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To say the last week has been difficult would be a great understatement.

He had been caught. He just didn’t know to what extent when I confronted him. And so he lied. Had he told the truth, would the outcome have been different? No point in wondering that now. Once I began reading out loud to him, the e-mails they had exchanged that were in my possession, my husband realized he could lie no longer and the ugly details were revealed.

He met her 18 months ago . . . It became “inappropriate” early on. I told him he needed to leave. Move out. And he needed to tell the kids why or else I would. I gave him 1 week. He refused. By mid-week he even began to deny everything he had admitted just a few days before. Why wouldn’t he? I’m sure he was thinking that we would fall back into our usual pattern by telling me,

~ “You are blowing things out of proportion”
~ “You are being over sensitive”
~ “It wasn’t what you think”

It didn’t matter. Nothing he could say at this point was going to weaken my resolve.

Despite my husband’s juvenile and desperate protests, (“I’m not going to tell the kids and you can’t make me!) we had a “family meeting” exactly 1 week after the thing that changed everything happened. My younger ones cried. My older ones were angry and demanded him to explain. He couldn’t. And then the dam burst. Every crazy, dysfunctional, hurtful, narcissistic behavior of my husband was confronted . . . By the kids. There was no blatant disrespect, but they held nothing back.

His response? He took off his wedding ring, set it on the table, packed a bag, and left the house. He was gone and I could finally breathe. We all could finally breathe. The toxic energy was gone and now our healing could begin.

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” ‘I will not let You go until You bless me,’ was the tenacious, passionate motto of my youth. It was the ultimate challenge to God of how much I really wanted the things I said I did.”

I read these words from the blog “Mindspace” and everything stopped as I thought of the implication these words had for me. Yes, I have spent years praying for my marriage, but God knows my heart, and He knows I have not prayed for my husband with conviction, passion or faith in a long, (long) time.

“God then challenged me to acknowledge that as long as I didn’t pray for my husband, I had no right to complain, or be dissatisfied, or demand change . . . “

“It was like God was saying, ‘What kind of marriage do you really want? What kind of man are you really seeking for in your husband? How serious are you? How much do you really want it? Enough to go to therapy, read books on marriage and self improvement . . . But how about pray? You complain, analyze, are disappointed, disillusioned, ready to give up . . . while it is much more work to trust God’s timing, to stand your ground, to stay alert to Satan’s lies . . . Pray. Pray for the fathers you never had, the intimacy you’ve never seen modeled, the honesty and wholeness that is foreign to both of your families of origin.’ “

“He challenged me  to never open my mouth and complain if I am not willing to spend even a fraction of that time on my knees praying.”

” . . . And so I will pray. Not just for the sake of myself and my husband, but for my children, the new generation, I am praying for a new family history, a break in the sin of the forefathers, and a new level of health and wholeness for my family.” ~ Mindspace

Wow, huh? I am humbled by her words. How can I not be when they cut to the core of everything?

” . . . And so I will pray.”

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Often times, the things I know, the things of which I am certain, are outnumbered by all the things in my world which make no sense.

I am in one of those seasons now.

I have literally poured my life into my children, yet today, this family seems to show no evidence of that. And while there is no tangible comfort for me right now, I stand before God, in all my weakness and weariness, holding the only thing I have . . . . His strength.

Realizing that acknowledging is not the same as approving and that I must walk the painful road of maintaining God’s standards while I continue to love (ALL) my children.

Following God’s example, loving my wayward ones, always making room for the way back, without changing the standards of my own convictions.

Remembering that I am the right parent for my child because I know first hand the restoration of sexual brokenness through a relationship with Jesus.

Knowing that my child is not a mystery – that God has their instruction manual . . . And that God knows my heart, my motives and my dreams for these children. My children . . . my legacy.

Hebrews 12:12 So take a new grip with your tired hands and stand firm on your shaky legs. Mark out a straight path for your feet. Then those who follow you, though they are weak and lame, will not stumble and fall but will become strong.

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– Five children
– Four sons
– Two questioning their sexual orientation

How does this happen? . . . Can someone please explain this to me? . . .

How. Does. This. Happen?

***

My husband didn’t believe me. He compared our son to himself. Our son had mostly female friends, which my husband found completely normal. Especially since he often said he couldn’t relate to men himself and used that to justify his own many female friendships. I then sent my husband a copy of the e-mail.

I had to.

There was no denying the facts when he read our son’s own words saying he considered himself a gay atheist.

My husband agreed that we had to confront. We sat down with our son and told him “we knew”.
Our son began to cry.
I did too.
The phone rang.
My husband answered it.
He took the phone to the bedroom and stayed there for the rest of the evening.

