Monday, January 30, 2012

Bouncing Around In My Head 30Jan2012

Today is another installment of 'Bouncing Around in My Head'.  I'll be exploring a number of thoughts/ponderings that I've been having lately.

Since the coming out post, I actively told a number of friends of mine from my old Sigma Gamma Chi chapter about the fact that I had same gender attraction. (I say old because the fraternity was disbanded last year.) Most of the guys felt honored that I told them.  Some of them were confused.  Some of them already knew about me.  I honestly was confused with the ones that already knew about me.  I wonder why they hadn't ever brought it up with me, or tried to talk with me about it.  It almost makes me feel like they'd been watching me for years, observing this behavior in me.  Honestly, I say that and realize that I'm the one that's been watching my behavior very closely and always trying to decide my motives behind doing things.  For the most part, it's not always fair to myself.  Often times, my motives start out innocent.  As I over-think things, I twist my own motives into things more insidious.

On a happy note, I've been asking for safe places to get my touch needs met.  It's been very helpful and scary. It's interesting that I'm so unfamiliar with asking for something like that that I'm terrified of asking, and also scared when it happens.  On the other hand, not taking care of this need of mine was slowly killing me, and led me to do something desperate.  Thankfully, nothing too terrible happened there.  Since then, I've been fulfilling my needs in a better, safer, healthier way.  I'm trying to accept the fact that I need to regularly get this need met.  I have a need for closeness with other men.  In my eyes, it's a very natural, nonsexual sort of thing.  It's when I don't get it met that it morphs into something else.  Today, I still feel a drive to seek out touch, but I don't feel nearly as desperate or like I'm white knuckling through things as much.

Last Friday, I was exchanging some texts with an acquaintance of mine.  He also experiences same gender attraction and has decided to have a boyfriend.  Whenever we text, he nearly always says that he's doing 'great'.  In our last exchange, he told (as he has before) that I was 'born this way' and that I should 'just get a man to sleep with'.  Honestly, his comments infuriated me.  I highly disagree with the idea that I was born with same gender attraction.  I also wasn't born 5'6" with a full head of hair, an adult body, and a passion for games of all sorts.  Those were things that developed over time.  I could agree with the fact I was born with a tendency to be attracted toward other men.  Perhaps my spirit was created with a greater need to bond with those of my same gender.  I can agree with the idea that I was born more sensitive and introverted.  I can't agree with the idea I was born with same gender attraction.  So, 'born this way'. If you're talking about my personality, then yes.  If you're talking about same gender attraction, no.  I honestly feel like same gender attraction, specifically when it's a sexual nature, is a construct on top of some of my more basic personality features, basic needs, learned behaviors, and unmet needs.  Same gender attraction, for me, is something far too complicated for a newborn to have.

In contract, I was speaking with another friend of mine, who also has same gender attraction, and he asked me a very profound question.  Instead of trying to play the 'I know exactly who you are' card, he opted to understand my position.  He asked me: "For whom are you trying to be straight?"  Honestly, the question stunned me.  I honestly wasn't quite sure at the time, and I realize the question is far more complicated than it may appear on the surface.  I'll have to address it once piece at a time.

I'll start near the end with the word 'trying to be straight'.  I can honestly state that in the past, I have tried to be straight.  I've tried to suppress and ignore my feelings of same gender attraction.  All it brought me was depression, self hatred, and misery.  Since I've started to face and understand my feelings of attraction for men, I've slowly been learning to accept them.  It's been a long process.  I still have a long ways to go.  There's probably some lingering part of me that expects me to magically want to date women, feel emotional/sexually attracted to them, and want to marry one.  There definitely is some lingering self hatred and resentment for the fact that I have same gender attraction.  I'm still pushing through.  Until I fully accept the fact I have this, I doubt that Heavenly Father will fully reveal His intention for giving me this trial/challenge/curse/blessing.  Recently, I had a profound talk with my therapist (see this blog post) that helped open my eyes to the possibility of embracing and accepting my same gender attraction, without giving up my religious beliefs.  I honestly do believe I can enjoy deep, emotional connection with men and not break any laws of the gospel.  I also believe I can be physically close (note not sexually/romantically close) with other men and not be breaking any laws of the gospel.  The goal is for me to slowly work myself into a position where I can accept and embrace those things, because I believe they are things that I need.  I've denied them for a long time, so it's going to take more time.

