Saturday, October 19, 2013

Learning How To Be A Friend Again & Learning How To Make Friends Again

Something has changed about me in the last few months or years that really snuck up on me.  I didn't realize that I was starting to become a really terrible friend.  I think being in the closet has made me become really closed off, guarded, and frankly, not very fun to be around.

I want to be fun Graham again.  I used to really be able to laugh with and entertain my friends, and I just don't feel like I can do that anymore.  Maybe I'll never feel quite like I did before, but why can't I lighten up again at least?

I suppose it's a lot to ask of myself to just suddenly be comfortable in what feels like entirely new skin.  Perhaps I just need some time, but I wish I hadn't been such a sucky friend the last while.  I have things I can blame for it, but that's not important.  What's important is that I just want to change.  I want to be better.  I want to be the best version of me that I can be.  I hope that my mind is really ready to grasp that the best version of me might look, act, feel, and sound quite different than the old best version of me.

I'm just ready to not suck at life.

I'm also faced with the realization that after all these years, I've also kind of forgotten how to make friends.  I'm kind of making some friends at work right now, but I don't know if they're the kind of friends I need at the moment.  Old Graham would have gotten along swimmingly with them, and they likely would have gotten along very well with old Graham.  But I'm not him anymore.

I find it difficult to introduce people to me anymore because I've been through a couple years of identity chaos.  Yeah, poor me, and stuff... but the thing is, I started coming out so that I could have support.  I'm just finding myself lacking in my ability to properly embrace that support.

Is any of this making sense?

I hung out with an old friend last night that is extremely understanding and supportive of me in going through what I'm going through.  However, I felt like I was a drag to hang out with for him.  Am I just getting old?  Haha, oi.

See, old Graham would have kept all this stuff to himself and just dealt with it.  Present Graham whines about everything it seems.  That is not something I want to be a part of the best version of present Graham.

I got some learnin' to do.

Uh... k, bye.

And a salamander?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Hear Me Hear & The Wonder

I'm terribly sorry.  I've written another poem.  So if you find yourself compelled to read everything I write, you also will find yourself compelled to read said poem.  Without more ado, I give you:

Life is a song.
It's only on for so long.
Freely flowing time ambles about,
Exerting a force jettisoning those who can't figure it out. 
I found that I admired its introduction.
Somehow it sounded like my most pure reflections. 
A while later and I see the value of these discordant choruses and verses. 
Somehow I think it melds together if I learn the emotion of love,
Or at least I learn how to move on from the introduction above.
Never you mind what happens when it's all through.
Get going at learning to love others and most of all, you.

Well, maybe that wasn't so awful for you.  Maybe it wasn't much of anything to you.  I write poems for me, and then I think that they're so deep.  I think this because they're about the emotions I'm experiencing, so of course I have an emotional connection with them.  That doesn't make them good.  Poems are good when almost anyone recognizes a piece of humanity in them.  Whatever.  I am just me.  I don't know how to be one of you.  And that's kind of what still has me down.

I'm not depressed in NEARLY the same fashion that I was when I was in the closet.  (Yes, I'm still being anonymous here, but that's mostly because I've written extremely personal things here that are quite different than saying, "Hi long time friend! I'm a gay now, ok?")  So I count myself as pretty well out.  And I'm not crushed by sadness anymore.  That's how I felt with the depression of finding out I'm gay and not feeling like I could share that with anyone without destroying everything I liked about my life.

I'm free of all of that.

Now I think I'm just a bit depressed because I'm still me.  Ha!  Why was it that I thought embracing gay would make me so much better at making friends, at being able to love, at being loved?  (I don't know that I really thought that, but I had a lot of general optimism at first glance outside the closet.)  Now my anxiety that I'm not good enough, I'm not attractive enough, and I'm just not going to be loved is pretty well back.  I thought it when I was trying to date women, and even in just thinking about dating men I still think it.  The wonder is... will I ever find love?  I sure hope so.  I still just have that nagging fear that I might have gone through all this coming out business to no avail.  I may as well have just stayed silently gay if I can't find someone through being openly gay.

I'm sorry guys.  Not the most fun shit to read.  I hate sharing this kind of thing, too.  It leaves you either genuinely wanting to console me, feeling forced to console me, or repulsed by my lack of confidence.  It doesn't really put me in a stronger stead, but solidifies to myself that I lack confidence.

