Thursday, October 17, 2013


BRINGING OUR FEELINGS OF BETRAYAL TO THE FOREFRONT

A number of our women are excited over the article Great Betrayals in the New York Times on October 5, 2013, written by Dr. Anna Fels, a psychiatrist and faculty member at Weill Cornell Medical School. The article articulates what so many of us experience throughout our marriages and in the aftermath of healing from them.  

I would like to quote Dr. Fels on some of her key points that you can relate to coming from a straight/gay marriage. At the end of my comments, I have the link to the entire article for you to read. Dr. Fels starts the article by discussing people who have been betrayed for long periods of time and then discover the betrayal. The article discusses a married couple where the wife learns after 25 years that she is in total debt due to her husband's secrets.  She then talks about a woman who found out her father came from a black family but passed for white throughout his life. She continues:

Discoveries of such secrets typically bring on tumultuous crises. Ironically, however, in my clinical experience, it is often the person who lied or cheated who has the easier time. People who transgressed might feel self-loathing, regret or shame. But they have the possibility of change going forward, and their sense of their own narrative, problematic though it may be, is intact. They knew all along what they were doing and made their own decisions. They may have made bad choices, but at least those were their own and under their control. Now they can make new, better choices.

And to an astonishing extent, the social blowback for such miscreants is often transient and relatively minor. They can change! Our culture, in fact, wholeheartedly supports such “new beginnings” — even celebrates them. It has a soft spot for the prodigal sons and daughters who set about repairing their ways, for tales of people starting over: reformed addicts, unfaithful spouses who rededicate themselves to family, convicted felons who find redemption in religion. Talk shows thrive on these tales. Perhaps it’s part of our powerful national belief in self-help and self-creation. It’s never too late to start anew.

But for the people who have been lied to, something more pervasive and disturbing occurs. They castigate themselves about why they didn’t suspect what was going on. The emotions they feel, while seemingly more benign than those of the perpetrator, may in the long run be more corrosive: humiliation, embarrassment, a sense of having been na├»ve or blind, alienation from those who knew the truth all along and, worst of all, bitterness.

Insidiously, the new information disrupts their sense of their own past, undermining the veracity of their personal history. Like a computer file corrupted by a virus, their life narrative has been invaded. Memories are now suspect: what was really going on that day? Why did the spouse suddenly buy a second phone “for work” several years ago? Did a friend know the truth even as they vacationed together? Compulsively going over past events in light of their recently acquired (and unwelcome) knowledge, such patients struggle to integrate the new version of reality. For many people, this discrediting of their experience is hard to accept. It’s as if they are constantly reviewing their past lives on a dual screen: the life they experienced on one side and the new “true” version on the other. But putting a story together about this kind of disjunctive past can be arduous.

And the social response to people who have suffered such life-transforming disclosures, well meaning as it is intended to be, is often less than supportive. Our culture may embrace the redeemed sinner, but the person victimized — not so much. Lack of control over their destiny makes people queasy. Friends often unconsciously blame the victim, asking whether the betrayed person really “knew at some level” what was going on and had just been “in denial” about it. But the betrayed are usually as savvy as the rest of us. When one woman I know asked her husband, a closet alcoholic who drank secretly late at night, how he could have hidden his addiction for so long, he replied, “It took a lot of work.”

FREQUENTLY, a year or even less after the discovery of a longstanding lie, the victims are counseled to move on, to put it all behind them and stay focused on the future. But it’s not so easy to move on when there’s no solid narrative ground to stand on. Perhaps this is why many patients conclude in their therapy that it’s not the actions or betrayal that they most resent, it’s the lies.

As a psychiatrist, I can tell you that it’s often a painstaking process to reconstruct a coherent personal history piece by piece — one that acknowledges the deception while reaffirming the actual life experience. Yet it’s work that needs to be done. Moving forward in life is hard or even, at times, impossible, without owning a narrative of one’s past. Isak Dinesen has been quoted as saying “all sorrows can be borne if you put them in a story or tell a story about them.” Perhaps robbing someone of his or her story is the greatest betrayal of all.

I think this article has been the most articulate in pinpointing why people don't view victims as "sympathetic."  Dr. Fels states:

"Our culture may embrace the redeemed sinner, but the person victimized — not so much. Lack of control over their destiny makes people queasy. Friends often unconsciously blame the victim, asking whether the betrayed person really “knew at some level” what was going on and had just been “in denial” about it."