So much damage. My son could barely speak through his tears as he sobbed of how hurt my husband’s actions were to him. How he wanted to be nothing like his father when he was grown.

My son and I spoke of the faith he had been raised to believe, but now discarded, because “God wasn’t real. For if He was, He wouldn’t create a boy who liked other boys, and then call it sin.” He confessed that he now calls himself an atheist, but feels like a sinner everyday.

We spoke of the fear that fueled the lies. He knew that he was loved, but was sure I “loved God more” and that my faith would force me to choose my God over my son.

So much heartbreak.

So much need for healing.

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The phone began ringing. We all looked to see if he would answer it.

“Please, no . . “ I silently pleaded.

“Please don’t get up . . . this is so much more important . . . just let the phone ring . . . pleeaasse.”

***

Several Days Earlier – My daughter was sitting at the family computer and called me over.

“Mom, I think you should see this,” she said.

I walked towards her and began reading over her shoulder. It was an e-mail correspondence between my second son and his classmate.

“How did you get access to this?” I asked.

“He left his Facebook open . . . ” she responded.

After reading the first few paragraphs, I knew I needed to be alone to read the rest of it, so I asked my daughter to copy and mail it to me. “Click, click.” Done.

There was dread in my whole being. How much more could our family take?

Later that evening, after everyone had gone to bed, I opened the e-mail and this is what I read:

Classmate: “Hey J! This might seem really random, but I just wanted to message you and tell you what a cool person I think you are. As my graduation deadline looms, I keep thinking about all the people I wish I had gotten to know but I didn’t have time to. You’re one of those people. I know I don’t have very long before I go off to college, but nonetheless, I’d love to get to know you better! You remind me a lot of myself at your age, and idk, I just thought I’d say hi. Sorry if this is odd for you! I’m kind of an odd one, haha

My Son: “No, it isn’t weird for me at all! You’re totally one of the only senior girls I have any shred of respect for. You’re really cool, and I totally wish we’d gotten to know each other better the past two years, but hey, better late than never, huh? Do I really remind you of yourself? That’s really amazing, because I hope one day I’m even half as awesome as you. I especially loved how you asked your girlfriend to prom over the announcements, you’ve really got guts! I’m sort of a chicken when it comes to that sort of stuff.”

Classmate: “Yeah, you do remind me of myself. And thank you, yeah, my girlfriend and I had been dating for 8 months when I asked her to prom in front of the whole school and I was a nervous wreck. As for you, well, some people are a little more shy, but there’s nothing wrong with that!”

My Son:I really need some advice from someone who’s gone through some of the stuff I’m going through. Sorry if this is awkward and choppy, but today’s been kinda frustrating for me. So I had been planning for a couple weeks to go to the pride parade today with my friends. We’d come up with this whole alibi for my parents, saying we were planning to go visit my friend’s church and then we would hang out in the city and then right back home. My parents were fine with the plan until this very morning when they discovered that the pride parade was today, and then they said that I couldn’t go to the city at all today. Did you ever have to deal with stuff like this?”

Classmate: “I didn’t know you were gay! Welcome to the club! It’s so much fun once you get to fully enjoy it. I am so glad you came to me for advice.”

“To answer your question, I do not have homophobic parents, but I do know what it’s like to be discriminated against, and I do know what it is to hide your sexuality from everyone you know for fear of that rejection. Honestly, it wasn’t that hard to lie to my parents, but you basically have to make yourself seem as innocuous as possible. The lie you came up with was a really good one, but you’re gonna have to think of even better ones, especially if you have/get a boyfriend.”

My Son:Thanks! I hope one day I do get to fully enjoy it. I just really can’t wait to move out. I’m so glad I came to you for advice too. You seem like a very wise person.”

“Yeah, I’m really afraid about being open about my sexuality at school; you’re exactly right, I’m afraid of people rejecting me and judging me before they even know me. Fortunately my parents aren’t very clued in to stuff like this, as they’re both conservative Christians. It makes it easier to pull stuff off. So what are some good ideas for líes? I’ve been with my boyfriend for three months and whenever we go out by ourselves I just tell them that I’m going in a group. Are they gonna get suspicious after a while?”

Classmate: “Yes, they will eventually become suspicious. I would start lying. Throw in other names of people you’re ‘hanging out with’. Only do this, though, when they become suspicious. No need to lie when you don’t have to, in my humble opinion. If they’re the type of homophobic parents that would kick you out of the house if they found out then you might need to take some even crazier measures to hide it until you can move to college.”

