Friday: Part 1, In Quiet Desperation

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Only time, life, experience, and finally hindsight, has given me new eyes to see life the way it panned out, how life changed, gave me its lumps, and now restored me back into the faith life that I was meant to live.

I’m amid a read of “In Quiet Desperation” Understanding the challenge of Same Sex Attraction. By Fred and Marilyn Matis and Ty Mansfield.

Having figured my self out, and finding myself of the backside of Gay, I have reoriented my life. Approaching Fifty next year, I prayed for a new experience. And I got it in spades.

I’ve reassessed my life as it played out. And I’ve figured out that What I became as a young boy, was directly related to the reading material I was consuming. I favored one flavor over another, for some strange reason.

Being fed two sides of the same coin was problematic. Having parents do one thing then say another, was confounding. Knowing I was headed in a certain direction, and having parents who derided me, and verbally and physically abused me, did not help in that process.

And I lament the fact that I did not have reinforcement in either direction, gay or straight. My parents might have loved us by the way they lavished “Things” on my brother and myself. Showing Love was not the same as Giving Love.

In my experience of parents who love their kids, and give them stable homes, with religious education and support, is something that was never afforded to me. I mean, there was church, and good people in my life, but that’s as far as that went, because when i went home, all the good was replaced with all that was terrible.

I reflect this question across many ideas … “Had someone stepped in, and said something, anything, to either dissuade me or give me another option to live my life, would I have listened, and what would that have looked like in reality ?

I know, that had my life changed even one degree from the track it took, I probably would not have gotten here, in the now, where I am in this moment.

I went into my twenties knowing I was gay. Was it a choice ? It all stems back to reading material and what fancied me, and I only carried it forwards because it was thrilling I guess. And the lifestyle I chose to take on, was based on a suggestion, from someone I thought I could trust.

My addictions only followed me and made the transition worse.

Still I did not know any better. And that is my fault. Once you are immersed in a culture and a people, and you become insulated into that community, and one does not venture very far from it.

But I see today, the wisdom of the Latter Day Saints. I understand their position on the Teaching on Marriage and Families. I understand how difficult it IS for young people, and adults alike who struggle with same sex attraction.

Because I am on the other side today, I see wisdom in ways I had not in the past.

To read Stuart’s story in this book, a young man of the LDS faith, struggle with SSA for so many years, go on a Mission, Teach and was loved, and the length he went to to get help, to pray, talk to his family and his Bishop, but in the end, being unable to reconcile his feeling with his faith, he planned his exit.

Stuart’s parents loved him, they supported him, they knew about his struggles and tried valiantly to help him, to no avail. All the words in the world, the scriptures in the book, the talks with friends, family, bishops and others, did not assuage Stuart’s feelings of his negative self worth and his unworthiness as a Child of God.

He told his parents that he was suicidal. He told his parents that the end was coming, everybody knew, but nobody had any power to change his mind, however hard they tried. They did not commit him because that was counter intuitive.

People of the LDS faith, and the Book of Mormon, rely on prayer and the authority of their church. I wonder, if I had that kind of faith life and family life, to the extent that many young people in the LDS church do, would something like that have changed my track, way back when ?

For Stuart Matis, there was no option. He had the gun, an on a Friday afternoon, Stuart went to their LDS stake center, and took his own life, by his own hand.

Mix this terrible tragedy, with the commotion caused by the push to legalize Gay Marriage in California, and the pros and cons in this discussion, and the firestorm the media creates in all things, this tragic event was defiled by hatred, only fueled by the media that twisted this young man’s death into a front page story about “hating the Gay.”

Being gay, we know is not a choice. Somewhere in our DNA there is something that triggers this state. I knew, before I hit the age of ten, who I was.

And that “Who” I was, was directly related to what I was consuming.

What did I know from gay in the 1970’s ? Nothing. The first gay man I met wasn’t until the late 70’s into the early 80’s. I knew squat about being gay, beyond what I was reading.

So I wonder, would a change in that equation, have changed the outcome ?

My heart weeps for Stuart. I was just dumbfounded as I was reading last night. I cannot imagine what his family went through, well I can, because the book tells the story, but just as well, reconciling faith and homosexuality has its problems.

Matthew Vines has spent the past five years teaching the evangelical faithful that there can be reconciliation between faith and homosexuality. I’ve read his work. And the work is sound.

People of faith, in all faiths, deal with the issue of Faith, Homosexuality and Same Sex Attraction, each in their own ways. And across the board, if reconciliation is not found, it is either “Living the lifestyle” or “Suicide.”

The LDS church offers the Option.

And I can testify that many young people in the LDS church, who deal with SSA and their faith, have, each themselves, contemplated suicide as an option.

Suicide is Not and Option.

I dissect my gay life into these areas … Gay, Attraction, Sex, Money, Addiction and Relationship.

I had dated women in my teens. I am still friends with one of those women, to this day. But I never went as far as sexuality or the spectre of marriage with any of them, because what did I know about marriage, beyond what I had seen in my life.

Alcohol and Drugs were the glue and the mortar that solidified being gay. If you take away the substances, then you have sex and relationships left. If you remove sex from the equation further, then you have just relationship.

