Sunday, April 29, 2012

We Told Our Kids About the Divorce

Well, the day finally arrived that we faced our fears and sat down with our kids to tell them about our pending divorce. Our 17 year old daughter already knew, since she had confronted me about my girlfriend a few months ago. Our two boys, ages 14 and 9, didn't know until an hour ago. After crying for close to an hour, I finally got the courage to sit down with Hubby and start talking. I first offered a prayer of gratitude and asked for each of us to have good dialogue and understanding. After "Our dear Heavenly Father" I lost it (again). I fumbled through the rest of the prayer and then faced my fears. I first told them that any questions or comments or feelings were completely acceptable and that they should say whatever they needed to say.

Our daughter hadn't wanted to be included in this discussion. I talked with her personally beforehand and explained that I wanted the boys to know she'll be available to support them. I told her I wanted us to still function as a family and that it would be important to them to have her there. She agreed and sat with us, but crocheted the entire time and didn't say a word. That's okay because her presence was enough.

As the three of them sat on the couch in front of us, I held Hubby's hand and started talking. I reminded them that I'm gay and how that meant Dad and I weren't able to love each other quite enough. I told them how hard we've tried over the years but we just can't reach the happiness that we both deserve. I then said the words, "we've decided to get a divorce." I asked my 9 year old if he knew what that meant and he shook his head. I simply said, "it means Dad and I won't be married to each other any longer." He said, "Okay." I explained that for the last couple of years we have contemplated this but we had gone back forth because no one ever wants a divorce - especially because of our sweet children. At this point our 14 year old boy was crying silently. I asked what he was thinking and he said, "Well, for the last hour I've been trying to figure out what you wanted to talk to us about and I figured it was this... and then I found out I was right... so it's just weird."

The most important part for them, I believe, was when I told them that our divorce won't look like most others. We plan to live together and co-parent. Things shouldn't look much different for our family. We'll be in the same house, have dinner together, attend games and concerts together, etc. We'll probably even still have family vacations. We said that most people live in separate homes and a lot of times aren't even nice to each other, but we don't want two homes (for now, although I didn't say that just yet) and we will still be the best of friends. This all seemed to bring them much comfort.

Once it was all out, I asked them if they had any questions or thoughts. My youngest asked questions like, "so you won't be married to each other anymore?" and with tears in his eyes, "are you guys going to move, cuz I really don't want us to?" etc. My oldest boy asked if we were still going to wear our wedding rings and we broke it to him that we haven't for several months already. The boys seemed to be doing okay and I told them, as I've told our daughter, that at any time they feel it necessary they can talk to anyone they'd like. There are friends, aunts, uncles, grandparents, church leaders, therapists, school counselors, etc. that they can turn to. Of course I encouraged them to come to us first, or each other, but that if they didn't feel comfortable they could talk to someone else without fear of us being upset with them. We did say that I'm going to be "out" from now on and that if they wanted to tell their friends that was fine. We mentioned that they might not always have the best response and they may even be bullied, but that they could talk about it freely if they wanted. My youngest got tears in his eyes and said, "I don't want to tell my friends because I'm afraid they won't want to be my friend anymore." I told him that was certainly a possibility because they're too young to understand, and that was okay - he didn't need to tell anyone.

Our daughter stood up and moved quickly toward her room. I felt her emotion and could tell she needed an escape, another thing I've told them is okay. She often needs to just remove herself from the situation because it's too much, and as long as we know where she's going and that she'll be okay, it's perfectly acceptable. She got her shoes on and headed for her car keys. I said, "we need to discuss this first." She said, "I've got to get out of here. I can't take anymore right now." I said it was fine but I needed us to talk briefly first. She said, "I feel like I'm the only one having a hard time with this. I'm angry and I can't deal with it, but everyone else seems fine. I feel so alone! Please just let me leave." Of course my heart was breaking for her but I had to tell her one last thing. I said, "Just because your brothers seem okay right now, they might not be in three hours or three weeks. They might need you at some point. For one, they are boys. For two, they are younger. And for three, they don't have all the pieces to the puzzle (we haven't yet told them about my girlfriend or the fact that their Dad will also be dating in the future). Just because it doesn't seem like they're having a hard time, you don't get to make that judgment because we don't know what is going on inside of each other. Please just be aware of that." She agreed and said she needed to go. I told her to be safe. I then explained to the boys that she's known about all of it for a while and even though she seems to be okay most of the time, she really struggles at other times. I asked them to be patient and to try to be aware.

About 5 minutes after our daughter left, I texted her and said, "Know that I love you. Take your time, but please let me know in a while if you're okay." She called and asked if she could go to her grandma's house (45 minutes away). I said, "Well, that would be okay. Just so you know, we haven't talked to her about our divorce yet. I'd like your Dad and I to be able to sit down with her but if you feel that you need to talk to her tonight then go ahead." She said she'd probably be able to just let her know she's having a bad day and that she'd like to spend some time with her. She also said, "I only have 1/4 of a tank of gas and I don't want to spend money on Sunday." Such a good girl. I said, "You know that your Heavenly Father would understand in this circumstance!" She said she wasn't sure what she was going to do but that she'd keep me posted. For now she reports that she's just driving around.

The boys immediately asked if we could bake brownies. Of course I said, "bring it on!" So my youngest made some regular brownies with me and my oldest boy made some vegan brownies with his dad. I sat down to write as soon as they were in the oven, as I have precious little time before things drop off my memory.

Of course at some point things will be quite different because I plan to live with my girlfriend, but I wasn't going to go into all of that just yet. I know Hubby and I won't live together for the next 10 years until our youngest graduates, but I also don't know exactly when things will change. We will take the next little while slowly and see how things unfold. I didn't tell them about having a girlfriend, at the suggestion of a dear friend who recently went through the same thing, because I don't want them to think she is the reason for our divorce. I believe in the next month I will reveal the truth of all of that, which is that Kim is my girlfriend and will be in our lives as such. We will tell them at that point that Dad will begin dating as well.

For now the boys (and Dad) are watching a silly tv show, our girl is driving around aimlessly, I have a highly dramatic headache and the brownies smell delicious. Right now - in this moment - I will tell you that it went WAY better than expected. I don't know if that will be true tomorrow or weeks from now, but the actually telling wasn't as bad as we thought it would be.

What a major sense of relief. Now that my children know, we will quickly tell everyone else. I'm so anxious to just have it done. I'm anxious to live openly, in love with Kim. I'm anxious to be REAL, completely real for the first time in my life. I'll continue to pray for my kids, but for now they're doing pretty well.


yeti said...

glad to hear that it went pretty well.

enjoy some borwnies for me (mostly I am interested in the vegan brownies...)

Anon said...

i'm proud of you. you are so so so brave. you go girl. you inspire me.

Jessica said...

Good gracious what a process this is. So many steps to take that require such courage! If this has to be done, it seems you guys are doing it the best way, especially considering your kids' feelings so much.

Neal said...

My prayers wer with you and yours...

InItsGrip said...

Thank you so much for posting this story. Prayers and blessings for your family! Being real is hard for everybody, but it's the only way to live life and truly be happy. Props to you for taking the steps to make that happen!