Saturday, September 28, 2013

Saturday viewing...

Not a lot to say. Life goes on and like you, I seek to find a path to be the best I can be.

For whatever reason, today I stumbled across the Affirmation downloads of the proceedings of the recent conference held in SLC two weeks ago. I found the talks to be uplifting and exceptionally inspirational and I thank those that saw to it that these video segments were made available to those of us who have not attended and may never find ourselves in a position to attend, but who are still ever as much part and partakers of the spirit of the message of new frontiers.

I hope someday to be in a situation where I can come to terms with my self-hatred enough to able to attend in the flesh.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Listening to conference...

In Sunday afternoon's session of conference, I hope I was a good listener, as I heard something like this:

"An honest declaration of doubt is esteemed higher than an honest declaration of faith" -- Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

I guess with the last couple of months, I've been trying to declare my honest doubts, and maybe frame my life around said doubts instead of framing my life around my FAITH. I have done this most "honestly" as I've tried to ask myself tough questions about the path I'm choosing to live and staying with my wife, faithful to her and to the church. I have asked these questions in order to confirm whether my choice of life's path would be any different if my faith were not in the mix. I guess I could have taken offense at how Elder Holland would view such tactics of mine. But I didn't. I found inspiration and hope in his words.

I have never said I've given up on my faith, just an emphasis on my honest doubts. And he's right in that I felt more "esteem" and "enlightenment" particularly from my friend who is pushing hard for me to think critically, as I express my doubts. Is the "esteem" what I'm seeking? Is it cool to be a questioning person instead of a believing person? Why is it that a believing person is looked down upon as naive or insignificant, not worthy of consideration? Where has the esteem gone for a man who holds to his beliefs?

I am sure that my questioning will continue, but I have had a personal revelation of sorts in realizing that I can build upon where I am, I can build upon my foundation of faith, and yes, build upon what I know to be true for me. I don't have to know everything, but I can still question and probe and pursue answers unceasingly as I build on my faith. I like that.

I like that a man can stand for what he believes to work for himself and hold true to what he holds to be true, and act with integrity regarding his choices. I may be alone in this, but as close as I was to find a way out of this path of belief, to find any way to get around my beliefs and thus, my "struggle" with my homosexuality, I need to find a way that keeps me going strong with who I am.

I like this.

And as a footnote to this, I really liked the Priesthood Session talk from Pres. Uchtdorf where I noted several profound statements such as:

1. Satan wants us to define ourselves by our sins, instead of our potential...

How often have I done this to myself. I really need to concentrate on the good I can do instead of the mistakes I have made. And with my attractions, I need to concentrate on what a blessing they have been to my life! (NOTE: I'm not implying that my attractions are a sin at all, though sometimes I have allowed myself to be beaten up by my thoughts...

2. We are not "robots" (my word)! We are not identical... Instead, we are different and as such we are not molded to be the same and anyone saying so does not understand the Gospel. We are diverse and should use our unique talents to serve and give BECAUSE of our difference, as we follow the Savior...

I really, really, really like this! Maybe I'm reading more into it than he intended, but as I sat in the chapel in the dark feeling so different from all those white-shirted men, noting to myself of the beautiful beard one of "my" young men (now approaching 30 years old) was sporting and how handsome he is, my spirit leaped a bit in hearing those words... words that are so relevant to me... we aren't the same mold and never were intended to be. Our cultural, social, emotional, AND our sexual attraction differences make us who we are and who we can be, as we follow the Savior! I like that, coming from an Czech boy coming from the refugee world of East Germany and being the coolest, tannest, general authority with great hair, who isn't like the rest, who doesn't speak like the rest, who has compassion and hope and is a champion for the one who may not "fit the mold".

I don't fit the mold. I never have. I don't think I ever will... and that's okay. I like that!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Is there still room to hope?

It's been a confusing few weeks... I have not been able to lose the thought of the "what ifs" about my life. In particular, I've been struggling with the notion bouncing around in my head that "what if all that I believe to know to be true really isn't, then what?" I consider doubting a way of confirming my faith. I liked the line in "Life of Pi" that portrayed that principle of belief so beautifully. And I consider this bout with doubt as something of that nature.

