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DivorceWise Newsletter
Issue 18 - 2002 by Kari West - Garden Glories Publications
Topic: When a Husband Says He's Gay

Welcome Survivor!

 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 world.

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.

Finally, 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 body!

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 crying over.

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 in California

I have not cried in two days

This is progress, companera.

When the woman knows neglect

And the man is not being fed

He quickly changes nest

Making a new bird his prey.

And the poor wife forges forward

No room now for regrets

In the struggle for survival

She must build her own new nest.

Life, death, life

The laws of nature

Love which died

Must be reborn

Another cycle

A new season

Composing another song.

We get wiser, we get older

We get tougher and realize

That there's more to life than a husband.

There are children, friends, and wisdom

A new understanding of love

And the best of the companions

That's Jesus Christ, who is my Lord.

This is progress, companera

Knowing about dolor

I'm withdrawing from my husband

And growing through the divorce.

 A Promise 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.
---Lamentations 3:22

In the meantime

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.

Copyright 2002 by Kari West