Thursday, August 03, 2006

Regret

I have only a few regrets in my life. I regret that I voted for George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential election. Seriously. I regret that I didn't attend the funeral of a friend's mother when she passed away a few years ago. She was a second mother to me and I've kicked myself a few times for not flying to Utah from New York to pay my final respects and say goodbye.

And I regret that I did not tell KK sooner that I am gay.

Here's what that does NOT mean. It does not mean that I regret the life that I have lived with her. It does not mean that I regret having children with her. I have no regrets about the life I chose then or the life I am choosing now. But I do regret that I didn't have the courage to let her in sooner and share with her what I was struggling to understand.

Ideally, I would have told her before we got married. I loved her. She was the only woman I had ever fallen in love with, the only woman I was ever able to have a physical relationship with. So I wish I had done her the service of putting more trust in her. She gave me a few opportunities to do just that. She shared some very personal things about herself before we got married that she felt I should know. I remember thinking then, "Should I tell her?" But I couldn't. I really couldn't. And the closer I got to her the more convinced I became that I really wasn't gay. But still, I regret that I didn't say anything.

I also regret that I didn't tell her at some point sooner in the ten years of our marriage. Again, that regret arises not from a sense of guilt or because I wish I had lived a different life, but because I didn't trust her--the person to whom I was closest--with my most painful struggle. I shared everything else with her, but not that.

KK has pointed out to me that, with hindsight, it's easy to regret not telling her. It's easy because I know now how she reacted--lovingly, compassionately, empathetically. None of those things surprised me then or now, because Keri is loving, compassionate and empathetic. Her greatest happiness comes from seeing the people around her do well. And I have to admit that perhaps she is right, at least partly. I can look at how she handled this and say, "Ugh! Why didn't I tell her sooner!" But it goes deeper than that. I feel sometimes as thought I dishonored Keri by not telling her sooner and by not trusting what I knew about her character. I dishonored her by not empowering her sooner. That is my true regret. I regret that I didn't give her the choice of marrying a gay man, even recognizing that knowing something is not the same as understanding what it means--and I don't think either one of us would have understood what undertaking a mixed orientation marriage would entail. So even as I move past my shame of being gay and my guilt about divorce, I think I will always regret that I denied KK the power of choice.

6 comments:

Jess said...

"I loved her. She was the only woman I had ever fallen in love with"

I do not understand how this love just died, even if you are gay. If you love someone, you love them. You are no better than a cheating husband that leaves his wife for another woman.

Chris said...

jess,

I still love her, but not as my wife. I've spent a lot of time beating myself over my failure to keep my romantic love for KK alive. If you want to pass judgment on me for that, you're entitled to do that.

Ward Cleaver said...

Why?

Why didn't you tell or give HER the option? What were you feeling at the time(s) when you could have told? What stopped you? What/who were you protecting and why?

Chris said...

ward cleaver:

Why? I've asked myself that question a million times.

Fear. Shame. Uncertainty. All of these things played into it. I also didn't think my same sex attractions were a problem. I thought it was working and would always work. I thought I would be able to overcome the attraction. I'm sure there was a lot of self deception going on, but I really thought I had everything under control.

Who was I protecting? Myself and KK.

Kelly D Kemp said...

Chris,
your story really moves me. I was the same as you afraid to give my ex wife the choice. We were married for 14 years and I didn't know how to tell her... I was so ingrained from the church that i was wrong for being gay that until I realized I wasn't perverted but created this way I couldn't tell her. my regret is the same as yours, not having the courage, but my peace is in knowing that everything has happened to make me the man I am today. I did not reconcile myself with the church and have since left the church since the divorce and i am happy. However I do not put down the church as my children and my ex wife Colleen are stil very active members. I feel that we all have our path to follow and our peace is knowing that we are right with God and that is where i am now. God Bless you along your journey.

ronin1516 said...

Well, I am not going to condemn you for coming out. But, best fo luck in the new phase of your life.
I hope you can work thing sout so that your wife and kids are not hurt and scarred for life.
have a similar situation in our Ward. Guy came out after 7 kids, and when he became a grandpa.
I will keep you all in my prayers, chris, Keri and the kids.........