My Son: “I think I’m more suspicious of them becoming suspicious than they are actually suspicious. I already throw in names of people and name fake places we’re going and fake stuff we’re doing. But that’s not a good idea? I suppose you’re right, I should keep the lying to a minimum. I don’t think my parents would kick me out, but they might try to send me to pastors and stuff, so these righteous men could tell me about how I’m gonna go to hell after I die. But it’s fine. That wouldn’t scare me. I’m an atheist.

Classmate: “It’s not bad to lie like that: you’re watching your back. I think it’s good you’re hyper-aware. Just don’t over-do it. Don’t give them reason to suspect anything, ya dig? HAHAHA the atheist comment made me laugh. I don’t know how close you were to the big JC before you came to terms with the fact that you were gay, but I liked being close to God. Coming out, realizing that the Church hated me for what I am was too much. I haven’t been since, save holidays. It was heartbreaking.”

“I’m sorry you couldn’t go to Pride Parade this year. If you want, I can totally take you to the LBGT center when they have a cool thing going on there so that you can have a taste of what it is to be gay and proud. I know it’s hard right now. I know it is. I remember that part of my life, and it’s so easy to get lost in it. But you have taken the first few important steps: you have come out to people around you (I assume), and you are reaching out for some advice. I promise it will all get easier from here.”

My Son:I like that way of putting it. My boyfriend just calls me super paranoid, but with super conservative parents, it’s better safe than sorry. I’m so glad I’ve found someone I can relate to! I was such a little Jesus freak when I was little. I read the Bible, said my prayers, did all that jazz, and I seriously loved every second of it. People told me I was gonna be a pastor when I grew up. But now I have absolutely no belief in any such divine being. I agree, it was extraordinarily difficult, but at this point there’s no way I could ever go back to being a Christian. Are you still religious at all?”

“I would absolutely love to go to the LGBT center with you! Until now, I honestly had no idea there were centers for gay people. I would love that so much. And yes, it is really hard, but it’s so good to hear that it’s gonna get easier. Yeah, I have told my closest friends, but I am in desperate need of advice. I’m so glad it’ll get easier.”

Classmate: “I have a ton of gay/bi/lesbian friends and I know a bunch at school, too. If it would be helpful, you’re more than willing to come hang out with us and talk. I hope this helps. I am always free to talk.”

My Son:I would seriously love hanging out with you guys. Believe it not, but other than you and my boyfriend, I’ve only ever talked to two other gay teens. So I feel like I need to talk about this kind of stuff with people who understand what we’re going through. I try sharing this kind of stuff with my straight friends, but other than our mutual attraction to males, they just can’t really relate that well.”

Classmate: “There are lots of websites and meetings and such that help out people, especially teens, with being gay. It really will help to be around some people that are the same as you. I wish I’d had someone to show me the ropes when I was coming out.”

My Son:It’s so hard to see the big picture sometimes. I only have two more years at home, and then I have the whole rest of my life ahead of me. I feel like life will be happier when I can do what I want, be in an open relationship with the person I like, and be able to believe in whatever I actually believe in. It sounds too good to be true. Moving out is going to be like finally being released from prison. It can’t come soon enough. I definitely do need to talk to some more people like me.”

Classmate: “In 2 years, you’re gonna be a free bird. And it will go so fast, I promise. It can be scary for some people, but you don’t necessarily need to be scared; just aware. Does that make sense? Like, it’s all about making sure you’re living your life while still being safe and hidden. (if you need or want to be hidden)”

My Son: “Yeah, that makes perfect sense. I really enjoy my life right now. I’m open about it with my friends, but I just don’t want everyone in the whole wide world to know. Especially with my younger brother coming to my school as a freshmen next year…

“You are so awesome. I hope by the time I’m your age I can help and give other people advice too. I’m not sure I’d be as great as you though; I can really tell you like helping people.”

***

. . . He answered the phone.

Despite the fact that we were in the middle of a crucial parenting moment as we confronted and discussed our awareness of this e-mail with our son, and all that it implied, my husband answered the phone – walked away from the conversation – and didn’t return.

(to be continued)

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Silent Treatment – Month 1. We go our own way, retire to our shared bedroom at the end of each day, turn out the light and lay side by side, all without saying barely a word to each other.

I’m sad, emotionally exhausted and lonely. My husband is angry, detached, and full of self-righteous indignation.

Each for our own reasons, we have both stopped trying. While I wish my marriage was healthy, and my family thriving, I have only enough energy to wish, and nothing more.

The energy I do have is spent on parenting the children, taking care of the household needs, and working.

My husband has become absent both physically and emotionally. His energy is now being consumed by his hobby of cycling. He rides after work and on the weekends. He rides mountain bikes and road bikes. He rides in the mornings, afternoons and evenings. His rides up to 8 hours at a time. He unashamedly admits he would much rather be bike riding than to be at home.

