Hi there Jack,
Thankyou for your blog and thankyou for being you. May I share with you some of my life in the full knowledge that you cannot give me any direct advice. But you might have some helpful observations.
I am a year older than you, married 37 years, three wonderful children, and I am on the point of breaking my Wife's heart. Let me elaborate:
I have always known that I was drawn to men, and less so to women. So in my late teens I was outwardly straight, had a few girlfriends, and that was OK. And then going to Liverpool Uni for three years shifted my focus more to women and I had sex with a few. But the desire for men never went away. Bear in mind the climate of the 60s, saying you fancied men was bad enough..............but women as well.................? Come off it.
And then I met Veronica on a skiing holiday in the Alps. We got on very well. It was love at first sight for her, less so for me. After a few months I told her I had something important to say: I told her I was bisexual. She accepted that, and I told her of my various fetishes and contacts with men. We married, we had good jobs, and three wonderful kids, and for 17 years I was totally faithful, we both enjoyed plenty of good sex, but I still dabbled in gay magazines, then later porn both gay and bi and straight. The sex with my Wife was good, good for me and good for her, it remains so to this day. But it was never enough for me. She has always known of my leanings towards men but I suppose she chose to look the other way. And then the rot set in.
I remember my first rentboy encounter: I was so nervous, he knew that, and after 30 mins, and almost no contact with him, he said time was up. What a ripoff. I continued with different rentboys about every three months or so for several years which was OK. And then I met John, also a rentboy and he taught me a lot; how to give and receive sex properly; he showed me bathouses and I saw him regularly over 8 years. And then the explosion of internet porn made me feel " what am I missing?" I continued with bathouses for many years on my own. My utlimate venue is a sex club in London with hundreds of naked horned up men. I have made one or two friends there, but it is primarily competitive, transitory, fleeting sex. Shocking to even gay friends, never mind straight, but I love it.
Where does all this extra marital sex leave me? Where does it leave my innocent Wife? I love my Wife but not as much as she loves me. I continue to wound her loving heart, having been caught out with near misses - emails mainly.
I am split. I am tearing myself apart. I am trapped between me and myself. I hate me. I really hate myself. Should I have married my Wife? Should I tell her? Does she need to know? Should I be separate and/or divource?
Realistically you cannot answer theses questions, only I can But you could offer some thoughts which I would value and appreciate. I am in a total mess.
There is an irony here; for the last 8 months I have trained as a Samaritan, where, with 20000 other volunteers, we offer a 24 hour telephone listening service for those in despair, lonely, or suicidal; we cannot judge, we cannot problem solve or give advice but the value of talking through problems and asking gentle questions is hugely therapeutic; total strangers tell you things they may never have told anyone else. I find the whole thing truly, truly rewarding, indeed a privelidge. Judging by the number of emails we get from the States, you appear to have nothing similar, but I may be wrong. But hey, here is one email going the other way.
I am so grateful for your time.
With best wishes,
I'm sure this was a difficult letter for Geoff to write, and it will be a difficult one to answer; but as it seems to happen so often in my life, it came at a time in which I have been trying to think of a way to talk about this issue in this blog.
As I have said a thousand times and will say at least a thousand more, life is a very complicated and complex thing. So complicated and so complex, in fact, it is a testament to the human spirit and the will to succeed that any of us make a go of our lives. Making a successful life for ourselves and our families is certainly not a given. It isn't now in spite of all the help we have around us, and it wasn't in the past when a man's success in life depended mostly on himself and what he was capable of achieving on his own.
The human ability to throw one's life away has always been a fascinating, albeit tragic, thing to observe. I was only 8 or 9 years old the first time I saw it happen. Perhaps it was one of the advantages, or disadvantages, of living in a very small town where everyone knew each other and probably too much of each other's business. In this small community, there was a man who was well respected and who, by any measure, was thought of as a successful man. He had a wife and a family. They could have been the poster family for the early 1950's family. But the poster family was destroyed in the blink of an eye, not from some outside force of nature; but by tragedy the man himself invited into his life and the life of his family. This man had a young secretary, the daughter of another well respected family in the community. Though she was not yet married, she became pregnant. Soon it became known throughout the community that the man she worked for was the father of her baby. The fallout of that community wide realization was swift and brutal. I am sure the young woman did not initiate the affair. It was almost surely initiated by her employer; but it didn't matter much who initiated the affair. Lives of the guilty and the innocent as well were caught up in the storm and severely damaged.
The young girls Dad was a good friend of my father's, so my father saw first hand what their daughter's mistake and the result of that mistake did to her Mom and Dad. They were devastated. The wife and children of the man who had more than likely been ultimately responsible for the tragedy were also devastated. His wife had been publicly betrayed. His children were publicly humiliated by the actions of their father. His business and his standing in the community crumbled as did his marriage. The whole family moved away. Whether or not they recovered, I never knew; but I doubt that anything was ever the same for them again.
