Thursday, November 13, 2008

Looking back: The longest night of my life

I decided maybe I should go back and put some of my earliest memories from this summer into writing so that I don’t forget my journey. Scott blogged about this event already, when it happened, but I need to write it out from my perspective, even though the details are the same.

June—we had a great family vacation to the Midwest. We stayed with a sister of Scott’s for a few days and then with his brother for a few days. We visited Nauvoo, went to Cedar Point in Ohio, toured a bit of Chicago, and just generally had a fun time letting our kids get to know cousins that they don’t get to see very often. It was an adventure for several reasons: it was the kids’ first time on a plane, our 10-year-old came down with chicken pox, we mixed up our flight date and arrived at the Chicago airport 24 hours after we were supposed to depart (so stayed an extra day and paid lots of extra money), then arrived home with me and the 10-year-old suffering from strep-throat. We all got along great and had a good time together, despite a few obstacles. After a week or so to recuperate from our illnesses and vacation fatigue, the summer routine began. Some summers Scott has had a hard time heading to work when the rest of the family is home. His job is flexible, so he will usually work from home, or at least sleep in and head to work 9-ish or so, come home early and then work from home in the evening.

Around the beginning of July, he started getting up at 5:30 or 6 to work out and then left for work by about 7. I was still in bed and often still asleep (he would wake me to kiss me goodbye, as I usually do with him during the school year). This behavior was kind of strange, since he has never been a morning person. Then he would come home between 5 and 6, help with or make dinner, and then sit quietly and read a book. He loves to read, so the reading was not unusual, but he seemed distant somehow. I asked him a couple of times if everything was okay, and he sincerely answered yes, but did not want to talk much with me or anything. Just read his book.

Okay, whatever. We’ve been through this before. It’s not worth getting upset about.

One day he said “We should go to the temple sometime soon.” It had been awhile (if you don’t count doing baptisms in Nauvoo with our daughter), so it was not strange to suggest that we should go, but it was usually me that presented the idea, not him. That seemed a little weird to me. I asked him if there was any reason in particular, and he said no, that it had been a long time and he thought we should go. He seemed frustrated that we could not figure out a time that week that would work. I even had a conflict Saturday morning.

July 11th, my daughter and I hosted a mother-daughter Mary Kay party. A few days before the party we found out that there was also a family birthday party the same night, but the invites were out, and it seemed like the perfect way to get rid of the boys for a few hours. So, Scott and the 3 boys headed to the family BBQ. They returned home when the party was winding down and most people had left. We got the kids to bed, then Scott helped me clean up, helped me decide what Mary Kay products to order with the credit from my party, and then started shutting out lights to get the house ready for bed. Before he set the alarm, he went out to the garage and brought in a plastic bag with something in it. He had kind of a strange look on his face, so I asked him what was in the bag, and he said “let’s go in the bedroom and talk.” I started to get worried, and I think as we started walking out of the kitchen that I might of said “Is everything okay with your job?” I really worry about money, especially after our extra vacation expense, and so Scott losing his job is one of my worst fears. It has happened before, and I have never gotten over the anxiety that came from that year of no income and the circumstances and way that he was terminated.

He quickly said “No, no. My job is fine. Don’t worry about my job.”

We sat on the bed, he shut the door behind us. I waited for him to say something. He looked scared to death, was fidgety and couldn’t say a word. Normally he is a pretty calm person and does not get nervous about things. He started blowing air through his lips, like he was trying to keep from hyperventilating, and then said, “I knew this would be hard, but I didn’t know it would be this hard.” I started freaking out. I said, “Are you sure your job is okay? Are you sick? Are you dying of cancer or something?” He wouldn’t answer. I started pacing, my heart was pounding. Heat rushed up my body to my head and I felt like I was going to pass out. “You have to tell me, now. Would it help if I stopped looking at you?” He said maybe it would. I took a deep breath, sat down on the bed with my face to the wall and my back to Scott. He said something about my needing to hear him out and try not to react after the first sentence. I said okay, and finally he said “I am gay.”

I totally did not see that one coming, but I was so relieved that he had finally said it that I let out a sigh of relief and through stressed laughing said “At least you haven’t lost your job and you’re not dying of cancer.” We both chuckled at that. I don’t remember everything he said and everything I asked, but I do remember that immediately the thought “Where do we go from here?” kept going through my mind….

Some of the things we talked about….

His experience with coming out to himself, the fact that he did not choose to be this way, feelings in his past that he tried to suppress and ignore, the fact that he has been faithful to me and never had relations with any men, about Carol Lyn Pearson and his experience reading No More Goodbyes and anything else he could find to read (that is what was in the bag that he got out of the car), the friends and love and acceptance he had found online, the fact that he was so scared to tell me and didn’t want to hurt me, but simply could not bear to keep it from me any longer (it had only been about 10 days since he had figured it out.)

The main point he seemed to want to convey is that life could no longer be the same, and that he could not make any promises to me that he would be with me for the rest of our lives or forever, because he did not know what the future might bring, and he didn’t want to risk feeling the need to break such a promise later.

I’m not sure exactly how I felt. I can’t really remember. I was numb. I was in shock.

We finally decided we should go to bed.

After a few minutes we decided we should watch some TV to help get our minds away from the subject so that we could try to sleep. I have no memory of what we watched.

