05 October 2010

Please, look back...

Boyd K. Packer, in his much-discussed talk given in yesterday morning's session of General Conference (I don't even know where to begin with his comparison of mixed-sex marriage and the law of gravity, so I just try to shrug it off), taught that any persuasion to enter into any relationship that is not in harmony with the principles of the gospel must be wrong. This probably seems like a no-brainer to most LDS faithful. It's based, of course, on certain beliefs about the roles of procreation, parenting, and genitally-defined sex of the partners in relationships, along with relatively inflexibly defined gender roles, often affirmed in flippant disregard for scholarly perceptions of evolving (read "tossed to and fro") social and cultural factors. But that was only incidental to my more emotional reaction when I listened to portions of it yesterday.

Maybe because I woke up in an inexplicable funk, mourning a lost relationship a bit more keenly than I have in most of a week, I thought of [him] and his new path in life since he called it off with me. I wondered if he now accepted this idea that his same-sex attraction was "wrong" and artificial. My reaction was further exacerbated when President Packer explained Lot's wife's mistake, imploring, "Don't look back." He advised those turning from unclean acts to "delete from the mind any unworthy thought that tries to take root." I couldn't help but wonder, "Am I now an 'unclean act' to [him]? Is our relationship a memory he now believes he is to forget as a 'wrong persuasion', and appreciation for it in any way an 'unworthy thought'?" These may seem like weird insecurities, but I think they're a natural part of coming out of that relationship. Even if he doesn't see it that way, I can't help but feel like I'm now a part of a larger war, lumped by those who subscribe to certain beliefs into the masses of the ungodly tools of Satan who are tempting precious sons of God away from their true, celestial destiny.

I couldn't help but feel like I might be perceived as personally representative of the unclean persuasion [he] and others like him have dangerously experimented with for a summer and run from for the safety of the church. And from that pained emotional place, I wanted to plead in frustration, but with all the patience, love, and sincerity I feel, "I know you may feel like you have to move on to find happiness, but I am not interested in your misery by persuading you carefully away from your convictions, if they are indeed yours. Look back with a distant tenderness if you must be distant. Look back from a 'higher' place if that's where you are. Look back to learn from what we experienced together. Look back to check on my happiness, so I at least know you always cared, even if you must believe I can only find it on your path. Look back confident you chose correctly, if you are, but thankful for what we learned from each other and the love we shared, even if it was partially directed in ways you now believe to be wrong. I never did believe what we had was perfection, but I loved so much about 'us', whether or not it was meant to be or would go anywhere romantically in the long run. Look back at the purity and goodness we shared, even if you have to believe some of our relationship was unnatural or impure in some way. Just, please, please look back. Sometime... Voluntarily... In some way... Know that you'll not become a pillar of salt, and look back."

I fully believe what we shared, though brief, deserves to be remembered, even if preserved as an artifact rather than nourished as a living creation, and I will look back even though I'm walking away. I selfishly want to know he cares, yes, but I also believe it's healthiest for him to be able to acknowledge what it was even while moving on. I want to know he's happy without resorting to petty mind tricks like treating what we had like a filthy porn addiction...or maybe I mostly want to know he doesn't believe that's what we were? Maybe he does.

Maybe if I refused to look back, I'd experience faster emotional detachment or healing. Some have proclaimed the happiness they've found in walking away from the church and frustration that I hadn't severed ties with the church cold-turkey, completely turning away from associations which might tempt me back with seductive ideas and social incentives and pretty mirages. Maybe they're right, and I should never have looked back. But everywhere you go, someone has a conviction they tell you to follow without looking back. It's probably necessary for certain things. In this case, Packer discussed pornography, which can be addictive and, like alcoholism or other addictions, probably does require a complete effort without "looking back" and entertaining fond memories of the addiction. Hopefully, that's all he meant.

But I am not an addiction or a sin. I am the friend he felt safest with for a short time, whom he told he was grateful for not pushing him in any direction, who has many beliefs and convictions which line up with his, and some which don't line up with his current path but who, more importantly, cares about him and wants him to respect himself and be happy with his choices and his life, even if that means not having his companionship, as hard as that is to accept. I hope he knows that. Maybe he does, just as I know that certain friendships or ties I have decided to cut off for my own well-being were useful and meaningful in their time and may be again in some way but currently bring more destructive conflict or stress than productivity. So though I understand he has new goals and needs to look forward, as do I, and though I may care less in time, I still hope he eventually, if not now, looks back with something approaching the appreciation I hold, even as we go separate ways.

1 comment:

J G-W said...

I am not an addiction or a sin

Amen.