My ex came out 6 years into our 7 year relationship (interview III).

This is a follow-up piece. You can find…

the first post in the series here.
the second post in the series here.
the first interview in the series here.
the last interview before this one here.

Me: Hey.

Michael: Hay. The beginning stages of horse shit.

Me: Huh?!

Michael: Think about it. Horses eat hay and…

18527261_10209187970242639_965695857254557158_oMe: Okay I think I’ve got it. No more segways. And I swear, if you bring up Paul Blart Mall
Cop. Cause I know that’s where you’re going and I don’t want to talk about King of Queens again. You need to move on.

Michael: I wasn’t going to do that…

Me: We were together too long. I could just interview you in my mind and get the same answers.

Let’s talk about the whole coming out relatively late thing, age 30. You’re a counselor. How do you think that impacted you?

Michael: I think I was afraid longer. My family is very conservative and they don’t agree with it. Fear is why I waited 2 or 3 years after I came out to you to tell them and I didn’t even tell them on purpose. My mom asked me and I said yes. And my dad found out somehow (I think my mom was worried about me and told him).

Me: What do you think made your mom ask you?

Michael: We’re close and she was wondering for a while and she wanted to know if it was true.

Me: But you know I did subtly prep her when I was worried about your well-being and called to tell her I think she needed to drive the hour to check on you.

She asked me why you were so anxious and since I couldn’t say, Oh, he is bisexual and since your family follows pundits like Rush Limbaugh, he’s afraid he won’t be accepted, I told her that you didn’t feel like you had social support for some things in your life because, as the youngest child and only one to graduate college, you felt pressure to act like you had everything together. I tried to keep it ambiguous but to impress on her the seriousness of the situation.

Michael: Yeah. I know. I don’t care about that. I am glad you did it the way you did it, knowing what I would want, because it was easier to tell her when she knew how anxious I was and how afraid I was to show them who I really am. It was like a weight off my shoulders because since our family doesn’t talk about things, I don’t know if we would have ever gotten there.

18527116_10209188452654699_3109046233448553177_o (1)
I included this one because I thought it fit given it looks like I’m excited I just found out I’m going to hear some gossip… and because Michael looks really photogenic here… He’s single, ladies and gentlemen. Ok, probably too weird.

Me: Okay so tell me how your family is doing now. Who knows?

Michael: Just my mom and dad.

Me: Why not your brother, sister, and nephews?

Michael: I feel like they’re more closed-minded than my parents. I honestly do. If it’s outside of their comfort zone, they don’t get it and don’t really want to explore the idea. My parents try to get it I think.

Me: When do you think you’ll tell them and how?

Michael: I don’t know. I haven’t thought about that. But I just feel like I would do it when it’s inevitable, like bringing a guy to Christmas and they’d figure it out. I still worry about that one though. I don’t know why. I am afraid that maybe my sister wouldn’t want me around my nephews, maybe, but I don’t know if she would though. I don’t think so but I’m afraid it could happen.

Me: What do you know of their opinions on this topic?

Michael: Nothing. They just don’t talk about it. Like at all. It’s just not a topic of conversation.

Me: How does it impact you that they don’t know?

Michael: It’s still hanging over my head. And I try to act like it isn’t because I don’t want to tell them but it’s hard to ignore. I feel like I’m still living that double life, like that secret life. And yeah with my parents, it felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders–

Me: Are you talking to me through your Apple watch while showering?!

Michael:Yeah!

Me: Technology is weird. I’m just going to leave that one alone.

Michael: But I just don’t feel like I will be relieved after telling them.

Me: But you didn’t think you’d be relieved after telling your mom and dad before they knew.

Michael: True. I think it kind of helped that they had an idea. Kind of like you hinting at it to my mom so it wasn’t such a shock. I don’t think my brother and sister have any clue.

Me: Yeah, I don’t know if that is a good way to do it or not. I just made a judgment call and was trying to put your well-being first without taking away your right to privacy and make that big decision on your own. I took a lot of tums when your mom and I were texting because I was just fraught with guilt and anxiety about what I should and shouldn’t say. I just kind of tried to not deny anything or go out of my way to convince her you aren’t because I didn’t want to make it worse when you did tell her.

So I know this is really different for your family. How is your dad responding to it now versus how he did initially?

