Friday, June 25, 2010

A window to the past / "the envy of guys"...

Digging through a box in the back storage room of my office, I stumbled across three notebook journals that I wrote my senior year of high school and my first year of college. I had forgotten that I had kept these journals and remembering those trying times, I was scared to read them, but I had to.

Have you ever had that experience? These writings are over thirty years old! I haven't reread them ever. It's like a time capsule that has been discovered, and of course you have to read and discover what was going on - particularly this being a recording of my inner thoughts and feelings. What was I thinking? What was I feeling?

As fascinating as it was to reread my own words, I am sad for the boy that I'm rediscovering. I realize that instead of imagining a journal full of hopes and dreams of the future, of dating girls and partying with friends and having a fun and carefree last year of high school, I find a troubled boy, a boy that is too self-reflective, one that feels different and alone and worried and confused. I find a boy that is hung up on his "envy of boys". This was a different and more naive time and place - at least in my isolated and very sheltered world - a place where thoughts of being "gay" or really knowing what that even meant were not even contemplated. That is how I saw myself for years to come... I was not gay, I was just "envious of boys". And I beat myself up for having these feelings. And I was ashamed... Is this just normal adolescent "not fitting in" angst? Or is this something more?

At the risk of personal embarrassment, I have pulled just a sampling portion of a few entries and summarized them here for you to look into the past and see the boy that I once was. This is the first of maybe a couple of posts - covering the senior year. If you get through this post and care to respond, I am interested in you sharing your thoughts of what you observe from these words penned from this scared and oh-too-serious 17 year old's hand... and what they say about me today, now 33 years later.

Sep 2nd

Kevin is my best friend. He is my faithful and enduring friend. He’s my locker partner for many years. We’ve gone on dates, sat at games, walked and talked and shared things together. But after a certain point we stop. I don’t want to stop! Oh how I want to get closer and be close. How I wish I could confide and tell him everything inside me – open and out – and then have him understand the real me, turn around and then do the same thing. I really don’t think this will ever happen.

Sep 3rd

...I find myself being so jealous and envious of the guys at school. So many guys are so good looking, with muscled chests and full beards. I’m so skinny and am so ashamed of my body, and all I can grow is peach fuzz. And I ask myself: Why not me? I have thoughts of becoming more manly, more masculine and more like them. I don’t know what to do with my thoughts.

Nov 29th

...Life is made of countless decisions and choices, like grains of sand along the foggy beach, and each choice must be made surrounding the complicated age of 18. Wouldn’t it be great if life could end then without facing myself and my future… when and where to work, when and where to go to college, who to date, when to apply for a mission, who to marry, what occupation, and I wonder why my feelings are so different from other boys… I am totally bewildered on where to turn for help. Help me, please?

Dec 24th

O how I wish that love would swell and bloom, grow and overcome my home, not merely love and peace, but true caring, feeling and understanding so that I could open up to my family and let them know me better…

O how I wish that I were six-and-a-half feet tall, towering over other guys, with broad shoulders and big biceps, and not feeling so inferior and different.

O how I wish that I were worthy, honest enough, chaste, charitable with the true love of Christ, to be able to share and live with Him, to feel his spirit, his perfect body, his love.

O how I wish that Christmas would always last with the real meaning of giving and understanding.

O how I wish that I could relate with other people better, particularly guys, and speak easier with no pain or shaking nerves.

O how I wish that I were better…

Jan 27th

...I am ashamed of who I am. I regret how skinny and underdeveloped and pussified I really am (I’m such a puss!) which calls indeed for immediate changes in my values systems of my goals...

Feb 20th

...I still have a problem of envying other guys, those who are stronger and taller and so beautiful. Indeed, my values are low in this area and I need, again, to strengthen my mind, to control “it”, to keep these feelings within grasp, when fleeing down the road of an incorrect or lustful, or envious “thought”.

