Saturday, April 15, 2006

THE BEGINNING

This is really difficult for me... writing about my thoughts isn't, but sharing those thoughts with the world is new and strange and exciting all at the same time.

I'm scared...

I'm so alone...

I'm not sure that anyone will care what I have to say, and that is okay... as long as this anonymity of the Internet allows me the freedom to search my inner thoughts and feelings and come to some logical conclusion of what I'm going to do in my life from now on.

I find myself at a turning point, one that frightens me to the point of immobility. I am contemplating acting on thoughts and feelings I've faught to suppress my whole life. Thoughts that I've been "taught" to not even have.

As a starter, I guess some key background is required... I am an active and devout member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My membership in the LDS faith has shaped and molded my life from the beginning. It is a central core foundation of who I am. I believe in its teachings and in the principles of the Gospel and accept Christ as my Savior. I have a firm belief in the Plan of Happiness, in that God loves each of us, we are His children, and he wants us to have JOY! I have felt that JOY and have tasted the fruits of the Spirit and know for myself of spiritual truths. (As a point of reference only, I mention that I served an "honorable mission", served in two bishoprics as a 1st Counselor, served on the High Council, and as a Young Men's President).

Additionally, I am "happily" married to a wonderfully loving and beautiful woman for over two decades now, and we have been blessed with children that bring much JOY to our lives. Our temple marriage has brought us strength and unity as we've faced the struggles of everyday life. We live in a peaceful neighborhood with good friends and supportive neighbors around us.

I am gainfully employed and find JOY in my profession and it brings me satisfaction and financial security. We are fortunate to enjoy the bounties of life and search for ways to help those around us.

Okay... so "What's the point?" you may ask. "If your "ideal" life is so JOYFUL, then what's the ANGST?"

The angst is that over the course of the last few years, I have finally come to grips with the FACT that I am gay. I desire men. (Though I find it degrading and shallow in defining onself, on the Kinsey scale I would rank myself between a 4.5 and a 5). And this revelation, internal confirmation, personal awakening, or whatever you may want to call it, has begun to tear my world apart. I'm sure for some, there may be applause in the background, and maybe someday I will find JOY enough in my soul to applaud with you, but for now, at this moment, I feel anxiety, uncertainty, self-doubt, and confusion.

You may also ask... "Why did it take you so long?" I guess my answer to this is complicated. I have always known that I was different. My story isn't new or revealing. I felt astracized from other boys at an early age, I was shy and timid and pulled back from engaging with other boys, I hated competitive sports, my best friends were always girls etc. etc. None of that really bothered me. I didn't mind being a loner... I could sit for hours and draw and create things by myself and it didn't concern me that I wasn't outside playing with the other kids. You've heard it all before... But, as I was growing up, I didn't know what "gay" even was. It wasn't talked about and if I even had an idea about it, I knew that it was "bad" and so I shunned any feelings during my early adolescent years. It wasn't until later in junior high and high school that I felt things toward good looking guys, athletic guys, muscular guys, that I felt something was going on... I always chalked it up as "envy" and searched for ways to conceal these thoughts. My family teachings and core beliefs couldn't acccept any "sexual" connotation to these feelings. Sex was never talked about in my home. It was taboo and off limits...

It was easy for me to be a "worthy priesthood holder" as I didn't have problems with girls, porn, masturbation and the like. I may talk more about this later... but I was raised to be ready to serve a mission worthily and prepare for the temple. That was all that mattered. My lack of dating girls or lack of relating well with boys my own age didn't really matter. I was "going through a phase" and those things would work themselves out.

Serving a mission was very natural. By this time, I was worried about "feelings" I had for good-looking guys (and I found many guys to be good-looking), but I never acted on those feelings, so confronting them with the Bishop never happened as nothing ever happened. I prayed to the Lord fervently to keep those feelings hidden away during my mission and as I served "faithfully", he would bless me to have those feelings kept locked away. For the most part, this "deal" with the Lord worked and I was able to serve well and loved my mission! It was the first time that I started opening up, pealing away the layers of my hard shell and letting others inside me and opening up myself to others. I found I could relate to guys my age, I could be articulate and engaging with strangers, and I could be an effective teacher and tool in the Lord's hands. It was exciting to see me overcome many reservations and discover things about myself that I never knew before...

Toward the end of my mission, I discovered many other things as well, such as how to bond with a companion in true friendship, how to be truly affectionate with other young men my age in non-sexual ways, and how to give and receive LOVE and JOY in these relationships. (I undoubtedly will expand on this in another post).

This life-changing experience of male-bonding led me to teaching at the Missionary Training Center (MTC) as I returned to BYU. I so desperately sought more male-bonding experiences within the "bounds" of the Gospel setting. What more ideal place to achieve these goals than at the MTC as a teacher. Again, in my mind, there was nothing sexual in these desperate desires... only righteousness. That sounds really cheesy now, but that really is how I felt at the time. I felt my motives for being around the missionaries was all altruistic... I was there to serve them and make them the best missionaries possible. And I did! To the detriment of my studies, my social life, etc., I became married to the MTC and those missionaries and serve them I did! In so doing, I was praised by my teaching supervisors and was raised to the level of zone coordinator and received the ecclesiastical calling as a counselor in the Branch presidency of the mission group I was serving. Not only was I now employed at the MTC, spent all of my spare time there, but obviously, the Lord was pleased with my efforts and service or why else would I be called to serve there all day on Sunday as well, interviewing, training, counseling and motivating those missionaries? And that is how I felt.