Now for the first part 'for whom'.  For me, that's asking 'Why do I do what I do?'  As I've thought about this question, I've also been reading I Don't Want To Kill You by Dan Wells.  The book is about a sociopath teen who is obsessed with serial killers.  He's studied how they work and think.  One of the questions that he likes to ask is 'What did the killer do, that they didn't have to do?'  The whole point of it was to understand how the serial killer is thinking.  Or more accurately, what kind of holes the serial killer is trying to fill in their soul with killing.  I also asked myself this question, trying to understand why I masturbate.  Beyond eating, drinking, sleeping, and physical touch, there's not much I need to do in relation to my body.  Why would I do something unnecessary like masturbation?  What kind of hole am I trying to fill?  After examining the behavior, and the thoughts that come up related to it, I realized that I was trying to find connection with other people.  There is a hole where other people should go in my heart.  For some reason, I have a hard time filling up that hole.  I try to fill it up with something else, masturbation.  And that honestly doesn't fill it up for me.  I just realized that this paragraph is totally off topic.

Now, back to the original subject, why do I do what I do?  My ultimate goal is to do things for Heavenly Father.  I want to do His will.  I want to be back in His presence one day.  I want to have His happiness.  I've felt His love.  I yearn to feel it all the time.  Is that what always motivates me?  Of course not.  Sometimes I do things purely for myself (out of selfishness).  Sometimes I do things for myself to take care of myself (out of love for myself).  Sometimes I do things to ascribe to an ideal, standard, or religious teaching.  My least favorite is when I do things because of what I worry of what other people would think or what society would think of me.  That has never led me to happiness.  Ultimately, I want to be inspired and moved to act by love.  Pure love.  Charity.  Love for myself, for my fellow man (and woman), and for a love of God.

Much easier said than done.

Well, friend who shall go unnamed, thank you for posing that question! It's honestly led me to recommitting myself to seek out the pure love of Christ (see Moroni 7:44-48 for one of my favorite definitions of charity).  It's also helped me take another look at myself in a different sort of light.  Thank you again!

Thank you for reading.  If you have comments/insights/musings/questions, feel free to e-mail me (my e-mail is below).  You can also comment on this blog post.  Also, I accept text messages and Facebook messages (if you happen to know how to contact me that way).

Thank you friends.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Paths Laden With Fog

I've been coming to learn, or more accurately re-learn, a few things about myself lately.  Recently, I've been feeling pretty desperate for connection with other men.  Granted, I've been talking and reaching out more than normal.  I've even told a number of my friends about me, just in case they weren't following this blog.  The desperation still wasn't being alleviated.  There's a few simple facts that seem to contribute to this.

First off, my primary love language is touch (If you are unfamiliar with what a 'love language' is, see The 5 Love Languages site, it's also a book).  Because of that, my primary way of feeling and expressing love toward other people is through touch, and this very much focused around men, with very few exceptions for women, most of whom are in my family.  Most of the time, the expression has very little to do with lust or sexual desire.  Sometimes it's a simple expression that I like the person or value them as a friend.  Nothing more and nothing less.

This gets obviously frustrated by some aspects of American culture.  In my perception, we're not a very touchy-feely sort of people, at least out in public.  The same seems to be true when I visit church.  In my home ward (by home I mean parent's ward), the people are very good at shaking hands.  The last singles ward I was in, and this current ward don't seem to be very good at that, and I'm far too shy to even initiate that kind of contact.

Anyways, I was starting to feel desperate for some kind of physical contact with a man.  I can look back now and see how crazy I was, because I have a whole group of friends that are willing to give appropriate, safe, and bonding touch with me.  I told myself all sorts of lies to keep myself from asking them.  It led me to seeking the safe, appropriate sort of touch in a very dangerous environment.

As an interesting aside, I notice a pattern that emerges when I feel like my touch need isn't getting met.  I start to get the crazy notion that people will start spontaneously offering the kind of touch that I need or want.  I start to drop into a childlike state, where I expect the people around me to know what my needs are.  I basically tend to regress.  When my need isn't met (which happens very often because I'm not asking for help to get them met), I start to slip into a state of defensive detachment.  I get angry, and I feel lonely.  In an attempt to escape the pain of not having the need met, I seek out 'numbing agents' of sorts.  I turn to video games generally.  The sort of lull and trance they put me in provides a false sense of peace and comfort, yet always lead me to a sense of emptiness and loneliness.  When that isn't enough, I turn to stronger 'numbing agents': masturbation and pornography.  Like video games, they leave with a more profound feeling of emptiness and numbness.  In this state of numbness, I'm even less likely to ask for what I need.  It's a vicious downward spiral.