We often discuss how gay husbands/mates who come out are viewed as "heroes." Case in point: Jason Collins. Collins was the first NBA player to come out publically in April of this year. A "side issue" was he was living with Carolyn Moos, a female basketball player, for eight years. Collins was viewed by the public as being a "hero" because he was the first major league basketball player to admit his homosexuality. Yes, the "redeemable" are embraced for sure. But in our cases, the more that gay men come out of the closet, the deeper our women go into it because as the article states, "friends unconsciously blame the victim asking whether the betrayed person really "knew at some level" what was going on and had just been "in denial" about it. Oh, so true for so many of our straight wives.

But I'll go one step further with our thinking. Not only do we have to contend with the questioning of "knowing on some level," but we also have to deal with those who
"blame" us for this transitioning from "straight to gay" on some level. You see, people don't get it. No matter how many times you hammer it into their heads, they don't get it. They see what they want to see. Your husband married you. Gay men don't marry straight women. You husband fathered your children. Gay men don't have sex with women or produce children. Your husband lived with you for years. Gay men don't want to live with a woman. What does this mean? He wasn't gay when he married you--he became gay "because of you."

Does that sound ridiculous? Maybe it does to us who have to prove ourselves over and over again. Unlike the other victims of sociopaths or psychopaths where people state, "You must have known on some level," we don't even get that. We are on a lower rung than the other women standing on the chain of fools. We were so bad as wives that we were able to take men who were sexually heterosexual and turn them into homosexuals.

 I'll repeat this story that some of you lived through with me in 2006. When Straight Wives: Shattered Lives Volume 1 was released in September of that year, a group of 12 of us went in a van to New York City from Philadelphia to launch it at a book signing. We stopped on the New Jersey Turnpike for a rest stop. As we kept getting out of the van, a man approached us in a friendly manner. He asked us if we were going to a show in NY--we said "no." He then asked us if we were part of a church group--we said "no." He then asked us what kind of group we were part of--and one of our members blurted out, "We are women who have gay husbands." The man started chuckling and said to us, "Were your husbands gay when you married them?" Of course we felt that need to "defend ourselves" by explaining we didn't know they were gay when we married them.  Lesson reinforced: people don't believe you. He was still chuckling as he walked away shaking his head. This prompted the title of my next book - "How I Made My Husband Gay: Myths About Straight Wives" with the picture of a magic wand on the cover. If you haven't read that book, you should if you are having doubts about your husband's homosexuality. It is all about the red flags our women missed and how they caught their husbands. There are lots of good lessons and very interesting stories you can learn from. You can find it on my website at www.Bonniekayebooks.com.

Sorry for sidetracking. Back to Jason Collins.  At the time of his national press announcement, his former girlfriend, Carolyn Moos, stated that she was "hurt and embarrassed." Okay, hurt I understand. But embarrassed? Why was she embarrassed? She didn't do anything wrong, did she? Oh, that's right--I forgot. When you have a gay husband/mate, YOU ARE embarrassed. We get it. We understand how people's perceptions of us are. We live with the gazes of head shaking like, "Sure you didn't know." We know the looks given to us that translate into, "You must have wanted someone gay," or "You have low self-esteem so of course you would settle for anyone--even a gay man," or "Everyone else knows he gay--so you mean to tell us you don't know?" Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr................

By the way, Moos was "hurt and embarrassed," when she first learned the news, but far more forgiving than many of us are. She stated, "But this does alleviate some of the pain. … I'm so happy for him. He deserves to live the life he wants." As the Beatles sing, "Oblade, Obladah, Life goes on, bra..." I guess when you're young, not entrenched in divorce proceedings and without children to complicate your situation, you can be generous in your forgiveness. At least in public. Sadly, for most of us, it doesn't go on quite that easily or without lots of residual pain.

The difference between straight wives married to gay men versus other women who have been betrayed by straight men is this. Living with a liar under any circumstances is disillusioning. But when you are married to a gay man, in almost all cases the damage is two-fold. We have the same trauma as women who are lied to by straight husbands, but those men are able to function as "straight husbands" and compartmentalize their secrets. However, when you live with a gay man, it's not a matter of a "secret" in his life--it's a life that is kept secret. It's a life that causes your husband's pain and frustration to be focused on you and place the blame in your lap.

