Wednesday, May 23, 2012

In a recent conversation with my mom, we discussed some problems that I am having with my roommates and what I should do about it. We also talked about possibly reasons why this was happening. Among many of the good ideas that my mom presented, though, she decided to engage in a topic that I no longer want to discuss with her: my "same gender attractions."

To her the problem between my roommates and myself was that perhaps I was being too noticeably obsessed and chatty about my having same gender attractions. There is some humor in this because of the simple fact that all my roommates are gay. For them to be offended by my being gay is a bit ludicrous and odd. But as strange as it was to me that my being gay would be the problem was perfectly reasonable to her.

I would guess that this logic is couched in the beliefs of her religious experience and it saddens me. I ended up sending her an email last night asking her to stop talking to me about my being gay until she could do so reasonably and respectfully.

What concerns me most with this situation is that ten years of trying to help her adjust to this understanding of who I am as her son as resulted in stagnation and entrenchment. Now she seeks to discuss this rather private and personal side of me as though it were a disease that just needs a little understanding shed on it to cure me of it. And while it may be said with meaningful intent, the results do not match up. Rather than achieve more kindness and understanding between us, alienation and hurt feelings are fostered.

Once more I have to wonder at the intentions of my mother. What sort of relationship does she want to create with me? I realize that for her this is a very difficult situation for her to find her place in. Her son is admitting to not wanting to be a part of anything she holds precious and dear to her. Now she must sort through her priorities and figure out what she truly wants in life and what truly matters to her.

But...and I must be harsh here. How long does it take to finally adjust and figure things out? For ten years she has had the chance to ask questions, adjust, and seek some kind of meaningful relationship with me. Now, she makes no effort to communicate with me. When we do talk, it focuses on the fact that I'm gay. So, on the one hand, I understand that it's difficult to accept that I have changed in a way unfamiliar to her. Ok. All right. That's difficult. That's frustrating. That's emotional painful and hurtful. But how long must this stage last?

What I found disappointing and revealing about her attitude towards me is that she was more upset that I might not be going to my cousin's wedding than about the fact that I will have to find a new place to live. It's good to know where her priorities are.

So...for now I feel I must exercise love and forgiveness for now. But I feel that I must establish boundaries with her. I sent her an email explaining that what she had said on the phone was offensive and not all right. I asked that for the time being that she refrain from talking about my being gay with me.

My life is caught up in being busy with work, spending time with friends, spending time with the boyfriend; and in general, just working on improving my life in little ways. When she claimed that I have an obsession with being gay, it struck home to me how little she knows of my life. How little she understands. And how little she wants to know and understand.

So, Mom, you have chosen this path. I have done everything I can to reach out to you. I have done everything I can to help you understand me better and you have rejected every single time I have attempted to do so. It is with a heavy heart that I must shut you out of my life even further. When you are ready to be my mom again, let me know and I will respond.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

It's been quite a while since I last posted. And I must admit that that's because I have been busy and not really sure what to write. Summer is upon me now and I'm grateful. I realize, though, that I do have much to write about. But first, a little commentary on a fun experience that I had earlier this week.

A friend of mine - who happened to have her foot run over by a friend's car that night - was given some alcohol to take the edge of the intense pain she was feeling. While doing so she got in a real chatty mood. Now, who am I to pass up a potentially fun conversation? Much of the conversation, though, is a blur now. But at one point she admitted that she had been called to serve a mission for the LDS Church but had ultimately declined to go.

As is all to familiar to any of my friends, I am an atheist. I'd like to believe I'm pretty set in my ways. I've tried and tested the "spiritual" realm enough. And for that, I've been given the title "Spiritual Atheist." Nothing shocking really, if you know me. Nothing shocking in the slightest. Let's be honest, categories help us understand and perceive the world around us. But humans are pretty complex creatures. To create simple, one-dimensional categories to fit each of us into is bound to have problems. Therefore, the atheist description is accurate for me, yes. But it's also really narrow. Anyway, back to the story.

She spoke wistfully of how our calling was inspired and even expressed how sometimes she wondered what might have been. You can't really blame her. The mission is quite an amazing experience. It's unlike almost any other experience you can willfully decide to have. So why did she decline? She was afraid she'd develop a crush on her companion and all the other fears that go with that. When I heard this, it echoed the same sentiments that so many other men and women I have known have expressed when deciding to serve a mission. It's the same (though for other men and not women) sentiments I once was worried about.

So, I spoke - or rather waxed eloquently in speech. What I write next is not me bragging but expressing what I have finally come to understand over the years. I have a gift for speaking and writing. Words are something I'm good at (most of the time). I can be very persuasive. So she and I talked some more on this.

My take on things is this: if your reason for not doing something is a fear that is either irrational or not important, you shouldn't heed that fear. I may not believe in the truthfulness of the institution of the Mormon Church. I may think it causes a lot of harm to people. And that may be true and it may not be. But none of that matters to this friend. None of it. Her world consists of an idealized, safe place. The Mormon faith is her home and she feels that within that home the safety and inspiration in that calling. But she also feels somewhat trapped by who she is and troubled. Somehow, her own interests have potentially disqualified her. Yet they haven't.

I spoke as a person of the Mormon faith would have. I used scripture, spoke with kindness, and used my voice and tone in such a way as those in the faith do when acting like they are inspired by the Spirit: soft, gentle, and unbecoming. I spoke in a way that would touch her where it mattered. Logic and reason would have failed. But appealing to her spiritual attitudes and perceptions wouldn't fail.

A mission is a place where a person can go and discover themselves. There are many other paths to do so, yes. There are many experiences you won't have while doing the mission thing. There are many mental hoops you must jump through in order to maintain a neat and tidy belief system while on it. And yes, you are engaging in the time-honored deception of telling others about things that are not there.

But a single drop in a sea of such a situation is hardly going to make a difference either way. Her going won't really matter in the scheme of things as well as her not going. But it will matter to her. She has settled to accept a diminished life where she wistfully wonders "what might have been" instead of facing her fears and discovering a part of who she is out there in this world. So, that's why I thought she should go.

My two atheist (well, one atheist and one apathetic towards religion) friends were a shocked and not sure how to react when I did this. You can't blame them. They had never seen this side before. And it was hilarious to watch their faces! The looks of shock and confusion that crossed them were just priceless, truly. But what was most rewarding was just how they were so unsure of what was going on.

I read the scriptures of the Mormon faith, I studied intensely some of the doctrines espoused in them. I read as much as I could and listened to all the lessons in Church. It is my opinion that such learning should not go to waste. Whether for or against the Mormons, that knowledge is mine to use and do with as I see necessary and good.

Funny thing, also. The first friend now thinks that somewhere deep inside me is a testimony of the LDS faith and what not. I must admit that I hardly think so. I think what she sees is an echo of the person I was long ago rising to the surface to be able to communicate with her. I do not hold hatred towards when I believed and I have no animosity towards my non-believing so those parts of me interact freely. I don't want that to sound like different personalities. Just different parts of my personality interacting. Once I was religious. Now I'm not. So, yeah.

Finally, I think a video should be shared to close this particular rant of mine:

"Are there any women here?"