Sunday, October 11

one year later

i've been in jersey for over a year, now.
it's been the craziest, most difficult ride of my life.

it's almost comical how clueless i was as i left utah.
hindsight is 20/20, right?
oh how i wish i'd been just a little more prepared.
who knows? maybe then things would have been different....



in the span of one month
*i put 2,200 miles between me and all the people and places i called "home"
*i left any kind of environment that even remotely resembled comfort
*i arrived in a culture i would describe as "rough around the edges"
*i began an emotionally-intense master's program for social work
*i was thrust into an identity crisis of epic proportions (more on that in a sec)
*and i fell straight out of activity from my religion of 26 1/2 years


i had been in new, overwhelming, and unstable circumstances before....
but as i attempted to apply all of my hard-earned skills to cope and maintain any semblance of mental/emotional and physical homeostasis, i couldn't deny the shock i'd received to my system.

i was sinking deeper than i'd ever been.

suicide.
it's not an easy or enjoyable topic.

but, real-talk: i've been suicidal many, many times in my life.
and i'd never been more suicidal than i was in that moment.

it got real and it got scary.



how and why things got worse

i believe i'm quite intelligent and insightful.
i pride myself on paying great attention to detail.
however, no matter how much i know or see, i always miss something.

in every case, the thing i miss is usually glaringly obvious to others.
it should be obvious to me!
but i'm completely oblivious to said thing until something knocks me on the head and a light bulb flickers on.

sometimes, this new light illuminates shadows best left in darkness.



the crisis

isolated in jersey at 26 years old, i received the head-slap of a lifetime:

i am, and always have been, attracted to girls.



dealing with the crisis

once this started to dawn on me, i was reeling

initially it began with questions:
"how had i not known?"
"what does this mean?"
"how can i fix this?"
"can i make it go away?"
"oh, is that what those feelings were??"

and, again and again, "how could i have not known?!"



why i hadn't known

i grew up in the center of utah valley and have been a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since i was born. my entire life was spent picturing a future with a husband and children, working together to build an eternal family. at the center of my church is family.

being raised in the church, i've had many, many experiences and gained an extremely strong testimony. "Mormon" isn't just a religion, it is a part of me. so of course, there was no other option! i would find a man i loved and marry him.

no, i didn't date much... but i figured i was just not as cute/skinny/fun as the other options in the vicinity. and i have been attracted to guys. yes, it was a rare occurrence, but it happened.

then when it came to politics, i was kind of detached from the issues. i had compassion for the gays, but didn't really see what all the marriage fuss was about.

my own mother didn't believe me when i told her i romantically preferred women over men. i can't blame her, though, since even i hadn't recognized the clues. however, her belief that i want to have a sinful relationship just because i don't want to be alone anymore hurts me.

it's not about "not wanting to be alone."
{{when i experienced, for a short time, what it's like to love someone so completely who loved me back just the same, i finally didn't find cheesy love songs cheesy! i understood the realness of their descriptions! i could finally relate to what everyone was saying about love! i felt it! and it was the most wonderful, peace, joyful experience.}}



when the crisis climaxed

i had stopped going to church because i had no clue how to merge my new-found sexuality with my religious beliefs. God made me this way, gave me this trial, so i was going to distance myself from Him. how could He leave me here, alone, like this?

let this be clear, though: i never fully lost faith

i read articles upon articles and tried to find answers.
as far as i could see, there were two options:

1) leave the church and have a relationship with a woman i loved
2) stay in the church and deny my sexuality, staying celibate, for the rest of my life

and that's when i decided to die.

everything in me was ready.
every time i left my apartment, i made sure everything was clean and tidy so no one would have to clean up a big mess on my behalf.
i had several different plans, i just had to decide on one.
i wanted to die.
i was ready to die.

in my mind, i was already dead.

if you know me, you know that i love. i love people. i love to show love and to be love. if someone shows even the tiniest amount of love to me, i will pour out love! i love!

and all this time, i thought i was just waiting a little longer until finding someone i could romantically love in a mutual loving relationship, loving each other for the rest of eternity.

to try and imagine even just the next twenty years similar to my last...., what was the point? wouldn't it be better if i killed myself rather than stay on the earth and be a part of horrendous, sinful behavior?

i hated this part of me.
and i wanted to die.



i didn't die

though every part of my mind, heart, and soul wanted to kill myself, i decided to reach out for professional help. maybe somehow something could make this better? and it actually did -- intensive outpatient services helped me gain skills to be able to calm my internal chaos and sit with the cognitive dissonance.

no, it didn't fix everything.
but it was a start.


the biggest reason i didn't take my life: God.

even though i was angry with Him. even though i was confused and frustrated, feeling betrayed, i knew my Heavenly Father loved me. even if just a little bit, i knew i was mostly a good person.

that was the string i clung to when everything else in my world had crumbled to minuscule pieces: my Heavenly Father is there.



my helpful resources

my first glimmer of hope of a possible future came from this article:
http://jeffbenedict.com/index.php/blog/378-maybe-ill-meet-a-girl
regardless of your opinions about the piece, it saved my life. it showed me that there were people who were figuring out how to fuse these pieces of themselves together and have a happy life.

i can't even express in words what this open letter meant to me:
http://merrickfive.blogspot.com/2015/07/letter-to-my-children-about-gay-marriage.html?m=1

these two articles by gay Mormons helped me feel like i wasn't so alone, that others were on this path with me:
*http://barenakednate.blogspot.com/2015/09/the-right-way-to-be-gay-and-mormon.html?m=1
*http://benschilaty.blogspot.com/2015/06/a-walk-in-my-shoes.html?m=1

most recently, this article (by one of my favorite childhood singers, no less) was an answer to prayer:
http://www.drjuliehanks.com/2015/09/30/heterosexuality-isnt-a-choice-neither-is-homosexuality/

this book, sent to me out-of-the-blue from my second mother, is the most beautiful description of the journey i've been on. it put everything into perspective:
http://www.clpearson.com/herosjourney.pdf



where i'm at now

slowly, oh so painfully slowly, my relationship with God has grown back to where it had been. i feel like it's even better.

when i finally remembered He loves every part of me -- all the parts, even the ugly ones -- and He created me this way, peace started to blur out the chaos.

i've been going back to church ... it's been a hard journey.
i believe the gospel is true and i know my Heavenly Father loves all His children. i still don't know what His plan is for me, and i sometimes feel frustrated with the lack of resources and answers for gay Mormon women, but i am continually working on trust. when all else fails, when nothing else makes sense, i know trusting in my Heavenly Father will eventually - in His time - lead me to answers.

at this point, whether i marry a guy or a girl, i am determined to make my religion a part of my life. somehow.

in honor of national coming out day 2015, i decided to share my story.

fear and faith cannot coexist, and i choose faith.
fear only makes life dark.
i am a child of God. i choose light. i am light.