Friday, March 23, 2007

Unusual Answer to Prayer


Thursday afternoon I noticed that I was feeling a little anxious. Where had this come from? Why was I feeling so uncomfortable? I decided that I needed to pray about it. In reality, I mostly just needed to pray.

I have been really feeling lately like I have no goals in life. Where am I going and what am I doing here. Last fall when I first began to blog about my life, I was in the middle of a pretty big crisis trying to figure all this out. The most painful thing in dealing with all of this has been the feeling that I have lost all of my goals and ambitions and passions in life. I've not been going to school this semester so that I could take a step back, deal with life, and again take up my ambitions for life at the start of the next semester. I am worried though because I haven't felt my desire return. In talking with a friend about this I realized that you can't turn a bicycle around that is not in motion. I need to take that leap into the darkness and work toward my goals and then feel them return. It's a scary thought because I don't want to repeat the pain of last fall semester. I became so self absorbed in my own problems that I neglected the world around me. I was no longer involved with community organizations or even involved with campus clubs. It was all so uncharacteristic of me.

As my relationship with God has improved I have found comfort in feeling a close connection with him through prayer. So I began to pray about my goals, homosexuality, relationships, what He wants me to do in general terms, the classic church concerns etc. I really poured my heart out. It felt really good to unload. I had said the bulk of what was on my mind when I received a text message on my phone from a friend. He asked me, "Are you at the rally?"
"What rally? Where?"
"Kiwanis. 820 N 1100 E Can you come?"
"Now?"
"Yes"
"Okay gimmie a few"
I thought it was some kind of Kiwanis fund raiser or something. I thought, well, God must be answering my prayer to be involved with my community again. Kiwanis is a good organization. They help promote so much wellbeing in a community. Maybe this is God's answer for me.
When I got there I was totally wrong though. It was the Soul Force rally at Kiwanis Park. I hadn't expected that in the least. So I stood there and listened to the speakers. It was all very interesting but I really didn't know what to say about it all. My big question is though, what is God saying to me in all of this? I'm still feeling pretty confused about it all, but the anxiety went away, and I felt much better after I left the park. I called and told my mother about the experience. She really didn't know what to say either.

We talked about God and his plans for me. She said that her prayer since first becoming a mother has been that she would do the very best that she could to help her children and love them and that they would live fulfilled and happy lives. But sh
e also throws a hostile warning to God in her prayers: "I'll do the best I can as a mother, but don't you mess with them. Don't you even think of messing with them. I want them to be happy and fulfilled. Don't mess with them."
Through frustrated tears over the phone she said, "I just don't understand why. Why must you go through this? All I want is for you to live a happy and fulfilled life. Is it possible? How can I make peace with this? I just don't want you to suffer because of this. I love you and I want you to be happy. I shake my fists at God because I don't understand the purpose in all of this. I know you say that you've made peace with this, but I haven't and I need to."

I also don't understand the purpose in this, but I know that God intended me to be this way for whatever reason and by whatever cause. What I don't know is what he wants me to do in the end. Was it an answer from God to go to the Soul Force gathering? What message is he trying to send me? I know that God is so very aware of me and that he is with me every step of the way. I just don't know where I am going and where God is directing me... But I'll keep praying.

Life is a Roller Coaster

I just want to thank Foxx and everyone else for their comments on my last blog post. What Foxx had to say was really thought provoking and has lead me to want to expound on some of the things he brought up.

