28 January 2008

Surveying My Stillness

In the past, and even now, I've bristled when I hear grown men (younger or older) lamenting how torn they are or how awful their plight is, like it's something outside of their control. I've marveled as I've seen guy after guy (I haven't interacted with enough lesbians--sorry, ladies) have a sexual and/or romantic fling, then run off back to church with renewed vigor and zeal in his testimony, then have another fling when the next best thing comes along, then back to ultra-churchiness when they "realize" what they are doing conflicts with their beliefs, etc. If you have a burning testimony of it, why in hell would you act so blatantly against what you believe? Or is the truth that you DON'T, in fact, believe as you claim to or used to, but when the reality of a "relationship" sets in, it frightens you, and you go running back to the folds of mother's dress where nice people will reassure you that you're a good person for having left that dreadful, gay world of sin and licentiousness? That seems more plausible to me. I am not, mind you, criticizing the desire or action of recommitting to the church. If it's true, you'd better commit to it sooner or later, and isn't sooner better than later? But if you're just running back to mommy and the comfort of familiarity, in contrast with the uncertainty and doubt of uncharted territory in what was likely a shallow, lust-driven relationship, own that and admit it for what it is.

I also don't recommend jumping into same-sex relationships or leaving the church just because you're doubtful. If people left things whenever they were doubtful, we'd have only shreds of family and society. It would be a mess. In many cases, you work through your doubt, but you're not likely to work through much by abandoning what you do know. I'm not one to advocate leaving the church to be "genuine" every time you feel a lack of faith or belief. Sometimes, the best thing is to carry on with what is familiar and has worked in the past until you have another plan firmly in mind, if there is to be one. And if there is not, then you'll be glad you stayed committed when you come back around. That applies with most things in life, I think.

Still, despite my irritation at the chorus of whines and cries at our painful plight, even though I think there's value in not whining and instead owning your own decisions, I've found myself, recently, in a really difficult place, emotionally. Having been attracted, in different ways, to both guys and girls, I know that the attraction I've experienced with guys, and the brief stints of romance, have far surpassed the degree and completeness of emotionality and the feeling of fulfillment I've had from the same with girls. I recognize I may have just not met the "right" girl yet, but when I've had 25 years of experience with a small handful of crushes and relationships with girls and 2 years of crushes and relationships with guys which are so much more...eh, I realize how juvenile it sounds, but so much more exhilarating and fulfilling...they've brought so much more out of me, made me feel so much more motivated to just be better and love more and...I don't know how to describe it. You'll just have to trust me when I say it's been different.

So why not then? Why not just try a same-sex relationship and give it a chance to flourish and grow and fulfill me and bring so much joy and love into my life?

1) I still have this nagging suspicion that it just may not be quite right. That maybe God really doesn't want me to, or that God would at least prefer something else, maybe. It's not that he wants me to be lonely. It's not that he takes pleasure from the hardened coating I apply to my heart when I realize this tenderness and affection and trust and love and excitement at having a beautifully unique relationship with someone and then realize it's not supposed to happen this way. But maybe there's something greater than that involved in all of this. And if there is, it's probably worth a temporary sacrifice. I have to figure out how convinced I am that that's true.

2) I don't put much value in experiencing something just to experience it. You don't need to experience something to know whether it's good. At least not fully.

3) When I think it through in a long-term perspective, I'm not sure which I want more: to have kids or to have a male companion. If I had kids, I really would want them to have a mother. A female mother. *grin* There's something so beautiful about mothers that I would hate to automatically deprive my children of that. So I would probably have a childless companionship. Probably. So in a way, even if I weren't LDS, I might still hesitate and might still be torn about what to do. I still have some core beliefs to determine and sort out.

So why not find a girl with whom I can have a committed, quality relationship, even if there's not the same "spark" of romance as there would be with a guy?

1) I first need to know that I'm not selfishly "taking" a girl to fulfill my "duty" of marrying and having a family and that the relationship isn't only about raising kids. That's a beautiful and lofty goal and purpose, but I would HAVE to go into the relationship knowing that I am not acting selfishly.

