20-year relationhip on the rocks. I'm jobless, friendless, and scared to death.
December 21, 2010 9:41 AM   Subscribe

I feel like a basket case. I'm 47 years old, and I've been in a 20-year same-sex relationship with another man. I felt like it would last forever. For several years, the relationship was sexless; we did all the normal couples things together - cooked, ate, washed dishes, stressed about the bills, laughed, cried, and took care of each other, but there wasn't much physical attraction any more. I've always been somewhat bisexual, and 2 or 3 years ago, I met a woman on match.com who was cute, seemed nice, and was accepting of my situation. We started dating (with the knowledge, and as far as he acted, the acceptance of my partner). At first, the two of them were sort of circling and sniffing, and I was afraid they would hate each other. As time passed, they became really good friends, and eventually they slept together, which was fine with me. (lots more blathering inside)

We all talked about it, and even had a few group sessions in bed that everyone seemed to enjoy. Then, she and I started getting on each other's nerves; she seems to think I'm a big, self-absorbed pussy who won't take responsibility for my actions or my life, and she comes across to me as cold-hearted and self-centered, and only looking out for herself. We fought and made up a few times, and my partner never really said much. After a while, the two of them started sleeping together regularly, and I was invited to join them on random occasions. Fast-forward to a couple of days ago: She and I had another fight about stupid things. Having very poor short-term memory (about everything), by the next day, I had forgotten most of what was said. She (who seems to have edetic memory for everything she reads or hears, and can quote arguments verbatim from months ago) avoided me the whole day, and was obviously upset. Last night, my partner of 20 years sat me down and explained that he felt our relationship was over, and had been over for some time, and pretty much suggested I should leave. While I was employed in the IT industry, I made many of the monthly house payments, and from my inheritance I dumped over $100,000 into paying off the house we live in and the acreage it's on, and worked hard to build a nice workshop, a garage, a greenhouse, a pony barn (for the woman's animals) and so on, and I really like it here. I've been self-employed doing various things for a couple of years now, and have some income from a rental house I bought and fixed up while I was working, but I have no savings, no career (and no real desire to go back to work for someone else), and no friends. I've been taking medication for depression for many years now, which is expensive. I've bought or built lots of nice power tools for my custom furniture work, which are installed in our nice heated, air-conditioned workshop we built together. We have several cats who mean the world to me, and who I don't think I can handle being separated from. I don't want to move out; the thought terrifies me; but there's no way I could maintain this place on what I make, even assuming he was willing to give up his interest. Without my workshop, I would be faced with taking some kind of McJob, which might be hard to find with the economy in the shitter, and which I swore to myself when I left my last one I'd never do. I don't want to separate the cats, but I don't think I could find a rental that would allow seven of them, and since 3 of them love to go outside, I'd be scared sick something would happen to them if I lived in town. My partner and this woman are (or were) the only real friends I have, so I have basically no support network. The only living relative I have is my older brother who lives in another town, and he and I basically loathe each other, so I feel pretty alone right now. I've considered suicide more than once, but I'd probably want to take the elderly cat who is inseparable from me with me, because she wouldn't understand where I'd gone, and she'd be broken-hearted. What the HELL can I possibly do to even think about beginning to recover from this cluster-fuck? I feel like I'm standing in the middle of the railroad track, staring at the front of an oncoming train and my feet are stuck to the ground. Merry effing Christmas...
posted by Death by Ugabooga to Human Relations (63 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Oh, man. That sounds very rough.

1. Talk to a lawyer about your assets.
2. Talk to a therapist or some other professional about your feelings, because you're saying some really alarming things right now.
posted by xingcat at 9:48 AM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

You need a lawyer right now. Don't do anything until you talk to an attorney. Don't move out, don't sign anything, don't engage in conversation about the future of your assets. You need legal advice about how to protect your financial contributions to the relationship.
posted by decathecting at 9:51 AM on December 21, 2010 [28 favorites]

Definitely see a lawyer. You're probably entitled to half the worth of your property. Your ex will have to buy you out if he wants to stay (or you'll have to buy him out, or most likely the place will have to be sold), and you'll have money to start over somewhere else. And yes, also see a counsellor and talk to whatever friends and family you have. Your entire life is going to change, it's going to be rough on you and it'll take time for you to adjust to it all.
posted by orange swan at 9:57 AM on December 21, 2010

I don't know what state you're a resident of, but it sounds like you're in the middle of a divorce--with all its attendant emotional and financial problems--without the benefit of the legal framework to help you.

Firstly, I would suggest finding a therapist. Your depression medication is likely being prescribed by someone; can this person either help you emotionally or refer you to someone who can? Perhaps the meds are no longer working for you in the way they should, so a change of medication along with a few long discussions would help.

Second, I would consult with a lawyer. Is there a university near you that has a law program? Sometimes student lawyers there are available for a consultation, and usually local lawyers will give the first meeting for free to help you decide if there's something they can do for you. This person should be able to determine what your property interest is in the house, and if it's greater than the 50/50 split that your post implies. If you invested more time, money, and energy into it, perhaps you are entitled to a larger share and can then buy out your ex-partner.

Finally, assuming you can buy out the ex-partner legally, I recommend checking with a mortgage broker or a lender at your bank or credit union. With your self employment history and the rental income, you may be able to finance a loan to buy our your ex-partner and remain in your home. Even if you don't have the money to do it now, you may be able to secure either an order from a court or an agreement from your ex-partner that he will move out and you are required to pay him out of the proceeds from the house if it is ever sold.

