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Monday, December 15, 2014

Stigma Shmigma

I have been thinking a lot lately about the stigmas there are that go along with being a member of the LDS faith.  For us males, we get the priesthood at 12 years old. Once we are 12 there is a sort of responsibility that is placed on us. Typically we are to be in scouts, eventually get our Eagle. When we turn 14 we move up in the priesthood from Deacon to Teacher.  When we turn 16 we become a priest. By now we are typically supposed to be preparing for a mission. I love that the church encourages the guys to go on missions. Missions are amazing and life changing for those who are able to go on them that is. I think up until recently I was feeling down and depressed about going on a mission because I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle that pressure. Especially dealing with the same gender attraction.  Too many times there are guys who come home early due to depression, or anxiety, or even slipping up with their same sex attraction. I was so paranoid about one of these happening to me that I wasn’t able to open up about it until a recent conversation that I had with my wonderful Mother. She helped me see what I stated earlier, that missions are great! But she could see the strain it was putting on me. I knew the mission is what I was “supposed” to do, but once I finally thought for myself and being put in that situation I realized it may not actually be for me. I have always been more worried about it then excited. Ever since I could remember I have had this thought running through the back of my mind. I know there are going to be people who say I should still try to go, and that’s fine. You can make that decision for yourself when it comes.  This is my decision and I have been in the process of making it my whole life and I have finally come to the conclusion. If after I go to school I’m able and ready to do a service mission then that could possibly happen, for now however I am going to push through and get my life going.

A recent conversation I had with my mom was about choices. She told me that I should look ten years in the future and try to see if I would be happy with the choices I am making now. Granted there are choices and decisions that I have made that I will always be uncomfortable with, or wish I never did. But when I look ten years down the road with this decision, I am happy. I see myself being done with school and moving up in the culinary industry. I hope to also do photography or massage therapy on the side.  I see myself as an active member in the LDS church and giving service to those in need. I know the field of work I have chosen will be a daily struggle with the attractions I have, but with open communication and guidance with professional help and my bishop, I know I will be ok.  My mom told me that if this is what I want, and I am ok to not serve a mission then that is fine, and that me being myself, striving to being a good example to others, and serving others is a service mission all on its own. I love my parents for how they have raised us. If they had raised me saying, “when you go on a mission” or “you’re going on a mission” that would have added to my anxiety and depression so much. This has always been up to me. That’s how it should be because it is my life. Like I said before, I think it is great that the church encourages men to go on missions, but a lot of people in the church don’t take into account people’s personal struggles that may effect the mission.

Another stigma I have found is something that women struggle with in the church. Sure being a homemaker is a great thing to strive for, but there are other things that can be taught along with those skills. I have heard how for most of the activities in the young women they learn how to be in the kitchen, or to be a homemaker. Wouldn’t it also be nice to learn how to change a tire, go camping, learn shoot a gun (if you don’t have a unrealistic fear of them, and even if you do then you can work on getting over it.) I’m not a feminist or anything, but I do think that there are some stereotypes that we can and should break.  Some men have told their daughters that they should focus on getting married and having kids instead of going on missions… but isn’t that the daughters choice? It’s never a bad goal to go on a mission and for a father to discourage his daughter from that kind of makes me sad. Marriage and a family can wait the 18 months if that is what she wants. Society has created this image of women needing to be in the kitchen or stay in the house. Some women however, do need to work and some men do stay at home. Sure they aren’t the typical scenarios but who cares? Why stick to the status quo?  If it works, it works. 

I know that this gospel is true, and while it may be hard to live sometimes. I know it is worth it in the long run. People see the beliefs and teachings as restrictive but they don't understand the eternal freedom we receive by living the teachings of the church. I hope we as a church are able to get to the point were we can just be there for each other and be supportive instead of sticking to the cookie cutter routine and expectations. I have definitely seen an improvement lately but we could still keep working on it. Anyways, I think that's the end of my rant :) Thank you again for all of the continued love and support you all have shown. 

