Monday, November 07, 2011

Locking the window...



There is another level to my feelings about the film "Maurice" that affects me on a daily basis, that pulls me back, that keeps me checked, even left to lock the window tight at night, though longingly looking out at others...

This is in the world of the MOHO community here.

I have been part of the Maurice and Clive world of meeting on a mountain rock, or grassy memorial ground and gently caressing a fellow MOHO's hand, fingering through his hair, or tightly touching his torso... that connection of bromantic friendship that Maurice and Clive experienced.

This stirred emotions inside me that were exhilarating, exciting and "stimulating", a stimulus that in other world would have been embarrassing, but in this time and space were miraculous and beautiful.

Holding him tightly, I felt the "excitement" expand to the point of him feeling it... whereupon he brought it to my attention, and I kept holding him whispering... "I know, isn't it wonderful!" My inner "Maurice" was outwardly expressing himself!

I wanted to go forward, pursuing even more, and becoming more and more "stimulated" to the point that I had to be checked... checked by my other self, my inner "Clive" where propriety ultimately wins out. I got scared. I backed off. I checked myself. I pulled back. I cut off ties. I broke the connection. I locked the window.

Fast forward to this weekend: I wanted so very much to attend the "Circling the Wagons" conference. I wanted to be part of that community, to open that window, to step out onto that balcony, to climb down that ladder or at least allow others to climb up to greet me.

Situations developed within the family that precluded me from going. Our child took some serious missteps that could lead to serious legal penalties and I had to be there to deal with the family situation, supporting my wife and child. I longed to be elsewhere at the conference with fellow MOHOs, but I couldn't. I guess I could have, but I chose otherwise. Family comes first, right? Sometimes it takes personal sacrifice. And sacrifice is defined as giving up something great for something better, right?

I couldn't sleep Friday night. I wanted so much to figure out how to do both - support my family and support the inner me, being fed by those of you who could help me to be more accepting of myself at this special once-in-a-lifetime self-affirming experience. Yet, I was scared. After being out to my wife and two of kids, it still is something that I don't openly express or allow expressing. I pull back. I fear the outwardly "excitement" or expression. I don't allow my inner self to have priority - so I hold back, I don't allow connections. I lock the window, and find myself looking out again, longingly...

I feel very sad to have allowed this to happen. I allow it to happen. I allow circumstances to make my choices for me, instead of creating my own circumstances and being in charge of my own life.

Yet, I did choose well. I don't totally regret my choice. I connected with a child who needed me in a unique circumstance. I supported my wife, not leaving her alone in a time of urgency and real need... and I found myself later on Sunday, "dancing with her in the kitchen" again (what has become a symbol of bonding commitment between us), holding her, loving her... sacrificing something great (my inner self) for something better (our family relationship), placing it above all else.

Is this life always a choice between "great" and "better"? Is there never a choice that allows one to experience and have both "great" and "better"? Is that possible? Or is there always the choice of one verses the other?

For now, I must live vicariously through the input and view of other bloggers who were able to attend this weekend's conference, but also symbolically watching how you live your lives and make your choices. I'm still locking the window, securing the house for another night, longingly looking out at that special mountain rock or grassy memorial ground, my inner-self left to watch and wonder...

31 comments:

Andy said...

I wish you could have gone to the conference. I think it would be great to meet you. As a fellow married Mormon probably close to your age, I identify with some of what you write about in your blog.

Being Mormon gay guy married to a woman and wanting to stay that way, made me somewhat of an anomoly there, so I felt a bit out of place. But seeing two people of the same gender not afraid to touch each other in loving ways and hold hands also made me feel very much at home.

Wow, no wonder I have tough days and feel like I'm being pulled in two completely opposite directions.

Next time, if there is one, go!

Beck said...

ANDY: Thanks for your insights. I sincerely wanted to witness what you witnessed... and to feel "very much at home" and not so "out of place".

I think from what you describe we are similar. I am also a "Mormon gay guy married to a woman and wanting (for the most part) to stay that way".

There is a next time, no? There got to be a "next time".

Adrian said...

I'm still here "looking out the window" too. I feel you feeling and have made the same choices. I hope all goes well with you.

I also have really appreciated your last few posts....Adrian (Adon)

Andy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
naturgesetz said...

One way of looking at it is that life is always a matter of making specific choices in specific moments and circumstances. One can think of that as choosing not to have whatever would have happened if one had made other choices; but you never know what that might have been.

It certainly sounds as if you made the right choice over the weekend.