I wish you good luck, and please know that you can overcome this.
posted by fireoyster at 9:57 AM on December 21, 2010 [3 favorites]

Lawyer up. Seriously. You've put a lot of money in the house.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:59 AM on December 21, 2010 [3 favorites]

Talk to a lawyer about your contributions to the house/property. It's not clear to me who owns it (maybe I missed that), but even if he does, you might have some kind of equitable or legal stake in its value.

Talk to a therapist ASAP. Really, this is priority #1. Life goes on and you can find a way to be OK, but it sounds like you're in a very bad mental place right now and need help.
posted by J. Wilson at 10:01 AM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you're thinking about suicide, call 911 immediately.
posted by sweetkid at 10:06 AM on December 21, 2010

Seriously, don't put too much stock into the fact that he asked you to move out. That doesn't mean you have to do so, that you're going to lose everything, etc. If you and your partner split up, I'm guessing the most likely scenario is that your house would be sold and you'd get half the proceeds. I doubt you'd simply be left with nothing. Hopefully you'd have enough to get a smaller house with a smaller workshop and could get on ok with that.

It sounds horrible right now, but you're catastrophizing and things are almost certainly not as bad as they seem financially. Get a lawyer and try to figure out with him what's realistic and what isn't. But don't go anywhere - stay in that house until you work out something fair.
posted by hazyjane at 10:08 AM on December 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: We had discussed the possibility of remaining house-mates, but unless his new gf and I can stop hating each other, that will be ugly at best. I don't want lawyers; I want my life back the way it was. If I move out, I'll have no way to support myself. He has (very literally) 5 or 6 tons of metalworking equipment in his half of the shop; I can't expect him to give that up, any more than I want to give up my woodworking tools and space. It feels like if the house is sold, we'd both be getting screwed (possibly permanently) out of things that are important to us, not to mention the crappy market these days. My total average income with the rent is about $800/month, and I have zero savings. No banker in his right mind would make me a loan to buy lunch, let alone to buy a house or a shop. They have this annoying habit of wanting to know you can pay them back. I pay $350/month for health insurance, and that doesn't cover my medication, nor does it cover any therapy because it was a "pre-existing condition". I just want it to stop. All of it.
posted by Death by Ugabooga at 10:11 AM on December 21, 2010

Talk to as many lawyers in you can in your town before you decide which one you are going to hire. Once you hire that lawyer (please note that even if you think you can reconcile you need to seek legal counsel first and then follow through which what your legal counsel suggests) do exactly what the lawyer says, all of your communications with your roommates should be through your lawyer. You are functionally going through a divorce, and that is painful and traumatic, you need to protect yourself financially and emotionally, lawyer up and get counseling.
posted by BobbyDigital at 10:13 AM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Sorry, I just read your response.

Your life is not going to go back to the way it was, I am sorry but that is not an option and the longer you hold onto it the more it is going to hurt you.

You need to take control of your life and try to steer it in a positive direction, I know you said you dont want to be a wage slave, but you need to take responsibility for yourself and do what you have to do to get through this, and that includes making sure you can eat and pay your bills.

Wanting this to stop is not going to stop it, you need to prepare yourself to come through this alright and that is going to take some drastic measures.

Also as the dumper if anybody needs to move out it is him, I am sorry but that is pretty much a rule.
posted by BobbyDigital at 10:17 AM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

I don't want lawyers; I want my life back the way it was.
I sympathize with this, but this is not the likely outcome. You need to talk to a lawyer.
posted by DWRoelands at 10:18 AM on December 21, 2010

Response by poster: I hate, hate, hate lawyers. I think that my (apparently ex) partner is trying really hard to be sane and fair about this whole mess, and from what I've seen most lawyers around here are 1) in it for themselves, and don't really give a sh*t about their clients, and 2) would probably be the biggest homophobes around, thus making me feel even more defensive. I just want to go somewhere far, far away and never come back. Like another country. But I can't bear to leave my cats, because they're the best friends I've ever had. Goddammit.
posted by Death by Ugabooga at 10:20 AM on December 21, 2010

Here's the Suicide Hotline Phone Number for your suicidal ideations. They can give you referrals for professionals that can help you.

Your situation sucks. I agree with the others that say get an attorney, but take care of yourself, first.
posted by 6:1 at 10:21 AM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've considered suicide more than once

You know that whole It Gets Better campaign? Sure, it's aimed at teenagers, but it's meant for everyone. The common message: You have more friends and more resources that you realize.

See a lawyer (definitely, absolutely), a therapist, maybe adjust the meds, go for walks to clear the head. Heck, maybe even sit down with your partner and lay your cards on the table. "All right, it's over. Help me make the transition." You could be surprised at the response.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:22 AM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

OP, you deserve a lot of respect not only for the life you've built, but for the adult decisions you've made as this crisis evolved.

More important than a lawyer right now (though that is potentially very important), is for you to speak to a counselor or therapist truly AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. It will allow you to relax some of that horrible tight guilt-ridden tension you feel in your chest, can help you take the high road toward a good you-centered future with new meaning.

Re-read your response above. You are swatting away all of the sensible lawyer responses--you are trying to say its impossible. This is a tantrum, and I understand. Your anger is fighting your sadness is fighting your love.

It hurts a lot. It is terrifying and you know it.

But you also know it is not the end of you. You deserve to keep much of what you feel you are loosing, but you need some steady guidance to help you keep that self-destructive demon in check.
posted by General Tonic at 10:24 AM on December 21, 2010 [9 favorites]

from what I've seen most lawyers around here are 1) in it for themselves, and don't really give a sh*t about their clients, and 2) would probably be the biggest homophobes around

I'm sure there are networks in your area / state in which LBGT groups recommend gay-friendly legal resources. Heck, you may even be able to reach outside the state for basic advice.