Feb 26th

...Why do I do this? It’s an envious sin that I got into the habit with and I don’t know how to satisfy myself and being content with who I am. I know I am weird, but maybe I need psychiatric care to cure my problem. I have brought it to the Lord countless times , but I don’t seem to have the required self-control of my mind to keep these thoughts and others of ill-quality from creeping around in my mind – this thing in my head that is supposed to realize right from wrong – and all I feel is that the answer, at least for now, is not now.

Do you offer any advice? I only talk about these things in here, not a soul as I know to this point knows about my feelings about this subject. That’s why some of these entries are on this subject. I am so ashamed…

Feb 27th

...As I said, I am so different from the other boys of this ward. I mean different looks, different acts, different wants. Thus, I don’t hit it off that well, but I am trying to relate, but I don’t . I’m just different. My hair is different. My way of dress is different. My attitude is different. I try to be proud of the way that I am and realize that I am this way because that is the way my spirit is, that is the way I am made. I am me!

March 3rd

...I notice how my moods have varied, how at times, I’m in tune with the spirit and then at other times I’m in tune with an evil influence, straight from Lucifer in person. What I need is more self-control, self-mastery of my body and mind, to always be the guiding pilot of my affairs of my life. If I but stay worthy, if I but keep the commandments, if I but keep myself and my feelings and desires under control, I’ll be able to live out my calling, to be a missionary, a father, a leader (as mentioned in my patriarchal blessing), and will live a full life.

March 20th

...I still have recurring dreams and thoughts about being more masculine. I imagine myself stronger and manly and the envy of other guys. I can’t get rid of these thoughts. I dream of Kevin. I want to be closer to him. He is such a special guy. I don’t know what to do. I must admit that I get a lot of enjoyment out of these thoughts. These wicked thoughts live in my mind and the enjoyment comes from the devil.

March 23rd

...Help me to be worthy to receive thy help with the right attitude. Help me to think of others, to lose myself in the service of others that I might become a happy person. Indeed, help me to be happy and choose thy way, to have clean thoughts and not these wicked thoughts, and to have clean actions and to repent seriously of my weakness of envy that I might someday be able to dwell with thee in the Celestial Kingdom and find eternal bliss.

April 7th

...An interesting thought struck me today which helps me a lot with my hang-up of envying guys. The thought was that when you ask for something from the Lord and you don’t get an answer (I have never got an answer about why I have these feelings that I shouldn’t have), maybe it is because you are having him do all of the work. You must give and meet him half-way. I thought about this and realized that all of this time I had been ordering God to take this away from me, leaving none of the work for me to do… Interesting! So, what do I do now?


Bror said...

I have the broad shoulders and was always the big guy but felt the same as you bud. How nice it would have been to have the trust in someone to speak the truth and just be ourselves in our younger years.

TGD said...

WOW! Had I had the self esteem to even keep an honest journal in Jr. high and high-school it would have been a lot like yours.

Mister Curie said...

I kept a regular journal through high school, my mission, and college. I reread my them recently. It was amazing how clear it is to me (now that I have accepted I am gay) that I was attracted to men. Reading your entries, it is eerie how similar many of our descriptions and thought processes were. I also had a best friend in high school that I was attracted to and many of my journal entries talk about wanting to share more of who I am with him. I also regularly talked about having a hard time controlling my mind in reference to guys (especially mission companions), and I externalized the thoughts/feelings by attributing them to Satan. I think that it was one way I was able to avoid accepting that I am gay, by attributing it all to Satan.

Beck said...

BROR said: "How nice it would have been to have the trust in someone to speak the truth and just be ourselves in our younger years."

It didn't happen in my world. I was too scared to admit what was happening and too self-righteous to know what I was feeling. It would have been nice to have had someone understand the real me and help me to grasp what was going on inside of me, and that it was alright to "like guys", that this wasn't a "sin" or "from the devil" as I most earnestly thought... But it didn't happen.

And here I am 30 some-odd years later imagining those days of high school, but now with different, more wise and understanding eyes. How I want to embrace him (me) and hold him and love him and tell him that it is okay, and to not be so hard on himself. So easy to say in hindsight, isn't it?