At my support group this week, I managed to touch both the pain and the feeling of emptiness and detachment.  It's amazing how familiar both of them feel.  I'm often not even conscious of it.  The detachment feels warm, familiar, old, and oddly peaceful.  Yet it also feels like I'm all alone in a dark room with no one else there.  The room is empty and vast.

As I discussed this at my support group, I realized that detachment and numbness is a choice I make.  It's a choice that leads me down a road that ends up with me curled up in a ball trying to shut everything else out.  It leads me to somewhere dark, lonely, yet safe.  As I talked, I also realized there were other paths.  There are other choices.  There are many different people to ask for help from.  All of the roads were covered in fog.  I couldn't determine their outcome.  The path to numbness, however, was quite clear.  I know where it would lead me.  I've taken it so many times, that the outcome is sure.

That aside, at support group I also recalled the last time I felt like I wanted some touch, specifically, I wanted to be held.  It was when I was having a talk with my dad about this blog post.  Forgive me other blog readers, but I'd like to address my dad personally.  Feel free to read as well!

Dad, I think you may remember the last time we got together and chatted about a blog post I had made, one about some past shameful lies I'd been believing for years.  Wow, this is hard, tears are already in my eyes.  I remember as we talked that I one point, I simply wanted you to reach out your arms and cradle me, and comfort me.  When I realized that, I almost immediately started to belittle/demean/talk down to myself about it.  'Why would an adult want to be held? I should be independent.  I shouldn't need this.  I shouldn't want this.'  Despite what I said, the desire was still there.  The pain was still there.  I wanted to connect.  I wanted to connect like a child would connect with his father.  I wanted to be held by you.  Yet, like a child, I found myself powerless to ask for what I wanted.  I found myself incapable of expressing the words.  Maybe because I was starting to feel, live, and act from a very young state, perhaps before I could even talk.  I've always wondered why I've struggled to connect with you.  I know I've been defensively detached from both you and Mom.  I'm starting to wonder if the problem and solution lie somewhere in the desire to be held by you, dad.  I somehow want to go back to where the defensive detachment started, attach, instead of detaching, and start unraveling years of me detaching myself from you.  Honestly, I feel afraid to ask for what I want.  I honestly don't know how you would take it, or even if you know how to hold me.  I don't even know how long it would take, or even if it would take more than one time of it happening.  There are many, many years of detachment.  Many years of me isolating myself from you.  I still think we can bridge the gap and heal this.  Honestly, the path is laden with fog.  All I know for now is there is a desire for me to be held by you.

Thank you for indulging me readers.  I feel nearly overcome inside with the sadness and the pain.  When I was a child, I didn't know what I needed.  I obviously felt a need to be safe, so I started to withdraw from my parents.  I honestly have no idea where it started.  All I know is that it worked at the time, and now, it isn't working as an adult.  To be withdrawn and detached from the people around me, means I can continue to be safe, but also broken, hurt, lonely, and ultimately, empty.  It also means that I defend myself from others attempts to truly love me.  It also extends to and disrupts my relationship with God.

The future paths are laden with fog.  I could continue to take the one familiar path, that leads me to loneliness.  I think it's time to start taking one of the fog laden ones and push through to see what's on the other side of the fog.

Oh, and a personal request.  If you know me, in person, I would definitely appreciate more hugs!  However that looks for you.

Thank you for reading.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My Strange Dreams 16Jan-17Jan2012

I was pulled over by a cop.  I have no idea why he did.  He came up to my window and said that I needed to get a job. I was upset.  I already had a job that paid rather well.  He handed me a piece of paper that had some pictures with numbers underneath.  It was folded so that each picture was on a fold.  All of the pictures represented a different job I could get.  I was supposed to replace my current job with one of these.  I mentally protested to myself, saying that my software job was good enough.  I unfolded the paper and the front was some kind of clothing store catalog.  I tried to fold the paper back up, but it only seemed to fall further apart.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

My Strange Dreams 14Jan-15Jan2012

I tried to run away from something and I ended up getting captured.  I was taken into a room where a really big guy was supposed to torture me.  Instead, he went into the room with another captive that was more dangerous than I was.  Somehow, I could tell the guy really wanted to be touched, yet it hadn't happened very much in his life.  I reached in and briefly touched his shoulder.  Somehow he mentioned holding, so I decided to ease into it and I put one of my arms around the guy.  He seemed to be enjoying it.  Later, he and I went out walking.  We were supposed to go somewhere.  I noticed that I wasn't restrained in any way.  Somehow I was on an honor system not to take off, but I was planning on ways that I could ask for help without getting caught.

