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What you've been reading is really a love story, more than anything.
While it has been about me, it is only half of the story. To fully understand everything that happened, and why we each made the decisions that we did, you would need to read things from Claire's perspective. Perhaps someday you will be able to do just that. Then you will see that this is actually a story about an astonishingly generous heart.
There are so many things that could have happened during 1995 and 1996. I think most women in the world would have reacted very differently if they were faced with the things Claire faced. I've spoken to people and I've read stories about other peoples' similar situations, and my heart has broken every time for them. Almost every time, the wife has acted out of fury, resentment, and scorn, with ugly custody battles, finger pointing, and attemtpting to turn their children against their gay fathers. And who could blame them? To realize that the happy life you are living is actually a great big lie is beyond devastating. Why wouldn't you act out of pain, anger, and betrayal? But when Claire realized the truth, she did a very unique, selfless thing: She chose to act out of unconditional love, and I was the undeserving recipient.
Why? Why did she react this way when she had every right and reason to react differently? Maybe it was because she and I shared a history that went clear back to junior high. Maybe it was because she was able to grasp onto the friendship while letting go of the marriage. Maybe it was because even though our marriage was a lie, it really wasn't in many ways. Maybe it was because she had the foresight to see that fighting would only hurt our family's future. Or maybe it's just because she is an extraordinary woman.
But it was more than love for me and love for our daughters that drove Claire's decisions. It was survival and self-preservation. She was faced with some incredibly difficult situations and choices, and I can't imagine anyone dealing with them better than she did. Nobody understood her decisions. Plenty of people judged her for them though. Somehow she ended up taking the brunt of all the judgement, aimed at both her and me, mainly because she refused to drag me through the mud.
I owe the happiness and fulness of life that I enjoy now largely to Claire. If it hadn't been for her desire for me to find happiness, I would have quite possibly continued living the lie. If it hadn't been for her wanting me to continue to play an integral part of our childrens' lives, I may have lost the joy of my daughters. Though it caused her immense pain, she opened the closet door and allowed me to walk through it out into a world where I could find fulfillment as a human being, finding out who I really am instead of what society tells me I should be.
Thanks to Claire, I am who I am today. And it's a great thing to be.