Friday, December 30, 2011

The Demons Come In Sideways

First off, this post is a scary one to write.  I feel like I may be writing about some thoughts and ideas that I've never shared before.  Also, I feel like I may be sharing one of the devils tricks.  Also, I'm afraid of some of the ramifications of what I want to share in this post.

Last night started out normal, and slowly turned into something very painful.  Typically on Thursday nights, I go and play computer games with some friends.  Last night ended with me tweeting some very scary things.  I'll start with those:

"The battlefield of the mind is a dynamic place.  One moment, things are calm.  The next, legions of demons emerge from the shadows."
"At first, the demons smile disarmingly, disabling defenses and setting all at ease."
"Then they slip sideways into thoughts, planing corrupt, poisoned seeds of lies that spread like a virus."
"Finally when the person has started to succumb to the poison, they try to crush the person with darkness and despair."

Last night, I was heading home on what I thought would be a typical night.  Rush home, grab my computer, and rush to hang to with the friends.  It would be an enjoyable evening where we ran around together in the game and laughed and struggled through it together.  At least, that was what I was hoping for.  I wanted to try to get to where we were meeting early to see if I could finish a book that I've been reading for the past month or so.

When I got home, I had a surprised.  There were a lot more people in the front room than I expected.  To explain, I live with a family of four.  Sitting on the couch was the father, as well as another man I knew, as well as some of both of their children sitting in chairs.  I was so shocked, I didn't recognize the other man for a few moments.  He smiled and said 'hi'.  In a daze, I think I said 'hi' to the man and his wife and went into my room to prepare my computer for transport.

By then, the demons had slipped out of the shadows.  Without realizing it, the negative self talk had started in my head:

Why is that family visiting? It seems that the two families are becoming good friends.  I feel kind of left out.  Well, that's my fault.  I'm hardly home and I hardly like to spend time with the family anyways.  The two guys seem to have a really good friendship going on.  I guess I'm not the kind of person that the other man was looking for.  I guess I'm not good enough.

It happened so quickly.  I became pretty withdrawn, and felt like I was a shadow moving through the place I lived.  Although I did want to give both of those men I knew, who are my friends, hugs before I left, I instead left the scene as quickly as I could, listening away to the lies in my head:

Oh, I don't want to do that in front of either of the wives.  What will they think of me?  Will they think I'm trying to hit on them?  Trying to make a pass?

It was when I was driving away when I finally realized I was listening to some of the oldest lies I've told myself for years.  "People don't care about me.  I'm not good enough.  I'm not worth love and affection."  I tried to counter it with truths I knew, but the poison had set in.  I felt sad.  I felt lonely.

I arrived at the game night, and it wasn't anything like I had hoped it to be.  Me and the 3 other guys were all doing different things in different places in the games.  It was incredibly lonely.  I made a few snarky jokes on and off, feeling vaguely angry that we weren't all together in the game, yet I didn't do anything about that fact.

As I was driving home, the sadness and the loneliness had set in.  My mind started to wonder.

There are deer along this part of the road.  What if I hit one of them?  I could die.  Mom would be there at my funeral crying.  Dying wouldn't be so bad.  I'd be free from the pain I have here, this grief and pain.

That's when I shook my head and realized I was fantasizing.  Still, I felt a deep pain in my heart.  I was crying.  I was sad, hurting, overcome by grief, a combination of the pain of loneliness, and the pains of a guilty conscious.  I knew I was guilty of so many different sins.  It felt like my heart was breaking.

As I carried my computer back into where I live, I felt dark, crushing despair.  It was like something was trying to squeeze the hope out of me. It was a struggle to breath, and I managed to unlock the house and get inside.  As I went back for the rest of the computer, I didn't want to go back inside.  I knew the demons were out there.  Finally, I was able to get everything in my house.

I was tempted with various things.  One thought said 'Oh, set up your computer, look at some pornography. You'll feel better.'  Another said 'Why don't you masturbate?  It's the only time you're really loving yourself!  After all, only you love yourself.'  And even, there was a few thoughts about trying to end my life.  I'm very scared to admit, but I did consider it for a moment, and even thought of way to do it.

All through this, I was praying.  I was trying to connect.  I honestly don't know why I didn't feel an answer.  I laid down, texting two friends of mine.  The pain was still there.  Tears were still streaming down my face.  Many times I whimpered because of the pain.  Sometimes, I just wanted to implode on the spot and stop being because it felt like too much.  I don't ever remember falling asleep.

This morning, I can still feel that pain in my heart.  I still do feel a sense of guilt over things I've done.  The one sin I was guilty of last night was perpetuating those lies I've told myself all the years and for listening to those demons.  Honestly, I am afraid.  I feel afraid whenever thoughts of suicide come up.  I honestly feel like I'm too much of a coward to actually do anything like that.  I also realize it would cause a great deal of pain to many people that I love.  At what point though, does the pain get to be too much?  I honestly feel like I am getting near some kind of breaking point.  Something has to give.  There's something in me that needs to break before I can move on from whatever it is I've been going through the last day, week, month...time period.

For now, I'm going to keep moving and try to feel my way through this pain.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Video Game Music that I Like - Jeanne & Bayonetta

This post is about a 'series' of music from the video game Bayonetta.  I first posted about Bayonetta here.  You can find more information about the game itself in that post.  Warning: this post will contain some plot spoilers for the game.

This series of music is about a friendship, a very strange one indeed.  Early in the game of Bayonetta, she encounters a strange woman dressed in a red, stylish outfit.  Shortly after meeting, they help each other fight off a group of angels before turning their guns on one another.  A truck passes between them, and the woman mysteriously vanishes.

Later, as Bayonetta is exploring the city of Vigrid, the mysterious woman appears once again, this time on a motorcycle.  After the woman dispatches the angels with her motorcycle, she parks it on a wall.  She and Bayonetta have a talk, in which the woman explains some things to Bayonetta.  This triggers a memory in Bayonetta, and the game is taken to a flashback to where she and this mysterious woman were battling in an arena.

The song is entitled 'Battle for the Umbra Throne'.  It's the only song I know of that combines maracas, harpsichords, piano, various string instruments, and bagpipes.  Yep, bagpipes.  Enjoy:

You can see from the video why I didn't try to explain the 'red outfit'.  It's kind of crazy.

There probably are a few instruments that I missed from the song.  The battle itself is pretty crazy.  The arena is basically a rectangular box.  The mysterious woman and Bayonetta fight on the floor, the walls, and the ceiling using a special technique called 'Witch Walk'.  It enables them to walk on walls and the ceiling whenever moon light is shining.

After the battle is complete, Bayonetta comes back to the present.  The woman is gone, but Bayonetta now remembers her name.  Jeanne.

Later, Bayonetta is traveling through an old training ground that was once used by the Umbra witches.  At one point, she has to leap between several large chunks of rock in an attempt to escape the destruction being caused by an angel that can control the wind.  She ends up in what appears to be a round arena of sorts.  That's when Jeanne appears again.  Jeanne taunts Bayonneta, and they briefly battle each other.  This is the music that's playing as they fight:

After a brief fight, the rock they are fighting on shifts, and Bayonetta jumps back to the arena.  Jeanne jumps after her, and they fight once more (this time with the player controlling Bayonetta).  That's when the song 'Red & Black' begins to play:

Red & Black easily refers to Jeanne and Bayonetta's clothing.  Jeanne wears red and Bayonetta wears black.  The battle itself is pretty interesting.  They fight in the arena.  At one point, a large chunk of rock soars by, and they both jump on it to fight on that.  After a few moments, that piece of rock collides with something, and they both jump back to the arena to fight.

Later, Bayonetta is on the plane Valkyrie searching for a little girl named Cereza when Jeanne appears once more.  Taunting her again.  Once more they spar, this time things getting far more intense.  Both of them begin using different magical techniques to try to get the advantage over the other.  Finally, the player takes control of Bayonetta and they fight on the back of the Valkyrie as it begins crashing into the ocean.  Sadly, the game designers reused the song 'Red & Black' for this fight as well.  Personally, I think it would have been awesome if they wrote a new song for this confrontation with Jeanne.  I guess you can go back and listen to it again if you wish.

Finally, after hijacking a missile, Bayonetta arrives at Isla del Sol, her final destination.  Once more, she is confronted by Jeanne.  Jeanne begins to recite the prophecy about a child, whose very conception was forbidden.  There was a prophecy that if a Lumen Sage and an Umbra Witch were to ever have a child, the child would send both of the clans into chaos.  As she speaks, Jeanne uses a remote to fire off groups of missiles.  Jeanne finally identifies Bayonetta as the child that sent both clans into chaos, one last group of missiles fires off, and their final battle begins.  This music plays during the battle:

The name of the song is 'Blood & Darkness'.  The name of the song could have a number of possible meanings.  First, it could be a more extreme form of the song 'Red & Black'.  It could also be a reference to the fact that both Jeanne and Bayonetta are Umbra witches, associated with things such as blood and darkness.  Anyways, the song is incredible.  The fight itself is crazy.  They first fight on the top of a building.  Then they end up fighting on the side of a skyscraper.  Jeanne periodically fires missiles at Bayonneta at this point.  With the right timing, the player can have Bayonetta and Jeanne get in a missile juggling fight.  Then they leap onto a missile to fight.  Then they jump onto a second missile.  Finally, they end up on another roof top to fight.