One step at a time. One step at a time.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:24 AM on December 21, 2010 [6 favorites]

It doesn't sound like you're in a good state to be accepting advice right now. What non-self-destructive thing do you do sometimes to help yourself feel better? Do that. When you've calmed down a bit you'll call a lawyer, even though you still won't like the idea, and you'll call your mental health professional of choice too. Those will be the right things to do. But for now, just try and take care of yourself for a little while. It's a rough situation to be in, no doubt, but you can get through this. The life you've been living and expecting is not the only good life available to you.
posted by jon1270 at 10:28 AM on December 21, 2010 [11 favorites]

Please call your therapist. Do this right now.

There will be a time to sort out the lawyers and financials. Right now, you need to contact your mental health professional and discuss the feelings you're having.

Please do this now.
posted by 26.2 at 10:29 AM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Can you figure out a way to divide the house into two apartments or build an apartment over the workshop or something so that you both get to stay, but separately?
posted by AugustWest at 10:31 AM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Can you create a separate space to live on the property? It sounds like you're handy -- could you convert the greenhouse or barn or workshop to a bedroom/apartment of sorts? That could give you some breathing room while you sort through next steps, and the cats might like hanging out with you in the new space. Some exes even make it work (co-owning property, living on the same divided property), though it is rare.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 10:33 AM on December 21, 2010 [5 favorites]

Hey, my cats kept me hanging on after my divorce. Cuddle them and think about how much they love you and need you.

Then, call a therapist. What's happened is devastating for anybody and you really need a third person to state to you over and over again that you are worthwhile and that you deserve to be happy until you believe it.

Next, go the the LGBT Bar website and look for a lawyer in your area. I know you hate lawyers. But you need one, for a few reasons. First, this is a tricky and complicated legal issue. Second, a removed, objective third party can get in there and cover your best interests better than you can right now. You just want it to be over and for it to go away, and I know you'd pay your ex(es?) any amount to make it stop. BUT it is going to be a long process and a lawyer whose emotions aren't tied up in it all will be able to get you out with a little less (financial) pain.

Trust me on getting a lawyer here. I did my own divorce in pro per....I have ALL the credit card debt and ALL the liability. I'm still paying for the washing machine his new girlfriend is washing his clothes in. But I would NEVER let a client walk out a door with a crap deal like that! (IANAL, IAALC). There are lawyers who don't care about their clients, but I'm willing to bet that most of the lawyers on the LGBT Bar are going to care deeply and be very compassionate and vigorous about your case.
posted by motsque at 10:39 AM on December 21, 2010 [7 favorites]

I've known at least one case where former spouses live in the same house, with the new spouse and it seems to work. Good luck.
posted by norbulator at 10:42 AM on December 21, 2010

People are resilient and have gone through much worse situations. It'll get better.

Another vote for a mental health professional *immediately*. If you can't afford one, find a nice non-homophobic church and talk to a minister or something. If there aren't any of those around, you need to go somewhere else ASAP.

You have a lot of options here, but they all hinge upon you being level headed.
posted by pjaust at 10:44 AM on December 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

Everyone's suggestions about seeing a lawyer and therapist are spot on. There are mental health services available in most areas even if your insurance won't pay for it - many therapists see clients on a sliding scale (sometimes it slides all the way down to zero). If you don't know who to call, as well as using the suicide prevention hotline, you could check with your regular doctor for resources, or call a free health clinic in your area - they often either offer mental health services or can refer you to other providers.

Also, if you do stay on your property, you could rent out some of the space to help pay the mortgage. Having a friendly housemate might also be less depressing than living alone. Or you and your partner could still share the workspace on the property while one of you lives somewhere else.
posted by unsub at 10:53 AM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Remember that if you hire a lawyer, you're the boss. Explain that you want to reach a fair settlement and move on amicably and that you don't want to go to trial and try to extract every last possible dime. Your attorney has an ethical obligation to represent your best interests, which includes, you know, what you want.

Your life isn't going to go back to the way it was. You need to accept that fact. Now, if you want to stay in the house, you've already said that's an option if you and your ex's GF can stop hating each other. So stop hating her, or at least stop acting like you hate her, and be civil.
posted by J. Wilson at 11:02 AM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

You say you have no network - call a lawyer, call a therapist, take time to explain your situation to them and take their advice. You will have the first blocks of your new network and your new life in place immediately.
posted by fire&wings at 11:14 AM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think that you need to consider that your ex is either planning on getting a lawyer, or has already met with one, and you do not want to go into this without your own legal guidance.
Also consider the woman, who does not have a high opinion of you, will be influencing your ex and his actions to some degree.
You need to know where you stand and what your rights are with regards to the property. I would think that just knowing that alone would give you a small bit of piece of mind.
posted by newpotato at 11:23 AM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Nthing the idea of somehow remaining on the property but in different living spaces. Maybe you could get a small manufactured house to put on the property? (Which you would both share the cost of paying for. He doesn't get to keep the property just because he's the one with the GF.) Or a get a larger one, and get a roommate, so that you have some company. But in either case, if you can stay on the property, you don't have to divide up the cats, and you won't lose your workspace. And once you are in your own space, you and the GF may eventually stop hating each other so much, and you can all be friends again. Stranger things have happened.

And you have rights in this situation. If you don't want to visit a lawyer, there are websites and phone numbers where you can get some legal questions answered. As unusual as your situation is, it's surely happened to other people too, so their will be laws meant to cover it.

Give your kitties a hug for me. It sounds like it would do you good to hear some purring right about now.
posted by MexicanYenta at 11:24 AM on December 21, 2010 [3 favorites]

Mega-nthing - mental health help, lawyer - in that order, but get both stat.

