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Issue 18 - ©2002 by Kari West - Garden
a Husband Says He's Gay
When a husband says he is gay and then files for divorce,
you lose not only your marriage and your identity as somebody's
wife--but you begin to question who you are as a woman. In this
newsletter, you'll meet Karen in Canada who shares the shock
of her pastor-husband's announcement that forever changed her
Personal Reflection by Karen in Canada
It is January 1998,a typical day in the life of a pastor's
family. Rushing around. Getting everyone ready and out the door
on time for Sunday School. After the service, my husband and
I stay around to chat with the congregation. Our children visit
with their friends.
After arriving home, we have a quick lunch. The kids go downstairs
to play as my husband and I sit in the living room. I'm looking
forward to a restful Sunday afternoon. But yet somehow I know
something is wrong. In the past few days I have noticed that
Mark is not quite himself. He's distant with me. So I ask
him what is up. He avoids the subject and makes the insinuation
that he is just burned out and needs a rest from the ministry.
I come right out and ask, "Is something wrong between the
two of us?" A knot tightens around my stomach, because he
doesn't answer me right away. Nervously I ask, "Are you going
to leave me?" "I don't know," he answers. I begin to feel
sick. "Is there another woman?" I ask. "No!" he says.
"Mark, you have to tell me more. It's not fair. I need to
know." My voice shakes. He looks at me. Then he says, "It's
the worst thing I could ever tell you. I think I'm gay."
In that moment I felt a knife stabs my heart. I scramble
for the bedroom and shut the door. Falling on the floor in
a fetal position, I pound the floor and cry. I cry uncontrollably,
repeating over and over again: "No! No! No!" I cry and cry,
knowing I had the best husband in the world. We were happy.
How could this be happening to us?
Looking back I realize that I don't remember much of that
evening except not sleeping well. It felt like a nightmare
and I figured that when I awoke in the morning, it would all
be over and everything would be back to normal. BUT IT WASN'T.
My life was never again the same.
When morning came I got dressed somehow, put my makeup on
and a smile. Nobody knew what was going on inside of me. That
I wanted to be dead. The pain was indescribable. I mean, these
things just don't happen to a pastor's family!
The next week was a blur. One night I called a babysitter
and took a walk. Before I'd always been nervous about walking
at night alone, but not this time. I wanted someone to rape
me! Because that's what I felt that my husband had been doing
to me for the past 12 and a half years. I felt used. I didn't
feel like a woman anymore. I felt dirty. I felt ugly.
Eventually Mark and I talked about what to do as far as the
ministry went. We both agreed he needed to resign from the
church. The board was very supportive but tried to talk him
into just taking a sabbatical rest for a few months and then
coming back. They too thought he was simply burnt out, because
he hadn't told them what he was struggling with. And so that
following Sunday Mark resigned before the congregation. It
was a very difficult time for both of us. After the service
I escaped out the back door and sat in the car. I didn't want
to face anybody. I knew the real reason we were leaving. My
future felt so uncertain. Somehow during the next few weeks
I continued to play the organ each Sunday, acting the part
of the perfect pastor's wife, while inside I was shattered.
Crushed. Devastated. Lost.
This was such a difficult time in my personal walk with God.
Each day it seemed that my prayers were going unanswered.
My faith was weakening. I expected God to do things my way.
After all, I was doing all the right things. I prayed. I fasted.
There was nothing else I could do but pray. And fasting, well,
it's easy to do when you don't have an appetite. There were
many days that I felt that I just could not go on. And to
be quite honest, I didn't want to.
During this time in my life, I kept a journal. March 30th:
"I can't hold on any longer. I am
so afraid. I was okay today. I went up town. I was alone.
So alone. It hurts too much. I love him too much to lose him.
I'd rather be dead. Please help God. Please hold me!"
This time was such a roller coaster time in my life. I had
many emotional ups and downs. I could not eat or sleep. I
hated being alone. I went from 130 pounds to 95 pounds. I
wore baggy clothes hoping no one would notice. I started taking
showers instead of the relaxing baths I always enjoyed--because
I'd lost so much weight it was uncomfortable to sit in the
bathtub for any length of time. I remember on one occasion
I stood in front of the mirror and didn't recognize my own
You know, when Mark told me he was gay, he had no idea how
I would respond. He just figured the marriage would be over
at that time. Instead, I told him, "I married you for better
or worse. We'll get through this." I assumed he would want
that, too. He did, for a while.