In the ensuing years, I observed other people destroy their own lives. Some did it with drugs and/or alcohol. Some did it with reckless disregard for their own safety and died or were permanently disabled in automobile accidents that were not really accidents at all. They were the predictable result of stupid, careless decisions.
As I began to deal with my own bisexuality, the lives I had seen destroyed around me while I was growing up were a constant reminder to me that I was dealing with a situation that could do the same thing to me if I wasn't very careful. There was the specter if AIDs or some other dread STD that could destroy me and those I loved. There was the possibility of being outed and then being ostracized by a society that did not, at that time, accept homosexuality or bisexuality as a normal life style.
As a young teenager, I met the boy who was later to become my brother-in-law. I didn't have to know him long before I knew that his young man, only 12 years old at the time, was headed for a disappointing life. As time passed, I was amazed that he and my wife could have been raised in the same home and still be so utterly different in every way. Thomas was shallow and manipulative. Worse, he had a love for money and the finer things of life, but no love at all for the work it takes to acquire such things. His mother, who had so successfully raised my wife, had a blind spot where Thomas was concerned. Thomas would get into trouble and she would rush to the rescue. There was never any downside to trouble for Thomas because Mama always interceded on his behalf.
When he was 18, Thomas got his girlfriend pregnant. His mother picked up the bills for that, and arranged for the two to be married. She fronted them an apartment and Thomas got a blue collar job. It didn't last long because he would not get out of bed to go to work on many mornings.
The first child was soon joined by three others in quick succession. They were nothing but a sign of his irresponsibility and probably his feeling that being able to father children made him a man. Many times there was no food in the house until his mother would provide it.
Thomas didn't have his life together in any way, shape or form; but he was rough and demanding on this children. He established rigid rules for them and was quick to punish them when they broke his rules.
A few years later, the unthinkable happened. His mother died. Without her support, Thomas' family quickly began to fall apart. He disowned the oldest child for marrying someone he did not approve of. I found it ironic that he didn't approve. The spouse of his oldest child certainly had more going for him that Thomas ever had. The story repeated itself with his next to oldest child. The third child got out of the house as soon as possible. Then Thomas' wife left him and took the youngest child with her. His life had become the disaster I had foreseen for him all those years before.
Through it all, my wife tried to maintain a relationship with her brother, but it was all one sided. Her trying ended when he involved us in a lawsuit he had initiated. That was the final straw for my wife. Though he did not win the suit, she never spoke to him again. It's been 22 years now. We don't hear much about him except what his oldest child tells us and that child now with a family of her own doesn't often see her Dad because nothing has ever changed with him.
When I was a kid, my mother always told me, God would use me as a good example if he could; but he would use me as a bad example if he must. Perhaps the only good thing that came out of Thomas' life is that I was able to use him as a bad example to my kids of how one could destroy one's own life and damage the lives of those all around him. My kids are grown, successful and have families of their own now; but even now, it is not unusual to hear them say they don't want to be like Uncle Thomas when they are struggling with a difficult decision.
Geoff certainly has more sense and more purpose in life than Thomas; but he is faced with some of the same type of tests in his own life that Thomas failed.
At the end of his letter, Geoff says he knows I cannot answer the questions he is asking; and he's right, I can't. But what really struck me is if Geoff will read his letter carefully, he will find that over and over, he has done a good job of answering his own questions.
Geoff points out I am only a year older than him. He is obviously cognizant that he and I have faced many of the same challenges in our lives. Like him, I have always been attacked to males. And like him, I have always been attracted to females. For many years I found it confusing and frustrating. I knew I wasn't gay, but in my early adulthood I didn't even know about bisexuality. I just thought I was a monster.
Geoff points out that he loves his wife to this day and that life with her has been good. He clearly wants to preserve that life. I am the same way. I love my wife dearly. Our lives together have been fantastic and blessed beyond measure. It is no stretch to say, she is my life. That realization was paramount in dealing with my own bisexuality.
Geoff knows exactly when "the rot began" in his marriage. And it is here that he and I took different paths. My marriage never was unhealthy. It was never in danger. I made sure of that. I was driven to find myself, but I was always more driven to do no harm to my marriage. There was never any doubt in my mind that it was the most important thing in my life, even more important than my kids really. My wife and I did well by our kids. We raised them, provided for them and yet demanded they know the value of hard work and personal achievement. The result was successful and happy adult children who are passing on those lessons to our grandchildren. The reality is, our children do not need us any longer. But my wife and I continue to need each other. I cannot imagine dealing with my cancer without her. She is my rock. One of the good things about my cancer is that it will probably insure I never have to live without her. I'll die first and leave her to carry on.
