Monday, June 25, 2007

It's real...

Last week, I was called into the Stake President's office for an interview. This wasn't for a new assignment, because they didn't ask my wife to attend with me (always the sign of a new calling). As usual, I went over to their offices with trembling and trepidation. I hate the Stake and always have. I much prefer my associations on the ward level. They were running late, and so I had a lot of time to think and stress over why they wanted to talk to me. I don't really know them and that unknown factor led to my active imagination getting the best of me as I sat on the couch. That feeling of unworthiness, guilt and inadequacy overwhelmed me... and that led to concerns of "what ifs", such as:

What if they found out about this blog?

What if someone else had found out about my blog and "reported" me to them and I have been "outed"?

What if I am being released from my Stake leadership position because I am now "outed"?

You see where an overactive guilt gland can lead a creative but warped mind...

In the end, I was released from my calling, but with no reason given. I asked for a reason, and none was offered other than maybe something else is on the horizon... This exchange, combined with mass hysteria of inner paranoia about my anonymity, left me hollow, empty and unwanted. I left that interview hurt and confused, obviously a reflection of my own self-esteem or lack thereof.

For the next couple of days, I anguished over how I must have failed in my duties, in my passion for my calling and the level of service I rendered. It's easy for me to pick on myself. I've done it for decades now and have become quite good at it. In time, I came to the conclusion that I was not as passionate about this calling as I had been of others in the past, and that I would seek to do better with new opportunities to come. But, as logical and healthy an attitude as that was, I was still full of self-doubt and self-unworthiness - and though I knew from where those feelings come, at the moment that knowledge didn't serve me well or register within my thick skull.

I went to the temple and an amazing thing happened, something that happens rarely, unfortunately. I was actively participating in the "work" (which can often times feel routine, redundant, less than spectacular or miraculous) when an undeniable powerful and dare I say "miraculous" sensation came over me; the Holy Ghost literally and physically hitting me on the head, giving me a full body feeling of joy about the ancestor I was assisting in the work. It was strong, sudden, and real. I knew in that instant, that my Heavenly Father loves me, that this work is real, and that we are part of something so much more than we can understand with mortal, earthly eyes. In that moment, the feelings of self-doubt and self-worth vanished and I was healed of my anxieties and inadequacies and felt a tremendous feeling of love inside me. I was being "voice" at the time and my voice shook, my body physically quivered and I was overcome. The person standing next to me noticed it and asked if I was "able to go on". This hasn't happened for a long time... and so I need to be called to "remember" all those other real encounters with the Spirit so that I DO remember Him and I DO remember what it feels like and how it feels to communicate with the Holy Ghost...

I'll leave it at that... I just want you to know that if I can feel so down and discouraged, if I can feel myself questioning my existence and purpose in this life, if I can then feel such an incredible feeling of linkage to the "great beyond" and the love and joy and acceptance and value and validity to this life and what I'm doing in it, even as a gay man, or may I say, even because I am a gay man, then...

then... so can you! So can it be for you!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Needed down time...

I testify that there is true wisdom in getting away from the normal routine, the grind and worries of daily life, the struggles, the pressure and stress. That is why there are planned breaks in school, vacations, or simply down time.

I've taken some personal down time away from this Blog and this community, away from the uneasiness and loneliness that persists in constantly feeling like you don't really fit in anywhere or with anyone, and have come back feeling better about many things. I don't know how long this feeling will last (a day? a week?) before I revert back to my normal angsty self, but it's been good.

I downloaded the photos I took (including the one above) and noted the feeling I had inside me when I'd look into the eyes of the photo of my wife... Somehow, looking at her in this imagine before me stirred overwhelming feelings and emotions that I haven't felt for a long time, feelings that make me want to be better, and to do things that won't cause her any more hurt or pain... to strengthen my resolve to be the person that she sees in me instead of the person that I know is me.

The concept of a Sabbatical (one year off every seven) seems very fitting. What if we all took a year off? I've read the book about the family that did take a year off and traveled together around the world... I think it's called "A Year Off" or something like that. Anyway, I think I could get used to the Sabbatical concept. Just think of the spiritual and physical renewal, the intellectual pursuits and stimulating adventures, the cultural and service opportunities... While on vacation, we attended church at the local branch. A couple spoke about how they had moved to this island where we were visiting and had decided to take a two year vacation away from their family (they were newly empty nesters) for a spiritual reawakening. It sounded all so very surreal and yet, there they were bearing their testimonies about this adventure they were on together for the next two years.

