During the last few weeks I've been searching for a direction in my life, and an answer to the "what do I really want?" kind of questions. As much as the answer to these questions should be obvious to a true believer (which I am most definitely one of the true believers) of "the Plan", it hasn't been an easy task. I've struggled with the difference between what I should want verses what I really want. And that struggle triggers all sorts of thoughts as to why there even exists such a struggle in the first place.
But, this post isn't directly about that... My list of wants is still forthcoming. I'm still working on it and it has been my prime focus for some time now.
That said, there has been a new development which has made my task and my focus more difficult. I'm hesitant to share this development here, as I'm sure most of you will say: "... well, there he goes again, that Beck, always looking to hook up with somebody - if he can't get it from his young men who are now all married off, then I guess he's got to get his bromancing in from somewhere... (heavy sigh)".
Where do I begin... A brief synopsis may be justified...
While I've been having problems, distancing myself from confrontations with my wife (and feeling compromised and bruised a bit in the process), a friend from the past comes back into my life.
This friendship is a deep and dear friendship that extends back nearly three decades. This friendship began toward the end of my mission. Thomas was a 22 year old law student and newly baptized member when we met. I fellowshipped him and guided him through the process of preparing to be an Elder and go to the temple. We became very close, extremely close. Nothing immoral happened between us, but I fell in love with him. I couldn't use those words at the time because at that time I couldn't and wouldn't accept that I was gay. To put it in those words implied that I was attracted to him sexually, and I wouldn't allow myself to go there. Though we were more intimate than a missionary should be, we encased our relationship in the bonds of "spiritual brotherhood" that our love for each other was just that - brotherly love. For now, I will leave it at that.
When my mission was up, I remember the hardest thing I had to do was leave Thomas. My parents came to pick me up, and he was there at my side. We cried openly and wept in each others arms as I had to leave. I did not want to go. I was in love with him. This attachment I had with him and he with me caused my parents great concern. They wanted to receive in their arms a welcoming son, and instead, they found a son who wanted to spend the rest of his life with another man. Though none of us cloaked it in the words of "gay", it was obvious that we were more than "best friends" or "mates". They were convinced that getting me home and back to college and away from Italy would solve the "problem".
Several months later, Thomas was getting married in the Swiss Temple. He was marrying someone that I knew (he was engaged the last month of my mission) not because he loved her, but because it was the right thing to do. I didn't like her (she was the sister of a sweet member in our branch who came to visit, but she was anything but sweet and desperate to be married - and in Italy, finding an eligible worthy priesthood holder is difficult - and was going to find "her man" hell or high water!) as it felt like she had hooked him and was taking home her catch. He seemed happy, and what was a missionary supposed to do but encourage eternal families and temple marriage as "the Lord's will" for all of us. But, as I look back, I was deeply jealous of her because I knew that she didn't love him as I loved him and I didn't see him loving her as he loved me. It was being done out of duty, and "the right thing to do" and nothing else.
I couldn't think of not being there to witness his marriage, so I emptied my student-poor savings account and bought a ticket to be there with them on their special day. It was the most out-of-body experience of my life. So many things happened on that trip, but needless-to-say, we fell into each others arms all over again. I bawled at their ceremony in the temple (most thinking I was overwhelmed with joy), but I was hurting too much inside. I wanted him to be happy and this was part of the Plan and so it had to be the right thing to do, and so I kept encouraging him on. I remember walking around the temple grounds with him in the middle, his bride arm-in-arm on his right side, and me arm-in-arm on his left side. I was sooo glad to be there with them, but as I think about it, we had to have made quite the odd threesome - and some must have wondered what this clingy American was doing with these newlyweds. Again, I'll leave it at that...
We wrote epistles back and forth for the first year. Then I got married and we eventually went to Italy several times and met up with each other - but our relationship became strained as the "wives" interfered with our closeness. Both sensed it. I had shared and revealed in detail my feelings for Thomas with my wife prior to our marriage and she "accepted" this bromance though she did not understand it (now she has a clearer picture). Soon, however, his relationship with his wife soured and turned ugly and crazy and they split. Mine turned stressful and lonely as I sunk into the 90s in my great denial period of my life. Our letters became less frequent, but still very powerful - enough to keep the passion and friendship alive - where typically any other friendship, with the distance of a continent and an ocean separating us, would have died.
Then came the invention of email... (Yes, there was life before the Internet believe it or not!) and we began corresponding. He went through a deep and dark depression after his split from his wife and eventually left the Church. He never denied the spirit or the teachings, but felt the rules and the culture of "pro-marriage" at all costs drove him to this living "hell" he found himself living because of those decisions. Whether he should have blamed the Church for his decisions or not isn't the point... but our correspondence weakened as he would be so bitter.