Finally, when the fight is over.  Jeanne and Bayonetta talk, and Bayonetta realizes that they used to be very close friends in the past.  Everything that Jeanne had done was to protect Bayonetta, the 'treasure of the clan'.  Finally, Bayonetta is forced to escape the building as a group of missiles converge, presumably killing Jeanne.

Bayonetta goes on to fight and defeat her father, the last Lumen sage.  Even after his defeat, he comes back, stealing away Bayonetta and placing her in a large statue that is 'The Creator'.  Bayonetta is unconscious, and unable to save herself from becoming part of the statue.

That's when Jeanne steps in.  She hadn't died on the roof of the building, but instead used a magic to shield herself from the attack.  That's when she takes off after the statue, which is being launched into space on a rocket, to save Bayonetta.  The song 'Friend' plays during this part of the game:

Jeanne ultimate is able to rescue Bayonetta, who goes on to defeat the Creator and save the universe from being destroyed.  The song 'Friend' reminds me of what friendship is about.  It's about being there for my friends.  It's about running to save them.  It's about fighting by their sides.  It's a very dramatic moment in the game, and I often forget that life isn't always dramatic.  Sometimes friendship is something subtle, quiet, and gentle.  It's not always going to be getting on a motorcycle and driving off into space to rescue a friend of mine who's been capture by a crazed person intent of destroying the universe.  Although that would be pretty awesome.

Well, this wraps up my post.  It's a series of songs about a strange friendship from a game.  I do hope that some of my friendships do end up with me trying to kill my friend, only to remember later that we are friends.  That would be pretty crazy.


Blood & Darkness

I'm having a hard time coming up with a title for this post.  I think it's mostly a random collection of thoughts that I've been having lately.

First, I'm very grateful for a number of things that are happening in my life. I feel like I'm facing and trying to root out some deep set lies I've told myself.  I've also started to feel again the love that Heavenly Father has for me.  Also, I've had some really good hugs lately.  It seems it's been awhile since hugging has felt good for me.

On another hand, life has been a struggle.  I've been facing loneliness.  I've been struggling with sinning and giving in to temptation.  Even thought I'm blessed with a degree of physical agility and balance, it feels like I'm very clumsy with relationships.

This morning, I was thinking about a number of different friendships that have changed 'for the worse' in my opinion.  I also thought of a number of friendships that just didn't work out for me.  I thought that I was the one responsible for all of it.  The thought 'I ruin everything!' entered into my mind.  That's when a second voice started.  It said 'Sure, you may ruin things, but that's what the Atonement is for.  It's to fix things'.  Angrily I thought to myself 'That's no excuse!'  That's when the voice replied 'It's not an excuse; it's a mercy'.  I've been pondering on that idea for a long time.  The fact that I can repent is a mercy granted to me.  I may struggle with the same sins, the same mistakes over and over again.  That's fine.  I'm not perfect.  Each time I repent doesn't have to be the ultimate final time to find mercy.

There's another thing I am grateful for.  I have about 6 different CDs of music in my car, and I've set the CD player to random.  Lately, it's been playing the Bayonetta CD far more than all of the other ones.  I finally took the time last night to finalize my own personal mix of the songs I enjoyed the most.  I put it in the car this morning.  When the CD started playing, the first song it played was 'Blood & Darkness'.  In the past when the song had played, I could only think of what was going on in that game when the song was playing.  It was the final battle between Bayonetta and another witch named Jeanne.  It always seemed to be about their struggle.  Oddly, when the music was playing, it felt like it was more about my struggle in life.  It feels like I'm there fighting against the Darkness of life.  Where does the Blood come in?  The Blood could easily represent the blood of the Lamb that was spilled for me.  It can represent the power of the Atonement that fights on my side against the darkness.  I am once again amazed at how gospel truths can show up nearly anywhere if I look hard enough for them.

Maybe I do make mistakes.  Maybe I have broken some good friendships.  Maybe I did push too far in a few relationships.  The Atonement is there to heal me, to bind up my wounds, and give me the power to fight against the evil of the world.  I'm not alone in this.  None of us are alone in this.

I will be writing up a post about the song 'Blood & Darkness' as well as a few other from the Bayonetta soundtrack that I've liked.  When it's written, it will be linked here.

My Strange Dreams 27-28Dec2011

I was with a group of people in a building.  I suddenly got the idea to have us all look out the window at the night sky.  We did, and it was beautiful.  There were stars everywhere and the moon was shining.  As I looked out and around, I saw endless rows of beautiful rolling mountains.  I started to comment on how glorious it all was, and how wonderful it was that God had made the world so beautiful.

My mother, father, and I were trying to get somewhere on time.  We had to get to a rocket.  My mom was trying to get one last thing ready before we went.  My dad kept saying how we would be late.  I was climbing up a latter onto the roof to help my mom, who was retrieving a book.  The roof was steep, so she was pushing it along with her arm, while she pushed herself along with her leg.  I thought that was a good way to do it.

I was in an old home way back, a hundred years ago.  I had traveled back in time to help someone.  I was in the house with an lady.  I was sitting down when she made eye contact with me, and asked me who I was.  I rose, shook her hand and said my name (Woah, nearly spilled some beans there). She asked me where I was from.  I knew that I couldn't tell her the exact truth so I said Germany, because I was born in Germany.  Or I told her that my family was from Germany.

I had gone with another man to go pick something up, and we were going to be late getting back to the rocket before it launched.  We had about 10 seconds and we were running.  I told him to hold my hand, because I was going to use my power to make us both run faster.  He grabbed my hand, and then expressed surprise at how fast we were running.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Toxic Shame, Deep-set Lies

This will be a difficult post to write for me.  Not difficult because I'm afraid to share it.  Difficult because of the pain I know that it's going to touch on.  Once more, into the breach.

In my support group this week, I did something where I looked into events where I had felt shamed.  Sometime soon, I'll have to start up a series of posts called 'From the Memory Vault' where I share things from my past that I'm able to remember.  I actually have a draft for one, but I'm too afraid to share it.  I'm frankly worried about how I could explain it without the event becoming too pornographic.  Here's a list of some of the shameful memories that I was able to remember this week:
  • In kindergarten, I colored a hand purple.  The teacher had me re-color it because it was the 'wrong color'.
  • In kindergarten, my teacher found my lunch, raised it up, asked who's it was.  I raised my hand and she didn't see me, and it caused trouble later.
  • I was forced to recount in front of the whole primary a time when I didn't come when my mother called
  • At 8, I was told 'He shouldn't have gone in there!' by a man at the front desk of a military locker room, after I had gone in with my dad
  • My dad telling me, at 8-9 years old, "If you were older, you would have needed to talk to a bishop"
  • Various events with yelling and throwing of toys
  • Me getting caught playing the Legend of Zelda early in the morning...Sunday morning
  • Me getting in trouble for spitting on a girl
That was the list of memories of shame that I had from this group.  As a kid, these were some of the messages that I got:
  • I don't belong here
  • I'm not valued
  • I don't belong with men
  • I don't matter
  • I do everything wrong
  • I'm always in trouble
  • You don't care.
At some point early in my life, I decided that people didn't care about me.  I must have started ignoring any attempts by people around me to love and care about me.  Even if I was able to perceive it, I would eventually rationalize it away.  In short, I was detached from the people around me.  I figured, if they don't care about me, why should I care about them?  I decided to go off and live in a fantasy world.  At the same time, I became a 'people pleaser'.  I did whatever it took to make people leave me alone.  I would satisfy people and try not to draw attention to myself.  I did my best in school for fear of 'doing things wrong'.  I remember being mortified the first time I was late to a class in my life.

I delved a bit deeper into that first memory I shared.  At one point, I came to the realization that my teacher didn't care about me.  No one seemed to care about me growing up.  I was just another warm body.  I was an object in the room.  And deep down, all I wanted as a kid was to feel special, loved, noticed, cared for, delighted in.

I also got some good insight into one of my 'flavors' of attraction.  I generally feel attracted to men bigger than me, to men that I judge are stronger than me.  I also feel afraid around them, intimidated by them.  It's an interesting internal conflict.  I think it goes back to feeling shamed by various adults in my life.  I wanted to feel loved by them, and instead I felt shamed by them.  To this day, I find myself seeking that love and approval from the 'big men', from the 'adults'.  I still want and crave that acceptance, affection, affirmation, from them.  That flavor of attraction is one of the hardest to 'shake off'.  It's one of the hardest to resolve for me, probably because it's very deeply set.

Last night, I went to hang out with some friends.  As soon as I showed up, they said 'hi', but then went back to talking with each other.  I felt that same story come up. 'They don't care.  They've never cared.  You're just another person to them'.  I tried to compensate by smiling and making jokes.  On the way home, I felt lonely.  As I was driving, I was looking at the world around me, admiring Heavenly Father's handiwork.  A thought came to me: yes, this is a manifestation of His love.  But, it's a manifestation of His love to everyone.  It's a blanket statement.  It's sent out generally to everyone.  I do acknowledge there have been a few times when I have seen tender mercies in my life, when I have felt that I was specifically cared for.  Somehow...I'm just not feeling it right now.