After talking with some guy, I needed to get the engine in my car replace.  He said he would do it for $350.  I finally decided to do it, and I drove my car into the shop.  After some just walking around, the guy said he could do it, and it would cost $425.  He wanted the sum in either $1 bills or quarters.  I was shocked at that.  I told him I couldn't possibly do that because I didn't have the resources.  He relented and said he could probably do $10.  I thought that was a bit more reasonable.  Then he told me he would need 10 hours to do it.  I was shocked at that too.  It was already about 10 o'clock at night, so I didn't know who to call that could pick me up and take me home until I could come back for my car.   Finally, some of my friends parents picked me up.  Before I could ask them what I needed, they took off with me in their car.  We drove for awhile west, and the father was saying something about how we had missed a turn.  We made a right and were pulling into a car wash area when one person nearly ran over another person that was walking.  Finally, there was an opening so we started to pull up into one of the stalls.  I was freaking out the whole time because I had to get back to let the guy know he could start working on the car.  As we were pulling up, we passed the person who nearly ran over the other.   She was a lady with a really creepy face.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Victimization, Defensive Detachment, And Tumm Arising

I couldn't think of a better title for this post.  I had a number of very powerful insights yesterday during my support group.  The day started out pretty bad and ended up being a lot better.

As I went to my support group, I finally got some insight into the fact that I have been victimizing myself quite a bit lately.  I pass a lot of time thinking basically 'Poor me!'  Instead of doing something about the problems and situations that are in front of me, I let myself languish in agony over past hurts and offenses.  I had been feeling lonely, but at the same time I was so focused on the fact that no one was talking to me, that I didn't reach out to talk to others.  I was lonely, and doing nothing but dwelling on the fact that I was lonely.  I was making myself a victim, a martyr if you will. 

During my support group, I realize this, and started to decide that I was tired of making myself the victim.  I was tired of taking the passive route in my life.  I was going to do something.  As I made this resolution, I discovered that my victimization and my defensive detachment are very closely intertwined.  When I become the victim, everyone around me turns into someone that has or will hurt me, and then I withdraw myself to keep myself "safe".  It's a pattern I've followed for so many years.  I've perpetuated the disconnection, the loneliness, and the pain by not connecting to the people around me.  In a sense, I was abusing myself and denying myself what I really needed.

It was interesting the surge of power that I have felt today.  I felt like I got things done!  I had some questions about a internet service providers service and I actually called them up rather than spending time trying to assume what it was like.  I took a step to correct a mistake that I had made.  When I found myself slipping into the 'poor me!' mindset, I quickly reminded myself that I am not a victim.

Sure, I may be hurt.  I may be broken on the inside.  I'm battered, bruised, and wounded.  That doesn't mean that I can't stand up and fight.  I still have my resilience and inner strength.  I can still stand my ground, and I still have the power to choose.  My gift of agency doesn't depend on anything being perfect in my life.  Like I overheard in Primary this last week at church, angency is the power to choose.  As I felt my 'inner Tumm' well up, I felt myself tapping into that power.  It was incredible.  Yesterday night and today are probably the few times in a long time where I've felt Tumm become more 'integrated' into me, instead of him being a totally separate part of me.  It's so weird to feel a 'steeling' of sort inside.  I don't think I've ever felt so strong.

It's been some incredible progress.

Going forward, I'm going to take a more proactive step to reach out for help.  I have many, many wonderful, caring, and loving friends who are willing to listen and help me work through things.

I also realize that this strength comes from my Heavenly Father.  He's the one that gave me the gift of agency and gave me the wonderful gift of life.  When I use this gift He's given me to follow His path, then His power flows through me to touch everything I touch.

Oh, and don't make Tumm angry.  He likes to throw around fire when he gets upset.

P. S. Tumm was first introduced in this post.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Underneath The Armor - A Status Update 11Jan2012

It's been about four days since I last posted on here.  The last major post that I made was basically claiming this blog as my own and putting my own name on it.  I basically put it out in the public that I experience same gender attraction and often struggle with it.