I realize now, that I was desperately seeking validation for my "feelings" of male-bonding. I wanted to be with them not just spiritually, but also physically, cuddling, holding, hugging, and yes, even kissing... Though nothing ever happened, deep down I wanted it to happen. But, then, at that point, I didn't even understand these feelings, these overwhelming powerful desires. And everyone around me encouraged me on! To do more! To give more! And so I did...

In an amazing turn of events, I met a wonderful young woman who came to believe that I was the "one and only" for her. I felt it too, and I felt amazed that I was feeling a bonding with her. I really never had dated any other girls, and we really didn't date all that much either. We talked a lot and became friends, and in BYU fashion, became engaged and married within a few months.

As they say... the rest is history and we lived happily ever after.

Or did we?

Needless to say, those feelings of male-bonding over the course of the last few years have begun to reappear with a vengence! They are overcoming my every thought... and they are beginning to turn my world upside down. I have tried to suppress them, fast and pray them away, but they keep coming stronger and stronger...

Several events (that I'll reveal later) led to my conclusion that I was unmistakeably GAY! For the first time in my life, I accepted this as what it was... I loved men! I was attracted to men! I had "same gender attraction" or "gender confusion" as the church lately refers to it. This realization terrified me and yet liberated me at the same time. I felt disgust and excitement. I felt sinful and yet at peace. These feelings caused a withdrawl from my wife, which eventually led to a confession to her about these feelings. This was the end! It had to be! How could she keep me in her life at this point? Though I had destroyed her self-esteem, her sense of who she was, she has remained at my side... she has helped me through some amazing times to sort out all of these feelings. Our marriage (and intimacy) strengthened for a good while...

but now I feel like I'm losing control, like some battles were won, but the war is lost... and that I am now lost in a world of self-loathing, self-doubt, depression and confusion. It is so hard to keep fighting... I think of her and the children and that keeps me hanging on... ( I don't want to lose them and all that that entells for the eternities) but I'm finding I want to be tempted... I'm seeking to know the other side... my heart aches to know what it must be like to truly be loved...

by another man!

Help!

7 comments:

Dave Walter said...

Welcome to the blogging world, Beck!

In addition to the blogs listed on Gay Mormon's site, check out Hurricane's blog.

el veneno said...

um... Hurricane and Dave Walter represent just one side of the equation. Check out Master FOB, Elbow, L, Gay Mormon and Married and I think there are more married men but can't think of them now.
Thanks for sharing your story. It's good to get it out and good for me to read other stories to kind of get an idea of what to expect.
My advice though, this blogosphere is crazy. People say whatever they think at the moment, sometimes stuff you'd never say to other people. Take it for what it is--opinions, passions, whatever. Consider all things but choose the good. Be constant. Be true to yourself. For a gay man, his true self may not neccesarily be only found in the arms of another man.

Beck said...

Thanks to both Dave and el venero for your responses. It is comforting to know that there are others out there who care enough to respond and help me through this dialogue. It is very lonely out there when you literally can't "talk" to anyone.

I want to stay open to both sides of the argument, though I'm really looking for inner strength to carry on.

Foxx said...

...my heart aches to know what it must be like to truly be loved...

As a single guy who has only had one real relationship, I'm interested to know what you imagine would be different between your relationship with your wife and a potential male-male relationship.

Chris said...

Beck,

I just stumbled upon you today after reading your post on Foxx's blog. I just want to tell you this: I can relate to almost everything you wrote in this initial post. I won't suggest that you follow the path I have decided to take (a path which is leading me out of my marriage) because I am convinced that we all have to blaze our own trail. But I can tell you that I feel for you and that I am always available to talk/correspond.

Beck said...

FOXX... You've made me think about my relationships (fantacy and reality) and what I expect or envision in both. It's got me thinking and I'm working on a response about these different expectations.

HURRICANE... I just can't get to the point that you are to leave my family at this point. My wife knows my angst, and is very supportive with my personal trials(as long as I'm dedicated to her and the marriage), but I don't know how long I can last living two lives; the one that everyone sees, and the one in my mind and heart.

Thanks to all the responses so far. This blogging is new to me and I don't know quite how to work the comments yet. I didn't know so many of "you" are out there. This "support group" is more refreshing than you will ever know for someone like me who feels so totally alone in this struggle.

Thanks again.

Chris said...

beck,

Call me foolish or naieve, but I think I can move on with my life and end my marriage without "leaving" my family. I have every intention of continuing to be present and actively involved in my children's lives. My wife and I have renewed our friendship, and I have hopes that it will continue to transform into a relationship that is mutually sustaining and supportive.

This requires sacrifice on my part, and on the part of my wife. But it's a sacrifice we are both willng to make, not just for our children, but also for each other.

I'm not going to sugar coat what's going on here. I am leaving my marriage. Fortunately, that doesn't mean that I have to leave my family--at least not in the sense that many men, gay and straight, do.