I’m an artist. Being an artist is my salvation. I decided on that path when I was 7 years old. It allowed me to escape when my sisters were screaming, and pleading “Daddy please stop! Please stop.” When it wasn’t me that time. There was only once when he broke into that secret world and raging he threw a scissors at me. It stuck me in my face. My early marriage was supposed to save me. My young husband was my white knight. Instead he married me to save him – I just never knew what I was supposed to save him from. So I buried myself in my own little world of art and poetry and my children. And I didn’t dare ask myself if I was happy.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Bonnie Kaye ... Teacher, Advisor, Friend

There is one woman I credit for my recovery and healing from the devastation of discovering my husband was gay. Her name is Bonnie Kaye, herself a straight wife survivor. She has dedicated her life to helping women in this situation find their way out. Late one evening in 2007 when I was at rock bottom not knowing where to turn I decided to email the author of many of the books I had been reading as I searched for months for guidance. It was Bonnie Kaye. Although I felt that such a busy well-known author would never have the time to respond to me, I proceeded anyway and wrote and wrote pouring my heart out onto the pages of my email describing my 39-year relationship with my husband. I sat staring at the email on my screen for a long time before gathering the courage to hit send. I was afraid it was going to be just another vain attempt at finding solace. So I was completely stunned when within 5 minutes Bonnie had answered me saying, “I am here for you.” And she has walked beside me the whole way this past decade. I could not have done it without her. She is the author of 6 books on the subject of and for straight wives of gay husbands including these 2 of her more recent editions for which I was honored to create the covers :

Message from Bonnie Kaye:
“My goal is to get this message out that you are not responsible for your husband’s homosexuality. You had no part in creating it, nor could you prevent it from surfacing when it did. Almost all gay husbands love their wives when they get married. They are hoping this love will be strong enough to stop those attractions to men—but it’s not. In time, their feelings surface or resurface and they need to act on them. Gay is not a choice because if it were, no man who is married would “choose” it. However, honesty to you, the wife, is a choice. The greatest gift a gay husband can give his wife is the truth. As difficult as it is to know this, it is much worse not to know it and not understand why your marriage is so off track. I can offer you information that will help you come to terms with your situation, free monthly newsletters loaded with important information, on-line support chats twice a week, and pain-pals to help you one-on-one get through the worst of times. I am here for you to listen, console, and help. Feel free to contact me at any time.”                                                                                              Bonne Kaye

Sunday, June 16, 2013

In a Dark Place

                    Awakening in this dark place ...

                               I was taking it a day at a time,
                               Like some 12-stepper working the program.
                               Now I am taking it one step at a time,

                                To get from morning til night.

      © Copyright for all poetry, prose and artwork belongs to Maureen Kavaney Tillman

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

This Straight Wife is Still Here

I was too young, too innocent, and too gullible to be getting married, but I believed we were destined for happily-ever-after.  It was 1971. I was leaving my abusive father’s house to create a new life with my young husband. We were 20 - year - old college students. I was an artist, a poet … and a dreamer. I thought he would be my rescuer.

Instead he married me to rescue him - to fix him  - and as a cover. Not as a partner nor a lover nor even a friend. And he understood early before any vows were exchanged that I would not fix him, or in truth I could not, and he hated me for it.  It was all a secret, one that I was too blind, too invested in denial to understand or accept... for almost 40 years.

So I woke one morning and realized my whole life had been a lie. The marriage I thought was - never existed. The man I knew and loved -  never existed. I needed to grieve for a husband I lost who never existed. It was crazy time.  It would be a long time before I would trust my own perceptions again.

I had come into my marriage with one little cloth suitcase. I left with a moving van. I bought a house I loved and prepared it for my new solitary life and retirement. Then the Great Recession befell this country and I could no longer keep up with the expenses. Recessions have no quarter for artists and poets … or dreamers.

These days my life remains in storage – my furniture, artwork and art supplies – everything, as I figure out what the next stage of my life will look like. But I can still afford new art supplies, and writing just requires pen and paper, or my laptop. And hopefully new dreams will come.

My creative self helped me escape an abusive father, sheltered me from an unhappy marriage, and now in my 60s comforts me in my confusion and loss. Being an artist or writer is solitary work, just as is losing myself in the land of denial. Today I try to keep both feet on the ground and live in the real world; but my brushes, my pens and laptop are always at hand.

    © Copyright for all poetry, prose and artwork belongs to Maureen Kavaney Tillman