I don't know that I'll ever get to that point of financial stability or independence, and if I do, it won't be living on an island (as paradisaical as it may seem - even paradise can get old if you're not doing something worthwhile). No, definitely not. Yet, we all need a break.

Sunday allows most of us to take that weekly break. I treasure Sundays. There is a spirit of renewal and I like that. Just sometimes, however, once a week isn't quite long enough...

Now, a year in Italy or Southern France somewhere... now I could handle that!

Friday, June 08, 2007

A Perpetual Adolescent State of Silliness...

Once, MOHO-Hawaii referred to "types" like me (closeted, married, and coming out LATE in life / accepting realities later verses earlier) as being "adolescent" in my attitudes and feelings when confronted with gay relationships. I guess this still resonates with me, because in many ways, I'm immature for my age (and I'm old).

I allow myself to get easily attached to people. In many ways, this is a good thing as I find myself caring about others deeply - maybe more than I should, and probably more than my male peers. Why is that?

I find myself infatuated or having "crushes" on guys (as I've shown to have had as I've shared in numerous previous posts) and I know those feelings may feel like "love", but in reality are just adolescent immaturity, not too different from my own teenage daughters who are entering the dating world. Why is that? Is it because I am so inexperienced with proper, "normal" emotional and romantic development in life that I've been stunted forever? Am I such damaged goods, that I can't be repaired to have healthy relationships with guys and move on in life? Without embracing a more "experienced mature relationship" outside my marriage, which I plan on not doing (despite what my "crushes" tell me to do), can I ever grow out of this stage of immaturity and adolescent behavior that is "inappropriate" for my age group?

I permit myself to be tied to people within this blogging MOHO community. I get attached to reading your stories, your feelings and experiences. Maybe this isn't healthy for me when I do so to the detriment of my family, my work, my own relationships, or when I am longing for the next response, comment, email or blogging post, like a teenage girl. Is this healthy?
This blogging has helped me to grow from a man that "hated himself for who he was finally admitting he was truly who he was and didn't want to admit that he WAS..." to "accepting things" in a more mature manner. In this way, I feel much growth and maturity and am grateful for this community for helping along this path...

But, I need to find a way to grow and develop and mature more!
In my professional life I am very mature and handle the pressures, stress, circumstances, and complexities of relationships very well, including client-juggling, deadline-meeting, the legal hassles of lawsuits, the disappointments of losing a project, and the joys of a job well done. In my church callings, I am mature and seasoned, and act age-appropriate and experienced. But when it comes to guys and relationships with them, I begin to act immature, desiring more than there really is there to be desired, and wishing for the romance of the fantasy world to be reality. Why do I do that?

These and many more questions, I will be pondering as I take a little time off... I would appreciate any comments or thoughts to help me become a more mature man who is growing in his experiences of life, instead of stagnating in a perpetual adolescent state of silliness...

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Be kindly affectioned...

Why is it that we as Americans, and especially as Mormon Americans (for the most part - and I include Canadians and US in this discussion) have such a hang up about male-to-male "touching"?

I find it a bit intriguing that L and Abelard's recent efforts to define guidelines for MOHOs on what is appropriate in gay Mormon relations have hit a nerve regarding the appropriateness of touching (hugging, handholding, kissing etc.). Don't get me wrong - I am the poster MOHO when it comes to needing such guidelines (just read my recent posts). And, at the same time the recent "encounter" between Max Power and John, has been so refreshing and sweet and exciting to read. There is a huge part of me that is saying: "GO FOR IT! SHOW US HOW IT IS DONE!" as well as a small, almost insignificant part of me that is saying: "PLEASE DON'T DO IT!"

Can we MOHOs have such a thing as proper touching between each other? Why are we so hung-up on things that should be naturally expressed?

I've admitted that I'm a touchy-feely guy. I crave it! I NEED IT! And yet, in this conservative, anal society and culture we live in, there seems to be such unnecessary cultural boundaries that keep us from being able to express those needs, with willing partners.

