Hi everyone. Where do I begin?? And how am I supposed to tag this freaking post…? *Sigh*. I am… beyond emotionally drained as this week sorta starts to come to a close. Please read down to the end if you care about understanding the extreme grief and trauma I’ve been going through since Monday.
I came out to my podcasting partner as asexual not too long before we started the podcast, so around March or April of this year. This partner of mine is a guy who’s 52 years old – only a year younger than my father – and I came out via online messaging back and forth, giving him a link to a far-from-perfect podcast episode to listen to which I knew he then did listen to, etc. I told him about my… “well… he isn’t really my boyfriend per se, but kinda close” person in my life, Robert, and tried to explain a little about our relationship. My podcasting partner is straight and cis, but since he wasn’t asking questions, I kinda figured he was understanding the broad strokes of what I was saying.
Then, in early June, I spent a weekend with Robert, and a lot of the time we were also with my podcasting partner. (This happened to be the first weekend I actually “met” my podcasting partner in meatspace.) During a casual lunch between the three of us, the topic of tattoos came up, and Robert happened to ask me if I had any tattoos – clearly I didn’t on the parts of my body that were visible given the clothes I usually wear, but you know, we’ve never even been swimming together and have never had much of an opportunity to see that much of each other’s skin. It did cross my mind, at the time, that this was “flaunting” how “asexual” our relationship was in front of my podcasting partner. But that fact only amused me, if anything. I told Robert I didn’t, and then asked him if he had any tattoos.
Not long after the weekend was over, one of the co-organizers of my local ace meetup group asked if I’d be interested in being interviewed sometime “today” (I believe it was a Monday or a Tuesday) about asexuality for an article they were writing in a local newspaper about the entire LGBTQIA+ acronym, which I assumed (correctly) they were trying to put out in time for pride.
I decided to say yes to being interviewed for the newspaper article.
I decided to use the excitement of “I’m about to be interviewed for a newspaper article!” as an excuse to, on that day, also come out as asexual to a group of people of which my podcasting partner is also a part. Go big or go home, they say. Right? So yeah, I decided to really go all out (pun intended) that day!!
At this point my podcasting partner brought up that he “knew there were different ways to be asexual, and for some people that means they only have sex under certain circumstances or something” but that “Robert asking you about if you have tattoos or not”… “it seemed like a weird thing for a boyfriend not to know” and he was just you know, curious to understand more about my asexuality.
And I was grateful for the opportunity to explain more about my asexuality to him, and I was glad he asked, but it also kinda hurt a little, in that jarring kind of way which I feel like I’m never gonna get used to but that keeps happening over and over, to realize how rarely I am fully understood by the people I am closest to in my life. My podcasting partner may be twice my age and someone I’ve only seen in person on one occasion, but he has kind of become one of my closest friends in my life, and for him to know for months I had a queerplatonic partner and was aromantic-ish and asexual yet still be surprised “that I wasn’t having sex with my boyfriend” – well like, come on dude. What’s even the point of coming out.
And more importantly, why does it so often feel impossible to properly be “out” in a way that makes me feel fully respected, accepted, and also understood? Because that is what I want. I have this huge desire for the world, and especially the people I care about, to understand me in a deeper way than they do if they are assuming I’m straight, or if they’re guessing I’m a lesbian, or whatever they may or may not be thinking depending on what they know about me. And while I can, most of the time, be okay with people not understanding me, it takes something out of me to be okay with it. It takes some kind of strength, to have this desire and yet to accept that the desire often will not be able to be met. It’s all tied into the concept of resilience.
A day later, and we are still struggling to find words to address the tragic murder of Jennifer Smith by her husband Scott and his subsequent suicide. Before and beyond all else, we are thinking with love, sorrow and compassion of the children, family and friends — but especially the children — left behind.
The fact that Scott was an active member of two organizations with which this community overlaps, Recovering from Religion and Military Atheists and Freethinkers, necessitates that we reach out to those who are currently overwhelmed by sadness, anger and confusion.
If you are suffering, we are here for you. We ask only that you remember that Grief Beyond Belief is here as a source of comfort and support. Please limit all comments to expressing your emotions and asking for support if you are personally affected, and offering support and words of kindness and compassion. Please do not criticize or debate anyone else’s feelings. All our usual conditions of participation apply.
[GBB offers support to people grieving without faith. Please do not post religious or spiritual comments.]
Emily, I cannot help thinking of you today. I have no idea what you are going through and no words. But if there is anything I can do, even just listen, please do not hesitate to ask.
I pretty much never offer personal support within the community, because I can’t offer it to everyone. I usually just refer people to the group. But given the circumstances and the public nature of Scott’s death and your loss, I can imagine you might need private and confidential support.
You don’t need to answer now. I just want you to know the offer stands if you need to talk.
Thinking of you with so much compassion,
My heart is shattered, utterly broken by all of this. I’ve cried so much in the past ~30 hours especially. The last thing Scott ever texted me, a week before his death and his wife’s too, was his children’s names and ages because I’d asked their exact ages again. He and Jennifer wanted to have one last really nice thanksgiving together as a family before announcing the officialness of the divorce to them the next day. I didn’t know that last detail till after the tragedy but I did know they were doing a cute Charlie Brown thanksgiving food reenactments the Wednesday before. And I’d forgotten the exact age breakdown of the girls! And Scott immediately prior was saying he was dreading every task of every day, dreading this coming Christmas with the divorce hanging over them, but he unprompted assured me he wasn’t suicidal. I should’ve… I could’ve… I feel a LOT… if you tell me it’s not my fault I’ll start crying again. I know from experience.