2) I don't want a girl. Not that way. I want a guy. I used to say that but would simultaneously think it must be just a trick of my own mind: I couldn't possibly want a guy that way. It's not natural. Yet, knowing that it's not "natural", I want one anyway. Physically, yes, but also romantically and emotionally and mentally. Intellectually, I think that in the definite majority of cases (maybe even almost all cases), men and women complement each other and challenge each other more than two members of the same sex would, and yet I think it's possible for two men to complement and challenge each other very well and productively. I think.

Something has been coming to mind more again lately: this really is my choice. If I'm convinced, deep down, that a same-sex relationship isn't "right", then there's only one valid response: turn wholly away from that possibility, realize I'm making a conscious decision, and leave it behind while pursuing the rest of what life has to offer, and refusing to pine away for what might have been, because it isn't. If I'm convinced it's right to be in a same-sex relationship, or at the very least that it's not wrong, then that option is before me, and there's nothing but my own hesitation stopping me from seeking that out.

Well, those are my rambling thoughts for now on that matter. It's one that is taking center stage often lately, as reflected in my blog posts. Maybe I'm approaching a critical decision point. Or maybe I'll just eventually put this on the back burner with other things I can't quite figure out about life. For now, I may be painfully "torn" in certain aspects of my life, or maybe I'm just deliberately and thoughtfully "still". Probably both.


Chedner said...

If I might make a suggestion: Put your thoughts in question form, for example:

1) Why would God not want me to be in a same-sex relationship?

2) Why are same-sex relationships not natural? (What is natural?)

3) What would my children be missing from not having a female mother? (Why do I want my children to have a female mother?)

4) Where would I be the most happy?


Then find solid answers through prayer and study and make your decision based on those answers.

I personally belive the question, "Where would I be the most happy?" is the most important and vital out of all the other questions. As President Joseph F. Smith taught, "It has always been a cardinal teaching with the Latter-day Saints, that a religion which has not the power to save the people temporally and make them prosperous and happy here cannot be depended upon to save them spiritually, and exalt them in the life to come."

So, I, personally, am weary of the preachings, "Be less happy now and tomorrow you'll be happier." I've never believed that something that does not make us happy now will make us happy (or happier) in the next life... no matter how much of a 'nano-second' the here and now consumes on our eternal path.

Of course, that's definitely not to say a M.O.M. or lifelong celibacy cannot be the means through which you will find the most happiness. Especially if you desire children but feel it inappropriate to raise children in a same-sex relationship (I would think such would be a deal breaker).

Anyway, that's my two bits.

Scot said...

I've marveled as I've seen guy after guy…

It’s a cliché in the gay community. Some people just get addicted to seeing themselves as the repentant and humble prodigal son. They’ll repeatedly tease men and gods alike throughout their lives, but I do believe most I’ve known feel it sincerely, for whatever it’s worth.

One guy I knew had been going back and forth with the same LDS man for over 20 years, holding out for him even after his "friend" married a woman and would only visit every couple months for illicit trysts before “repenting.” Sad that.

As for the rest of your post… Complicated :-), but as complicated as it is many have seen their way to one suitable solution or another. I’m sure, with the thought you’ve put into it, you will as well.

Original Mohomie said...

Scot, thanks. I don't think I'm beating myself up or writhing in agony, but I'm not going to make my decisions lightly, not when it comes to this, so yeah, I hope I'll find a suitable solution.

Chedner, yes you might make a suggestion, and thanks for it. I appreciate the way your mind works.

I think one of the hardest things to sort out is what really makes me happy, now and always, and what kinds of peace and security matter most to me, or what "happiness" really entails.

For me, I think happiness is largely based on living with integrity, living according to what I truly believe and not what makes me feel good right now. I used to think there was nothing happier than gorging on decadent chocolate cake. But I realized that the stomach aches and the damage a habit of gluttony could to my body, over time, was not really happiness, nor was it respectful of the gift of life I was given if I frittered it away on self-indulgence. That's something I've relearned several times and in various ways throughout my life.

Now, to avoid sounding all preachy, I'm not sure this is even in the same ballpark. I mean, pigging out on junk food is not the same as loving someone in a committed relationship. But the principle: the evidence indicates, to me, that happiness is about learning what you believe and living it the best you can and not about doing "what feels good".