17492995_10208739703236244_8982091458121934150_o
This is Michael with my mom. We’d already broken up and I think she already knew at this point. He wanted to tell my family first to sort of test how it went because if they didn’t accept him, he didn’t want to tell his family.

Michael: When he came down to see me that day you were worried about me and I was going through that stuff, my mom told me he knew while he was standing right there. And I thought she meant about my anxiety and she said he knows everything. And I just thought, oh shit, this is awkward. We were in my apartment and we just had a discussion. She told me before that huge talk, in my room while he was in the living room, that when he found out he told her he’d suspected it for a while.

He didn’t talk about my sexuality directly but he said he knows what’s going on and it doesn’t change anything. He still loves me and supports me. I think my parents try really hard to be supportive now and sensitive, like not accidentally saying something that could offend me. I really appreciate that. I think it says a lot that he is being really mindful.

Me: Yeah, I’m really proud of your parents. I know they have had less exposure to LGBT+ topics or experiences but they handled it how I expected they would handle it. I know not all people are this fortunate but I had a good feeling your parents would love you more than it might scare them initially. They love you pretty unconditionally. When your mom told me she knew, I just tried to kind of be supportive and acknowledge that line that probably isn’t as politically correct because in our ideal world, people are immediately accepting and it is no different than heterosexuality. And as much as I hope we get there one day, I think we have to be realistic where we’re at now.

I’m comfortable with LGBT+ topics and it was still an adjustment for me because it was so personal. So I tried to make sure she knew that I had had to process it and it was okay to feel conflicted as she got used to the idea. For me it wasn’t so much about who you were going to be sleeping with. It was about the sudden sense of change and just reforming my relationship with you around this new and really important information…

…did she say why he suspected it or if they talked to each other about it before they knew?

Michael: No, she didn’t. I don’t know if they would have talked about it.

Me: I don’t know how you didn’t ask. I mean to each his own but I’d want every detail so I could analyze.

Michael: Ok, I will so you can analyze for me [laughing].

Me: You don’t have to but… I will do it.

Maybe you should just show up to a family function with a shirt that says, I’m gonna make American gay again. MAGA, bitches. Did I tell you I bought you a magnet that says Make American Gay Again? I’ll give it to you when I see you next.

[As he is getting ready and singing] Why don’t we talk later?

Michael: Okay, I’ll ask my mom those questions and get back to you.15235410_10207780456055664_8615438083598685341_o

Me: K. Send me a picture of your co-worker’s planner. So I can go have planner envy. Just take pictures of all of it. The outside. Everything. Just go up to her and be like, I know this is random but Imma need a picture for my ex-girlfriend who–

Michael: Who turned me?

Me: I hate you. Byyyyyyyyyyyeeeeeeeeee.

Michael: Love you. Kiss my puppies. Byeeeee.

Michael’s piece–if he stops procrastinating, Michael–should be up tomorrow morning. If you’re curious to hear what he has to say about what it’s like to come out at 30 in Trump’s corner of the world, with friends and family who love him and support Trump, check it out.

Interview with my ex who came out 6 years into our relationship (part II).

This is a follow-up entry in a series of shorter entries to provide context. You can read the first one here. 

This is the second part of the interview. The first is here.

Me: How did that change our relationship?

Michael: I think it changed for the better. I think we realized we were meant to be friends and were oil and water. But we also realized through everything we have a strong friendship.

Me: But how do you think it changed things when we were still a couple for that last year?

Michael: Oh yeah. I forget we were still a couple after that.

Me: Which is funny because when I was writing that intro earlier, I was trying to explain there are no cut-and-dry, black-and-white lines in our relationship, that I felt like it ended then but we just never said the words and were technically together for another year. That’s why I think I have been able to forgive myself and forgive you for some of the things that, in more typical circumstances, could have been hurtful but weren’t as important given where we were.

221416_3587983504543_1914546511_o

Michael: Right. You were stubborn about it and tried to convince yourself it could work from September 15 to August 16 and then I kind of noticed you had gotten to the point I’d been at for a while where you knew it was over but didn’t want to say it. I’d say I didn’t know for sure until early October when we broke up and you started sharing some of your thoughts with me that I knew you’d been ready to move on with your life for a while.

Me: All things considered, in spite of the fact that you determined you were bisexual or gay and wanted to experiment, how did you feel that towards the end of our relationship I was really checking out, especially since–and I think it’s fair to say–I had always been the more committed one?

