Thursday, October 1, 2009

Identity Crisis

Recently (try, like, 8 hours ago), I found myself fumbling for answers to questions I've become somewhat of an expert at avoiding. Questions that serve as stinging reminders of what I don't know and what I'm scared to find out.

"Would you consider doing therapy?"
I successfully attended 2 whole sessions of counseling at BYU and found it more cathartic than transforming. In retrospect, it was nice to hear my struggles regurgitated so neatly. I suppose I found counseling cumbersome because I never really went in thinking, "I'm gonna walk out of here with a new outlook, a new motivation to change my behavior and situation," rather, I walked in the doors because I thought it'd be good for me. I have been dreading change and so appointments with my Bishop or a counselor tend to be lacking something imperative: desire. Therefore rendering them fruitless. Until I find that desire to really change something therapy would be ineffective.

"Would you feel comfortable spending the rest of your life with a woman?"
Comfortable? Sure. Content? Possibly. Fulfilled? Probably not. I have dated girls, made out with girls, and somewhere along the way have even felt sexual arousal in the company of a girl. Those experiences assure me it's not impossible for me (and this is something all homosexuals cannot claim) to be in a relationship with a woman. The only thing stopping me is... me. I've only been out for a year. One year out of nearly 23. I justify this postponement of "trying" to date girls by telling myself that I owe it to myself to embrace this side of me wholeheartedly, even if it's just a "phase." I recognize that the danger in this is becoming too comfortable living this way and never wanting to go back. That's kind of where I am right now -- I don't want to go back.

"Why have you decided that your sexual orientation determines who you are?"
I am completely aware that being gay does not in any way define me, but it's definitely a large and important part of me. I have many other qualities and traits that shape who I am, but I'd be lying if I said my homosexuality hasn't been dominating my lifestyle for the past year. It's changed how I dress, how I talk, how I think, how I socialize, how I dance, how I look at others, how I view love... And I've never felt freer. But that freedom comes at a price -- I've lost another part of myself, and admittedly, it's the more important part. I've forgotten who I really am, that is, a child of God, blessed with an incredible family, creative mind, and loving spirit, allowed such opportunity and experience in this life. I know I've been the source of such terrible sorrow for my Father in Heaven because I have abandoned Him in my attempts to discover this part of myself. This part of my existence that has now begun to consume my every waking breath, thought, and action. The only thing harder than turning my back on God will be facing Him again.

"Who are you?"
Attempting to answer this question literally brings me to my knees, fists pounding the floor, face buried in the carpet -- I don't know anymore. I'm more alive in many ways than I ever have been, but also deadened in many others. I love myself more, but hate myself in new ways. I long for a life of love, family, fatherhood, but cower at the thought of failing it somehow. I doubt my ability to achieve. I doubt my ability to change. I fear once he leaves I'll do something stupid. I am terrified of living alone. I'm trying not to lose the one thing that makes me happiest. I am not eating much because I'm so worried. I am afraid to admit that I am wrong. I am longing to feel the Spirit again, but am too weak to do what it takes. I am a boy, sitting at work, doing everything humanly possible not to breakdown in front of so many nameless faces. They don't know me.

But neither do I.


Justin said...
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boskers said...

Hi, nice to meet you.

I completely relate to everything you said. It's almost nauseating to imagine that I won't be able to have a wife and kids. But at the same time, reparative therapy advocates point out that it is my decision whether or not I marry.

But can I make that decision? Just like you said, I don't want to get married, then mess up and ruin not only my life, but also the life of a daughter of God and my children. It's like gambling.

Anyway, even though I think of these things sometimes, I try not to dwell on them because it makes me depressed.

I'm glad you found something good out of counseling. I wasn't lucky the first time, but maybe I'll try again.

Calvin said...

Hmm, this response would probably work better in person, but I feel like I should get out in writing some of what I'd like to say.

First, in my experience two sessions of counseling is rarely enough to see much benefit. I've been told that the mode number of counseling sessions that people go to is only one, because many people just need someone to talk to-- something along the lines of the catharsis you felt. It sounds like you might have been expecting more of a transformation, and to that I can definitely say that it will take many more than two sessions to make life transformations.

I'd recommend trying it some more, not because I think you need fixing but because, as you said, nothing will happen until you desire transformation, and talking with a counselor is exactly the kind of process that will help you figure out why you do or don't want to change and what to do about that.

I think we should also be careful about what we mean by "change." The counseling center can surely help with the kinds of changes that help our lives run more smoothly-- reconciling our conflicting feelings and desires, confronting avoidance or anxiety about life, religion, the future, etc., dealing with relationships with family members, friends, roommates... the possibilities are many. My question to you about therapy was specifically about reparative therapy, and while that would be related to those kinds of issues, it would also be a very different ballgame with different goals.

Next, you said you are embracing this side of yourself even if it's just a phase. I don't know who believes your gay is a phase, but I think you and I would agree that it's not. I hope you know I wouldn't think of it like that. Also, I don't know what it means to "embrace" it, but I would suggest that you consider the implications of doing whatever it is. Is fully accepting it maybe a better concept than embracing it?

It sounds to me like you might have made kind of a weird (and false) dichotomy of the important parts of your life. It seems like an incorrect assumption that the good things you've been experiencing in the past year cannot coexist with the good things you already had going for you. What is it about how you dress, how you talk, how you dance, or how you love that requires you to distance yourself from Heavenly Father? Is it impossible to love yourself in these new ways without giving yourself reason to hate yourself in new ways? Do both sides have to exist together? Maybe it's the budding therapist in me but I feel like these issues are just begging to be explored. You could find so much understanding by talking to someone.

Finally, your last paragraph lists several other issues that I wish you could get help with. Intense dependency, fear of being alone, self doubt, anxiety, poor eating habits... I'm not trying to list your imperfections but suggesting that there's a world of benefit to be had by starting to ask yourself difficult questions and searching for answers, in whatever form that might take. Even in what feels like life's happiest times there can be important things to figure out, and that doesn't mean you have to give up happiness. You deserve all the good that life has to offer! You deserve to find out who you are!

Bravone said...

I agree with Calvin's comments. I think the change we need is not from being gay to straight, but maybe a change of heart. Once we accept that SGA is a part of who we are, we can give it its proper place and move on with the rest of our lives.

I love your sincerity. I have felt how you feel, and sometimes still do.

I am a witness that it is totally possible to have a happy life as a married man. We are in our 25th year. For 23 of those years, I was happy, but had great internal strife. Once I finally admitted to myself and my wife about my gay nature, life became so much more fulfilling.

Good luck on your journey.

Original Mohomie said...

Calvin, I didn't know you were such a sage/counselor. ;-)

Jack-Jack, I, too, appreciate your candor here. Gotta express and face stuff to really work through it, I think.

Anyway, good to make another connection between a face and a blog.