I was already an emotional wreck over my dying father when my husband abruptly came out. His understated confession of "homosexual tendencies" blindsided me completely after more than 30 years of marriage, parenting our two sons, building a successful business, and utterly trusting his fidelity. As his story unfolded through the following weeks, I learned more about his compartmentalized double life. For 25 years he had engaged in mostly anonymous homosexual encounters, hidden by the facade of our "perfect family" life.
I had joined the ranks of straight spouses, heterosexual people who unknowingly married gays.
Struggling to adjust, I went through predictable stages of recovery over the next four years, cycling from shock and bewilderment through denial, self-blame, and sympathy. Sometimes I was enraged that my husband's illicit behavior had put my health and life at risk. That anger usually caved into the black hole of grief and despair; all our plans for the future were dust. Through professional therapy, and peer support from the Straight Spouse Network, I learned that these cycling emotional states are typical during straight spouse recovery, the pattern similar to Elisabeth Kubler-Ross's stages of grief. Knowing that I was not alone was essential during the darkest times.
Eventually we divorced and the passing of time softened my sharp edges. I began to feel more hopeful. Through it all, I had kept a journal, recording the good and awful turns of this foreign journey. Then came an epiphany. This coming-out event was the major turning point in my lifetime. It could be the ultimate opportunity, the gateway to a whole new path of my own choosing. I could recreate myself, reconfigure my future. I realized the magnitude of this event, seeing it as possibility instead of disaster.
Writing became my door into that future. It gave me meaning beyond myself. Using my journal and interviews with other straight spouses, I wrote My Husband Is Gay: A Woman's Guide to Surviving the Crisis. I had always wanted to be an author, and my husband's disclosure of his true identity as a gay man freed me to live my own true identity. When I "got it," I could forgive my former mate and even become friends with him again. Healing was the result.