A Newly Out Gay Dad Feels 'Demoted' After Divorce
Cameron Call showed up to his first family Thanksgiving since coming out and getting a divorce — and struggles to find himself "stuck with the singles."
Cameron Call, who came out in summer 2019, has generously agreed to chronicle his coming out journey for Gays With Kids over the next several months — the highs, lows and everything in between. Read his first article here.
Denial is an interesting thing. It's easy to think you're potentially above it, avoiding it, assume it doesn't apply to you because you'd NEVER do that, or maybe you're just simply avoiding it altogether. After finally coming out, I liked to think that I was done denying anything from now on. But unfortunately that's not the case.
And this fact became very clear to me over Thanksgiving.
I love the holiday season and Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorites. In our parenting plan I got the kids for our first Thanksgiving post-divorce. My immediate family (parents, siblings and their spouses, cousins, etc.) had some big plans to meet at a vacation rental in Southern Utah. We were to spend the weekend relaxing, hiking in the red rocks, and enjoying our time together as a family. As the big day of thanks drew closer I was feeling so on top of things. I felt like I had great momentum as far as my routine goes. And I wasn't at all nervous to be taking my three kids on a road trip to southern Utah all by myself for a long holiday weekend.
I was hoping at some point I would have some big emotional experience where I would feel inspired, motivated for the new life I am now living, and be filled with excitement for my future as a newly divorced, fresh, out-of-the-closet gay single dad. I was focusing on things I am grateful for, all the positives I have experienced since coming out, getting a divorce, dating, living authentically, etc.
But the big emotional experience never came. Instead, a bit of reality slapped me in the face.
I unpacked my car after an 8-hour car ride to the vacation rental in St. George, Utah. As I excitedly searched for the bedroom I'd be sleeping in my mom let me know that my kids would be sleeping in bunk beds with their cousins, and that I'd be sleeping on the bottom bunk in a bedroom with my younger brother, younger sister, and my two almost teenage nieces. My jaw about hit the floor. I had been demoted. After more than ten years of marriage, that ended in divorce, I was now back to being stuck with the singles.
When I expressed some slight frustration my mom's response was, "Well! This just worked out perfectly didn't it?!"
It wasn't worth making a big deal over. Me and my kids didn't need our own bedroom. And they had way more fun sleeping in a room with their cousins than they would with me. But it hit me hard when I realized for over ten years I had potentially taken advantage of how nice it was to simply get my own bedroom during family vacations. For a moment I felt alone, like I had potentially made a mistake, and part of me really missed being married.
And that was when the denial I had been avoiding sunk in.
I had spent a lot of energy convincing myself that I was just fine. That I was totally on top of things. That the happiness and relief that has come since getting more comfortable in my own skin was enough. And really, that happiness and relief is everything. But I was in denial about the pain that accompanies my journey. And I was reminded that I can't hide from it.
I spent nearly 12 years of my life with the mother of my children. She was my best friend. She was my anchor. And losing her has been more painful than I thought it would be. But even with that pain I have felt I know it will not last. It is part of the process. I have had too many experiences since that have given me the assurance that I am doing the right thing. I know I am exactly where I need to be. And I know those painful moments, and the things that trigger them, will not cause pain forever.
I know that one day when the holiday season comes around again I'll say, like my mom, "Well! This just worked out perfectly didn't it?!"