I write you today with great pain in my heart and an ample dose of endless shame. My husband of twenty some years is a high profile Silicon Valley executive and our world is extremely public because of his position. We have two grown children who are both college educated and model citizens that any parent could be proud of. I have always considered my family to be close, open and loving. No, we are not perfect, but we have muddled through difficult times and in the end found our way home to be a family. Our son has brought us much pride since he graduated from school and followed his father into the tech industry as a blossoming young executive. Our daughter has also made us proud when she graduated from college and went on to a successful career too. Recently, I finally realized why my little girl hasn't gotten married yet. It's not because she hasn't found her soul mate, she tells us she finally has, but he is a she.
Our daughter is gay, a lesbian and an enormous shock to us all. How did I not see this? Of course I love her no matter what, she is still our daughter and nothing will change how I feel about her. My husband on the other hand hasn't had the same reaction. He is furious, he feels she has been lying to us and he even told her she has shamed the family. He said he doesn't approve of her lifestyle choice and is unwilling to speak with her any longer. He is furious over how this will affect his public persona and refuses to discuss it further. Our daughter is broken by the words of her father and I am beside myself. I have never felt such anger and disgust for him as I do now. When he began to receive acclaim for his work, I admit, I lavished in the limelight and the accouterments that came with his success. Now, I would give it all up just to have my family back.
I have nowhere to turn because I live in a very public fishbowl and if were to share this with even one friend it will spread like fire throughout this famous valley. I feel desperate, scared and I don't know what to do. I want to break out of this life and shout my pain from a mountaintop but I feel stuck. I don't care about this famous life anymore and I want out! How can any parent turn their own child away with such hate in their heart? Does fame mean this much to him that he is willing to disregard his own family? I don't know who this man is anymore. I feel that divorce is the only way for me to proceed in this situation but I need some advice. How do I get out of this? Please help...
Desperate Silicon Valley Wife & Mother
As a fellow mother, this is undoubtedly one of the most painful stories I have read and I thank you for having the courage to reach out and share your family's dysfunction. It saddens me whenever I hear about any form of prejudice. Somehow, I continue to hold out hope that people collectively have matured, and yet we still have to witness such painful ignorance.
Let me begin with the description of your family being close, open and loving; somehow those words do not fit the behavior you are describing. I am guessing your daughter has known about her sexual preference long ago and if she felt she was in an open family then why didn't she share this with you before? Probably because she feared she would encounter the reaction she has gotten from her Father. So, now on top of being disowned by her father her mother is considering divorce after twenty odd years and she will have to bear the burden of this too? Listen, I don't mean to sound harsh, well maybe just a little, but you can't honestly tell me you didn't see this coming? I used the word dysfunction earlier for a reason when referencing your family, because it is clear to me that your family has been defective for years. Imagine the burden your sweet daughter has been carrying all this time. Not being able to share her true self with her own parents. The most important responsibility we hold as parents is to love our children...no matter what. Your husbands behavior is outrageous, and quite frankly, disgusting.
I would imagine your husband has always held prejudices towards many situations, so you couldn't have been all that shocked when he held it against your own daughter. Where in the book of 'parenting' does it say that you get to choose how your adult child should live? If I may conjecture for a moment; I would guess you have more than one pink elephant living in your house. I'm not sure divorce is the answer to your problem in this particular situation. Your husband has shown you who he is long ago and his inability to show support to your daughter has put you on the spot to react...finally! Okay, I will stop lecturing now and try to give you some advice that will help you and your family send this elephant back out into the wild.
Your job right now is not to focus on you and your emotions. You must buck up and be emotionally present for your daughter. The first thing I recommend you do is tell her how very sorry you are that you never made it safe for her to come to you before. Let her know that you accept her completely for who she is and your pride of her is endless. Even though she is a grown woman she needs her mothers love and you should wrap your arms around her and hold her tight. When was the last time you held your daughter? Invite her to sit with you and bundle her up in your being for as long as possible. I promise you in that moment you will witness the miracle of love and the healing powers of physical contact.
Now let's deal with the anger at your husband. Anger is simply a mask for the fear that resides deep inside of you and it may also be a reflection of how you feel about yourself. Ask yourself what you're so afraid of. Money and power can be very seductive but it can also be a dangerous drug that can destroy the beautiful spirit you were meant to be. I believe you lost your purest self long ago, but the good news is, she still resides inside of you. So my dear, the choice is yours, you get to decide how this story ends. Let me offer an alternative to ending in divorce... Starting over with love. Here's how;
Your husband clearly had a knee jerk reaction that was tided up in his ego. My belief in both the human spirit, and your husband, is that he will come to his good senses and love your daughter just the way she is. I suggest you have a heart to heart with your stubborn husband (are there any husbands who aren't stubborn) and start with the hugging exercise. No words, just wrap him in your arms. Remind him of the day your daughter was born and the joy the two of you sensed when you first laid eyes on your precious little girl. Reminisce how you both felt when you held your baby girl and how both your hearts broke the first time you heard her cry. Now, ask him when was the last time he held his little girl. Even his Silicon Valley persona will not be able to deny the love he has for his daughter. Finally, find the laughter and joy together. Life doesn't have to be so serious. Ask him;
Who say's it has to be Prince Charming to make our daughter happy? Maybe, it's Princess Charming who will make her happiest!
As a parent all we want for our children is health and happiness. From what you've described your family has it all. My advice to you both is to find gratitude in your daily lives. Ask your Silicon Valley hotshot husband what his neighbor Steve Jobs would do in this situation. I am pretty sure Mr. Jobs might tell him to live and love everyday as if it were his last...
Divorce doesn't have to be the solution for all marital woes. Sometimes reminding ourselves of where we began can jolt us into the present with a renewed sense of appreciation. You are a woman with many blessings, start counting them...
I wish you all the best my friend ~
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