Grieving the death of a gay marriage

Warning: this post feels like a hot damn mess of a dozen mismatched thoughts dumped out like a pail of dog-chewed Lincoln Logs. So be it.

 

It’s been just three months since I moved out of the house that I believed would be my forever home. Three months since I stepped across two distinct thresholds.  One threshold is that which recedes into a past distorted by the mist of mythical love and obscured by alternating waves of resolution & resentment rising off the searing streets of my memory. The other threshold over which I’ve stepped is the terrifying, healing mystery of the unknown.

The cascade of loss these past few months has been profound: a dear father dead, a broken marriage evacuated, a family out of reach, a beloved home with a door on which I must now knock, friends receding into their respective corners and even a couple of blogging peers who’ve found my painful honesty just a little too, well, honest.

As I slog through my grief, some days with barely a lap of the dark waters at my feet and others days with the swamp surging violently around my throat, I realize what many others before me have come to know.

Grief sucks. Grief waxes and wanes. Grief has no timeline. Grief is lonely.

As it turns out, heartbreak, separation and divorce (well, I suppose in my case it’s not divorce since I have zero standing in a legally recognized marriage, but that’s kvetching for a whole different post I’m afraid) – tends to make our friends feel all icky and itchy inside. It seems that otherwise sweet Christian people just don’t know what to do or say to the queer divorcée when they’ve barely gotten a handle on the idea of gay marriage in the first palce.

I had an acquaintance ask me “After fighting so hard to have people accept your relationship as ‘normal‘ how could you just throw it all away.” – As if losing the love of my life and having the courage to claim a life free from oppressive toxicity was some lark I cooked up one morning with my bowl of grits.

Or even better, “You know, talking about your split in public kinda hurts the case for gay marriage, can’t you just write about progressive, queer theology or something? Keep it positive!” – Because progressive, queer theology never leans on the unvarnished narratives of real life, eh gay marriages don’t end like straight ones do eh?

And my favorite, “You shouldn’t use your blog to air your private problems.”    - Well ain’t I just pathetic exposing all my cray-cray while they are over there writing about the really important stuff.

But you see, my blog has never been so much about ideas, issues or even theology.  I try to nurture a place where we get to encounter real people, with real stories and deep faith in a God who manifests in the midst of all the mess. Who the hell would I be if I didn’t have the audacity to grieve in obnoxiously transparent ways, holding myself to the same standards of honesty and vulnerability that I search for in others every day?

Guess what y’all, no one is more ready for this season of my life over than I am. But as it turns out, that ain’t quite the way it works.

Grief, even the messy grief of love lost and a life reclaimed, has no timeline, no shelf-life and no expiration date. It takes as long as it takes. Some days it even sneaks up on you, taps you sweetly on the shoulder then cold cocks you with one hell of a cosmic frying pan leaving you sobbing over the steering wheel about some stupid Patsy Cline song (or some I am told).

 

But hey, I know I’m not the only one who ever has, ever will or is right now feeling this way. If you are walking through this dark valley tonight, please hear me – don’t let anyone tell you when you should be over it. When it is time to move on, you will know.

In the meantime, grieve your heartbreak in your own time, welcome friends who give you the grace to do so and don’t be afraid to break down and cry out to God in the dark nights of your soul. Yes, there will be more than one.

And trust that one day, there will be a little more light.  And then a little further down the road, a little more light on the horizon. Before you know it, morning will begin to peep up over the horizon. I trust this is true and whether or not it is cool, popular, professional or good for my blogging career, I’ll be right here on the road with you.

 

 

About Kimberly Knight

Kimberly has a long history of back-pew sitting, Wednesday night supper eatin' and generally trying God’s patience since 1969. She's lucky enough to have made her technology addiction a career and serves as both the Director of Digital Strategy as a southern liberal arts college and Minister of Digital community with Extravagance UCC.

  • Doreen A Mannion

    You are not a spokesmodel for anything but your own truth. I’ve been asked why I blog about “downer” things like my Mom’s cancer, my unemployment, or my experiences with alcoholism and depression. It’s called LIFE, people! Thank you for speaking YOUR truth. Many things you have written have helped me process my own joys and sorrows, and everything in between.

  • Ando

    I feel for you, my sister. I can’t say I understand any of the horrible struggles you’ve had to endure first-hand, but you write with such earnestness and honesty that somehow I feel as though I can see a tiny piece of the pain you endure.

    I have plenty of attention-seeking relatives whose posts I have blocked on Facebook, so I know what’s just “LOOK AT ME!” and what is genuinely feeling the need to share for the little bit of catharsis it can gain. You definitely fall into the latter.

    Were I someone you were close to, I would share a hug for the comfort I could offer, but as I am just a reader of your blog, I’ll just say a prayer for you and your difficult times, and hope that will help in some small way.