Your partner does not have a moral right to tell you to leave property that you (mostly) paid for, regardless of how the emotional land lays right now. It's a tall order, but you've got to separate the legal/ownership issues from the relationship baggage.

If all you've got to hang on to right now is your cats, hang on to your cats, bro.
posted by randomkeystrike at 11:27 AM on December 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

Here's a key question. Who's on the title? The mortgage? Both of you? That makes a huge difference as to where you stand.
posted by Oktober at 12:03 PM on December 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

Lawyers are less homophobic than the general population.

You already have experience and infrastructure in renting out realty; maybe you could arrange to rent out your current house, while retaining access to the woodshop and metalshop for you and your partner. Or some other solution: the point is that no part of this situation is hopeless. But you need to talk to an expert who will be able to help you sort through possible solutions.
posted by foursentences at 12:11 PM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

When you consider whether or not to contact a lawyer, think about this woman living under your roof, with your cats, her ponies prancing around the pony barn you built for her.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 12:26 PM on December 21, 2010 [4 favorites]

Ach, you poor thing. Not meaning this to sound flippant, but if the workshop is a good size and is heated, is there any chance you could move in there for a bit or somewhere else on the property, as ClaudiaCenter has also suggested? Something similar happened to a friend of mine who had sank a lot of money into her partner's house and land while she built her business from his home. She didn't want to move as this was where her business was established (a horse riding school and stables, so not somewhere she could move from). She ended up getting a payout from him which she used to build a big cosy cabin on the land, and continued to run the business while still living a fair bit from him and being independent. It was rough at first but now she says she's never been happier.

I know it sounds a bit out there, and of course you need both to talk to a lawyer and have your (ex) partner on board, but if you really don't feel you can move right now it could work for a while. And if it doesn't, well, you've had six months or a year or whatever to think about what you're doing next. Good luck, and hang in there - it will get better.
posted by mudkicker at 12:40 PM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

I really think you should talk to a lawyer, and also get over your misconception that lawyers are more homophobic on average than any other segment of the population (I'd be willing to bet they are less so, as educated people are generally less ignorant and more openminded. Lawyers see all kinds of shit without judging... especially family lawyers). If you live in any major metro, there are going to be orgs of gay-friendly lawyers. You might start by talking to your local LGBT chamber of commerce, if your area has one. This isn't just a gay thing; you're in a pretty unique situation with this third partner in the picture, so you're going to need someone who can help you work out the intricacies of protecting your interests when there are not only one, but two people who might have interests conflicting with yours, and a lot of shared assets. Best of luck.
posted by elpea at 12:43 PM on December 21, 2010

This may help you find an LGBT-friendly lawyer in your area. There are definitely lawyers who are not homophobic, and some of them will be able to give you some good, objective advice and help you figure out what your options are.

This may help you find an LGBT-friendly therapist in your area. Many work on a sliding scale. Just email or call them until you find one you can afford. You deserve help and support. Try this just in case it does lighten your burden.
posted by prefpara at 12:54 PM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Wow, I want to say that is awful. I really feel for you. As everyone here says, you need a lawyer. The whole idea that you should leave your home is not right. Believe me a lawyer will not care if you are gay or not. Good luck.
posted by wandering_not_lost at 12:56 PM on December 21, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks everybody. Very much. With all the trolling and sniping and meanness I see on the web, it's always comes as a pleasant surprise that there are so many caring folks out there, who have more to offer than, "Man up, you pussy!" X/ I'm talking to my partner; he doesn't have a lawyer and doesn't want it to get to that point. He's trying hard to do the right thing by me, I think, even if he's sick of me. He's a pretty good guy in general. The house and almost all of our other property is in both our names, so nothing is going to happen without both of us being involved, and he doesn't want us to lose the place either, so we'll just have to see what we can work out. I'm working on getting an appointment with a therapist, and since so many of you contacted MF admin that I got a personal e-mail from them to make sure I wasn't offing myself, I guess I'll keep that for Plan B. :~/ Thank again, guys. Wish me luck.
posted by Death by Ugabooga at 1:31 PM on December 21, 2010

I am a fellow cat person and I know my kitties have been a source of great comfort for me when I have been in tough times so it's great that you have them! I think if you start reaching out a little by little just like you have done here today you will find that there is more help out there than you think.
A good friend of mine recently got separated and because she left her home for a period of time she wasn't allowed to go back to it without her husband's permission even though her name was on it. Even if you aren't getting divorced it can be good to know what the laws are in your state. I am sending tons of positive thoughts your way and please do let us know what happens!
posted by heatherly at 1:51 PM on December 21, 2010

Best answer: First of all:

Dude. YOU CAN LIVE THROUGH THIS. You know how you live through this? You keep getting up. You know why you should live through this? Because holy crap you're awesome, and you are currently surrounded by some fucktards.

Let's recap: You've basically built your ideal home and workshop and lifestyle and had the confidence to live in a relationship that most of society is still jonesing major-judgmental towards AND you still had the confidence to open that relationship up to a third party.

It just so happens that now you're getting screwed by the people who you thought were your friends and partners.

You shouldn't be in despair. You should be fucking livid. You should be fucking MAD.

You know that cats were never domesticated by humans, right? It is time for you to look at your cats and remember your inner "I have claws."

It is the holiday season so everything feels amplified ten times worse. I get that. These people are in your space, making you CRAZY. I get that. They have seriously broken your heart. I get that too.

But you need to listen to yourself. You're on a loop. A dangerous loop. You're on the loop that has a big blind spot, namely, you have forgotten that you have the ability to set some boundaries, take care of yourself, and make a plan to move on.

