If you've found out that your partner, husband or wife is bisexual, it may feel your legs have been cut away beneath you. Suddenly your world has been turned upside down and you feel barely able to function.
I want to be upfront here, so there's no question about my own believes. For me equality has to be a given, not a right somehow granted or earned!
I have written this article to help you and your partner understand your feelings, the likely process of your emotions and have some direction in moving forward.
If by any chance you're wondering if your partner, wife or husband is bisexual, then hop over to my article on what it means to be 'bisexual'.
Let's start with how, on finding out that your partner is bisexual (gay, lesbian or transexual for that matter), you may feel and react...
Here are some very common feelings in reaction to shock in general:
feeling shaken to the core, like the rug has been pulled under your feet
being unable concentrate or think straight
being able to focus on nothing else but what you've discovered
feeling irritable, 'everything' is too much trouble
having a mind like a sieve
feeling exhausted, yet restless
having difficulties falling and staying asleep
feeling a deep sense of loss
crying at the drop of a hat
It is normal under the circumstances if you ...
spot 'reminders' of the history of your relationship everywhere
feel consumed by a sense of hurt and anger
feel guilty towards your children
worry about other people's reactions
worry he or she might stray
All these feelings are so terribly painful and you cannot help by wanting your partner to tell you it was a mistake, it's not true - some sick joke and that he or she is sorry. But he or she too could...
... also be in crisis, paralysed by fear
... ready to move on - not appreciating that you've just 'walked into a wall'
... be in denial of the massive impact on you
... be so overwhelmed that they have stopped feeling anything for themselves and thereby for others
I'll explain a little more about that further down, but let's first continue to try and make sense of your feelings...
Here's what's happens to many people in your situation, so don't be surprised if you are:
avoiding people who you don't want to have to tell
trying to avoid thoughts about your partner in same-sex situations
blaming, accusing, fault finding
rejecting your partner's advances
arguing the fact that he or she is bisexual
worrying about what his/her sexuality says about you
worrying about the impact of the laws of the country
wanting him or her to move out immediately
contemplating ending your relationship or marriage
It probably feels to you that you've lost the life you had, the partner you had (or so it feels), the love you had, your future together and the husband or wife of your children. The person you got together with, married perhaps, is no longer. You're on your own.
Below are some common reactions to mourning a loss.
No wonder that you fight against acceptance, because it would mean having to deal with all those losses. It's totally understandable therefore that you're initially in denial. Why wouldn't you be and who wouldn't be?
One moment you can't believe it's true, you're unable to accept and the next you feel wild with anger and resentment. How could they do this to you!
You're deeply sad, you feel empty - your heart ripped out. It feels like, like someone has died and there's a big black cloud hanging above you. You just want to stay in bed, pull the duvet over you and not wake up.
No, you're not mentally ill! This is a normal reaction and the last thing you would want to do now is to complicate it by taking antidepressants!
You may not be ready for this right now, but further on in your journey from crisis processing the transition to acceptance (or not), do remember that there's also much to be gained...
Know what you have gained! For someone to be (finally) free to be themselves is a massive gift.
You have every chance of building a better relationship than you've ever had before with a partner who doesn't have to hide part of themselves anymore. There's so much to be gained from living with someone who can give fully of him/herself, sharing all that they are.
They can love you fully and authentically!
All you can expect from yourselves in the early stages is 'cope with not coping' if need be. You just have to wait for this initial phase to pass however difficult. And it will - I promise you.
Try to be kind to yourselves - accepting of your own feelings. Don't give yourselves a hard time for reacting the way you do.
Most of all - do accept from me that you are not in any state to make any meaningful and sensible decisions right now.
It's really understandable if all you want to do is to scream and shout at your partner.
However, he or she has made a really difficult journey. I can almost hear you say: "So what!" I totally get it that you may not be ready to take all this in and even if you could, you may not want to.
However, when you are ready you'll find the following list helpful in coming to terms with the changing landscape of your relationship.
may have know from childhood
would have felt afraid and alone
would have wanted to conform in order to be accepted
may have suffered from self-loathing - loathing their body, their thoughts and their feelings
may have hated him/herself not being able to be honest with you
will have worried losing you, your love, your support
will have worried about the impact of the laws in your country
will have worried about the impact on your children
will have seen other people coming out turning friends into enemies
will have been powerless in the face of what her/his body dictated
will have felt incredibly unhappy having to hide part of themselves
is essentially the same person you have been with all those years
Journalist LZ Granderson really brings you down to earth in his TEDtalk. He is gay, but his message applies to us all. I think it will help you to put what is happening in your relationship in a greater context, so that you're perhaps not so shocked and frightened anymore (if indeed you were!)...