Life is like one big roller coaster and I used to think that if I would just hold on tighter that I'd be able to stop the ups and downs and turns. The truth is that no matter what happens, I can't control the turns and bumps. Life comes at me full force and everyday something new happens and I really can't control what happens to me. I can control, however, how I respond to life. I can choose to pout over the unfortunate circumstances or I can laugh at it. But even more importantly, I can choose to learn from the experience.
I used to stew over the "if onlys" and the "should haves" in life. I have realized that nothing I can do will change the past. When I "goof up" it's usually because of lack of foresight or on account of unmet needs. But even more than the goof ups, I used to churn in my mind and beat myself up over life in general... I would go crazy over the things that I couldn't control no matter what. For example I get in my car to go somewhere and because of the stars' alignment or what have you, I get into a fender bender. How was I to know that the driver of the other car was going to hit me? But I would still beat myself up. Or I could simply be fulfilling a responsibility of mine, and for some reason due to unforeseen circumstances I was unable to fulfill my responsibility. I would beat on myself for not being perfect. I know far too many members of the church who do this too. It was a mental illness almost. I hated myself for not being able to control life. But I have come to realize that God gives us the maximum in blessings by giving us the maximum in experience.

For example, when I took my computer into CompUSA to have them back up all of my most valuable files and they ended up destroying EVERYTHING. It was a tragedy, a huge loss for me. I prayed and prayed over the matter. I felt so sick about the whole thing. I realized that my files were lost, nothing could get them back, and I couldn't turn back time and get them, so I needed to make peace with the situation. I prayed, "Heavenly Father, I can't just have this eat me up. I can't be hating the people who made this error and ruined my journal, photos, music, and documents. Please help me to make peace with this regardless of the outcome. I just don't want to feel this way anymore."
I still miss not having my files and documents, but there is nothing I can do to get them back. I did have a professional data recovery guy go over my hard drive, but nothing valuable was salvaged. I have to accept that and move on. I almost don't even care anymore. Sure it's unfortunate that I don't have those files and I wish I still had them, but I choose to let go.

It's been years in the making for me to reach this point where I can deal with nearly anything that life sends my way. In some ways I feel almost invincible to anything life brings me because I know that I can choose to let go and learn. Certainly some things are more difficult to deal with, but I can make peace with anything that happens.
Pain is temporary if I choose to let it be temporary. I must take ownership of the pain that life gives me, and at that moment, true healing begins.

This is why I love my life so much. It is so rich with experiences that shape my character. I wouldn't be who I am today if it wasn't for what happened yesterday. Life is full of experience both positive and negative, but if I can learn from the negative, suddenly I have turned a negative experience into something positive. And then the miracle happens, I begin to see that everything that happens to me is a blessing. I see God's hand in my life and I can see how every struggle, every negative experience, every trial, every little thing that happens to me is, in essence a blessing for good. I really believe that too.
When I pray God shows me that he loves me by bringing to my mind all of the experience that he has given me to shape who I am. I am truly at peace with all of the hardships, trials, and pain in my life. I am happy.

Now, having said all of that, I also recognize that having such an outlook can easily fool you into trying to remove responsibility for actions. It can be easy sometimes to say, "Well, I made that mistake in shortsightedness and I really know that it's not my fault." But often we know when we are playing with fire. I recently have hurt some people that I truly love because of my own selfishness. Never have I ever been so dishonest. If I had only kept true to my belief and continued to be honest, I would never have pushed them away. Trust can be hard to rebuild. Now, like I said, I don't dwell on the "if onlys" but still regret what I have done. When I don't respect my values, I don't respect myself, and when I disrespect myself, I make choices that show disrespect for myself.

My last post was a vent of frustration because when you act contrary to what you know to be right, it can really hurt. But I must accept responsibility for my actions, pay the consequences, and move on.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

What the HELL HAVE I BECOME?

Who the hell am I anymore?

I think I'm pretty damn smart don't I?

A lot of people here in our corner of the blog world have expressed an event they call "coming out to oneself." I don't know that that is necessarily the best description of my experience but I will elaborate a little of where I am and where I was. I knew that I was gay for a long time, but I didn't call myself gay. I was a straight guy who happened to like men. Sound a bit confusing? Yeah. But I was different. My parents knew from the very beginning that I was different. They took me to a doctor at OHSU when I was a 5 years old to find out if I was normal. Even so, the doctor reassured my parents that everything was just fine. But my parents knew that I was different. Telling them that I was gay was no big surprise to them. I guess it makes for an anti-climactic announcement. In any case, almost a year and a half ago I realized that the more I dug into the problem and faced it for the reality that it is, the further it took me from God and His Church -at least that was my perception. Once I came to accept this as part of my life, I began to live for the first time. I looked at my life and let go of all the false beliefs about myself and self hatred for being gay. It was empowering.

