|By: Paul S. Cilwa
|Page Views: 5274
|I announce a new boyfriend, fiance, and life.
I have a friend who is a writer and had been partnered for ten years to a man he adored. Over a period of days, he discovered his partner was, literally, not the man he thought he was—his name was fake; his social security number was phony, he was wanted by the FBI, and even his mother wasn't who she'd said she was.
To say this caused a dramatic change of perception is an understatement. I can only imagine the blow-to-the-gut this must have been for my friend.
Fortunately, most of us do not go through such wrenching disillusionments. For most people, relationship changes take place over the course of years rather than days, and are a surprise only to those who are not in closest contact with the couple involved, who hear about it in a letter or a rumor (or, these days, via Facebook).
It's a matter of falling "out of" love, generally, while still loving the other person.
As my regular readers know, I married Michael Manion in August of 2000. Through the years that followed, he's been a companion, a brilliant thinker and metaphysician, with an outstanding knowledge of medicine. And he hasn't changed; he's still as wonderful as ever. He's taught me more than anyone else I'd ever known.
However, as he taught me, I grew; and I came to understand that in terms of a relationship, I needed something different. Not better, but different. Still, as I had no idea what that difference might be, I didn't actually act on this understanding, other that to let Michael know I was unhappy. And since I wasn't unhappy with Michael, there was nothing he could do to resolve the situation. So I determined to go on, unhappier with every passing day, but seeing no solution in sight.
Then, when I least expected it, this past October I happened to meet a young man named Jason. And that changed everything for me. I couldn't stop thinking about him; and when I did, my heart skipped a beat. By November 11, I realized I was falling in love with him and told him so. To my joy and amazement, Jason admitted that he was also falling in love, with me.
Michael and I had, at that point, been together over 12 years, and married for 10. Jason and his partner, also named Michael (but who calls himself Mike), had also been together for 12 years. They had recently acknowledged that they, too, were vaguely unhappy with their relationship. They, too, loved each other without being in love. Still, as with me, they hadn't expected someone new would actually come along to change things.
But by December 6th, Jason felt so uncomfortable away from me, and I from him, that he moved in with us. Michael volunteered to move into an empty guest room, but asked that we not make any announcements until after Christmas so as not to upset the holidays, which mean so much to him. And, with the exception of my ex-wife and kids (who had already guessed, anyway), I honored that commitment.
And so we introduced Jason as a housemate, and he celebrated Christmas with us. His ex-partner, Mike, came for dinner with his new boyfriend. Although Michael and Mike were both somewhat startled at this turn of events, each has said our happiness is what they really want. And that's what Jason and I want for them, as well; each deserves someone who will be happy, not discontented, with the many gifts each has to offer.
Michael will, of course, continue to be a member of our family. He'll always be step-dad to my four kids and grandpa to our grandchildren. And I hope to continue to be a friend to Michael's nieces and nephews and their families. And Michael knows he's welcome to continue to live at home for the next three years as he completes medical school.
On Michael's Facebook page, I posted a paraphrasing of some lyrics from our favorite Broadway show, Wicked:
People come into our lives for a reason, bringing something we must learn. And we are led to those who help us most to grow if we let them, and we help them in return. I know I'm who I am today because I knew you. Like a comet pulled from orbit as it passes the sun, because I knew you, I have been changed for good.
But now Christmas is past, and I am anxious to take off the Clark Kent glasses and start my new life openly as Jason's partner.
Has this all moved very quickly? By most standards, yes. But you don't need a committee meeting to determine whether your clothes have caught fire, or your heart. If it's right, you know it is—that's one of the things Michael taught me. And this is right.
So today, I proposed to Jason. And he accepted. We plan to be married a year from the day we professed our love to each other: on November 11, 2011. Unlike Michael's and my marriage, this will be a very small gathering. Like it, it isn't going to have any legal standing. But we don't care. Our marriage isn't for the government; it's for us.
You'll be seeing a lot more of Jason and me in these pages in the days and years to come.