That requires getting at my core beliefs and going from there. And I think even my more "peripheral" beliefs, strong or weak, are tenacious little buggers. :-)

Yet I vacillate...

The Impossible K said...

Yes, you do... and I'm sorry, but I don't quite understand why. Are you seriously vacillating about what can bring you the most happiness? Or do you already know, deep down, but are trying to build the courage up to "own it" ??
I know- easy for me to say. The closest I can compare is feeling devastated when I heard the church is against single parent adoptions or artificial insemination. Drats. Guess I'm stuck making cats my "babies"... or going against the church's counsel. But (I'd like to believe) that's as much an option for me as it would be for you. Am I wrong?

Chedner said...

You make a great point in saying that it's not what one wants or even what one wants to believe but what one does believe and living up to that, one's belief system, that will bring a being of integrity (as I see you) the most happiness.

So, I guess the next question is: What do you believe?

Do you believe the Church's position on homosexual coupling is final, will never change, has no room to change as is believed by many? If not/so, I think you have your answer.

Do you believe a child raised by same-gender parents is raised in deficit? If not/so, I think you have your answer.

Do you believe a homosexual couple cannot, by nature, fulfill the "demands of yin/yang" (that's the most curt way I could put it; I think you know what I mean)? If not/so, I think you have your answer.

Of course, finally defining what one believes is scary and not too pleasant. But living dangling between the two is suicide in my book. It creates this jumping between beliefs, repenting for being gay and then repenting for being Mormon, back and forth. (Of course II, running back and forth means you can believe in whichever whenever such is convenient... but then, do you really believe in either, is my question...)

For what it's worth, just from what little interactions I've had with you, it seems to me that you're more on the side of what the Church is saying than the other side. I derive such mostly from your statement about wanting your kids to have a female mother.

In my opinion, a life raising children is perhaps the greatest and most fulfilling life to live. And if you feel that a child needs both genders for parents to be raised successfully, I would say find a girl with whom to share a family. To be honest, I think you would be very successful in a mixed orientated marriage.

Of course III, I'm not in your head, don't know all the variables and desires of your heart, so all I can do is offer my opinion.

I do know, though, that you're a good man, and I have complete confidence that you will make the best decision for your happiness, prosperity, and welfare.

(I guess that's more than two bits now... so, maybe a byte?)

Original Mohomie said...

ImpossibleK, yes, I seriously am. It's not about "knowing deep down", as far as I can tell, unless I just haven't "realized" it yet. I guess you never know. I know that's a convenient explanation for the preservation of the paradigm of those who are more "faithful" than I currently am, but if I weren't genuinely doubtful, I would probably be more careful not to make it sound like I am.

How obvious does a person have to be before people will find it possible to accept that they are truly, deeply, questioning what they have believed and not just "struggling" with justifying their own desires? This relates to another post I started writing. Maybe I'll post it someday.

Chedner, I appreciate your thoughts still, and again. :-) And for the record, I'll take a byte from you any day. And a nybble here and there...
(link included for people less techno-nerdy than myself)

a girl you know said...

Much to say here. Maybe I'll take it a byte at a time. (Catch my bad pun? Playing off your nybble, yeah?)

Ok, first... you say "have a sexual and/or romantic fling, then run off back to church with renewed vigor and zeal in his testimony, then have another fling when the next best thing comes along, then back to ultra-churchiness when they "realize" what they are doing conflicts with their beliefs, etc"

This plight is definitely not unique to moho life. This was most of my (heterosexual) dating life, really, and it was a real plight which may be easy for you to judge not being such a "waffler" yourself.

I did have a burning testimony of the church, at the same time, sexual intimacy was something that became important to me in relationships. I could not fully explore, maintain, or FEEL the fullness of a relationship without it. What could I do? How could something that the church said was so wrong be so right for me?

I broke off several relationships, and broke many hearts, in search of being a good mormon girl, true to my faith and testimony. I became good friends with several bishops. I did NOT, however, feel it was a game, or enjoy playing the role of the perpetual repenter. I LOVED being a gospel doctrine teacher, and hated when I had to give it up because I could not preach a lesson on celibacy without marriage with integrity. Most of my mormon friends never knew I was "the perpetual repenter."