Beck said...

TGD: I find it interesting that you see in me "self-esteem" for keeping a journal. I haven't thought of it that way. I did know "who I was" in my eyes of what I thought God wanted me to be, the good boy, the perfect boy, the righteous boy, and a good boy kept a journal, so I had to do this.

I mentioned in my senior journal that I had kept a brief journal my junior year (the year of high school gym class and falling for a jock), but I don't know where that journal has ended up. I wonder if I threw it away because I was too embarrassed for anyone to read it.

MR. CURIE: It does seem clear to me how "gay" I was back then, how attracted to men I was. I can see it from here 30-years removed, but I couldn't see it then. It was the furthest thought from my mind. I noticed guys. I love looking at guys. I loved the closeness with my roommate. But when things became obsessive or passionate or "envious" in my mind, it was so easy to turn it to the "sin of envy" and attributing it all to Satan tempting me with my "weakness" of not liking my body or who I was. That's how I saw it. It's actually pretty sad...

AKLDS said...

I also kept a journal growing up but was so afraid that someone would read it later and find out that I was not perfect that I never wrote down my real feelings. It's funny how fear can keep tripping u up in life until you decide to push forward and leave it behind.

TGD said...

But the thing with your journals is they were honest no matter what your self-esteem was based on. You wrote about what you were feeling.

I loathed myself back then. My journals were mostly made up of idealistic things that I thought people would want to read and it was as presented as if it actually happened. I would say 80% of it was pure fiction. And not really all that interesting either. LOL!

robert said...

Amazing post dear Beck. How it must be to come face to face with yourself so many years later...I recommend reading the Andrew Tobias book "The Best Little Boy In The World" published in 1973. I felt such relief from reading that book back then. It explained so much of what we all felt growing up gay in those days. Knowing that we already knew but also knew the "danger in telling" is still painful today. And for gay LDS to have the whole eternal family cosmology to factor in, as well, is as difficult as growing up as a gay Muslim. How quickly we point to "Satan" as the plausible explanation for our merely human condition.

Mister Curie said...

I understand, Beck. It was also the furthest thing from my mind at the time and did not fit into my worldview. I was also too self-righteous and too sure of Gospel "Truths" to comprehend what was happening.

playasinmar said...

That kid is capital-g gaaaaaaaaaaaay!!

Anonymous said...

I was sooooo in denial as a teen. When I try to think of when I first may have had a glimpse into my sexual nature... I think it was when I first saw a copy of Playgirl; it was pretty hard to deny my overt reaction to the centerfold. I was 25 and newly married.

Beck said...

AKLDS: Thanks for responding and posting here. Good to hear from you. Maybe you can use your blog to be more honest than when you wrote in a journal. I know I have. The blog has been a way to shed all the layers of intimidation that a journal might bring with it, and just lay it out for all to see...

Had I been more honest with myself back then, it maybe wouldn't have taken nearly three decades to come to grips with reality.

TGD: I understand completely. Some of my entries from my senior year were pretty idealistic and "perfect boy" sounding that it gags me to read it now, but then, that was how I felt and saw the world. Whether it was 80% fiction or not, I would suggest that at the time it was real.

MR. CURIE: I was very "self-righteous". I was doing the right thing and everyone else was not, and I was heading straight to the celestial kingdom. It's funny to read such things now, but that was how I saw it. I couldn't imagine a "good boy" as myself being gay. It just wasn't in the program!

Beck said...

ROBERT: It is freaky looking eye-to-eye with the boy that I once was. I will check up on "The Best Little Boy in the World". It sounds intriguing reading for someone that grew up in the 70s.

PLAYA: Thanks for always stating so appropriately the obvious that no one else will say! :)

SANTORIO: You may have the naive-gig down better than I (and I thought I was naive!).

Daniel said...

Beautiful and profound. Thanks for sharing.

Beck said...

Thank you, Daniel.