Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Who do you think I am?






Who am I?





You really don’t know who I am, do you?





I mean, if I don’t know who I am, how can you know, right?





What I share here in this blog is a persona that I’ve allowed to be expressed that otherwise has little if any expression. I have given him a name – “Beck” – and I allow you to know what I want you to know about him.





Over time, these last 18 months, I’ve come to know “Beck” myself. He is real. He has thoughts and feelings. He is loving and kind. He believes deeply in connecting with people. He wants to reach out and touch and embrace and become close. He feels deeply about the Spirit and the feelings that come with convictions of the Spirit. He’s also very much attracted to men. And he doesn’t want that to change. He really likes loving the thought of loving men. He loves men! Beck is “out”. Beck meets fellow MOHOs. Beck seeks to be free of the closet. Beck wants to live open. Beck wants to be alive!





And then there is me. I am also here. I exist. I am real. I have a name – but I don’t share that with you – I don’t allow you to know much about me. You know a little. I’m a devoted family man. I’m a loving husband and father, a professional businessman, a devout religious man (so I’d like to think), faithful to my testimony of the Gospel and my membership in the Church. I am very much in the closet. My motives are good, I feel, as I want to protect my family, and keep them safe and do what I feel is best in caring for and loving them.





As time has gone by, I find myself not sure when I wake up whether I’m “Beck” or whether I’m me. Who am I? I feel like I’m becoming a split personality. I’m categorizing things and allowing Beck to blog, permitting Beck to develop friendships with gay friends, including MOHOs, and these friends become very close and very attached and mean a lot, and yet, who do these friends know and love – me or Beck? I tolerate Beck to take that second or third look of the young gorgeous guy walking down the street, fantasizing about potential gay relationships, and I endure Beck’s request to “find the perfect image of the perfect man”, justifying that it really is okay as long as it stays in the PG-13 rating.





I don’t do those things… Beck does! I’m a devoted husband and father, remember?





Beck wants long hair. Beck wants to rebel. Beck wants to fight. I find myself allowing him to have more and more say.





What’s going on here? I feel like I’m allowing my alter-ego to take hold of me, to be a bigger and bigger part of me. Sometimes he wants to stand up and scream in Priesthood Meeting that he’s gay! Other times, he fantasizes wondering if Tim (you remember Tim, right?) will show up at his door one day and say that he knows about me and is ready to have a relationship – even if that relationship consists of him being “kept” by me secretly.





Sometimes, I’m very happy being Beck. Other times I’m ashamed of Beck and want to keep him hidden and in the dark shadows of my closet. Sometimes I think I’m going schizophrenic – certifiably crazy.





Who, the hell, do you think you know here? Who do you think is asking these questions? Is there a way for both of us to exist? Or are we destined to be locked away in some secure padded cell?

26 comments:

J said...

Oh Beck,do you want to know what I really think? I think you need to somehow integrate these two "people." I think when these two personas are created, sooner or later, one of them starts to deviate more and more from the path you really want. At least that's been my experience. The times I've felt my darkest were when I have felt I was living as two different people. Lately I've tried to decide what I really want out of life, who I really want to be and I've tried to live as that person. Splits just seem to cause discord and despair in my life as I let the divide get wider and wider.

Also, your post just made me realize even more what I hate about blogs. As deeply emotional and heartfelt that the stories we tell are, they can be so limiting because it's impossible to share all of who we are through a blog. It's always just pieces of the big picture and sometimes that's frustrating to me.

playasinmar said...

J is right. Yo uneed to find a way to integrate Beck with your other identity.

The longer and longer you repress him the more likely it is he'll rage to the front and try to kill Batman.

Abelard Enigma said...

I started to comment; but, my comment was getting long. So, I decided to blog about it instead.

Foxx said...

Which is the real you? Both.

While it may seem like Beck and the in-real-life you are two different people, struggling for dominance within you, this is your way of dealing with your conflicting desires. Welcome to being human.

I think it's safe to say that most people have an idea of who they want to be, and they have to deal with strong desires that would keep them from becoming their ideal. For example, in a monogamous committed relationship, it is the man's desire to stay loyal and true to his partner. However, sometimes he will see another person that he's interested in and gets his giddy energies flowing. How does he deal with the conflicting desires of interest vs. loyalty? Perhaps those feelings of interest come from his lusty, evil alter ego. More likely, they come from a part of him that he doesn't want to express or acknowledge.

