Saturday, December 29, 2007

Year end reflections - part II...

So it's been three years. Am I any different? How have things changed? For the better or for worse? I'll leave those to be dealt with in the next post in this series...

But, an odd thing happened this post-Christmas week that is related directly to this quest for self-reflection at year's end:

Over the course of the last couple of days I've been visited twice (separate and unrelated) by Tim and Will (my two boy-toy heart throbs, if you will, who started the whole "coming to terms" with my attraction issues and eventually opening up about them to myself and to my wife).

It's a coincidence that:

1. each of them came to me of their own will and accord (I did not solicit or even invite such meetings) at my home office,

2. each of them sought out their "old mate" to have a "chat" and to get updated with me over the holidays (seeing that we don't see each other much anymore as both are away to school otherwise),

3. each of them have nearly-engaged fiancees and are planning weddings in the near future,

4. each of them came to discuss the complications and intricacies of the female relationship and the path that leads to marital bliss - um..yes, they came to me, the ol' gay guy, their mate hug-buddy who is such an expert at marriage,

5. each of them stayed over 2-1/2 hours discussing their lives with me - and yet it seemed like only a few precious minutes,

6. each of them confessed their love for me and I for them,

7. each "chat in the flesh" session ended affectionately with our famous hugs-and-kisses scene at the door (need I rehearse the familiarity and beauty of the magic of that sense of touch???).

Now, I personally find it interesting enough that these two guys (who, though they may not know entirely, started it all in waking up my internal volcano, and who independently nearly ended my marriage in divorce three years ago!) are still around, actively in my life, anxious for our relationship to continue and to grow and to be reinforced.

But, the really interesting part is that Tim and Will both came to my house and in both cases, my wife came down and saw us together (talking) and she was very friendly, interested in their lives and not upset that they were with me. And, to further confuse the situation, she never said one thing to me about them coming over (nor the odd coincident of two occasions on top of each other like that), whether I had called them, if I knew they were home for the holidays, whether I arranged to meet them etc. etc. In fact, she hasn't brought them up at all in any subsequent conversations with me. Now, that is what is freaking me out - for you see - Tim and Will are symbols of all that I desire that she can't offer me - and thus, they are a source, a huge source of frustration and jealousy in our marriage. In the last couple of years, even mentioning their names, or encountering them at church, or heaven-for-bid at home, was ammunition for interrogations - questioning my motives and not seeing how painful and hurtful it is to have them still in my life after all that I've confessed that I feel toward them.

And now - nothing - no interrogation at all. Instead, polite pleasantries that are truly sincere. What is going on here? Is she planning the big ax to drop on me in my sleep? Or has she changed and come around to see that these "boyfriends" of mine are just that - friends - friends that are boys (dang cute boys I might add :)) that I need in a special, unique sort of coming-to-terms-with-being-gay-and-married way - and yet not in a way to destroy my marriage, love and loyalty to her? In other words, after dropping the bomb on her that I'm gay and "out" (at least to ourselves), I've suspected that she's anticipated the next bomb dropping that "oh by the way... I've got a boyfriend and I'm leaving you for him" announcement. And, since that second bomb has never come, is it possible to think that she is beginning to trust me? Can she believe that despite my attractions to these boys (that are a strong as ever, if not stronger), I'm still hers and am not going any place? Can she possibly be viewing them no longer as a threat to her and to our marriage? Can she be beginning to accept me for who I am?

to be continued...

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Year end reflections - part 1...

Three years ago tomorrow, I attended the funeral of a dear, close friend. It was sad enough that it happened just after Christmas, but it was even worse that he had committed suicide and left four small children and a widow to wonder those "whys" that cannot ever be answered. I am still haunted by his suicide and how he got to the place that made it all make sense to take his own life and to conclude that his family would be better off without him. The days after Christmas continue to be a difficult ones for me...

It was also three years ago, that coincidentally, I was seriously contemplating the same thing. We had made it through another holiday season and we were able to "put on the great facade" in front of friends and family that all was fine in the Beck home. Of course, it wasn't... I had recently come to the conclusion that I was gay - a revelation in the making that took twenty three years of marriage to accept. My wife knew that something was changing inside me as I became more and more distant from her, pulling away from family and all things marital.

