My Kintsu Dream
I joined the Kintsu Project Board of Directors at the request of our Executive Director, Kimberly Brooks Mazella, to serve and support all those affected by mixed sexual orientation relationships. I hoped I had something to offer as a result of my owned failed marriage to a straight woman for twenty years. However, to my complete surprise, my association with Kintsu has paid dividends I never expected.
Our Board held its first Annual Retreat last year, and to get better acquainted, we sat around the table in the conference room of the hotel where we met in Alexandria Virginia, and took turns sharing our histories and our individual stories as parties to mixed orientation marriages and relationships. Then each and every story was unexpectedly accompanied by tears from recalling old struggles and wounds.
As a gay man who had left a marriage to a straight woman, I had expected my gay counterpart in the room to be empathetic and understanding. On the other hand, I had no idea what to expect from straight Board members, many of whom are still grieving their own lost relationships with gay men. However, their response and reactions were so gratifying, I was amazed. If my own former wife has not forgiven me, I have since begun to feel forgiven by the straight spouses at the table that day, including those still struggling with mixed feelings about their own gay former spouses.
This was a revelation, that in time, set me on my own path to self forgiveness, a place I am not at all sure I would have ever gotten to without them. For me, there was magic in the sharing of our stories that day. If we still had issues with each of our own former spouses, they were no impediment to our new and growing relationships with one another. I like to think our individual growth has better equipped each of us to deal more effectively with our own situations.
This is the power of shared stories. Sharing makes us see what we have in common and helps us to feel understood and supported. This validation is the gold resin of the Kintsu project that helps us put the pieces of our lives back together again. We still have the scars, but we have grown stronger, and I suspect, more compassionate.
The entire experience has become so powerful for me that it has become my Kintsu dream that perhaps we can find a way to duplicate this experience for others affected my mixed orientation relationships. Right now, our Project conducts an annual Summit for struggling straight spouses. We have also started on online Facebook support group for coming out spouses. Perhaps one day, “graduates” of each program might meet in groups to share their stories just as our Board did last year.
The potential power of this story sharing cannot be over stated. For those ready to participate, I expect there to be significant rewards including an improved ability to cope.
This is my Kintsu dream.