This morning, it finally hit me.  The same idea 'You don't care' shows up in my relationship with my Heavenly Father.  When I pray, I tell myself that I'm just another warm body to Him.  No wonder the heaven's have felt so closed.  No wonder I feel like I've slipped through the cracks and have fallen of His radar.  I keep telling myself the same lie.

The same lie that has been lodged deep in my psyche.

I've even tried telling myself positive stories.  Sure, they help for awhile, but the same old lie creeps up and slowly strangles my attempts at changing how I think.  The poison is set deep.

Now I sit here, feeling empty, with the beginnings of tears in my eyes.  I don't even know if I can see the depth of this wound that was dealt to me.  I feel angry that I've continued to tell myself the same lie.  I'm angry that I made the choice to feel ashamed and to detach while I was young.  I feel like I've screwed up my life by making the choices I did.  "It's all my fault".  I chose to react the way I did.  I chose to detach.  It's my choice, I have to live with the consequences.

Perhaps I'm not heeding the saying that I came up with while talking with a friend a few weeks ago.  The saying is 'You're supposed to carry your cross, not nail yourself to it!'  I need to find a way to carry the burden this lie has created without it paralyzing me.  And ultimately, I need to find out how to heal it and how to surrender it.  There is a way.  I believe that there is healing through Christ's Atonement.  There is strength there, and there is grace.  There is forgiveness and love.  My heart feels too afraid to trust.  It's been hurt so many times before. I keep hurting it by feeding it the same lie, and yet I keep sheltering it from any outside attempt to heal it.

Sounds like madness to me.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Music That Speaks To Me - Everybody's Fool

Perfection.  Perfection is such a lovely, perfect word.  Perfect people are happy.  Perfect people have no flaws.  Perfect people are always smiling.  There's nothing wrong with them.

If I've learned anything in my time here on this earth, there's no such thing as a perfect person.  If I think someone's perfect, I'm obviously closing my eyes to the flaws they may have.  Many times, I've felt like other people see me as a 'perfect' person.  I feel put up on a pedestal.  Sometimes I've put myself on that pedestal.  I've put on that perfect veneer.  I've tried to pretend to be a 'normal', happy, 'perfect' person.

Today's song speaks just to that.  Disclaimer: there is some language in the song.


perfect by nature
icons of self-indulgence
just what we all need
more lies about a world that

never was and never will be
have you no shame? Don't you see me?
you know you've got everybody fooled

look here she comes now
bow down and stare in wonder
oh how we love you
no flaws when you're pretending
but now i know she

never was and never will be
you don't know how you've betrayed me
and somehow you've got everybody fooled

without the mask where will you hide?
can't find yourself lost in your lie

i know the truth now
i know who you are
and i don't love you anymore

it never was and never will be
you don't know how you've betrayed me
and somehow you've got everybody fooled

it never was and never will be
you're not real and you can't save me
somehow now you're everybody's fool
[Taken from]

The video takes a big stab at advertisement.  I've always seen advertisements as trying to present some kind of 'perfect' image to consumers.  If you drink this product, you'll be perfect, beatiful, wonderful, loved, etc etc etc.

What a pack of lies.  I've found great amusement when I manage to shake off the spell that advertisements put on me, and really see through the veneer that they've put on things.  There's something enjoyable at ignoring the perfect image that they try to put up.

As for myself, I've been the person who's tried to be 'perfect'.  I've put on many masks in my life.  The most destructive mask I've worn was the 'I'm a perfect person!' mask.  As part of this mask, I have to smile and be happy all the time.  Nothing is ever wrong in my life.  I don't have same gender attraction.  I feel the spirit all the time.  I don't do anything wrong.  I've got 'no flaws when [I'm] pretending'.  Really, I hide my shortcomings.  I hide my struggles.  I'm living a life.  In many ways, I betray myself when I put on this mask.  When I try to live a life that 'never was or never will be', at least in this mortal life.  When I wear the mask of perfection, I'm not loving myself.  After all, how could I be loving a lie?  How could someone else love me, when all they're loving is the mask?

About two and half years ago, reality started to sink in.  I started to realize that I really needed help.  I got a therapist that would actually help me get through my issues.  I went to my first support group.  I started to destroy that mask, although it is a difficult one to destroy.  After all, I've lived for 26 years.  I could probably say that a good majority of that time was spent hiding behind the mask, evading the truth about the world and about myself.  I've spent a long time hiding the truth.

What are some things that hide behind the mask?  Fear.  Pain.  Deep wounding.  Endless cycles of lies that I've told myself.  Sadness.  Anger.  The real me hides behind the mask.  One of my deep fears is that I will not overcome same gender attraction in this life.  I fear that I will have to deal with it until the day that I die.  Even though I've done work, and tried to move past and heal issues, it still lingers.  Many days I see it as a curse.  I hide that fact from everyone around me, even myself.  Some days, I've really got 'everybody fooled' even myself, and thus I am 'everybody's fool'.

The best way to combat any lie is with truth.  To borrow from Jesus, who stated "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free" John 8:32.  As I've come to know and accept the truth about me, the world, the people around me, Heavenly Father, his gospel, the Atonement, I've found freedom.  Sometimes accepting that truth has been a painful process.  Ultimately, it's healed me and made me free from the lies, free from being everybody's fool.  Or perhaps more accurately, free from being a puppet of the adversary of all that is true, good, and holy.

This had been a difficult post for me.  I hope that I, as well as all of you, can learn to cast of the masks that we wear.  I hope that we together can learn to be more authentic.  I hope we can embrace the truth.  I believe that the truth is the only thing that can heal us and the world around us.

Truth: I am a valued son of Heavenly Father.  Truth: He gave His only perfect Son's life so that I could become perfect as well.  Truth: I am not perfect.  Truth: I have many challenges in life, and they're all meant to lead me toward perfection, and back into the loving embrace of Heavenly Father.

Those are some of the truths that I am learning to embrace.

For more reading, you can read Dan's post from Single Dad Laughing on perfection.  Click here: The disease called perfection.  Enjoy!

Music That Speaks To Me - Where Are You Christmas?

Christmas is coming up soon.  Along with it, there are many different Christmas songs that I've come to enjoy over the years.  Some of my favorites "O Come, O Come Emmanuel", "O Holy Night", "Angels We Have Heard On High."

One in particular seems to relate with how I've felt about Christmas the last few years.  It's "Where Are You Christmas?"

Alas, I couldn't find a YouTube video that I could embed, so I'll just have to settle with a link to the song:


Where are you Christmas
Why can't I find you
Why have you gone away
Where is the laughter
You used to bring me
Why can't I hear music play

My world is changing
I'm rearranging
Does that mean Christmas changes too

Where are you Christmas
Do you remember
The one you used to know
I'm not the same one
See what the time's done
Is that why you have let me go

Christmas is here
Everywhere, oh
Christmas is here
If you care, oh

If there is love in your heart and your mind
You will feel like Christmas all the time

I feel you Christmas
I know I've found you
You never fade away
The joy of Christmas
Stays here inside us
Fills each and every heart with love

Where are you Christmas
Fill your heart with love
[Taken from:]

I honestly don't know when it began.  At least when I was still going to college, Christmas was something that excited me.  I still could touch with that little kid feeling of excitement and wonder.  I've felt this Christmas season, as well as the last, that I don't get that sense of wonder or awe that I used to feel.  I used to feel so enchanted and enamored with it.  I feel like I've lost the Christmas spirit over the years.  The dreams have slowly slipped away.

The cause?  I believe I've become to focus on the 'how' of Christmas, the little logistical details to help the day go 'smoothly'.  I have some family members that seem to focus on trying to make the day as 'perfect' as possible.  As such, it turns into a stress-fest.  The day becomes just another day focused on to-dos.  As such, I'd rather spend time away from family to avoid that stress.

What is the true Christmas spirit?  I believe it is the spirit of Christ.  It's the spirit of love, of giving, of family, of warmth, of light, of acceptance.  I will always be in awe of Him, the only one of us to grace this planet, and live a perfect life.

This song helps touch on both sides of how I see Christmas.  On one hand, there's the 'Where did the spirit of the season go?'  On the other hand, I can see and feel the spirit of Christ.  I think children naturally can tap into that spirit.  As I've gotten older, and gotten further from the innocence of youth, I think I've let that true spirit of love slip away.

That's probably why I've always wondered where Christmas went.

I think this year, I've started to get it back.  But like anything in life, it is a process.  I'm still learning to love and to give freely.  And that is what this time of year is all about.  No, that is what all year long should be about.  The spirit of love and of giving is a spirit I should seek out all throughout the year.  Christmas is just a convenient time to be reminded of the path I need to follow in my life, the same path that Christ took when he was here on the earth.

The sense of the magic of the season, the wonder, the awe, and the excitement may not be something that will come back.  However, I do believe that I can receive the spirit of the season, the spirit of Christ.  That is something that will not fade away.  That is only something that will grow stronger over the years.