I know it's a simple example, but I see it as very similar and easy to relate to. What you have to do is own up to all your feelings, prioritize them, and choose which ones will take you to your goal.

All your feelings are belongs to you. [/shameless geek joke]

By associating certain feelings with Beck, you set yourself up for what playasinmar referred to. You may find yourself allowing Beck to take over because he is the exciting persona, and then, when you take back over, you'll blame it on him. Eventually you will find that the rebel persona will feel too strong for you to resist and it will destroy the "you" you try so hard to protect.

At its extreme, you may compartmentalize Beck's persona enough that your real self refuses to remember things you may have done whie Beck was in control. I doubt you'll take it so far.

Beck is a pseudonym, a name that takes the place of yours, not an alternate personality that inherits all of the feelings you don't want to display. Sometimes it's easier to assign those feelings to some "other," but they belong to you and you alone.

The healthiest thing for you to do is to consider what "you" desire against what Beck desires and choose where along the continuum is best for you to go. The desires of Beck and the desires of "you" spring from the same source. When you identify and understand your underlying needs (which express themselves through the desires of both personas), you can begin to make decisions that will move you in the direction that not only helps you get what you need as a human being, but satisfies your altruistic, noble self.

I fear my wordy alter-ego Stylus has emerged again. Bad Stylus!

Peter said...

Maybe neither one is you. (I really don't know what that's supposed to mean, but it sounded deep)

Why is it that in pictures meant to portray LDS people with same gender attractions, the eyes or part of the face is always blurred or censored or covered? I think it's because we don't allow ourselves to discover who we really are because we are afraid of who we are. I noticed this in your profile picture.

Beck said...

J: Don't be too frustrated with the medium of blogging. Even if it's just with pieces that we reveal ourselves to each other, at least we are talking and sharing and growing.

PLAYA: I agree with you and J that I need to stop being so split in my thinking and come together otherwise "BATMAN, BEWARE THE WRATH OF BECK-MAN!"

Beck said...

ABE: We are so "on the same page" that it is scary! You other half really needs to stop sharing alter ego thoughts with my other half.

Thanks for the matching pair post!

Beck said...

FOXX: I really need to just sit on your couch and have you psycho-analyze me. I could listen to you tell me about "me" all day long - and it always makes sense.

I say things, like I'm "going crazy" to be dramatic and make a point. I really don't feel like I'm going crazy - but there is a true wrestle going on inside me and as much as I think it's subsiding or diminishing, it tends to always come back in one degree or the other. Beck is me. I am Beck! We are one! We just sometimes desire different things... I know these feelings are just part of being "human". I am definitely "human".

Thanks again for keeping me grounded and reminding me of "who I am!" :)

Beck said...

PETER: Thanks for joining the community! WELCOME! I hope to quickly get to know you. I appreciate your comments.

You're right... the images used by the Church in particular are always covered up to a certain degree - emphasizing shame and guilt and disgust. The Elder Holland article, like the Church News, never shows positive images when dealing with SSA. It is sad. It is frustrating. It is unfortunate.

I have used the image I use on my blog - not out of shame or disgust, but for me it represents being "split". It is where I am halfway in and halfway out and I'm not sure which half is which. It's that angsty indecision and confusion of that split that is represented in the image - not one of shame or guilt or disgust.

Thanks again for joining in the conversation!!

RealNeal said...

Beck,

I let that internal conflict almost tear me in two. I am now both "me's"; fully integrated. I no longer fret about the SSA side. I'm in the closet - yes - for the same reasons most of us are. But the "Beck" inside of me is a part I can't deny. There are good things my "Beck" brings to the table. Very good things. I accept those now for what they are. There are experiences I have had that were life changing experiences that I would never have had without my "Beck". I am who I am - its a package deal. The outside world may not see the whole package, but they certainly see the result. And I have accepted that the result is good!

Best Regards - Neal

P.S. You put some, shall we say, "amazing" pictures on your blog entries! I think I like them too much!

Kengo Biddles said...