The above list involves non-negotiables in any relationship. Remove any of them, and the relationship will fail.

Which is why, at this stage of my ball game, I am on the backside of gay, due to my special circumstances. And I am a unique case in my approach to the Latter Day Saints. And my case will be reviewed by the proper church authority before I progress further.

And I wonder … What was it that made gay good ? Boys, Alcohol, Drugs, Sex ???

That’s what made the world go round. Would I have changed anything, YES, I would have gone without certain people, activities and certain relationships back then.

It was an experience.

It got worse as I approached my diagnosis. I had never met such dishonest people in my life, until I met Todd on that fateful night.

Yes, I was still gay. But I was a sick gay. Which removed me from general population. I was serving the least of these, but I wasn’t “one of them.” Heavenly Father removed me from general population in order to save me from them and from myself.

Heavenly Father removed the

  • substance
  • the relationships
  • the attraction
  • the sex
  • and the lifestyle from me.

And over time, I changed as circumstances changed. And now in hindsight, I see the trajectory as it played out.

Today, all I have is the relationship. Everything else has been removed.

The book talks about being refined in the fire …

I was refined in the fire. Absolutely.

And now I am here.

Faith is such a personal practice for every human being. The Church of Latter Day Saints is the true church. And is built on the authority given to its leaders from the prophet Joseph Smith.

You need to read this book, to understand what I am trying to share.

I think, simply, life is about choices and options, and what lifestyle you choose to live.

We gravitate towards what is familiar. In life, In Sex, In Addiction, In Relationships, and In Faith. We are born into families, that is fact, and they don’t change.

A family, in the church, loves hard and seriously. Faith, Prayer and Scripture are absolutely important as the glue that holds families together.

Many young people in the LDS church suffer from Same Sex Attraction.

In a life of faith, in the church, it all comes down to choices.

Again, being gay is not a choice. And for many, these two ideas, faith and gay do not mix and can not be reconciled, so people suffer, until they make a decision on what they want to do.

Sadly, in high percentages, Suicide is that option. Some cannot bear the commitment to either marriage or chastity. So many choose the only route they believe is viable.

Suicide.

Suicide is Never an option.

The Church teaches that Marriage and Family are at the center of religious practice. To find a wife and then bear children. If that not be the case, and marriage does not happen, for those with SSA the commandment is to offer ones life over to God completely, and we make a covenant with Heavenly Father to live lives of chastity and obedience to the commandment set down by God.

In every life, there are challenges to be experienced, goals to reach, and divinity to seek. We might not know why we are suffering so, but Heavenly Father does. And only life. experience, struggle, pain and adversity, with the benefit of hindsight, do we figure out what God meant for us in this world.

I have seen my fair share of adversity, and I have also seen my fair share of goodness from Heavenly Father as well.

If sacrifice is what is needed, I am ready and willing to make whatever sacrifice needs to be made, save only one. and everybody knows that my husband is Non-Negotiable. That card was on the table from the very beginning. So that makes my case particular, to be dealt with on this basis alone with the proper church authority. I have not lied, or cheated. I have made my covenants that needed to be made and I honor those covenants.

I am still alive, so that first covenant I made over twenty two years ago, is still in play.

Once again, it is all about choices. And the options are all on the table.

Many are called, but few follow.

Having been through the fire myself, I don’t think there is anything that I cannot do for the love of Heavenly Father.

You are never alone. We are here. Suffering is part of life, it just depends, really, on how much time you want to spend suffering in the end. Let me tell you, the sooner you get over it, the better you will be and the easier a life of faith can be.

God can take care of all the things that others cannot.

But only if I let Him.

There are always options, one way or another. There is help. We are here for you.

Heavenly Father loves his children.

Sunday Sundries … The European Drinker

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Another Sunday, some more stories. Today I took it kind of slow, after yesterday`s running all over town, and didn’t get home until after ten at night.

I had shopping to do on the way, So I departed early. I was the only one at the church, but I did not look at my watch (read:phone) on the way. I cranked out set up and was finished by the stroke of five.

Today’s read, was particular in many ways. Coming from Section Three in Experience, Strength and Hope. I noticed that this story, spoke very heavily about God, and quoted scripture, and our man, in the end, began to cultivate his own relationship with his higher power, whom he called God.

The mention of God so up front, and so insistently sets this story apart from the others we have read. As the relationship with God (as we understand Him) is so important in our spiritual and sober maintanance.

Reading this story I identified with several parts of the story:

  • The Bottle Hiding
  • Drinking in Germany
  • Spending time in religious community
  • Finding creative solutions to drink better
  • The realization that God does exist

When I was a young boy, as I have said in the past, the men in our family were all alcoholic. But my father’s father was the ultimate drinker. He was the ultimate in bottle hiding. Imagine, a bottle in the kitchen under the sink, bottles under the sinks in both bathrooms, Everywhere he could possibly sit down, anywhere, inside or outside the house, a bottle was within an arms reach from that seat.

