Thursday, April 27, 2006

SEEKING WISDOM

Okay... so it's pretty abundantly clear that I really don't have it all together like I think I do and that I need help - external help. This is really hard for me to admit. I don't know why it's so hard. I guess it makes me feel even more vulnerable that I already am.

I've been the one to listen and counsel with others who have been struggling... not necessarily with this issue, but any issues that life brings upon them, though I've tried to help those who have most directly struggled with this issue as well... and now I'm supposed to turn my life over to a "professional"? How? Why?

I think I've done a pretty good job so far in "managing" my angst with some success of being able to live in a degree of "normalcy" in this Mormon heterosexual context as a gay man. Over the course of two decades now (yes, don't faint with disdain as you read this, and don't write me off because I'm not in college, nor a recent graduate starting my career - I'm really that old (though I don't feel that old) and it really has been that long (and don't ask me how I've done it, because at times I'm not absolutely sure how I've managed to do it myself, but I've done it and at times with some convincing acting)) I've been able to put together a reasonably happy marriage (at times) and have been a reasonably good father to my children. Note: wow, can a sentence have any more parenthetical phrases???

But, I'm hungering for some validation of these feelings and of this struggle within. I'm hungering for a confirmation of what these feelings are for.

I know that with some, wisdom comes with age. With others, we just get older. I don't feel very wise right now. Will counseling bring wisdom?

Some things that I feel inside me that may or may not be very wise:

1. I have learned to accept these feelings as part of who I am.

2. I don't blame anyone or anything for the "why me?". These feelings just "are".

3. I've spent a lot of time blaming "me" for these feelings.

4. I try to not let these feelings define my whole essence of being.

5. I'm most recently obsessed with defining myself and justifying myself because of these feelings.

6. I struggle with the self-hatred, but have been making strides to not hate myself because I have these feelings. (This is a constant battle... sometimes the self-loathing gets pretty scary).

7. I really like these feelings. I mean, I truly do! I really like men and I really like the feeling when I like men.

8. I have felt "mostly dead" for a good portion of my life. It is really hard to live life acting as if I really don't like men when in fact I really do.

9. I want to feel alive.

10. I feel these feelings have helped me be sensitive to others, and to help others be better.

11. I feel these feelings have helped me to be more creative and expressive as a person.

12. I have been a tool for good for many people.

13. I haven't necessarily been a tool for good for myself.

14. I have felt guilt because of these feelings (though I really don't feel guilty about liking the feeling when I like men and them liking me).

15. I have felt guilt because I've denied these feelings.

16. I haven't been very true to myself.

17. I've been mostly true to my wife and kids.

18. I have caused grief on others (particularly my wife) because of these feelings. My kids have no clue.

19. I feel God's love for me, and I know He knows I have these feelings. He is aware of my struggles and needs.

20. I feel God is merciful and sees the "bigger picture" and will keep things in perspective as I deal with the "package" I've been given.

21. I have a firm conviction that I LIVED before this life and I accepted this "package" willingly.

22. I have a firm conviction that I will LIVE after this life and will continue to be the same person I am now, and that this "package" will help me to be who God wants me to become as I see the "bigger picture".

23. I feel, these feelings notwithstanding, I am "supposed" to be married.

24. This marriage ain't easy because of these feelings.

25. Maybe I shouldn't be married because of these feelings.

26. I feel warm and peaceful cuddling with my wife.

27. I feel happiest when I'm being held by a man who loves me.

28. I need affection from men. I hunger for it. I strive to find it in any form I can.

29. I don't particularly enjoy heterosexual sex (that's a topic in and of itself).

30. I've only experienced homosexual sex in fantacies and dreams.

31. I've never had heterosexual fantacies or dreams.

32. I feel the leaders of the Church don't have a clue what I'm feeling.

33. I can't talk to my Bishop.

34. I can't talk to my wife (without it getting really stressful and freaky). As much as she thinks she understands me, and as much as she tries, she really doesn't have a clue what I'm feeling.

35. I can't talk to anyone.

P.S. Did I mention that I really like the feeling of liking men?

Maybe I'm not very wise after all.

6 comments:

-L- said...

I can't talk to my wife (without it getting really stressful and freaky). As much as she thinks she understands me, and as much as she tries, she really doesn't have a clue what I'm feeling.

You are married, and this is about both of you. The only way she's going to "have a clue" is if you talk. And respect. I'm not pretending it's going to be pretty, but it will only get uglier if you don't.

