Thursday, December 30, 2010
Ever since the "phone call" with my missionary son on Christmas, I've been thinking a lot about what I can offer him as he struggles to know why he's really there serving full time and preaching to a people about making changes in their lives and sacrificing and committing themselves to a new plan of life, even though he doesn't fully believe in that plan for sure himself.
It's a hard dilemma. He is finding a lot of "success", and loves the people, the culture, and the connections and bonding that he's making with them, and I keep emphasising that that is a miracle in and of itself - the ability to get beyond one's self, to care so deeply about others and their needs that desires and passions are centered on serving, helping, assisting and connecting with them. That is one of the greatest miracles of life!
But when he asks me if I believe he really should be there and "fake it" to the end, and will it be worth it? And is it the right thing to do? and "why do I still feel empty inside"? I can't help but wonder what to tell him... I hesitate. I stumble. I can't utter the words that I know it is the right thing for him to do. All I can come up with is that I want him to find happiness in his service and find joy in his love for the people he is serving and to not worry about the rest. But that comes across as shallow and empty. Honestly, I don't know what to offer him. Do you?
Ned's most recent post used the term: "fake it until you make it". That clicked with me as the title to what this thought process has been as I contemplate advising my son, and then reflect on my own life. When I think about it, I've been playing the "fake it until I make it" game so long I don't know how to think or act otherwise. And that makes me sad. Yet, I'm the good and faithful father. I'm the patriarch that knows all. I need to be the guiding light, the messenger of hope, the champion of what is right and true. So, why do I feel empty inside when I should feel full of light and knowledge?
The other night I finally watched "Inception" and it struck me that I've been living my life in different dream states. I have layered dreams of varying realities, stages upon which I play my life... sometimes I'm a gay man fantasizing about life in an open, loving relationship with another beautiful man. Other times I'm a married man to a wonderful wife, with family and kids and everything is well and we're working together for the common goal of "perfection" through living the Gospel and experiencing that redeeming effect of the atonement. And then there is the layer where I spend most of my dream state of reality being pulled by both other dream states until I feel like I'm going to literally rip apart.
I've been playing these roles within these dream levels that I find it hard to know what is real and what is just that - a dream. So, I keep "faking it until I make it" survival mode.
If that's the case, what then is reality? Like the Leonardo di Caprio character, once one lives his life in these different dream states for so long, it becomes very difficult to even recognize what is real and what is just a dream.
So I feel hypocritical in telling my son that what he is doing is the best for him. I feel hypocritical in telling him to just keep "faking it" until he finally gets it and gains that conviction that he personally feels is lacking. I do have my convictions that have come at a terribly personal sacrifice and price, and I cherish them, but I don't "know" it all, and as such, I keep "faking it" until some day I might "know"...
but the idea that he's got a gay father who hides this basic truth from him, a man who pretends to be one thing on Sunday, the priesthood leader and faithful husband and devoted father and believing, never doubting, church member; and then another thing all together opposite in his mind, a conflict and battle raging inside of dream states of drastically juxtaposing worlds where love and expression and honesty and faithfulness create images and feelings of a fantasy that can only exist in a dream world, for they NEVER could be reality...
leaves me void of advice and council to give my son. Do I tell him that the only way to live this life, the only way that I know how to survive living in this life...
is to "fake it until you make it"?
Where is the wisdom in that?
When he asked me point blank what I thought he should do, and if I could even understand what he was going through as his doubts are getting the better of him, I wanted to reveal to him right then and there my "secret"... It was the first time that I thought he might be able to understand and accept me for who I really am, but with wife and daughters listening in, I couldn't do it - it wasn't the right forum for them. But the thought has resonated with me since then... I can see the day that he will be able to accept this truth about his father. Yet, I am haunted by that possibility: Will he accept the hypocrisy that has been the story of my life once he knows the truth?
Maybe none of this is real!... maybe I'm just lost in a fourth-tier dream state and there is no way of getting out without losing my mind.
Friday, December 24, 2010
This is my 5th Christmas as Beck on this blog! I'm still here!