As I've traveled and lived outside the United States, I've been keenly made aware of how free other cultures are in their expressions of affection toward friends, platonic or romantic. I've lived in southern Europe and traveled it extensively and have come to appreciate and LOVE the ability of that culture to be open in their friendship touching. I have come to intimately understand the power and meaning and importance of having such touching in my life and not being "afraid" to express such things in a physical manner. I have "bonded" with men of the southern European cultural mindset and persuasion, and they have helped me to see the fallacy of my American cultural hangups.

I would venture to say that if young adults, active in the Church, living in Europe, could comprehend the dialogue we are having on "appropriate touching", they would laugh it off as American cultural folly. And mind you, these wouldn't be the young adults of the European culture at large, but of the active Mormon mentality!

The truth in this matter - of what is appropriate in our human needs for bonding - must span cultural boundaries. God is not an North American middle-class male! And if the Church is to be truly for everyone, where do cultural mindsets fit in to such discussions? What is truth in this matter?

Recently, I traveled through parts of South Asia. Astonishingly, even shockingly, I was impressed at how that "culture" expresses man-to-man touching in such an open physical way. I noted numerous instances where men would be walking arm-in-arm, hand-in-hand, hugging and kissing openly with each other. I would notice that with woman-to-woman as well. (What was interesting was to note the lack of physical contact whatsoever between man and woman, married or otherwise!)

I saw young guys and old holding hands and being physical with each other a lot. I know that homosexuality is frowned upon in this culture, so these expressions of affection were obviously viewed as between JUST FRIENDS. And that is the kind of affection I'm talking about.

I was walking along a riverfront that had a promenade with a marble wall railing along the water's edge. This promenade was at least a mile long. And there sat two young guys on that wall railing just inches from each other. They had all the room in the world to spread out and yet they chose to be 1" not even from each other. I took their picture because I wanted to capture the profound imagine in my mind of these two guys.

I was at a Hindu temple and palace where I found myself amazed at three guys holding hands together. I followed them around and observed their camaraderie and spirit of friendship and love between each other. They weren't asking whether it was appropriate or not, or what a pamphlet of guidelines might tell them to do or not do, they just did what came natural and culturally acceptable between male friends.

Now, I realize the gayness of our MOHO situation and the religiosity of our MOHO situation add a wrinkle to these expressions of touch as romantic arousal can so easily enter into the picture (as I've personally experienced), but I suggest that as Americans as a whole (and I recognize I'm stereotyping) we are way too up tight about such natural displays of affection between ourselves and we associate everything within the realm of a sexual context. Why do we do this? Why as a people, as a culture, do we limit ourselves and turn everything into a "sexual" expression? Why have we distorted something that is natural and beautiful and intimate and personal in person-to-person bonding with an "evil" connotation? Why?

I have tried to live my life free of this attitude and mentality - sometimes with great success and acceptance - other times with revulsion and disgust. I struggle with being compartmentalized and labeled because of "cultural" mindsets.

I believe the Lord would have us be open in our expressions of affection with each other. Paul said it best:

"Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love, in honour, preferring one another."

-- Romans 12:10

Let us not be afraid to meet each other and express our brotherly love with each other in ways that are good and honorable and natural - without the unnecessary restraints of cultural mindsets and let's greet each other with a "kiss".
Let us celebrate the natural wonderment of two MOHOs meeting and expressing open affection toward each other!
Let us find the appropriate middle ground that the Lord would have us find in sharing "brotherly love" for each other!

Friday, June 01, 2007

The source of personal ickiness...

Another dear friend wrote this to me about my feeling all "icky" inside.

(NOTE: when I use the word "icky" I mean to imply my unworthiness, my self-hate and uneasiness... that I am scum, that I don't deserve any better. It does not mean that my friendships and relationships are "icky", as they are most definitely not.)

Anyway, this friend helped me to realize another truth:

"Someone is whispering in your ear that you are an icky person - but it's not God who is telling you that. That's what he does. He gets us to do wrong things, and then tries to convince us that we are a bad person because we did him. From there, he tries to tell us that, since we are a bad person anyway, we should just go ahead and keep doing bad behavior. You made some mistakes, now you need to pick yourself up ... But, you're not perfect - join the club!"

I'm trying to not feel icky...