My Strange Dreams 21-22Dec2011

I came into a room, and there was a man there drinking some kind of yellow alcoholic beverage.  I remember being slightly annoyed with it, because the guy was going to be sleeping in the same room as me.  I then remember thinking that I could probably handle it, because I'd dealt with drunk people before.  I was just worried he would get angry.  He already was kind of grumpy.  He wanted something other than what he was drinking.  He rooted through the pantry, and picked up a few boxes of cake mix before putting them back.  I thought that he may want cake mix, but he didn't want what was there.  We went out of the house, and me and another person walked along a cement steps while the drunk guy cut across the grass.  I thought to myself 'Ah, the alcohol must be removing his inhibitions'.  We walked through a forested area.  There were a lot of dead leaves on the ground.  I could see one of our cats walking away, with his tail pointed in the air.  Then we ran across another cat, poking through the leaves.  I tried to call it, and it turned and hissed at me briefly.  I left it alone.  We finally got to a building, and the drunk man was searching through it.

We were at a table, waiting for our food to come in.  When it did, people were grabbing the plates of food to the left of what they ordered.  I had to correct them.  I had a friend to my left who was grabbing a piece of food instead of the can of Pepsi that he ordered.  We were leaving the table, and I had his can of Pepsi.  He was complaining that he wanted his Pepsi, so I shook up the can, and made another can for him.  Later, my friend was trying to do something, and I stretched for my power and enabled him.

I had a dream I was driving my Prius, and a strange light came on the dashboard, and suddenly the car became very hard to drive.  The light looked like a planet with a ring around it.  I got out of my car, and a man pointed out that my two rear tires had gone flat.  I got back in, and kept trying to drive.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My Strange Dreams 20-21Dec2011

I was playing a game of Magic. One person had a card that they played at the beginning of the game that made each player flip over the top cards of their libraries until they revealed four land cards.  If it was a basic land card, it would go into play, otherwise it would go into their hand.  Any instants or sorceries were put into the graveyard.  I remember all  of this because we discussed how the card was working.  Anyways, there were about six people playing this game.  The guy on my left had really long hair and a long beard.  The man on my left was a friend of mine with red hair.  I remember when it was my turn to flip over card, I was able to put one more basic land card into play. I had an island and a mountain.  I remember that I had really old cards, when the guy to my left had really new cards, and I was embarrassed that I had such old cards.

Then Kermit the frog was singing "Rainbow Connection" and I knew I was about to wake up, but I forced myself to stay asleep because I wanted to hear the rest of the song.

Anyways, here's a link to it.  It's a good song!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My Strange Dreams 19-20Dec2011

I was in a room in my house, trying to get some work done.  There were a bunch of blankets in my chair.  I decided to leave, and was in a hallway of an apartment complex.  I didn't feel like continuing to work, even thought it was only 9 o'clock.  I was having a real hard time focusing on the work I had to do.  I carefully avoided one of the women that worked there, and went into a bar/cafe of sorts.  I sat down across the table from a woman, and started to talk to her about some crazy weird powers I had picked up.  As we talked, one of my friend's wife's sisters came into the bar and sat down as well.  We started to discuss the new powers that she had picked up.  I asked her out of the blue if she had read 'Alloy of Law' by Brandon Sanderson.  She said she hadn't yet.  I brought it up because the powers we were picking up seemed to parallel alloymancy.

Suddenly, I realized that some bad men were going to be hunting me down because of my powers.  I quickly left the cafe and started to use the power I had, which slowed time down for everyone else.  I started to move quickly down the street toward the place I lived, which was now a four story hotel.  I kept glancing toward the backs of the houses, trying to see my pursuers.  I knew it was painfully cliche for me to return home if someone was hunting me.  I got into the hotel, and tried to get into the elevator.  I tried to push floor 3, and the elevator took me to the 4th floor instead.  Angrily, I tried to hit the 3 button again, but I realized that it wasn't there.  I remembered that the elevators only when to the second floor, so I went down the second floor.  I was sure the bad emporer had already discovered where I lived.  When I stepped out onto the second floor, I quickly found an elderly woman who worked for the hotel.  I admired the red carpet and pretty railing.  A bunch of well dressed people were all around.  I asked the woman where the stairs were.  I thought they were too the left, but she said they were to the right.  I started to walk, and she tried to come with me as if it leave me.  I turned and said I didn't need her help.  I started to walk away, activating my powers to walk quickly.  I was worried that my use of my powers would start to attract unwanted attention.  I went through a doorway of sorts and was starting to try to find the stairs.  I could see different numbered rooms, and I finally found the stairs hiding behind some curtains.  Instead of stairs, it was an escalator, which I climbed to the third floor.  I started to move to my room, when I noticed someone was following me.  It was a man, about in his forties.  I wondered how he was following me, as I was trying to move fast.  He indicated that he could augment his body to keep up with me.  I then turned and rushed toward my room.

When I got to my room, one of my old managers was getting there as well, trying to use a key.  He was frantic and worried about me.  I told him that I was alright and that I was trying to escape.

Then I was in a grassy area.  Two of my co-workers there, both of whom I was attracted to.  I remember looking at the one I felt more attracted to, and started to plan how I could use my powers to either see him naked, or touch him without him knowing it was me.  I remember looking at an analyzing him while I was talking to him and the other co-worker.  I thought if I moved quickly back and forth, that I would be invisible to people who didn't have powers.  I remember noticing that the guy was really aroused, and then he was changing his pants to get into a swimming suit.

Then I was in an underground training room with Shikamaru.  I was mostly trying to run away from him, but he could keep up with me.  I wondered how he could tell I was using my powers, when I was only using them to enhance me.  I tried to get him to tell me if he could tell if I was using my powers either way I would use them.  I then noticed a whiteboard with my name on it, and a description of my powers and what I could do with them.  I remember feeling pleased at this.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Self Talk

Today I want to talk about something a friend of mine called 'Self Talk'.  Now, a person may think 'You talk to yourself?  You're crazy!'  Funny thing, my brain hardly ever shuts itself down.  When it's not busy focusing on the task at hand, it could be analyzing the situation, resting (sometimes), or it could be engaged in telling me something about the situation (self talk).

Let's take this last weekend for example.  Friday night, I spent time with family, and felt really good.  Saturday evening I also spent time with some friends that was very uplifting, entertaining, and gave me that lovely 'feel good' feeling inside (interestingly enough, without a whole lot of cuddle time, but that is beside the point).  Sunday rolls around, and I'm still feeling pretty good, albeit a bit tired.  I get to church, and suddenly, the feelings of loneliness start to kick in.  Elder's Quorum it seemed to be particularly bad, and I was feeling really down.  Only after I got home, did I realize I'd been engaging in some negative self talk.

This is a more accurate view of what was going on:

Outside action: I drive into the parking lot, and feel like parking further away from everyone else.
Self talk: I don't have friends in this ward.  I don't belong here.  I want to park far away so that the pain of trying to pretend to be 'close' to the ward is less.

Outside action: I sit down in sacrament meeting, alone.
Self talk: I'm all alone.  Everyone else has a family.  I'm not the same as everyone else here.  I'm a loner.  I'm lonely.  I'll always be lonely if I'm single.  I'm less than the other people in the ward.

Outside action: I look around, a notice some men that I'm attracted to.
Self talk: I shouldn't be scoping other people out.  I'm being some kind of voyeur.

Outside action: I see a man who I've noticed is affectionate toward  his kids.  I find myself straining to see if he's doing it today.
Self talk: You're some kind of stalker.  Why do you want to see that?

Outside action: My Elder's Quorum president talks how if people are in need, they can ask their home teachers for help or their friends in the ward.
Self talk: I'm in some dire emotional need.  I need friends in this ward.  I don't really have any friends.  My home teachers don't visit me.  I don't feel like I'm making a difference here.  I'm afraid to reach out.  I'm afraid of asking for what I need.  If they knew what I thought about, they would reject me.  They'd chase me out of the ward with pitchforks.  If they knew what I wanted sometimes, they would do the same.

Outside action: A man in the ward, who I do consider to be somewhat of a friend when I'm thinking straighter, gives me a friendly pat on the back as I walk by.
Self talk: I really want more than that.  I guess I have to accept what scraps are giving me.  I'm so tired of dealing with other men's phobia of touch with other men.  I'm so tired of feeling that myself.  Other men are just so scared to do it.  I'm scared to ask for it from straight men.  What's the point of bonding with these guys?

And so on, and so forth.  All self talk, for me, seems to have a common thread: hardly any of it is based in truth.  A lot of it is dirty, horrible, rotten lies that I've told myself for years and continue to tell myself.  Some of those lies are:

  • I'm worthless
  • I'm not valued
  • I'm not cared for
  • I'm not important
  • I'm stupid
  • I'm ugly
  • I'm weak
  • I'm not a man
  • I have no value
The list could go on and on and on.

