Whys and What Ifs

Let’s not go there. I suggest that there are better questions.

Asking why I’m gay, trying to figure out the cause – genetic, familial environment, abuse, or choice – assumes that there will be an easy answer and thereby an easy solution. Really, if after a couple of decades of trying to answer that question myself, and not coming up with a clear-cut answer, I seriously doubt that anyone else will have better luck.

A better question might be, “are you sure?” After years of trying to be something different, after years of living as something different, after years of unanswered prayers, after years of seriously considering everything from disappearance to suicide, and after completing multiple versions of the Kinsey test to determine basic sexual orientation…after all that I’m at the only place I can be at this point. The question has been answered. Yes, I’m gay.

So many “what if” questions could be – and have been – asked. What if I had been reared in an accepting family? What if I had been welcomed by an accepting religious community? What if I had never met him? What if I had never had that affair? What if I had never admitted to being gay? What if…what if…what…if… Asking that kind of question will seriously and completely drive a person crazy.

A better question might be, “what now?” That question asks for transparency and integrity. The answers may be very painful, but are necessary. My “what now” includes a commitment to my wife and family, a continuing redefining of my faith, attraction and temptation whenever a hot guy walks by, finding a voice for my journey via this blog, and a progressing state of health.

I’m re-framing the conversation for a better outcome.

Are you up for a new conversation?

-Trevor

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Captive Freedom

It has been so liberating to be able to give voice to my real self…at least to the limited degree to which I’ve been able to share with friends and loved ones. But, the sad part is, I’m still imprisoned by the deep dark secret that I’m gay.

I can’t tell my aged, deeply religious, extremely conservative mother…it would probably land her on her death-bed.

I can’t tell another close relative…he’s one of the guys who sexually abused me…and I just can’t go there.

I can’t tell other family members and the people I attend church with because they would immediately condemn me to hell…and tell my wife to leave.

I can’t tell the friends I work with…because they have already shown their true colors as bigoted knuckleheads.

So, in the world of mixed emotions, this is a doozy. By keeping this secret I’m both protected…you might say liberated. And, I’m also all boxed in…imprisoned to the fear of rejection, broken relationships, condemnation, etc. So, as long as I keep the secret, I’m safe…but by keeping the secret I’m… Yeah, you get it…it’s such a vicious cycle.

Secrets weight heavily upon on us all. It drives us to unhealthy solitude. It’s lonely here in the secret world. It’s not fun. It lacks direction, because it never sees the light of day. It’s one cause of great sadness and depression. Secrets keep us from experiencing an unconditional love of family and friends.

The writer of this blog eloquently describes this battle. I quote his last paragraph: “I don’t want to be alone. I don’t want to hide. I just want to be me. What would it be like, I wonder, to live openly? To not have to be on guard at every moment, lest someone suspect my deep, dark secrets?

I guess for now I’ll just keep it to myself. The risks are just too high. I’ll have to live with my own emotional fallout.

That’s a secret all its own.

-Trevor

“I Don’t Get It”

“How can that be?”

“I don’t understand.”

“Please explain this to me.”

Since I recently came out and acknowledged that I am gay, I’ve been asked those types of questions several times by friends and family. Since I’m just now beginning this journey in transparency and with serious research, I’m not yet able to adequately answer these inquiries. I ran across a blog that does a fairly good job of  answering some of the questions. Although our experiences and impulses are different, there are enough similarities between his life and mine it might shed some light on the whole concept of mixed-orientation marriages. It is a lengthy post, and co-written by his wife.

http://www.joshweed.com/2012/06/club-unicorn-in-which-i-come-out-of.html

– Trevor

Gravity

“The force of attraction by which terrestrial bodies tend to fall toward the center of the earth. Heaviness or weight.” (Dictionary.com)

Most people’s life, after a certain number of years, falls into predictable and comfortable circles and patterns. You might say that we find our “gravity” – that we find those things that are in harmony with our “center,” that carry a weight of importance to us.

For the majority of my life, my gravity centered around my family, my faith, my friends, and my work. Probably not significantly unlike many other people. My family means more to me than anything else in this life. The love of family simply cannot be replaced by anything else. My faith has been a part of my entire life. I was going to church before I was even born. 🙂 I have some dear, dear friends who love me so unconditionally it blows my mind. The irreplaceable love and loyalty shown by them is simply amazing. I’ve always been a hard worker and stable provider for my family. In all these things I am blessed and proud. These are my elements of gravity.

But things are different now.

You might say that they have “devolved” to a “raw” stage.

The love of my family is still strong. But, we’ve lost much of the “warm fuzzies” we used to enjoy. Now there is a palatable tension, an underlying hurt, mistrust, and anger. There are more questions than answers. And tears. There are lots of conversations around “can we make this work” and “how will we survive?” The love we are experiencing is a ragged edge love. No pretense, no false fronts. It’s just out there…take it or leave it. No easy answers. Some extended family have been my strongest supporters…others haven’t been given the chance, sadly enough, because they aren’t “safe.” I still gravitate back to my family first. It just doesn’t look like it used to…and time will tell what it will look like in the future.

As far as my faith goes, I saved the baby and threw out the bath water. Yes, I’m a christian…I’ve saved the baby Jesus. But, the bath water – all the trappings and crap of the “church” – yeah, not interested. Now to be honest, I’ve been on this journey for several years now, but it brought this crisis to get me to this point. I just don’t care about “church” anymore. What I’m looking for is a community of people who will be brave enough to admit that they have a raw and ragged faith, who are sick to death of the cliches, who refuse to always quote a promise from scripture accompanied by a sickeningly pasty “holy” smile, who will eat with sinners instead of condemning them, and who are no longer buying the bait and switch played so well by the modern church. You see, since I grew up in it, I know all the tricks of the trade and I’ve finally gotten ill from the overload. I’m done with all that. My faith is simple, uncluttered, and powerful. And, unlike my earlier faith, this new faith of mine tells me that God loves me just like I am – gay.

