Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Twenty-eight years and counting...

It's our anniversary today. She's at camp with the Young Women of the ward. I plan on taking her someplace special when she gets back at the end of the week.

Until then, I continue to contemplate these past 28 years, and reflect on the miracle of our lives together. For example:

1. The miracle of falling in love with her the moment I saw her. There was something different. I had been off my mission less than a month. I was instantly attracted to her. Now, you may say: where is the miracle in that - well, I can honestly say that I have not been attracted to any other woman since then. Why did she cross my path so early after my mission? And why did I respond that way to her and no one else? I have been attracted to numerous guys since then, too numerous to count, many in an infatuation and crush kind of way, some romantically. But, never another woman. She is the only one. I find that quite miraculous.

2. The miracle of her falling in love with me. It wasn't so instantaneous with her. In fact, I was so excited about her that it scared her off. She made it clear after our first date that she didn't want anything to do with me. So, I backed off, but knew what I felt for her and I began to observe her from a distance. A couple of months later, we started working together, and little did I know that she was observing me, too, from a distance. And soon, she began to see in me the man that she wanted to marry. I was oblivious to these thoughts she was having, thinking she still wanted nothing to do with me. She started observing my passion and compassion for the elders and sisters with whom we worked at the MTC, and the attachments and strong ties of love and commitment I put into others, and it softened her heart towards me - again with me not knowing she was observing these things or having these thoughts. I find that quite miraculous.

3. We started working closer together. That everyday contact began to warm my heart back up and we became close friends. We were engaged on our second date a couple months later. Is that gay or what? Yes, I said "second date". Some may say we were crazy, particularly me, knowing what I know about myself now. I think by now we had kissed a couple of times at the door. I was extremely attached and attracted to young men around me. I loved the attention and "spirituality" of affection I shared with men. I fed off of it. I was enlivened by it. But never did I feel I was gay. This was nearly three decades ago, and for the record, that was ancient history in the development of understanding what it means to be same-sex attracted - at least in my sheltered world. I had conveniently cloaked it in the realm of "spiritual brotherhood bonding", and found a convenient source for my attractions to find expression. These expressions of same-sex affection began on my mission, as I've blogged about, and my feelings found root with the missionaries. She saw all this, and even questioned me about it, and I frankly explained to her that I was attracted to and needed to have male-to-male affection in my life, but never put the "gay" or "sexual" nomenclatures on what I was feeling and doing - as at that time, I could not or would not accept that I was "gay". Gay and Mormon did not and could not coexist. And since I was a good Mormon boy, a returned missionary, a devoted and spiritual MTC teacher, it wasn't possible for me to be "gay". And so, though she didn't understand my need for this affection, she accepted me, and we were off into the exciting world of engagement. I find that quite miraculous.

4. That I actually went through it, responded to the promptings I was feeling (and that this was what a good Mormon boy was supposed to do - find someone and get married in the temple right after your mission - hey, I was doing what was expected, what I was "supposed to do" and yes, that I felt I wanted to do), and married her despite my attractions for guys, which I really wanted more of and craved for all the time, but was confused and refused to accept these cravings for what they were. Did I love her? I suppose so, but obviously not in the straight-guy ways. And so we got married... still with just a few kisses under our belt. I find that quite miraculous.

5. I don't think you could find two people more naive and innocent when it comes to the bedroom. I'll leave it at that and say - it wasn't easy. It didn't feel natural. It quickly became a source of confusion, disillusionment, stress... And yet, we went forward. I find that quite miraculous.

6. We didn't conceive. Then we couldn't conceive. Then we didn't do it anymore for a long time. And yet she still loved me. I still loved her. Maybe not in the straight-couple way, but we made it work. She should have left me then, but she didn't. I find that quite miraculous.

7. Five years ago next month, I came out to myself. I finally faced the music. I struggled long and hard, but knew that I was irreversibly attracted to men, only men, completely men, and that I was "gay". It was five years ago that I finally said those words out loud to myself. Six months later, I told her those words as well, packaged with all the nuances of what that means, and what it has meant through all our years and experiences together. It was then, that I knew our life together was over. I had finally broken all hopes of an eternity together. I had destroyed her hopes and dreams and promises of her eternity in one confessional dose of reality that probably should have happened decades before. Though she hated those words, and was filled for a time with incredible hurt and pain, she didn't leave me. She is still at my side today. Even though I shared with her as gently but honestly as I could that I had been "in love" with many men throughout my life, but hadn't acted on that other than not locking my heart and giving her the key, but allowing it to fall in love with other men - through it all, she chose to stay with me. I find that quite miraculous.

8. These last 4-1/2 years have been a roller coaster of emotion, of steps forward of acceptance and honesty, and steps backward of denial and closet-dwelling. I'm not sure whether we are going forward or backward. But we are still trying. I still am undeniably attracted to men. My heart still aches to be "in love" with a man. I still desire more than anything the affection from men. Slowly, we are more open to that reality in our marriage. But we are still working on keeping keepin' on. I don't know that I see the miracle in this just yet. This is hard. This is not an easy path. I don't know the next step to take, so I don't take much of any. I feel no progress - just stagnation. But, I feel no regret for the choices made. And I feel blessed, truly blessed that she is still a vital part of me and is still at my side, my devoted eternal companion despite everything, and in spite of everything.

I guess that's pretty miraculous after all.

What do you think? Was I stupid? dishonest? naive? too innocent in believing it would work? Did I do wrong in marrying when I shouldn't have?
(NOTE: I tend to go through this ritual of reflection every year. If I were brave enough to go back in my blog, I'm sure I could see that I'm in the same place I was last year and the year before... and I guess any faithful readers are sick of this same obligatory post. In a way, I'm sick of it, too... but as one who is faithful to obligations, I'm posting it just the same.)

Whatever... I guess I'll never know. I just know that I love her - just because...


J G-W said...

Beck - There's something real here between you and your wife. There's so much good in your marriage. It was not a mistake.

Happy Anniversary!

mandi said...

I can only pray that we make it another ten to get to where you are. And if we're in the same place then as we are today, at least we're still together.
Happy Anniversary!

Beck said...

JOHN: Thanks for that post. Feeling a bit down today and I needed to read that.

MANDI: I don't think of my life and life story as anything to emulate, but if, in some incomprehensible way, it inspires you to hang on together, then maybe this blog has done someone some good.

Sarah said...

I love your blog, your honesty, your thoughtfulness. I've said this before and I'll say it again, but your blog has been a major source for me to really understand all of you, and especially my dear husband.

Like you, we continue to stand together. And I hope that we can do so for eternity. God bless us--you and your wife, and Scott and I, and all others out there who have a desire to make this work and can't imagine being without each other, even though it is not easy.

Thanks again for a wonderful post.

Beck said...

Sarah: This blog may be a major source for you to understand married gay men who are as lost as a stray cow in Bryce Canyon, not sure of which path to take, and don't have a clue what they are doing! :)

Thank you for your kindness and friendship you've always shown me. You and Scott remain a source of strength for me to keep going...

Bravone said...

Beck, Our stories parallel in so many ways as you know. When you J G-W and I were young, people were still naming their kids Gay!

My marriage is also a miracle. I am so grateful for it. It doesn't diminish the emotional need for male intimacy, but I am grateful non the less.

Love you and Happy Anniversary!