I decided, during sacrament this last week, that I would try to replace my negative self talk with some positive self talk.  Hopefully, that will ultimately change the beliefs I have about myself.  Hopefully it will change how I act.  Here are some of things I came up with:
  • I am worthy of love and connection.
  • I am loved.
  • I have friends.
  • God loves me.
  • God is good and faithful.  He can be trusted.
  • I am worth dying for (speaking about the Atonement)
  • I am worth it
  • I am worthy of affirmation and affection
  • I am working toward perfection
  • I can do great things
The list of positive self talk helps me feel more bolstered and more uplifted.  It helps build me up, and I feel like it helps build me up in the right way.  One more thing that I heard from a friend recently is 'I need to be the change I want to see'.  I remember at the time I was complaining to him about wanting to give and receive more touch from straight male friends.  He then said something to the effect of: if that's something I want to see, then I need to do it.  In other words, if I want to see appropriate male affection be introduced into the culture around me, then I need to be the one dispensing it.  It sounds like a big and lofty goal.

Oh dear, here comes the negative self talk again.  I have but one thing to say in response to it 'I can'.

My Strange Dreams 18Dec-19Dec2011

I had a dream that I knew two little kids new some information about their mother that I really needed to know.  One was a boy and the other was a girl.  They both had big, dark brown eyes.  I remember asking the little girl a question, and as she responded, I knew she was making up a story to try to confuse me.  I knelt down to her level and asked her again, and I could tell by her eyes, that she was lying to me.

I was in the back of a house, when a paladin came out of the front of the house.  I was sure that the man was there to capture me or kill me, so I started to run away from the guy.  At the front of the house, he finally said that he was the new second counselor in the Elder's Quorum, and that he didn't want to capture me.  I finally decided to circle back to see if he was telling the truth, but I didn't trust him.

I was standing around the counter island in my parents house, and I was telling my dad and my little brother a story about when I dreamed about being chased around by a paladin.  I told them how a man with a sword and a shield came out of the house to chase me.

I was on a plane, a plane that we would be sky diving out of.  We were on it just to get a feel for what it would be like on the plane.  I was bored, so I went to go sit by the pilot.  I strapped myself in, and that's when I learned I was in the 'sky diving' chair.  The pilot decided to give me a try for it, and suddenly my chair was flung out of the plane.  The chair was attached to the plane by some thin, clear plastic lines.  Only two of them.  I was terrified.  We were flying really close to the ground, near some kind of resort.  I could see some people that were also sky diving, and they got to sit in these nice metal chairs with orange backs.  They would sit in them until they jumped out of the chairs.  We were flying over a lake, and we got too close to some balloons and the lines from my chair caught them.  Then the pilot turned the plane so hard that the roof of my mouth hurt.  We were flying past a river boat, and some ladies commented on how I was turning too fast.  Then we got back to the station and got ready to make a real jump.  I finally figured out we wouldn't be going on our own.  The guy I was with jumped out, and then we were falling.  I remember seeing two other people holding another person who's parachute was broken.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Flavors of Attraction

This is a very scary post for me to put out there.  Scary indeed.

In this post, I plan on speaking a bit into the kind of people I'm attracted to.  I'm going to put it out there in a very generic sense, as well as possibly some explanations into why I think I may have these kinds of attractions.   The idea for this blog posts came at the last family function that I attended.  My sister told her husband that I had same gender attraction.  When I asked her about it at the function, she jokingly said "Just don't hit on him." She laughed and then said something afterward to the effect of "Oh, you're probably not because he's not super mega cute".  It made me think, there's a whole lot that I could be attracted to a person than how they look.  A whole lot more.

I have some insight into what makes me feel attracted, or repulsed, by different men around me.  I don't have it down to an exact science, because I always seem to find exceptions to the rule.  I'm probably more complicated than I'm letting myself be.

I think I can boil it down to three different 'flavors' of attraction: attraction to a 'father' figure, attraction to the masculine, and the 'eye candy' attraction.

The father figure attraction can be hard to separate from the masculine flavor of attraction for me.  The father figure attraction drives around looking for someone to protect me.  It involves looking for a guardian of sorts.  A big part of the drive involves having this man, who is strong and powerful, protect and love me.  It often manifests in urges to be held or embraced by the man.  It often makes me feel like a little child when I'm around men like this.  Typically men who are big, big as in physically imposing, tall or with broad shoulders.  It usually doesn't have very much to do with the man's personality, although if a man is brash or loud, it tends to destroy any feelings of 'father figure' attraction I may have for them.  This flavor of attraction is very frustrating to deal with, because it isn't easily seen or resolved.  I'm typically in 'little boy' space when I'm around men like this, so I'm not actively trying to figure out what's going on.  I'm more focused on how to 'win' the protection and affection of these men.

The attraction to the masculine is a much broader category.  The drive is to connect and have friendship with a man.  In more extreme or frustrated cases, it can have sexual flavors to it.  Typically men with deep voices, body hair, muscles, who exude confidence, or leadership abilities can trigger this sort of attraction in me.  It can present an odd dual response in me.  I will feel attracted, yet I can also feel a sense of enmity toward the man.  All in all, the attraction is much worse if I'm not in touch with my inner masculine.

The last flavor, the 'eye candy' flavor is an attraction toward men who are good looking or who are extremely lean and muscular.  This sort of attraction, for me, probably arose due to exposure to pornography, although in it's purest form, it is an admiration for the natural beauty that exists in the people all around me.  The problem is that it's been sexualized.

Each of these 'flavors' is separate, but often times they can get combined.  I remember with my last exposure to pornography, I ran into a man that exemplified all three flavors of masculinity for me.  I found the draw to that man almost irresistible.  Sometimes each flavor has a different strength, so it is difficult to pick apart the different aspects to the attraction and address them.  Generally, most attractions for me diminish if I can talk with and demystify the man.  The father attraction requires a different sort of work.  It requires me to clearly see that I'm putting a 'father' energy onto a man.  It also requires me to withdraw that energy.  Part of me finds that very difficult, because I still long and yearn for that connection with a father figure.

There, that wasn't so scary for me actually.  This is the last post I plan on making today.  Time to enjoy the weekend.  As usual, feel free to comment or to e-mail me.

Names I've Gone By - Part 2

This is my second post in a series of three posts about names that I've gone by over the years.  I am afraid to make this post, because it means I'm one step closer to the third post.  That third post where I will share the name that was given to me at my birth.

Today is an important name for me.  It's about a name that's evolved over time.

Way back in the day, we had a series of computer games on our computer.  They were arcade games.  After the game was played, a person could enter in their name for a high score.  One of my older sisters would always sign 'The Master'.  At that age, I somehow decided that I was better at games than her.  I wanted to 'one-up' her name somehow.  I decided that the only thing better than 'The Master' would be 'The Ultimate Master'.  And thus, I first started to call myself TUM.

When we got older, my brothers and I would start to play 'role playing' games of sorts.  It started out with us teaming up to defeat the 'bad guys'.  Before long, we each gave ourselves different names and adopt different personalities.  The youngest was a warrior who liked to lead.  The middle brother took on a sort of warrior/force user of sorts who tended to keep to himself.  I took on the role of a wizard who had gone mad.  One of things he did was randomly decide to attack his brothers in arms.  I called myself 'Tum'.

As time went on, each of the personalities changed.  As I've reflected back on those times, I came to realize that the persona that I took on was a part of my personality that I had a difficult time tapping into.  Tum, as it were, was a part of my personality.  Later on, his name was changed to TUMM, which stood for 'The Ultimate Master of Magic'.

Tumm was an embodiment of anger.  He preferred to dress himself in black robes.  His robes were often blood stained from the many fights that he had endured.  He was angry, full of rage toward anyone.  He could explode on the smallest insult.  One of the 'insults' that people would do was misspell his name, instead spelling it with one 'm'.  On top of being angry, Tumm was cruel, sadistic, and relentless.  He would stop at nothing to achieve his goals.  He was also unpredictable.  Sometimes he would explode with anger, and other times he would let it simmer.  Sometimes he would attack directly, other times he would come at his target sideways, with trickery and deception.  Deception was one of his most powerful tools.  He hardly would fight fair unless he was sure he could win, or taunt his opponent into dropping their guard to make them more vulnerable.  Many times, as Tumm, I would taunt and tease my younger brothers, especially the youngest, in an attempt to incite rage.  He was a much easier 'opponent' when he was out of control with rage.  Tumm was also the most powerful magician around.  His power was unmatched.  He was also immortal of sorts.  Once slain, he would eventually reform.  He was a permanent fixture of the world.  Underneath all the anger, Tumm was really a deeply wounded man.  He was made an outsider from a young age.  His own father disowned him.  His younger brother took up the throne that should have belonged to him.  Because he chose a path of magic, he was ostracized from a society that worshiped and idealized a more direct or warrior-like approach to fighting.

I think the following may best describe how I've seen Tumm.  Imagine a man dressed in black, blood stained robes.  Power immeasurable swirls around him.  He has a confident, cocky grin on his face.  His eyes smolder with anger.  He is a man that is dangerous and uncontrollable.

Sometimes I feel like the words I have to describe him don't work.  It's hard to state the sense of awe and power he has.  All my life, I've been afraid of Tumm.  He's been a demon inside to chain.  His anger was destructive when I lost control of it.  I feel that he's hurt and destroyed many a relationship of mine.  Let me reword that: I've hurt and destroyed many a relationship.  As I've explored him, I realize that Tumm is my inner locus of power.  He is my sense of the masculine.  He's the one that sees clearly.  He know friend from foe at a glance.  He is powerful.  He makes things happen.  He is magical.  He is confident.

