He was upset; he had been for months. His eyes were sad and empty as he sat there with his head in his hands. It was Sunday night, the kids were in bed and as I looked at him, I decided tonight was the night. We had to talk.
I seated myself beside him on our brown suede hand-me-down chesterfield. It was worn and stained from juice spills and sticky fingers.
“What is it?” I asked gently drawing circles on his back with my hand.
He looked up and stared blankly ahead. “I don’t know,” he replied.
I got up on my knees and crept a little closer to him, cradling his head in my arms. A calm came over me. I felt it throughout my entire body. There had been something that had followed us throughout our relationship. It was spoken of before we were married, but there had been barely a whisper about it since. And yet suddenly there it was at the forefront of my mind and on the tip of my tongue. The words were out of my mouth before I even knew what I was asking.
“Does it have something to do with your attraction to men?”
And two seconds passed before he crumpled right there in my lap, heaving sobs of disbelief, of fear and of relief. I held him like that, just like that, as if he were my child and not my husband…as if my whole world had suddenly come to make sense and was not actually about to fall apart. I held him and then I turned his face toward mine and said, “This is good, you know.”
He shook his head, wiped his eyes. “How can this possibly be good?”
I smiled, kissed his lips. “Because it’s honest. Honest is good. And now we know why you’ve been so depressed.”
I did not believe at the time that my marriage would ever end, but in that moment it didn’t matter. I suppose I had a naive assumption that our love could make it through anything. And it did. It does.
For two years following his disclosure, we waded through the waters of uncovering the nature of his sexuality. We knew he was on the spectrum, in that he was attracted to men and to women, but he was unsure what his true identity was.
Throughout this time I cried long and often. I held on tight, and then I’d let go a little. I gave him space. I watched “Queer as Folk” with him, encouraged him to go to therapy, join support groups, make new friends. I also reached out to my own friends, found a counsellor I respected, sought support. We did our best, and we did it with love.
Deep down within us both there was a place that acknowledged he was gay, but we didn’t want to see it. Instead we tried to make it work. We tried because we weren’t ready to let one another go, but when you’re living in the in-between you feel like you have to justify being there. “Maybe you’re bi!” I’d say often, or “Maybe you’re pansexual!” Try, try, try… But also, in the meantime: Let go, let go, let go.
Because we love each other enough to allow one another to be who we are, no matter what. I call it a liberated love. I think many people are afraid to open ourselves up to a love like that. We want to put people into perfect little boxes so that they behave in easy, predictable ways. We’re constantly afraid of losing love to the whim of an unsatisfied partner. But my epiphany was this:
You don’t lose liberated love. It may appear to shift and change in form, but it’s always there: supporting you, validating you, freeing you to do whatever you need to do.
In the end, my former husband uncovered what he had pushed away, buried and refused to accept: he was a gay man. He wanted to fall in love with a man. Our situation needed to change.
And so now separated, I witness the love between us anew. As a newly “out” gay man, he has his ups and downs, but he is happier. We both are. He knows when I’ve had a tough week with the kids and is right there with a kind word, a tight hug and an offer to take them for a little longer this time.
We’re navigating this with as much compassion and respect as we can muster because sometimes the emotions run high. It’s at those times I go back to that moment almost three years ago: cradling his head in my arms.
I’ve met liberated love, I’ve shaken its hand and worn its robes. I know it and I can offer it…always. To myself, to my former husband, to anyone and for that, I am forever grateful.
by Danielle Boonstra
Danielle and her former husband, Photo courtesy of Danielle Boonstra
Danielle is a writer, intuitive and a student of A Course in Miracles who shares her journey with honesty, love and the intention to heal. She lives just outside of Toronto, Ontario, Canada with her two children. Danielle’s first novel, Without Fear of Falling, was published on April 26, 2013 by Soul Rocks Books. Her website is http://danielleboonstra.com.