Sunday, July 15, 2018

A Former Wife's Story

This is something I wrote in 1995.  I will remind you that it was a time before such things as Ellen and The Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.  It was a time before internet for the masses.  No body was talking about this, unless you count the sensational talk shows.  And by the way, because I was considered a subject expert at the time, I was a guest on Opera, Sally Jessy Raphael, and Geraldo talk shows in the early 90s.  At the time I founded and facilitated local and national support groups for straight spouses and partners of homosexuals.

After watching Dan Reynolds from Imagine Dragons on the Daily Show, I have been thinking about this issue that used to saturate my life, my every moment.  I found this article that I wrote over 20 years ago.  It pains me that we are still stuck in this.  We are still losing our loved ones to depression and suicide for a situation that we create.  Enough!  I resubmit my words to the world.  Let this end now.

And I won't leave you hanging.  If you want good and supportive information, contact this wonderful organization.  You are not alone.

A Former Wife’s Story
By Susan Fullmer
Originally published in 1995

My name is Susan Fullmer and I was married to a gay man. When my husband told me he was gay, I was overwhelmed.  It was a situation beyond comprehension, and yet I was living it.  Have you ever had the experience of swimming down into deep water and becoming disoriented?  I knew I was drowning, but I couldn’t figure out which way was up. In the aftermath of disclosure one thing was clear, we could not tell anyone what was going on in our marriage.  The possibility of being ostracized or worse hung over our heads constantly. At this time I became aware of gay bashing. I was horrified to hear news stories of men who were attacked simply because they were gay.  I became acquainted with a few men who had been harassed or beaten. One man nearly died when he was stabbed in the back by a homophobic assailant. I lived in constant fear that my husband would suffer the same.

Then there was the threat of death from within the walls of our own home.  My husband was suicidal. What I didn’t understand then, was that as our marriage progressed he realized that his decision to marry me was a mistake.  He thought marriage would ease his pain of being gay, but instead he found that his pain was magnified. Not only did he feel worse about his own situation, but he then found that he had created a tragedy for those he loved.  I hated to leave the house because when I came home I never knew if I would find him as a warm body or a cold one. He had detailed plans for his suicide and in our garage he kept the paraphenalia to carry out his plan. I wanted to throw it away, but I knew he would just buy more.  And he would have been very angry with me, adding to the already tense situation we constantly lived in. He refused help and forbade me to seek it. I was confused and scared. I didn’t have the clarity or the strength to do what needed to be done. Somehow, in my naivete, I thought we could figure it out together.  

I spent sleepless nights worrying about the fate of my infant son.  What kind of life would he have? What would people think of him? And more importantly, what would he think of himself?  Should we keep this a secret from him or would he be happier in the long run if he knew? Could we fit a skeleton of this size in our closet, and if so, what price would be paid?  Should I stay in the marriage? What would be best for my family? What would be best for me? The questions were never-ending. The answers seldom came.

One of the most frustrating things to deal with is the lack of support and understanding surrounding this topic.  It’s not discussed because, frankly, most people don’t even consider the possibility of it happening. Those who do experience it, don’t talk about it for obvious reasons.  This makes it very difficult for those seeking accurate information. The solitude can be unbearable. The only person I had to talk to was the source of my pain, my gay husband.  And then we usually ended up talking about him and his problems. I used to think I was the only woman in the world who had ever been married to a homosexual. That existence was a lonely and frightening place.  Many women who find themselves married to a gay man have similar feelings. Who can they talk to? How can they know they are not alone? Through my work facilitating local and national support groups for straight spouses of gays and lesbians, I have since talked to hundreds of people in situations like mine throughout the United States and beyond.  No, I am not alone.

Being married to a gay man marred me in many ways.  I find it astounding that the number of years it has taken me to heal has far exceeded the number of years I was actually married.  And in many ways, I am still healing. The straight spouse of a homosexual can experience many of the same issues when going through a divorce/separation as does the heterosexual couple such as anger, trust, abuse of all kinds, single parenting, finances, etc.  These things alone are overwhelming, but then there are also the issues that are uniquely found in gay/straight marriages, such as the issue of femaleness. In three short years of marriage, my sense of my own femaleness took a terrible blow. (I speak to my gender’s experience, but I know that my male counterpart can have similar experiences.)  These were my sexually formative years. My beliefs about myself and my subsequent relationships with men were molded by a person who was repulsed by women’s bodies. This goes far beyond sex. The devaluation of a person due to their gender is devastatingly damaging. The words I often hear women in this situation use to describe themselves are, “non-person”, “asexual”, and “invisible”.  Often these women reject femininity in their dress and manner. There is a feeling that one must hide what isn’t wanted to make the marriage work. And yet my husband reprimanded me for not dressing nicer. It was a confusing time to say the least. The acceptable parameters a gay man can set for his wife are very narrow. She must deny a large part of herself to fit within them. I cannot overstate what being intimate with a gay man does to the mind and soul of a woman.  Especially when she does not know he is gay and she is living in a life where the rules have been secretly changed.