I join the chorus of "bring both halves together." I know for a while I felt a real dichotomy within myself, and like J, am better when I'm 'all together'.

J G-W said...

Beck - I loved this post - as I love most of your posts. I wanted to wait and see what other people had to say before I chimed in, and they've all said things much more nicely than I could have, so I don't have anything more to add. But as always I think of you and am moved by your explorations and what you are willing to share with us.

Beck said...

REALNEAL: You say you've been able to pull your two sides together. May I ask: HOW did you do it? What specific steps did you take to get past the place where I am???

I appreciate your insights and look forward to learning from you.

KENGO: That goes for you,too. I mean, you say you're better when you're "all together". I'm interested in the HOW you achieve this!

Foxx said...

You mistake me for someone who actually owns a couch. ;)

Seriously, though, you should e-mail me if you want to talk more about you. I'd love to discuss it a little deeper.

RealNeal said...

Beck,

I've gone through some real crisis points on this issue. At times I was close to suicide. I became totally angry at everything and every one - to the point of being self-destructive. I let my addictions run wild. I doubted the Church - I even started talking to my Bishop about having my name removed.

So what changed things for me? I think two things, perhaps. First, it had taken me most of my life to admit I was a homo and come out to my Bishop (I'm 50). But I still had not let go of some of my long-standing denial. There were little parts of it remaining. In the scriptures it says, "A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways". Yep! That was me! Maybe "unstable" is actually too mild!

Now, I'm fortunate to have inherited a Forum for SSA people two years ago (LDS-SSA.ORG), and through all the postings I made on that site I began to realize that I really WAS a homosexual man down to the core. Having a dialog with other MoHos is sort of like looking in the mirror. They talk about the problems they have, and you realize you have those same problems. You see that their thoughts and feelings are the same. Worries are the same. Temptations are the same. Over time you see that you aren't any different than they are; and I guess for me there was just a point where I understood that I'm "talking to myself" when I talk to the forum members. I'm exactly what they are - a MoHo! And as I've gotten to know and love these people, I see that they're wonderful, caring people who love the Lord. So I can look at myself now and say, "yep, I'm a MoHo", and that's OK!

I think the second thing that made a difference is my Bishop. My Bish is just the coolest guy alive! He didn't know anything about SSA to begin with, but now he's really on top of it. And we can talk about anything together (the other night it was Abercrombie models!). But aside from the open dialog, what really changed me was the love. This man truly loves me as a brother and a friend. He is totally unafraid to throw his arms around me and give me a bear hug. He calls me. He invites me to his home. He tells me regularly he loves me and cares about me, and he means it! He really does mean it! I think for many, many years I harbored an underlying fear (almost a terror, really) that if someone straight knew I was a homo they could never REALLY love me. They might pretend to, but it wouldn't be real. My Bish has proved me wrong, and somehow that made all the difference - helped heal the breach between the two "me's".

So now I can admit that I'm a homo. I am. I'm hard-core attracted to men. But it's not something I chose, so why get twisted up about it? But my blood pressure doesn't rise any more when I say that. I don't have a twinge of dread when those words come out of my mouth. And that's good - very, very good! I'm good too. And I'm whole - finally. There is peace in being whole.

I hope this helps you in your journey to wholeness. I know everyone's journey is uniquely their own, but as I mentioned, we are all so very much the same in many ways. Think about that..

All the best,

Neal

Beck said...

FOXX: You are half my age and yet so wise! I feel so dorky even talking to you because I should have all the answers by this point in my life. In many ways, I do have the answers, I just won't accept them.

I most definitely will email you my thoughts and you can analyze me to your heart's content.

Beck said...

NEAL: Your comments are very helpful to me. I have such a fear of being "outed". I had to talk to a member of the Stake Presidency recently (in an unrelated matter) and I was so fearful that I was being outed. There was no basis for this fear - but it was very real. I told myself that I was ready to handle it if this was the point where I was - of course it wasn't and I let it go and I sighed a sigh of relief.

At some point I need to get to where you are with your Bishop. My Bishop is a cool guy and I know him well, but my internal insecurities and fears stifle any dialog going in that direction. Somehow I need to get past it. And that is the part I don't know how.

As for shared experiences, you're right. This is why I blog. I gain strength by realizing I'm not as weird as I think I am ( or maybe I'm less weird when I surround myself with those who are equally if not more weird than I am:)).