As I've learned to channel him appropriately, he has protected me.  Or in other words, I've protected myself, and kept myself safe by listening to what my inner 'Tumm' says about other people.  After all, I think I have a gut sense that lets me know when things are safe or not.  My anger tells me of when I feel safe or not.  And much like Tumm, I too have deep wounds inside that I use anger to protect.

As for the magic part, I do have power to change my environment.  To those who don't understand that power, it is like magic.  I also know how to program computers, and sometimes, it's like magic to me.

Well, that wraps up the second post in this series.  The third and final post will come at the time when I'm not terrified of everyone knowing who's blog this is.  Then again, I have a nagging feeling most people know who writes this blog.

Depression - 16Dec2011

Last night and this morning really haven't been good to me.  I've been struggling with the loneliness and depression.  I'm starting to realize that I have more struggles in life than just same gender attraction.  There's the anxiety, the loneliness, the defensive detachment from other people, depression, and an inability to trust others and trust Heavenly Father.

Last night was an OK night.  I went and spent some time with the guys that I knew from the fraternity.  I remember feeling bored most of the night.  As I drove home, I felt kind of empty and numb.  I ate all of the chocolate chip cookies one of the guys had given me.  It made my stomach feel kind of upset.  I remember that I set my computer down and briefly considered setting up my computer and turning it on.  I knew if I did that, that I would start searching for triggering images, and possibly get mixed up in pornography.  Instead, I finished getting ready for bed.

I found myself thinking about how lonely I felt.  I started to go through the people I knew.  I was realizing that not any one person was going to be able to help fulfill my need for friendship.  One person was not going to fit all of the wants I had for friendship.  I starting putting people into categories.  There's one man that I trust for guidance and advice, but we don't really do anything together.  There's another man with whom I share a number of interests, but he is a very busy person.  There's another man like that who I even was close to, but I ended up becoming codependent.  There's other men that I try to reach out too, but I always feel like I'm the one making all the effort in the friendship.  There's other men that try to reach out with me, but I don't feel like I want to reach back.

I basically started to throw a pity party for myself.  I found myself praying, asking, wondering if Jesus and Heavenly Father would be my only friends, the only ones that could really love me, and really help me.  Even after asking and reaching toward Him, I still felt like His love along wouldn't be enough.  I thought that even with Him, I would still be longing for human interaction.  While laying feeling lonely, thoughts of temptation entered my mind.  I eventually succumbed to the idea of 'Oh, I'll feel good for a few moments now'.

This morning, it was a struggle to get out of bed.  I was feeling empty.  I was feeling guilty and ashamed.  I was still feeling lonely.  When I finally got into the shower, I spent a few minutes curled up in a ball under the hot water, not wanting to move and face the day.  I got out of the shower, sat on the floor and draped my towel around my shoulder and curled up in a ball again.  I didn't want to go anywhere, I just wanted to sit there.  Finally, I was able to get up, get dressed, and get in the car.  I was feeling sad.

Driving to work, I was able to feel some emotion: anger, directed at the other drivers.  I got really angry right before I got to work.  I remember sitting in my car, not wanting to get out.  I didn't like the fact I'd gotten so angry at the other driver.  I didn't want the anger.  I sat in the car until the air started to cool.  I briefly considered the idea of sitting there until my body went cold.  I did eventually get out of the car and get into work.  I sat at the computer, and when it was on, I was able to forget about the depression.  When I got up to go to the bathroom, the feeling of sadness and loneliness came back.  I guess the computer is just a distraction for me.

Do I have depression?  I'm scared that I am.  Do I deal with loneliness?  I'm pretty sure I do.  I was remembered a movie we watched in elementary school on the way to work.  It was about a kid that no one seemed to like, no one would interact with.  He would go to school and had no friends there.  He would go home, and his parents wouldn't talk to him.  Eventually, he walked off the school bus one day and just fell down and died.  The title of the movie was 'Cypher'.  Cypher meaning zero.  The person was a zero everyone's eyes.  I realized that I had made some progress.  I do feel like I have some impact on the world. When the loneliness and depression sets in, I start to feel like a Cypher.  I start to feel like a ghost in my life, drifting past that no one can see or if they can see me, they don't care to interact with me.

Depression scares me, especially because that's when the thoughts of wanting to die enter into my life.  I honestly think I'm far too much of a coward to end my own life.  Yet, if the pain and the loneliness get to much, I may be driven to something like that.  The other thing that comes with depression is not wanting to do anything.  The idea of maintaining this blog sometimes feels like it's too much.  I find myself wanting more feedback.  I find myself wanting more people to interact with.  I find myself searching for people that are willing to share of themselves as well.  Sure, I've had many people tell me they've been reading my blog.  Some express that they relate to it.  It seems to end there.  No one wants to further into it and I'm too passive to want to investigate further.

Sometimes I wish some of the people who don't know who I am behind my alias would talk to me about the blog.  They're the people I'm really trying to reach.  I can see it as a form of madness.  I want to connect to those people, but I'm not actively reaching out to them.  I want them to read these words and know that it's me that's writing them, but I hide behind an alias.  I want to find connections and friendships where I can be open and vulnerable with another person, and that other person be the same way back, but I'm too afraid to take the first step to be vulnerable.  I'm just so tired of trying.  I'm so tired of reaching and not feeling like the others are reaching back.

Sometimes I think there's something about me that makes it so other people don't want to interact with me.  Am I too much for them?  Am I too draining?  Do I ask for too much?  Do I expect too much?  I went to a fireside this Sunday.  The first few groups of people I walked up to disbanded a few moments after I got there.  Only in one case did a person stay to talk with me.  Later on that did change, but for awhile I started to wonder if there was something wrong with me.  After my support meeting, it seemed only a small handful of the men really wanted to talk with me.  Most other conversations ran dry relatively quickly.

Perhaps I am crazy.  I do have many friends.  Part of me looks at me with condemnation and says 'Should you be grateful for what you have?  Why isn't it enough?  Why can't the friendships you have be enough?  Why isn't God's love and grace enough for you?'  Another part considers the people I have said I don't want to be friends with and says 'What do you expect?  These men have tried to be your friend, and you haven't let them.  You've turned them down.  You've stopped talking to them.  You haven't tried.  How can you expect anyone to do the same?'  Yet another voice speaks up and says 'If they really knew you, they'd run away in fear.'  Yet another says 'It's not worth it to interact with other people.  You'll either give in to your attractions or be driven mad by them.  You'll always live in jealousy and envy of the friendships you see in other people.  You'll never have it.  You'll always be alone.  You'll always be an island.  Might as well cut your ties with everyone and not expect them to come looking for you.'  I had the idea to stop going to church, to stop going to the support group.  A voice came saying 'Oh, it doesn't really help you.  When you go, you just find yourself longing to connect to the other men there, but it never works when you try.  It will never work when you try.  Nothing you do can change things'.  Then comes up one of the scariest voices 'You should just end it.  It'd be simple.  Then you would really know who cared about you.  They would come and cry for you at your funeral.'  The voice even took a scarier turn this morning 'Heavenly Father is the only one that loves you.  Why don't you just end this life so that you can be with Him?  He's the only one that loves you.'

It is scary.  It really is scary.  I keep praying for the strength to get me through.  Heavenly Father is the one person that can help pull me through it.  It hurts though.  The loneliness and isolation hurt.  I sit here with tears of sadness welling up in my eyes, and pain in my heart.  I'm afraid this pain and sadness will lead me to anger and defensiveness.  That will only drive those trying to get close to me even further away.

Oh well.  It's another day.  It's another chance to try.  I feel pessimistic about it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Friendship - Thou Art A Strange Beast

Recently, I know I've made posts about friendship.  Today, I want to share some of the thoughts I've been having about friendship or perhaps more in general, relationships.

First off, each person is a paradox.  A person can be simple.  A person can be complex.  Sometimes the reason behind how people think, feel, and act is complicated.  Sometimes it's very simple.

Relationships can be simple or they can be complex.  Friendship can be much the same way.  I've found that relationships are simple if both people are expecting or wanting the same thing from it.  Friendship is much the same way.  I find that things get horribly complicated if each person in a relationship is expecting something different, or are expecting the same thing, in different amounts.  If one person starts to expect more than the other person is willing to give, then it can get complicated.  If one person starts to give more than the other person is willing to receive, it also gets quite complicated.

Personally, I've been on both ends.  I've been on the end where I feel like I'm giving more and more to the person, and receiving very little in return.  I've been in those friendships where I reach out continually to try to connect with the other person, but I never see the other person reach back.  Sure, when I initiate contact, most people respond and continue that contact.  I've also seen the opposite happen.  There are people I know who give and give to me, who share there life stories, advice, thoughts, and opinions, and for whatever reason, I don't wish to receive those.

That's the point where things get complicated.