Almost all women, to some degree, blame themselves for their husbands being gay.  Sometimes even the husband or others will tell her it’s her fault. I well remember people telling me that if I had just given him want he wanted in bed, this wouldn’t have become a problem.   I spent countless hours in desperation trying to figure out what I did wrong or what I didn’t do right. I now realize that this makes no sense. For example, if you are a straight man, what would it take for a woman to turn you gay?  It’s absurd, yet I rarely meet a straight spouse who hasn’t struggled with these thoughts.

And here is another issue we deal with.  I have talked with too many women who discovered their husbands are gay when he was diagnosed as HIV positive.  

Most gay men I have talked to yearned most of their lives to express their true feelings.  But the pressure to be straight from family, religion, and society is excruciating. We as humans have a strong need for love and acceptance, and so gay/straight marriages continue to happen.  I have even heard some gay men refer to wives as their “ticket” to acceptance. And if that doesn’t seem like a big deal to you, you may want to ask those same wives, “How does that make you feel?”

I heard a story many years ago that I can’t seem to get out of my head these days.  Once there was a pretty little town in the mountains. The only road leading to the town was a dangerous drive with a particular turn that was difficult to maneuver.  Many a car had missed the turn and plunged over the embankment into the dropoff below. One day the town council held a special meeting to decide what to do about the many accidents at this infamous curve.  Many suggestions were made, but after long debate, everyone agreed on a plan. An ambulance would be parked at the bottom of the hill to immediately assist anyone who might have the misfortune of missing the curve and falling to certain injury or death.  

My message is simple.  We don’t have to stand at the bottom of the hill and watch them fall.  The ambulance is not a bad idea. The injuries of those in gay/straight marriages are severe.  They need and deserve immediate attention. But we need more than that. We need a guardrail placed by those who care.  We need signposts along the way with clear and accurate information. What we need is prevention. I continue to see so much suffering.  I ask myself all the time, “Couldn’t any of this have been prevented?” The answer is yes!

If you are encouraging homosexuals to marry, please reconsider.  Understand clearly the long-term effects of what you are asking them to do.  If you are in a dilemma as to what kind of counsel to give them, ask yourself this, “What advice would I give a gay man who is engaged to marry my own daughter?”  Is the risk minimal enough to experiment with her health and happiness and that of your grandchildren?

If you are a heterosexual who is in love with a homosexual and you feel that you can make it work, insist that your loved one speak honestly with you about their true feelings.  Deal with the facts. Insist on the truth. This is very difficult, but it is much easier to do it now than later. Seek information, and most importantly, talk to someone who has actually married a gay person.

If you are homosexual and are married or are considering marriage to a straight partner, I ask you to take responsibility for your actions.  I empathize with your pain. I understand the unfair pressure that is put on you. I know that those whom you love and trust are assuring you that it is the best thing to do, but they tell you this because they do not understand the nature of this situation.  Ultimately you and you alone are responsible for your decision. Make it a decision you can live with. Make it a decision she can live with. I promise you that a marriage of deceit and lies will only add to your pain in ways that you cannot imagine.

If you are gay and ready to talk to a heterosexual women in your life, do so with love and clarity.  Have support and information ready for her if she wants it. Do not assume that she understands homosexuality.  Unless she has had extensive, conscious education on homosexuality, she will not get it! Do not drop subtle hints that you expect her to understand.  It will take time and patience on your part.

If you are a gay man, be careful how you treat close straight woman friends.  Unless she has a very good understanding of homosexuality and knows you are gay, don’t be overly affectionate and don’t use her as your sole emotional support.  Remember, she is straight and you are a man. It is natural for her to develop strong feelings for you. This kind of support feels good to you, but it is not fair to her.  

The topic of gay/straight marriage is not an easy one to bring into the open.  But I have seen over the years that keeping the secret is far more damaging than the secret itself.  If you want support and information, it is available to you. Many others understand and have gone through what you are going through.  You do not need to do this alone.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Same language, different dance

I love Portland rain.  I’m sitting with tea looking out the window of my friend Shana’s house watching it happen.  I’m visiting Portland Oregon where I lived for 17 years before moving to Boise four years ago. It feels like home in so many ways.  And coupled with re-joining dear friends, it’s a delicious experience.

