Thursday, November 03, 2011
Catching up with Bobby...
I've seen bits and pieces of it, but never have I sat and watched the entire movie before now. I know, I know... I should have my MOHO membership card revoked for sure. But maybe I didn't feel ready for the emotions of "Prayers for Bobby", until now...
I was alone this past weekend and I really had so much work to get caught up on, but I felt so empty inside - I couldn't work. So, I took this "opportunity" and watched Bobby's suffering. Whether it was the exact time period represented of my high school and early college years that registered so deeply, whether it was the overwhelming self-righteousness, whether it was simply the loneliness of not being understood, even by oneself, or whatever, I came undone. I came completely undone.
I haven't allowed myself to cry like that for some time. I sobbed uncontrollably, (grateful that no one had seen me break down so terribly) shaking and blubbering to the point that it scared me. What was I crying for like this? I knew the storyline, and even the ending. I wasn't surprised by the portrayal of family misgivings, heart aches, and coming to terms with such deep tragedy, but I was surprised by being swallowed hole by the grief and angst within my own misunderstood soul.
I just let it come out... as if this grief and pain was coming up and expressing itself from within the secret depths of my being. Why was this happening? What is going on? Why do I feel so ashamed? What am I ashamed of? Am I ashamed of who I am as a confused gay man? Or am I more ashamed that I have allowed myself to refuse to express the emotions and feelings and anger of a hidden, frozen man - thus permitting life to happen instead of be lived.
Except for the fact that I would not permit myself to recognize these feelings of my high school self, this could have been me - the perfect, sensitive son of a "perfect all-American, religious" family, the son who could do no wrong, and desired nothing more than to please his parents and embrace their beliefs and make them proud and happy, to the point that forever, I would keep from them the longings of a grocery store stocker boy who drooled over the beautiful young men parading through the supermarket. The son who wanted to kiss a girl to prove to himself that he could, only to be found receiving a mission call never having kissed anyone (guy or girl) and a friend (who was a girl) who wanted to be sure I could honestly tell my companions that I had kissed a girl, laying a big fat one on me. The son who was the obedient, faithful missionary, who found out while serving at the end of his mission how fantastically amazing it was to kiss a man instead - and the amazing way it made this missionary son feel, until the time to return home and face the family - amazement being replaced by fear, guilt, shame.
Only once did I feel like taking my life, the despair and pain of "coming out" to my wife and the grief, frustration and hellacious agony it caused her to suffer... such suffering that made me realize it would be better for her , for our kids, for everyone, if I were to disappear from this life. I contemplated how to do it... it wasn't the freeway overpass in front of an 18-wheeler, but instead the leap from the hotel balcony window at the corner of 2nd South and West Temple. I parked my car across the street and contemplated how it would feel to jump and be free of this fear, guilt, and shame, and free those I loved from their agony over what I was, what I had become.
That was nearly seven years ago. Seven years! Seven years of suicidal thoughts. Seven years of driving my wife crazy with confusion, self-doubt and depression, sucking her into my closet, instead of opening up and coming out. Seven years of looking over my shoulder wondering what she is thinking or feeling as I might tough a guy or give him a hug beyond the 3-pat back slap priesthood quicky hug.
And so there is no relief. Coming out to her just complicated things. Yes, we are closer and understand each other better, and in some ways we are improving because of my coming out to her, yet, it has certainly complicated things.
Why didn't I jump? I guess, like always, I'm just as afraid to die as I am to live...
NOTE: there was a particular scene that struck me as funny. It was the one where the two religious leaders were sitting in hard-back chairs in front of the family on the sofa, trying to offer some condolences, but coming up short. One by one, family members left until the mother was left alone with the clergy. It made we think of home teaching and how often I felt like the clergy in the chair uncomfortable in being there and the family not really wanting me either. I chuckled a bit. There was another meaning, though, where I thought: What if those were their home teachers? What would they have said? Would they have been able to have compassion and offer sincere and meaningful hope of the unconditional Love God has for each of his children, including and maybe particularly for his gay children?
Would they? Could they? I hope so... Could I? Most definitely!