17 June 2009

There Are Better Days Ahead, Self

I recorded an audio journal entry a couple of years ago, not long after pulling back from a sort of messy, very brief semi-dating relationship with a guy. Longish story I'd rather not go into here. Wait...I actually already wrote about it: it's "Story 3" in this post. It's interesting to look back with wonder at how everything felt so poignant at the time, even if that doesn't come across in most of the audio clip.

It's interesting to hear the questions I ask and the hesitation in my wording and questioning myself even as I'm speaking. It's also interesting to hear how gay I sound. *wink* And as for the questions about how things might have happened had he not been a BYU student, I think it would have been about the same, honestly, knowing what I know now.

But the feeling of "breaking up" with someone (deliberately ending a friendship, at least as it had existed) was new to me, as was the degree of passion I'd felt and that feeling of intimacy without any history together, as indicated by my question, "Why did it feel so good [if it was just an infatuation with someone I'd only known for a month]?" Despite knowing, intellectually, I had family members and dear friends who were there for me and who loved me, and I them, I fought strong feelings of loneliness and being unlovable. My emotions would not listen to my brain, which was a strange experience for me. I have more perspective on it now, and though I still care about the guy and consider him a friend even though we're not always in touch, it's hard to imagine feeling so strongly about the whole thing and being so bent out of shape over how it panned out.

I'm very glad I didn't just go pick up a rebound relationship or some hot action to fill the void or distract myself. That would have felt cheap, and it would only have masked the wound. Some insisted I should just move on to someone else to help forget about the pain of losing someone, but I think people who say that just don't know better or regard relationships very differently from how I do. For me to do so, I would've been just a love-starved guy greedily seeking connection or trying uselessly to fill a void by using someone for my own gratification. Not cool, even if the other party wanted to be used. I don't believe in that kind of "relationship".

No matter where I end up going from here, I look back now and tell my two-years-ago-self, "Oh man, this is tough stuff, and it hurts, but even though you're not going to have the answers to all of your questions a year or two from now, the questions themselves will become less trying and painful, and you're going to be feeling much better and stronger. The sharp longing for that kind of connection will soften into a nice hope but will not seem so crucial to your sense of happiness and personal wholeness. And though you're not going to have a romantic companion in life yet in one or two years, that sting of losing someone you've fallen for does go away. The pain of seeing others share the kind of intimacy you wished you could share certainly wains. Your more constant, abiding, and constructive relationships will become more meaningful and fulfilling as you choose to invest in them. And even though you'll still have some hard nights when you wish you had someone to hold or fall asleep with, you will definitely not be feeling lonely the way you do right now." And of course, I'd give me a hug and hold my quietly teary-eyed self while perfectly empathizing.


Anonymous said...

This was really poignant to me. I can relate to so many of your thoughts and your experience. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I had to read this again, along with the full set of related postings that give context and background. I must say it has been very cathartic for me to review thoughts and ideas very similar to my own. What is most personal is often the most universal.

Thanks for being willing to be so honest, personal, and thorough in documenting your relationships and the lessons you've learned. And thanks for being willing to document the ambiguities, questions, and continued yearnings you struggle with. I am touched by the poignancy of it all because it's a poignancy I live with every day.

You have inspired me to want to write about similar episodes in my own life. I don't have a blog, so it is an exercise I will do for myself. But I may even quote some of your ideas and insights because they are so similar to my own, and they are so well expressed. It helps me, also, to know there are others out there who have been through similar situations and wrestled with a poignancy I sometimes think is uniquely my own.

I like how you've come through it all with a strong and settled conviction that you need to cultivate a few strong relationships that may not pulsate with that same romantic excitement, but are steady and deep and comforting nonetheless. I have come to the same conclusions.

On a related note: I hope someday that Mormon culture will celebrate male same-sex friendships in a way they do not now. The role models in scripture, and in our own history, are certainly there, but I rarely see such relationships modeled in the Mormon world I inhabit.

Both of my "falling in love with a friend" stories relate to very straight Mormon men who are both married now. But in both cases I experienced very similar emotions and experiences as you document. And the interesting thing is that I think both of them did too, even though they are both extremely masculine and exude heterosexuality.

In both cases we had to "break up" because Mormon life and culture doesn't know what to do with strong emotional ties between two men, especially when one of them is married.

For me it's been heartbreaking to experience firsthand just how hostile our culture is to such relationships. And because that hostility is so pervasive, close same-sex friendships are often forced underground. And when things go underground what happens is often not good or healthy.

(Sad stories of men who have gone underground to meet their unmet same-sex love needs are told in our community all the time.)

I hope that those of us who are same-sex attracted, yet feel the call and claims of the restored gospel on our behavior, can find a way to pioneer covenantal relationships of great closeness with other men (and women!) both gay and straight. That is a work to which I feel called though I often have no idea where to begin in making them happen in my day to day world.

Reading your stories strengthens my resolve somehow and gives me hope. I will keep looking for the divine fire that springs up from time to time to show me the possibilities inherent in new relationships. And I will take my lessons from the past--and the resolve and insights I've gained from them--and look to forge deeper and stronger bonds than I've yet known.

Troy said...


blj1224 said...

Where does the answer lie? I wish I knew and could hand it to you.