After attending the funeral of my friend, I literally fell apart. I couldn't understand so many things. I started crying all the time. I couldn't stop. I was in so much pain and torment. I knew what I was doing to her and I couldn't live with myself, knowing what I was doing to destroy her life and all that she thought she had created with me. I knew that either I would have to confront my wife and bring her into full understanding of what was going on inside of me, (which was something that I just couldn't imagine doing) or I would have to leave the situation all together (moving myself from my wife and kids - running away - or worse - just ending it... my buddy just did it - so why couldn't I?) I was very frightened!

These thoughts and emotions, these feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness overwhelmed me. I knew I had to confront her and I prayed that she would confront me so that I wouldn't have to bring it up. I knew that if I didn't do something to reach out to her for help, I would end up doing something frightening... and again, I wept for my friend and wept that I was heading for the same result.

Fast-forward three years: A lot has changed and evolved in the last three years, mostly for the better... Forester asked me recently whether I regret having come "out" to my wife. That's intriguing me. I know some have advised me to let the past go and that what is done is done... but as this year ends, and I come to my third anniversary of my "outing" to my wife, I feel an evaluation of these last three years is appropriate as I look forward to realizing and marking the "progress" made instead of the lack of progress (though I'm certainly not as far down the road that I thought I would be by now - but, hey... I'm still on the road and I'm still going forward)...

To be continued...

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Buon Natale...

In this strange medium called blogging, I have shared personal thoughts, feelings, and actions that I would never dream of sharing with my closest friends, family, Bishop, even my wife... it has served me well as an outlet and a source for information and a means whereby I can grasp for some self/group therapy. And yet, because of my being willing to open up and share my very private vulnerabilities with you (which I wonder at times if I'm not too honest and too revealing of my personal foibles and follies), and if you are following along, we have come to "know" each other (or at least this aspect that I reveal to you) through this miracle of MOHO queerosphere.

Many of you have become friends -dear friends... friends that know things about me that I don't even know about myself as you advise me in ways that I can't see, and you comment, and share, and support me as true friends. I thank you for your kindness and sensitivity for this confused and slow-to-learn gay boy.

With another Christmas upon us, may I say that I truly wish you joy and peace in your lives. We may be on different paths, (you may find it crazy and inconceivable that I've chosen to stay faithful to the Church and to my marriage and family), but, I learn from you, and have come to love you in ways that even a year ago I didn't think were possible... There is always room for you at my table.

Love and hugs,


Friday, December 21, 2007

Early Christmas present...

In the last week, it has come to my attention (through these endless surveys and "studies" - I mean, is there anything left to be studied out there?) that:

1. Utah ranks no. 1 in the nation for people who are depressed...


2. SLC is the vainest city in the nation...

So, depression (in the sense of not being happy with life verses chemical depression) signals either a) a population that is trying to always be better (which is a good thing verses not trying at all) or b) a population that is working hard to achieve goals that might be set too high and so there is a built-in / self-imposed failure rate for not ever being "good enough" or "measuring up" to always higher standards. The Church often inspires such thoughts, which in general, are good so that we always keep trying to improve - but these thoughts can focus our attentions solely on "perfecting ourselves" and falling short of perfection leads to unhappiness or unworthiness... such thoughts were never the Savior's! As a people, we fail to allow the Savior in our lives to bring the peace that the Gospel is supposed to bring as we do what we can. Is it any wonder why we are depressed instead of joyful for having the everlasting Gospel plan in our lives?

The vanity thing is interesting... When I was in NYC last month with my wife, we went into the Sephora store and were overwhelmed by perfumes and beauty products and gay-boys promoting the latest items. My wife commented: "there are a lot of people out there hungry to be loved". Now for NYC or L.A. to be concerned about beauty and vanity is one thing, but SLC? I guess it was determined by the amount of money spent on beauty products and cosmetic surgery, and the number per capita of plastic surgeons. Does this ranking of SLC have anything to do with a people wanting to "look good" for the sake of caring about their appearances (in a positive sense - good health, good hygiene etc.) or is this people "hungry for love"? And does that have anything to do with the unhappiness / depression ranking noted above?