I want to wish each reader a MERRY CHRISTMAS! Hopefully you can find in these silly meanderings of my mind some kind of value for you in yours. I'm still here for my 5th Christmas because of just that - value and validation I find from this community, and I thank you for expanding my beliefs, questioning the status quo, pushing me to think outside the box, and encouraging me to find ways to be "me".
Though my path may not be yours, though I may frustrate you in the slow pace I'm taking in my coming-to-terms-with-my-attraction-for-men journey, I appreciate the love and sustaining support that I feel along the way. I sincerely hope that I can extend to you the love I feel toward you and I thank you.
There is so much to hope for! There is always HOPE!
Thank you for being out there!
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
I went vanity Christmas shopping yesterday. This is where I tell myself that I'm shopping for the wife and family members, but end up gravitating toward the "mens" departments and stores and find myself vanity shopping for myself. Seeing that I don't really do a lot of shopping, and can count the times I enter a mall during the year on one hand, I tell myself it is appropriate, particularly when I've told my wife that I no longer what her to buy me any clothes.
In the past, I've allowed her to buy me clothes and she's done a great job for the most part, but she tends to buy on the "extra large" size. In the last year of so, I've been trimming down quite a bit. I've stayed at 165 lbs (and with my 6'-3" height, I'm pretty thin - but still needing to work on the lean and fit part). In the past, I've been embarrassed that I'm skinny (a major hold over from my teenage years where "skinny" translated to "weak, wimpy, and sissy.") So for decades, I wore over sized clothes, bulky sweaters etc. as a means to try to disguise my wimpy skinny body.
As I've been slowly embracing my gayness and self-expression, in a way to say that I'm "changing" and becoming more "self-affirming", I have gravitated in the last year or so to much more tight-fitting clothes, low-rise jeans, and now skinny-jeans. And I really like the "new me" that is emerging. I'm tired of hiding under layers of ill-fitting clothes.
I have loved my 30" waist low-rise bootleg jeans, and thought I should venture into the "skinny jean" world. After all, it appears that "skinny" is in and is the new cool and hip. Could I do it? Could I pull it off? At my age? Is it appropriate? Am I nuts?
I bought a pair of 30" skinny Levis and took them home without trying them on, but soon found out that the skinny cut of the jeans is tighter than I thought, so I had to take them back and upsize to a 32" waist in the skinny cut... And I love them! Is that vain? I figure it's about time that I became more self-affirming. Is this stupid or what?
Anyway, yesterday, I went to Macy's at the mall to buy my wife some clothing, and sure enough ended up in the Men's department looking at the "super skinny" jeans. I was proudly sporting my new "skinny" jeans, wondering what the "super skinny" jeans would feel like. As I was browsing, I noted out of the corner of my eye that there was a great-looking 20-something standing near another display of jeans. I caught him looking at me as I glanced his way. Our eyes locked! I didn't turn away. He smiled and I blushed a bit and smiled back.
I moved to the dress shirts, as I wanted to get some "fitted" shirts, tired of wearing dress shirts that swamp my gazelle-frame. A couple minutes later I noticed that he was looking at dress shirts as well. He was kneeling down sorting through some shirts near the floor while I was looking at the fitted shirts on a table. He looked up at me again and I looked at him and we locked and I smiled this time more readily. He was sporting tight jeans and a tight-fitting shirt and a scarf that looked hot. I had a scarf on too but unfortunately my shirt wasn't as nice-fitting as his (that's why I was seeking out the fitted shirts).
This was the second time. I was beginning to feel my heart beat faster. Was this really happening? I mean, this really doesn't happen much, if ever, to me. After all I'm an old fart... why would a 20-something be doing this to me?
I moved to another aisle of shirts and he stood up and stared right at me. I could feel his eyes burning through me and I was beginning to not know what to do next. So I looked up at him shyly and said "hey", and then slowly walked off. This was the third time! I didn't know what I was supposed to do... After a few paces, I turned around quickly to sneak a peak and he wasn't watching so I assumed that I had blown it and kept walking.
So there you have it. I bought some fitted shirts, some skinny jeans, and some tight sweaters... and I'm loving it. I'm ready to toss all my extra-large clothing out of my closet forever - both physically, but also symbolically.
And now I think I'm vain enough to actually believe that I was being checked out by a 20-something hot guy.
