Why I Hid in the Closet During My 13 Year Marriage

Here's what happened when I told my wife and daughters I was gay.Yes, I hid in the closet through 13 years of marriage. I brought two young girls into the world only to turn their universe upside-down and inside-out by putting them through divorce and admitting I'm gay.

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Go ahead. Sling the mud, call me a jerk and tell me this article is trash. Feel better? Good, because that's all about you, not me. And yes, when I came out of the closet, it did save my daughters lives.

It didn't save them from broken hearts; it didn't save them from shuffling between two households; it didn't save them from having to answer awkward questions. However, I believe based on my experience and feedback from my daughters, that my decision to come out did all of the following: banished all possibilities of them growing up with a narrow-minded perspective of life; rescued them from a false sense of self, based on "living to please others"; taught them the power of "love is love"; validated that there are no mistakes, only opportunities to grow; and mirrored for them that trusting yourself to be yourself takes courage but is also a gift that only you can give yourself.

Of course, at 5 years and 18 months old, they didn't spout these feelings from their innocent mouths. It's taken years of holding them, continuing to keep the focus on their growth, development and well being and daily talking to them and making sure they know they are loved.

Without staying that course and maintaining that focus, I would be just another "low-life, divorced parent, who decided to live for himself, saying screw everyone else." How do I know that? Because I've have those accusations flung at me almost as many times as the Kardashians have been called names.

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In those embittered moments where those who must judge judged me, I turned to the text book lessons of my life and stumbled through, knowing that no matter what we would thrive - my daughters, my ex-wife and I - knowing those who yielded the swords of judgment were also those who lacked the aptitude to know what was best for my daughters, my ex-wife or myself.

It's a human condition to claim to understand what's best for someone else. Yet, unless you're asked to intervene, it might be best to steer clear. In the midst of these catastrophic life transitions - divorce, job loss, death, coming out - no one understands better what's needed, desired and necessary to heal than the individuals caught in the vortex of the tornado.

Well-intentioned and genuine gestures of concern will abound in numerous forms when an assault on the human condition is breeched - like divorce or coming out. Everyone within a calling circle or the touch of send button will have an opinion. Yet, no one truly had the right to tell my daughters or my ex-wife how to respond to me when I told them I was gay, nor how I should move forward into my "gay self."

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I own my decision and have done the work to move into, through and past the guilt and shame. I also own that it is my purpose as a parent to be the best I can be for my children in the best way I know how, each and every moment of my life. That's all we can do and that is all that should be expected of us as perfectly imperfect human beings.

Whether you agree with what I've done or what I brought into my children's lives has no bearing on this post I am sharing. I share this because to assume that my coming out and my divorce ruined my daughters' lives would be just that ... an assumption. Instead, I invite you to look at how not living your own truth - whatever that is - may be affecting those around you.

Now 18 and 13, my daughters are strong, independent, curious and accepting young ladies with a point of view that evokes the mantra, "Life is what you make of it." As a father, I couldn't be prouder ... and that has nothing to do with my gay pride.

Written by Rick Clemons for YourTango.com.


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