I published the post, “Code Red Comes Out,” yesterday morning, and then I panicked.
So I deleted it…
Something that I’ve learned throughout the last 2-1/2 years is how difficult it is to maintain boundaries even after leaving an abusive relationship. Oftentimes, I cannot communicate in the manner in which I typically do.
I have trained myself to soften many things that come from my mouth…but in doing that, my words lose their meaning. It’s as if what I am attempting to say are not even understandable.
In that post, I wanted him to fully grasp that being gay was the minor issue in our marriage. The primary issue was his abuse.
But being gay WAS his primary issue in our marriage.
Make sense? I’m republishing it…sorry to those of you who subscribe for getting it twice…this is still a little bit sensitive for me.
So. My ex-husband, Code Red, officially came out to me last Sunday.
It made my week a bit emotional. Having him finally put what I already knew into words was surreal. (I hate that overused word…but it’s accurate.)
Last Sunday, I received a email from Code Red. It was actually a very kind letter telling me the one thing (he refers to it as “the lie”)he wished that he could have told me so long ago. As I read it, I grieved. I grieved for the life that he lost. I grieved the life that I lost. I grieved the life that we led, because it really wasn’t a very good life for either one of us.
In response, I offered to send him a response telling him how his lie impacted the kids and me throughout the years. Honestly, it was some of the most genuine interaction I feel that we have ever had.
Here is an edited version…all quotes are paraphrased: (Code Red – Bold, Me – Italics)
“Here is something I should have told you and others a long time ago.” Lumping me in with others is offensive. I was your wife. I fully trusted you…even when my instincts told me otherwise.
“I am gay. That’s the easiest way to put it. I’m at peace with that fact, finally. I’m at peace with how I was made.” For this, I am genuinely glad for you.
“I do hate the pain that my choices and actions caused.” Let’s name them so that they aren’t minimized.” **I listed 31 occurrences for him to consider. In regard of the sanctity I still value in marriage (even a bad one), I won’t expose all of them here. I have touched on them at times, but I won’t share these deeply personal things.
**The knowledge of your gay affairs opened a clear path to safety for the kids and me.”
“I do not regret our marriage. I did my best.” There are only 2 benefits from our marriage: 1) Our children 2) It strengthened me to a point that I did not think was possible.
“I still have love for you, but I know we probably cannot have a friendship.” Honestly, I no longer feel any love for you. I have come to accept that I haven’t loved you for a great many years. The feeling that I mistook for love was really fear. **Fear that you instilled in me with careful manipulation and rage. I have no desire to be friends with you. You are not the kind of person that I want to have in my life.
Because you have been separated from us, you are able to romanticize the truth, making it easy for you to create your own personal narrative. I, on the other hand, have been face to face not only with the damage you did to my heart, but also with the damage you did to our children. Every single day, I see the effects your decisions had on them. No amount of romanticizing will create a better truth for them.
- When we lived in Louisiana, I thought we struggled because it was the early years of marriage.
- When we lived in Indiana, I thought we struggled because you had so much work to do with school.
- When we lived in Alabama, I thought we struggled because you hated your job.
- When we lived in Virginia, I thought that we struggled because of your many jobs.
- When we lived in Arkansas, I thought that we struggled because of homeschooling.
- When we moved to Texas, I thought we struggled because I moved forward in my walk with God, and you abandoned yours.
I wanted to leave you so many times, but I did not realize that I despised you until we lived in Arkansas. I didn’t think that I had a good reason to divorce back then…I didn’t even think that I had a choice. I thought that I had to just power through. After all, I knew you “loved” me, even though it didn’t feel like love. Throughout the 26 years, I have cried so many tears for the unknown. I had no idea what was wrong with our marriage, but I knew that something was not right. The best part of this whole situation is that I now know how strong and resilient I am.
“Poem about his wedding ring“
With my social work knowledge, I applaud your efforts to dig deep and pull this poem out of the grief. But I was your wife, and I know that this poem only touches one aspect of our lives. It’s as if this knowledge absolves you from the horrific life the kids and I endured at your hand.
- You need to know that I do not feel the same as you. As you have sentimentalized the story of being gay, I have come to accept the depths of abuse the kids and I suffered.
- The laughter and joy were not real, Code Red. They were coping mechanisms used to make it through each day. My humor is not your humor.
- The friendship was also an illusion. When I think back, I am able to recognize my own desire to get away from the rural country life…something that drove me into a relationship with a person that treated me inconsistently even as a friend before our marriage.
- The love from me to you was a commitment. The depth of my love was an illusion I created to be able to bear the burdens you placed on me. I literally rehearsed it so that no one would know how much I despised you. I wanted them to think that I held you in high regard…I did not want to be known as the complaining wife. I worked so hard at it that I even convinced myself…until I recall that I regularly told God, “It will be okay if Code Red dies today. The kids and I will manage just fine.” That wasn’t okay, Code Red. I should’ve known that having thoughts like that meant that something was very, very wrong.
I wish you well in your new life, but I do not want to be a part of it. There cannot be mutual respect. I have no desire to be friends with a man that harms his wife and children.
I plan to spend the rest of my life helping women and children overcome the trauma of abuse.
And that is the end of our exchange. I’ve read it and reread it so many times this last week. To be able to finally share my voice to him about how his behaviors impacted me has been such an empowering feeling. His words, and then my words, weren’t exchanged in anger. They were shared in a manner that creates closure. It’s as if each word is flying from my hand into the sky, never to return.
For this, I am grateful.