He abandons us all and we are expected to accept it as “ok”.

I recently spent days in the hospital and several more at home recuperating after surgery. That time was spent ALONE. My husband chose to be occupied elsewhere. While I harbor resentment towards his lack of empathy and care taking of me, when that same attitude is directed towards my children, I can not tolerate it.

My oldest son had gone out of town and needed to be picked up from the airport. Here is the conversation that took place between my husband and I regarding the logistics.

Me: “M is wondering if you can pick him up from the airport. His flight gets in at 3:40pm.”

Husband: “I am going on a bike ride, but can get him afterwards. Have him text me. I could be there at 5:30pm.”

Me: “I will give him your message, although just between us, I’m sure if it was one of your friends asking, you would not have them waiting for you at the airport for 2 hours while you go on a bike ride.”

Husband: “I am trying to do what I can to remain healthy and will do my best to pick him up by 5:30pm.”

Me: “I understand. It’s just difficult when I am reminded how you often go out of your way to show generosity and kindness to others, but not necessarily to us, your family . . .”

Husband: no response

A recurring theme in our home – everyone else gets his best, and we get nothing.

I write because I have to. I have to put our reality in written words so I remember. Otherwise, the truth becomes distorted in my mind. After listening to my husband’s accusations of my insanity and over sensitivity, I begin to believe him.

Proverbs 18:13 The human spirit can endure a sick body, but who can bear it if the spirit is crushed?

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Dumb” ~ “Slow” ~ “Gay” ~ “Unpopular” ~ “Broken Paw”

These were the labels which my son had been branded by his classmates at school.

Having cerebral palsy affected him physically, but not cognitively, making him well aware that these classmate’s comments were taunting and unkind. His right-sided weakness, did make his movements slower than others, and the tightness in his muscles caused him to hold his arm in a contracted position (earning him the name, “Broken Paw“)

I knew my son was having a hard time at school socially. It was heart-breaking for me to see this once happy and outgoing child turn into a lonely and withdrawn adolescent. I recruited all who I thought could help – his teachers, school principal, guidance counselor, and pediatrician. I was accustom to being his advocate, but in this situation, no one seemed to be able to intervene.

No matter how hard I pushed, the attempt to placate me was made with comments like, “unless we catch someone in the act of bullying, there’s nothing we can do” (teachers and principal) and “maybe you should try spending more one on one time with him he is probably feeling lost amongst all those siblings (guidance counselor) and “he’s doing just fine, I see no signs of depression“. (pediatrician)

It was up to me. I began a campaign of prayer for and conversations with my son.

My theme“Just because someone sees you as being a certain way, doesn’t make it true – and even if it is true at the time, doesn’t mean it will always be true. Sometimes we fail to see changes in ourselves and in our lives and continue to believe what is no longer accurate. We believe lies.”

Every time I had the opportunity, I found a way to reinforce this concept. When he came home from school with an “A” on his math test, he was excited and completely surprised at himself. My response – “Of course you got an “A”. You studied hard and understood the material. Just because you used to have a hard time with math doesn’t mean that you are dumb or that you will always have a hard time with math.”

His physical limitations were a common source of frustration for him but once we vocalized this to his physical and occupational therapists, they were amazing at implementing exercises that would loosen the muscles in his arm to diminish the “broken paw” effect. It took work and a conscious effort on his part, but the progress was motivating.

I have the protective nature of a lion when it comes to my children and it still makes me angry to remember the difficulties surrounding my son’s CP that we have had to endure because of the ignorance of others. But at some point, I knew I had to acknowledge that my son’s own behavior could be contributing to his social issues at school. I knew he wanted to fit in, be well liked and “popular”, but I also could see how life had required him to develop emotional self-protection and his way of coping had made him prickly.

Changing the opinion of his classmates would be no easy task, but in the meantime, I encouraged him to focus on the friendships he had at church. It was there that I saw glimpses of the boy I once knew. Witty, smiling, confident . . . Accepted.

It was in the car one day, just me and him, that I brought up the subject of the letter he wrote to me many months ago. The letter where he confessed, “I am gay.” (https://mygossamerlife.wordpress.com/2011/06/23/a-letter-from-my-son/) I wanted to check in with him, as I did occasionally, to see what his feelings / thoughts were. His reply was short but thoughtful: “That’s not how I see myself anymore. I’m not even sure why I ever did . . .”

I’m told that the challenges of being a parent never end, and as my kids get older, I am a witness to the fact that the challenges definitely DO NOT get easier. I know that I have and will continue to make mistakes along the way, but I pray God will give me the grace and wisdom required to always point them to Him.

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