Saturday, July 19, 2008

Coming Out in Mid-Life - My Thoughts Six Years Later

As happens regularly, I received an e-mail from a reader who is married and in the closet and struggling with the issue of what he should do. Should he come out and lose his world as he knows it? Or should he stay closeted and try to find a way through life largely denying (or at least trying to deny) his sexual orientation and in essence who he really is. It is a terrible issue to have to face as I know having been there and struggled with my demons in silence. Frequently, I though suicide or a "surfing accident" was the best resolution for me and my family Sadly, I suspect the number of men - and women - who find themselves struggling with this issue which in some ways goes to the core of one's being is far larger than anyone imagines. It's not exactly a topic one shares with others and hence you are left to struggle and suffer feelings of guilt and/or self hate and/or longings for death alone. It is such a terribly lonely place.
Deciding what course to follow ultimately is a personal decision that no one can make for another person. Each fact situation is different and what works for one person may not work for another. Anyone making the decision to come out in mid-life should know that telling one's spouse and family, moving out, and facing a new beginning is very difficult and down right terrifying at times. There were many times after I first came out and moved out where death continued to look ever so attractive. I actually almost succeeded in following that route at one particularly dark period. Now, I am glad I was not successful even though I still have some elements missing in my life, a committed boyfriend being but one of them. But I am at peace compared to anything I previously knew.
Here is an edited version of some of what I shared with my reader today: my wife's position was that I either go "back in the closet and pretend none of it ever happened" or move out. Obviously, I chose the latter. I will say that for me coming out was about much, much more than just having moments of physical pleasure with another guy. Not only have I been able to experience a physical/emotional connection I could never achieve with a woman (through no fault of the woman), but ultimately, I have been able to finally be OK with my sexuality and who I am. Yes, it was one Hell of a difficult process, but I honestly do not think I could have ever found spiritual/inner peace, if you will, if I had not come out and moved out.
As I have stated before, no dollar amount or price tag can be placed on not living every day hating one's self and trying to repress what is an unbidden part of you. I am almost 56, but at last I can look in the mirror and say to myself, you are a good person and you're gay, and that's OK. No matter what my reader may ultimately decide, I hope he finds that sense of peace with who he is.


Anonymous said...

For those dealing with this conundrum it might be good to read the Fri 18 jul 08 entry on Jen's blog at www.//
That entry hits the nail on the head.
Michael thanks for your sharing your thoughts- it is helpful.

@ X-roads

Michael-in-Norfolk said...

Anonymous makes a good point and I recommend checking out the linked post. Staying engaged with your children can be difficult when things get hostile on the divorce front as I found out. I strongly recommend that you NOT try to use your children as a weapon against your estranged and soon to be divorced spouse even if they do not remain as highminded.

The other point that I would make is that time IS on your side. My therapist worked very hard to beat that into me and it proved to be true. Not that I believed it at the time.

If you can't see your children daily - and as they get older and more involved in numerous activities, it will be more difficult. If nothing else, send them e-mails, text messages and call them so that they know you are thinking of them and how important they are to you.