Work on becoming more humble, that always helps communication. Maybe approach the topic with a counselor present--adds a level of objectivity neither of you are capable of. Your blog friends will never adequately accomplish anything close to what professionals can (or your wife). Blogs are full of soundbites and over-simplifications. Your situation deserves more.

Dave Walter said...

Okay... so it's pretty abundantly clear that I really don't have it all together like I think I do and that I need help - external help. This is really hard for me to admit. I don't know why it's so hard. I guess it makes me feel even more vulnerable that I already am.

Of course it does. You're middle-aged (I gather), you're the head of the household (I gather), the strong one, the successful one, etc.

I started seeing a therapist at age 49. It took me a long time to get over the feeling that it was pathetic for a man my age not to have it all together.

You're not weak or defective or anything like that. And therapy isn't about a doctor healing the mental cripple. What I've found is that it's really just guided self-discovery. My therapist, for example, refuses to tell me what to do. She only helps me come to conclusions about what to do.

But, I'm hungering for some validation of these feelings and of this struggle within. I'm hungering for a confirmation of what these feelings are for.

I don't think so. I think you're hungering for permission to act on those feelings. The problem is, only you can give yourself that permission.

I know that with some, wisdom comes with age. With others, we just get older. I don't feel very wise right now. Will counseling bring wisdom?

I think that it primarily brings about self-discovery and enhanced self-awareness.

Items 1 through 35 in your post are an excellent first step for you. But they're only a first step.

As I said before, I think you really need to come out and live a gay life. But it won't be easy, particularly because of the complicating matter of your marriage. And I don't mean complicating as in its being a bad thing; it's just complicating, that's all.

I agree with L that talking with your wife is good, but it's quite possible she never will understand you, no matter how much talking, reading, counseling and so on.

It won't be all smooth sailing, but once the storm clears, sunny skies await. (I hate ending with sappy clich├ęs, but I'm too tired to be original.)

Beck said...

So, I crack the yellow pages, get on the phone to a therapist and say: "Hey, I'm a gay man who is also a Mormon married family man --I've come out to my wife, but I'm still full of angst...What can you do for me?"

I'm just not sure how I can do this. I'm supposed to be the master of my self-discovery. I'm supposed to have everything figured out! Why do I need a strange professional to help?

... maybe because I don't have it all figured out.

-L-: I'm trying to be humble. I'm trying to not let "my issues" be the only ones out there. I'm trying to help her with her "issues" too.

And Dave, you're so right on...Crap, I'm so transparent to you!!! Deep down I want some justification or permission from somebody to act on these feelings. Or, I want somebody to keep me from acting.

The "right" or "wrong" therapist can steer my self-discovery in either direction!

AARRGGHHH!!!

-L- said...

We could all use a little more humility, I wasn't singling you out! And I think it's germaine to the counseling question as well. You will probably be shocked once you finally allow yourself to open up to a professional just how non-judgmental and helpful they can be. For as often and as vehemently DW and I disagree on some topics, I can say we are definitely of one mind when it comes to the value of therapy. You owe it to yourself and your family.

If you begin to feel that the therapist you choose is trying to steer you toward their own ideals, you should consider getting a different therapist. Dave's description of their proper role was a good one.

Dave Walter said...

Beck: When you call a therapist, unless it's a clinic, you may get voice mail. So be prepared to provide a phone number at which you can be contacted -- or maybe an e-mail address will be sufficient.

Simply say that you're looking for a gay-friendly therapist to help you sort through some issues related to your sexuality.

The city or town where you live may have a gay community center that can provide you with a referral, or at least provide you with helpful information. Try doing a Google search for "gay therapy mycity" or "gay counseling mycity."

You just gotta bite the bullet and get past the discomfort of making the initial phone call.

L: You said, "For as often and as vehemently DW and I disagree...." Excuse me? We "vehemently" disagree?! VEHEMENTLY?!!! I DON'T THINK SO!!!!!

-L- said...

Ummm, yeah. Ask for "gay friendly" if you are looking for someone biased. Any professional worth his or her salt should be "gay friendly" without putting it on a sign on the door. They should also be "religion friendly". However, my gut reaction is that if they advertise being gay friendly, they might as well also advertise being anti-religious.

Just pick a reputable therapist and you'll be fine.

DW, you crack me up. :-)