In this episode:
Within 6 months of dating, Todd fell in love with Lisa’s beauty, intellect, and shared interests. They married, have two beautiful children and enjoyed life in the San Francisco Bay Area. Raising their children, spending time together, and traveling are cherished memories.
Todd never suspected Lisa is lesbian. In hindsight, he realizes that there were signs. A few years prior to her coming out, Lisa was unsettled, unhappy. In search of herself, she trekked to Asia. Lisa confided in Todd. She was in love with another woman, someone they had known since college. Todd felt shocked and wondered “What will happen now? What does this mean? Where do I fit in?” He likens his reaction to walking along. Not paying attention. Approaching the edge of a cliff. And stepping off. Going off of the edge, having no control. Wondering what does the rest of my life look like? Todd experienced stress, loneliness, panic, and fear…even now, a decade later, it remains difficult to relive these memories.
After she came out, Todd and Lisa remained together for eight years. Todd wanted to remain together as a family, to fulfill his dream of being married, having kids, growing old together. They sought assistance from a therapist to help navigate their mixed-orientation marriage. With limited experience, their therapist shared a few resources that provided little guidance.
Over time, Todd sensed Lisa was unhappy and supported her in an exploration relationship. Although this worked initially and they maintained an open dialogue, Todd suffered panic attacks; afraid of losing the life that he knew. His future was unknown, and he could not imagine beyond the moment. About five years later, Lisa’s relationship with her exploration partner ended, and Todd and Lisa’s relationship became strained. When Lisa met another woman in a support group, Todd realized that remaining in the marriage was no longer feasible.
The first few months following their separation were challenging. Todd and Lisa told their children they were separating; their children already knew Lisa is lesbian. Mourning the loss of their 25-year relationship, they were uncertain how to uncouple their lives and to minimize the impact on their children. This period was marked by loneliness and uncertainty. Seeking the freedom to choose his next path, Todd moved out of their family home into an apartment.
During this painful period, Todd leaned on and found support in friends and family, including Lisa’s family. Throughout this experience, Todd has developed a close relationship with his father-in-law, a gift for which he is thankful.
Another gift was learning to fly, a passion shared by his grandfather and something Lisa supported. Todd could leave the earth, control where the plane was going. This sense of control was powerful, “it was my Prozac.” It gave him joy during an uncertain, unsettled time. Todd is also grateful for becoming closer with his children, enjoying close communication.
“Take some time to get to know yourself; this is a big life change. Get to know what you want. “Todd G
Lisa struggled to come out and to discover her identity. Similarly, Todd needed to discover his identity. He urges to stay true to yourself. Be supportive, kind, respectful, and loving to your spouse as their journey is difficult as well.
Todd’s greatest hope is happiness for everyone. To begin a new life, Todd moved across the country. He’s found a great support network, close friends, and a new job. He hopes to continue to grow and learn more about himself. He’s proud of his journey, his growth, and discovering who he is and what brings him joy. It’s liberating and exciting.
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