Oh well!  Guess I'm still being honest.  Even if it's painful.  That's something... isn't it?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Testimonies About My Life & Music

I haven't wanted to blog in here because this blog is mostly full of my shit-storming.  (Similar to brain storming only instead of thinking about ideas it's mostly full of thinking about the shit going on in my life.)  My life has been going pretty great lately, so I haven't had much to vent or write about.  However, I have had a shit-filled night... so here I am to shit-storm.

A couple days ago was National Coming Out Day.  As it came to a close, I decided I still wasn't going to let it get past me without finally coming out to all of my closest friends.  So sometime after midnight yesterday I started writing a bunch of personalized letters to my friends.  I sent them off probably about 5am-ish and fell asleep.  Throughout my Saturday, I read the responses, talked to some friends on the phone, and generally felt great about what everyone was saying.  There were four people who hadn't responded when I started getting ready to go to sleep last night.  One finally texted me, saying she was upset that I hadn't told her in person, but I told her I'm just a coward and don't want to see people's gut reactions to all of it.  Plus, writing a big long letter lets me get everything out about everything before people feel the need to interject with advice or well-wishing or whatever.  So anyway, today I didn't hear from any of the other three.  Then, I heard from the one that I was most worried about.  He's "Zach" from a story I told previously on here.  Luckily, he sounds like he's very shaken, but that he's going to be alright.  He kind of already joked with me, which I take as a very good sign that our very close friendship will survive and remain strong.

Then, tonight, like they had colluded on how to make my night as miserable as possible, the other two finally wrote me messages.  The first, was a friend that I'll call Tom.  Tom and I haven't been very close the last few years, partially because of living very far from each other, and partially because he got married about a year ago.  Before all the space though, we were very close friends that could talk about just about anything.  So, I decided to include him amongst the friends I was going to come out to.  He had the same kind of knee-jerk response to convince me that the church was the only right answer that a couple of my sisters had.  Only his was a LOT longer and LOT more personal and a LOT more strongly worded.  He was saying all the things that those of us that are MoHos who are kind of jaded REALLY don't want to hear.  "I know you've been attracted to girls."  "I know you have a testimony." And then there was the real kicker: "I have no doubt that you could be VERY happily married to a woman in the same way that I am happily married..."  !!!  Some of the things he said, brought back the desire I had to be a bisexual.  The desire to just be able to have sex with at least one woman who could love me despite my SSA, etc and that I could be sexually attracted to.  He appealed to my doubts that I know I'm gay.  I took some time to calm down, gather my thoughts, and then I sent him a message back.  I tried my best to use forceful language to state my positions and let him know that I didn't really appreciate him testifying about his perceptions of my personal experiences and sexuality.  I was as clear in my arguments as I could be.  I know where I stand, I would never have come out to my family and friends if I weren't.  I understand where he's coming from, and I appreciate his concern.  (I told him as much.)  I just really don't like being told that I should take a chance on a marriage that could be full of resentment and that would certainly be a troubling sexual experience for both parties.  I told him that he kind of "poked the bear" and that a lot of what I was telling him was built up emotional stuff.  While I've had a very supportive friend group and family through this process (especially considering how negatively many peoples' families react), it still hasn't made everything about this easy.  It still sucks in a lot of ways.  And Tom just brought a lot of emotional shit-storming up.  Then, just a few minutes after I finished up with that emotional response to Tom, I got a message from the last remaining hold out.

This was a message from the last girl that I seriously pursued dating.  She and I have still kind of been hanging out.  Her message made me cry.  It was the final straw in the shitty night I felt like I was having.  She told me she was fine that I was gay, but that she was sure that I had basically used her as a beard (She never said that word, but that's what she meant) that I had deceived her, and that I had led her on.  She felt like it was "obvious" that I had already made up my mind about being gay even while I was still acting like I was pursuing her.  She and I have had a lot of exchanges like this.  She is really good at being a victim, but to be fair, she has been a victim a LOT in her life.  I love her, she deserves to be incredibly happy... so it broke my heart to read that she felt I was using her and lying to her.  In my message I had explained that I had lied a lot to everyone around me about me being gay, etc... but I didn't explain the exact timeline of these lies and that most of the lies were just little things I would say to convince people that I thought women were attractive or that I wasn't gay.  I never intentionally used this girl as a beard, and I did not pursue her intentionally after I came out to myself.  I did have one night where I kind of flirted with her since then, and I told her as much, and that I felt awful that she felt betrayed.  Anyway, so she's spent the last two days feeling like shit because of me, and I tried to get this message through to her before she went to bed, but according to Facebook she hasn't seen the message yet, and probably went to bed still feeling like shit.  I HATE communication.  It's so damn hard sometimes.  I wish that words just meant what they meant, and that we all just understood the exact truth of what other people are trying to communicate and no more.  I realize that she'll probably realize she was wrong when she finally reads this, but I still feel like shit that I made her feel so betrayed.    It was just a lot to deal with on top of the other emotions that are just kind of always in the background these days.

