I was distraught, anxious, and hopeless. A friend said I needed a strategy to walk through what I was facing in association with being gay and in a straight marriage. I had no idea what I was going to do. I had tried a counselor and a counseling group, but that left me feeling even more hopeless and totally unhealthy emotionally. The counselor and the group seemed to think I should spend years working through my wounded childhood. What I wanted was some help now in decision making regarding my marriage and my future. That very afternoon, Anthony Venn Brown wrote me an email just to see how I was doing. He had written before and knew what I was going through. I was shocked when he said, “didn’t you know I have a coaching program to help men develop a strategy regarding coming out and facing the dilemma of what to do if they are in a heterosexual marriage?”
I was totally stunned. He used the word strategy, just as my friend had earlier in the day. But this time, someone offered a formulated program just for me. I was hopeful for the first time in a long time.
After the initial free consultation I decided to go ahead with the twelve week program. Three months at the beginning seemed like a long time but it went extremely quickly and looking back I realize I actually needed all that time to thoughtfully consider what would be life changing decisions for me and my wife. Anthony reminded me that it was not his role to tell me what I should do with my life but to help me discover what the answers were for me and my situation. Not really knowing what the final outcomes would be Anthony just asked to walk it one week at a time.
Part of the program included writing down my dreams, wishes, and goals in a variety of areas of my life. This was extremely hard to do because I had suppressed any notion of a dream, a wish, or a goal. I couldn’t see any way out but I attempted to the write something each day and came up with a few things that I might want to have, to do, or to accomplish.
Then as we worked through several more weeks, I came to the part where Anthony helped me be clear about my personal life values. I was surprised to see that my personal values aligned so much with the ministry values that I had developed several years earlier. But this time, through Anthony’s help, I began to see a real meaning in how these values had impacted my life for many years and also how I had lived in conflict with virtually all of the 12 values. No wonder I was anxious and conflicted! I could see that if I didn’t bring my life into concert with my personal values I would continue to live in emotional turmoil. None of the other counseling situations even touched on the real root of my personal conflict.
Now I was clear about what was really important to me the next step was to write a letter about my life ten years from now. Since I had written out so many dreams, wishes and goals, this helped create an ideal situation that might actually be true ten years from now. I was in tears while I wrote it out. Tears of hope, tears of desire. I was so encouraged that it might be possible for me to actually have a life of joy and peace; something I’d previously decided was impossible.
The next steps were to write a five and finally one year letter. The one year letter was the hardest. Anthony said that out of the one year letter we would set goals to implement in the near future.
I could see very clearly that the most urgent goal was to bring a finality to my marriage of 24 years it was a major part of the conflict with my life values. I wasn’t living the most important life values to me of freedom, honesty, and surely not authentically. This had to change.
Anthony helped me develop a letter that would communicate clearly and respectfully to my wife the decisions I was making about my future. He talked about creating a foundation based on respect for my wife and myself and with the least harm possible.
After finishing the program, in one week, I sat down with my wife and worked through the letter together. Understandably, initially she was heartbroken, but in my heart of hearts, I knew that this was the very best thing for the both of us. The deep foundational work I did with Anthony’s program prepared me for this very moment. I was confident, and in touch with my own reality, but could also hear my wife’s heart.
It has been over three months now since that day. I have not had one regret for making the decision to separate. My wife has been gracious, respectful and generous with me all through this process. There have been no harsh words, anger, or unhealthy communication between us. There have been honest tears, and a reality that at times has grieved my heart, but at the same time have continued on with what I knew I needed to do.
Anthony’s program was direct, well facilitated, and thorough. Anthony didn’t in any way influence my decision to separate from my wife. Rather he helped me come to grips with my own heart and needs for peace deep in my life.
The dreams, wishes, and goals sheets helped me to come alive again! I have already accomplished over half of them. I have begun to create projects with my artistic desires. I’ve moved into my own residence where the paintings I have done are proudly displayed on my living room wall.
I’ve reconnected with significant family members including my daughters. New friendships are abounding and getting deeper. I’ve reconciled with friends that have been long lost. One man was a former gay partner that I hadn’t seen in thirty years. We are now in contact and have enjoyed wonderful conversations. I’ve watched specific and pertinent videos that were on my goal sheets. I had procrastinated for a long time on many of these things and now have them checked off of my list.
Through a class on meditation, I have found a new way to rest and find peace at the beginning of the day. I find a deeper and richer more honest relationship with God. I have more contentment and confidence at a very deep spiritual level than I ever have.
The list goes on and on for how this program has helped me. I use the benefits each and every day to develop a life more in continuity with who I am and where I want to be in the future.
Thank you Anthony, for taking the time to reach out to me in support and care that life changing day when I thought there was no way through the wilderness.
The breakthroughs have been significant.
John J. Smid
Author of Ex’d Out – how I fired the shame committee
Latest update on John Smid here on the Huffington Post article “John Smid, Former ‘Ex-Gay’ Leader, Marries A Man In Oklahoma”
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