Thanks for your feedback. I really appreciate it.

RealNeal said...

Beck,

One of my favorite Sci-Fi novels is Dune. There's a quote from one of the heros in that story that for some reason has stuck with me, even though it took me many years to actually put it into practice.

"Fear is the mind killer. I will face my fear; I will let it pass through me"

At first it doesn't sound like much; but I can tell you I've discovered this little statement to be quite profound. Fear is indeed the MIND KILLER. It paralyzes our best instincts. It causes us to rationalize, to ignore the truth, to invent mythical realities, to lie, to hide. It is the OPPOSITE of faith!

I don't have time to relate my whole story (you can read it on my web site), but fear ruled my life for way too long. It distorted my thinking and kept me from the power of the Atonement. And worst of all, it kept me from having real relationships. Not sexual ones, but relationships where there are no barriers - no fears that you are truly accepted and loved. So there was a shallowness and emptiness in even my best friendships. And it was all because of MY fear - the fear that killed so much of my mind.

Elder Bednar has discussed the "tender mercies" the Lord often places in our lives - those reassurances He is there and He loves us. He gave me three of those when I came out to my Bish two years ago. This is a different Bish than my current one.

When I went to my first Bish, I was so afraid that I could hardly speak to him. I had written an eight page letter giving him the whole story of my wretched life, and to be quite honest, I thought my life might be coming to an end. That's how terrified I was - I had to write it down because I couldn't say it. I couldn't even say a prayer to open our interview! In my fearful mind I had preconcieved the events of that interview. I thought I would be excommunicated from the Church, and I thought that this man, who was my friend and with whom I had served, would reject me. The thought of that was so frightening that I was prepared to commit suicide if that happened. Driving to his office was the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life - literally the hardest! But the outcome was completely the opposite of what I had imagined. He was loving, he was kind, he was supportive. And he is still my friend. My fear had distorted my thinking - it had killed the rational part of my mind.

One of the other Mercies was almost as hard. My Stake President asked me point blank to tell a certain person about my SSA. It was completely unexpected, and I really questioned his inspiration at the time. This person happened to not only be my former Bishop, but also my best friend in the whole world. Besides friendship, we have an important business relationship. His family has "adopted" me and includes me in nearly all their activities. His children adore me, and his wife is like my sister. We are incredibly close!! Unfortunately, I had heard some homophobic comments come out of him in times past, and so the Mind Killer kicked in instantly - "Danger, Will Robinson - DANGER!! NEVER tell him you're a homo! NEVER! EVER!!!"

So here I was faced with this dilema of discussing my SSA with someone I didn't think could understand me. And on top of it all, I was putting the most important friendship of my life at risk. I nearly threw up at the thought. In fact, I argued with the SP for over two weeks about it. Finally the Bish had a talk with me and said, "You have to follow the counsel if you know its right. And you KNOW this is right!" And of course, he was right. I was kicking against the pricks. I could feel the inspiration behind this request, but I was letting my fear rule me.

So once again, when I sat down with my friend and came out to him I discovered I had been TOTALLY wrong about him. TOTALLY. He too continues to love me, support me, and include me in his family life just as before. In fact, I think our friendship actually improved after this experience. He shared with me some personal things in his life I had no idea he was dealing with, and I think that has made us closer.

I think the most important thing about coming out is to make sure you have a witness from the Spirit that its right. Not everyone will handle it like my friends did. But you'll know, if you really let the Spirit tell you, who is ready. If you can put your fear - the MIND KILLER - aside. Face it; let it pass through you. Faith and peace await you on the other side, and you will be closer to reconciling the two "me's"

Pray about it my friend. The One who loves you most of all will give you a "tender mercy", just like He did me. I know it! He loves you so much! He wants you to move beyond this...

Love and blessings,

Neal

Beck said...

Neal: I admit that I haven't taken the chance to read your full history - your coming out to your Bishop, Stake President etc.are fascinating to me and give me a great sense of hope.

You don't mention wife and kids? I don't know if you have other family members you are responsible for, but when you do things get a bit more complicated. You have to look out for what you feel is best for them and their wellbeing.