Until next time,


Saturday, October 18, 2014

The "Gay" Box in a Room Full of Other Boxes

Why do we as humans categorize each other into different groups? It has always fascinated me that some people have to refer to others by their race, religion, sexual orientation, political views, etc. Why is that? In high school I got put into the "gay" box, just like some people get put into the "black" box,  "democrat" box, "wheelchair" box, and many others? Why is it so offensive sometimes? I feel, the reason it is offensive or belittling is because it shouldn't matter. Who cares if someone is Black, Mexican, or Asian? Who cares if someone is gay, straight, asexual, bi-sexual, transgender, or any other? That is so ludicrous. Saying any of these things or categorizing anyone by these groups sounds just as ridiculous as saying someone is "human". I was hurt and offended in high school because I wasn't completely gay. If anything, I considered myself more bisexual and I hadn't even talked to people about my attractions. People were simply just putting me into a group because they didn't know how to handle my differences. Some guys were jealous of all the girlfriends I had around me and wondered why the heck my relationships with the girls was so much better than theirs. Others simply just saw a guy with a bunch of girls and automatically decided that was grounds for spreading obnoxious rumors about me liking another guy along with other rumors.

What is it that makes us do this? I am still trying to figure it out.

Since high school, I have been able to better find myself and decide that I am happy with the decision I have made. I want a wife, and I want kids. I am so grateful for the attraction that I do have for girls.

In the past, I have tried to be in relationships with girls and I wanted a girlfriend so bad! (I still do) I want what you see in the Romance movies. I have always longed to be able to hold a girl in my arms and tell her how beautiful she is. I want to look someone in the eyes and see into their soul. I want that deep romance with her where you can be a best friend and love them romantically at the same time. I always get a warm feeling in my gut while watching those movies because that is what I want. When I started having feelings for different girls throughout my life however, I would always shut down. I would not try to pursue anything because I didn't want to have to bring up the topic of my attractions for guys, or other issues I have struggled with throughout my life. The thought of the future freaked me out. At the time I just assumed that I was going to keep my attractions to other guys all  to myself and then somehow find a way to tell my future girlfriend that I am also attracted to guys. How the heck was I supposed to be content with life while I had that constant stressful thought in the back of my mind? I did not want to start a relationship and cover up my attraction for guys to just through a bombshell at her later when the time was "right". Nobody deserves that. What kind of relationship would that be?

The decision to open up to you all about my same sex attractions (SSA) was not made over night. When I look back on life and the things that lead up to this, I know that the Lord was just preparing me for a work that needed to be done. A message that needed to be shared. That is the message of hope. In the LDS faith there is sadly a lot of harsh words expressed by fellow church goers. A lot of people let this effect them because they feel as though it is the viewpoint of the church. That couldn't be further from the truth. The LDS church teachings and church culture are two very different things. For some reason there are people in the church who see their closed minded views and prejudices as gospel. The LDS church may not practice or approve of the gay life style, or the consumption of various substances. We also do not participate in gambling or premarital sex. We can however, be friends with people who we chose to be friends with. If our friends encourage us to be the best we can be then we are encouraged to seek those friendships. If I have a friend who gambles or partakes of different substances, can they encourage me to be the best me? Yes. They can. You can set your limits with anyone you are friends with. We are taught to not judge, and to love as Christ loves. If the friendship is strong enough, then the friend will care enough about it to not break that trust. Some people have forgotten about this teaching and they think that if you have a friend who is making bad life decisions then you should not hang around them. How twisted does that sound? Most of the time that is when your friend needs someone the most. Obviously, if they are trying to pressure you into something you don't believe in then that is a different story entirely. True friends will not try and pressure each other though.