When we turned the TV off and tried to sleep, I couldn’t. I had no idea what all of this really meant. Was my marriage now over? If he’s always been gay, and we have survived this long, can’t we keep living like this forever and pretend that nothing had changed? Does his being gay mean that he has never been attracted to me at all? In high school, through his mission, through our 13 years of marriage, was I nothing more than a friend?

He snored off and on through the night, so I think he slept more than I did. I cried softly into my pillow, my mind kept going through all of these questions. I have never been so confused and felt so helpless.

Around 3 a.m. I got up, found my scriptures and went in the living room. I read my patriarchal blessing. I read his patriarchal blessing. I read the Book of Mormon. All 3 things brought me comfort. I had interesting thoughts and impressions. Now I wish I remember was those thoughts were exactly and what exact scripture passage I read, but I don’t remember. I went back to bed around 4 and finally slept for a while.

Then at 6 when the light started to come in the window, I woke up. The thoughts and questions filled my mind again. I desperately needed more sleep, but I couldn’t. Maybe some music would help me relax and sleep. I picked up my pocket PC and starting perusing my MP3s. “Where do we go from here?” Those words of a song went through my head along with the notes over and over, but I didn’t know the rest of the words very well. I think I have the song, yes, Brooke White sang it on American Idol during Andrew Lloyd Webber week, written for the movie version of Evita a few years back. Where is it? That’s it. “You Must Love Me.” Scott is sleeping (I can hear him snoring). [play]

Where do we go from here?
This isn't where we intended to be
We had it all, you believed in me
I believed in you

Certainties disappear
What do we do for our dream to survive?
How do we keep all our passions alive,
As we used to do?

[Bridge:]

Deep in my heart I'm concealing
Things that I'm longing to say
Scared to confess what I'm feeling
Frightened you'll slip away

[Chorus:]

You must love me
You must love me

Why are you at my side?
How can I be any use to you now?
Give me a chance and I'll let you see how
Nothing has changed

[bridge]
[chorus]

You must love me

My quiet tears turned into audible sobs. I couldn’t believe how perfect the words were. I had to hear it again. I sobbed harder. I didn’t want to wake Scott, so I went to the kitchen to get some ibuprofen for my pounding headache. I got a cup from the cupboard, then turned to head toward the fridge for water.

I jumped. Scott was coming down the hall and into the kitchen. I was sure he had been asleep. Seeing him, I felt like he was a different person, like I had no idea who he really was, a stranger in my house. He had tears streaming down his face. He tentatively came to me and hugged me and said “The second time through that song was too much to bear.” We hugged for a long time, crying together. He loosened his grip, looked me in the eyes and said, “I didn’t choose this. You understand that, right?” I nodded to comfort him. But in my heart, I did not know that. I did not understand until a day or two later when I began reading “No more Goodbyes”. Then I started to really understand. And then also, I started to really hurt, for him, for me, and for us.

And I kept thinking…

Where do we go from here?

6 comments:

UTMOHO said...

I just cry as I read that. I have been thinking a lot this last week about what would happen if I was to marry a woman. How could she possibly agree to marry a gay man. I just totally admire your strength you give me hope that it might work. I am still trying to figure things out but every time you post something it just hits home there is always something in your posts that just makes me understand a little more about what we are all going through. I think we all are repeating over and over "What is next?"

Bravone said...

Sarah, thank you for sharing those tender and sensitive moments. It helps me to understand how my wife feels. I so appreciate you.

Beck said...

Do not take this wrong, but where is the hurt, the anger, the frustration, the bitterness? Yes, you softly cried into your pillow, but where is the true anguish? the open weeping? the disdain? Where is the mourning of something lost?

Believe me, our story wasn't so calm. I felt suicidal and she felt abandoned and abused. Years of neglect and silent suffering now explained on both parts from one simple admission of truth.

Sure, an increased amount of love and tenderness and comfort came afterward, but I don't see from you or Scott any grief, any mourning, any anguish. Why is that?

Philip said...

I don't think you and Scott realize just how brave the both of you are.

My wife and I took years to do what you and Scott have done in just the few months since he came out.

Here is to you and Scott and continued success in your journey.

Regards,
Philip

Mike said...

Sarah,

I want to say thank you for your inspiring blog. Your perspective is something that men in our situation do not come across very often, if at all.

I have been depressed lately because of what has happened between me and my wife, but it wa only after reading your blog that I was able to overcome how I was feeling.

Reading about your relationship with Scott has given me hope that perhaps one day, I might be able to gain the same with my wife. My wife is a beautiful, caring, wonderful woman that supports me in ways that I probably don't deserve.

I hope that as she learns to accept what I struggle with that she can become as supportive as you have become. Of course, every relationship is different, and we might have different views, but the support is the key ingredient that gives you such an honorable relationship with Scott.

You truly are an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your insight. I just want to give you a really big bear hug.

Sarah said...

I am so touched by all of your comments. Every time I go to post something that is on my mind, I think, "Do people really want to read about this?" And then it turns out that something I posted was exactly what someone else needed to read at the time.

I am honored that God has blessed me with this unique opportunity for service, and I hope He can continue to inspire me to know what thoughts and feelings to share.

Meanwhile, knowing that I am helping others is giving me incredible strength to continue onward. I am indeed blessed.

Thanks for your comments.