I facilitate peer support meetings for men who are attracted to men and have been married or involved with a woman. In a recent meeting, a man said he felt that there were “two versions of myself.” I felt very much the same for most of my adult life.
When I was in the closet, there was this ongoing, never-ending, exhausting inner dialog about being gay, and then there was the straight husband and man that I presented to the world. I told myself that I was really good at compartmentalizing my life. In reality, I was shutting down a big part of who I was and squishing it into a small compact ball. By keeping this huge part of myself, my sexual orientation, deeply under wraps, I felt with each passing year that I was losing who I was. It felt, during the worst of those years, like my soul was disappearing. While I know that sounds dramatic, it is an accurate description of what I felt inside.
In a peer support meeting tonight a man who described having had a “physical relationship” with another man, but never an “emotional relationship” asked me how I would describe the difference between the relationship I had with my wife and the relationship I have with my male partner and fiance.
With my wife, I felt that I had found someone that I loved; my best friend; someone I enjoyed talking to and being with; someone who I loved raising our son with. But at the time, I never fully understood the big hole that existed in our relationship because of my complete lack of sexual interest in my wife.
With my fiance, I have found a man who I might describe in similar terms; he is my best friend; a man I love being with; and someone with whom I never run out of things to talk about. BUT, he is also someone I love being with physically both sexually and just for a hug and a kiss. There is a sexual intimacy between us that is a companion to, and completion of our friendship. The two together, physical and emotional, makes for a powerful combination.
So while I felt I loved my wife, the fact that she did not attract me physically, left a big gaping hole that she saw, but that I could not really see clearly. She would say, “how come you never come up behind me at the sink, wrap your arms around me and give me a big hug?” The truth is that I was not interested in her in that way.
Today, with my soon to be husband, I feel like one person, one completely integrated person. While there will always be small compartments; the inner thoughts versus what I might express, I feel like I am continuously showing who I genuinely am. I feel integrated, and the big compartments that I once felt tying me up in knots no longer exist. There is a lot that could be written about why we let, sometimes for years, the two versions of ourselves exist, but that is a topic for another day.
Marriage with my partner will be, I believe, another step in us deeply combining the physical and emotional into something stronger as we become husbands to each other.