Finally, he found another woman who helped him out of this bitterness. They could not marry as his wife would not grant a divorce (divorce laws in Italy are very convoluted) so they moved in together and have had a common law marriage and one child who is now a young teenager. We've visited them and I've found him again to be not very happy in his family situation, but he endures it well, and muddles on...
The rest of the story... Two weeks ago, after several months of silence, he emails me (by the way as soon as I came out to myself, I wrote him a 37 page letter and sent it to him explaining my "coming out" story) and wants to ask me several deep probing questions about me being gay, about my feelings for him when I was a missionary, about my feelings for him now, about things that I wanted to talk about nearly four years ago, but didn't - at that time he took my gay discovery as being a great revelation for me, but he didn't internalize what it might mean for him, or what he means to me.
These deep and personal questions baffled me, but in my current matrimonial funk, I was in the mood to be completely honest for the first time with him and I admitted that without a doubt I was "in love" with him, that I was attracted and turned on sexually by him, that I wanted him as a missionary, but I couldn't and wouldn't and DIDN'T allow myself to do it (the story of my life). At first he was a bit shocked by this revelation, but that led to other questions and over the course of the last two weeks we have been sharing lengthy correspondences daily back and forth (good thing I was on a blogging-holiday) and he started opening up to me for the first time about his own sexuality...
Some translated quotes - all from him:
"I didn't believe truly that you were in love with me. I thought you loved me as a brother, and wouldn't allow myself to imagine otherwise. I wish I had known this fact sooner... because maybe my life would have been different."
"This is a major guilt in my life - to not have understood that you loved me, and not just spiritually."
"Now I think, if it was truly God that put us together, wasn't it for our happiness? And if God is true love, maybe there should have been more between us."
"... the fact is that since we met, neither of us have been very happy in our lives! So, now, here we are. We have other family responsibilities that we must honor... But, I must confess something: If one day I remain alone and also you are alone, it doesn't matter what age we are, wait for me for I will want to be with you, not to just relive the past and try to make it what it wasn't, but so that you can really know me!"
"how would my life have changed had you confessed your love to me? Certain, it is difficult to say. Maybe at that time it wasn't right for us, and neither of us would have accepted it then, I would have been hard on you... but in my heart there would have been such joy, not pain."
"why is it only now that we have discovered this between us - when our lives are not free?"
"I never really felt the spirit in Church, but I felt the spirit with you..."
"If God has established his plan for us, let's leave it up to him to guide our future life. I think that on this earth there hasn't been a friendship so profound like ours. I will never forget it. I will never abandon you..."
"This discussion between us has helped me to be more tranquil. You are helping me to see that I am bisexual and am open to a relationship with another man. I've come to realize that sex must be accompanied by love. Without love, there is no satisfaction. So, if I decided to be with you for love, and not only for friendship, I would have been sexual with you."
"Why are you so far away? There are days when I want to go back to be alone with you."
"You are the only person that I can truly open my heart to without being judged, and you can do the same to me!"
"From among all of my friends, you are the one I feel more than "brother". Why? You have always given me your heart with sincerity and purity that I couldn't help but be in love with you... My love for you for the most part has been spiritual, but now, today, if I were free, I would give you so much more... because physical love for you would be a completion of our spiritual love."
"I have such a desire to hug you, to hold you, to feel your body's heat next to mine, to smell the scent of your skin... but, I don't want to come between you and your wife. It wouldn't be right to make her suffer... that is why I only wish to have discovered all of this before I got married or you got married. I've always missed you! Always, always, and what pain I have suffered for our distance from each other.... We are two stupid idiots! We could have waited... we should have waited... and then our lives would have been so much happier. I don't want to go crazy thinking about the "what ifs"."
"Be it clear that if we can figure out a way, I will want to be with you..."
What am I to think of all this? Is he teasing me? Is he playing on the fact that we have marriages and we live on separate continents and so it really isn't going to happen so it's easy to be gushy and emotional like this? And why now? Why all of a sudden, after our nearly three-decade relationship, we are sending love letters back and forth and discovering our feelings for each other are stronger than ever?
Am I so desperate for a bromance that I'll go to another continent to find one? Am I so screwed up I want to be in a fantasy world of make-believe romance? Is this all a pleasant distraction to keep me from facing reality? Sounds like I'm wanting to live in a soap opera...
I need help from my blogging community to help me sort this one out before it gets more out of hand than it already has... Comments? I'm an open book so have at it and critique away...
To be continued...