Saturday, March 31, 2007

Like many of you, I can't stop thinking about Elbow. He has been having such a difficult time. His latest post says that he has decided to leave his wife. Although I support him in his decision, I can't help but think that he is making the wrong decision. After reviewing my responses to his posts, I really hate myself for not taking a harder line for what I believe in. As much as I want him to stay with his wife, I don't want to be the one to tell him that he should. I want him to be happy and I want him to make choices that he feels will make him happy. I've always thought that when faced with a choice, most people, especially those raised in the church, will choose the right - meaning that they will hold fast to what the church teaches. But, nobody should be making choices based on someone elses testimony. Members of the church need to learn to rely on their own testimony. If you don't make your own choices then you start feeling resentment for the church. You shouldn't live the gospel if you don't want to - if you don't believe in it. Nobody shold be coerced into living a latter-day saint lifestyle. If you don't want to be in the church, then get out. I'm not going to try and save you. I'll be here for you and support you, but I won't make your decisions for you. I'm definately not one to talk. I'm depressed, attracted to men myself and question my own testimony frequently.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

I've received some comments suggesting that I am suffering from depression because my SGA is in conflict with my beliefs, my marriage and my family. I know there are many struggling with SGA who also suffer from depression, and that there is a direct link between the two. In my case however, there doesn't seem to be a connection. However, I can understand and sympathize with those who do suffer from mental illness as a result of inner conflicts, as well as religeous and societal pressures, arising from SGA. It's a tough road for all of us, whether or not we are Mormon. I have had conversations with many openly gay men who feel, deep down, that they know their lifestyle is wrong. I believe we are all born with the light of Christ within us that helps us to know right from wrong.

There is a lot of misunderstanding and stigma associated with mental illness. Saying that depression is a result of their environment or their circumstances does not always hold true. I have yet to pinpoint any reason for my depression. Some mental illness is simply the result of chemicals, or the lack thereof, in the brain. Having clinical depression for the past two years has helped me to take a closer look at myself. The disease in and of itself is actually quite physically and mentally debilitating. I ended up taking two months paid medical leave from work just to begin recovery. Although the disease probably snuck up on me slowly, it felt more like a sudden hit. I woke up one morning completely unable to face going into work. There was nothing in particular happening at work to make me feel this way, but I felt like I couldn't be away from my wife for more than five minutes. The idea of being alone was terrifying. Little did I know that this was just the beginning and there would be even more terrifying moments over the next two years. It has been quite an intriguing journey. I would never have guessed that I would have come down with this illness. I've always been happy - even with my struggle of SGA.

I'm not sure where I'm going with all of this, other than to say that my choice of being faithful to my wife and my beliefs, in the face of SGA, has not caused my depression. I don't feel trapped in my marriage or unfulfilled sexually because I have chosen to supress feelings of SGA. There are many who would lead me to believe that by not allowing myself to follow my "true" feelings of SGA that I will never be happy. In reality, the opposite is the truth.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Maybe I'm in denial, but I just don't believe that my SGA is the cause of my sadness. I have depression, and there may or may not be a reason for the depression. It's an illness, like having diabetes, just with a more complex mental component. I'm not leading a duplicitous life like many feel who have SGA. I have no internal conflict between my SGA and my religeous beliefs. I'm not denying myself of who I am. I will definately not be happier by giving in to temptation. Yes, I do have guilt about my feelings, but only enough guilt to keep me on the right track. Most of the time, I am happy and most of the time I have no SGA. I don't allow my SGA to play a dominant role in my life. I truely have dominion over myself. I have over ten years of marriage and at least twice that many years tempted with SGA but not a single sex act with another man. I can definately make it through the rest of my life.

I did not choose to have SGA, but I have chosen not to follow those inclinations. Anyone striving to live a righteous life must learn how to set limits on sex, whether gay or straight. I'm being more true to myself by staying true to my beliefs. Giving in to SGA would be denying my true self and my true nature as child of God. SGA does not define who I am, but it does help me to find my true self by exposing SGA for what it is: a lie. It may seem attractive and exciting on the surface, but it will never lead to true happiness. I am willing to bear this struggle all of my life if need be. By doing this, I will at least be true to myself by staying true to what I believe at my core. I will deny myself of all ungodliness and come unto Christ.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Crying in the Dark

There are times when I feel so fragile. It feels like the world is just too cruel of a place for me to exist. Where just the words from someone could crush me. It's a world where I just want to build a huge wall around myself and my family to shelter us from the evil and ugliness that surrounds us. Living at the end of times is difficult and often overwhelming. I feel like a child. I can't comprehend all that is going on around me and why there is so much hatred. It seems that everyone around me is struggling. They are tired. At work, at church, in restaurants, at the library, wherever I go, people are tired and barely hanging on. There has never been a greater need for the saving grace of Christ.