Marigold tea

Yesterday we went to a tea ceremony with a man named Po.  I’m going to include his website because I want to spread the wealth!  He calls it a tea journey, and so it is. We spent a hour and a half sipping about 5 or 6 teas all with distinct energetic properties from all over the world.  I learned so much, like the tea carries the energy of the land it grows on. We drank teas from sacred places, some that have been undisturbed genetically for thousands of years.  I could feel it. The teas changed our energy and gave us healing in the process. It was so interesting hearing him talk the familiar words of energy healing (the very same ones I use) but applied to tea.  Same language, different dance.

Slowing down and truly being with precious people.


Heavens Tea, School of Sacred Tea Arts

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Medicine from Yurt_2018_01_08

I finally discovered why I am sitting in this circle.  I’ve known I was supposed to be here even before the first day.  But I didn’t know why.  To sit with interesting people discussing interesting topics to be sure.  But that’s easy to know.  The deeper reason had to sneak up on me.  I wish I could remember the name of the man who spoke my words.  He was sitting two from my right.  I don’t even remember the context of why he used them, but when he said them they shot through me like an explosion.  I am here to learn to trust men.  I honestly didn’t know I needed to do that, but of course now that I have heard the words I know that they are true and I know why they are true.  

This past year I have completed at long last, the task of mucking through my own personal cesspool - a history of abuse, incest, and giving over my power to men in most ways conceivable.  I am finally in a good and calm place.  I feel clean and content.  It would stand to reason that after clearing my stage, there would then come a time to add the good that should have been there all along, but never was.  How did I think I could skip that part?  Silly me.  And so I thank the gentleman two seats down for giving me my words of truth that I can finally hear.  And I thank all the ladies and gentlemen of the circle for creating a space where I can learn to trust men.  Whatever that means, for I do not know.  

This was my medicine.

I have recently joined a co-ed process group. Our main focus so far is exploring the differences and similarities of women and men.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Fall silent

What to say?  I haven't been posting because, well, things are going well.  I have been eating clean, losing weight and feeling better.  Why is it that I can write about the bad stuff, but I fall silent when life is good?  That is it's own kind of fucked up.

Thursday, November 30, 2017


I'm here at work on a Saturday getting caught up on some projects. Just me. All by myself. Me and this leftover cake from an office birthday party yesterday, which I avoided with grace and determination. And now here we are, the cake and I. I can see it from my cubicle. Did I mention it's my favorite? Chocolate on chocolate. It mocks me.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Sick Race

I feel like I won some kind of sick race yesterday.  I was anxious most of the time.  I think the people at work would be surprised to hear that.  I present a constant calm demeanor.  What I do instead is be an ultra efficient worker.  If you could see my insides, you’d see a tightly twisted knot.  I work as an administrative assistant with tons of projects into which I pour my anxious energy.  It’s a definite win for my employers.  (It’s a campus job which gives me great benefits - including cheap classes - and quick access to classes/library/etc)  With a steady determination, I am working on more relaxation and body movement during the day which helps decrease the stress.  I have slowly gotten better at getting away from my desk and taking small breaks.  Sometimes, I even do some yoga stretches at my desk (seated).  The effort and intention is there - the outcome is meager tending toward slow improvement.

I had been riding a sweet wave of general calm (for the most part) since starting my sobriety nine days ago.  My old friend Anxious returned a couple of days ago - well, when I went to the addiction group.  Correlation?  You tell me.  At any rate, yesterday was a slow building wave away from calm.  It’s hard for me to describe what it feels like.  Mostly, I try to avoid feeling it all together because it is so unpleasant.  There is no peace to be found there.  It’s scratchy, and physically painful, and in it’s more intense times it feels like I’m coming out of my skin.  And at it’s worse times, it feels like impending death.  It makes no sense whatsoever.  It is a state of nonsense.  The only thing that seems to make sense is to stop it at any costs.  And for me, that’s food.  It’s the weirdest thing.  Later, if I analyze it, I would have to be honest and say that eating toxic food doesn’t fix anything and has only made things worse - much worse.  But in the moment, it feels like bliss.  All the scratchy pain is abated for a brief moment and it all seems so very worth it.  And that, in a nutshell, is what keeps me in my addictive cycle.

For some reason this silly Day Count has been my life preserver.  Layers perhaps - of not wanting to tell Sandy (or blog) that I had to start over back to day one again, sheer determination knowing what the alternative looks like, and just plain not wanting to mess up my calendar with a lot of scratch offs - have kept me sober.  It makes no sense, but it has gotten me to day nine so how can I argue logic?  

