Monday, March 17, 2008

Choosing Life

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 And my husband was a good man, a good father, though withdrawn.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.


Jan said...

Cecilia, thank you for sharing so honestly. I think your story will help others. God blesses us through you.

Jones said...

I have just recently come across your blog and am enjoying it immensely. Your story really is an encouragement to others.

My only problem with your blog is reading the print on the black background. I have some sight problems so I'm finding it difficult to read much of it at one time so I have to keep coming back to it to finish the post.

Again thank you for sharing your story, I understand your situation being a Christian lesbian who was once also closeted in an evangelical church.

Jones said...

Thank you so much! It's much easier and clearer to read. I'm looking forward to getting 'caught up' on your older writings.

God bless you.

Anonymous said...

Cecilia, to you and all those who offered words of support and your prayers, I thank you all. When I checked in on Cecilia's page and found my comment acknowledged and then read the kind words from all, all I could do was cry. The realization of actually having stated in a rather open forum my deepest secret, albeit anonymously, and then receiving support, was overwhelming. I've never acknowledged to anyone, ever, my secret or the periods of darkness and despair that come with it. Those who know me well know that I am burdened and keep me in their prayers. But to have the prayers of those who actually know the struggle or can sympathize with it, is comforting beyond words. Cecilia, I thank you for your words of advice and welcome them. There are complications in changing churches. Church is a family event and we are established there...the kids are happy there and that is so important. Aside from the random references to which I take offense and the obligatory sermons on the subject, our church is as perfect as they come in what they do and how they do it...which is, in its purest and simplest form, bringing people into a relationship with Christ and serving ALL of God's children. They turn no one away and love and serve all who come through the doors, but gays and lesbians are looked upon as people who are suffering some illness from which they can be healed, participating in some heinous act from which they can turn away or that their sexuality is something they try on for the day like the lastest fad. I am who I am and have known it since I was a child. This is not some malady from which I need healing. I'm not even "out", so how can I be doing this to be "in"?! Who would choose to live a life often times filled with pain and torment? Why is this concept so hard for people to accept? Thank you for sharing some insight into your relationship as it existed with your husband during your married years. Did you love him? I feel sad that while I love my husband, I do not love him the way he deserves to be loved. Your mention of Delta and how you wanted to be with her...would you have if she had reciprocated your feelings? Would you have dared to find happiness and betray your vows? Did you ever question whether the desiring in your heart was in fact the same as if you had acted on the desire? Being raised in a hard core evangelical church, if you thought it, you as much as did it...the sin was no less because you thought it and didn't act upon it. With those teachings, for all intent and purpose, there is no hope for me! These are the things that torment my mind. I do believe that I was led to your sight. I believe Jan said it best when she said that your story will help others and that God blesses us through you. I find great comfort here. Thank you for taking the time to serve others in this way. It was a welcome lifeline for me, and maybe it will be for others also. It is the closest I will ever come to being able to finally tell someone who I am and how it hurts. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous I am beginning to question certain things about my sexual identity (I have only told one person)and I was also raised in a very conservative evangelical home. Most of my friends are very conservative Christians and this is how people think of me. I don't know if I will ever be able to find myself. On a couple of occassions I have attened more progressive churches and the experience was liberating. So this was really good advice I just wanted you to know this and encourage you to find something for yourself.

Cecilia said...

Anonymous (1), I want to also offer the possible idea that you could seek out such a church for a group you might join outside the Sunday morning experience... a bible study, for example, or women's group. If you do some research you may even be able to determine which churches have clergy who are "safe"... people you might be able to approach for support or counseling. I know I would be open to such a situation if someone approached me.

Again, your life, your timetable, your choices. We only are seeking to give support as we are able.

Pax, C.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, you stated that you did not know if you would ever be able to find thoughts and prayers are with you on your journey and I truly hope that you will find a fulfilling end result. It is wonderful that you had at least one person you could tell...I hope that person has been supportive and continues to be there for you. Thank you for your words of support as well. As Cecilia suggested, I will try to find something outside of my regular worship habits...maybe a more progressive church which offers Bible studies is a way to is a wonderful idea. Thanks Cecilia!

aka Anonymous

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, you stated that you did not know if you would ever be able to find thoughts and prayers are with you on your journey and I truly hope that you will find a fulfilling end result. It is wonderful that you had at least one person you could tell...I hope that person has been supportive and continues to be there for you. Thank you for your words of support as well. As Cecilia suggested, I will try to find something outside of my regular worship habits...maybe a more progressive church which offers Bible studies is a way to is a wonderful idea. Thanks Cecilia!

aka Anonymous

Anonymous said...

I haven't checked in for a while, but am pleased to see things are going so well. (Another cheer for the redesign Cecilia).

Anonymous (1), my Beloved Partner was married to a good man, with two children when we met. Oer a long period of time, we fell into friendship, deep like, and deep love. WE came out to each other. My partner realized that the things that were not working in her marriage were things that had never worked in her relationships with men.

Finally, she couldn't pretend otherwise and she came out to her husband and they divorced. It was hard for all concerned, but we have all come through surprisingly well. My partner and her ex are still very close. In some ways not being married allowed them to rediscover their friendship. The kids weathered it and are still very much the center of the family (joint custody).

You'd think this would be the scandal du jour but surprisingly, many people at her church (Roman Catholic) do not realize my partner is divorced, let alone the reason. (I am not a church-goer). But the support and love from those that do are remarkable. She has chosen to remain closeted church-wise, for now.

I know it seems insurmountably hard, and not all scenarios have happy endings. But many people have walked this path so I hope you can find some solace from that.


Identity Mixed said...

I wish that every person could just be who they are. That's my hope for my children. And ultimately, my hope for the world.

But in the meantime, peace to you. It has to be a rough world.

sharecropper said...

Below it says, "Choose an identity", and to post a comment, we must do that. We go through life with many identities. And, we change those identities as we grow, as we move, as life moves us along. It's a journey with many stops and many identities. I celebrate each identity for its joys and its pain. And, that's very difficult to say because some of them were very painful. Death was always held carefully as being the only thing that sometimes gave me a choice. I could live like that or I could die. And, in knowing I had a choice, I could live. Sometimes, I still hold death as a choice - and I always choose to live.

May your pain in keeping an old identity or in moving towards or being in a new identity be within the bounds of your strength and courage. Love to all of you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing about your Beloved Partner. I do indeed find solace from the fact that there are stories with happy endings. The evolution from friendship to deep love is a wonderful journey. My unrequited love is my dearest friend. How wonderful that you were able to come out to each other. I wish continued peace and happiness to you both.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Anon! I hope you too find some peace on your journey.

I don't have an account but you will note I sign with initials,



KJ said...

Of course "IT" is really pronounced "It." (heh heh heh -- I makes me laugh as I Tesser out of here!)

Anonymous, I can identify with carrying a burden regarding which others in my family and church were aware. While battling the call out, I was losing weight and depressed, some thought I was dying, others that I was losing my mind. Subsequently, when the time to come out arrived, some, not all, were relieved to learn I wasn't dying! :-)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for that actually made me smile! You wouldn't believe the things friends have asked me if I've done...all trying to get to the root of my depression. Some of them funny, others not. But I do see your point and it is well received. Thanks!

This Anonymous poster is going to have to find a new name...I think I choose "Hope"..I have found it here.

aka Anonymous (1)