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July 26, 2021 8:47 am  #11

Re: telling the kids

Toward the Light,

I haven't told my (our) son (in his early 30s) the specifics about his father's cross-dressing and his belief he is transgendered.  I did tell our son that people don't just divorce after 35 years of marriage because they're "happier apart" (his father's preferred story), and I followed that up by saying the reason we divorced has to do with his father, and although he can ask his father about it, I already know his father will tell him "Some things are private."  I told my son that if he wants to know more, he can ask me.  He said he didn't, but he knows he can ask me at any time.

   I'm both ok with that, and not ok with that.  I'm ok with that because my son has made a decision, and I want to honor his right to make a decision.  I'm not ok with it because I painted myself into a corner. 

    What do I mean by that?  I firmly believe that knowing the truth would explain certain conditions in the family, and between my ex and me, that affected our family dynamics and my son's development, and that bothered my son when he was a teenager.  It is my belief that the truth, his knowing the truth, would be something my son could benefit as an adult going forward.  I also believe it would be beneficial to the relationship I have with my son to have an honest relationship with him, based on the truth.  As is, there's a part of me I hold back, and resentment of my ex, whose relatively unchanged relationship with our son is enabled by my silence. But I'm not willing to go against my son's wishes.  I suspect, however, that at the right moment, I may again ask if my son is still content not to know the truth, and be guided by his answer.

 I believe in truth and honesty, not secrecy and lies, and I believe that's an important value to communicate to my son and to live by.  That value was the reason I told my husband at the time I said I wanted a divorce that I wanted our son to know the truth.  I now regret that I allowed myself to be brow-beaten out of telling the truth, to the "there's a reason people divorce after 35 years, and the reason has to do with your father whom you'll have to ask" even though I knew his father wouldn't tell him the truth.  

 So there are reasons other than wanting to punish my ex for my son knowing, and they are, to recap, to honor truth and honesty, and end the abuse enabled by secrets and lies, and to give my son information about his past that could benefit his development as a man.

Last edited by OutofHisCloset (July 26, 2021 8:48 am)


July 26, 2021 9:11 am  #12

Re: telling the kids

I also feel like I am in a hostage situation.  My GH wants to stay closeted, he has already established an emotional relationship with a gay man and has a gay presence online so he is sort of out there closeted web gay man.  I do not want to out him because I am not capable of that... so i do believe that we are all about honor and trust and playing fair and we have gotten PLAYED because we are so different and our moral fiber is of a different strand.

I am the one in the closet it appears.


July 26, 2021 1:11 pm  #13

Re: telling the kids


    I also allowed that idea that telling the truth about my life and what happened to me was "outing" my now-ex to keep me in his closet.  It's just a way to hold us hostage to preserve their secret life, and avoid the difficult act of living their truth.  It's wanting to have their cake (their gay life) and eat it, too (preserve their straight cover); it's Beard 2.0, Beard Lite, whatever form of Beard you want to call it.

   I have since reframed that idea that revealing the truth is "outing" someone and therefore unethical.  There's a difference between maliciously outing someone in order to do them harm and telling the truth about MY life and experiences.  I've decided that the prohibition on speaking OUR truth in order to protect our spouses'  secret is just the flip side to the "stunning and brave" praise our spouses receive when they do come out.  Well, they lose their right to secrecy when they involve us, when they deceive us, when they choose, over and over for years or decades, to continue to lie and to deceive us.  


Last edited by OutofHisCloset (July 26, 2021 1:15 pm)


July 26, 2021 9:49 pm  #14

Re: telling the kids

The closet within a relationship is pernicious.The ONLY person the closet benefits is the closeted gay person.  Everyone else is drawn into a complex web of lies, deceit and denial. Very damaging.

I left my gxh not because he was gay - he never came out to me - but because he was nasty cruel and abusive and acted like he hated and despised me.

He came out to our young adult children after I had left him, and swore them to secrecy. He didn't want his parents to know apparently(!).