So you've come to Metafilter and everyone is saying call a therapist and get a lawyer. They are right, you know. (Although some therapists really suck, so find a therapist you can trust.)

I understand you're on a tight budget, so lets talk about short-term plans too:

Look for a McJob, starting ASAP, so you can 1) get a regular schedule and 2) get some more financial breathing room. I have a McJob right now. A McJob can be a blessing sometimes. I work at fucking Bloomingdale's, dude. I sell underwear to rich bitches. I have a Master's degree. Why do I work at Bloomingdale's? Because I needed a McJob to support my life in another city while I had a year to breathe and be separated from my husband (at whom I was irate). Do not discount the power of a McJob. You will 1) have instant community with your coworkers who also hate the McJob. You will 2) have steady money. You will 3) have a place to go to get the fuck out of your little hell compound currently called home.

Even shorter term?

If you can't stand being in these people's space a second longer, go check into a hotel, take a bath, run up the credit card a little bit (not a lot) and order in some food. Find that book you love or a journal and write out all your anger. Don't feel like you have friends? It'll feel pretty fucking awesome the first time you go see your GLBT-friendly lawyer and tell them everything that's happened. It'll be like the floodgates have opened. And you know what? You'll have someone on your side.

I know lawyers are theoretically shitty and all that and they make us cringe, but do not underestimate the power of having an authoritative legal voice telling you your very real options and a very real plan. My momma LOVED her lawyer during her divorce because he was on her side the whole time.

I'm totally gonna end on a cheesy quote because I fucking love cheesy quotes when I need motivation to keep going. Maybe you do too.

"We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us." -E.M. Forster

(Keep us updated.)
posted by whimsicalnymph at 1:55 PM on December 21, 2010 [23 favorites]

Best answer: Hey, Death by Ugabooga, it sounds like you're in a really overwhelming, shitty situation. Maybe you should talk to a lawyer--that sounds reasonable to me, but I also hear that you're feeling overwhelmed right now. You've just heard some really awful news, and you don't know what to do, and you don't know where to turn to, and it sounds like you feel like your life is falling apart and there's no one there to help you.

I think that before you can address all the practical and legal questions, you need to address your emotions. That might seem overwhelming too, so just take things one step at a time. I once read a really great piece of advice that went something like this--when you feel like everything is shitty, ask yourself: is there one thing that you can do to make things just slightly better?

I think that you need to address your emotions first because you're thinking about suicide. I've been there, believe me. I know how strong the desire to just want to stop everything can be. It sounds like you're feeling that pretty strongly right now--you mentioned thinking about taking one of your cats with you, so you've thought at least a bit about the actual planning of it. That's pretty serious and scary to hear, but I don't want you to feel like you can't talk about it here. Sometimes when people say, "You should talk to a therapist", what that sounds like to me is, "This is too much for me, you are sick, you are not normal, I can't deal with what's happening in your life right now, talk to someone else." (Please don't misunderstand, I'm not knocking therapy--therapy is great and has helped me a lot. I just also want to talk with other people in my life.)

I think definitely you should talk to someone, and it sounds like you don't feel like there's anyone to talk to. When I've felt that way before, I've sometimes called a crisis line. That might seem strange or uncomfortable, to talk to someone you don't even know about the most personal, intense things, but that's pretty much what you're doing now, here. And we're strangers on the internet and we're all answering you because, even though we don't know you at all, we care about you at least a little bit. We want you to get through this. We want you to someday to be able to say, "Wow, that was a really awful few weeks, but I'm so glad I didn't kill myself because now I'm here, enjoying all of this." I want you to be able to say that, Death by Ugabooga.

I want to share a bit about my own story--I tried to kill myself once, when I was seventeen. I was queer and going to a private religious school and being sexually abused by my father. Different kind of shitty, but still shitty, and still connected to being queer and not feeling secure in my home and not feeling like I could talk with anyone. But you know what? After I took a few pills, I stopped. I realized I didn't want to die. There's too much in the world that I loved, too much that I wanted to experience.

And I don't think you want to die either, Death by Ugabooga. Or at least a part of you doesn't. That's the part of you that posted here, that is reaching out, asking for help in the ways you know how to. I'm really glad you did that, rather than keeping it all silent and wrapped up inside of you. I hope you keep doing that. Keep talking about it. Keep asking for help, even if some people don't know what to say or get judgey or weird about it.

(I know I'm writing a lot--it's because this strikes home for me and because I really do want you to make it through this.) The other thing I want to say is, and please discard this if it doesn't feel right or helpful to you, is I wonder if wanting to kill yourself stems from anger, from turning your anger against yourself. I know for me that has often been true. It's like part of you wants to respond to your partner and say, "Oh yeah? You want me to leave? Well, fine, I'll fucking leave, I'll go as far away as I can." And you know what? It's good that you're angry. You should be pissed, because your partner is being a dick right now. I hope you can channel that anger--not by like screaming at him or something--but write him a letter that you're not going to send, or write FUCK YOU in your diary a hundred times, or find a pillow and strangle it a lot, or go off in the woods and slam branches into the ground until they break. Because he's hurt you a lot, very deeply, and it's totally normal for you to feel like you want to hurt him back and it makes sense that you would see killing yourself as a way to do that and/or that you feel guilty about wanting to hurt him and so redirect that urge to yourself. But the bottom line is, I hope you can use your anger as fuel to do what you need to do in order to survive.