So, yes, I'm out to my closest friends and family.  They're largely being very loving and supportive.  No one has said that they don't love me.  No one has said that they'll stop loving me.  (Well, the girl I was just talking about said that she felt like we could never be as good of friends as we have been.)  But, largely I'm a very lucky guy, and I wish that all Mohos got the kinds of overwhelmingly positive responses I've gotten.  Yes, I'm getting a lot of pressure about my feelings on the church, but I understand that, and I'm learning to deal with that.  But tonight did suck.  So there's my shit-storm for the weekend.

While I was writing back to "Tom" about his belief that I had a testimony, I felt compelled to talk about some of my doubts.  One of the doubts that came to mind that I didn't actually write to him about was about "feeling the spirit."  I have had experiences where I was convinced I had "felt the spirit" from the time I was a teenager up into my twenties.  It almost always feels the exact same.  Sometimes I felt like I had a simple message come to mind, but otherwise I would have one of those feelings that is genuinely hard to explain.  I remember one experience I had when I was a teenager.  I had already felt this kind of feeling before and had identified it as "the spirit."  One night, I was listening to a U2 song that I enjoyed and I "felt the spirit."  Oh wait... did I feel the spirit?  Well, whatever happened, it was the exact same feeling that I felt most of the other times.  This really puzzled me, but, as I was wont to do as a young Mormon, I shoved it down and pretended it didn't happen.  But it would come to mind multiple times throughout my adult life when I would doubt the spirit's authenticity.  That wasn't an isolated experience either.  I have had other encounters with good music where I felt that way.  Music that certainly wasn't about the gospel, or about truths even.  Just music I liked.

I don't explain that to make other people doubt, but it just came to mind tonight as I've been listening to music that I use as catharsis.  I am so grateful for music.  It has a way of healing me that nothing else does.  It's hard to explain.  So many (probably the vast majority) of my spiritual experiences have revolved around music.  So many of my nights spent being depressed were recovered from through music.  The not-so-great night I had is being recovered from currently through music.  I think it just helps me to feel things.  I don't know what I'm writing about anymore, but I'm just glad that music somehow helps me get things out.  Kind of like the way shedding tears sometimes can just feel good, listening to music that matches my emotional state just feels right.

I don't know what's happening next in my life, but I'm ok.  I'm so very happy that I'm ok after coming out to the people who matter most to me in my life.  I just hope I can figure out how to make this happiness last.

Well, good night, Mohos.  You're incredible and your blogs lift and inspire me probably more than I tell you.  Please know that at least this guy loves you.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Dear Family, I'm Gay & Blue Whales

I thought I'd have some epic chronological story about coming out, but I just don't know that I have the energy to extract the data from my brain to author something like that for you.  It seems I've been through so much that my brain haphazardly filed everything away.  Let me try to at least construct the Cliff's Notes on my story of coming out to my family.  (Do people even know what Cliff's Notes are anymore?)

So, the family party seems like a decent place to begin.  Everyone except my sister's family that lives on the east coast was there.  We had fun.  We all laughed.  We talked about celebrity crushes... oh man... that was odd.  I knew that that conversation would never go the same way for me ever again.  I told them Rachel Weisz, which certainly was a celebrity crush of mine in the past, but if I had been honest, these days it's definitely Matt Damon!  I was looking around at all the smiling faces, and I worried, what if this is the last time I get to do this?  What if it's never like this for me again?  I pulled out my phone and took covert pictures of everyone around me.  I have been to dozens and dozens of family parties like that, but I will always remember that one.