What is my role in all of this? I want to be a good father and husband. I want to contribute to society in a positive way. I want to be obedient. I want to be good. I want to help others. I want to make the world a better place. I feel like I'm stuck in a place that is difficult to move forward. I do okay at work, but not great, I do okay at home, but not great, I do okay in my church calling, but not great. I feel trapped. I often feel depressed, not just down, but totally overcome by blackness.

I have a good job and am able to support my family. I have a good education that allowed me to get a good job. The work is interesting, but something is missing. Something is not right. Is it just me? Should I be more positive about my work and the life I am leading? I have a great wife and children. They are my anchor and my hope, but they know something is wrong with me. I wish I could just pin it on the SGA, but that would be too easy. My SGA doesn't really create that many problems in my life. It's tough at times, but I don't believe that it is the cause of my suffering. My therapist tells me not to focus on the cause, but instead on the solution - don't ask why, just look forward. But I can't help but ask what is causing these feelings of incompleteness? Why are there nights that I can't stop crying in the dark - and I don't even know why I'm crying?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Thorn in the Flesh

"And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." (2 Corinthi ans 12:7-10)

Paul's words strike me with both beuty and despair, ugliness and comfort. I've often felt that my ssa was a part of who I am. Do our sins define us? I would hope not, however the struggles that result from sin and temptation do define us. Our hopes and desires define who we are, but even mor than these our actions define us. I've never really been a man of great action. As an introvert, I prefer to watch and listen and then act in more subtle ways. In some ways, non-action can be a very powerful action in and of itself. Choosing not to participate, not to respond, not to give in, not to follow the crowd, not to jump at every beckoning call can be more challenging than taking action.

I am who I am, a married Mormon who is attracted to other men. But I am also so many other things. How much of the ssa plays a part of me, is really up to me. There is a group of thought in the field of psychology called "Parts Theory" that breaks a person down into various individual persons. For example, a person could have a distinct personality of an artist, as well as a businessman and a father. It's helpful to identify our various parts and give them place within us, without letting one part dominate the others. There are times when we have to negotiate between our parts, to make peace with each of them when internal conflicts arise. For me this understanding has helped a great deal with ssa. Yes, it's a part of me, but it does not define the complete me. Someday, I may find no further use of this part of me and I will be able to lay it or him to rest, but for now, he is there. A thorn in my side. I no longer ask for it to be removed, and believe me, I have asked more than "thrice". Instead, I ask for help, patience, understanding and mercy.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Strength in Numbers

So far, this blog, as well as other blogs of similar subject matter, has been an interesting look into the lives of gay married Mormon men. I'm impressed by the resiliency and faith of all of you and I'm honored to receive strength from your writings on these blogs. The greatest insight I have received is learning more about myself through my own writings and your responses to my blogs. I look forward to hearing about all of your struggles, successes and yes, even failures.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Coming Out to a Gay Friend

Only a handfull of people know I'm gay: a bishop, a couple of therapists, and a cousin. Each one required much thought and prayer before coming out to them. However, there is one person, a very close friend with whom a spent a few close years each summer that I have not told and continue to debate in my mind on whether or not to tell him. He's gay. He came out to me a few years ago, worried that I would then refuse his friendship. Little did he know how understanding I would really be. Should I tell hime that I am gay? He has gone through so many struggles and I've tried to be there for him, but something has held me back from letting him know that I too am gay. If I tell him, I'm worried it would ceate a bad situation. I finally found out that he has been attracted to me, where I find him very unattractive. I'm worried that he will feel like more of a failure because even though I'm gay, I have been able to marry and have kids and am doing very well. I have been able to keep my attraction to men at bay. He already feels like a failure with everything else in life and I don't want to add to that feeling. I know he's not a failure and have told him many times how much I love and respect him. Also, if I tell him that I'm gay, he may lose hope in coming back to the church. I want to tell him, but am not sure of my motives. I want to tell him how much I really do understand his struggles because I've had them myself. I'm also worried that he would take things too far and tell my wife, or it may even push him over the edge - be too much for him to handle. I'm worried that he would try and develop a relationship with me, and that if I pushed him away, he would feel extreme rejection, something he constantly feels already from most men. Is there any good in telling him I'm gay? So far, my answer to this question has been no.
Since July 15, 2007