I know this is long, so I'm going to wrap up by saying: You are not alone. I know it might feel that way, but lots of people have wanted to kill themselves, lots of people have gone through terrible times and made it through stronger and happier to the other side. I know you will too.
posted by overglow at 2:03 PM on December 21, 2010 [6 favorites]

Posted without previewing, so I didn't see your latest comment DbU. Glad to hear that you're seeing a therapist and that you and your partner are talking things out and that you're not immediately in danger of losing your place to live. Good luck!
posted by overglow at 2:07 PM on December 21, 2010

Response by poster: whimsicalnymph: Thanks - I appreciate all the positive thoughts and suggestions. And yes, I do feel betrayed, but my partner, at least, really is trying to keep my best interests in mind. To use my own cheesy quote, "I'm not angry - just very disappointed." That may change, but I really still do care for my partner, and I don't harbor any real ill-will toward the woman, either. When I get wound up, I can say some pretty mean things, but I generally don't mean most of them and have forgotten them by the next day, whereas the other folks often take them to heart. I don't know how many different ways I can say it to try to get them to understand that I have a problem with that and I know it. Sometimes it feels like I have a wooden leg and even though I keep explaining that I have trouble with it, it gets held against me when I step on someone's foot with it. I'll consider all of your suggestions about jobs, though. Thanks.
posted by Death by Ugabooga at 2:14 PM on December 21, 2010

Talk to as many lawyers in you can in your town before you decide which one you are going to hire.

I've heard this advice before---what heard was that you should get as many free first time consultations as possible, because the lawyers you visit cannot then represent your partner.

I'm not sure it's true--the advice was given to a female married friend of mine. She had far less money and was told to go to the expensive lawyers that her husband would be likely to hire.

I live in a small city, though.
posted by vitabellosi at 2:26 PM on December 21, 2010

A good therapist can help as a substitute for part of a network, and to that end, having someone knowledgeable and experienced with the emotional ride you're going to be taking is a very, very good idea.

As for the lawyers. First, we tend to be far more educated than the average member of your local population. Sure, some of us are bigoted assholes, but I think they're the exception rather than the rule. Second, it is the role of the lawyer to achieve the lawful goals of the client, rather than to set the goals. Third, you can and should consult with a lawyer just to learn your rights, rather than to start trying to reach agreement based on uninformed speculation. Finally, there are lots of lawyers who care about their clients and their client's cause; it's an unfortunate truth that lawyers have to eat too. (First born children are not very nutritious, I guess.)

Ask for referrals for an attorney who isn't a schmuck. You shouldn't have too much trouble.
posted by Hylas at 3:14 PM on December 21, 2010

It may sound trite, but all you can do right now is put one foot in front of the other and move forward (however slowly) towards a better future. Even if the only thing you do today is ask around for a recommendation for a therapist or lawyer or call a crisis hotline so you can have someone to talk to or write a letter to your SO expressing your feelings (that you do not send), or even do some woodworking or pet your kitty cats for 4 hours, doesn't matter... just so long as you are moving forward. Tomorrow, you can do one more thing.

That said, I agree with the others that counseling and a visit with a lawyer are necessary and should be handled sooner rather than later. The lawyer will likely have to help you and your partner get legally unentangled even if it is amicable. And please do not let your fear that all lawyers are a bunch of homophobic jerks stop you from consulting with a lawyer. There are many gay lawyers (my law partner for one), and I honestly know very few who are homophobic. You simply have too much invested in the property to just walk away without understanding what your rights are.

But for today and in the days that come, just keep taking small steps forward.
posted by murrey at 3:21 PM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

One of my friends is a lady married to a lady, at least for the next 60 days. Seeing the wicked divorce she just went through, my advice is yes, do talk to a lawyer. If you don't like the lawyer, find another one. But there are plenty who aren't out for themselves, who aren't homophobes, but are good people who use the law to help. Even if things go amicably, you still should talk to a lawyer — there's a surprising (at least to me) number of restrictions on what you can do with shared property, and it's never a good idea to rely purely on the good will of someone else to make sure you're taken care of.
posted by klangklangston at 4:55 PM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

That sounds really rough, and I'm sorry. It's understandable that you're overwhelmed and depressed by all this... hang in there, just because it's hard to imagine a way things can work out doesn't mean it's impossible that there is one.

I agree with everyone else that you should see a lawyer-- it doesn't have to be a confrontational thing, it's about understanding your rights-- but if you are absolutely dead-set against it, how about looking for a professional mediator? Someone who is professionally trained to help people resolve issues in the most beneficial way possible for both? My understanding is that this is fairly common for amicable divorces, and there appear to be folks out there who specialize in GLBT break-ups. This person may be able to help you guys identify what is most important to each of you, what is totally unacceptable, etc, and come up with solutions you both can live with. You've got a tangled mess of issues that make it hard to figure out a livable solution for you both, so if you both really want to do right by eachother but can't see how to make it work, you should consider seeing if a professional can help you figure it out.

Mediate.com has a directory of mediators and you can search for those specializing in gay and lesbian issues, which presumably are primarily around relationship breakups. (Here's an article on their site about mediation in gay divorce cases, and here's one which talks about how mediation for divorcing couples works more generally.)
posted by EmilyClimbs at 5:03 PM on December 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

Definitely still get a lawyer, its not an act of aggression towards your ex; its a protective move towards yourself.
posted by fshgrl at 5:18 PM on December 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Okay. Well, after my partner (ex-partner?) got home tonight, we sat down and had a long talk, free of distractions and drama. We have tentatively agreed that we will both continue to share the house, and that he will go to the woman's apartment to see her and/or spend the night (possibly on weekends). We will consider ourselves friends and roommates, and act accordingly. I will thus avoid conflicts with his female friend by not being in the same space at the same time, except for possibly prearranged dinners out together or similar situations. He will be free to date her or whoever he wishes, and I will do likewise. We will continue to share shop facilities, expenses, etc. I'm hopeful that this will be satisfactory for all involved, including his girlfriend, who will continue to keep her horses here and stop by to feed them as necessary. I hope that she and I can get to a point where we can at least exchange a friendly wave in passing, if we don't have to be in each other's space otherwise. Time will tell. Again, thanks everybody. And for the record, the LGBT Bar website doesn't have a single listing for anyone in Nebraska, so tell all your gay cowboy lawyer friends to get with the program...
posted by Death by Ugabooga at 5:26 PM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Wow, that's a pretty fine mess my friend. However I agree with countless others -- especially given your follow-up comments -- that you'll be able to get through this.

