Hi There, Papabear.
Just to give you an overview: Bi: married a girl -> had kids -> Divorced -> now with a guy = omg! I heard you help people, well I could sure use some to put it mildly. You might wanna buckle your seatbelt for this one.
I'm in a new relationship. With a male furry, which should be great. The thing is I have not gotten over my ex wife. Though the person she was is long gone and I'm pretty much responsible for it. The loss is almost too great to bear sometimes. I'm afraid I'm just using this person to have someone to make me feel better? And it's just me covering up my fear of being alone? I can't really give this new relationship my all. To be honest, I hardly feel anything at all, really. I tell him I love him and him me, but I prepare myself for it to end any moment. I feel like a fake. I'm so screwed up I don`t even know what I feel, only that it's comforting to have him close to me, is that enough? Have I just replaced the pills and alcohol with a new addiction?
Neither puppies nor graphic news seems to affect me; there is just apathy and hopelessness. I feel dead inside. That faculty that is supposed to respond is just not there. I've told him this and he tells me it will take time. I no longer feel safe anywhere and the anxiety is tearing me apart. I feel like I've placed a terrible burden on him which is not his to carry.
I used to have the capacity to love, though. I got into my previous relationship by reciting poetry in the rain, challenging her to a sword fight and proposing in a suit of armor after she had her blade on my throat, but that was another lifetime. Given the fact that I'm now with a guy and have a child from the previous marriage, it can open up a whole new can of flesh-eating worms I'm just not prepared to deal with.
We're in an open relationship. I keep throwing myself into morally questionable situations just to grasp on to something pleasurable, to not feel this apathy. I should be feeling so lucky; a lot of people dream about these things happening to them, but I just end up feeling empty. Yes I'm seeing several shrinks, all at a loss as to what to do with me. After my recent breakdown, I lost my job and am now living in my parents' basement, which is just another insult to my hardly existent pride. And if my family finds out, well, you know how rednecks love them shotguns. I know this is screwed up beyond all comprehension, but please all I'm asking for is a little advice.
The Ghost of Love Past (age 30)
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I think you wrote the right person. Most psychologists can’t help you on an issue like this because you have to live it to understand it. All they know is what they’ve read in books, heard in lecture halls, or from other patients.
Your story is similar to mine in many ways. I was married, too (though no children), discovering my sexuality later in life. I, like you, still love my ex. We broke up not because we didn’t love each other, but because we realistically realized a straight woman couldn’t stay with a gay man (except maybe on sitcom TV). I’ve also had trouble loving again (though doing better at it), after having my romantic idealism about love smashed by reality. I’ve also been on the psychologist’s couch, and I have certainly known what it’s like to throw myself into sexual pleasures to try and feel something. I’ve also tried to make myself happy with booze, though not with pills. Hard drugs scare the bejeezus out of me.
Nothing that you have written here surprises me in the least, so let’s unfasten our seatbelts and see what happens.
First of all, it is okay for you to still love your ex wife, even though the two of you have split up. I have been very fortunate in that my ex and I have remained friends who wish each other happiness. A dear friend of mine, Cyberbear, had a similar experience with his now-ex-wife. They had two children together (great kids!) and they are friends, too. My first recommendation to you, therefore, would be to clear the air with your ex. Tell her you still care about her and wish her well, but that you can’t help being bisexual. This is just how things are, and it may be hard, and things won’t be like they once were, but you still wish to be her friend and to support her in any way you possibly can. It is very important for you, too, to keep in mind that she is who she is because of her, not you. Everyone has to take responsibility for how he or she handles life and how they allow life to affect them. Don’t fall into that trap of making yourself responsible for the emotional growth or deterioration of other adults.
You have to forgive yourself for hurting your ex. It’s not your fault. Once you accept that, you will be able to move on to new loves.
As for your boyfriend, that’s difficult for me to tell from this vantage point. It might be, in this case, that you are just holding on to him because you don’t want to be alone, as you said. You might have jumped into his arms and bed to feel something. But, then again, you might have some real feelings for him but you aren’t allowing them to shine through because of your feelings of guilt. I would advise you to step back from the relationship a bit (not breaking it off, just taking a hard look) and reexamine your emotions. As I said, you’ll be able to do this more easily if you have resolved your feelings toward your ex.
Also, I recommend you step away from the sex for a while until you get a handle on things. You need to clear your head, and sex won’t do that for you (as you've realized with that "empty" feeling you get after sex). Instead, I recommend you spend some time exploring your spiritual side, whatever that might be. Being that you are bi, it might be difficult to relate to a religion such as Christianity or Islam, so try other paths. Buddhism, for example, is very refreshing in that it instructs you on how to find happiness and peace without invoking God or making you feel guilty for being human. Much wisdom can be discovered in belief systems that predate the monotheistic Big Three. Many furries have found comfort in Buddhism, Wicca, and shamanistic beliefs.
Exploring such philosophical and religious ideas can help you put things in perspective. What is really important in your life? What are things you can do without or minimize? What things are actually damaging your chance at happiness? Too many people say “I am gay” or “I am bi” as if it is their sole defining attribute. But you are much more than that. The single most important thing you can do in your life is find out who you are.
Once you do that, you will be able to have healthy relationships with other people. This is something I am just now getting comfortable with at age 49. I know who I am better than I did before, and that has allowed me to have a stronger relationship with my mate, Yogi.
The bottom line is that everything you have said in your letter is a perfectly understandable, normal, and human reaction for someone going through a sea change in understanding their own sexuality. The waters will remain turbulent for a while longer yet, but they will calm down for you. Coming to terms with yourself will not only help you reestablish relationships with other people, it will also help you regain the confidence to go out and get a job and move out of the basement.
As for your relatives. Screw them. If they hate you just because you’re bisexual, they are showing their true, ugly colors and are to be avoided, but not feared. Do not be ashamed of who you are.
I hope these few words can point you in the right direction and be helpful. There is so much more that could be said, but this is an advice column, not a book. If you would like to talk more and have more questions, we can correspond further outside the column.
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