On that vein, I finally cut my hair! For anyone who follows (the two or three of you out there), I really have a thing for long hair. I've concluded that it is a symbol of rebellion and since I don't "fit in" and never have (i.e. I'm not like other guys - especially those in my High Priest Quorum and neighborhood) I've always used my hair as a personal symbol of rebellion, purposefully setting myself apart from the rest of the gang. I don't remember the last time I got a haircut. This time, my hair was long enough to pull into a pony tail. But, alas, following the desires of my true love (read "wife" here) I cut my hair as an early Christmas present for her... (wasn't that kind and thoughtful of me???).

It's now missionary-short and spikey and ugly and I hate it... but she likes it. She says I look younger. I don't believe her. It shows that I'm turning gray... I hate that, too. When it's longer it hides that touch of gray that gives me the "air of distinction" (her words). In my view, I'm just getting older. It's another example of where I don't know who I am, that I try to be what others want me to be, and that I continue to live behind a facade... *sigh*

So do you think my vanity has anything to do with my depression?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Good will toward men?

I wasn't going to post about this, but OneofsoMany recently said the following and it triggers a conflict currently burning inside me:

"I feel bad because I know I’ve tried to control him and direct his life. The intents were always good. I just want him to be and feel happy and help him through his struggles. It’s hard to back off and let him live and experience HIS life, make HIS choices and suffer HIS consequences. I try to always be there for him and hope he feels that I am, or at least try..."

I really can relate to this. Recently, Tim and I spoke about a situation that he's in where there are some money issues which has led to some debt that he needs to pay off. As a result, some of his plans for the near future may have to be put on hold - good plans, good things, righteous desires, etc.

Naturally, because of my close, brotherly relationship with him (and because I'm in love with him on several levels), I find my desires to get out my checkbook and write off his debts are almost overwhelming me. To his credit, he has begged me NOT to do this... And yet, here I sit wanting so much to run to his bank and make a deposit.

And I ask myself, why? Isn't it good to have friends to come to your aid in times of need? Aren't I trying to be helpful - is that bad? I don't want anything in return - I've even mentioned that for the sake of his pride, he could consider it a loan and pay me off when he's rich and famous.

But, he wants to learn and go through this and work his way out of it. So far, I've resisted the urges to step in and take away this learning opportunity from him - and it's hard - because I can. I have the means to step in and erase all his debts... and I want so much to do so.

So, do I step back and let my dear indescribable good friend "struggle", and be a good friend by just "being there"? Or do I bail him out? I mean, it's Christmastime, right? "Good will toward men" and all that good cheer?

And the really tough rhetorical question of the day: Do I feel this overwhelming desire to assist him out of his struggles and bail him out, not because of my love for him, but to help me ease my guilt because of my love for him???

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Spirit of the Season

I know, I know... I've been known to be the biggest proponent of calling Deseret Book the ultimate peddler of priestcraft, yet here I am, preaching in the spirit of Abelard's most recent posts, offering my two-cents worth on a "must-have" item for anyone loving classical Christmas music... The CD "Spirit of the Season" by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir with Sissel is incredible. Go get it now and listen to it while you're in the mood for Christmas music - don't wait until Christmas! (Am I over-selling here?)

Of course, you've got to be stone deaf to not appreciate the gift of pure magic that is Sissel's smooth, effortless soprano voice with that Norwegian touch of angelic beauty!

I saw the performance live twice last year - and by far I'm completely blown-away, swept-off-my-feet in love with another woman! For this gay-boy, that's saying something!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Lost Sheep Among Us...

On Sunday, I was asked to present a special lesson in Priesthood Meeting. I gave a lot of thought and prayer to what I was to present.

I talked about how easy it is to love those who love us first, how eager we are to volunteer in priesthood assignments to help a fellow brother or sister who has been a model of love and a champion of righteous living in our lives as we feel an obligation of sorts, and rightfully so, to pay back in some small way, when that person is now in need of our assistance. It is easy to remember the obvious widow or widower at Christmastime - but what about during the rest of the year? It is easy to reach out to the recent young widow whose husband prematurely died of a sudden heart attack leaving her with eight children - but what about months from now when the flower displays from the funeral have wilted and faded away?

