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.


  1. I'm tired of all of the emotions I go through. I just want to be close to people, especially other men. It seems so impossible at times. It's frustrating beyond anything else. Always wanting what I can't have, or what is denied me. I know how you feel.

  2. Have you ever talked to a therapist? You're a BYU student, aren't you? I *highly* recommend going to the basement of the WSC and setting an appointment to talk with someone. It's totally free and the people who work there are wonderful. It's really an awesome deal, and I think it would help you a lot.

  3. This sounds a lot like something I would have written back when I was a closeted Mormon boy at BYU. First of all, your attractions aren't evil. They don't make you evil. You're not evil. I'm sure you've recognized this in one of your "layers," but you don't seem to really accept this at your innermost layer, which is where a lot of your loneliness, depression, and detachment comes from. I don't know who you are, but I do know that you have something to offer. Everyone does. Even if all you do is smile on the outermost layer, that's in itself a service to others. A smile goes a long way. I don't know how many times a gesture as simple as a smile made church infinitely more bearable for me.

    "What is it that I need," you ask. I can honestly tell you it's not Heavenly Father's love. You're already getting that. YOU need YOUR love. You need to treat yourself the way Heavenly Father would treat you. Treat yourself the way you'd treat a friend or even a lover. When you're judging and deriding yourself, stop and ask yourself out loud, "Is this how a loving God would talk to someone?" "Is this how I'd talk to an important friend?" "Is this how I'd talk to my precious lover?"

    If you haven't already read it, I recommend you read Feeling Good by Dr. David Burns. It helped me a lot in developing strategies to stop self-abuse. Your therapist may have heard of it. I suggest you ask him about it.

    On a more personal note, I was never able to reconcile being gay and being LDS. You mentioned in another post about the possibility of living openly as a gay Mormon. Being a person that sees rules in black-and-white, this was not an option for me. I NEVER thought I'd ever be brave enough to leave the church, but in a desperate attempt to reclaim my life, I have and I've been so much happier. No, I didn't leave for some boy. In fact I have never had a boyfriend or had sex. After weighing out all the pros and cons, I made a very conscious and deliberate decision to see if I could be happier without the church. It was originally just an experiment, but I've never felt more true to myself and don't see myself going back. The reason I share this is not because you should do what I've done. You need to do what's right for you, but you also need to know that there are an infinite number of paths to choose from. Do what makes you happy, you deserve it.

    Good luck in your journey. I know it's a tough one. From my experience, I can honestly say that it does get better.