10 Things 2 B Thankful 4

I’m going to resist the urge to write anything other than my TEN things to be thankful this morning.  Here goes…

1.  Life.  As I stepped outside this morning and inhaled the uncharacteristically crisp, fall-like air, it reminded me of the beauty and wonder of life.

2. Kids. My kids are so amazing.  Watching them grow and develop continues to be such a joy.

3. Old Friends.  The coming out process has shown me who my true friends were.  Friends are friends through thick and thin.

4. New Friends.  One of the most amazing things the move to Atlanta has done is show me my old personality didn’t die — it just went dorment for a while.  I have really enjoyed meeting and developing friendships with some GREAT people.

5. Challenges.  Challenges force growth.  While this growth isn’t always pleasant, it is always a necessity to keep moving forward.

6. Renewed Focus.  I remember in late 2010 teaching a middle school class a church and having a hard time remembering what I had spent hours preparing.  My mind is clear and focused again.

7. Pain.  Yes, I am thankful for the pain that brought me to the place of accepting that I am a gay man.

8. Purpose.  While it isn’t “laser-like” in focus yet, I know part of my purpose is to help other guys like me avoid having to live in years of repression and fear.

9. Jesus.  I probably should have had this one first, but I’ll leave it where it came up.  I know that if what I beleived all my life is true — if the messages I preached to others about Christ is true — then he has not and will not let me go.  His love is greater and stronger than I can imagine.  I am beginning to internalize that Christian Fundamentalists don’t own him, and that feels GOOD.

10. Intellect.  It is so nice to be able to question again.  I lived for some many years in fear of asking the tough questions because of the answers that those tough questions might produce.

Next Steps Are Hard

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Next steps are never easy. I’ve have quite a few over the past year to say the least. I’m just grateful to feel emotionally whole and comfortable with myself. Even in the midst of the roller coaster of coming out, I haven’t faced depression or anxiety like I did before.

I’ve been attending the same church as my parents since moving back to the area. I did this because it allowed some sense of stability for my kids. It was similar in style and ministry to the church we were members at and my mom agreed to take them if I was unable.

However, some things have happened in the last month that have shown me how incompatible I am there. I refuse to subject myself or my kids to the same kind of passive-aggressive church environment I grew up in. THAT is the primary reason I attempted to hide my closet from even myself.

Buckhead was a message from God to me. I won’t give up my faith… and there are places where I can feel comfortable growing in both my relationship with God, and my own skin. Pray for me as I take these steps over the next few weeks.

Understanding My Journey – Part 2

I grew up in a small town outside of a medium sized city in North Carolina. It was an average place I guess and I lived what I’d call a typical southern childhood. As an only child, I received a ton of attention and remember loving to receive the praise of my parents.

Gay was not a word I remember being used much when I was little – in a good or bad way. It just wasn’t used. I was well taken care of, never abused and well liked by everyone. I often became the teachers pet because of my intense desire to please. [update: after looking back I do remember being taunted some in 5th, 6th, 7th grade.   There was a group of guys that called me gay and fag.  I had completely blocked this out and overcompensated in some ways I think.]

There are a few things that might have been clues as a kid. I remember absolutely being in love with all things Linda Carter and Wonder Woman. I said for many years that it was because of her tight outfit and slow-motion running. But it wasn’t. My obsession spilt over into the way I ran on a soccer field- with fingers spread wide open. I think I thought it might give me special speed or something. I also remember (and I’m getting VERY vulnerable here) finding s towel and putting it on my head and pretending to BE Wonder Woman. I even did this with one of my good friends. He would be Ultra Man and I would be Wonder Woman.

I’ll tell you I am a fairly masculine gay, and I’m attracted to more masculine than not. I have not had the desire to dress up in drag yet, but who knows. I’m just learning. I do remember my parents getting on me about the way I ran on the soccer field. I was a great soccer player, so I took this to heart. I recall that being one of the first times I felt ashamed.

As I wrote that, I did have one other memory come to mind. I had a cousin growing up that I was very close to. I was at his house one night and I started coming down the stairs singing “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman” in the style of Chaka Kahn. As I recall, it was on a Maybelline commercial. Roger gave me all kinds of grief about it, but my memory is that it was all in fun and didn’t stop me. Maybe I was destined to be a queen after all. Who knows? I really don’t care to do that now, but it is interesting the memories that come back.

One other that I’ll put in this post is what I’ll call “the shower”. I was EXTREMELY modiste growing up. I was an athlete and remember hating playing shirts and skins. My parents noticed this early on and I think wanted to remedy it so it wasn’t a problem later. So, my folks decided it was time for me to take a shower with my dad. There was NOTHING sexual about it. However, it was a mortifying experience. If I recall I was about waist high and spent the entire time making sure I was directly behind my dad. It didn’t help that he was uncut and I was cut. I didn’t figure all that out until I was out of High School.