Next door, in a small strip mall, was the local liquor store AND a tavern called LaRosa’s (that tavern still exists in that same spot to this very day), I have Google Earth’ed the old address, the house has been gone for over a decade, and a shack sits in its place.

The tavern appropriated much of the front yard of the old homestead, to build a much bigger parking lot. They must be packing them in at night.

Our man, from tonight’s story is from Germany, originally. Alsace to be exact.

I have a particular drinking story when I was in my late teens, I took a trip to Europe with my then boss. Little did he know, he’d be a captive tourguide. One stop was Munich, during Octoberfest.

One day we took a tour of Ladies Island. An attraction which boasted a replica copy, castle, called Versailles, as in the Palace of Versailles in Paris. It was handsome and all decked out.

It wasn’t the tour that I remember, but what took place after.

We had coupled up with some travelers on the tour. A young guy and his mother. I would later find out that, my boss had slept with that particular young man, after that trip, much to my consternation. (I was not yet out of the closet).

Anyways, we walked into a tavern. I being a young, white, American, the Germans were going to have a bit of fun, at my expense. I was only willing because it involved alcohol. I found out later, that the Germans were betting to see just how much dark beer I could drink. I had, in the end, upended many steins of beer.

Let’s just say that I was plastered.

We had to get on a bus to take us back to the city. I took a seat on the back wall. And some of you might know how warm it is in the back of the bus, against the back wall, engine and all.

I don’t know what happened next. And I have no memory of it either. What I do remember is waking up in my hotel room, in bed, so sick, I thought I was going to die.

I was told that the bus had to be taken out of service, because apparently, I was sick all over the bus.

Not my proudest moment …

Time spent in a religious community

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The Chapel and grounds of St. John Vianney College Seminary, Miami.

Prior to my Really Good Job, I spoke about in an earlier post, the job that afforded me the above mentioned trip to Europe, I had spent the year prior in a Catholic Seminary in Miami.

I was not drinking, because I was only 19 years old, so going out to a bar was non existent. Many of my classmates, I would later learn, were GAY, and they used to hit the local Gay Bar “Uncle Charlie’s,” in Miami, after I had come out of the closet, later on.

I could not reconcile Gay / Seminarians, and a calling to serve God in the same breath. I was naive and somewhat very idealistic, in my own thought about serving God. I had not an inclination that I was gay at that period of my life yet.

But Church and Homosexuality WAS a thing when I attended seminary. IN fact, it was thrown in my face every day that I was there.

Drinking … The seminary had several buildings. The library/office, the rectory with chapel, the students residence/classrooms. And the Chapel, on the grounds.

A certain rector, who shall remain nameless, I loved and adored him. He was a great man, who had a great problem. He was an alcoholic. Many a nights would pass, and we would be up in the residences, after hours, and He would come up to our rooms, totally plastered. And a number of times, I found myself, along with a few others, who would take him back to the rectory and put him to bed.

That kept happening. That at some point, the diocese decided to remove him from the Seminary and they put him someplace to get “better.” That did not go over very well with me. I could not see why they had to send him away. I lobbied very vocally, my disapproval of the way the diocese handled the issue.

The man they sent to us in return, was a pompous, arrogant, thought he was Pope, was holier than thou, asshole. I could not stand him. It was he, in the end, I think, who had veto or acceptance powers of who stayed and who went.

At the end of the year, it was I who was asked to go.

Many years later, sitting here, in the very spot I am sitting right now, read that a handful of priests and seminarians from my old seminary days were in jail for various reasons. One of those men, was the man I cared a great deal for.

**** **** ****

We read these stories and we get to see how our folks thought about what they drank, how they drank, and how they invariably, went to great measures to try and figure out, how to drink MORE, without the associated after affects.

As a young gay boy, I went to the bar when I was old enough to do so. It was the place I enjoyed much of my twenties. Alcohol was present at ALL the jobs I had. It was part and parcel of working in the travel industry.

Alcohol was served at work, often. Then after work I would hit happy hour and drink until happy hour ended.

I would drive home …

Change my clothes, and drive back to the bar for the nightly drink specials, and dance parties.

And drive home again…

There came a time when I could not drink every day. It was just impossible. By the time I quit drinking the first time, (in Fort Lauderdale) you could very easily drink 23 hours a day … for real !!! I did that on occasion.

I would then resort to the binge drink, do the drag show and dance till 5 a.m. run, every night after work. I was working for Todd by now.

He got me sober. And saved my life.

It was on my slip, that last few months that the binge became ritual. That one night of week blow out, that ended in total destruction.

Even that did not last for very long, until I hit my bottom.

The rest they say is history.

There is a God, And I am NOT God.

I love God.

I love my friends.

I would only change portions of my story if I could go back and relive them. I would want to know how certain sections of my story would have turned out had I stayed in certain places, schools, jobs, careers. Or what woud have happened had I followed Todd to California, when he did leave.

That is probably one of my few regrets.

I should have gone, But I believed with all my heart that my fate was to reclaim family after my father’s hopeful crash, burn and death.

SADLY, my father is still alive … BOOOO …

He wants nothing to do with me to this day. His loss…

Thank God I never have to drink again.