First Aid Kit: How to survive finding out your partner is LGBT

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Posted by phoenix
June 21, 2018 1:23 pm

So you suspect or you have discovered your partner is LGBT and the world seems to be crashing down around you.  You are most likely experiencing severe mental anguish with feelings of confusion, sadness, betrayal and fear.  At the moment you are probably wondering how you will ever survive the changes in life this will bring. We can help!

Welcome to the Our Path open forum – A place where we understand exactly how you feel because we’ve been through it.   While none of us are professionals, we have earned our stripes by walking through the fire ourselves and we are now uniquely qualified to share our wisdom, advice, love and compassion.   We are so sorry you find yourself here, but we are glad you are here and hope we can help you through this.  It does get better – we promise.

The following work is the collective effort of the Our Path forum.  It is a compilation of the best and most frequently offered advice and encouragement to help you survive the initial and most difficult stages of this journey you find yourself forced into taking.  It is NOT meant to stop you from posting and sharing your story and asking for help and advice.  We strongly encourage you to sign up with an anonymous account on the forum and share your story and your struggles and ask for help and engage in conversation.  This is meant as a resource guide for everyone – including the thousands of people who will choose not to sign up.  We want to help them as well.

I recently shared our forum's collection of advice on the Our Voices podcast:
The First Aid Kit:  Advice on how to survive finding out your partner is LGBT.

First and Foremost:  If you are having thoughts of suicide or considering harming yourself please know that there are immediate resources available to help you.   Please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 if you are in the USA.  The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress as well as prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones.   If outside the US please lookup similar helplines in your own country:

1 - Get Professional Help
   A - Visit your Doctor – You are likely under immense emotional stress right now and this trauma manifests itself in very real physical ways.  Lack of sleep, little to no appetite, high stress, anxiety, depression and many other symptoms are very dangerous to your short and long-term health.  Navigating this process would be hard enough under the best of health and conditions and so much harder when your suffering, so please seek help in reducing or eliminating these additional problems.  Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but rather, a sign of strength.  Don’t try to be a hero and go through this alone.  Additionally, and equally important, please get tested for STD’s.  Sadly we find that a high percentage of our LGBT partners have cheated on us, so please be safe and get checked to be sure.
  B - Find a therapist or councilor.   Just like the doctor will help you with your physical pain, a therapist will help you with your emotional pain.  You will face a number of emotions that you will need help in understanding and dealing with.  Betrayal, fear, anger, sadness, shock, lack of trust are just a few of the simple concepts you will need to process and there are many more complex issues to get through in your healing process.  Please don’t think that seeking emotional therapy is a sign of weakness.  Knowing you need help and seeking it is true strength.

2 - Get Support
  A - Build a support network of a few close friends or family members
.  Today is your rainy day!  You’ve been cultivating relationships with family and friends for many years.  Now is the time to ask for help from those people.  There is nothing like having a shoulder to cry on, help with difficult tasks, coffee with a friend, and someone to talk to.  Way too many of us suffer in silence thinking that we can’t share what is going on.  We think we must protect our spouse’s secret.  By doing so, we lock ourselves in their closet with them and we suffer so much more than necessary.  We never want to “out” our spouse in a malicious way, but you absolutely have the right to tell your story to those close to you so that you can seek help and support in this horrific time of need. 
  B - Find people with similar experience.  You are not the only person in the world who has dealt with this, despite what it might seem.  In fact, you’ve already started this process by finding us here at Our Path.  Please feel free to use this forum to share your feelings and frustrations, share your story, ask for help and advice.  We are here for you!   Also, please look into joining one of our face-to-face meeting groups.  The Our Path network has groups in most major cities that meet on a regular basis.
  C - Draw strength from your faith or spirituality.  While Our Path is not a religious organization, we strongly encourage those of you who consider yourselves to be religious to seek out help from those people or organizations to help you navigate these hard times. 

3 - Take Care of Yourself
  A - Be kind to yourself.  If you sustain physical injury or have surgery you give yourself time to heal your body.  You are now going through emotional injury and you need to give yourself the chance to heal both your mind and your body.  Your whole world is shaking right now, the future you had envisioned has been wiped away and even your past has been called into question.  It’s ok to stay in bed and cry.  It’s ok to take a few weeks off work (vacation or short/long term disability) to get through this initial trauma.  It’s ok to back away from extra-curricular activities or events.  Don’t let anyone else dictate what you do or accomplish in this time.
  B - Avoid Stress if possible.  Put aside stressful decisions and situations until you are better prepared to deal with them.  There are many challenging decisions to be made in the future, such as how to make the marriage work or get a divorce, how to deal with financial issues and legal issues and child custody and how to tell your children, etc...  Most of these decisions and problems are impossible to solve today so stop trying.  Put aside those fears and worries and the stress of figuring things out and just focus on getting through the day.  Those decisions will be easier to make later when things are more clear and you are stronger. So give yourself time to get through the initial trauma and put off the hard decisions until you are stronger and better able to make those choices.   
  C - Stop having intimacy with your spouse.  We often find out that our spouses have cheated on us, so to be safe you should stop having sex with your spouse to protect from diseases.   Additionally, you need to protect yourself from “trauma bonding”.  Do not seek comfort and solace from the person causing you pain.  This makes your recovery much more difficult.

