As I prepared to go through the coming out process, and now that I’m stepping through it, I can really understand the analogy I read over and over…
“It is like watching you die and mourning your death while you are still there,” my therapist reiterated.
Well, I’ve been in this process for my entire life, in a big way since the events of High School. For me, it has been like slowly drowning in that liquid that humans can breathe. You fight and fight and fight until you have no choice but to gasp for air. You think death is certain, but instead you feel life giving oxygen returning to your system. Things begin to feel normal again.
For the spouse it is very different. Even if they had some idea beforehand, it doesn’t really take away from the impact of hearing and speaking the words gay with your name. It is like a death they had no real chance to prepare for or observe as such, and it is incredibly painful. To make things worse, she sees you replaced by a twin that looks like you, but is distinctively different. My wife has expressed it is like a cruel joke or nightmare.
So the spouse is hurled into not only mourning a death, but also realizing she has to make decisions as to whether or not she can tolerate your replacement. My wife is at moments clinging to me and at others repulsed by what I am.
Because I love my family so much, this is going to be a long process no matter the short term outcome or living arrangements. As long as she doesn’t demand I stay away, I will do everything I can to help her during this time.