John Thurlow © 2022
All Rights Reserved
Dropping the Bomb
23 June 2013
My heart was beating in my throat. I was terrified and while time seemed to stand still, the digital clock on the opposite end of the room carried on counting the minutes. I planned to drop the bomb at around eight o’clock. It was now heading for nine and the evening was running away. Oblivious to my fear, Carrie was engrossed in the movie—unaware of how her world was about to change.
As the clock jumped from fifty-four to fifty-five, I knew I needed to seize the moment. I sat up straight—too quickly almost. Adrenaline pumping in my veins, everything seemed to go into slow motion.
“Carrie,” I sputtered—my voice quivering, “please turn down the TV, I need to talk to you.” I turned myself around and sat at the foot of the bed facing her. I looked into her startled eyes and I felt the tears welling up in my own.
“What is going on?” she asked. I took a deep breath and I began to babble.
“You know things haven’t been great between us lately?” I asked and stated at the same time. “I think you might suspect that I’ve been having an affair,” I continued, “… I’m not… I would never.” The colour ran away from Carrie’s face and her eyes were frozen. “I feel so bad, seeing that you don’t look happy,” I explained. “I know you’re hurting… and more than anything in the world, I don’t want to cause you any more pain. I’ve tried hard to fight this, but it won’t go away.” My babbling came to an abrupt halt and I took a deep breath. I knew I had rambled on for too long and what I had wanted to say hadn’t come out as I had planned. Carrie looked stunned; she didn’t say a word.
I took another deep breath—I needed to get the words out, they were strangling me from the inside. Then, somehow, they escaped hurriedly and with some trembling.
“Things are not as they should be because I’m gay.” The air in the room felt heavy and dry. I had just dropped a secret… my secret! One which I had harboured in my head for at least 30 of my 44 years. A secret I had carried, protected and nurtured—and a secret I was ashamed of.
I said the words with both a feeling of liberation and a huge sense of fear. I felt unshackled because the secret was out of the dark and it had no more power over me, but I was also afraid because it was uncaged and I was no longer its keeper. Equally, I was terrified at how Carrie would respond to the unexpected revelations. I had no idea of what awaited me on the journey that I had just begun.
A few moments of silence followed and staring directly at the confusion and pain on Carrie’s face bore no comfort.
“How long have you known this?” she asked. Anger and bewilderment were evident in her eyes. I hadn’t anticipated the question, but I knew I needed to speak the truth.
“Probably since I was teenager,” I spluttered, clenching my hands tightly together.
“Then why the fuck did you get married?” she barked. The f-word and a raised voice always meant I had crossed the line with Carrie. She didn’t use it often, but I guess I had crossed the ultimate ‘line’—there was no going back now. I also needed to be cognisant of the fact that this was an issue I had been processing and mincing in my head for the better part of my entire life. In a few moments, I had thrown it all at her… she needed time to unpack it.
I looked over my shoulder to make sure that the girls hadn’t stirred and made their way to our bedroom door. Why had I gotten married?
“I married you because I love you, Carrie.” My trembling words were calm and sincere. I hadn’t planned to launch into this detailed explanation, but it seemed appropriate and I had spent many of the fourteen years we had been married trying to make sense of the journey in my head. “When we got married, I believed I had overcome this sexuality issue,” I took a deep breath, feeling clumsy, “I honestly did.” She seemed disorientated and who could blame her. “I loved you and thought—and hoped—that those urges would be gone forever.”
“What urges?” she scowled.
I didn’t answer the question and continued.
“At the beginning, I thought they were gone, and I have fought them really hard for many years.” Carrie didn’t seem convinced by this answer and a few minutes of silence followed. The torturous still felt like a lifetime. Carrie’s anger broke the quiet:
“Why did you choose me to do this to?” she scorned. A relevant question, but there was so much else I needed to say. It was difficult not being in control as my secret took flight, but I knew I needed to let her lead the process. I had already given up the control.
“I didn’t choose you to do this to,” I replied. “This was not planned, nor premeditated—I love you and I love everything that we have created and established. I know that you don’t feel loved and cherished because it doesn’t come naturally to me. I can see that you hurt every day.” Carrie’s eyes were distant in the aftermath of the shock.