It's been an interesting and disappointing last few days.  So far, a number of people have commented on the blog post, some friends from college and a former co-worker.  Also, a few people from the SSA community have also talked to me about it.  Honestly, I was hoping for some other people to see and respond.  There are other people with whom I want to be more open and honest.  Yet, I'm still afraid to share myself with those people, especially about the attraction.  Even though it's 'out there' I'm still afraid of owning up to it in public.  The most I've tried is texting someone from the group and asking if they've read my blog.  All I've heard back was 'Yeah, I knew that you had a blog.'  That's about as far as I felt safe pushing on it.  Really, if a person does or doesn't read my blog, it's more of the other person's choice.  I feel like I've tried to make it public, and tried to share it.

On to the main topic of my post.  Lately, the weather here in Utah has taken a turn for the cold again, so I'm layering up.  This morning, after putting on my jacket and my coat, I honestly wished I could put on a mask or a faceguard of some kind.  I've been feeling very ashamed of how I've been feeling/thinking/acting lately.  I know that I'm not in a very good place, yet I'm too afraid to reach out for the help I need.  I find myself waiting for other people to do it first as if I expect everyone else to inherently know that things aren't going well with me.  I can probably count on one hand the number of people who have reached out to support me or at least reached out to contact me.

Lately, some people have been asking me 'Hey, how are you?' or any of it's variants or mutations.  They've asked me in a variety of places.  Honestly, the responses may very with how much I trust the person.  I've honestly put on a great deal of 'armor' or 'masks' lately to cover up what's really been going on.

So how am I doing?

Outer layer:
In the outermost layer, I'll probably smile, give a nod.  I'll say I'm doing 'alright' or 'good' or possibly even 'well' if I'm actually feeling good at the time.  In this layer, I generally hide a great deal of what's really going on.  I feel uncomfortable going in deeper, so I often move away or keep the topics of conversation at very superficial levels.

One layer down:
On this layer, I may actually honestly say if I'm doing well or not.  I may say 'I'm having a rough time' without going into details.  My smile may fade.  My eyes may begin to tell the truth of my story.  Even at this layer, I feel uncomfortable and unsafe with a good majority of people.

Two layers down:
On this layer, I may start to go into the details of what's been going on.  I may say 'I've been feeling sad/angry/lonely/depressed.'  Even my feelings cover up a great deal of what's been going on.

Three layers down:
Things start to get even more personal.  I share more details of what's going on.  I feel like an outsider at church.  I try to smile and be friendly, but it doesn't seem to help.  People don't seem to want to sit by me.  People at work seem to avert their gaze when I go by.  People don't seem to want to interact with me, unless I do so first.  On this layer, I point my finger in blame at the other people.  I start to tap into the pain that I feel most of the time.  I may admit that I feel attracted to other people.

Four layers down:
I realize that all the things I've been blaming other people for, are really my fault.  I say 'No one wants to sit with me at Elder's Quorum, because there's something wrong with me.'  On this layer, I tell myself there are things 'wrong with me'.  I honestly have a hard time expressing this to other people.  I honestly even have a hard time admitting that I tell myself these things.  On this layer, I may realize that the way other people act really has little to do with me and everything to do with them.  I'm more honest at this layer of who I'm attracted to and what attracts me about them.  I'm also honest about how my I am disgusted with myself, or how I put myself down over why I feel attracted to certain people.  I put myself down for the desires related to those attractions.

There are things that I am even afraid of speaking about publicly, in this blog.

How have I been doing? Honestly, I've been doing poorly lately.  I've been struggling with the basics of prayer and reading my scriptures.  I've been trying to pray, but sometimes I feel like I've been left to struggle through things on my own.  My work has changed lately, and I feel bored and even more alone.  I feel frustrated when I'm attracted to a person that I see either at work, in public, or in my support group.  I've been growing more isloated and withdrawn.  I've grown tired of listening to the voices in my head that cry out that other people have hurt me, left me, abandoned me.  I'm tired of asking myself 'Why won't anyone sit next to me?'  'Why don't people talk to me unless I talk to them first?'.  I've grown so tired of hearing my own personal demons hiss from other people's faces.

How have I been coping?  I've been trying to drown my woes in computer games, staying up late, eating chocolate.  I've been struggling against the temptation to look at triggering pictures.  I've been struggling with the habit of masturbation.  I've been struggling with fantasizing what it would be like to be with another man.

What is it I need?

