Friday, October 06, 2006

It's not just gay men who make terrible husbands; other men with serious psychological issues are nightmares, too. And not only gay men are misogynists. But homosexuality is a particular sort of misogyny -- dispising the feminine on such a deep level that the man has only contempt for a woman's body as well as her mind and soul.

Dan and I were part of the same circle of friends throughout high school. Then, during our senior year, Dan was hired by the same variety store I worked at, so we were spending even more time together. After we graduated, we'd go out, sometimes with a couple of friends, sometimes just the two of us, after work, hang out together until almost 11:00 (my weeknight curfew)... it was late August, immediately after one of our friend's wedding, that we had the great revelation that we were wanting to spend all our time together, had become immensely important to one another.

While we were dating, Dan was companionable, good-humored, loads of fun. He was always the life and heart of our gang, anyway, and I basked in his intelligence and sense of fun and adventure. He never pushed about sex, and, since I'd been wracked with guilt about a prior, unchaste relationship, I thought Dan was noble, self-disciplined. After all, he'd been instrumental in the formation of my Christian discipleship for more than two years; he'd been an exemplary (if sometimes overzealous) Christian youth.

We'd sit and talk for hours, building our dream castles, yes, but also grounded in various realities in our lives. He was a staunch defender against my mother, who could be so cruelly critical.

Actually, we both had issues we were running away from. I loved my parents and wanted to be close to them, but they had made it clear that if I ever left home without their approval, I'd be cutting myself off. I had to get out, my mother was mentally ill (I didn't know it then, but she wasn't in the hospital for headaches - Daddy felt it was in my best interests to "protect" me from knowing too much).

I didn't know it then, but Dan had issues and fears he was running away from, too. He'd been seduced, at age 14, by the adult relative of another of our friends; it had left him scarred, afraid of his own sexual inclinations. It wasn't self-control that had kept him from trying to score with me.

Then, after we were married, he immediately became distant, uncommunicative, unaffectionate. I'm an affectionate woman, and even the most casual of one-armed hugs, or a hand resting on his arm or shoulder, would bring about a violent reaction: he'd jerk away from me as if scalded, make a snorting noise, and say, "Don't! You know that annoys me!"

After we moved to Greensboro in '82, he began working at the YMCA, where he met whole new groups of people. Some of them became his friends. He began, every couple of months, announcing that he was feeling restless and that he was going to go visit some of his friends. They never called the house, never were named, never were met. I had no friends that he didn't know -- most were from Church -- and even the good people we knew from our church, he became unreasonably critical of. He even seemed hostile toward some of them.

I became desparately lonely. A therapist from Focus on the Family, whom I had written in near-desparation, called me on the telephone, and as I described my situation, he warned me that he was concerned, advised me to seek out local counselling. "You're at extremely high, frighteningly high, risk for an affair," he warned me.

I had the opportunity. We had a friend from church who thought I was beautiful, witty, intelligent, and very desirable. I wasn't interested. I wholly believed that, if I'd just follow the rules and be faithful, God would give me a miracle. It didn't come the way I wanted it to.

It has to have been horrible for Dan. Son and grandson of Baptist preachers, highly idealistic... He had a lot to risk if his worst fears were grounded in reality. I believe he thought that getting married, functioning sexually with a woman, perhaps fathering children, would be all the barometer he'd need to assure himself of his "normalcy."

I think that's the way it was, anyway. He won't discuss it with me now. Or wouldn't, last time I talked with him about it. This was more than ten years ago -- he'd come out to our daughters, and according to them, to his parents and siblings. I asked him, how do you reconcile the contradictions between your strong Christian commitment and this lifestyle you've adopted? His answer was distressing, even in those days before I ever attended my first Catholic Mass: so long as he believed and acknowledged Jesus Christ as the Son of God and his personal savior, his salvation was assured.

He was already attending the Metropolitan Community Church.

If only he'd been straightforward with me, said something along the lines of, "Laura, I'm so sorry, I've really tried, but..." and owned some degree of responsibility, even attempted some empathy for the agony I was going through, it might have made the present more bearable. But he never has been, and has only lied, deceived, and manipulated. Whatever his choices have been, they are all my fault.

3 comments:

beth said...

Sounds like your blaming him for your won insecurities.

Laura said...

Fortunately, it doesn't end with my "insecurities." Or with blame. But he exploited, manipulated and fed heavily off my insecurities, yes. It was a toxic, abusive, horrible situation, and I'm immensely grateful to have broken free -- free in every sense of the word, including from those insecurities.

Christine said...

Sounds like Dan wasn't honest with anyone...either his family or himself.