So you have my post of yesterday where I'm the cool-headed, omniscient, self-aware and got-my-head-on-straight kind of guy. And then the next day, you have me being vain, adolescent and juvenile, thinking a guy could actually be hitting on me.
I guess I've got a long way still to go. I don't have this gig figured out as well as I think I do...
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
I received an email from a faithful reader after my last post. It said:
"I fear you've been drinking too much of the prevailing "koolaid" in the MOHOsphere. Your choice isn't just in living a "lie" or divorce. It's a false dichotomy. Maybe you do need to step back and reconsider things?"
As I read this I realized that maybe my writing style may be too subtle in trying to get over the message that I'm trying to portray. What my last post was trying to point out is that those like me in long-term MOMs do not need to necessarily fall in the trap of this false dichotomy of thinking. There is more to our choices than just a) living a "lie" or b) divorce / leaving the church. What I'm trying to say here (and I think I've been trying to say it now for nearly 5 years of blogging) is just the opposite. I'm trying to make the point that there are other ways, different choices and paths, that allow us to shine, be passionate, reflect the full color spectrum of life AND be happy in our marriage and still have a testimony!
Sure it's hard. And sure, there are compromises. But there are hard compromises in every relationship and situation. I'm not here to say that mine is the chosen path for you. I'm not trying to be the poster-boy of the MOMs out there. I certainly have demonstrated that I don't have all the answers, or even a few. But I am saying this:
1. I chose to marry at a different time and space. In that mentality, I was completely satisfied with my chose and felt it the right and passionate thing to do.
2. I came out to myself more than two decades later, and came out to my wife a few months later. With this time delay, I had created a wonderful life with my marriage, marrying my best friend, and we had created a family with kids and home and career and callings that bind us together in ways that I treasure.
3. But with this revelation, came grief and sorrow, confusion and frustration. I was convinced we were heading for divorce, even if I completely brushed it under the rug and never came "out" again. So, in one sense it was to choose to live the "lie" or divorce.
4. In the last six years of living with this revelation between us, I have had varying success of being able to find another way. Sometimes it's easier to not talk about the elephant in the room. Sometimes it's hard to feel alive when I'm constantly looking over my shoulder to see if she's watching. And it's certainly hell to live by hiding and sneaking behind her back. But sometimes, it's wonderful to be able to express myself openly, with passion and love without recourse or worry. This understanding between us of "what I need" verses "what she needs" verses "what we need" is an on-going, life-long process of hard compromise, but I feel for me and my situation, for the wonderful life I've been able to create and live, it is worth it. And I will forever seek to find this OTHER WAY.
Maybe you feel I have been drinking the "koolaid" - that leads to nothing but heartache, dishonesty, dullness, and worthlessness. And why would I cut myself short? Maybe I am "the exception" in this community. Maybe I'm the odd ball of all MOHOs who believes there is another way. Maybe you dismiss me and this blog because I don't prescribe to the standard message of authenticity meaning only what you want it to mean, fitting your definition of what is right and real and honest for you. Maybe I am never going to know "true happiness" and what it really feels like to completely be one with another man as I have so passionately desired, having only tasted of that feeling.
But maybe that's okay. Maybe having my wife to snuggle with and be partners with and create a life with, to serve together, to struggle together, to achieve together, to travel together and experience the world together, and to grow together, and see her acceptance of me over time, maybe having my children around me, and eventually their children and seeing our family blossom as our kids move into adulthood and find their own way, maybe as I serve and find ways that are acceptable and respectful to us both as I find ways to be more 'expressive' and more "ME", maybe as we come through this loving each other even more...
then maybe it's worth seeking this OTHER WAY.
I was called out, and rightfully so, that MY WAY does not mean that I am suggesting others, particularly young MOHOs who are not married now, should have hope of following this same path.
I do not.
That said, I do want to be able to be accepted by the community and find validation and support and encouragement and love, even if I am the "exception".
I'm naive enough to believe that this "other way" is worth FIGHTING for! And that I'm blind enough to truly feel I can find JOY!
There is always room for exception. That's what makes us all so "exception"-al!
Thursday, December 16, 2010
I'm going to attempt to blog again... I'm still feeling a bit numb since my mom's death, and yet, life goes on, and hope survives.