Geoff goes on to say the life he has come to love in the male/male sexual world is shocking, transitory and fleeting. That is a clear admission that he knows where the right path for him lies. Who would give up a wife and family he loves for something shocking, transitory and fleeting?
Finally, Geoff makes the most poignant statement of all: "I am split. I am tearing myself apart. I am trapped between me and myself. I hate me. I really hate myself. Should I have married my Wife? Should I tell her? Does she need to know? Should I be separate and/or divorce?"
His assessment of it all is right on target. He is a good man dealing with his evil alter ego. He is, just as he says, trapped in a trap of his own making. Like me and so many other similar men, he hates himself. And with all these burdens on his shoulders, he is asking what might seem like the ultimate questions. Should he tell his wife? Does she need to know? Should he rid her of himself and divorce?
But these are not really the ultimate questions. The ultimate question is why he has done so much to put himself into this life trap? It is true he can do nothing about his bisexuality. It is his birthright. However, he can do a great deal concerning what he makes of that birthright and how he handles it. It comes to mind immediately to me that one does not put something that makes him hate himself on the shoulders of the wife he loves when she can't possibly do anything to make it better, and when it will hurt her deeply, perhaps destroy her.
Doctors take an oath to first do no harm. Perhaps it is an oath we all should take as a mantra for living our lives. Every life is met with problems and strife. Some of these problems can be intractable. That is why life is difficult and complex. But whatever the problem, our goal should be to first do no harm. I really hadn't consciously thought out that principle when I began dealing with my own male/male attractions as a married man. But instinctually, I loved her so much it was a natural and sometimes subconscious guide for me and it served me well. I never harmed her. I never emotionally abused her. I never made my intractable problems her problems.
Geoff has answered his own questions. He doesn't want to do that either.
Regrettably, sexual prowess and desire are themselves fleeting. Eventually, we loose them. Because of my cancer, I reached that point in my life earlier than I should have. But loosing that part of my life has made it clear to me what the most important part of my life is. How sad it would be to live out my final years alone without the love of my wife and her love for me.
Throughout life we have to make decisions, hard decisions, and prioritize options. In reality, Geoff is just facing one of those decision points in which he was prioritize things that are important to him. I don't have to tell him his top priority. He knows. His letter shows that. He holds both good and evil in his own hand.
I use to tell my kids their happiness and success in life was in direct ratio to the number of sound decisions they made in life. Further, I told them that fortunately, most decisions are not life or death decisions. Usually one gets a second chance, but not always. Some decision are of such importance that one has only one chance to get it right. Geoff is facing such a decision. Fortunately, he knows the right decision. The only question is, will good Geoff make the decision or will his evil alter ego make it.
I know Thomas, at least in his early life, knew the right decisions he should make. He lived in the same house as his sister growing up, so it was not like he had grown up without proper instruction. But he ultimately failed because he gave in to his selfish nature. One bad thing led to two more and finally he was into a quagmire from which he could not extricate himself. In the end, his selfishness turned to dishonesty and corruption which drove even those who should love him away. We all have baser impulses that try to outweigh our better intentioned impulses. When we let our baser instincts get out of control, we are doomed.
It is not too late for Geoff. He can preserve what is most important to him. The only question is, will he? The choice is his and his alone.
Obviously, I am not implyingffdssds homosexuality or bisexuality are evil. In fact, I have come to believe nothing is inherently evil. Evil is created when we change good things into bad things. Sex is a perfect example. It is one of the most pleasurable of human experiences. It can bond us to another person in the most fantastic way. Yet, more often than not, people never experience the good side of sex. They only experience the bad side. Geoff knows things began to rot in his life when he got into rent boys. Rent boys are the fleeting and transitory side of sex. The side that is never really satisfying just as prostitutes are for straight guys.
I have gay friends, bisexual friends and straight friends. Without exception, the ones that are happy are the ones in loving permanent relationships. Geoff has such a relationship if he wants to keep it. What a bisexual man has to do to balance his relationships in his life varies. For some, it comes down to the fact that they can be bisexual, but they cannot act on their bisexuality. Others are able to forge loving and committed relationships with other guys while maintaining their primary relationship with their wives and family. In such circumstances the relationship with the male friend is almost always about much more than sex. In reality it is more like a regular friendship. Some men find they feel perfectly content not to have sexual relationships with men once they accept their bisexuality as a personal reality for themselves and come to understand it. Though it may sound strange, it is much the same thing that many heterosexual men do when they get married and vow to remain faithful to their wives. It is not that they don't find other women attractive, they just choose to be happy with the one woman they married.
Needless to say, I wish the best for Geoff. I think he's not really in as bad shape has he thinks. I think if he looks at his situation carefully he will see he already knows where his heart lies. I have written this letter to him and spoken of him in the third person in the hope that it helps to give him that perspective.