I feel like this is blog entry is beginning to turn into a rant, so I will end it before it gets too jumbled up. The sum of this post however is,
1. I am not gay. I am attracted to both men and women and I chose to live an LDS lifestyle. (yes. it is possible)
2.Stop lumping people into boxes! We are all simply just human.
3. The decision to open up to everybody was tough but very necessary.
4. Mormon teachings, and Mormon culture are two very very different things.
5. True friends are amazing no matter what they do in their personal lives.

I hope we are all able to eventually be able to look past our personal prejudices and just see each other as the brothers and sisters that we are. I have gained such an amazing love for everyone since coming out with this blog. You are all truly amazing. No matter the gender of your significant other, the religion you practice, the God you believe in, or the color that you are, you are all human to me! <3

Until next time,

-Anxious Soul

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Parents are everything, and forgivness of those who have wronged you is possible.

Dear Everybody,

I realize that in my last post, I did not give the necessary credit to my parents. This process has been very emotional, and a big learning experience for my whole family and I. My parents I have learned are my biggest cheerleaders. I should have known that before, but due to my own stubborn way of thinking and over analyzing I thought they wouldn't like the idea of me being so open about these struggles. I couldn't have been further from the truth. I had an amazing conversation with each of them separately yesterday and was able to explain why I had those uncertain thoughts before. I seriously could not have asked for better parents. Sure this is a lot for them to wrap their minds around. They have their own emotions they have to go through and figure out as do I with my emotions. They as parents naturally think of ways they could have prevented various things from happening and ways they could have protected me from people at school, my negative thoughts, and even ways the same gender thoughts could have been prevented. 

I have been able to explain to my parents though that no matter what they would have done differently, I would have still had these thoughts about other guys. I would have still been bullied and picked on. I also feel as though I may have still had the negative and suicidal thoughts. I was truly blessed with this struggle and with these experiences. I know that sounds so ridiculous! Why on earth would someone be thankful for something so crappy? The answer. Although still ridiculous, is simple. These experiences and struggles have help form me into the person I am today. I can relate to a lot of people and help them know they are not alone! I have also learned the true meaning of forgiveness and moving on passed the awkward stages of Jr. High and High school. 

About two years ago, I messaged all the guys who I had felt wronged me in Jr. High and High school. I know it might have been weird for them to receive my messages. I didn't do it for them though. I needed to feel piece and I needed to move passed all the hurt feelings I had. I let them know that what was said was not true and that it is so insane the amount of rumors that get passed from person to person in Jr. High and High school. I told them that while they may never change, I still forgive them for what they did to me. 

I truly have felt peace from that experience. I rarely think about that dark time I went through in Jr. High and all the rumors that continued to spread in High school. It was not easy though to get over that. Don't get me wrong.  I had pure hatred towards those guys for the longest time. I mean, after all it did take me a good 5 or 6 years to get over what they said. I know there are people who have been through worse stuff though from bullies, and I don't want to down play that. One of the reasons it took me so long to talk about this openly is because I know there are people who have it much worse then I do, and I don't want to sound like I think I have it any worse than them. I just know now that if I can get over the hatred that I had and all of those negative thoughts, then it is possible for everyone to forgive to a point those who have wronged them. It will take longer for some people depending on the circumstances but for the sake of your eternal happiness I suggest we all start today. Start thinking of all the grudges you have held onto for days, months, and even years. Ask yourself why you have held onto the hatred and search within yourself. Maybe the reason you were offended or hurt is because there is some truth behind what people have said (like in my case). I may not have had a crush on that guy but I was struggling with being attracted to other guys! I hadn't talked to anyone about my attractions so why was everyone talking about something I hadn't even opened up about? Another reason may be, you were picked on for your looks, or the way you talk. Maybe people made fun of you because you got pregnant in High school, or you made a mistake and participated a little too much in a party once in high school and word got out. Anyone who makes fun of people because of mistakes that have been made or because of a certain way they were born are just overcompensating for their own insecurities. They are bullies. They are unhappy with something in their life and they look for outlets to give a fake appearance. They want to come off as all high and mighty. Really though, deep down they are just a shriveled up cold soul that needs to be shown love. One quote that relates to this very well is "What Susie says of Sally, says more of Susie than of Sally." The next time you see or hear someone saying something you know is far fetched or not true, just know that the person saying it is covering something up. 