I have learned so much since then about trials and life. And I really feel like I have been able to make peace with so many things. Life is not a torture for me anymore. When bumps in the road come I don't get all bent out of shape like I used to. I can laugh at the ironies of life and I have NEVER been more honest with myself and those around me. It has been liberating.

But what the hell has happened to me?

I used to be involved in the world around me. I was part of so very many extra curricular activities. I volunteered. I did things for others. I had goals and dreams and now... I am a selfish son-of-a-bitch. What the hell has happened to me? Did I loose myself in finding myself? I really wanted to make a difference in this world. I wanted to contribute something -to give back to the world and the life that has given so much to me. Now, I am self seeking in so many ways. I act all proud and wise as if I know it all and I preach my own gospel based on my personal experience. But who am I to be such a know-it-all? I talk about God and how he has helped me to find peace with my life and being gay; and while I won't deny that I feel a measure of peace with it all and that I can cope with trials much better, I feel totally lost too. He is so silent to me and I feel like I have no foundation.

Fighting being gay used to be all that I thought about. "How can I hide this truth and bury it away so that I never have to accept this," I would say to myself. I would try so hard to pretend that I was straight and holy and perfect that I pushed myself to do things that I wouldn't have been able to do otherwise, and while yes, it was nice to accomplish something, it was all for the wrong reasons. Now it seems that I have just let everything in my life just slip out of my control and I let life happen to me.

I believe in destiny or fate more now than I ever have. I look at life as the waves of the ocean lapping at the shore. Inevitably life will come and I must accept what happens and then use my agency to react. Can I control and manipulate my life into what I want and yet still be accepting of the things that I cannot change. [But I suppose I could only answer that question anyway by knowing what I want out of life and I'm pretty damn confused right now.] I've said before that I live twice the life of the average person and I still believe that. Twice as many experiences, twice the good and the bad, the positive and the negative. Those that know me and my life would tend to agree that well, things just happen to me. But can I control that? Or must I just accept that the God-given experiences I have are there to shape me as the patterns of ocean print on the sand? How much can I control my destiny?

I received a phone call from a long time friend of mine today. She is one of those special people who know your soul. You know the kind I am talking about. They can read you and hear your spirit. She said to me, "When I look at you and see who you were a year ago and then look at who you are today, I can hardly recognize you. It's not necessarily bad or good... Just different. It scares me. You used to really care about so much... It seems like you just don't care about some things anymore that used to really matter to you."

It seems that now, the very subjects that I write about take up all of my thoughts and energy, and seem to engulf my life. It would seem to take just as much if not more effort to cope with it all than the effort I took to bury my problems. The only real difference now is that I don't have the passions I used to and I am no longer contributing the God-given gifts I have to the world around me and I am getting more and more frustrated with myself. I am doing things that I never thought I would do and I am just accepting it as destiny and character building. I hate the choices I'm making. I feel like I'm slipping away and into a person I do not want to become.

Worst of all, I am hurting and scaring those I love most. I am so sorry. You know who you are. How can I ever expect forgiveness for stabbing you in the back? I love you.

I'm really mad at myself right now. I am no sage with wisdom, though I think I convince myself that I have found the secret to happiness. I won't deny that I have found several tools and that God has taught me so much and I'll even say that I am happier with me than I have ever been on so many levels, I have made peace with so much in my life. But I think I lie to myself when I say that I have the answers...

Somebody help me! Somebody who can speak my language slap me in the face and tell me the truth!

