As straight spouses find the support they need with the Straight Spouse Network, inevitably the talk in our face to face and online groups turns to gatherings. What is a gathering?
Gatherings are social occasions, not organized under the sponsorship of the Straight Spouse Network, but by those who connect with people who become friends and then want to have fun, socialize, and take some time for themselves. They can be as simple as a weekend barbecue in someone’s backyard with overnight accommodations at nearby hotels or homes of other straight spouses, or they can be larger events.
The largest and longest running gathering is the Florida gathering, which takes place every fall on the gulf coast. Usually well over a hundred people attend, and enjoy several days of sun, surf, and friendship. In addition to great food, good times, and socializing, there’s a healing circle, and also a tradition known as the burning cauldron – where participants who choose to can write down the negative problems they want to shed, and toss them in the cauldron.
It’s a wonderful time, a great connection with people you may have met only on the phone or online, and very affirming. Yes we do exist. Yes, we do go on. Yes, we do have fun, live, laugh, and make new friendships again. Yes we do go forward.
The Florida gathering has also been a place where some weddings have taken place between participants who have met there, courted, and decide to marry at the place where the relationship began to bloom. Last year, the wedding of Hannah and Michael, the coordinators of the Straight Spouse Network in Australia, was a complete surprise to all – and very meaningful to everyone who was there.
Other gatherings have taken place in Chicago, Colorado, New Jersey, Connecticut, the Grand Canyon, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Sydney, Australia. Not all the gatherings are annual events. We often share information about them on our private email lists and facebook group, and in face to face meetings. Not everyone who wants to attend a gathering is ready to have it known to friends and family what the nature of the group is, so we are not very public with the details.
Reaching out, healing, building bridges. Healing. Moving Forward. That’s what we’re about here!