I find when I feel a desire to be more open, it gets squashed with thoughts about what such openness will mean or do to my immediate family. And is it that important to affect them unnecessarily?

I haven't been "moved upon by the spirit" to talk to my Bishop as I don't feel the need yet. I'm not saying I won't and I recognize that doing so may lead to a greater sense of "wholeness" and less of this sense of split-persona I'm going through right now. But I use the word "yet". I am open to the idea as the occasion arises and the feelings and timing are right.

RealNeal said...

Beck,

No, I'm not married. I do, however, understand your concern for your family. I used to use the same sort of rationalizations myself; "It will hurt so many people if they find out". Or, "as long as I keep it inside it is only hurting me". Or, "that family member has a weak testimony, I can't take a chance on upsetting them right now."

The problem with that kind of "heroic sacrifice" stuff is that you're leaving out the first person you have a responsibility to save - YOURSELF!. How much is this already affecting your family? If you go on as you are now and get ripped in half by the "two me's", where will that put you? Will your kids be helped or hurt? Your wife? You? Can you see the Mind Killer at work here? This is exactly what I was talking about - look at the distortion!

The longer you wait and feed the "two me's", the harder it will become. It almost killed me, as I mentioned, because I waited so long. Become the whole person you need to be, and you will be a better father, husband, priesthood holder. That gnawing feeling - the dread you just had being called into an interview - will be gone. You will be able to move forward in ways you never realized before. You'll discover just how much you've been holding back, and it is NOT healthy to hold back. It takes a terrible toll.

And have you really ASKED H.F. to help you tell someone, or are you just waiting to be struck by the lightning bolt? :-) Big difference. The Mind Killer will tell you to wait forever....

Kind wishes,

Neal

Ron Schow said...

Beck

I've just read all of the comments responding to this post. Everyone here seems to have a slightly different perspective. I feel inclined to share with you something I ponder a lot which has been helpful to me in my life. "Do nothing in haste."

I have another thought. Do you suppose Joseph Smith in Nauvoo, in the midst of his last years there, ever had feelings like you are having now? What did he mean when he said, "no man knows my history."

Beck said...

NEAL: I don't mean to reflect anything by pointing out my marriage and family "complications" and your not addressin such issues when opening up to church leaders and friends. You obviously have various issues I'm sure I don't have to deal with either. Each of our experiences are unique. I have told several people, a couple of dear friends, a fellow gay friend, etc. and it has felt good to feel that "wholeness" where the two personalities can blend into one. But I have yet to tell any true leader, or straight neighbor etc. I'm not there yet - and am seeking HF's help in sensing the need for when it is right.

Thanks for the encouragement and kind wishes. Please come visit often as I look for your advice and counsel from your experience!

Beck said...

RON: As rash as I may sound, and as much of a "drama queen" as I must seem, I really am pretty practical and pragmatic in my approach on life. I'm not going to jump off the cliff (as much as at times I feel like doing so). And I'm not going to do anything "in haste". Thanks for the cautionary voice of reason!

And you are right: NO ONE KNOWS MY HISTORY! There are things we don't know about everyone, even our dearest friends and family companions. No one truly knows me. I allow you to only know that which I am willing to share. At times, I share probably more than I should. I've been accused of being too personal and too revealing - but then again - I don't know how to be otherwise... but no one knows us, truly knows us, except the Lord.

RealNeal said...

Beck,

Indeed we all are unique and have unique needs and experiences. I can get pretty passionate about this topic at times, and in your case I feel a certain kinship I don't often feel. Perhaps its because you so elegantly summarized many of the feelings, thoughts and emotions I myself have been through. It struck a chord.

Anything I can to to help, my friend, just ask...

In Christ,

Neal

Beck said...

NEAL said: "...in your case I feel a certain kinship I don't often feel. Perhaps its because you so elegantly summarized many of the feelings, thoughts and emotions I myself have been through. It struck a chord."

I'm intrigued by this "chord striking". I feel so lonely at times that to say anything that strikes any chord to anyone else is astonishing when I feel so unique and different... Neal, I'd love to meet in person and discuss if you're interested.

RealNeal said...

Beck,

I live a LONG way from Utah. But if you join my web site we could send private messages as a start.

www.lds-ssa.org

Take care,
Neal