When I see situations where I'm giving too much, I find it difficult, albeit not hard to 'withdraw' from the person.  When I realize I'm over committing, it is easy for me to not commit as much.  By committing less, I may give that person less attention.  I may reach out to them less than I have in the past.  I may not try to give them as much touch/affection as I have in the past.  It may mean something even more difficult.  It may mean reclaiming the 'heartspace' I've given to that person.  'Heartspace' is a pretty complicated term for me.  In some ways, it's a measure of my internal commitment toward a person.

I find the harder situations to deal with are when people seem to be 'overcommiting' to try to have a relationship with me.  If the person initiates contact, and I don't feel like initiating back.  I find myself worried about 'hurting their feelings'.  I feel like I'm being cruel if I don't respond to the person.  I feel like I'm lying by continuing to interact with the person.

Honestly, I realize that everyone has needs in varying levels and amounts.  Perhaps for with some friends, I meet their needs by interacting with them, even if I don't get my needs met in the same way with that relationship.  Perhaps other people help meet my needs when they interact with them, yet I don't help feel their needs.  Lopsided relationships? Yes.  Bad?  I'm not sure.  Unhealthy? Only if the person on the giving end is putting themselves into a bad place by helping out.

Friendship, for me, is about mutual trust.  It's about both people in the relationship wanting and giving on a similar level.  There's also the idea of liking each other, of enjoying each others company.  There's a drive to continue and maintain the relationship on both sides.  There's also a sense of safety, love, and affirmation.  Each friendship is different.  Each one is on various levels and each one can change over time.

A few more thoughts I've had.  I've been reading 'In Quiet Desperation'.  In part of the book, Ty Mansfield talks about speaks about the condemnation of homosexuality found in Romans 1.  He then spoke that Paul was trying to teach a very important principle.  He was trying to warn against the dangers of idolatry.  He was stating that by misusing the procreative powers that Heavenly Father has given me, I was starting to worship that power.  As Ty Mansfield put it, some people make their sexuality their idol.  It then struck me that I had many other idols.  The current idol I've been worship is friendship.  I've been trying to put the idea of having friendship up and over God.  I realize that friendship is something important in my life.  Is it really something that should be worshiped?  Is it more important than God, the giver of the gift of friendship?  Heavens no.  Heavenly Father alone should be my object of highest and must worthy worship.

One last thought.  I saw a funny twitter hashtag today.  It goes something like #SomeoneLetMeKnowWhen.  I contemplated a few that I could say, in light of my recent posts and this post.  #SomeoneLetMeKnowWhen men will not be afraid of showing pure, non sexual affection toward one another in public. #SomeoneLetMeKnowWhen it is safe to express feelings openly with one another, even if those feelings say 'I don't want to be your friend'.

Just some thoughts and musings I've had.  I'd love to hear your thoughts!  Please comment, or send me an e-mail.

My Strange Dreams 12Dec-13Dec2011

There was a woman who was apparently half tree.  She took us to meet her mother tree.  We could touch the tree and hear what it had to say.  We were trying to figure out which of the trees trunks was the real tree.  The mother tree looked like a pine tree, but there were multiple trunks that reached up to the sky.  One of the kids pushed on the trunk, making it move and sway.  That's when the tree screamed at us to stop, because we were hurting it by pushing the trunks around.  I then wondered how a human and a tree bred.  As I was busy trying to make sense of it in my head, the dream ended.

I was building a white angel deck for Magic the gathering.  I tapped four plains from two different stacks and casted one.

I was going to a movie theater with a friend of mine.  As we waited in line, the doors closed because the movie was starting.  Everyone thought they were out of tickets, except my friend, who pushed me up to the front where a man had a few tickets in his hand.  I quickly bought one.  Inside, I started to move past the concessions area.  Another friend of mine was petting something furry.  We got inside and sat down to watch the movie.  After the movie we were driving back home, and I was all alone in my Prius.  I was turning off of 3300 S in Ogden to try to get home.  I saw a man run across the street.  He had left a group of colorfully dressed women who had their faces covered.  The man was dressed in a white, robe like thing.  I assumed that they were Muslims.  I heard that the man had found them work somewhere on 21st street.  I decided that I could probably give them a ride if they didn't have too many people.  I turned right, then made a U-turn.  It took forever to make the U-turn because there were so many Muslim people crossing the street, and so many cars moving slowly down the road.  Finally, I made the turn, and the guy ran out in the street in front of me, signaling for me to stop.  I talked with him, and tried to ask him how many people I had.  I told him I had seats for four, and maybe five.  I looked over and saw a drink carrier area that I could stow away to make a fifth seat.  The man looked angry at me.  He said that he needed seats for each of his people.  He said something about no lap seats too.  Finally I drove off.

Then I was back in Brazil with my family.  My mother was excited to be seeing all the sights and the sounds.  I was elated to be back as a tourist, instead of as a missionary.  I thought I would be able to see all the cool sights and sounds.  A local man started to talk to me in Portuguese, and I responded in Portuguese too.  I told him I hadn't seen most of these things before.  He wondered why.  I said I was a missionary the last time I was here.  He asked again why I hadn't seen things.  I struggled to find the right vocabulary words. I eventually said that missionaries should be saintly and should preach and speak of Jesus.  While we were talking.  We were watching group after group of Indian people come into an area, do some kind of performance/worship and then move on so another group could come in.  Finally we left that, and were driving.  We drove down into a tunnel that went underground that was also apparently an underwater tunnel.  We could see a display of sorts set up.  Apparently we were driving underneath the library.  I was in awe at how many books there would be.  As were we getting near the end of the tunnel, we saw a display of Muppets.  I thought that was funny.

I was then somehow disguised as a woman, in some kind of fashion design class.  Apparently I was trying to infiltrate it somehow.  A very uptight woman was talking to us about what we had to do.  Eventually, she sat us down.  I was sitting at the end of a row of about 4 other woman.  They showed us a series of 5 part-mannequins, each which was wearing a different article of clothing.  One was wearing a tie, the other some kind of super short shorts, another with shoes, one with boots, and the other with some mid-calf length pants.  All of the example clothing on the mannequins was a swirl of blues, browns, and oranges.  I saw there trying to figure out what kind of tie I would design, and eventually decided that a plain brown tie, like the one I had at home, would be just fine.  That's when a man, who was apparently from the palace, came to talk with us.  He was going to be our representative there.  He came to say hello to us.  He took my hand and kissed it.  Then he let go of my hand as if to move on.  Then he grabbed my hand, kissed it again, and said something like 'Go away'.  then he kissed my hand again, and said something flattering.  He did it again, and again.  I started to blush, and wonder what I would have to do to make this guy leave me alone.  I said 'Obrigado' (thank you, in Portuguese), but he still kept kissing my hand and trying to flatter me.  I tried squeezing his hand.  Maybe I wasn't holding it firm enough.  Finally, he let go, and then squeezed my arm.  He gave me a funny look.  Somehow he had felt the muscles I had on my arm, and was suspicious that I was not a woman.  In my best woman voice, I said something about how I had worked out and my arms were inflamed a bit.  That's when the boss woman said something about there being dirt on my sleeve.  I looked over at my sleeve, which was apparently my pajama sleeve, and I saw some dirt caked on it.  I said something about being out and about, and how I maybe had brushed up against something.  Then it was time to design the clothing.  I looked back at the mannequins, and decided to design some boots.  I could decide if I wanted them to be knee length zipper boots, or if I wanted them longer.  I was excited to be designing my first pair of womanly boots.  The woman next to me then made a comment about all the new shoes we would get.  "A woman can never get enough shoes," she said.  That's when I looked back and all the mannequins had changed to feet mannequins, and they all had different kinds of shoes on them.  I groaned inwardly but agreed with the woman.

Monday, December 12, 2011

My Strange Dreams 11Dec-12Dec2011

I was on some kind of cruise ship, and there was a spa area where they did massages.  I thought that working there was pretty hard.  Apparently someone told me that something else in the spa was harder to do.  My shift was over, so I wanted to go to the game room which was down a few flights of stairs.  I came out onto the floor and started to head to the game room.  I thought it was odd that I didn't see anyone around.  I looked, and I could see two popcorn making machines that were full of popped popcorn, but looked undisturbed.  I went ahead and grabbed a bag and started to eat it.  Again, I thought it was odd that I didn't see anyone around.  I walked down some steps, and started walking around on a white floor.   Then a small metal thing began to move.  It had a coiled top, and many legs, all made of metal.  I realized that it was something extremely dangerous, so I quickly smashed it by stepping on it.  About then I realized that I was on the abandoned fourth level.  I got worried, so I started to climb up the stairs.  Then, a mass of writhing metal tentacles appeared behind me.  It was the Metal Dragon.  It was going to catch me and kill me.  I quickly started to run away.  Then a refrigerator opened, and a friend popped out and told me to get in.  He then closed the door.  I quickly ran up, and pulled the door open.  I got into the refrigerator and frantically closed the door behind me.  I hoped that the Metal Dragon wouldn't find me there, and that it would be able to reach the rest of the ship.