My wish for all of us is to be able to at least try to be sensitive and understanding of others circumstances. I don't care what people say. Sticks and stones may break bones but words still do hurt! Even if something is slightly true you should think to your self. "Does this really matter? What will I get out of sharing this information?" Chances are you wont get anything positive out of it. You don't want to be put in a situation where you may feel guilty about a death, or someone's attempt to kill themselves due to something you said or participated in spreading. Now, I am not saying that the people who spread rumors are responsible for suicides of others. That is not true at all. I do imagine though that the people who talk crap, spread rumors or pseudo rumors for the most part do have a great deal of guilt. If death is certainly a possible outcome of hurt feelings then why even risk the harsh words? 

We are all placed on this earth for a reason. No matter what God you believe in, we do come from the same one. I know that there is purpose to life and we are all here to learn how to love and accept each other. We don't have to agree with choices others make. Keep in mind though that you do not need to vote a certain way or think the same way in order to be loving and caring for those around you. We are all brothers and sisters essentially and should learn to see each other as such. We don't have anymore room for bullying, rumors, or bigotry on this earth. Lets all re-evaluate ourselves and our views of others and change whatever we need to. I love you guys! Sorry for the rant but I felt like it was necessary ;)

Until next time,
-Anxious Soul 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Not Fitting the Mormon Mold

I am new to this whole blogging concept but I don't know any other way to get my thoughts across clearly. As many of you may know, I am currently and have been for a while now preparing to serve an LDS mission. whether that's a service mission or a full time mission it doesn't matter. It's a mission no matter what. It has been an interesting journey for sure. When I first began seriously considering serving a mission I had expressed past feelings of anxiety, depression,  and yes some minor self infliction as well as using substances to numb the pain. While these things at the time were somewhat under control I was directed to LDS family services, to go through some assessments to see if I was in the position to be away for a whole two years. After taking a series of tests. I met with the counselor and we discussed it may be best if I wait a little bit and perhaps move out of my parents house so I could work on managing my stress and anxiety levels.
I'm going to back up a little bit and explain more of my earlier issues I mentioned. Why on earth would I ever cause harm to myself or seriously contemplate taking my own life? Why had I gotten to the point were I didn't care if a car hit me while I was driving? Why was I to the point where I was breaking apart my razor to get to the blades? I grew up in an amazing family. I have three amazing sisters, we were raised in this amazing gospel that I know is true and yet I grew up with these unbelievably negative thoughts that began at the age of 12.

I was and am struggling with Same Sex Attraction (SSA). I knew I had different thoughts and tenancies since before I could remember. I was born with this struggle. It never hit home until Jr. High almost every person I met began our conversation with "Are you gay?"  now, it doesn't help that there were a few people spreading different things around campus about me. What twelve year old doesn't believe the school gossip? Why ask the person himself? Lets just spread the rumors and call it good.
The thing that irritated me the most was how little it seemed people cared about me. They weren't interested in me or what my hobbies were. All they wanted to know was if I was gay.
My first mental breakdown as well as suicidal thought was about midway through the 7th grade. I had recently learned I was the talk of the school. "Mormon boy has crush on a guy on the basket ball team". That couldn't have been farther than the truth, but that doesn't stop people from spreading what they want to spread. I walked out of the cafeteria, trying to find a place to sit when I hear my name being yelled in the distance. when I look up I see some of the guys on the basketball team. They were laughing about something. One of the teammates yelled my name again and said "Is it true?! We heard you have a crush on P*r***!" of course people heard and they put it together that he's talking to me. I tried to keep it together the rest of the day.