Could God have led people to act in the ways they did to create those circumstances because he wanted to protect you from what would have happened if you had gone to that particular conference?

recover and thrive said...

I loved the part where you danced with your wife in the kitchen - that made me smile! those are some great moments right there

I know that its hard to be with family when something else exciting is going on...

Beck said...

ADRIAN: I'm grateful to you and your example. I appreciate your being out there as well. It means a lot.

NATURGESETZ: I know I made the right decision despite the longing feeling otherwise. I'm not sure that anything would have "happened" that I was kept from being there. I don't look at it that way necessarily, as I really think the conference was a great event with great people that could have offered me great support. I just needed to be elsewhere and that's what I chose to do.

Life is made up of our little choices along the way, sometimes with gratitude, sometimes with regret. This time a bit of both.

Beck said...

R&T: Thank you for noticing the "dancing" part. It really has become our symbol of uniting together as a couple. I grab her from behind and throw her into my arms and we start walzing or slow-swinging around the kitchen and dining room. I typically end our little gig with a swing under the arm and then back out and end with a kiss.

I never, ever did that before we came to terms with each other over our relationship together and my acceptance and her understanding of my attractions to men. We now do it, maybe not as often as we should, but often enough to put a reassuring smile on each others faces, saying the unspoken: "it's okay because I'm still here and want to be with you more than anything else".

Why don't you take your wife for a spin around the dining room table this evening! :)

Ned said...

I wanted to go to the conference. But I also wanted to help my wife with a big project I'd earlier agreed to help her with. So just as your family needed you Saturday, so did mine. I knew that Facebook would have participant comments about it and that I could "attend" and interact after the fact. We both made the decision to support our wives, we both felt some angst about it, and yet we both affirm that we made the right choice. So as Alec Scudder told Maurice, "I know, Sir. I know, Sir."

Beck said...

NED: I know you know...

Brandon P. said...

It's almost as though some of you tortured souls wear your pain with pride on your shirt sleeve. And then you congratulate each other for being so noble and deprived. It is so biblical, so odd.

Beck said...

BRANDON: We "tortured souls" are an "odd" group. Yes, I can see where we can be seen as being proud of our tortured status, and seek support and "congratulations", particularly if one judges from the myopic view of this blog.

I'm not proud to be so tortured, and I'm happy to accept and am open to receive opposing points of view and suggestions for improvement for one such as I in my situation. All I was pointing out was the "longing" aspect of looking at others while choosing otherwise to not be with them. That's all. I wasn't asking for congratulations for the choice I made.

What do you recommend for us self-congratulating proud, tortured souls?

Ned said...

But the problem is that I usually don't know what I don't know.
;)

Bror said...

Hi Beck. :)

Brandon P. said...

I would suggest accepting who you are, letting go of the shame you've associated with it up to now, arranging your current family and personal lives to accomodate your newly accepted truth, continuing to be the best fathers and ex-husbands that you could possibly be and then finally finding a special man who loves and appreciates every single aspect of who you are. The two of you can then go live happily ever after as lovers, husbands, parents and well adjusted gay men.

It's scary as shit, I get it. But the alternative is death by a thousand cuts. That is a fact. You know you're gay, she knows you're gay and trying to deny your true self is a path to insanity. God loves us as we are and so will the world if we'll just be honest and truthful. This has been my personal experience. In the name of Jesus Christ...amen. :o)

Ned said...

BRANDON P. Thanks for the detailed and heartfelt advice. Here's how it strikes me:

Accept who I am: Yes, I accept myself as a heterosexually married father and grandpa who loves his wife, family and friends and is usually a Kinsey 5 depending on the company I'm with.
Let go of shame: How can you let go of something that you don't have? (Poor guy, he's full of shame and doesn't even know it.)
Arrange my life to accommodate new truth: Totally agree with that. As one of 76-million baby boomers I heard Dylan sing "The times they are a changin' " when I was in grade school. And they still are. And so am I.
Continue to be a good father: That's always been the plan and has been working pretty well for about 30 years.
Be a good ex-husband: should my spouse and I split, I agree this is an excellent idea.

(to be continued)

Ned said...