But then I led a discussion of how the Savior loved everyone unconditionally. I twisted the Parable of the Lost Sheep (hopefully within the intent of Christ's words) to not be focused solely on the ONE who has sinned and needs repentance and has left the fold, or is "less active" and has turned from the Gospel (and the Church family associations), but more so, as the ONE who is around us within the Church family who is in silent pain, who is suffering quietly, who has issues (even SSA) that keeps one from connecting with the fellowship of the Saints, who is lonely and all alone - even when surrounded by people. This is the ONE who most likely does not PUBLISH their pain or disconnectivity or his loneliness and puts on a facade that all is well in Zion, when in reality they are screaming for help.

When we address the Lost Sheep, we usually place ourselves within the group of the 90-and-9. We are still in the fold. We are faithful. We are the good ones. In Luke 15:7, the Savior states: "... joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance." But, who doesn't need to repent? Aren't we all sinners? And thus, isn't it logical that in reality we are ALL the "ONE" referred to in the parable?

The conversation evolved to where we admitted that it was easy to love and assist, to reach out and touch the obvious, the more visible, the loved brother or sister with a health problem - but that it is much more difficult to remember to reach out to those who don't have such visible ailments, but who are suffering ever so much. CONNECTIVITY - reaching out, touching each other, giving hugs, being kind, saying hello, befriending the friendless, the lonely, the one on the fringe, lifting the spirits of the one that isn't so "popular" for our affection, risking our own feelings and comfort zones by being willing to offer our assistance and affection as the spirit dictates, especially to the "unpopular" among us, or the ones with issues we may not understand (such as depression, SSA etc.) That is what the Savior did. He sought out the "unpopular" among us, not just the obvious, and he made each of us feel as we were the "ONE".

In the end, after the lesson, many stiff High Priests came up to me and thanked me for touching their hearts and making them think in a new way. Then, an interesting phenomenon occurred... they lined up and gave me a hug! I didn't ask for these hugs, especially from older men who I never thought to hug before. Though these hugs were rigid and stiff - the good ol' priesthood quick embrace and three pats on the back (not two, not four - just three), they were still hugs and signs of affection for me - from men that I would not expect to demonstrate such sensitivities in such a public forum. It felt good. I felt blessed and humbled for having been there to be edified by the power of the spirit and the power of brotherhood. (Granted, I couldn't help but wonder why it is that as men get older we often become less open in our expressions of affection - we become more distant in our public expressions - why is that? I don't ever wnat to to do that. I never want to change! I wish with all my heart that I could truly connect with them as I do with my "younger" brethren who aren't afraid to truly be "connected" with me, and openly embrace me with the affectionate brotherly love of David and Jonathan - but that's for another day - for now I should be grateful that some level of connection was made with the seasoned members of the ward... But I couldn't help but wonder why it is that so many have such a problem with physical affection, with touching each other, with truly hugging without reservation - I guess there are those of us who are "touchy feely" and then there are those who are not - I'm just glad I'm a touchy-feely guy, and I love to encourage others to open themselves to the power of TOUCH!)

I hope to live up to my own lesson: Be not afraid to reach out with love and kindness to the ONE among us! (P.S. Remember that YOU are the "one"!)

Monday, December 10, 2007

I love the white stuff...

What is it about a good ol' snowstorm to lift my spirits?

I mean, snow is cold and wet and slushy and it sticks to my car and ices up my door and I get stuck in the gutter or even my own driveway, let alone being bogged down on the freeway, right?

And yet, snow can take a dreary bland Utah landscape of the post fall leaf-changing burst of color and change it into a magical, bright place blanketed in light.

I love snow. I don't really ski (some cross-country, but never got into downhill), but I love to hike in it, build snowmen, and who doesn't love a good snowball fight with the kids!
I love it's acoustical value... Have you ever noticed how the world becomes insulated in sound-attenuated blankets and the harshness of surrounding sounds are softened by snow?

I hiked the neighborhood hollow and felt renewed in my spirit. Why does this happen?