I went to the temple this week, more out of commitment and obligation, but still out of a sense of contemplation and worship. In the temple I felt a void come over me, but I felt promptings to reach out to others in need, to be kinder to family and extended family, to write grateful thoughts to those I've neglected, and to reach out in love by not being afraid to touch. But, despite that inspriation, I was consumed with the thought of what if all of this plan, of the eternities, of "families forever" of "celestial rooms" filled with loved ones, etc. all were just a nice made-up wishful fantasy? What if? And how does that affect my life choices today, here and now, as a gay man in a mixed-oriented, sometimes difficult marriage? What if the Plan of Happiness that I have come to love and believe in so much really isn't the Truth at all? What if it's all a delusion? Then what? These thoughts have consumed me and my questioning to the Lord have come up empty. All I get is to stop worrying about it and go be kind and loving and thoughtful of others. What a cop-out answer!

My biggest concern seems to be centered around the idea that if this isn't true, then nothing is, and if nothing is, then what's the point? Where's the purpose in life? What's the deal with even trying to be kind and loving and thoughtful? Where is the grand scope and meaning? If all that I have taught others through decades of teaching the Plan is a lie, then everything is a lie. So where does that leave me? If this is it, then why try to stay married? Why not give it all up, throw away the shackles of belief, the burden of family, the lies of relationships, the hiding of self, and run off into the sunset with a beautiful boyfriend, imaginary or otherwise? Why fight the good fight? Why even try?

I woke up this morning early and went outside and took in the beautiful sunrise and the sense of newness around me, where the apricot trees are nearly swelling with the anticipation of "popcorn popping" and the hillside busrting with small signs of wanting so hard to turn green with new life beginning under winter-smashed, snow-burned grass. And I was overcome with a feeling of joy in life, in spring, in renewal, in the cycle of life, in rebirth, and was overcome with the sense of an Easter Sunday maybe 15 years ago where I found myself looking out over a Tuscan hillside, bursting with green new life, catching those warm rays on a crisp, clear Italian morning. I remember so vividly the sensations of that morning that overwhelmed me with the beauty and magic of being there in that place, on that deck, leaning on that railing, knowing that God knew me, understood me and loved me. And this morning, it was like I was instantly transported to that magical Tuscan spot in my mind... and my soul was touched to feel that the Savior is still my Savior and the blessings of the atonement personally in my life are still undeniably real to me, enough to keep hanging on with this path I'm on, and hoping in the future.

My "if not this, then what?" question is still hanging over me, and my doubts are still checking my faith, and I can't help but think again of the "Life of Pi" , that the "great story of God" is better to believe than the alternate story of emptiness. Is this foolish to still believe? Is there really no truth? And if the Gospel is a fantasy, then what fills the void? Is there still room to hope?

Happy Easter!

Saturday, March 09, 2013

The courage to change?

Over the course of the last couple of months, I have been discussing my life's choices and situations and dilemmas before me with a dear, close friend (who has been using me as a practice for his new career as a therapist). I have shared with him my inner most thoughts and desires, my dreams and wishes for the future. We have played the "what if" of the various choices before me, and he has pushed me to study more about Freud, the ID, EGO and SUPEREGO and trying to help me to find a balance in my life... seeking ways to free up some of my subconscious with the conscious life, and calm down my oversensitive or over reaching superego.

It has been a fascinating adventure together. He has given me much to ponder and contemplate and, in turn, I have given him, I hope, an atypical client to work with.

He has pushed me to think about other possibilities than just my current situation. Recognizing that my current situation and my commitment to my marriage and family runs counter to most of my inner desires to be free of the burdens of hiding my homosexuality, my friend has attempted to get me to envision or investigate the possibilities of life outside of marriage and what that would be like, or life outside the church and what that would entail. Would I need to move from Utah? Would I need to change jobs and / or careers? Would I find life more free and tranquil? Would it "get better"? To do thse things, would I need to let go of my faith?

I've tried to oblige and be honest with myself, seeking to see another way out of my situation... I can see life without my marriage, and I have envisioned finding someone else, especially another man who can completely love me - all of me. But it's hard to see that vision clearly as I still am in love with my wife and our life together has beautiful moments and there still exists some magic between us that it is still worth the effort to keep it going. Until such time that that scenario changes, I find the vision of leaving her somewhat foggy and confusing, and more wishful thinking than reality. Why unncessarily create a void in my life where there is still some marital happiness?

I've tried to envision life outside the confines of the church and the tremendous power it has over me and the choices I make daily in how I live my life. I can envision that day when I am so personally disconnected that there is no more hold over me with its teachings and principles of how to live as a gay man, that like some, my faith changes into myth. I can see that happening... But it's hard to see that vision clearly as well, for despite my doubts and fears and disconnections in my faith, I still have faith! Enough faith that I can't let go, or it won't let me go. Am I so entrenched in my thinking and belief structure that I can't imagine being outside that belief structure? How do I let go of something that still brings me satisfaction and joy, and a certain peace. I keep thinking that without my faith in God and in His purpose for me, what replaces it? Why again create a void in my life where there is still some sense of goodness I receive from faith-promoting service and worship?