The church was not a mother of safety. It was a true conflict. I believed both this and that. They were not compatible, however. I had to try to deal with it. I did not yet know which I believed was MORE right, or which one I, personally, was supposed to follow. So, I would think about how disappointed my family and friends would be if they knew about my behavior. I was truly letting them down. It would convince me that I needed to "shape up" and follow the church's teachings.

I agree that not all things have to be experienced to discover the right or wrong in them, but I never would have found my true belief in this matter without the years of struggle through it.

Before reading your post, I thought my serious self-questioning about the church's positions on various standards, and the church's ability to change those or not, was just a few years long. I now realize I was questioning, though my actions, for much longer than I thought. I believed I had a burning testimony, truly. Yet there was one elephant sized question mark... (and eventually more.)

Just because a relationship involves sex before marriage, it does not automatically become lust-driven. I can safely say I don't feel like I've ever been a lustful person. However, we all communicate love and intimacy in different ways, and mine was never complete without romantic relations.

Consciously questioning and exploring what I always knew to be true (the church)was the most difficult and painful thing I've ever been through in my life. If you are to find your true answer, you will have to face some unpleasantness - whichever way you decide - that will not be easy, and will take courage to follow.

I whole-heartedly agree with you that "happiness is largely based on living with integrity, living according to what I truly believe and not what makes me feel good right now." Choosing the feel-good path, even feeling good longer term, would NOT have been in line with my happiness and integrity. I have to face painful realities almost daily due to the choice I have made. Yet, I know that I could not be happier any other way than following what I truly believe - and not what I'd really like to believe.

It's easy to ASK questions like "where would I be the most happy," but sorting through the answer can be difficult.

Original Mohomie said...

Thanks, Girl I Know. :-) I really appreciate your perspective on this. I, too, have realized how much physical intimacy is, for me at least, an important part of WHOLE intimacy and relationship, and it has helped me realize how beautiful it really is when there's real commitment and connection along with it, and how hollow it is (despite feeling really nice) without the other kinds of intimacy. I believe the physical often far exceeds the emotional connection, which is unhealthy.

And sometimes the emotional launches ahead without any real foundation either, and that's not healthy, nor is the motivation necessarily noble just because it's not physically "lusty".

I didn't mean to imply, though I figured it was open to be interpreted this way, that every quick, physical relationship is, by definition, only shallow and lusty. I think they do tend to be, but not all are, and I just meant that IF that's what it was, you've gotta own it.

It's been hard for me to accept that I became too physical (in my opinion) with someone too quickly because I found them attractive but before establishing a real relationship. It was juvenile. Not everyone's "flings" are like mine, though, so I appreciate additional input and the knowledge that there are many other situations in life around which many of these very similar or same conflicts can arise.

Thanks for commenting!

Post-It Boy said...

I think that the way we're going to be happiest is to look, and perhaps experience, a little of both sides of the spectrum.

I can honestly tell you that while I'm a crappy Mormon sometimes---that whole "no mission" thing being evidence... I am happiest in the church. So while I do long, at times, for the closeness of a male companion I made the decision to be a member of the church. With that comes specific obligations and sacrifices.

BUT, is it really a sacrifice if we consciously made that decision? Guess it depends on how you see it.

There's no gun to my head--other than the Honor Code... :) But that will be over in a few months.

The only sadness I face with my decision to not get married--since it doesn't appeal to me--is the fact that I won't be a father. But, the thought of having a child with a woman sickens me and what woman would choose that... no matter HOW incredibly good looking and amazing I am? :)

I think its good for you to think about things and to decide what you really want long term. If its to be a member of the church, which I hope it is since we're friends, then I would support you. However, if you decided in the long run you'd rather have a boyfriend, you can always turn to me for support. Just don't turn to me to date me since I told you that you're not tall enough for me taste. :)

I think the key is deciding what you truly want and sticking with it---and not falling into the trap of the flip-flopping you mentioned. (Having sex and then deciding you want to be a member and then having sex again, etc.)