Honestly, I'm not entirely sure.  Love.  I want to feel loved by the people around me.  I want to feel loved by Heavenly Father.  Maybe part of what I need is to stop sabotaging other people's attempts to love me.  I honestly think that I've been hiding from the hurt for so long, that opening up to feel loved is only going to bring up all that hidden hurt.  I'm afraid of it.  I run from it, yet it never leaves me.  It always is with me no matter what I do to try to numb it or drown it out.

This morning, a quote from a General Authority which says something like this 'Assume that the people around you are in distress, and you will often be right'.  It occurred to me on my drive in to work that other people are probably in just as much pain as I am.  People around me are probably struggling with loneliness, with attraction, with anger, with sadness, and with depression.  The people around me are also probably screaming out in pain, screaming out to be loved by the people around them as well.

That makes me think a number of things.  First, part of me wants to think I'm insane for asking to feel loved by the people around me.  If everyone is struggling just as much as I am, how am I supposed to expect them to go out of their way to express any kind of love for me?  Second, I deride myself for not reaching out to help lift other people more.  Third, I feel frustrated that when I have reached out, the other people have been to armored to respond.  I realize this has honestly a lot more to do with the other people than it has to do with me.  I'm not going to try to force a response out of people.  If I were to force another person, it would probably damage my relationship with the person, and wouldn't do them a whole lot of good.  In other words, forcing another person to open up would be more about me than it would be about the other person.  Fifth, I need to show more compassion for the people around me.  Honestly, I need to have more compassion for myself, and more patience.  I need to stop getting stuck in the trap of self-pity.

In summary, all I want is to feel loved and to love the people around me.  What impedes me are the demons, the lies that resound inside my head and the temptations that easily beset me.  I often get stuck so deeply in the trap of self-pity that I don't reach out for help, or I reject the attempts of people to try to reach out to me.  In short, I'm convinced that I've gone totally crazy in the head.  I honestly wonder if I should be locked up in a padded chamber so my craziness won't hurt me or anyone else.

If you're reading this, and you are struggling in some way, please take care of yourself.  Talk to the people that you love and trust.  Also, even if you are struggling or aren't, take time to reach out and show your love to the people around you.  It may look any number of ways.  Maybe it means writing a letter, or an e-mail, or sending a text.  Maybe it looks like putting your arm around someone.  Maybe it means being a shoulder to try on or a listening ear.  Maybe it means giving a person some space to breath.  Maybe it means trying to move in a bit closer and being a bit more honest with that person.  In any case, perhaps the person best to start with would be yourself.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

My Strange Dreams 6Jan-7Jan2012

I was running up to a town with another man, when suddenly a dragon's face appeared.  The man I was with yelled about hiding because of what the dragon was about to do.  That's when the dragon breathed fire in the shape of a bird.  Quickly, we ducked down behind some stone to dodge the flames.  Then I started to run away.  The dragon was about to breath the same fire in the shape of a bird thing and I didn't know where to hide.  I spent about a minute trying to decide if some stones would protect me but I jumped and hid behind them anyways.  I remember it being really hot.  Then I kept running.  Suddenly, little dwarves were attacking me.  I remember twisting sideways and dodging.  One of their spiky balls on a chain flew just in front of my face.  I thought about how good I was at dodging them and then I ran into the building.  I was horrified to find that the enemies in the building where standing electric fans.  I remember knocking them down.  Finally, I grabbed one and was using it to knock down the other fans as I ran through the corridors of the building.

I was in a friends house and we had just finished playing a game of some kind.  We were just about to leave when some of the guys started pounding on the piano and yelling really loudly.  That's when an old landlord knocked on the door and said 'Hey, I thought only two basses and a tenor lived here.  We're going to move you into the upper left because you're so loud.  the rest of you, leave'.  I quickly picked up a small TV that was part of my computer and took it into the car.  I drove off toward the freeway exit and realized right as I was getting on the exit, that I had forgotten my TV.  I quickly got off of the onramp, but the road I was on was only a one way road...and I was going the wrong direction.  I quickly swerved around a car, and then kept going, suddenly in a place where none of the roads would work and I wasn't able to make a U-turn.  I finally found a small road that looked like it was part of a trail system.  I veered off to the left and made a U-turn around and was heading back in the right direction.  There was another car and I saw that the guy in it was really good looking and there was a brief flash of him being shirtless.  I wondered if he really was shirtless, or if I was just imagining it.  I stopped at a game store and went inside.  That's when two of my friends from my support group showed up.  They were smiling and sort of goofing off.  I finally went back to my car and one of my friends was standing right outside my driver door as I got in with a phone camera.  I thought that was weird, and then turned and saw my monitor in his car.  I was exicted that my friends had picked up the rest of my computer for me.