  • http://elizabethdrescher.com/ Elizabeth Drescher

    I’m in awe of the bravery of this post precisely because of how it illustrates that marriages between same gender partners are “normal” in all the worst ways. When a 16-year relationship ended many, many years ago (though not as soon as it ought to have at least in part from constant pressure to keep being “good gay role models”), a straight friend said with some surprise as I was crying on her shoulder, “Oh, wow. This is bad. It’s almost like the end of a marriage.” Back then, there was no one anywhere saying, “Nope. It’s exactly like that. It’s exactly that bad.” So, you know, there’s witness in that. There’s theology in that. If that’s what you’re after. But I like the politics of it almost as much as the humanity.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      Elizabeth, you’ve hit the nail on the head with the”It’s almost like the end of a marriage.” I thank you for sharing your heart here and I would love to talk to you about an idea…

  • http://limpingtowardsgrace.com/ James_Jarvis

    Wow, when I read “a beloved home with a door on which I must now knock,” my heart broke. It saddens me that anyone especially a follower of Christ would believe that your pain is any less real because you loved another woman rather than a man. Grief does not pour out his and hers bottles. Most people think I’m a bit strange because my favourite book of the Old Testament is Ecclesiastes but I love how I speaks about life in all its messiness and complexity. For what its worth I think the only thing that a blogger or any writer should not do is fail to write what they believe to be true and feel in their heart.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      James, as I first wrote that line it was the one that moved me from just writing to writing and crying. Even seeing it in your comment choked me up. I am grateful for your heart that can see the reality of pain that knows no gender boundaries and could care less about whether or not the state recognized my marriage as “real”.

  • Anna M. J. Holloway

    This blog is about courage–the gutsy stuff about facing pain, and lack of support, and change, and general life icky bits. Courage sucks, because it’s not about the statue or the spandex outfit with a cape…courage is about the feeling that it would be so much easier to stop completely, but you take the next step anyway. This blog is about courage.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      Thanks Anna, I sure don’t feel courageous most of the time but once in a while I think I sense that.

  • skwey

    We’d all be so much better off if we could trust one another with our truth and vulnerability. Thanks for setting an example and trusting us with yours.

  • http://kristinemwebster.wordpress.com/ Kristine

    I’ve only just started following your blog, so I don’t know a whole lot of your story. But I can attest at the profound effect of grief. My Dad died nearly 3 years ago and I am still reeling from the loss. A few months ago a friend posted a poem to my facebook timeline that was about grief. It had this line in it “It is an alteration of your being.” And that was so profound to me. Much as I said otherwise, a part of me really thought the day would come that I would be “over” it in some way. 3 years later I am realizing that is not to be. My heart and prayers go out to you and your family and community. Keep slogging away. One day at a time. (Which always makes me think of Sandra Bullock in 28 days ‘what like more than one day at a time is an option!’) You’re right, the sun will come back.

  • Trevor Morgan

    There are millions of books, counsellors, retreats and other supports for heterosexual marriage – I’d guess that there are far fewer for gay relationships.

    This may not be the right time to ask, but I’d be interested in knowing if you’ve come across specific helpful resources that focus on same-gendered relationships.

    My deep condolences for your loss; and thank you for your honesty.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      Trevor, that is a fantastic question. How about we both engage a Google search and see what we find. Let’s share it here for others.

      • Trevor Morgan

        Haven’t had time to do a proper search yet. I suspect that books like “The Five Love Languages” are valuable for any relationship, but there are also plenty of books like “Men are from Mars” or “His Needs/Her Needs” etc. that focus on the difference between the genders which would need to be re-thought for same-gendered relationships.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

          Hell, maybe you’ve finally found a something I can write for more than a blog’s worth…

  • http://spiritofpeacekingston.org/ David Starbuck Gregory

    Thank you for NOT concentrating on lifeless theology, and for NOT pretending that life is all light and no shadow. Some of it is wonderful, some of it is absolutely shitty, and there’s a lot of it that is somewhere in between.

    So interesting isn’t it, that same gender relationships are treated differently even when they end. It’s as if the idea of gay marriage is delegitimized when one relationship fails. I’ve heard of a couple of straight relationships that failed . . . or a couple MILLION of them, and few will blame the institution itself.

    You just keep on slogging and writing. We will slog with you, grieve with you, and heal with you. In the end we will all have grown from your honesty. Don’t stop.

  • westburke

    Yeah, it’s like that. In my experience grief can cold cock you even years after you thought it was over; decades later I assume from the shape of the curve. You can even go through an intense mourning process when you lost something very toxic.

    Thanks for blogging about it. Putting on a fake show of emotional balance and good cheer serves nobody. Laying it aside and blogging about something else might make some other people more comfortable, but it doesn’t help them.

    Remember to do all the self care that grieving people sometimes neglect. Keep eating well. Get your exercise. You may do it all joylessly, but why add an unhealthy body to the mix? You’ll want it to be there for you when your spirits lift and life looks inviting again.

  • $98632491

    It’s not easy being a gay Christian. I worked with a guy who was at odds with the world, stumbling aimlessly between what he was taught and what he feels. I will be passing on your blog to him, because even in what you call ramblings, are emotions that are too powerful to not feel with you and I think it could help him sort it out to be on that level. For me, it was a simple choice given my care free way of thinking. I can change my faith (as many do) but I cannot change myself. He is more involved in the teachings than I, so what I had to say wasn’t as effective . Id like to thank you stranger, as Paul noted, for being a real person.

  • http://www.existentialpunk.com/ Existential Punk

    Thank you, Kimberly, for your heartfelt authenticity! i don’t know exactly what you are experiencing and feeling, but i was right there a year and a half ago when my ex left me. It was horrible and one person, who had been a mutual friend and started dating my ex, told a couple months later to just get over it and move on because it was time. i told her to fuck off and that everyone grieves differently and in their own time. Let me know if you ever wanna talk on the phone of through Skype. Love you.

  • Melody

    Those who don’t want to read it don’t have to. The rest of us are here because what you have to say (good, bad, and even ugly) speaks to us.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      Thank you Melody, thank you very much.

  • Paul Walton

    Thank you, Kimberly, for being a real person.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      Thank you, Paul, for putting up with a real person.

      • Paul Walton

        I’m not putting up with you! ;-)
        I’m feeling the connection across half the world.


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