Oct 2, 2015. 7:45 PM.
While I was unpacking from an exhausting week-long business trip, Matt came into our bedroom and sat in that beautiful white armchair that I loved. Odd, unusual; I sensed something was off. This after a week of feeling disconnected from Matt; he had been uncharacteristically quiet on text. I would later find out the reason behind Matt’s silence. While I was on a Cruise from Hell (seriously that boat was so old, it’s likely Captain Stubing commandeered it), Matt spent the week preparing to tell me his news.
“Kirsten, I’m gay.”
There was no preamble, no small talk leading up to his admission. He had been waiting for so long to share his secret that when the time came, the words tumbled out. He was so eager to unburden himself of the words that I never wanted to receive. The physicality of my response grounded in shock, fear, devastation, grief, confusion was overwhelming. Immobilized, I don’t know if I screamed out loud or just in my head “I KNEW IT!” (more on that to unfold later). I don’t recall the details of our brief conversation. I do remember Matt walking out the front door “to give me space.” Never had I ever felt so alone. The beginning of a long chapter of loneliness.
Matt felt both terrified and elated. The weight of the secret that he had carried for a lifetime was lifted. He was free. Ready to begin his journey living true to himself. He could step into and own his newly claimed identity. However. In that moment that he discovered weightlessness and joy, he transferred the unbearable, crushing weight of his secret to me. While he looked towards his future with excitement, I realized the future that I had dreamed of instantaneously disappeared. In the space of three words, I lost my identity. As a wife. As a mother of a beautiful, intact family. This was how I defined myself. I loved my life and my family above everything…including myself. Matt took off full steam ahead (at least, that is how it felt to me … although I know that to not be the case), and I was left treading frantically in his choppy wake.
I called my mom, “Mom, Matt’s gay!” I don’t remember the specifics of that conversation either. I just knew that at the age of 49, I needed my mom. I was utterly lost, and I had no idea what to do with myself. I paced our once-cozy bedroom. Then. I did what I do best, I got focused, and I got BUSY. My attempt to regain “control”. By the time I went to bed, I had gathered up all of the gifts Matt had given me, clothes, purses, jewelry, mementos. After a sleepless night, I got out of bed at the crack of dawn. No time to waste. I set out with a clear intention to move forward. I had given away most of the gifts, opened a new bank account, and applied for new credit cards all by 10 am! I was nothing if not efficient and organized! I wish someone would have been able to tell me to take a moment, not to discard memories so haphazardly.
And here begins the foundation for An Unexpected Launch and my journey to discovering myself. In losing my spouse and my family as I knew it, I lost me.