04 October 2010

Something to prove

I've fought, at times, a hesitation to express discouragement or distress. Of course, expressing it now is likely to just confirm traditional LDS notions that the wicked have a harder time because they don't have God supporting them. But the truth is I had really hard times as a fully faithful member of the church, too, including possibly the loneliest time of my life on my mission, but was afraid of expressing that TOO much for various reasons, including:
  • I didn't want to give the impression that I lacked faith because I knew it would all work out, and I might regret having expressed anything but positivity,
  • I didn't want to unnecessarily instill fear or lack of confidence in the blessings of the path I was on by revealing my own struggles,
  • I wanted to focus on the positive and express gratitude for God's help rather than wallow in self pity or doubt, and
  • I wanted to show my non-LDS friends how happy and fulfilled my beliefs made me, which I genuinely believed they did.

In short, there was something to prove. I feel those same motivations and pressures now, but because of the less dogmatic nature of my beliefs now, expressing the questions and difficulties doesn't, in my own mind at least, negate whatever efforts I'm making or paths I'm trodding now. I guess I'm projecting: I used to look at those who had "strayed" from the church (I didn't ever allow myself to really think of it as "finding another path" or some such fluffy, PC talk which watered down doctrine and pussy-footed around the fact that they were forfeiting celestial glory): that they were clearly struggling without the aid of the Spirit since leaving the Light but stubbornly trying to insist they were "happy" despite it.

But let's be honest: there's no shortage of gay folks who see gay people who enter into mixed-sex marriages as doing something similar, and there are plenty of gay people from conservative backgrounds who probably never share the difficulties of their same-sex relationships because they know their friends and family will jump all over them, blaming their problems on the sinfulness of their chosen "lifestyle" or on the inherent inability of same-sex relationships to fulfill rather than seeing their relationships like any other: great and fulfilling but also full of challenges to overcome.

Perhaps it's compounded by a popularly conservative mindset which seems (to me) to foster a sense that if you just ignore "emotions" and focus on being "rational" (which I suspect introduces an inherent blind spot when they fail to see the emotional motivation behind their supposed rationale), and ignore challenges of status quo or likely exceptions to rules in favor of sticking to established, static patterns and formulas for "success". People with such a mindset have likely also become adept at ignoring their own challenges in relationships and instead leaning on the "fact" that they're following a "time-tested" pattern and therefore mustn't focus unnecessarily on ironing out kinks, so they're at a loss when someone who doesn't have that idea to lean on is looking to work out issues that everyone else also can and probably should seek to work out but may choose to ignore...

...maybe I'll come back to this when my fingers can keep up with my many thoughts. But for now, I'm just thinking about how many of us hold back or puff ourselves up because we feel like we have something to prove. And I'm also seeking a balance, among the many quests for balance in my life, between authenticity and a focus on the positive.

One thing I've become increasingly convinced of, though: the more I feel I have "something to prove", the less likely I am to be completely emotionally honest, either with others or, more damningly, with myself. Perhaps needing to prove something has been an anchor of sorts at certain times, which may be an occasionally useful tool, but for now, it's an anchor I am trying to cut loose as I try to gather the strength and courage to row out again into rough waters in search of my next destination.


The Impossible K said...

In a way, I can relate... To admit that I actually enjoy certain ::ahem:: activities now that I used to regard with disgust- how do you reconcile that? Being completely honest is actually decieving because people assume how I felt in the past was a lie (to myself, to others...)
It's humbling to realize that no matter how hard you analyze some problems, the truth still feels hazy at best.

Original Mohomie said...

...which leads into some thoughts about experience vs. analysis. I started a post about that a few days ago. Maybe someday I'll actually finish and publish it. :-)