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: http://mitchmayne.blogspot.com/

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: http://mitchmayne.blogspot.com/2011/12/spirituality-and-social-justice-remarks.html  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.


  1. I so love reading blogs like this , It does something for me. And makes me think more about myself. GOOD JOB

  2. I've been so lost and confused lately, and this concept is like a bit of light shining through the darkness. I am far from being at peace with myself, but I'll try to remember this.

  3. I enjoyed reading this blog post. I have felt many of the same things you have written here. In fact, your post could easily have been one I wrote even just a few years ago. I remember reading Mitch Mayne's post to which you referred here. I think I will go back and reread it. You highlighted some very good information.

    While I am a gay woman and you are a gay man, we have many similarities. Thank you, again, for the thoughts and insights you have shared here. :)

    Happy night.

  4. I think you might enjoy listening to the two episodes of podcasts from Mitch Mayne starting here: http://www.theculturalhallpodcast.com/2011/11/the-cultural-hall-ep-13mitch-mayne-pt-1/ . He talks about the same stuff in the article you read, but he goes into more depth and it's much more personal. I found parts of it profound.

    I'm happy for your (imminent) acceptance of your attractions. It will still be weird, but I'm pretty sure you'll feel a lot better about a lot of things.

  5. This is one of your most beautiful posts. What you said: "living in 'both' worlds"... it strikes me in two ways. First, accepting that as you said, SSA may be part and parcel of your mortal experience and being able to carry this "package" on one hand with the other hand doing other things. Which brings me to the second, the word "living". Living does NOT stop because of SSA. Looking back at your posts, you have stopped living many times trying to fit things into ideals. But it shouldn't be that way...

    I wish you all the best. I'm happy for the optimism. Live strong!

  6. You have made some excellent points in this blog. What will be interesting is to get an update from you six months from now on the "two profound things to ponder". You are blessed to have a therapist that helps you in understanding your mortal journey by giving context and pondering points.

  7. Great post! I have personally been doing recovery work recently and the "Serenity Prayer" is something that I have been embracing:

    "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

    Regardless of attractions or desires, I know if I keep coming unto God as best as I can, all the righteous desires inside (including the things that stem from wounds from long ago) will be eventually fulfilled.

  8. Extremely good post! I've been thinking about it for a while, and it has helped to reshape my perspective on the burdens of SSA. Thanks.
    -Masked Man