Find that special man who loves me unconditionally: mmm, like those deep and mysterious male friendships that span a decade or more? Yup, got a couple of those and wouldn't be surprised to find a few more in the years ahead. I keep looking and they keep showing up. Most of them have been straight guys, which is also good for my marriage. Helps a lot with boundaries.
Live happily ever after: I guess I could be more open to that idea. I'm more of a one-day-at-a-time kind happiness seeker and figure ever-after will take care of itself.
Be a happy, well-adjusted bisexual man: I'd give myself a B+ on this one. I'm not there yet, but the trend is my friend.
Avoid death by a thousand cuts: I could be wrong, of course, but I think that a divorce might have that impact on me. Maybe I will find out, but I'm not seeking that path.
Know who I am? I know I am bisexual. My wife knows I'm bisexual. I don't think either of us is in denial about that, and I have few doubts that God loves me the way I am right now. And also the way I was years ago and the way I will be in the future. And the rest of the 7-billion of us now on the planet and our past, present and future selves.

Thanks for sharing your personal experience and prompting me to reflect on mine.

BECK: I expect you have a few things to say along these lines, too?

Freddie said...

My heart aches when I read about locking the window. It seems so pointless to a guy like me who has what Beck needs. I think that is what Brandon addresses. But I also know it's not so simple.

A few years ago I had occasion to visit my childhood piano teacher when spending some time in my hometown out west. He came out to me during our conversation. I felt the overwhelming urge to tell him he can live the life he left behind as a college freshman , when he fell in love with a male classmate. (Instead he went on a mission, married and raised a family.) But, I let a beat pass, and looking steadily at him, I realized he's past 70 now, and changing everything at this point may serve little good. I let him continue telling me about himself and said nothing.

On the other hand, If I were suddenly single again, I don't think it impossible to rebuild another life of intimacy like the one I have now. I've had 16 years shacked up with a hunk of a loving man, and I know it's not too late if I had to do it all over again (I'm in my 40's). So, here's to you Beck, and here's to you Brandon, and here's to you Ned. (!)

Beck said...

BRANDON: I'm not sure yet how to respond to your direct advice. I'm still thinking about it.

I do appreciate your caring enough about those like me to offer your insights and to help us not to suffer "death by a thousand cuts".

It becomes such a habit to long for something, and then beat oneself up over that longing. I have become better... really, I have. I am more accepting, but to do as you suggest is "scary as shit".

NED: I am grateful for your response to Brandon. I'm not ready, yet, to give such a response. Maybe that's saying something right there about me and where I am... I don't feel the passion to defend my choices as much as maybe I think I should...

More thoughts coming as I get my head around them.

Beck said...

FREDDIE: Is there really someone out there that "has what Beck needs"? Really, is there? Is he on the other side of the window looking in at me?

And what does Beck "need"? And why would such a man exist to satisfy those needs? Who is Beck to even think such thoughts or possibilities exist?

Why would any man want anything to do with me? Particularly in my situation, with my baggage, and at my age? This glorious life of living 16 years with a "hunk of a loving man" didn't start in your 50s now did it? I mean, a 20-something being bold and free and able to be courageous and break away and find that "hunk of a loving man" is a different story and expectation than of those like me - isn't it?

Realistically, isn't it too late? Or is that too fatalistic? Isn't it too impractical? I mean, where does a 50-something find a "hunk of a loving man" who "has what Beck needs" and is willing to wade through all the garbage to get there and satisfy that need?

And what happens to her? Where does that leave my wife, a 50-something that has spent her life devoted to me? Is there no concern or worry for what state that leaves her?

And my children? Sure, they're more resilient and have their own lives just beginning and they'll probably be fine (once we get through this immediate drama and crisis)... the two that know are more than accepting, though not eager to internalize or understand - but indeed accepting and tolerant.

Love never is easy...

Questions to ponder... as I look out the window...

Ned said...

BRANDON: With Beck's insight and taking a fresh look at it, what jumps off the screen this morning are your many calls to action. In that sense, it's almost like a conference talk.

accept who you are
let go of shame
accept truth
arrange your family life so it works
be there for your kids
accept divorce as inevitable
accept that somethings are worse than divorce
divorce your wife
be there for her as her former husband and as the mother of the children you brought into the world
find a special man
love him and encourage his love
commit your lives to each other
live happily
face your fears
weigh your options
embrace your true self
accept that denial is unhealthy
be honest
tell the truth
believe in God's unconditional love

It's a long list. A long journey. But worked for you and it has worked for others and it could even work for me. Maybe. As Beck said your caring and your insights are appreciated.

Ned said...

BECK: The you that your wive loves, the you that your many friends and associates love, that you is a lovable guy whether you're 20 or 60. If someone can't see that because of some wrinkles and gray hair, it's their loss.

Freddie said...

