We had been married for nearly five years when I first confessed the secret of my life. In a fit of frustration and loneliness, I whispered as I lay beside her at the end of a long and difficult day, "Sweetie, I'm gay." In those early years our hormones ran hot, but we kept our intimate fantasies to ourselves. As a result, my wife was surprised by the revelation and failed to grasp its implications. "This shouldn't be a problem," she responded with a yawn. "You love me, right?" "Yes," I said, "I love you." "Then it will all work out," she concluded and fell gently into my arms and an easy sleep.
For me, sleep never came that long and difficult night. As I held her close watching her breasts move, one breath following another, I wallowed in the futility of the situation. Regardless of my love for her and her love for me, my soul would remain empty and the void unfilled. I would never feel the tender caress or the gentle kiss of an honest partner. My heart would continue to beat its unending rhythm of despair and despite my wife's devotion to me, I would be alone.
After what seemed an eternity, the dawn cast a single ray through the curtained window and with that ray, my despair eased. The morning light, as it strengthened, whispered hope and words my grandfather spoke to comfort and encourage came easily to mind. "Life is hard," he would say. "Accept it. It's how you play the hand you're dealt that really matters."
It was then that I realized that although I had little power over the subject of my desires, I did have power over how those desires would impact my life. For the sake of my family, I decided then and there to play my hand with optimism and courage, with devotion and love. That's what my wife needed and that's what my children deserved. And so for nearly two decades, for better or worse that's what I've tried to do.
Admittedly, this approach is not the best solution for every family; we now live in a different time and place. For us and our situation, it seemed to work.
Although the void remains and sometimes the loneliness is palpable, I have the consolation of knowing that my children have benefited from my sacrifice. They've had a father as well as a mother to guide their daily journey. They were raised in a home where they found security and the support of two devoted parents. Our lives, though at times hard, have been good.
Now that those children are grown and successfully making their own way, it's time for me to step back, reconsider, and perhaps move in a different direction. It's time for me to undertake a journey that may just yet fill the void that has been my real companion. My wife, who remains my best and closest friend, understands the implications of this journey. She feels concern, but she approves.
The prospect of success is exciting and the probability of pain along the way, high. But this is a quest I have to undertake.
Why is it so necessary at this point in my life? Because I'm confident ultimately it will lead me to joy.