Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Not-So-Brief History

I was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints at the age of 8. I was in the presidencies of the Beehives, Mia Maids and Laurels classes. I've served as Visiting Teacher, Relief Society Teacher, Cub Scout Leader, Primary President, etc. I was an active member until just recently.

All my life I knew something was different about me. I didn't date much at all, but knew that I wanted to get married because it was "the right thing to do." Right after high school graduation, my best friend and I began a sexual relationship. This was the first sexual experience I had, and to realize that it was with a girl was confusing to me. But it felt right. It felt good. It felt so natural. My best friend's (still couldn't call her a girlfriend at that time) mother figured things out and drove us straight to the Stake President's office, where we had to "confess our sins." We were put on probation and made to visit with him periodically. We tried to discontinue our relationship but both found it entirely too difficult. We carried on our relationship for two years, off and on. We talked of getting married, and being young and naive led us to believe that we could drive to Las Vegas and have a marriage performed. We both moved to Salt Lake City, Utah to attend different colleges. Our lives went in different directions, as heart wrenching as it was, and we eventually cut all ties.

I met my husband just 11 months later. We dated for five months, got engaged, got pregnant and then married two months later in 1994. We have three children, the absolute joy of our lives. One year after our civil marriage, we took our six month old daughter through the temple and became sealed as a family. We continued to be the happy and morally appropriate members of the church. We moved to a small little town that is probably 90% LDS/Mormon. We still reside here today.

Upon moving to this town I became friends with a woman down the street. Our families became extremely close and did everything together. The kids loved each other, the husbands were great friends and she and I were inseparable. I have always suffered with depression and unfortunately during this friendship I became suicidal. I believe it was because of my feelings for her, which I didn't understand. She knew I was suicidal and believed that she could help comfort me by giving long hugs, simple kisses on the cheek and sometimes mouth, and by giving all of her time to me. Of course the lines were blurred and things became inappropriate. I knew I had been in a same sex relationship years prior, but I never considered myself gay. I thought I was looking for a connection with a woman because I lacked a decent relationship with my own mother. I thought my best friend was being "motherly" to me. Only mothers don't sensually hug and kiss their daughters. At least they're not supposed to. Eventually my depression became too unmanageable and my best friend called my bishop and told him that I was suicidal. He called me (he was also a great friend and support), I became belligerent, and ended up abandoning the friendship with my friend. I began seeing my bishop on a regular basis and he eventually recommended therapy.

I began therapy and remained in weekly sessions for five years. During that time I was hospitalized six times, once for an entire six week stint. I had electro-convulsive therapy as well. I talked about my relationship issues but never believed it was homosexuality. At one point my new therapist, who was AMAZING by the way, recommended that I write my deepest feelings down on paper. He knew it was easier for me that way. In July of 2006 I found myself at the cemetery (always one of my favorite places to ponder) and I wrote all about my inner feelings of love and relationships. I had never had a healthy or enjoyable sex life with my husband. We had sex enough to have three children, and a few romps in between, but every time found me in a pile of tears at the end of the bed. He was extremely gentle and loving, but it always felt so wrong. I felt as though I was being raped every time we made love, no matter how caring he was. It felt foreign and disgusting. We haven't had sex since conceiving our now 8 year old son. So as I wrote about these experiences, along with the experiences I had had with women, I suddenly approached the idea of lesbianism. It caught me off guard, as absurd as that sounds, and I freaked out! It was the first time I had honestly dealt with my feelings of homosexuality. It hadn't been okay until that point. It hadn't felt safe to face it. But with the help of a terrific therapist, I was able to open my heart to all possibilities.

Of course the questions flooded my entire being. How could I be married and gay at the same time? How could I have spent my entire life not knowing this about myself until just before I turned 34? There were so many experiences that should have screamed same sex attraction (SSA), but why wouldn't I have seen it? Was I born with it? Am I inherently bad? Does this mean I will never attain exaltation? What will my husband think if he ever finds out? Will he want to divorce me? What about our kids? What would my family think? Am I worthy to attend the temple? Am I worthy to hold a calling? Will my children grow up SSA as well? Is there a cure for SSA? Can I someday not feel an attraction to women? Will I ever be attracted to my husband and allow him to touch me? Does my Heavenly Father hate me? And if He doesn't hate me, can He possibly love me as much as everyone else who doesn't struggle with this? How can I keep all of this bottled up inside of me when I feel like I'm going to explode?

Two months after recognizing that I am gay, I was able to tell my husband. He was surprised but he handled it extremely well. He agreed to stand by my side and help me in any way he could. He's always been in love with me and has wanted nothing but the best for me. I love him so much, although I'm not "in love" with him. He is the best friend a girl could ask for. He's also an amazing husband and father. I am  incapable of accepting the kind of love he would so willingly give, but we've found ourselves in a rather comfortable existence. We're the best roommates EVER. I feel sad on occasion that I'm unable to love him the way he deserves to be loved, and I know he's sad about that too, but we've come to an agreement that we can both live with. He's a wonderful ally for me and will fight any fight I'm up against. What a lucky woman I am!!