I found out from a nephew, who saw my gxh's flamboyant facebook posts and showed his mum (my sister), who asked me was he gay. I said I had no idea, and I asked my kids did they know.   

They said they felt awful not telling me but felt they had to keep dad's secret. The Closet. So manipulative and divisive, to make your kids your secret keepers. Yuck.

What was the worst was that my youngest son was still a teen doing custody visits and gxh had a boyfriend around at the time.  I thought I should have been told that, that an unrelated adult was staying in the house while my child was there.  Duty of care?

That was the beginning of my journey away from not talking about the abuse I endured while 'keeping up appearances'. His being gay explained a lot about the various dysfunctions that had developed in our marriage. Withheld information that has since helped me make sense of things, realise definitively it wasn't me, and start to heal.

I had a lot of very frank talks with my children about the importance of honesty and communication in personal relationships. 

I explained our family history and how damaging it had been to us. I told them of some of the abuse I had been subjected to. I apologised for any hurt I had caused them. 

They in turn had already accepted the truth of how uncaring and selfish their dad is before he came out, and have calibrated their relationships with him for self-protection.  Three are No Contact, two are low contact.

Its a work in progress, but I have much more mature and honest relationships with my kids now.

Last edited by Soaplife (July 26, 2021 10:02 pm)


July 27, 2021 2:26 pm  #15

Re: telling the kids

Everyone here is a model of restraint. My heart goes out to each of you.

I had never considered how the secrets of the closet haunt long after the relationship ends, making us or the kids feel somehow complicit in keeping them. The secret sexual basement on wheels.

Right now, for me, leaving means truth even if it creates discomfort. I will not be roped again into quiet obedience for the sake of saving face. Thank you all for sharing this, it is not something I had considered.

Last edited by Upside (July 27, 2021 2:39 pm)


July 30, 2021 3:28 pm  #16

Re: telling the kids

I'm going to very strongly agree with lwh above: "Secrets have a way of coming out, sometimes decades later. They can devastate a person, we all know that from our own personal experience."

Nobody ever asked me whether I wanted to live my life in a closet I never chose.  And, parents have a responsibility to be honest with their children.  If I'd lied to my daughter about why the family was breaking up, I'd end up having to come up with a cover story ... maybe one she believed, or more likely she would suspect I was lying and let her imagination run wild.  Who does that benefit?  Certainly not her, and definitely not me.

And, my husband was involved with some very, very sketchy people.  I didn't want my daughter to learn what he was doing for the first time when a police officer came knocking on the door in the middle of the night.  

I gave my husband a deadline to tell her, and told him it had to be done after her graduation so that the stress of senior year would be over.  I said if he didn't tell her, I would.  He didn't, so I did, and neither I nor my daughter has ever regretted it.  If I'd kept his secret and she'd found out, I'd be complicit.

Relinquere fraudator, vitam lucrari.