It sounds like you have the space and know-how to make a loft or cabin happen on the property, keeping everyone as happy as possible and civil.

You're obviously a capable person. Don't forget this. You're not a loser and I am quite sure the eventual outcome will be better than you envision right now.

All the best.
posted by raider at 5:33 PM on December 21, 2010

Good for you.
posted by raider at 5:35 PM on December 21, 2010

Well yeah, Nebraska. But then I found two gay-friendly law firms on gaylawnet.com. McClellan's website doesn't say anything directly about gay-specific advocacy, but Koenig's does. Best of luck!
posted by motsque at 6:25 PM on December 21, 2010

Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) has a legal hotline. It's focused on New England, but they should have lawyer referrals for your state, and this way you'd be talking to an actual person who answers the hotline. My friends volunteered there in law school and said it was great.
posted by zahava at 6:34 PM on December 21, 2010

Death by Ugabooga -

This all sounds terrible. My heart goes out to you.

It sounds like you might not need a lawyer, and I can't advise you on whether a lawyer is appropriate. But I am also in Nebraska, and I do know that we have LGBT-friendly attorneys here.

A good bet might be Koenig & Tiritilli, an Omaha firm that focuses both on divorce cases and LGBT issues. (In 2008, Susan Koenig was an honorary chair of the Nebraska AIDS Project's Night of a Thousand Stars fundraiser, and the firm has advocated for LGBT rights in the state.)

Seriously, this will get better. And if you're ever in Omaha, I would be glad to buy you a beer.
posted by Sfving at 8:08 PM on December 21, 2010

OK, DbU. I've waited a long time to post to this thread, and I hope you check back and see this.

I've read all of your updates. Here is the lay of the land you are standing on. I am not wrong in what I am about to tell you, and I hope very much you take it to heart...

It's lovely that you are being so magnanimous and believe in the Good Will of your ex-partner. The good will of your former friend and his now-girlfriend, however, is another matter entirely.

She has designs on your life. She wants your spot in your partner's life and in your home. She wants to knock you out of the game, so to speak. She will not quit. Having her horses on your property and sleeping with your ex partner has given her a very solid footing. She is not going away.

Now. If you are a very savvy political operator, you may be able to weather her influence upon your ex and his decisions. By your own admission though, things you say are often taken out of context and she sincerely has your ex's sympathies in ways you no longer do.

You MUST go and privately interview a few lawyers in the coming weeks to find one you like, just so that you have someone to call should the urgent need arise. You have a chance to get ahead of the storm right now - DON'T GO BACK TO SLEEP.

If I had to guess, I'd say this woman is motivated by a sense of survival and a deep deep fear of instability as she enters the next phase of her life. Your ex and your home represent material things she sorely lacks, and she wants. If she was fulfilled inside, none of this craziness would have come up between the three of you. What she is doing probably isn't personal against you, she just sees a weakness between you and your ex and is following through on her desires.

If she's as smart as I think, as savvy a political operator as she seems reading between the lines of your posts and updates, then I predict she will bide her time for now. But sooner or later, she will make your ex into her agent and you will end up the Bad Guy in a future disagreement or conflict that may catch you by surprise when it comes. Again, she's not a bad person per se, she's just following her agenda to its logical conclusion. The pattern is there, she's made it this far - you have no reason to hope she'll suddenly decide she's got enough and quit.

Please don't go back to sleep. Get your ducks in a row. Get a therapist and start processing what's already happened and what is yet to come. Be smart. You can come out of this stronger. You have a wonderful opportunity to take really good care of yourself right now, and I hope you make the most of this moment. Taking care of yourself now will see you well through whatever comes next in your life, even if everything goes by the plans you and your ex have agreed to today!

posted by jbenben at 9:27 PM on December 21, 2010 [17 favorites]

Response by poster: jbenben: Thanks - I did come back and see your post. I sincerely hope your suspicions are misplaced, but similar thoughts have crossed my mind. I'm in the process of making an appointment to see a therapist, and I'll try to get some lawyer referrals from her. Both my ex and his girlfriend read this board, so they'll be reading all of this as well, I'm sure. I'm not sure if that's good or bad, but as someone who at least _tries_ to keep things in the open, I'm kind of glad. Maybe reading what I've said, and what others have said, will facilitate communication in ways just trying to talk to them can't. We'll see. Thanks again for your thoughts.
posted by Death by Ugabooga at 7:14 AM on December 22, 2010

I'd read jbenben's advice over, and over, and over.

"She has designs on your life. She wants your spot in your partner's life and in your home. She wants to knock you out of the game, so to speak. She will not quit. Having her horses on your property and sleeping with your ex partner has given her a very solid footing. She is not going away."

Girl's gonna try and take what's yours - she won't accept the situation as it stands now forever. If they get more serious - or even if they break up and he dates someone else and THEY get serious - what then? Most people aren't going to be satisfied with being the girlfriend/boyfriend forever. They're going to want to move in together. Own stuff together. Have their own little private world. Then what will you do?