If my message implied any of it is easy, forgive me. Yes, it is slightly presumptuous to know what any other human needs. From the pictures of beautiful boys and the anguished text, I have an inkling of what you yearn for. Does that have any connection to need? I guess only you can know. That leads me to wonder about something else: are all the questions merely rhetorical? Have all the answers been found? Are all possibilities foreclosed? Those are things I can say I don't know about you. Are you like my piano teacher?

My partner tells me I'm wasting my time attempting a conversation with Mormons. Perhaps he's right. I only know what my experience has been: there is always an option, when all seems said and done, we may have overlooked something, and the questions always invite new answers if only we allow. I knew an executive from Crabbtree & Evelyn who made a go of it in his 70's. I dated men 30 years older than me when in my 20's. My two best friends are 13 and 17 years my senior. I fell in love with a man two years my junior, but that had nothing to do with his age, but because he loved me more than any of the rest. The women and children in my life are more resilient than most give them credit for.

So boys, nice to meet you. I'll take my ball and go.

Beck said...

NED: I'm not so convinced. Sure the romantic view is that love can be found in any corner of life... the reality is, after a certain age it just ain't going to happen.

Beck said...

FREDDIE: Please don't take your ball and leave just when you came. I have been thinking a lot about what you've said and though I do ask a lot of rhetorical questions where answers are obvious, I do keep asking for I'm searching for different angles to those answers. I'm slow to change, be that from stubbornness or fear, but I'm open to thought and possibilities.

Don't give up on us "Mormon boys". I want your input and am interested in your advice. I hope you've seen no offense in my responses. I do not intent any, and encourage different points of view to the questions I ask here.

Please don't take your ball and go... Stay and let's play ball!

Anonymous said...

Beck,

I apologize in advance for the negativity of this post but I am being honest here.

Like you, I too am looking for different angles to questions. But, unlike you, I think I basically know all there is to know but continue to look for answers only as a coping mechanism. In other words, when I look back on my life, I have covered the same territory over and over again and continue to cover the same territory over and over again not because I don't have all the angles but because all the answers have left me with only one conclusion and I am even now not willing to act on that conclusion so I do nothing but, because that leaves me on the precipice of my conclusion, I back off and revisit the territory I have already covered to see if hopefully by some miracle there is something I missed -- some new angle.

I speak only for myself but I think marriage for me was a mistake (she is the wrong gender) and I can't start living the life I was intended to live until I end my marriage but she too is fifty-something years old and I just can't do that to her.

So instead I am biding my time for what? Death? My love is real but not enough to overcome the need inside me to be who I truly am.

I don't know what would tip the scales to force me to finally take action but at this point in our lives I don't think anything would.

So it appears I will just keep on this endless loop until the end.

Sorry, this post is so negative.

Regards,
Philip

naturgesetz said...

Philip —

You write, "She too is fifty-something years old and I just can't do that to her. … My love is real but not enough to overcome the need inside me to be who I truly am."

This reminded me of Jesus' words, "Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for a friend." It seems to me that what you are doing for your wife is a form of laying down your life for her. It may be more difficult than a laying down which involves accepting an immediate death. And the love is not a passionate love, but that only serves to make it all the more godly: it is selfless and self-sacrificing. I'm sure the Heavenly Father is well pleased with you for this.

Beck said...

PHILIP: Though you may disagree, I think our situations and positions of how we cope with and refuse to change, but ever seek the answers to the same questions, are very much the same, if not identical.

Whether that makes us both on the verge of insanity (expecting different results or "some new angle" from doing the same thing over and over) or whether we do this as a survival technique - testing the edge, yet each time reassuring of the same scary precipice - and yep, we're still afraid of heights - we are stuck in an endless loop.

At least for me, there is enough holding me back, to keep from going forward, that the loop continues.

Beck said...

NATUREGESETZ:

Sacrificing oneself for another is noble and great, indeed. Maybe the noblest and greatest of all.

Yet, I don't feel all that noble or great when the longing for something else lingers.

Simon said...

I heard of that "Circling the Wagons" conference. I never ended up going as well.

That aside, I totally relate to your want to embrace that inner 'Maurice', to want to affectionately love another man and have him do the same in return.

Sometimes I see two other men who seem to have a close friendship, and I feel like I'm looking out of the window at them.

Beck said...

SIMON: Thanks for relating. Most often I wonder if anyone really gets me. I don't even get me. I do know what my "inner Maurice" wants but I know that my "outer Clive" does with that knowledge.