4 - Adjust your mindset
  A -  Don’t blame yourself or feel ashamed or guilty. 
 So many of us beat ourselves up and struggle with issues of self-blame and guilt.  It makes our recovery and healing so much harder.  This is not your fault!   You may recognize signs and clues that you think you should have seen, but you didn’t.  You couldn’t at the time.  You weren’t even looking for them.  We are not programed to investigate our partner’s sexual orientation prior to getting married.  When you are in love you assume the best of your partner, you trust your partner, you put them in priority and expect the same in return.  Your partner has most likely known since childhood that they had a same sex attraction and they have become a professional at hiding that secret.  They literally form their life around a fake persona.  You never had a chance to uncover such an important secret since you didn’t know you were supposed to be looking for it.   Do not feel guilty or blame yourself.  Too many straight spouses suffer alone because they are too ashamed or think other people will judge them for not knowing.  Don’t hurt yourself and make your recovery harder by beating yourself up and suffering in silence.
  B - Assert yourself.  You have a voice and you get to make decisions for what happens in your life and in your home.  Set boundaries for what you are not comfortable with and don’t be pushed around.  By keeping their sexuality or gender confusion a secret, your partner has made themselves the priority in their lives while you have been loving them and making them a priority as well.  Someone has to make you the priority so it’s time you do that. 
  C - Recognize that the recovery process is like a roller coaster.  Human emotions are fluid and change frequently.  As such, the levels of pain and grief change daily or even hourly.  You will have many “ups” and “downs” as you progress through this journey.  In the beginning the “downs” are long and severe, but over time they get shorter and less deep.  The ups get higher and last longer.  Over time the ride becomes smoother with fewer downs.  You will relapse and be triggered from time to time but they become easier to deal with and last a shorter time.  When you are feeling the worst, try not to panic and remember that you in a natural low point and that you will feel better in a few hours or the next day.  
  D - Allow yourself to feel and express your emotions.  I'ts OK to not be OK!  These emotions are real and valid and it’s unhealthy to bottle them up and suppress them.  Let out those tears, scream at the top of your lungs, punch something (soft), and hug whoever will hug you back.  It's ok to break down in tears in the line at the grocery store. Don't beat yourself up if it happens, just go with it and you'll feel better after. 
  E - Your support of them is not required.  Most of our spouses and our society expect us to support the choices and actions of our partners as they embrace their hidden sexuality or gender identity.  You should not be expected to support their actions, which have brought pain into your life; nor should you feel guilty about your feelings.   
  F - You can do this!  Right now you are probably feeling overwhelmed and you can't see how you will possibly survive this.  But you will.  Take it a day at at time.  You will find the strength to handle each step in this process at the time you need it.  

5 -  What comes next?   Typically the biggest decision you will make is whether to remain married or to separate or divorce.  Our Path forum is here to support both decisions and we can help offer advice in both areas.  
6 - Additional resources - Fantastic guide to healing from betrayal trauma.  Substitue the articles focus on porn to the topics of your relationship issues and the guide is very helpful. 
(More to be completed in the future - we will compile a list of helpful internet resources with links)

A helpful quote:
"And once the storm is over, you wont remember how you made it through, 
how you managed to survive. You wont even be sure, whether the storm is 
really over. But one thing is certain, 
when you come out of the storm, you wont be the same person who walked in. 
That's what this storm is all about. "
~ Haruki Murakami ~

Note: This thread is for resourses and general advice only. Do not request support here or reply to any of the posts unless you have a resource you can contribute or link to.

Last edited by Sam (Admin) (March 28, 2021 2:13 pm)

-Formerly "Lostdad" - I now embrace the username "phoenix" because my former life ended in flames, but my new life will be spectacular. 

Posted by phoenix
June 21, 2018 1:48 pm

To the group - 

One thing I would like to mention:  I hope this resource is helpful for as many people as possible, but I want to avoid it being used as a shortcut in responding to new members who sign up and share their stories.  I think it would be pretty easy to just say "See the first aid kit thread for advice" and then just move on.  In doing that I think we would lose the personal connections and evidence of true care and compassion for each new member.  So, while I think it's ok to reference this thread as an additional resource for help, I think it would be wonderful if we each still continue to write out the each point of advice we want to give and if possible tailor that to the personal story that is told.  Perhaps offer those points of advice just as we have in the past and then at the end just offer a mention of this thread or a link to it as an additional resource.    I just don't want to lose the personal touch that makes this community so amazing. 

I consider this to be an ever-evolving project.  If anyone has suggestions for improvement, additions, or just basic grammatical corrections please let me know by replying here or sending me a private message.   
I am especially hoping for help in populating the additional resources section.  


