Thursday, May 25, 2006

Recovery

A couple of people have taken me to task for my use of the phrase "recovering Mormon" to describe myself. I see now how that might be hurtful. It could suggest that I think there is something in the Mormon experience that we all need to recover from. That has not been what I have intended to suggest.

I use the term "recovering" because that is very much what I am doing. My own Mormon experience, while deeply fulfilling and enrichening at so many points and in so many settings, was also a source of pain for me. Deeply personal pain. I became Mormon in part because I thought it would help me not be gay. I thought it would be a path to overcome my homosexuality and to have the kind of life I longed for as a child and adolescent.

One of my most haunting memories of being young and gay occured just hours after I was baptized. I was with a male friend and I found myself feeling very attracted to him. Just a few hours after my sins had been washed clean! I was so upset. And I sat down and picked up my copy of The Miracle of Forgiveness, given to me by a sister missionary at my baptism. President Kimball condemns homosexuality in the very strongest terms in that book, compares it to bestiality and calls it unnatural and a sin next to murder. I don't know how else to describe how that hit me except to say that I was devastated.

But I was able to move on and do the best I could to be a good Mormon. I loved the Chruch, I loved to serve, and I loved the people I knew there. And when K and I started to develop a romantic relationship, I was so relieved. It seemed I wasn't gay after all! But my attraction didn't go away. It simply coexisted with my love for and life with K.

Throughout my life I would dive into the literature of homosexuality when I had the chance and read whatever I could about clinical treatment or how to manage it or overcome it. I spent hours on the websites of Evergreen International and NARTH. I prayed that God would change me. He didn't. So I prayed God would give me the stength to endure. For awhile I did. But about two years ago, my prayers changed. I prayed God would just take me. Better dead than gay. Better dead than to devastate my wife and children. Better dead than to betray the Church I loved, that told me I should either change or endure when I couldn't seem to do either. By this time last year I couldn't imagine myself old. I was sure I'd be dead long before I was elderly.

So I am recovering. I am recovering from the hurt I felt as a deeply closeted gay man trying my best to live the life I was told would bring me the greatest and eternal happiness. Some of that hurt is self inflicted. Some of it is not.

6 comments:

A Troll At Sea said...

WeatherMan;

any conception of God that does not recognize that He is bigger than any church or any idea is too small to live by.

Seek the true freedom of the life in the spirit promised to the children of God: love and do what you like, as Augustine said. Sin boldly, but believe more boldly, as Luther said. The truth will set you free.

The Troll @ Sea

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...Your blog is so inspiring. I feel a need to "validate" myself, to "affirm who I am", indeed, I long for the "liberation" that apparently gay people get from their silly in-your-face "coming out" process.

Hence, I have decided to start my own blog. I will call it "Straight Hurricane" and I will talk about how a hurricane swept through my life and helped me realize who I am, that I am a man who actually keeps the commitments he makes, who puts his duty to family and to God over baseness and self-gratification, who doesn't list or sway this way or that depending on the prevailing winds of the day and other "spicy" topics.

I guess since I am a "Straight Hurricane" I just don't get it...What exactly is it about being gay that makes one think that everyone else must know (or indeed cares) what you are doing in your bedroom? Why the self-centered need to flamboyantly inform the world of what is best kept discreet? What is the need to advertise for all that you are a sodomizer? If you get your kicks mailing your "package" in another guy's "mailbox", knock yourself out, but why must queers always seem like little kids jumping up and down ... "Look, Ma' I'M GAY !!! I'M GAY!!! Look at ME everyone!!! I'M DIFFERENT!!! I LIKE DOING GUYS!!! Looky! Looky!"

And in conclusion..."I'M STRAIGHT!..Look at me!! I'M STRAIGHT! YIPEEE!"

BB said...

Anonymous:

It has been years since I have encountered a communication as depraved, offensive, and hateful, as what you have just written.

You, sir, have no idea what you are talking about. None. If you wish to gain understanding, I suggest you engage compassionately with the people you so easily deride, as Christianity teaches you must. If you do not wish to do so, I suggest you at the very least refrain from spewing your vile, inane thoughts in this space.

CatchingWaterfalls said...

Anonymous, I’m so glad you are straight. I would be happy to read a blog if you choose to write one because this blogging community is an amazing way to share our joys and struggles whether straight or gay. It's not about "the self-centered need to flamboyantly inform the world of what is best kept discreet?" and I'm so glad that you realize that all of these men on here are not trying to support each other through what has been the hardest thing many of us have gone through, but are in fact "little kids jumping up and down ... "Look, Ma' I'M GAY !!! I'M GAY!!! Look at ME everyone!!! I'M DIFFERENT!!! I LIKE DOING GUYS!!! Looky! Looky!" And one more thing. You said in a sarcastic and demeaning tone "I feel a need to "validate" myself, to "affirm who I am", indeed, I long for the "liberation" that apparently gay people get from their silly in-your-face "coming out" process." Unless you have this secret in your life you will never understand why it is so important to "Come out." and while you may not like Hurricane’s decision to do so, DO NOT disrespect him and others for their decision to do so, it is the single bravest act a person can do.

Suzan said...

I'm not sure how I feel about blogs (even as I must admit I have been reading this religiously.) It scares me sometimes how things can be written anonymously and given such credence. How strangers can either affirm and applaud decisions that they will never be around to see play out or how others in the name of the Lord condemn in the cruelest manner. Yet while friends and family who actually know and love this man follow along and try to figure out how to process this much more quickly than is possible for something so difficult to understand. It is such a painful issue that it almost needs time and space to digest bit by bit.

Although I feel more scared than happy for Hurricane right now and I am trying to tease out the reasons for such a strong reaction ,I can say this. No one but he (and the Lord)can ever know of the great pain that he went through in processing this. K has come the closest, I am sure. And he is doing an amazing job of trying to integrate himself in the hope that someday he can eventually feel peace in his soul yet while trying to remain sensitive to loved ones' feelings. And I am sure he must be close to breaking trying to do this.

Although I believe that the Lord through His atonement can make it possible to reconcile this so that someone can feel whole and peace given this struggle and remain true to covenants made, I know that I only give credence to gays who have any experience with this, who have been able to deal with homosexuality and stay true to their covenants AND find peace. The great Trifecta. And it must seem about as easy. Living the gospel as a homosexual according to a heterosexual almost always falls short. (There have been a few exceptions when I have felt the spirit so strongly that it spoke to my soul and I think to others who actually struggle.)

I wonder if Anonymous would speak this way if he chose to put his signature on it. Only the Lord can say if he is keeping his covenants, not him. I don't think cruelty is the Lord's way.

But I am sure of one thing. This subject is a trigger for many who have never been able to deal with painful related issues from their past (personal, friends, family)and it is easier to get some of it out anonymously than dealing with it directly. I know I am one of them who has struggles in dealing with it. So my heart goes out to both sides.

But it is my hope that there is a way to bridge my faith and the experience of homosexuality. At the moments when I think I have "gotten it" it has been the purest, most beautiful feeling I have ever known. And those moments have come while "in the Church." So I keep it at the center in my search for understanding. But I have never had to grapple with homosexuality internally so I am trying not to judge someone for decisions made out of pain.

So, though I understand the reason for anonymity at times, I have chosen at this point to give my signature for my own sense of accountability for this my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Wow. From one anonymous to another, I can't believe that post. It was incredibly hurtful to read.