Michael: I felt hurt. I started seeing it slowly happen in September. I felt a little hurt but also felt more relief because I realized I didn’t feel as guilty for our history.

Me: Do you care if I ask if you were still doing the chatting thing during the last month or so of our relationship? Because I felt like you didn’t really stop after that summer in 2015 but I haven’t really been concerned enough to think about it. Also, know I don’t care if you did.

Michael: I don’t know. I might have been but I might not have been even though I did before. A lot of things just blend together now and it’s hard to remember things concretely.

11060464_10204227927124661_2000663678018066708_nMe: Were you angry with me that I was quitting? I actually don’t know this one,

Michael: Initially, yes but when I paused and realized how long you’d been trying to make it work and how much we had been through, I started realizing it was only fair that you got to move on and I was relieved you were starting to think of it considering I thought if we ended things you would have been hurt for a really long time.

Me: Is there anything you would change about how all of this happened? Things I did or said? Things you did or said?

Michael: I think the one thing I would change is telling you sooner and not be afraid that you would react in a way that I couldn’t handle. And just not do the stuff I did and be up front and honest with you.

Me: Why did you think I would react like that? Which is fair, I’m kind of a hothead.

Michael: I felt that despite your acceptance of LGBT people in general, in that situation your emotions would run high and you wouldn’t be as tolerant because it was too personal. Oh, I have my meeting soon.

Me: Okay we can wrap this up and talk later but just making sure, are you okay?

Michael: I’m just a little, I don’t know, sad.

Me: Why?

Michael: Because I wish I had just done things differently. That I hadn’t done some of the more hurtful things.

13920124_10206985761828805_5157449574869169903_oMe: Ehh, I think the one thing this has taught me is relationships are messy and if you’re going to let yourself care about somebody that much, you have to accept that there will be some lack of congruence between your feelings and them needing to be free-willed humans who are just figuring things out. I did things too that I think I will always wish I could be different, that I will be afraid define me which is why I still always feel like I have to atone or I want to talk about it, walk through the things I might have done on my side but I think I’m taking a page from your book on this one and accepting that some things, like your identity and these questions regarding your sexuality, are bigger and eclipse the things that are maybe influenced by it.

Michael: Yeah, I agree. I think that’s why I have gotten to a point where I don’t feel guilty anymore and it makes me feel, I don’t know, more free or more relieved. I just didn’t think you would get to the same point and so now that you have and that you’re not caught up on things I did wrong or you did wrong like you were when we were still together and you were hurt, it can actually feel like it doesn’t have to be as big of a thing.

 

Michael had a meeting to get to so we ended the conversation but we may finish it up later this week or month and he is going to be writing his own guest-post as a follow-up. If he finishes it today (9 years of experience suggests that won’t happen), I will post it tomorrow. If not, I have my own ready to go.

There is a new interview up. Go here to read more.

My ex came out 6 years into our relationship (interview).

I strongly recommend you read the blog post that goes before this (it’s actually split into two shorter entries. Click here to read the first one.

 

Me (awkward because we’ve been on the phone for 30 minutes now): …hi.

Michael: Sup.

Me: This is the most awkward conversation I think we’ve ever had and that includes when you told me you were questioning.

Michael: Want me to talk in a Trump voice so it’s great? What do you want to know about me that you don’t already know?

Me: Is there anything you think I don’t know that you would be comfortable telling me? I feel like if it is important, I know it.

Michael: I think I’ve known longer than what I probably told you… that I was just in denial of my own sexuality but also didn’t want to accept it because I knew it would hurt you. But then I realized it was hurting you from not telling you and hurting me as well.

Me: Can you explain more how it hurt you?

Michael: I think being in denial just limited my options in what I should do. I loved you during that time but like you said before, I didn’t embrace it in fear I wouldn’t have support or anybody left because I was afraid I would lose you. So I didn’t give myself the chance to do anything about it and instead had this thing I was afraid of.

Me: Did you ever try to tell me and change your mind before I knew?

Michael: Yeah. I tried to play it off like I was joking but now looking back it was just my way of slowly accepting and testing the waters to see how you would respond. Like do 15128973_10207765738727740_3747544522836714370_oyou remember when we were watching Will & Grace junior year and I acted like I was confessing to be gay? I don’t think I knew at that time but I was playing with it.

