I can’t find Dan, my first husband. I have the paperwork ready to file for my nullity petition with the Diocese of Charlotte, and when I tried to call and let him know he’s going to be contacted about it, the old number I had for him has been disconnected, and I’ve since learned he’s no longer with the employer I last knew of. We had promised one another, long ago, that for our daughters’ sake we would always be able to stay in touch with one another. Evidently he has changed his mind and forgotten to tell me about it?
This is not the first time he’s made a major change and “forgotten” to tell me. Some five months after we separated, he had oral surgery. This was the first time he’d had any kind of medical need in the entire time I’d known him (more than fifteen years, at that point), and since we were supposed to be working on reconciling, it seemed only right to me that I should be with him for this crisis. But, no, he had already arranged another friend to take him to the oral surgeon’s and to be with him as he recovered: his friend Randy. I was welcome to stop by his apartment after I got off work, of course, and when I did, and when I met Randy and saw him and my handsome husband together, all the other problems we had had over the years suddenly made sickening sense to me: they were in love with each other.
Dan had tried to tell me of his homosexuality a couple of years after we were married. We’d been having trouble since the honeymoon — arguments over lack of communication, Dan’s sudden intolerance for physical affection and companionship. He’d cracked a joke after our honeymoon, that after we’d consummated our marriage his only thought was, That’s what all the fuss is about? We’d not been intimate before, and I’d admired his self-control; it turned out he just wasn’t interested.
Then after one particularly ugly quarrel, in which I’d pointedly asked him if he wanted a divorce since he obviously did not like being married, he broke down and began to weep. He told me a story he now vehemently denies: of being seduced by the older relative of one of our friends, at the age of 14. It was a mutual masturbation scenario, as he told me of it then, but it had left him strongly marked. “I’ve always been afraid, if you hadn’t fallen in love with me and married me, that’s where I would have ended up,” he said.
This was the mid- to late-’70s, when nice people still didn’t discuss some things. There was no one I could trust with the burden placed upon me, and it was terrifying. I was physically sick for three days, then I pushed the conversation and all its attending risks and revelations back into the depths of my memories… until meeting Randy popped the cork and let it all come spewing, spurting, geysering out.
A couple of my friends have been wanting me to blog about this for a while, and it’s not something that can be done once for all. Discovering that one’s most intimate life partner is gay is a devastating experience, but for me there was also a mercy: for years, Dan had tried to turn everything into being MY FAULT, and because Dan was wonderful, smart, likeable, and my parents’ favorite, he had to be right; now I knew that if I’d been perfect it would not have been good enough.
What I don’t understand is how he has been able to face our daughters all these years and tell them, repeatedly, that his homosexuality had NOTHING to do with our divorce, continuing the theme of “It’s all your mother’s fault.” He even invented an adulterous relationship for me (greatly exaggerating a very benign “mutual admiration society” with one of my professors to fit his needs for self-justification)… and my daughers believe him.
This one is going to develop over a while. There are too many of us in the world, women who have been betrayed by this ultimate misogyny, this rejection of ourselves for our very womanhood, to remain silent any longer. I’ve been paying for this man’s deceits for thirty years. It’s time I found my voice, and this blog is where I’m going to sing.