That was just the beginning of what was going to be a torturous 5 years of my life. I will spare you the depressing details but needless to say I began experimenting with self infliction and various substances to numb the pain my Junior and Senior year of high school. My thought was "people don't care about me so why should I care?" I had hit rock bottom.

Things got better after High school. People began reaching out to me. People who share the same struggle and also wanted to stay in the church. I also had learned that just because I had different thoughts or tendencies, I wasn't sinning if I didn't act on those thoughts. Has it been hard? You have no idea. You probably wont be able to even comprehend how hard this has been unless you have gone through it as well. It isn't the thoughts that have been difficult it has been seeing how ridiculous people are that has been difficult for me. It's sad but I am expecting people in my own church to treat me differently because church culture and church teachings are completely different from each other these days. Whatever the outcome is though I am not worried. I have told all of the people I talk to on a regular basis and I have received nothing but positive feedback. I know there will be those people who will treat me different but they are just blinded by their personal "opinions" and not by actual church teachings. Like I said before. Church culture and church teachings are sadly two completely different things.

This "coming out" process has for the most part been very amazing. Most of the family I have talked to has been very sympathetic and helpful. All of the friends I have shared this with have been amazing as well.
I want to make something clear though. While I may find men attractive, I am not coming out as gay. I do find girls attractive as well. You all may have your own opinions on that. Some of you may also have negative thoughts about my church. My church is not making me do anything, my family isn't forcing me to make my choice either. I just would much rather live my life in the religion that I believe then live a lifestyle that is contrary to the teachings of the LDS church. I also feel like if I was to label myself as "gay" or "Bisexual" then I would be insinuating that I am open to living that lifestyle. Which I am not. Keep in mind though, I have plenty of friends who are openly gay or lesbian and just because I am choosing this way of living does not mean I push them asideI like to look at people the way Jesus does. I have such a wide range of friends because of that. I may not agree with everything some of my friends do, but they know I am still there for them and I am more then willing to lend a listening ear.

Some people my say that people choose to be gay and it is impossible to be born with those attractions. If that were true then wouldn't it be safe to say that you can't be born with a stutter, obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety, depression, or an appetite for food that leads to obesity? I am simply seeing this as something that I need to live with and learn how to channel other ways. My goal is to serve a service mission or even a full time mission (still deciding) then eventually find a lovely daughter of God who knows full well what I am going through. I have been told that I would not be lying or hiding this from my future girlfriend if I wasn't open about it now and just waited to tell her about it when the moment is "right". Well for me the moment is right now. I wouldn't feel comfortable being in a relationship and hiding something so big while at the same time trying to give the relationship my all. That just would never work out, and that would be a form of lying. I would much rather be open about my struggles now and put assumptions of me aside and accept myself for everything that I am, and find a girl who can do the same.

I love this gospel and I know it is true. If I didn't, then I would be a completely different person then who I am today and I wouldn't be writing this blog. I know we are all given weaknesses so we can become stronger. We go through trials for a reason. For whatever reason this is my trial and weakness I have been given. I am over being ashamed of it though! This is not going to go away. I am finally to the point in my life were I am completely comfortable being in my own skin. I am comfortable dressing the way I want to dress. I am also finally comfortable with the things people have been saying about me for so long because I am finally okay to admit that they are actually kind of right! I would not be able to have come this far if it wasn't for the atonement and for this gospel. I am so thankful for all I have been given from Heavenly Father and for all the trials I have been given. They have made me a better person today then I was a few years ago. I love everyone so much who have been so helpful and supportive throughout this whole ordeal. It is so nice not being worried anymore and being able to be so open about things. I am so happy I have made this decision to come out about this because I know I would have just been more miserable in the future. Thank you all so much! I will keep this blog updated on my journey with SSA, and how I strive to be more spiritual every single day.

Until next time,
-Anxious Soul