My friend thinks my life has made me severely emotionally disturbed and I need a professional to help me find the courage to let go of those things that are holding me back, to forget what others think of me, and to venture out as a new man, a new gay man, proud and ready to face a new world with new opportunities and new purposes. Maybe he's right. Maybe I do lack the courage necessary to step out and leave behind the chains that have held me down, under intense pressure and stress, unable to express the inner self I've learned to hide so well. Maybe I fear the future of such choices too much. Maybe I won't allow myself the opportunity to be "free" of it all and enable myself to finally live the life I'm "supposed to live". And maybe I won't allow it because I'm still homophobic of myself. Maybe the pain of my desires is not sufficient to counter the perceived pain such choices will cause others to endure.

I tried to counter that I thought it took courage to stay on this path, to fight the good fight, to give up my inner ID desires for something of possible perceived greater value. He didn't like that response. He feels I am stifling my growth. I am stunted, and will never be able to learn and grow beyond this point without being courageous enough to step out and change the formula. Like any good chemical experiment, there needs to be a catalyst that is added to the formula mix to make the change, to create a new element, to be free of the past. Where is my catalyst for change? Some of you have come to that point of change and face it head on and have conquered your fears and allowed yourselves to move on. I have witnessed this time and time again from many in this community and I know it to be possible intellectually, and I honor you brave souls for being able to change, to step beyond your fears and embrace your desires and allow those desires to take you to a brave new world of possibilities.

I think I have frustrated him to the point that he doesn't know what to say or do with me without me being willing to try to experiment a bit. Is this the answer? Is there no other way? Is my path really for the stunted and cowards, too fearful to face reality and permit oneself to grow? Does inner peace only come at the sacrifice of family and faith and fear of the outcomes of such sacrifices?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

It's just my imagination...

I have a friend who has been a school teacher for years and has now embarked on a new career into private counseling and therapy. After being brave enough to discuss with him my "situation", he has taken a keen interest in helping me and "practicing" on me. I told him that I would be willing to open up and share with him my thoughts and feelings about my attractions and desires and how they don't align necessarily with my day-to-day life and family situation. He was eager to try to help and grateful for my willingness to be used as an opportunity for him to "practice".

It's interesting that as I've shared with him my feelings, he has gravitated to trying to investigate my relationship with my father and the root feelings that may have come from that rapport, and whether that relationship was good or bad, etc. Frankly, I was quite put off by this approach. I am so far from this line of thinking that it isn't even funny. I am not interested whatsoever in finding the "cause" of my attractions, nor am I even faintly interested in searching for

someone to "blame". The blame game was played out years ago, and I came to the conclusion that there is absolutely no one to blame. I was never abused, I had a great relationship with my father (we weren't best buds, but we weren't enemies either) and he was not absent from my life - in fact, he was very much connected with my life all the way to the end of his.

I find it funny that my friend's approach slipped so quickly on this prescribed path. Maybe he didn't know what to say.

So, now he's talking to me about my "lack of experience" and how can I really profess to know that I am attracted to men sexually if I've never had sex with a man. My likes and attractions may be more "imaginary" than real, seeing that they are not part of any real experience.

I find this approach very distorted as well. I, indeed, know what I am attracted to when I see it and what pushes my buttons and makes me all twitterpated inside. I told him to turn the question around and to ask himself how he knows that he was heterosexual prior to any real sexual experience, and that it really is the same for all of us. Some things are fundamental and so deeply based within our persona that it exceeds any logical explanation based on experimentation - it just is what it is!

But it has been on my mind and has bothered me some... As much as I understand my attractions toward men, can I really know where I am without having sexual experience to confirm my attractions? Is it possible to be a non-practicing gay and still know for assurity without "experience"? And in my chosen path and circumstance, I am not about to "experience" such a reality any time soon... so am I just imagining that I'm gay?

What do you think? How would you respond to such a question? Do you feel experience is needed to know for certain about such things? I want to know what if feels like to be kissed intimately by another man that loves me for who I am. I know that I can't really know what that is like without experiencing it for myself and that until I do, I am left to my imagination. But does that change who I am or what makes me who I am and what I know?

Can one just "know"? Or is this all just a big game of pretend?