The recent snow this weekend even made me excited to go shopping. I never go shopping this early in the season. I hate shopping! But I went out to join the throngs of holiday commercialists and it felt like everyone was a bit more happy spending their money because of the snow. Have we been so brainwashed by traditional images of what it's supposed to feel like that we actually "feel" it?

Or is there really magic in all that white stuff?
You know what?... this post is so gay...

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The cycle...

Been out of town again, but was joined by my wife for the weekend.

Took in the magic and lights and spectacle of the season at one of the greatest cities on earth...

Did some Christmas shopping, took in a play, and had some fun and great times together, creating cherished memories...

Enjoyed the time together away from the kids - just the two of us, but...

that wasn't enough. She wanted more than "good times". She needed more bonding and renewal, much more so than I - and our needing each other being on different waves created anxiety when all else was there to create the "magical moment" that she craved... and so...

Just as I sometimes boil over, or go into a panic, or desire things that aren't conducive to a happy marriage due to my attractions, so she desires things for our marriage that sometimes I can't provide, and that leads to stress, anxiety and insecurity on both our parts. I'm never exactly sure when these desires or needs of companionship, security, interest and focus on her, attention and attraction that is genuine and reciprocated, need to be manifested in a certain precise way in order for her to feel anchored in our relationship... and when I don't manifest them in the exact way she needs, tears begin to flow and angst, heartache, loneliness and insecurity rise to the surface - for a while - boiling over a bit - and then we simmer down and back together again.

It was this time this weekend that it happened that I realized my inabilities or incapacity to truly connect with her in a real sense - more than intimacy - an emotional and total connection of souls - in the way that she needed to be reassured that I'm still "with her" together, forever - was so painful to her because she truly LOVES me and she doesn't, at times, feel that I love her back. Being good friends, best friends, companions committed to each other, focusing on each other, isn't good enough. At times, I need to truly be bonded in LOVE with her as she is with me. And when I'm distant, or not as connected, or I just can't, or when I'm giving all that I have and it's not enough to satisfy her inner needs - it hurts her. All the consoling and empathy, all the increased amounts of affection and attention can't make up for what is missing at that moment. She knows right then and there, and is painfully reminded, that my attractions aren't focused on her no matter how hard I try. She knows that I long for something she can't give me, even as much as I try only to long for her to be happy.

Why does she so deeply LOVE me? What have I done to completely inflict such intense stress on her because of this love she feels for me? Knowing all that I am and all that I am not, how come her love for me grows - and thus hurts more when she needs me to feel the same (and I feel in so many ways that I do) and yet it isn't enough? Because, in the back of her mind, though we may not discuss it in so many words, she knows that I will never be totally focused on her in the way she needs - and yet she can't stop loving me, in fact, she loves me even more because of it...

and so we cycle through another round. I try to comfort her the best I can. I try to not feel uptight or frustrated that I can't do my "job" as a husband and eternal companion better than I do, and turn the whole thing to a "woe is me" or a "look at the poor gay boy not being able to measure up to an impossible task of a happy heterosexual marriage" kind of thing, though that is the most logical and immediate reaction to have. I try to talk about it with her. She doesn't want to talk about it because it's "too painful". I try to not take offense - though deep down I'm angry with myself that I am doing this to her, that I cause her so much unintentional grief and pain, that I'm unable to console her in the way that she needs to be consoled, that I'm such an inadequate and broken figure of a man... So, I just hold her in my arms and squeeze tightly as she breaks down... (this time I was void of emotion other than frustration that I'm doing this to her) and then, it's over and we go on - and life is normal and other problems and living life's adventure takes over and this gets pushed down to lower levels of immediacy - at least until the next time...

Someday, we are going to need to find the right person to talk to, to help us to get through these boiling over moments and come to some higher level of resolution. I don't know when, but we can't keep going on this cyclical path we're on...

Forester recently posted about whether our challenges are unique. I don't think they are unique. If it weren't this particular challenge, it would be another. We all have challenges and I'm not about to compare mine against yours or anyone else's. I am convinced that the real challenge here is centered on what we do about our trials, temptations, challenges... not weighing them and bemoaning over them.

So... um, how was your weekend at this festive time?