I had hoped he could hang in there, offered my sympathy and wish that he try to enjoy a little bit of the holiday if he could and he said he’d try. I chatted with him on the phone also the day before, Sunday the 19th, about starting up our podcast again. We had gone on an unannounced hiatus because of Scott’s… Dealing with his marriage falling apart and everything else that meant for him.
I’ve never heard a bad thing about Jennifer, never got the chance to meet her, and I’m going to try my best to go out to her funeral. In Texas. Where I’ve never been. Across the country.
When I realize Scott isn’t going to get a funeral, and that’s fair and understandable and makes perfect sense in these circumstances, the world again is so not fair and not understandable to me that I start crying again. I’m an emotional wreck, and I finally kinda let my dad and my brother both of whom I live with realize just how much I’m hurting. Or. Some degree of it. I’d been I guess hiding my grief too well. (From them. Not from so many of my sounding board friends… )
It’s not just grief, it’s totally a trauma too, and it’s hard to feel all of it at once. I like one person talking on his wall about anger and sadness canceling emotion out to numbness except I’m past the numbness now I’m pretty sure and full into on the verge of tears constantly.
I wonder how I’ll be going forward. I wonder if it still has any further worse to get before it gets better. I… I think it does and that scares me a little. But not really that much. I am just broken and need to give myself time. I know I’ll heal, even from this. His… *Their* daughters are the ones who have SUCH a harder road ahead than me, and I just wish there was a way to turn back time for their sakes, even wish Scott had just died by suicide and not become a murderer. And I didn’t wish Scott to die. I in fact used the word wish to him one month ago yesterday. Repeatedly. Scrolling through my texts to October 28th “About your situation with Jennifer I really wish you didn’t have to go through that.” And a couple texts later “I wish there was more I could do to help or make it less painful”. I was sincere then. And now. Now I’m sincere in not knowing what to feel but knowing if he just died by suicide in his home but Jennifer was not at all involved in his choice? It would be infinitely better.
I expect to be reeling over this for a very long time. Thanks for providing a forum where I can share and cry while I write this. I’m gonna try to get 6.5 hours of sleep now.
(I really wish I could afford to take time off work because that’s been the hardest thing in some practical ways. I’m. Managing I guess. I’m trying to wait until the funeral to use my limited remaining PTO. I’m… Doing a lot of “slacking off” in a super not fun way as I obsess over Scott thoughts and inundate friends with them and cry at work and try not to let my co-workers really see…)
I just hurt. I haven’t even shared so much of it right here. There’s like an entire book of things I’ve already thought of or felt and another book I’m not prepared for yet that I’m sure is coming. But for my own sanity I am gonna cry myself to sleep now and stop typing this Facebook post on my phone from bed.
You can hear me talk about this stuff here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NjAxOJjs_zI or if you prefer, http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/podcast/a-murder-in-san-antonio-1 (downloading or streaming here.) – I’m impressed I didn’t cry at all on the podcast.
We recorded it last night. I test listened and gave my seal of approval of it becoming public to thousands of listeners, possibly tens of thousands, and the other 3 people speaking to Seth Andrews needed to find time to listen and give their seal of approval too before it went public. My own podcast was never nearly as popular as The Thinking Atheist btw. That show has had really impressive reach for a long time now. (Blog post edited/updated once it was released to have this paragraph reflect that.)
I am so grateful for the atheist and skeptic and freethinking community I’ve had around me in this grief, mainly people who actually volunteered with me at Recovering from Religion, an organization whose mission I still believe and an organization that
even now I still volunteer forhas just right now kicked me out/terminated my position as a volunteer immediately for writing this blog post because they saw it and saw me in a previous version of it, down near the end, violating their copyright policy and offering to privately share episodes of my podcast. I had been skirting the line and hoping they wouldn’t see but because the podcast is “The Official Broadcast of RfR” I have no right to do this. *sigh*. This is my life now. I have a lot of feelings about this but they are hard to feel quite yet. Mainly just resignation mingled with frustration and anger but enough resignation that… okay. Anyway…
But there are a few from some local secular meetups I’ve gone to who have become dear friends who have expressed sympathy.
I donated 2 hours ago without wanting my message public over on the GoFundMe itself, so I checked the “privately” box, and did so with this message:
I am beyond devastated that all of this transpired, as Scott’s other half for the podcast, his podcasting co-host. I know I was one of Scott’s closest friends and I am still in the early stages of struggling to believe this happened at all. Of course Jennifer never in a million years would’ve deserved this. I pretty much only knew who Jennifer and these girls are through what Scott would say about them and their lives as a family, and through those words, I still was already picturing all four of them as vibrant souls. It pains me that I never got the chance to meet and know Jennifer.
I hope these three sisters find a way to lean on each other as children who each at least have two other allies going through the most painful thing imaginable at the same time. I hope they can find a way to grow up happy and healthy. And I know $150 is not nearly as much money as this fundraiser needs but I’m also asking my entire extended family, aunts and uncles, to help these three girls because in my grief, this would mean so much to ME too, if they were to donate and want to help you. I’m glad the atheist & specifically the secular podcasting community is coming together to get the word out about this fundraiser to so many people too.
“The weird, weird thing about devastating loss is that life actually goes on. When you’re faced with a tragedy, a loss so huge that you have no idea how you can live through it, somehow, the world keeps turning, the seconds keep ticking.”
― James Patterson