In November of 2006 we became friends with another family in the neighborhood. Once again the husbands were great friends, the kids were as well, and the wife and I were inseparable. I believed that the way to avoid a potential "accident" with her would be to come clean about my homosexuality. My husband and I decided they would be accepting and kind, so in February of 2007 I told them I was gay. They weren't necessarily surprised, but they hadn't assumed it about me either. They were very accepting and quickly became our biggest support system. Once again I was suffering through some fairly serious depression. In January of that same year I entered the psych ward again. Five months after that the wife, my "bff," told me that she wished she could be the person who could take away all of my problems. She wanted to be the person to comfort me, to soothe my sadness, to love me. The next day she told me that she wanted to kiss me. After an hour long discussion, we ended up kissing. That began our three month affair. This time I recognized it was because I am gay. No more pretending to myself that it was something else!

I fell utterly and completely in love. So did she. We talked of marriage. We talked of having a baby together. We bought each other rings and had a commitment ceremony one evening. We were intimate every single day, sometimes all day long. How our husbands and family members didn't see it I'll never know, especially considering there were many nights that we slept in the same bed together at her house and ours. There were a couple of neighbors with questions, however. Our bishop had sensed something was up and finally called my girlfriend into his office late one evening. Five hours later the bishop, my girlfriend and her husband ended up at my door. It was after midnight. She couldn't look me in the eye. Her husband paced around my house with obvious anger and confusion. The bishop told me that they were aware of our secret and then he attempted a "come to Jesus" with me. He asked me to repent right then and there. It didn't work. I told him that in the event I would consider repenting that I would do it with him in private and not with an audience. I was angry and shocked and wanted everyone out of my house. When they left a few minutes later I woke my husband up and we had a heavy discussion. I confessed to him about the affair and we had a very long night. He has been nothing but supportive ever since.

One month after the visit from my bishop at all hours of the night, a disciplinary council was held on my behalf. My husband escorted me and we met with our bishopric. I was extremely angry and told them I didn't regret the behavior that led me to that office. I also told them that given the chance I would do it again. Not meaning I would be on the hunt for another affair, but that I didn't regret my homosexuality and wouldn't deny myself again. I could agree to be faithful to my husband, but if in the future we were no longer together I would most likely appreciate a lesbian relationship. I was excommunicated that night. It took a couple of weeks to come around, but I started attending church regularly. I jumped in head first and became entirely spiritual. Everything in my life had to do with coming back to the church. I told my kids separately a few months later and agreed to do my best to come back into full fellowship. I was re baptized by my husband in October of 2008. I was on schedule for receiving my temple blessings in October of 2009 when I determined that I wasn't ready. After much speculation I realized that I may never be ready. My bishop had sent the paperwork to Church Headquarters and we were waiting to hear back when I confessed to him that I wasn't sure I wanted to be a part of the church any longer. I've never heard whether or not he received a letter on my behalf, telling him to go ahead and set up an appointment with the stake president. At this point in time I no longer care.

For just over three years I have been mourning the loss of my girlfriend. Although I am considerably better than I used to be, I am still feeling pangs of sadness. I long for her touch. More than anything I long to express my love in the way I was created to express it. I felt absolutely whole while I was with her. I felt natural and complete. Finally recognizing that I am gay, and entering into a relationship that allowed me to be 100% myself for once, felt better than anything I've ever felt in my life. That love is incomparable. I want to feel it again.

Now that I look back on it, the only thing that I ever remember hearing since my youth is how wrong homosexuality is. It's evil. There was never a mention of "let's love and accept the people who struggle because they can still be good people and not participate in that lifestyle," but there was always the distinct message that any form of homosexuality was abominable in the eyes of the Lord. No wonder I never felt safe enough to face the truth of my existence! No wonder i hated myself on some level since childhood. A part of me knew that this was a part of who I was, but a bigger part heard the message all of my life about how bad and wrong it was. I have since acknowledged the fact that homosexuality is NOT a sin. I am still told that the "behavior" is the sin, but as long as a person does not participate in gay activity then everything is fine. I'm not buying it any longer. I feel that my Heavenly Father created me this way for a purpose. He knows what an amazing capacity I have for love and He wants me to put it to good use. For now I'm married and not actively participating in a same sex relationship, but if I were to find myself divorced and in a gay relationship, I believe God would still accept me and the love I'm able to enjoy.

My husband and I have agreed to remain together. We want to stay intact as a family. We love each other and there are no other problems in our marriage. We both may feel loneliness at times, but we'll hopefully make it through this together. I won't lie, I long for that human connection that allows me to feel authentic, but for now at least it's not in the cards for me. I've done hard things before and maybe I can do them again?!