Me: How did you expect me to react when you imagined telling me?

Michael: I was afraid you’d throw something at me–get upset, and walk out and never talk to me ever again. Just get really pissed off and that would have devastated me because the one person I knew I could trust and who would support me leaving would make me feel like I lost everything. I thought even if my parents might not accept me when I finally told them, I’d still have you so it would be okay.

Me: Wait, you thought I would get physically aggressive?

Michael: No. I don’t mean that. I mean I do but I don’t. What I mean is I always had it built up in my head like it was going to be this big, scary thing and that’s just what I imagined. I was anxious about it so what I imagined was worse than I knew it would be.

Me: How long do you think you knew before I knew?

Michael: I think I knew maybe six months before I told you, so maybe around January to March 2015 I knew.

Me: What was the tipping point? Was it gradual or did it hit you all at once?

Michael: I think when I realized, I noticed I was checking out men too, just noticing them.

Me: Did you ever think about just living with it and marrying me and not telling me? We were getting to the point where we were starting to deal with the inevitable engagement questions.

Michael: Yes. I didn’t want to hurt you and I loved you and thought we would be together for forever so I was just going to keep it to myself. But then I realized that over the course of our relationship, there were a lot of…

Me: Murky?

Michael: Yes, murky times where I didn’t know if the conversations I was having with women were cheating or not cheating but they felt wrong. But I still kept feeling like I needed to do it. Then I started having them with men. It seemed like I just kept gravitating towards that our whole relationship.

Me: What do you think made you do it before it involved men?

Michael: I think I knew and have always known but was in denial and thought if I talked to women online then I could prove to myself I was straight.

73616_454161377905_773892_nMe: Were you physically attracted to me then?

Michael: Yes. But I wasn’t sure if it was just you.

Me: So if you were dating a woman, why do you think you needed to do that to make sure you were interested in women?

Michael: It’s hard to explain. Maybe I was trying to make sure I wasn’t just attracted because of our emotional relationship and that I was attracted to women in general.

Me: Makes sense. That’s what I think you told me before. I’m going to change gears if you are okay with that. Let’s talk about when you came out.

Michael: You were the first person. I didn’t even tell Matt. I think he had an idea but I never said it to anybody else.

Me: Can you walk me through how it happened when I found out?

Michael: I remember when you came across some of the conversations I was having. We were searching for your car keys and you picked up my Ipod touch. When it lit up from being picked up, it had all of these message notifications on the home screen and that’s how you knew. It was really hard. I felt like my life was ending but also it felt relieving, like a weight was lifting off my shoulders, all while the world was crashing down. If that makes sense.

Me: What do you think of how I responded?

Michael: I think you responded a lot better than I thought you would.

Me: Even though I was mad about the secret conversations?

Michael: Yeah. I remember a lot of crying, mostly mine, and you were really, really angry and hurt because it was cheating to you. That’s what you were focused on. You rose your voice about the cheating and were hurt. You didn’t seem to even notice it wasn’t all women.

Me: How did I respond when you told me you might like men?

Michael: It was like an angry aha moment, like that explains everything but you were afraid and when you get afraid, you get angry. I got the death glare and I think after we talked some, you walked stormed off because you needed to process. It was like you knew but when it was actually there and it might change everything, you needed time to process. You didn’t want to say much until you had I think. On some level though, I think you were relieved.

I think before, you thought I was just doing something I don’t know shitty because this had happened a few times earlier years in our relationship and it was happening again. You were more understanding when you realized why I was maybe doing it. As much as you didn’t want to believe it, you were more understanding and you seemed more supportive and aware.

Me: Did you expect me, being mad about the sort of cheating, to tell everybody and “out” you?

Michael: That was another fear of mine when I imagined telling you but I knew you could do it but that you’d understand and wouldn’t do it to me. No matter what. You might tell somebody in confidence to talk and process but I didn’t think you’d blow it wide open.

 

There is a second part of this interview that you can follow here. Also, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below or email them at atlasgriffin12@gmail.com.

My Blogtober Project.

This entry is a follow-up to a previous entry which you can find here (I recommend reading it first or this won’t make as much sense).

