If you've found out that your partner, husband or wife is bisexual, it may feel as if your legs have been cut from under you. Suddenly your world has been turned upside down and you may feel barely able to function.
I want to be upfront here, so there's no question about my own beliefs. For me, everyone is equal. And equality has to be a given - not a right somehow granted or earned!
I've written this article to help you and your partner understand your feelings and the likely process of your emotions. And ultimately, to help you figure out how you can both move forward again.
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'.
If you know for sure, let's take a look at how you might be feeling since you found out that your partner is bisexual (or gay, lesbian or transsexual for that matter).
The discovery is likely to have come as a great shock to you. Here are some very common reactions to shock in general:
feeling shaken to the core, like the rug has been pulled from under you
being unable concentrate or think straight
being unable to focus on anything other than what you've discovered
feeling irritable, and like '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
Alongside the shock, you'll probably be experiencing a whole host of other emotions. You may feel the relationship as you knew it has gone forever. Under the circumstances, it's very normal if you...
feel consumed by a sense of hurt and anger
feel guilty about how your children will have to cope
worry about other people's reactions
worry that your partner might stray
spot 'reminders' of the history of your relationship everywhere
All these feelings are so terribly painful. It's hard not to want your partner to tell you it was all a mistake, not true... just some sick joke and that he or she is sorry.
But your partner could...
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 like you've lost the life you had, the partner you had, the love you had, your future together and the mum or dad of your children. The person you got together with, and perhaps married, no longer 'exists'. That's a lot of feelings of loss! You probably feel pretty alone right now too.
Loss automatically comes with mourning, which can be pretty hard to cope with. Here are some common reactions...
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 and you're unable to accept what's happened - and the next, you feel crazy with anger and resentment. How could they do this to you?!
You're deeply sad, you feel empty, and like your heart's been ripped out. It feels like someone has died and there's a big black cloud hanging over you. You just want to stay in bed, pull the duvet over you and not wake up.
But don't worry, 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 will recover from this phase - I know you can do it.
You may not be ready to hear this right now, but further on in your journey you'll discover there is always something to be gained from any situation (however difficult) that you find yourself in. In this case...
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 to 'cope with not coping'. You just have to wait for this initial phase to pass - however difficult it feels right now. And it will pass - I promise you.
Try to be kind to yourselves - both you and your partner. Accept your own feelings, and your partner's feelings... and don't give yourselves a hard time for reacting in whichever way you do.
Most of all - please believe me when I say that now is really not the time to make any meaningful and sensible decisions. It's all too raw, too much of a shock, and your brain is still in flux. Allow some time for everything to settle before you start trying to piece your way forward again.
It's really understandable if all you want to do is to scream and shout at your partner.
However, try to remember that he or she will have been on 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're 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 for not being able to be honest with you
will have worried about losing you, your love, and 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 whose friends turned into enemies
will have been powerless in the face of what her/his body dictated
will have felt incredibly unhappy about 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!)...