That's when I woke up, terrified, with my heart pounding like crazy.  It was pretty hard to fall back asleep after that.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Curse Of Oblivion

I took the title of this blog post from a new Magic the Gathering card.  "The Curse of Oblivion" slowly eats away at a player's discard pile, removing cards from it two at a time unless there aren't any there to remove.  The discard pile represents magics that have been used, or creatures that have been killed.  In some ways, it is a memory of things that have gone before.  Sometimes I wonder if I've inflicted a similar "curse" on me, or if I've somehow have something like that.  I'll have to explain why.

Today in church, I sat a seat away from a man who held his son on his lap.  I typically get pretty envious of little boys who get to sit on their dad's laps.  It tends to get more pronounced if I happen to have an attraction toward the father.  In this case, it wasn't much of a deal.  The dad let him sit on his lap, stand on his lap, or sometimes he just held his son to his chest.  He rubbed his son's back; he played with his son's hands.  In short, he was showing a lot of physical affection toward his son.  I was pretty envious, but I kept a nice, fake smile on my face so that the father wouldn't know what was going on.  I guess I was happy to see that some little boys are getting that from their dads.

Did I get something like that from my dad?  Honestly, I have a real hard time remembering.  I do remember my dad helping me school projects.  I remember my dad hugging me a few times.  I'm sure he did kiss us good night when we were younger.  Other than that, I can't remember.  I honestly have a very hard time remembering things from my childhood.  I have a few memories from early childhood, sometime around 3-5 years old.  Other than that, it's pretty blank.  I'm sure, at least from being a teenager, that I started to suppress a lot of memories.  Being a teenager was a very pleasant time for me.  I wonder if I somehow damaged my memory, because I struggle to remember things that happened on the previous week.

The reason memory came up, is that a man recently shared part of his story with me, about his life growing up, his relationship with his parents, and his struggles with same gender attraction.  When it came time to share my story, I hesitated.  I'm not even sure if I have all the facts straight.  I could speak with some degree of clarity about my time as a teenager.  Before that, I'm not entirely sure.  My reason for hesistation is a lot more than just not being able to remember.  It's a fear that I have my facts wrong.  I'm afraid that I'd cast my parents in a bad light.  I honestly don't remember having a close relationship with either of my parents.  I don't know if that's simply a by product from bad memory, or if it was something that really actually happened.

I wish I could remember.  I wish I could remember so that I could know what actually happened.  Was my father affectionate at all?  Did he hold me on my lap?  I want to remember, so that I know the truth.  The truth is what will ultimately help me heal.

Today, our Sunday school lesson was on the Final Judgment.  It spoke on how our thoughts, words, and actions would come to condemn us.  It also spoke on how I would be a record of my own life.  It got me to thinking that I may have forgotten some very important events in my life.  I may have forgotten something, and that could be influencing my relationship with my parents.

On the other hand, not having early childhood memories makes me sort of un-anchored.  It's disheartening to only have a void where I think memory should be.  Sometimes it makes me feel listless, and like I don't have a purpose.  It almost makes me feel like I'm restarting my life each and every day, with no past to work with.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

My Strange Dreams 6Dec-7Dec2011

I was with a group of co-workers, and we were having to fight of a horde of..something.  One of the doors we had gone through was just about to burst open when a co-worker and I rushed over to push on it.  I wasn't strong enough to really help out much so the monsters go through.  So I zapped them with something.  Then we were able to escape one another of my co-workers, who could talk with plants, made a vine shoot out from one of the trees off into the distance.  All my friends jumped up and started to run along this vine.  It was only about as big around as my thumb, and they were all running along it just fine, like ninjas.  I tried to follow, but I slipped, and I had to quickly go hand over hand along the vine.

The vine darted around a corner into a building.  We all jumped off and went inside.  It was the place we had been looking for.  Because we had taken the vine, it would be harder to track us because we hadn't left any foot prints.  We came into a dark room that had some plants that would sort of light up the area, but only immediately around them.  In the center, there was a mass of vines that could only been seen every so often in the flickering light.  The co-worker that could talk with plants went forward, despite my protests.  I had been trying to send a small swarm of sparks into the area to try to light it up better.  The vines in the middle entangled him, and he started to cry out.  We were all worried to get closer because we didn't know what the vines were doing.  I finally got close enough, and he pulled free.  He muttered something about how the hope of the plants were too strong for him.  Then he said the plants had cried out because Juggernaut had started to hurt them.  That's when our enemies showed up.  I rushed to the entrance and saw two women in black coming toward the entrance.  I threw up a lightning shield to try to discourage them from coming into the room, but they walked right through it.  They laughed at me and showed me a metal amulet they had that protected them from my powers.  I got angry and made a sword out of lightning.  The woman just laughed, and then I swung, cutting off a part of her head.  I thought that was pretty gruesome.

A Matter Of Perspective 7Dec2011

I am feeling a whole lot better today.  I had a wonderful talk with my therapist that helped to widen and open up my perspective.

First, he had me do a relaxation technique.  The shoulder/neck pain and headaches were due to my body responding to all the stress I've been feeling lately.  Work, trying to figure out how to handle my attractions toward men, and stressing about giving/receiving appropriate healthy touch with other men has really been taking a toll on my body.  After I was able to relax some, I was able to talk about all those things that were stressing me.

My therapist then asked me what my options were for dealing with my attractions or life in general.  I came up with a list of the following (by no means inclusive of all the options I have):

  • Live the lifestyle, having multiple sexual partners
  • Live the lifestyle, have one sexual partners
  • Live the lifestyle, remain celibate, only date men
  • Don't live the lifestyle, have romantic relationships with men
  • Don't interact with men at all
  • Connect superficially with men
  • Connect emotionally with other men
  • Be vulnerable with men that I trust
  • Pursue a close, vulnerable relationship with God (this option teared me up when I said it)
  • Completely ignore God and His will
I'm sure there are many more options that I could pursue in relationship with life and my attractions.  The experience of listing options, as many as I could think of, helped to open my eyes.  I realized that romantic and sexual interactions with men was only a small subset of a larger sphere of possible interactions.  I could do so many other things with men.  As we talked, I couldn't help but here the lie inside 'Oh, but I'm shy.  People don't invite me to do things with them.'  I know that is a lie.  I have friends that do invite me to do things.  I've been a bit of a hermit lately due to the headaches and pain.

My therapist then told me that I seemed to be very focused on men and my attraction to them.  He said he hadn't heard me talk about any girls, specifically a girl that I had been kind of interested in a few months ago.  I can probably count on one hand the number of women that I interact with (by women I mean females older than 9).  Only about three of them are women that I feel comfortable enough to share at least part of what's going on with me, two of those are my sisters and another is my friend's girlfriend.  I realized that I had a large void in my life.  I was totally ignoring the possibility of interacting with women, probably because I simply don't have many opportunities, outside of church and rarely at work, to interact with women.  I've decided that I need to start participating in the local single ward activities.  I go to a family ward currently, and really like the progress I'm making with the bishop.  Hopefully if I start going to some single ward activities, I may find more people around where I live that I can interact with.  Maybe I can even find that mythical, other gender attracted, cuddle buddy I've been looking for.  There's the obsession with men again.

I stated something profound last night.  I know I've heard it before.  I said to my therapist that my attraction has very little to do with sex and sexual relationships with men.  It's more about emotional connection.  It's more about loving and feeling loved.  For me, maybe that generally looks like some kind of touch or physical affection, but it doesn't have to be like that.  Touch is only one small way people convey the fact that they like someone else.  It still is my preferred method.  I'm going to have to keep my eyes open a little wider to see if people are sending me that message, and I'm missing it.  I'm still going to keep my touchy feely nature toward other people and yet try to explore other ways of expressing how I feel toward a person.

Anyways, my therapist did say I was focusing on one very small part of my life: my desire for touch-based interaction with men.  I realized that I was focusing on it.  Sure, it is a squeaky wheel.  It's a big pain point for me.  But there is so much more to life than just that.  There's my relationship with friends I do have.  There's my co-workers.  There's my relationship with myself.  There's my relationship with Heavenly Father.  There's my hobbies: Magic, video games, and reading.  

As my therapist gave me a hug goodbye, he started to talked to me.  It's one of my favorite moments because I really like his hugs, and he often says very insightful things as we're hugging.  He said he wanted me to expand my expectations on what I can do.  He wants me to expand my expectations for me.  I realized that I had been doing something like that.  When temptation to masturbate arises, a lie often comes with it.  "You'll eventually give in" says the lie.  To that I say "I can resist.  I can with God's help."  And many times, He has come to my aid.

As I ate dinner, I had a pleasant conversation with a friend and we got into the matter of perspective.  I realized that I can't see the "big picture".  Even with the spirit's aid, I often only see parts of glimpses of the whole plan.  I'm given just what I need to succeed and thrive with my challenges.

I went home and had an enjoyable evening rebuilding some of my Magic decks.  I dismantled one deck, and realized I still had ten regular decks and two Commander decks.  I only managed to rebuild half of my regular decks.  I awoke this morning feel tired, but not completely worn out like I have felt the last few days.  The pain in my neck and shoulders seems to have faded.  Sure, the whole physical touch situation hasn't changed a whole lot.  It's just not the only thing I'm going to focus on, I hope.

To finish, I'd love to share some sayings/quotes that I like:

"Perception is reality."

"Perception is everything, to the perceiver."