I have come to a realization since the funeral. When I saw friends rally around me including and particularly
1) my kindergarten-high school locker partner best friend,
2) my college roommate and best man,
3) my dear "Thomas" in Italy,
4) "Will" and "Tim", my young men,
5) my special client of 20 years,
6) neighbor friends
7) ward friends.
I have been touched by the kindness and gentleness and tenderness that has been sincerely shown and extended to me. I have found myself a blubbering idiot at times, breaking down in their arms, not because of the loss of my mom, but because of being overwhelmed by their meaningful friendship toward me. It has been an amazing revelation to realize like George Bailey that with true friends, it is a "wonderful life"!
I have found myself breaking down barriers within me. I wrote a while back about putting up barriers, particularly toward Tim and Will, and my other young men friends, in order to somehow preserve feelings between me and my wife, and in the process feeling like I was dying on the vine, a last leaf holding on...
But since this last month of overpowering love and affection shown toward me, I am tossing that self-imposed barrier to the wind and allowing myself to respond to love and affection with my natural tendency of even more love and affection in return. I have found myself hugging and kissing my men-clients, my priesthood brethren, and my young men buddies with reckless abandon, not giving thought to what others might think or say.
The other Sunday, Will gave the benediction at Sacrament Meeting, and since I was on the stand, he immediately afterward turned around and swallowed me in the biggest body hug you could imagine right at the podium. I melted in his arms, with stake presidency and bishopric working around us in our embrace to greet others after the meeting.
Last Sunday, Tim was set apart in a new calling. After the setting apart, there was the normal shake and back-patting (the prescribed three times) with the men in the circle, but with me he grabbed me and wrestled me and picked me up off the floor
into a bear hug and we nestled our heads into each other's necks for some time. And I kissed him and he wouldn't let me go. He rescued me again! Finally, he and I both realized that the other brethren in the room were watching us, and one of them said something like:
"I think Tim and Beck really like each other!"
Upon which, the Bishop responded: "Really, you think so?"
Upon which, Tim blushed and shrugged his shoulders and neither of us said anything, but just smiled that omniscient smile.
At the same time, I've found a closeness and support from my wife and kids. I have found a unity and togetherness in my marriage as we've worked through this adjusting period. And my wife has been more open to my expressing the need to be "me" in this limited way.
It's made me reflect upon this path I'm on... Yes, I'm living a lie. Yes, I'm not honest in my feelings for others. Yes, if each of these friends really knew the "real" me, would they treat me the same way? Would I even be serving in the church position I'm in? Probably not. So, the facade continues...
I guess this sounds pretty pathetic. I have to have a devastating family loss to bring out my emotions and feelings for others and break down my personal barriers again. I have to sneak my "gay pon farr" satisfaction under the guise of priesthood leadership. It's pretty damn pathetic, indeed, to sneak the snuggles where I can get them.
Oh the web we weave, spinning and spinning and spinning... in order to keep some kind of order in our universe... a balance of needs, including family, marriage, church, testimony, friends, and "the gay".
Is there really any hope in juggling these needs and trying to make it all work? Or, as I've noted in other blog comments, it really does come down to just two ultimate choices:
choice A) keep "the gay" under wraps, and stay married and in the church but securely in the closet and drive yourself to the cliffs of insanity as you live a dishonest life, or
choice B) bite the bullet, down the stiff medicine, and face reality that d-i-v-o-r-c-e is inevitably in the future, and loss of family, church and community, but be real and authentic and lose the facade.
I feel like Eve: "Is there no other way?"
Saturday, December 11, 2010
I'm still having a hard time getting back into writing. Lots of things are going on, but I just don't feel inspired. I've fallen out of practice. I've had some of you say that I should just force myself to write anyway. That's easier said than done...
It seems that the more time I allow to slip by, the harder it is to start up again. Thus I'm forcing myself to write this awful post.
So how should I get going again?
Some have asked their readers what they would like to know about the particular blog author. I've always thought that my blog should be for me, sorting out who I am and analyze what I'm hiding from - it started out that way, and it's stayed that way through the years.
But I need some inspiration. Any suggestions?