I had really weird emotions when it came to girls. I know I wanted to fit in, so I figured I had to like them. Very early on, my best friends were girls and I was extremely awkward around guys. I didn’t have a girlfriend until high school, but did have my first kiss in seventh grade.

Don’t Let your kids go to all night skates – there is so much that happens at those things! I met a girl names Tara who really liked me. I can remember talking to Amy and finding out she wanted me to “couples skate” with her. I was excited about this, so I jumped at the chance and asked her. I remember being so proud skating around the rink holding hands. It was like I was proving my worth as a hormonal pre-pubescent boy.

The night progressed and we ended up in a corner. Beware the corners!!! Before I knew what was happening, Tara had me on my back, shoulders pinned and giving me sloppy wet kisses. These sloppy wet kisses would soon include some seriously deep tongue. Tonsil hockey was a term that aptly describes her technique. Needless to say, I was horrified. I broke up with her that night and never kissed using my tongue like that with a girl again. There will be more to this, but that continued on in marriage to the chagrin of my wife who loved “French kissing”.

Ok, I’m tired of writing for a while. I’ll hit a few other memories and move into High School in part three.

Is It My Fault?

I’ve been thinking a lot about blame and guilt lately. I lived with such guilt and incredible shame for so long. It’s weird, but I don’t feel guilty right now. More than anything, there is a sense of relief. Also mixed in is a bit of anxiety and anticipation.

There is some thinking that no one is at fault in this kind of situation. Yes and no. Yes in the fact that I sure didn’t ask to be gay. I most definately didn’t get in the “attracted to men” line at some point out because I wanted to. However, the pain that my wife and my family will experience are going to be my fault. All of this was completely accidental on my part, but that still doesn’t mean the pain isn’t inflicted by me.

You can have a car wreck that is completely an accident, but the police officer still has to assign one of the parties “fault”. They may not have set out of crash into the other car and cause all the damage, but it was their car that did it. I think that is similar here. While culture, societal pressures, familial expectations, and church experiences might have played a part in why I tried to shut down a big part of who I am — I am the one that is bringing this news to my family.

Don’t get me wrong, what I am doing is the RIGHT thing to do. In my case, I had no choice – I couldn’t go on living the way I was. But with the “right” thing comes a whole lot of pain and a ton of future consequences.

Watching Your Death

As I prepared to go through the coming out process, and now that I’m stepping through it, I can really understand the analogy I read over and over…

“It is like watching you die and mourning your death while you are still there,” my therapist reiterated.

Well, I’ve been in this process for my entire life, in a big way since the events of High School. For me, it has been like slowly drowning in that liquid that humans can breathe. You fight and fight and fight until you have no choice but to gasp for air. You think death is certain, but instead you feel life giving oxygen returning to your system. Things begin to feel normal again.

For the spouse it is very different. Even if they had some idea beforehand, it doesn’t really take away from the impact of hearing and speaking the words gay with your name. It is like a death they had no real chance to prepare for or observe as such, and it is incredibly painful. To make things worse, she sees you replaced by a twin that looks like you, but is distinctively different. My wife has expressed it is like a cruel joke or nightmare.

So the spouse is hurled into not only mourning a death, but also realizing she has to make decisions as to whether or not she can tolerate your replacement. My wife is at moments clinging to me and at others repulsed by what I am.

Because I love my family so much, this is going to be a long process no matter the short term outcome or living arrangements. As long as she doesn’t demand I stay away, I will do everything I can to help her during this time.

My Life As I Know It Is Over

I am a husband.  I am a father.  I am also gay.  About a month ago I was faced with two choices, or two paths.  I could continue on the path I had been on since High School.  This was a path where I walled off everything I perceived to be gay and ran to everything I perceived to be normal.  There are  reasons I walked this first path for so long, and they explain why I lived in denial’s prison for so long.  This path has been one that has led to depression, anger, bitterness, lack of confidence, and a host of other symptoms that make me a shell of who I used to be!  The second choice was to tell the truth — first to myself, and then to my wife.  This path had no clear or definite outcome and was surrounded with uncertainty.

In all honesty, staying on the first path was no longer an option for me.  My depression, anger, and bitterness were destroying me and those around me that I loved.  My wife was in a deep funk herself and had been for a number of years.  My kids were growing away from me — mainly because I was pushing them that way.  I was at a place where I was paralyzed with fear and burdened with a deep depression.

I had to choose the later.  I had to tell the truth.  And I had to do this without knowing what the results would be.This blog is going to be about the journey I am now on — both how I got here and where I end up going.  My hope is that it will serve as a resource for those that might be in the same struggle.