Confessions Of My Mother

This last weekend I went to my grandmother's funeral. It was nice to see the whole family again. My mother's family is pretty stretched out and we don't usually ever have get-togethers. None of my extended family are members of the Church so it's always to an extent, a little awkward. I mean, they know we are Mormons and while the rest of them are drinking wine and beer, my family is content to drink water. We really stand out.

My parents are pretty unique in a lot of respects. First of all, as far as Mormon's are concerned, they don't fit the political mold. Mother is a democrat and Father is an independent. Mother is a democrat because she believes in a lot of the democratic platforms, while Father is independent simply because he has no convictions -about anything. My parents are the kindest most wonderful people. Sure they have their faults and weaknesses like all parents do, but I think they have some amazing capabilities.

My father is a peacemaker. He is the most non-judgmental person I have ever known. Nothing ever makes him angry. I could be rude and disrespectful to my father and tease him and he takes is in stride like water off a duck's back. My father wants the people around him to be okay and he will do anything he can to make sure that they feel comfortable. He can take a contentious situation and turn anger into calm. He is not a pessimist in the least, nor an optimist. I have never met a more completely neutral person. He is a good man with a kind heart. Almost a John Candy type of personality but much much mellower. He is bumbling in his corny sense of humor and gets a lot of rolling eyes with his terrible jokes. Growing up they used to embarrass me, but all of my friends loved my father because of his genuine kindness and ability to make them feel comfortable. He is honest. One of the most honest people I have ever met. My father is gifted in his ability to listen hear a situation or dilemma and become sympathetic to the cause. That's why it is so difficult for him to have any sort of political opinions, he will listen to a political debate and agree with both parties. As far as the Church goes, it took him many years of study and prayer before he could decide that he wanted to become a member. He still struggles to buy into all of it and a lot of his concerns about the Church are remarkably similar to mine. My father graduated from high school in the top ten of his class, but never went on to university. Father is a king of comfort and would rather stay at home and watch television than go out somewhere. He loves food and is an amazing gourmet chef. He has been known to spend hours preparing a meal for no one but himself simply for the pleasure of taste. By profession he is a salesman, by definition, the worst salesman ever. He lacks self confidence and has suffered from time to time with mild to serious depression. He lacks self confidence and would rather sacrifice his income to help someone get a great deal on products or services. Growing up we were always in debt and while I was serving a mission my father declared bankruptcy and they lost nearly everything. They eventually had to sell and move from the house that we had lived in for so many years into a small rented home in town. This crushed my mother.

My mother is a dreamer. She cares about the world around her. She is a Jane Goodall type of person. She is in love with nature and anything living and wild. All of my growing up in the Cascade mountains I can remember my mother going on long walks into the wilderness with the dogs. She could spend hours in the forest miles away on foot communing with God and wildlife. From September through November my mother would spend hours searching for and gathering wild chanterelle mushrooms from the wooded mountainside on which we lived. She would bring them in, clean them up, and take them to town to sell them to fancy restaurants and at farmers markets. Growing up we always had fresh flowers from the yard in the kitchen. Even in December when most of everything had died from winter, she some how would manage to salvage a few pansies from the cold in her little greenhouse. My mother has a gift with animals. She can communicate with them and they with her. Mother is a hard worker. She would spend hours every day working around the home. As a mother, she naturally has all of the natural gifts that any mother has, but more than that, my mother knows the souls of her children and can feel them. When something is wrong in my life, even now, when I am miles away from home my mother can feel it and she will call me. My mother went to university and has a BA in child development/corrections. Before marrying my father she worked in a home for abused girls. Most of my growing up however, she was a part time special education teacher. My mother has always wanted to make a difference in this world and had spent her entire life working towards that up until she married my father. It was then that she realized that her mission in life was not that she herself make a difference in this world, but to raise children who would. My mother has dreams of going to Africa and working with the wildlife reserves or the schools and orphanages there. She knows that stepping onto the African continent may never happen for her, but she still dreams and reads about it. She has a heart of tender gold.