14567480_10207527117322354_4177760255090210184_oWith that being said, he is a big reason I want to do OUTtober and Blogtober together this month. It made me realize that while I can get heated about things like same-sex marriage and other LGBTQ rights, I have a lot to learn and still have some subconscious biases that I need to continue to address. Because of this, I want to use this project as a learning opportunity and a means of becoming a better friend, peer, and community member. Although we are from different geographic areas, we both come from backgrounds where LGBT rights and social issues are not given the recognition or respect they should receive. As social media has shown us, there are plenty of people will never behave towards the LGBT community with any decency or respect. There are also, however, a lot of people who are prejudiced (which is still wrong) because it is unfamiliar to them and they haven’t had to grapple with it.

I don’t have a ton of readers. Quite frankly, I don’t know how regularly people read my blog and I’m okay with that. This experience, I hope, will check some biases which I may still have and also help me determine how I can better handle conversations with others who may not be as accepting. I am going to have some guest posts from members of the LGBT community, a set of interviews with Michael where we talk about his experience being in a “straight” relationship and questioning, and I’ll be reading and summarizing some articles on LGBT topics for students selecting colleges, how LGBTQ is defined, and an introductory understanding to the LGBT community for individuals who may be unfamiliar with it.

rainbow color patch on area rug
Photo by Sanketh Rao on Pexels.com

My goal is to post an LGBT-related entry every day for October. If you manage to see this, wonderful and I hope it helps us both to learn. If there is something you notice that you think I could do differently, if you agree or disagree, if you have questions, please let me know! Also, if you happen to be less comfortable or familiar with LGBT topics and have something you want to talk about or learn about, chances are I could benefit from learning about it too and can ask others or research online to find the answer. If you don’t feel comfortable commenting here, please feel free to reach out to me via my contact form at the top of the blog or emailing me at atlasgriffin12@gmail.com.

Thank you and I hope you check out my interview entry with Michael which will post tomorrow at 9am EST. Please consider commenting below. I would love to hear your thoughts (regardless of what they are; I’m always open to feedback).

Happy Blogtober!

 

Important context for upcoming interview with former significant other who came out 6 years into our relationship.

Michael and I were together for seven years. He was and remains one of my best friends. He was my college sweetheart, my first sexual partner, and became a very close member of my family. After we graduated college, he moved to a new state with me where I got my first master’s degree and then completed the coursework for a second while he worked on an MA in clinical and mental health counseling. A first-generation college student, he was also the first person in his family to pursue a master’s degree and it was a challenging road we both walked together. Although we had broken up months before, when I went to his graduation, it was hard not to tear up because of not only how proud I was but how it felt to see him accomplish something which I had also poured my heart into. Needless to say, our bond runs deep and we have history.

man and woman forming heart hand shape
Photo by juan mendez on Pexels.com

But we also have had some challenges (as he will explain in his guest post and I will share in my own).

Six years into our relationship, he began questioning his sexuality and seven years in, we ended our relationship so he could have the room to explore. Up to the sixth year, I still very much wanted to be with him and it was really hard for me to both support him in this huge, life-changing moment and process ending the most serious relationship I had ever had.  I think we both believe our relationship ended that summer but we tried really hard for another year.

14715511_10207524330172677_1210710444589104670_o

Although we both did things that weren’t our best moments in life and didn’t end things how we ideally would have, we both acknowledge that our former partner at some point did things or had moments–doubts, thoughts, actions–that weren’t perfect, some of which we have shared and some of which we have decided to let rest. It took some time but it became very clear we were meant to help one another through some formative moments in our lives. I like to hash things out and dishonesty grates at me. It is acidic and wears a hole in my stomach, whether or not I am the one who is being dishonest. I cannot stand to ignore elephants in the room. I need to identify them, categorize, and tag them so I can check in later. Michael is more of know what’s important and avoid confrontation sort of person.

There are things we could discuss and we both know that but our relationship has changed so radically, it doesn’t matter anymore. His identity has completely turned our relationship on its side and as much as it gave me a brutal mental whiplash in the beginning, it has helped wash away moments where we weren’t perfect and also made me realize while I was familiar with LGBTQ issues, it was never as personal and complicated for me as it was right after I found out.

This entry has a short follow-up. Please visit this link to check it out here.

 

Although this is a personal subject, Michael and I both put it out there knowing people may have opinions and that’s okay. If you have just general comments, feedback on the post/project, questions, etc., I would love to hear them. If you aren’t comfortable submitting them as comments, you can complete the contact form at the top of my page or you can email me at atlasgriffin12@gmail.com.