Monday, October 24, 2011

That Which Murmurs Deep Within

This is the first of a series of posts, in celebration of the first anniversary of my blog, that review selected posts from this past year.

Search and listen ...
For that which murmurs deep within.
For this is why you’re here on earth,
And this is where you must begin.

When I first started writing my blog a year ago, one of the first things I did was visit my past.  I wrote about my youth, how I first came to realize that I am gay, how I coped with that knowledge and then how I embraced the LDS faith as a means of “curing” myself.

I also wrote a lot about my mission.  Paradoxically, it was on my mission that I came to learn that the “pray the gay away” thing didn’t work.  It was also the last time in my life, prior to coming out, that I allowed myself to contemplate issues of faith, sexuality and identity.  Following my mission, after wrestling with what I knew and understood about my sexuality and what the Church taught about the attractions I felt as well as about marriage and family, I made the decision to get married.

But this was more than a decision to get married; it was a decision to abandon and leave entombed deep within me, that part of myself that had started to emerge on my mission.  This person, the person that wrote the lines above, would never have consented to walk the path of soul-numbing conformity and repression that lay before me. 

I destroyed the pages of my missionary journal in which I wrote most explicitly about my homosexuality.  But a few oblique references did survive, such as the following prose that I wrote toward the middle of my time in France, when I was struggling with resurgent feelings of same same-sex attraction (described here):

I see myself upon a stage ~
A thousand different subtleties of character,
Never really sure who will perform next.
Shadows overlay shadows.
Where is the real me?

Hesitant … hesitant …

What will happen if the character bares his soul?
Is he afraid of what may be lurking deep within?
Or is he seeking the other character
who will reveal this actor fully?

For, often times, as he has been touched
by the light of another soul,
We have seen, in response,
one aspect of his character brought to the light,
Only to retreat to the shadows

Will we ever see the real me?
Is there a real me?  If so, who is he?

One of the aspects of my “straight” life that I regret the most is the feeling that I was an actor on a stage most of the time, that I was going through the motions of what it meant to be a Mormon husband, father and priesthood holder.  I tried really, really hard, but it’s as if I was living under cellophane.  I couldn’t breathe.  I was dead; wooden.  Particularly sad for me is that my children never knew who I really was; the person they saw was someone who was desperately trying to fill a role, who could never simply be himself (whomever that was), who attempted - unsuccessfully - to snuff out the frustration and conflict he felt deep within.

At the time, it never occurred to me that I wasn’t cut out for the life I was trying to lead; not really.  Rather, I thought I simply wasn’t trying hard enough.  I had to try harder.  For this is life eternal, that we might conform to the Plan and live it, regardless of how much pain, sadness and depression doing so brings.

I had forgotten the man who had started to emerge toward the end of my mission, the man who wrote the following while struggling through the last weeks of his mission in the autumnal shadows of the Pyrenees Mountains:

“This time which Heavenly Father has given us on this earth is so short, so precious.  I rebel against all efforts to negate it, to minimize its importance, to abort our experiences, our search.  I resist efforts to categorize, to methodize, to “planify”; in short to reduce this glorious learning experience called life to a psychological learning experience of instant rewards and gratification.  … So many LDS seem to regard the Gospel as so much of a Pavlov system of rewards and punishments.  Motivation comes in this case as a salivating dog seeks his treat.  Argh!  Away with such behavior!  We are not Pavlov’s dogs!  We are human beings, placed here by our Celestial Father in order to grow and gain experience ...

“I am now ready to seek a more mature relationship with God.  I feel its presence, this relationship, there in the fog.  After having wandered in the night for a while, the dawn is finally breaking.  I can make out forms and images in the mist but they are still indiscernible.  The light of personal awareness must burn these mists away until I can make my way towards those objects which are near to me.  Perhaps it will be some time yet before the morning sun burns off all the fog, allowing me a clear perspective.  Until that time, I shall enjoy the beauty of this autumn morning of my human experience and glory in the scenery around me with its haunting effects of light and dark, fact and fantasy, phantom and form, ever thankful for the opportunity to be here.”

In certain very important respects, I feel more alive, more aware, more in tune than at any time since writing those lines 26 years ago.  But the relationship I am finding is not with God – at least not directly – but with me; and since I am part of Him, it’s really all the same thing, isn’t it?

You, yourself, as much as anyone in the universe,
deserve your love and respect.

~ The Buddha

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