We stayed together for a year. He finally left in January
of 1999. Since then my life has been a journey. A journey
filled with many valleys. Times of anger. Times of depression.
Times of guilt and loneliness. But it's also a journey filled
with many good times. Now people ask me, "Karen, how do you
do it? How do you go on?" And I answer, "Each new day brings
new trials and struggles, but also new blessings. I have made
a decision to concentrate on the blessings." The hymn, "Great
Is Thy Faithfulness" is now one of my favorites. God has proven
himself faithful over and over again. It says in Jeremiah
29:11 that God knows the plans he has for us; plans to prosper
us and not to harm us, plans to give us hope and a future.
Each day of my journey takes me closer to that future.
Note: Karen invites you to visit the web site she
created to help others going through the shock of learning
that their spouse is gay. Her URL is: http://www.ministryofhope.homestead.com/
Help for today by Kari
Perhaps you're wondering, like Karen did, how do I keep
my thoughts and feelings straight when the words I never expected
to hear implode my world and impale my heart?
I don't think you do right away. You feel worse before you
feel better, look down before you look up. Then, you realize
that try as you might to delude yourself that there's one
more thing you can do to stop what is happening, gay is gay
and divorce is divorce. There is no stopping another from
leaving unless they choose to stay. There is no binding together
what has already come undone.
Fifteen years ago I couldn't keep my thoughts and feelings
straight either. As the clock inched past midnight, I perched
on my bed scribbling these words in my journal: "I
feel so powerless, out of control. I want
Ed to come and put his arms around me and say it's only been
a dream. I feel pulled down by the fact I wasn't enough
for him ... off balance ... I lack vitality
as depression sweeps over me and anger. I am angry
about the holes in the house. I still cling to hope,
but I know I must move past this. Lord, keep showing me the
direction I must head. It is a time of endings, but also a
time of beginnings. Lead me. Protect me from destructive emotions.
Walk behind me, Lord, and keep prodding me forward. I don't
want to look back. Eleanor says that if a farmer looks back
when he's plowing that the row will be crooked; but if he
looks ahead, it will be straight."
Eleanor, my 3 o'clock in the morning friend, whose husband
left her for another man! Eleanor who showed me the pain of
having a gay husband leave you when she said: "I knew how
to compete against another woman--but didn't have a clue how
to compete for Tom's love against another man." Eleanor who
said that any man who walks away from his family isn't worth
If you find yourself in Karen and Eleanor's situation, be
aware of the battle for your sanity being fought in your mind
as you question your worth as a woman. Hold tightly to the
truth of what you know. That you loved the best you knew how
to love at the time. That you gave the best gift you could
give a husband--your trust. That his choice to live a homosexual
lifestyle is not about you but about him. That even though
you feel that his lifestyle choice conveys a loud message
that you were not enough, it's a lie.
Don't go through this battle alone. Find someone to talk
to. A counselor. Pastor. A 3 o'clock in the morning friend.
Or pick up the telephone and contact Focus on the Family to
speak privately to someone and ask for a referral. Their number
is 1-800-A-FAMILY. Their lines are open Monday through Friday
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Mountain Time). NEVER FORGET: YOU are
loved passionately by your Creator just as you are right now;
and you always have been.
Lina in California wrote the following poem during an environmental
science class shortly after her divorce. She speaks Spanish,
hence the word companera meaning girlfriend or partner;
and dolor meaning pain. I share it because it speaks
to our shared experience as survivor sisters.
Laws of Nature by Lina
I have not cried in
This is progress,
When the woman knows
And the man is not
He quickly changes
Making a new bird
And the poor wife
No room now for regrets
In the struggle for
She must build her
own new nest.
Life, death, life
The laws of nature
Love which died
Must be reborn
A new season
We get wiser, we get
We get tougher and
That there's more
to life than a husband.
There are children,
friends, and wisdom
A new understanding
And the best of the
That's Jesus Christ,
who is my Lord.
This is progress,
Knowing about dolor
I'm withdrawing from
And growing through
You Can Trust
Because of the Lord's great love we
are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are
new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Don't hesitate to write. I am here for you, however I can
encourage or help. Please feel free to share what helped you
through your divorce so others know they are not alone and
that they too can and will survive. E-mail by Clicking Here or write Kari West, Garden Glories Publications, P.
O. Box 11692, Pleasanton, CA 94588.