For those of us who are making this journey, it becomes obvious who your true friends are. Those who truly loved me before are still here, in spite of it all. Others have walked away. And my attitude has become…”their loss.” I’m still a great guy. It is truly sad that a label will so easily wreck a friendship. I do have to say, though, that those friends who have stayed, have become more precious and appreciated than ever. There are days when they are my very lifeline.

Work has taken on a new face. As I mentioned in the previous article, I was a pastor for nearly 20 years. I am a preacher’s kid, to boot. So most of my life has been about engaging people to help them in some way or another. Now…I’m just an hourly worker. I’m not ashamed of my job, in fact I really enjoy it! It’s just different. It’s good.

So, in all these things, my center of gravity has shifted. Really, the dust hasn’t settled yet from the shifting as things continue to fall into place. Life is different. Life was difficult before, it’s even more so now. Relationships were tricky before, they are even more tricky now.

Gravity shifts when transparency happens.

Worm Thinking

So, I’ve been thinking about silkworms and cocoons.

Have you ever wondered what a worm thinks? (No worries if you haven’t, because that’s really strange, I know.) Like, what does the worm think when mother nature is telling it to begin to spin the cocoon? What does it think while it is fully encased in cocoon? What does it think when it is being transformed into something totally different…something beautiful. More beautiful than it could have ever imagined. Kind of like a “beauty from ashes” type of thing.

Strange…yeah, that’s how I think sometimes. Just ask those closest to me. 🙂

Except, in this case it’s not nearly so strange, and not nearly so abstract. What I’m about to write about is not in the abstract, it is my reality. I’m not writing out of a sense of enjoyment, but of giving a voice to my state and my struggle. In doing so, I trust that you might be helped.

So, let’s get some key basics covered: I’m a husband, my wife and I have 3 beautiful children, a gorgeous granddaughter, and I’m a christian. We have a good life – not grand and far from perfect, but good – real good.

And I’m gay.

I didn’t pick this. I didn’t choose this. This is just the way I am. Always has been. Only my wife and a handful of trusted friends and family know that I’m gay.

I am a PK (preacher’s kid), reared in the shadow of the local church(s) that my parents pastored, and in the environment of loving and Godly parents. It wasn’t a perfect environment, but was a blessed upbringing. I treasure my parents and the truth that they worked so hard to imprint upon my life. I attended parochial schools all my life and answered the call of God into ministry at a young age. I spent nearly 20 years in local church ministry as a pastor.

About 18 months ago I confessed to my wife that I had been having an extramarital affair…an affair that had been going on for several months. The affair was with another man.

As you can imagine, the effects of this were swift and extremely damaging. We are working our way through the tall weeds; it’s painful, but necessary. The family strength our children previously enjoyed is now in shambles. We immediately lost our church family…both to worship with and to minister to…things we have been blessed with the majority of our married life.

From my very first sexual impulse, I have been sexually attracted to men. Being that I was raised in a ultra conservative environment that was not open for any discussion of sex – straight or otherwise – I could not talk about this to anyone. If I have prayed once for God to set me “straight,” I’ve prayed it a million times. A prayer that was never answered. The resulting pain landed me in the bottom of a bottle, as I abused alcohol for a few years. That pain has also brought me to the brink of suicide more than once.

I am blessed in that it is because of my upbringing that I am not in a worse place than I am in now…for that I’m thankful.

However, it is also because of my upbringing that I am not in a better place than I am in now. Growing up I had learned quite well the art of compartmentalizing my life and how to avoid being a truth-teller in how I lived my life, because I had no safe outlet to share my life experiences and my forming sexual orientation without facing condemnation and judgment. Everything was lined up nice and neat externally for everyone to see…yet the interior of my life held this one big secret that I knew nobody was really interested in being exposed to.

I heard preaching and teaching about how more prayer would solve it all. Hey! I prayed and cried and begged and bargained and cajoled God…asked God to cure me, to fix me, even to kill me…that didn’t work. I heard how reading the Bible would give me all the answers. I read the Bible all the time…I never found the answer. I heard how I should just throw myself into ministry, put the right foot forward and I would be led away from sin. Only to find out that spiritual activity was not the answer, either. And the message I received in all that “hearing” was that they didn’t want to hear about me, I just needed to get myself fixed. Sadly, I’m still getting that message today…literally, in those words…get it fixed. How sadly insensitive and demeaning.

The cocoon has been formed…fully encasing my life.

So what’s next?

Can anything be made of this worm? (Please understand that when I say “worm” I’m not putting myself down.) Can I be more than a silly worm…hanging from the skinny limb of life…encased by the silky, yet strong, fibers of the cocoon? Can life be found in the cocoon? A beautiful life? A joy filled life? A happy life?

Through the aid of intensive and Christian therapy, I’ve come to the point that I can embrace the truth of who I am.  I.Am.Gay.  I’m able to form the thought. I’m able to actually speak the words.

So maybe the cocoon is loosening just a bit.

But that doesn’t solve anything. It just opens the door for more discovery…much of which is more challenging than most can imagine.

Maybe, just maybe, that is the worm in the throes of transformation.

Some of you may not get the process of simply understanding and admitting to being gay. This might be of help to you.

And, you might be curious about what it means to live in a mixed-orientation marriage, this blog may be of assistance.

Pain. Despair. Depression. Regret. Hopelessness.

Those are some words to describe my life right now. But maybe this worm will eventually change into something beautiful.

Time will tell.

*******

So, from time to time I will write about my life “in the cocoon”, all in the hope that it will show a transformation to full beauty, and to help someone else along the way.