Even if your husband hasn't cheated on you, he thinks you are cheating him out of what he wants in life because you are expecting him to do things that are not in his nature--like have sex with you. You become the reflection of his realization every time he looks at you.  He blames society for forcing him into this situation--and guess what? You are part of that society and perhaps the biggest offender because you are the jail keeper holding the key to his happiness--and you're not giving it up. If this doesn't have any true logic in your mind--well, join the rest of us. No, it doesn't make sense, but that is what happens when you are living with a man who is a stranger in a world that is strange to him. Remember what I teach you--gay men don't think straight.

One more comment about this article. It states at that end:

Isak Dinesen has been quoted as saying “all sorrows can be borne if you put them in a story or tell a story about them.” Perhaps robbing someone of his or her story is the greatest betrayal of all.

This is so true. For those of you who are being "shut up" by your husbands/ex-husbands who make you promise to keep this secret to yourself, they are stopping you from telling your story. I'm not saying that you have to shout it from the rooftop, but you are allowed to tell people who will give you support. Too many women live in the secrecy of their husbands' demands which state, "You better not tell anyone--or else." The "or else's" range from running away with your children to just running away and taking everything." If you allow him to do this, you are robbed of your voice. And as Dinesen concludes, "Perhaps robbing someone of her story is the greatest betrayal of all."

This article can be viewed in full at this link: 


After you read the article, read the responses that people sent in. Some of the readers' comments address having a gay husband.

 

AND ON KEEPING SECRETS FROM THE CHILDREN....

As most of you are aware, this year I started a support group for adult children of gay fathers. I thank my friend Barbara in California for pursuing this with me in hopes that her adult son Jason would receive some support. Little did I know while organizing this group how much valuable information I would learn thanks to Jason and the other young adults who have opened my eyes to the pain that they suffer in these situations.

I used to think that the children didn't have to know about their gay fathers in all circumstances. I would agree with the parents who found no need to disillusion their children's worlds at various ages--especially during adolescence. Why dump this news on them? Why make them question their own sexuality? Why create barriers between them and their friends who may not want to be bothered with them when they learn the news? Also, 28 years ago, when there was so much homophobia due to AIDS, why have your kids put into a worse situation in school where they could be isolated by social pressure? If you think I'm overstating this--I'm not. It happened to me with my own son when he was in nursery school and someone saw me on a television show. At that point, AIDS hysteria was so strong that if someone was public about being gay, they were treated as a leper. People were scared as this deadly epidemic was at its height and we knew so little about it. It was so sad that people who were infected with AIDS could not even get proper medical treatment in the hospital because some of the medical personnel feared catching it thinking it was airborne. Anyway, the woman gathered some of the other parents and petitioned the school to throw my son out or they would remove their children. They said if my son had a gay father, he could be spreading AIDS to their children. This was in 1986. You can only imagine my horror. It was strong enough to have me walk right into a bigger closet than my husband had ever lived in. I was terrified for my children.

But those days have passed. AIDS is now a controllable disease with the proper medication. We know how you do catch it--and more importantly, how you don't catch it. Also, homosexuality has come a long, long way over the past 25 years. Does that mean we are finished with homophobia? Of course not. It will always be with us just like discrimination of minorities and hatred of Jews. This is the way life is. But it is far better, and with the acceptance of gay marriage in a number of states, you can see that people's minds are changing in many places.

It is now time for us to be honest with our children about their fathers. It doesn't matter how old they are. After you have time to absorb the news, it is time to tell them. And when you do tell them, it MUST BE in a positive way regardless of how much hurt you are feeling. And regardless of how angry you feel, the news has to be without anger. It has to be without confusing your gay husband with homosexuality. Here are some of the reasons why.

First, children who grow up in a home where there is a lack of affection always wonder what a relationship should really be like. It affects them in their own relationships in future years because they are modeling themselves after YOUR marriage. That means that they will be willing to settle as we did for less than they deserve.

Next, regardless of how much you would like to think that you were hiding your feelings, you weren't. Children grow up knowing that you are unhappy and something is wrong in the house. They have the same sense that something is wrong that you have. Just like you don't know what it is, they don't know what it is either--and they personalize it. What are they doing wrong? How come their parents aren't happy? A lot of unnecessary self-blame goes on here.

As much as we don't want to deal with this reality, some of you will have gay children. Every mother who talks to me says it won't matter--she will love her child regardless of his or her sexuality. But if "gay" is a secret equating into "bad," then these children will struggle with their homosexuality in the same way their fathers have. Wouldn't it be better for them to understand how this happened and not learn to hate themselves for something they had no choice in? Do you want them to repeat the same mistakes that their fathers made and get married to some unsuspecting woman or man? I hope not.