-Formerly "Lostdad" - I now embrace the username "phoenix" because my former life ended in flames, but my new life will be spectacular. 

Posted by phoenix
June 26, 2018 12:25 pm

International Suicide prevention hotlines

-Formerly "Lostdad" - I now embrace the username "phoenix" because my former life ended in flames, but my new life will be spectacular. 

Posted by Ellexoh_nz
June 26, 2018 3:36 pm

 All the numbers below are New Zealand free-to-call...Lifeline – 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP)Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)

KIA KAHA                       
Posted by Elisa
July 15, 2018 12:03 pm

Freephone 116123 is the Samaritans line in the UK & is available 24 hours a day.

Posted by Daryl
July 15, 2018 10:32 pm

gonzo - there is a regular SSN group that meets in Toronto. Sorry to hear about the outmoded ideas being thrown at you. Orientation is not a conscious choice and it is these sorts of ideas that contribute to the closet.

“The future is unwritten.”
― Joe Strummer
Posted by Rob
March 13, 2019 1:22 pm

General advice for those in crisis:

Call your primary or psychiatrist back and see if you can get an earlier appointment.   Reach out to friends or family.   Don't go it alone.   Breath, go for a walk, and try not to panic.    You do not need to solve everything in one day.   Try to follow your routines as best you can.   Know that you will get through it..tiny baby steps of self care..definitely find a place that you feel safest to calm down...  this could be a family or friends house,  work,  the library.    In your home definitely find/claim a "safe spot".   

"For we walk by faith, not by sight .."  2Corinthians 5:7
Posted by Blue Bear
August 12, 2019 3:40 pm

I'd add two more things to the "first aid" kit.

1.  You are not going insane.  You will feel like your entire sense of reality has been upended, and you will often feel like you are trapped inside a very bad dream.  You will likely feel like the future you envisioned with your spouse is disintegrating, and you will start to question whether your past was real.  Your same-sex attracted spouse might further distort your reality by shifting the focus to alleged problems with you, and how somehow, you allegedly contributed to this situation.  This will be more likely if you discovered your spouse is same-sex attracted in the context of infidelity.  Often, same-sex attracted spouses have created elaborate deceptions about their sexuality and affairs, and their ability to perpetuate these deceptions is starting to fail.  Their behavior might become irrational, manipulative and confusing as they attempt to regain control of their deception, further distorting your sense of reality.  Additionally, expect your same-sex attracted spouse to repaint and recharacterize many of the events in your past in order to support their narrative that this situtation is somehow your fault.

2.  Avoid discussing your spouse's definition of their own sexuality.  You know what you need to know, which is that your spouse is same-sex attracted.  They are finally required to confront what that means to you and what your reaction to it will be.  Your same-sex attracted spouse might be confused, in denial or trying to process what all of this actually means to them.  It doesn't matter whether your spouse eventually chooses the label of "bisexual", "gay", "lesbian", "pansexual" or "straight".  What does matter is that you now that your spouse is same-sex attracted, which is probably not what you signed up for when you married them.  The label is irrelevant.


Last edited by Blue Bear (August 15, 2019 4:03 pm)

Posted by OutofHisCloset
April 10, 2020 10:12 am

I tend to think it gets better for each of us individually, as we get farther away from our spouses.  No contact has been key for me.  Also, the less connected I was to him, and the more his actions ceased to have an effect on my everyday life, the easier it has been to see him as "someone I used to be married to."  My heart goes out to those with children at home for whom continued contact is necessary, or those who cannot leave for financial reasons.  The triggers are less for me now, but when my work life at the university was affected by his actions, I was constantly angry about all the pro-trans events.   I suspect I will never see a transwoman anywhere at any time and not seek to put distance between that person and me.  

I also think that the more of us who tell our stories of what it's like to be on the receiving end of the deception and destruction the better.  

Posted by MyExodus
January 21, 2021 2:00 pm

"The rest, I guess we do one day at a time.  Find time to journal, come here to talk, find a therapist if you haven't already, confide in a trusted friend or family member (my panic attacks decreased significantly when I finally told my sister), get plenty of rest, don't forget to eat healthy.  Start thinking about what you can do for your future.  Consider getting legal advise so you know what your options are when he returns and the discussion comes up. Knowledge is power.  I have started doing little things--getting my own bank account, a credit card without his name, working on my resume, combing through the finances little by little.  I may not be "ready" but I'm not feeling as desperate as I did in the beginning.  The more you take care of yourself, the better you will start to feel.  I haven't reached the point of happiness again, but I don't think it's unattainable." This Too Shall Pass

"Up Vote on that advice so concisely written.   Small baby steps each day,  they build and add up.  They help take some of the fear, anxiety, and lack of control away.    For those that feel stuck...small are not idle.  Whether it be years, months, weeks... there is no set time frame. ..small positive steps each day." Rob

I think both of these posts in "The First Aid Kit" would be invaluable for newcomers. A rundown on some great starting points in the process and an assurance that one step at a time, one day at a time is how you get out of the headspin. Worked for me. How could we make that happen?


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