I was in some plains throwing firebolts at mammoths, and then these dinosaur creatures that also had little men that were apparently very strong.  I remember I had just barely unlocked something that let me stun monsters when I doublecasted firebolts.  I thought it was pretty cool because I could fight a whole group and they couldn't get close to me because I kept stunning them.  It was a pretty hard fight.  I remember one point holding up my mouse, pressing both buttons and threatening the monsters with it.  Then suddenly Bayonetta came out of nowhere and was using wicked weaves to kill one of the monsters.  Then we were fighting angels together, Joys specifically.  I was using my firebolts and she was using her wicked weaves.


Apparently, I played way too much Skyrim last night before going to bed...or I enjoy throwing firebolts at monsters in that game a little too much. :)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Names I've Gone By - Final Part

This post is the third final post in the 'Names I Have Gone By' series of posts (See Part 1, Part 2 for the other two parts).  In this post, I will tell you my real name.

First, I am afraid of writing this post.  To reveal my true name means that I can't hind behind the mask of 'Simon' anymore.  I will be exposed out to the world, to the public for the first time in my life.  I'm afraid of the ramifications.  As I drove home today, listening to KLOVE, I finally felt prompted like it was time.  What's the worse that could happen?  Well, honestly, I could be beaten, killed, persecuted, yet all of those things would be but a small price to pay to be free of having to feel like I'm living in the shadows.  It's a small price compared to having to hold back on telling my friends about this wonderful blog I've started.  It's a small price to pay to be one step closer to have a fully integrated and whole life, a life in harmony with my Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and my fellow man.

My birth name is Andrew.

What does it mean?  Andrew means 'manly' or warrior.  I always found the name to be terribly ironic while growing up.  I hardly ever felt manly and I definitely don't feel like a warrior.  Still, it is my given name.  Oddly, even thought I never felt like it fit, I've never adopted any nicknames associated with Andrew like 'Andy' or 'Drew'.  I've always stayed with Andrew.

Really, as a write this, I realize that I am a different sort of warrior.  I may not be strong, or one to do battle for my Lord, nation, or family in a physical sense.  In many ways, I am a warrior of the heart.  I do battle on spiritual and emotional fronts that many men chose not to fight, or choose to run away from.  In some way, I am manly because I choose to face the reality of what is going on with me in my life.

I am Andrew.  I am a son of God.  I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints or the 'Mormon' church.  I experience same gender attraction.  I am an avid lover of games of all sorts.  Those things are ultimately a small part of who I am.  If you're reading this blog for the first time, take the time to read the other posts.  Other than most of the 'My Strange Dreams' posts, you'll probably learn a lot about me that you never knew.

I am Andrew.  And this is my blog.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My Therapist And Sandwiches

Lately, as you may know from reading my other blog posts, I've been struggling a lot with depression, fear, sadness, grief, lots of things related to my life and especially same gender attraction.  I remember about two months ago asking my Heavenly Father 'What would you have me do?' speaking about my same gender feelings.  I suddenly feel like He may have given me another piece of insight along my path.

I had a visit with my therapist today.  After explaining how I'd been feeling, he asked me what I would like to work on.  Surprisingly, my mind went blank (there had been a number of things on my mind on the drive there).  He suggested that we sit down and read and article together written by Mitch Mayne.  Some information on Mitch Mayne: he is an active Latter Day Saint who is openly gay, as he puts it.  Here is a link to his blog:

My therapist brought over his iPad and sat down right next to me on the couch so that our shoulders were touching.  I gave a small gasp of surprise, but he didn't seem to notice or care.  We than began to read this article:  Go ahead and take some time to read it.  It's very well spoken.

One of his points that stuck out is that being a Latter Day Saint is more than a religion, it's more of an ethnicity.  We have our own 'culture' so to speak.  I really liked that point.  He also spoke how teachings of the church, especially ones about family, sink deep into our spirits.  It becomes part of our spiritual DNA.  Or how I would put it, it awakens that part of our spiritual DNA that speaks to the importance of families.

One paragraph that struck me emotionally was under the heading 'Why the LGBT issue is of such importance to Mormons: The culture'. Take a look at the third paragraph which speaks about LDS children who experience same gender attraction and have been kicked out of their homes because of their attractions.  He speaks about the deep feelings of loss that those people experience.  My therapist turned to me and asked me to talk about it.