So make a plan. Things might be ok in the short-term, but how can they possibly stay as they are forever? They simply can't, as both of you will move on.
posted by Windigo at 7:48 AM on December 22, 2010

"Both my ex and his girlfriend read this board, so they'll be reading all of this as well, I'm sure."

While no one involved in this mess is blameless (in case anyone was thinking I'm instigating a pile-on here!) there are a ton of red flags within the situation that lead me to believe the girlfriend is the one behind the actual trouble and distress involved. It seems like the relationship with the partner was coming to a Major Shift. I simply doubt it would have gotten so ugly so fast (or at all) without a particular sort of outside influence.

Anyone who creates an "either/or" scenario is interested in "winning", ONLY.

DbU, you and partner share an established home. If gf was really interested in keeping things on the up-n-up between herself and partner and you, she would have graciously, quietly, and of her own volition removed her horses from the property the minute things turned hinky between the three of you -- even if that caused her great expense, even if both you and the partner swore removing the horses from the property was unnecessary. Or maybe she would leave the horses there temporarily, but she would start dating the partner outside of your shared home and they would have naturally transitioned to meeting at her apartment, or whatever, instead of sticking around and getting into multiple altercations with you.

DbU, you don't speak to this directly in any of your posts, but there is a clear pattern of the girlfriend being present a lot, and then "accidentally" trouble ensues between the two of you. She could just as easily continue growing her relationship with your partner under much much less contentious circumstances.

I've known a few folks who were masterful at making it seem like it's always the other guy's fault. Funny thing is, if the troublemaker was habitually making choices with integrity, maturity and thoughtfulness, they wouldn't forever be winding up "at the wrong place at the wrong time" for trouble to start.

Since the problems with this person generally start in your home DbU, I have to go with the premise that gf is the one continually inserting herself into the mix exactly where someone with a bit more character or conscious would bow out. It wouldn't matter how much you or your partner protested, she would simply do the right thing, especially with the hope of strengthening her bond with partner.


DbU, I'm glad you saw my initial post. I hope it all goes well down the road!
posted by jbenben at 10:43 AM on December 22, 2010 [3 favorites]

DbU, I have no specific advice to add here but I would like to say the following:

1. If I could favorite jbenben's last post 100 times, I would.
2. Yes to the McJob. Maybe sign up with a number of temp agencies as well. Income, contact with others however superficial, and also you can keep your ears open for opportunities for good freelance work or making new friends or all kinds of things.
3. But get a lawyer first.
4. You seem to be a person with excellent problem-solving skills. Have faith that (with the necessary professional/legal help) you can in fact figure this one out.
5. You also seem to be a generous and compassionate person and if you removed yourself from the world, it wouldn't just be a loss to your cats. I think you have far more to contribute than you realize.
6. And I also think that if you can win this one you can go on to give and receive so much more. In fact I think you will win and that as a result your life will become so much better than it is now. So don't give up.
posted by tel3path at 1:19 PM on December 22, 2010

Response by poster: After the tragic death of Bill Zeller (who I didn't know, but sounded like a good guy with more pain than he could live with), I heard from Jessamyn, checking in on me. I'm still here. Still talking to my former mates. Seeing a therapist to try to get my head screwed on straight, but it's going to take some time. I've started to realize that it wasn't just the thought of losing my partner that sent me off the deep end (although goodness knows that hurt plenty). I've always had some pretty serious anxiety issues, and it seems like as the years pass, they bubble up to the surface more and more. I'm not sure why; I'm reading a couple of books - one of which is "The Tender Heart: Conquering Your Insecurity" by Joseph Nowinski, Ph.D. I recognize myself in several of the examples he gives of people he's treated. His theory is that insecurity comes from a combination of being born with an above-average sensitivity to feelings, combined with a traumatic "abandonment" event while you were a child, or with a series of repeated, less-traumatic events involving feeling abandoned by your parents, etc. If you have an interest in this, I'd recommend the book based on the half I've read so far. I'm just going to try to keep plugging away, writing a journal, seeing the therapist, and trying to get through each day as best I can. Some are better than others, and even though I generally feel pretty good by evening, every morning I wake up feeling some of the same nameless dread I began with. I can't say that I'm enjoying life a lot right now, at least most of the time, but I'm still here. Thanks again to the kind folks here who took the time to address my freaking out, and especially to Jessamyn, who looked in on me via personal e-mail a couple of times. It's almost like having a guardian angel. :-)

posted by Death by Ugabooga at 3:01 PM on January 6, 2011 [4 favorites]

I don't have a lot of advice to contribute, but for what it's worth, I'm really sorry for your predicament. I hope it doesn't sound condescending to say it will eventually get better. Take care of yourself.
posted by althanis at 12:17 PM on January 7, 2011

Response by poster: In case anyone is still watching this thread, I'd like to take the time to thank all of you again for your support, and to let you know that my partner and I have worked out a deal on our mutual real estate holdings and a lot of other details. With the help of a good therapist, I've worked through the whole, "OMFG - my life is over!!!" bit and (aside from feeling like a complete tool for freaking out so badly) I'm doing pretty good these days. I have a job, which I generally enjoy (although it kind of kicks my ass physically; I went from couch-potato to being on my feet 8-10 hours a day, often 55 hours a week, doing fairly heavy mechanical work). The cats and I are doing well, and I'm starting to think about what I want to do with my life again. Thanks again, and take care, all. :-)

posted by Death by Ugabooga at 3:47 PM on May 27, 2011 [12 favorites]

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