What are you telling your children about homosexuality if you have to hide it from them? We give them the message that it is "bad" because we have to keep it a secret. Isn't it better to give your children the message that the marriage was an unintentional mistake because your husband didn't realize he was gay and was trying to fight whatever feelings he had because that is how people were raised back then and in many places, even today? Tell them that you both loved each other when you got married and conceived them out of that love. Let's not drag our own personal feelings of betrayal into the conversations with the children. They are already vulnerable and compromised by a marriage that wasn't real for you.

Many of the adult children who have come to me knew that their fathers were gay before their mothers knew. They live with the guilt that they weren't there for you to tell you. They were scared of telling you because they didn't want to break up the marriage. They became the "Keeper of the Secret" that could rip the family apart. This is guilt they have to work on getting rid of or it effects their lives and relationships with others.

Be aware if you keep attacking their father in front of them, they are going to feel forced  in some cases to side with their father. Even if they see your point of view, they will jump to the defense of the attacked parent to prove they love that parent. Your children do not need to be your sounding board. Our job as mothers is to make them feel secure and reassured that they are loved by both parents--even if that love isn't equal on both sides.

My ex-husband lacked fathering skills when my children were growing up. It was fathering under his terms when he felt like it. He was too pre-occupied with himself and making himself happy. And yet, I kept those comments and remarks for my family and friends--not for my children. I knew that they would know the truth when they grew up. While they were young, I created a better picture for them. Trust me--it was NOT for him--it was for them.  I knew even then that children are made up of two parents. When you say angry words about their father, that part of them feels bad. You may feel your child is "Mommy's little girl or boy," and maybe they are. But they still know who their father is. This is not about straight and gay. This is about parenting. No child likes to feel rejected by a parent. 

My point is this. Children need to love their parents--both of them. They also need to feel that their parents love them--both of them. This is not easy when you are dealing with some men who put their own needs and happiness ahead of their children's. But if we love our children, we need to do that for their mental well-being. If you tell your children about your husband's homosexuality in a positive way, it will go a lot further for their well being. If you talk to them in anger about it, they will get a message that part of them is responsible for your unhappiness. Remember--they are children. They don't have the ability to think as adults do.

I have seen mothers who think they are protecting their children from the truth end up on the losing end of this battle. When they find out that you knew but never told them because you were trying to "protect" them, they will not appreciate it. They will always wonder what other information you weren't telling the truth about. Just like you question how much of your marriage was real, they will question how much of their childhood was real. Look, I'm not making this stuff up. I'm just repeating what I've learned from your children.

Your children need to know--and they need to know from you before someone else tells them. Your husband/ex-husband has the right to tell them with you, but if he doesn't want to tell them the truth, then you tell them. The old theory of the "right time" or a "good time" is no longer part of my thinking. This is news that is never good to tell--but it needs to be told. And it should never be told in anger no matter how angry you are. You have every right to be angry--but that should not be passed down to the children. That's why I have support chat three times a week--so you can vent your anger with other women who are understanding of your struggle. Your children shouldn't have to be part of that venting.

The article on betrayal has to be applied to our children as well. They have to grieve and mourn in the same way we do. They may not feel comfortable discussing it with you because you are their mothers, and they don't want you to hurt more than they already see you hurting. I encourage you to send me your children. I will provide them a safe haven where they can find the support and help they need to move on in their lives like you need to in your life. Homosexuality is not the kind of secret that needs to be kept in the closet anymore whether you husband chooses to stay there or not. You need to have your voice heard, and your children need to hear the truth.

RECENT CI=RADIO BROADCASTS

Some women find my radio show a link to their sanity, and for that reason, I keep it coming each and every week with my wonderful friends who are there to give you comfort as well. If you can't listen live to the shows, you can listen whenever you have the time. Suzette Hinton is my co-hostess the first Sunday of every month, and Dr. Brian Hooper is my co-host the last Sunday of every month. In between, I have some dynamic speakers who help our women with understanding and healing.

This Sunday night, October 20, I am excited that Mike from Linked Investigations will be joining us. Many of you have learned so much from him over the past year when you need to learn ways to find the truth about your husband. You can cut and paste these links into your browser:

Mike Private Investigator - October 20


Dr. Brian Hooper - October 13


Suzette Hinton - October 6


Wendy from Texas - September 22


HAVE A WONDERFUL MONTH! LOVE, BONNIE♥