This weekend when I met up with my parents in California for the funeral I decided that I needed again to talk to them about my life and the choices I am making. My relationship with my parents has never been more open and honest. I sat on the bed and talked to my mother about everything. She had said in a previous conversation that marriage was indeed a possibility for me and that marriage is more than sex. I had countered, "But so is homosexuality. There is a lot more to homosexuality than sex." She recognized my sentiments and conceded. During this conversation however, she tearfully confessed that she understands more than ever how difficult a marriage would be for me.

Despite the loving and caring dispositions of my parents, their marriage has suffered because of their personality differences. My mother is inspiration driven, while my father is driven by pacification. They never really fight at all. Growing up they never did. They always had the ability to discuss their differences. I can remember them when I was a kid just going into their room, locking the door behind themselves, and talking for what seemed like hours. I can also remember as a kid my father coming home occasionally with a bouquet of flowers and sweeping my mother off her feet and passionately kissing her. But as the years went on, that faded and the passion in their marriage faded. A little over year and a half ago when my parents marriage and differences had reached a climax, they finally went into marriage counseling at the demands of my married sister who lives next door to them. It's kind of strange, my mom knows that something is wrong between them, but my dad seems oblivious to the struggles in their marriage. They went to four counseling sessions and then the bombshell was dropped. Father had cancer. It was pretty bad. Though I didn't know it at the time, my mom was almost ready to divorce him. But in her words, "You can't leave someone all alone with cancer." The counseling stopped and the cancer treatments began. Father could no longer work and money became so tight that at times we could hardly afford to eat. I remember coming home for Christmas that year. They had sold their house and were living in a small rented house in town. My parents had received a bundle of movie ticket coupons and we all got ready to go. There was little to eat and not much time before the movie started, so we decided to grab something at the grocery store. So tight was the money that all they could afford was a small bucket of stale fried chicken for the six of us to share. We sat in the car and gobbled it up. We couldn't even afford water to wash it down. It was pretty humbling and I realized that my parents' spirits had been broken.

She still loves him for who he is, but she isn't in love with him. I know my father loves my mother very much too. But I wonder sometimes if he loves her a little bit in the same way that a child loves his mother. My mom takes care of my father. As my father has struggled economically and emotionally, my mom has taken care of him. She has resented the economic insecurity that they have always had since they married. I had thought that the whole cancer ordeal had helped bring them closer together and that their marriage had improved, but this weekend my mom confessed that all it really did was just buy some time and gave her something to focus on other than the struggles in their marriage. She also confessed that she was ready to leave him, she feels trapped in the marriage. The only thing that keeps her married is fear of hurting him, hurting her children, and the people they know that love them. A family of 14 that is in the ward that I grew up in just announced that the wife of the family has requested a divorce. Especially if you knew the family you'd really know how shocking the revelation was. I think the boldness and courage that this woman had to declare such a desire both frightens and inspires my mother to do the same.

So anyway, my mom says to me, "I never want you to feel like you are trapped in a marriage. I am beginning to realize what it would mean for you. I love your father dearly, but I don't love him as a wife ought to and I am tired of fighting this. I feel like I am living a dishonest life. I feel like I am lying to him and I am lying to everyone."

She has an appointment with the marriage counselor today. She says she is going to go into see him and say, "Make me fall in love with my husband." And to tell you the truth, I don't know that she ever could re-fall in love with him. And she also knows that no counselor can make her fall in love with him. She is just hopeless and is reaching out for anything.

So I compare this all to where I am at and where I could be if I ever got married. Can you see the parallels? How could I ever expect to have such an open and honest relationship with my wife that I could openly and honestly tell her, "Listen dear, I love you for who you are, but I really don't love you as a husband ought to. I don't find you attractive to me neither physically nor on many levels, emotionally. You are a great friend, but I really have a hard time feeling like I am satisfied with our marriage and our relationship. I think I could find more personal satisfaction with a man than with you. I understand that not being married to you would mean the sacrifice of many things that mean a lot to me and us personally and essentially that's why I am still married to you." How can I say something like that and expect her to feel okay about being married to me? How can I feel something like that and expect to feel okay about getting married in the first place? I just don't think God makes invincible people.