Driving home after work is the worst.  Once I’m home I won’t go back out again to get harmful foods (I don’t have any at home - or I would eat them).  And at work I’m too busy being uber productive (I take good food to work so I’m set there).  Ah, but the ride home is a potential minefield.  I laugh at the way my brain/ego works.  As I’m driving, all of a sudden, I get this crazy craving for fast food french fries.  Do I like fast food french fries?  No!  I almost never eat fast food.  Though I grew up on the stuff and ate it for most of my life, I have spent about the past decade or so really changing my eating patterns for the better.  What you see here is the tail end of a long journey.  It’s one reason I know what I am allergic to.  I have had many good health practitioners along the way teach me and heal me.  This addiction piece is the next step of this journey of mine to a healthy lifestyle.  

But back to the fries.  Technically, I can eat potatoes.  It’s so funny that my brain/ego comes up with the least healthy thing that would surely leave me with a greasy gut bomb, but would not require me to have to restart my day count (which it knows I’m not going to do!).  What a negotiating wizard is my brain/ego!  I have to give it points for that.  Somehow, I got past the fast food danger zone and made it home where I ate my apples slices and almond butter while watching my Korean drama.  It was good and I felt content.


Sandy's Response:

Having this communication and reading your experiences are helping me out immensely. The daily reprieve is what it’s about, for we just do today, and sometimes just this moment. Like when you’re driving home and you can feel the unrest, you acknowledged it and realized what was happening. This is always the right time to ask your higher power for strength to make a good choice and to feel at peace. Simple, but it also takes awareness and buckets of humility and trust. Your success is joyful to watch! :)

Susan’s Response:

Yikes!  Why do I always forget to ask for help from my etheric helpers.  They are there waiting and willing at all times.  They will not intercede without an invitation from me because they are respectful to my wishes and consent.  I’m going to post a big sign in my car to help get me through the fast food gauntlet - “SUSAN, HAVE YOU ASKED FOR HELP YET?”

Tuesday, November 14, 2017


I have had acne since I was a teenager.  Every year I would think, “This is when I finally outgrow my acne”.  But no, and at age 56, seemingly never.  I now know that this is caused by Leaky Gut Syndrome.  But for most of my life it has been a mystery.  As a nurse, I know that it means that the body isn’t releasing toxins properly and/or there are too many toxins for the body to handle adequately so the body tries to release more of them through the skin.  It’s a survival mechanism really.  I assumed that’s what was going on, but I didn’t have a clue as to why I would have so many toxins, or how to fix it.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  I’ve known about my  dairy allergy since I was in my early 20s - though I didn’t understand how badly it was effecting me, just that I would get a stuffy nose and sore throat.  And I’ve know about my gluten allergy for a decade or so.  But again, I didn’t understand how really harmful it was to me.  What I have recently learned is that antibiotic use (and other factors) can cause a highly toxic environment in the body.  Consequently, I now understand why I have acne and will continue to do so as long as my body remains in that state.

For several years as a teenager, I took antibiotics daily for acne.  It did nothing to clear my face in the long term.  But that was the medical belief of the day and as I desperately wanted it to go away, I was a compliant patient and took the medication as ordered.  Meanwhile, I never knew what it was doing to the good and important bacteria of my gut (antibiotics kills them off along with the bad bacteria).  The medical world is just now understanding the importance of good gut flora.  Do some research, if you are interested.  For example, check out what they are discovering about the connection between the gut and the brain.  Healthy gut is imperative!  

I think I have been ill and getting progressively worse since that long course of antibiotics so many years ago.  And of course I have used antibiotics since then without replenishing my gut flora, so it just adds fuel to my illness fire.  I don’t remember a time when I have felt well.  And I don’t remember a time when I have had clear skin.  Until about two days ago when I started noticing a change.  I happened to touch my face and froze.  It was so smooth!  I didn’t expect that to happen - though I should have.  And I’m still amazed that it has happened so quickly as I’m only on day 8 of my sobriety.  

Earlier this week, when I had a sense that my sobriety from toxic foods would change everything in my life, I wasn’t kidding!

Side Note:  Let me put on my energy-medicine-practitioner hat for a moment and say that energetically, acne is about self hatred.  And I had plenty of that.  I now understand that it was rooted from my abuse history.  As I have worked on healing over the years, the self hatred has abated.  I know that my acne is healing from all the above.  We cannot separate the energy from the physical.  Physical follows energy.  Move the energy and the rest will move.  

Sandy's Response:

Argh! Acne, the bane of my existence. Well, that and the extra weight. So glad you blogged about this, because it is an amazing side benefit. Your skin is happy, not having to try and get rid of toxins. What a nice thing you’re doing for it. I love the idea of mind body connection and it’s something you’ve been good at teaching me, along with loving my body more.