I have stopped going to church. It's been hard for my children because it has always been such a huge part of who we are, but I no longer feel accepted the way that I should. I don't belong there. I'm not accepted as my entire self and there's something wrong with that. I love much about the church and have had a difficult time in breaking away, but I also know how damaging it has been in my life. Being suicidal is NOT better than being gay and I'm tired of considering that an option. It's time for me to be me, very simply stated. I am out to my husband, a couple of friends and very recently my three children. I don't know what the future holds. I am proud to be gay, even though I'm still fairly closeted, and I hope to be completely free from hiding in the future. I believe that I will be with my family in the hereafter, something that is very important to me. I have always been taught that the only way to live with my husband, children, other family members and friends, with our Heavenly Father, is to follow the teachings of the Gospel and to do what is asked. I am no longer eligible for a temple recommend, something that is definitely required for the eternities. I do not for a second believe that I will be kept from my family, who means so much to me, simply because I'm gay. I am a good person. I keep the commandments. I just love women. I no longer believe that the Mormon Church is the only way. There are many great things about the church and I will hold on dearly to the teachings that feel right, but I will not hold on to a religion that refuses to accept me as my authentic self. I'll be okay.


Anonymous said...

that's a good history, hon. Like you said, I'm here for you, whatever you need. Love you

Neal said...

Yipee!! I can post now! :D

First, I want to give you a big cyber-(((HUG)))!!

Second, I want you to know that no matter where the roads of life take you, you will always be my friend, and I will always love and care about you. ALWAYS! ALWAYS!

Third, let your voice be heard; get your feelings and thoughts out. You will be better for it, and others will benefit. Its a health thing for all of us to have honest dialogue and a place to express ourselves without fear.

Oh yes, and welcome to the BLOGSPHERE! LOL!

FindingMyWay said...

Thanks Hon! I appreciate having you by my side through this challenging time.

Neal - ((((HUG))))
I appreciate your friendship. You've been here for me through it all and I'm glad to call you friend. I'll continue to share my story and hope that it helps someone in some way. I love you, RN!!

Anonymous said...
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FindingMyWay said...

TBA - Thank you for finding me. I did a little blog stalking earlier and found you, read a little and need to read more. I'll be excited to get to know you better. Thanks for reaching out!


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FindingMyWay said...

I have a few blogs myself. One super-duper secret blog that I can be completely ME in. No one knows about it. The other is my family blog. These two worlds don't collide much at all, so people in my real life don't know anything about my gay blog. With the exception of my husband.

ECT was interesting to say the least. If I hadn't been so completely suicidal and mixed up in the head for months on end, in and out of hospitals, etc. then I wouldn't have even considered it. I was at a place of no return and knew it was my last chance. I agreed to two week worth of ECT. It consisted of falling asleep, being awakened around 2:00 a.m., taken to the procedure room, hooked up to an IV, electrodes placed on my head...and then the countdown to sleepy time. My husband came the first time to watch. He said when the doc pushed the button to shock me I made a slight shaking motion. Then it was over. They put me in the curtained area next door for about 15 minutes, until I woke up, as they were hooking the next person up where I had just been... and they wheeled me back to my room to sleep the rest of the night.

I remember directly after the treatments, riding past the front desk nurses, saying off the wall things to them while believing I was saying something quite profound. My mind was muddy and I was aware of it, yet I thought I was perfectly understandable. It was so weird! I had immediate short-term memory loss and the people I had been in the hospital with for weeks were strangers to me. I recognized them but couldn't place any memories with them. It was like that "on the tip of my tongue" feeling all day, every day. Strange!!!!

I have had some memory issues ever since. I used to have a wonderful memory and now I just don't. I blame the ECT. I'd like to find a study on it or something because I didn't think there was supposed to be long-term memory loss. I recall hardly nothing from that time period, and unfortunately that was when my youngest was starting to walk. :( Thank goodness for video cameras!

If I had the chance to change things I would NOT have done ECT. I don't believe it helped even a little. Well, for a couple of weeks I was on some sort of ECT High, believing I was "cured" but nope! It didn't help me. I was still depressed. Still am at times. I still experience the same issues but now I have better tools to deal with them, all because of therapy and not because of ECT.

It may be useful to some people but for me, not so much.

Ask all the questions you'd like...I'm going to try to be an open book on this secretive blog. :)

FindingMyWay said...

Btw, the color choices for my blog are ALL Pyzam...not me. :) I like it too.

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FindingMyWay said...

Funny is what I do. I can't live unless I'm a bit sarcastic. I'm glad you can appreciate that in me.

Why don't you email me some questions. findingmyway6 at gmail dot com.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Anonymous said...

Just found your blog. I like the feeling I get from reading your story. You sound like someone I would like to know.

merry Christmas.

FindingMyWay said...

Jadziah - Love your name!! You'll have to share with me the meaning one of these days. I'd like to get to know you a bit better as well. Merry Christmas!!

yeti said...

Thank you for your honesty and for sharing your story hear. I wish you all the best in whatever direction your life takes.