able to say it of my situation. My husband chose life for all of us. Thank God.
I believe that, as many of the commenters have affirmed, we all have to be true to our own timetables. But, dear Anonymous, I agree with Doxy: any time dying begins to seem a reasonable option because of the pain of living a closeted life, it is time to listen to God, and to your heart, saying, "Stop." God wants us to live. God created us good. God made us moral agents, in hopes that we wouldn't be careless but would, rather, take care with our choices. All we can do is to act carefully and lovingly, one necessary choice at a time.
This may be overstepping in the advice-giving department, so feel free to disregard. I wonder if, as one small step, you could find a different church, one that is open and affirming of gays and lesbians, or at least doesn't beat them up in every sermon? If that is too much or not feasible, I withdraw it. I am simply looking for a way, with you, to find you a place of some support.
If this blog can be that, even in the tiniest possible way... I am grateful. Blessings to you my sister.