I can totally relate.  I have felt, growing up, like I wasn't 'part' of my own family, like my parents weren't my own.  Maybe physically I was there in a family unit, but emotionally I was not.  For at least a portion of my teenage and adult years, I haven't felt like part of my family.  In a sense, I've lost that.

Also, I am single.  Growing up, the dream, the ideal, the want of every 'perfect' 'righteous' Latter Day Saint youth was the grow up and be sealed in the temple and then have a family.  I don't have that.  I don't know if words could suffice for the deep, piercing feelings of loss that brings, of having this one dream never materialized.

The second paragraph that hit me was very profound.  I didn't recognize the blog post until we came to this paragraph.  Fourth paragraph from the end he states this:

"I don’t want to leave people with the impression that I am changing my orientation to be Mormon. Or that I am changing my faith to be gay. Neither of those things is true. I am a gay man, and gay men are emotionally and intimately attracted to other men. That has not changed, and it won’t change. And likewise, part and parcel of being Mormon is I’ve always strived to live my life in accordance with what I understand my savior’s will for me to be, and that hasn’t changed either."

Before that, he spoke about belong to 'both' the gay and Mormon worlds.  My therapist turned to me and asked me about it about the same time when the implications of what the paragraph meant.   I could embrace both my religion and my attractions.  I could make them work together.  I could have both in my life.  Then I realized that for many years I've tried to stifle, strangle, surpress, and ulitmately kill my attractions.  And it hasn't worked.  I've been waiting for them to magical go away after certain things occured.  I told myself "On my mission, they'll go away", "If I date a girl, they'll go away", "If I go to Journey Into Manhood, they'll go away".  Honestly, it hasn't just "gone away".

Finally, I feel like I've come to a point where maybe accepting and allowing the attraction to be part of me is what Heavenly Father has wanted me to do with them.  That doesn't mean acting out sexually on the attractions.

The last paragraph that struck me was the final one.  It says the following: "It takes a strong spirit to be gay in this life. It takes a remarkable one to be a gay Mormon. Never doubt for a moment you are anything less than remarkable. For that is most certainly how our Father in heaven views you."

As we talked about it, I realized something I've felt in myself for years.  I've always had a part of me that refused to give up, a resilience or stubborness inside of me.  I realize now that is probably part of my spirit.  I've been through pain, heartache and loss.  I've put myself through agony and fed myself lies.  And yet, my spirit still continues to move onward.  My therapist then compared my journey to the pioneer's.  I'm going to a place that I've never seen before.  I've only heard that it's a good place.  He said "Where you're going, you don't even know what it's going to look like!"  Honestly, I have no idea what it would mean to embrace and accept my attractions or how it will be after I do this.  As my therapist said the pioneers did, I need to put my trust in the love and vision that my Heavenly Father has for me.

My therapist left me with two profound things to ponder:
  • Same gender attraction may be part of my mortal experience forever.
  • Women can become potential friends and possibly even girlfriends/wives, but only if I put effort into it.
As for the sandwiches part of my title, my therapist said that LGBT always sounds like a kind of sandwich.  That's when I looked at it and said 'Lettuce, grapes, bacon, tomatoes'.  He got a kick out of that.  The article also mentioned LGBTQ.  I was at a bit of a loss for a food item that started with Q.  To be honest, the first word I thought of was 'queer'.  Then I realize that Queiso would work.  Also interesting is that my therapist talks about a 'menu' of choices.

In life, there are a variety of experiences I am given.  Some I choose, some I don't choose.  It's much like eating a meal.  In order for me to be healthy, I have to have a balanced meal.  Let's say I enjoy some things, but hate others.  Some things are not delicious but are still healthy for me.  For instance, let's say I didn't like vegetables (I actually really like most vegetables).  If I didn't eat any, I'd probably risk not having my body run at top performance.  If I eat them, sure, it tastes nasty for the moment but there's a long term benefit.  Trials and tribulations are like vegetables, and often times, I don't get to pick which vegetable I eat.  Same Gender Attraction is one of those vegetables that I don't think I picked, but it is still served to me each and every day.  If I ignore it, and throw it away, I'll miss out on the growth and the strength I can receive by working through it.

It's something I will ponder.  I have the feeling that exploring this new idea of living in 'both' worlds will bring me a greater sense of peace and wholeness.