June 6, 2022 5:35 pm  #17

Re: telling the kids

So, whether you’ve followed my journey to telling my sons the truth, MY TRUTH about my experience of their father, or not, just know that I’ve done so recently after much “processing” of that particular dilemma. All I feel is relief, like the day my ex moved out. And all I received in return from my sons was messages of love. And some shock since they had just assumed their jock father had had an affair with a woman.
     To recap, in 2012, I discovered their father’s cross dressing/gender dysphoria/lying about what he’d been up to for many many years (at least according to him—who knows the truth? Not me.). I was devastated but some kind of survival instinct kicked in. in 2014 we separated and at that time I told my sons that their father had “betray” me without any detail. I also said to our sons that we would remain a family of 5 even if the marriage failed, that no one would be “cut out.” I meant that at the time but the truth is I couldn’t live that out in practice and heal myself. I realized I get anxious if their father is in the same room, like a trigger or a ptsd response. A day after we separated in 2014  my husband told me he took off his wedding ring and then I became aware he started dating women.
     We were divorced in 2016 after 28 years of marriage. I held his secret until recently because, well, he expressed many reasons why he felt it was noone’s business, especially our kids (he’s a lawyer so is always ready with a cogent justification for anything.)
     After our divorce, I had so much healing to do but realized later I set about protecting my ex and my kids (who were young adults at the time.) This site helped  me so much. Probably the other most helpful info I read/listened to was the writings and podcasts featuring Dr Omar Minwalla. I also sought counseling to understand forgiveness, with a goal of telling my kids my truth about why I couldn’t give them an intact family—something any mom wants for her children. I wanted to be sure of my motivations and particularly to be sure that I wasn’t outing him to punish him. For me, part of healing includes maintaining the open and honest communication I’ve always tried to maintain with my sons. I like to be an open book type person.
     In early May 2022,  I decided to talk to my eldest son first (he’s 30 now ) because I’d be seeing him on a visit to where he lives. Over the course of several days, I waited for the “right” opportunity and when it arose —we organically got on the subject of living with “pink elephants”— I took the plunge. When I departed I said I’d be sending his brothers (age 29 and 27) and him  a letter so we would all be on the same page. I did that too because my “boys” are close and talk even though they live in 3 different locales far apart.                 
     My truth is with them now to do with as they wish. Maybe nothing will actually change for them since they have their own lives now, but I feel better. It’s so freeing. In my letter,  I encouraged them to talk to whomever they need to to “process,” including me whenever they are ready. All three of them separately confirmed with me that they’d read my letter and needed time to process and sent lots of love. My middle son’s girlfriend stopped by yesterday to tell me he had let her read my letter and she reckoned I am the bravest person she has ever met. The experience sharing all of this now, albeit  10  years after my discovery of his total abuse of my trust, has been so affirming of much of what is so good in my life now and in other people in my life, most especially my beautiful “children.” I’m in a place of peace  I haven’t felt before. No more secrets. Phew.
     I don’t know if they will share any of this with their father. I risk his getting furious at me etc. but I’m beyond his reach now emotionally and physically. It’s great to be on this side of the whole effing mess.
     Thanks to you all for being with me over these years of getting him out of my life for good. I’ll check in when I get a sense of how the “boys” are responding, if they are.


June 6, 2022 8:44 pm  #18

Re: telling the kids

Toward the Light wrote:

..... It’s great to be on this side of the whole effing mess.
Thanks to you all for being with me over these years of getting him out of my life for good. I’ll check in when I get a sense of how the “boys” are responding, if they are.

Well you're just effing amazing TtL


KIA KAHA                       

June 9, 2022 6:20 am  #19

Re: telling the kids

Children need to know the truth


August 9, 2022 10:24 am  #20

Re: telling the kids

I’m checking in to say I’ve seen all of my adult sons recently—they were all home for summer vacation—and we’ve had brief discussions related to my telling them my truth in May, 2022. Well, with some of them. My youngest son (27) said nothing, didn’t bring it up, even though we spent time alone at the beach. My middle son (30) basically said he does not struggle with this truth in terms of his own sexuality but rather is wondering “”What if I inherited the pathological liar gene” from his Dad? Good question that led to an exchange about the importance of honesty and self-reflection on one’s ability to be honest. This same son told his beloved “plus one” straightaway who, in turn, asked me to go to dinner with her alone while visiting, and proceeded to fill my heart with her kindness, understanding and compassion for the very tough position I have been in. She also said my ex told the rest of the family, his and mine, that he had wanted to stay in the marriage, without revealing, of course, why I wanted O-U-T. That makes my blood boil, as if he had no part in the wrecking ball coming through our family’s kitchen.  My eldest son (31) briefly brought up that he chose NOT to tell his beloved “plus one” for a reason I don’t totally understand. But I don’t have to. It’s his truth to wrestle with now. Meantime, none of them have mentioned to their father that I’ve blown his cover. I doubt they will. Nevertheless,  I’m sleeping very soundly at night. It seems this last part of the devastating landslide—telling my sons my truth about what happened—was the key to my finding a measure of peace. Thanks for being there for me.


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