So of course because I understand where my mother is coming from in her marriage it's hard to not sympathize with her situation. How can I look at this so objectively? This is my parent's marriage for crying out loud! This is my family! Nearly 28 years of marriage! Of course I don't want them to divorce, but I wonder what that would mean for the family if they were to get divorced. How would my parents change? Would it force my father to grow in ways that he never has, use his talents for his benefit, and stop relying on my mother or would it crush him to the point of suicide? Would it free my mother to a place where she could achieve her potential as a person or would it be the greatest mistake of her life? She feels trapped and people who are trapped can't grow while trapped. Either she must change the trap, or escape the trap. But is it possible for her to achieve true happiness in either of those options?

It's a lot to think about.

PS: The pictures above are actual pictures of where I grew up. I used to drive along that highway to get to town everyday. I grew up so lucky to have lived where I have.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

I will always be on your side

This one is for you...

My yesterdays are all boxed up and neatly put away
Every now and then you come to mind
'Cause you were always waiting to be picked to play the game
But when your name was called, you found a place to hide
When you knew that I was always on your side

Well everything was easy then, so sweet and innocent
But my demons and my angels reappeared
Leavin' only traces of the man you thought I'd be
Too afraid to hear the words I'd always feared
Leavin' you with only questions all these years

But is there someplace far away, someplace where all is clear
Easy to start over with the ones you hold so dear
Or are you left to wonder, all alone, eternally
This isn't how it's really meant to be
No it isn't how it's really meant to be

Well they say that love is in the air, never is it clear,
How to pull it close and make it stay
Butterflies are free to fly, and so they fly away
And I'm left to carry on and wonder why
Even through it all, I'm always on your side

But is there someplace far away, someplace where all is clear
Easy to start over with the ones you hold so dear
Or are you left to wonder, all alone, eternally
When this isn't how it's really meant to be
No it isn't how it's really meant to be

Well they say that love is in the air, never is it clear
How to pull it close and make it stay
Butterflies are free to fly, why do they fly away
Leavin' me to carry on and wonder why
Was it you that kept me wandering through this life
When you know that I was always on your side





Thursday, March 01, 2007

Erasing The Past

I won't go into too many details, but things have not been fun lately. My computer has been running slow for the last couple months or so. I decided that it might be a good idea to back-up my files. I also wanted to fix my DVD player. I decided to take it to a professional -someone who could back up all of my files faster than I could and burn them onto a DVD.

I took my computer to Comp-USA to do the work for me. To make a long story short, they didn't perform the work I asked them to and they seriously botched the back-up and all of my files are gone. Three years worth of photos, a year's worth of journal entries, thousands of songs, all of my political science research... Just gone; vanished. All of it.

I was in shock for the first half hour or so and then I just cried and cried like a baby. I know it's just a bunch of ones and zeros but it represented something tangible. Of all the things I own, my writings and my photos were most valuable. They represent where I have been and the changes I have gone through. I feel like a piece of my life was erased when the files were erased.

I know that there is some file recovery software available and I've had some people tell me that all may not be lost, but it should never have come to this.

They guy who did the work on my computer was not there yesterday so they weren't exactly sure how it all happened. I'm going back today to get some satisfaction out of this. I will pitch a fit if things don't happen for me. It's going to be hard to hold back. I need to remind myself that being angry and shouting isn't going to make me feel better.

Worst of all, I feel so much negativity inside. When I think about it all I get all tense in my chest and my heart starts to pound. I feel like I have been robbed, I feel anger and sadness. I want to go throw rocks at the idiot who did this. I want to go in and swear at everyone in the store. I hate feeling this way. I need to make peace with this situation. Even if I don't get my files back or even receive compensation for the way that I was wronged, I have to get rid of this feeling inside.