That night I personalized a letter for everyone.  Each of my siblings and my parents.  I poured so much into those letters.  I felt completely emotionally drained after writing all of them.  The next day, was the Monday that I had set as my goal.  I was determined to make it happen.  I locked myself in my room.  I set up an email to my sister that doesn't have Facebook, and I set up a Facebook message to each other member of my family (attaching an extra file to my message to my mom, for her to print out for my technologically-challenged father.)  I poured through each one... making sure it was just right.  I went to the one for my mom... hit a button... and away it went.  I hit send on each other message, and on the email.

There!  I had done it.  I came out to my family.  What I felt more than fear, was that I should be feeling some emotions.  I didn't really feel anything too strongly.

But that changed when Facebook informed me that my mom had seen it, and I got a message back from her moments later.  I was scared.  Until I read, "So how do I print these?"  She had read the message on her phone and thought I'd texted the letter attachments to her.  So, maybe both my parents are technologically challenged.  :-)

Anyway, she then read it, and texted me a brief message about her love and support.  Then Facebook said my brother read it a while later.  An hour after it said he'd read my message, he called.  We had a good short talk, and he told me he loved me and understood where I was coming from.  Then my sister sent me a text... no wait, two texts... no 3...4.... oh... that's right... 37 texts all at once!  (I have two technologically-challenged parents, and apparently a technologically-challenged sister!)  She actually thought she was going to type it out on her messenger and then email it to me, but instead it came in 37 texts that came in in random order.  I got the gist of what she was saying though... she loved me, and was surprised because we'd talked about women I dated before, and that she knew the gospel would bring me happiness.  Then I got two emails from my other two sisters... each saying they knew the gospel would bring me happiness, they loved me, and had no problem that I was gay.  The next day, dad called to tell me he loved me.  (He's not a man of many words and pretty much left it at that.)  I also got a call from my brother-in-law.  He's the kindest man I know.  I'll leave it at that.

So, it wasn't a dramatic experience.  Everyone just made me feel so relieved.  And for, I think, the first time in my life, I had said  "I love you" to each member of my family, and had heard it from each of them, too.  Each of my sisters expressed that they were worried about my feelings about the church, because in my letters I explained that I was considering leaving the church behind, but that I hadn't made any concrete decisions as of yet.  I started to feel somewhat pressured by them already, but I just deflected and didn't engage on those conversations with them.

Point being, I'm through it.  I came out to my family, and I'm fine.  I still have pretty much the same dilemma to sort out.  Do I continue looking for answers from the gospel?  Or do I look for answers from the world?  How am I supposed to move forward?

...I figure that... I'll just figure it out as I go along.  I'm not in the hurry I may have previously felt like I wanted to be in.  I honestly don't know what's in my future, but my sister gave me some good advice that stuck... I should move forward remaining cognizant of my spirituality.  I am a spiritual person, she said.  I should still keep that as part of my worldview, whether it includes the church or not.  I appreciated that she said that a great deal.

Moving along chronologically, I have indeed gone on a trip.  I am presently blogging this from a hotel room in Southern California.  It's been great to get some warm weather and avoid the first snow of the Fall/Winter (Fwinter?).  Today, I went out onto the ocean and saw a pod of blue whales feeding on top of the ocean!  It was an incredible experience that I'll never forget.  There were a few gay couples on board the ship, too, and I found myself watching them quite a lot.  I just want to know what it's like to be able to just be out to the world like that.  I had the thought today that we gay folks are kind of like the blue whales.  Blue whales were hunted nearly to extinction, but then were protected by laws when it was found they were being unfairly forced from this world.  I find myself a bit like a blue whale born into the world after protections have started to be established.  What would my coming out have been like if I had done it in decades past?  Certainly I wouldn't have gotten, "It's no problem that you're gay," quite as thoroughly as I have from my family.  Maybe even if it had been five years ago it would have been a little rougher.  I'm just grateful for my family's love and support.  I worry about whether they'll really be as supportive if I do, in fact, leave the church... but I can understand that.

I doubt this is the post I was hoping for after all of this, and maybe it wasn't the one you were hoping for either.  Who cares?  I'm happy.  I'm happy that my family knows.  Now I just need to figure out how to deal with each of my friends.  I get to sort out what's next for me.  It's kind of exciting.