Monday, November 16, 2009

Latter Days: Chapter 4

One always expects that getting a degree will make you far more accessible to work after college.  I happened to be fortunate to get on with an organ builder who was moving from Portland to Seattle.  The timing seemed divine.  Things were starting to sour at the Episcopal church I was "just the organist" for and I was starting to look for a change.  I was still rooming with a dear friend who became more than an friend.  Right after graduation we went from the 3 bedroom situation we shared with a couple of other friends to just the two of us.  I didn't think much of it at the time but apparently she was seeing it as a deliberate relationship move.  I appreciated her friendship, her openness, acceptance, talents, and abilities to make me feel more complete.  Her name is Sarah.

So, well, living together seemed like the next step in what I thought was a genuine relationship not that I completely thought of it that way at the time.  We had our struggles for sure as the line between being friends to being more romantically involved was thinned.  But there was always a hang up in the relationship I could never put my finger on, until now that is.  While the two of us certainly connected as we tried to explore the more intimate side of the whole boyfriend girlfriend expectation things just weren't clicking.  I was emotionally distant.  Sexual things were always awkward and nothing made sense.  Nothing emotionally or physically felt they way everyone always described it.  I was always confused.  Sure I would not have considered myself very sexually experienced, despite my lies to the contrary to my friends so as to avoid peer scrutiny that I was still a virgin.

During college fresh off of my abbreviated mission experience I was able to liberate myself from some of the bonds tied by my religious upbringing.  For the first time I found something in sexual physicality and I liked it.  What a shock eh?  Be it as it all may as Sarah and I were trying to cultivate a relationship, in the "hetero" sense, I was internally fighting with myself.  I was at war with my faith, and while I couldn't admit it at the time, I was at war with my identity.  While I was new to PLU I had tried to keep going to the local ward near the university.  I was the only college guy there.  I even became involved in stake activities and rather quickly developed a name for myself in the LDS musical arena in the area.  After about a year of trying and pretending I stopped going.  There were too many scars from my mission to that couldn't be so easily forgiven and forgotten.  And the things I was learning on the internet about the history and doctrine of the church began to open my eyes.

I should interject at this point that Sarah is no stranger to Mormonism whatsoever.  She had taken the discussions, has very close friends in the church, even had a thing for another Mormon guy at one point.  As the two of us were living together she thought perhaps what I wanted was someone who was a member of the church, "this must be what he wants," I'm sure she thought.  So she ended up taking the discussions yet again and really asked the tough questions that no missionary likes to hear.  I can remember after she was bored having the missionaries over she told me that with all of the reading and praying and begging that she still never received that holy spirit tingle confirming the "truth" of the book of mormon.  And I told her I wasn't going to convince her to be part of the church, although I know now she hoped it would fix our personal problems.

Even with trying to be in a straight relationship I was still attracted to guys.  I was checking them out offline and online.  It was not uncommon for me to be called out on the carpet by Sarah, "are you checking that guy out," she would say to me while we were out in public.  I always seemed to have an excuse on stand by, but I could not admit that I was gay.  Such things were "worse than death."  There was one point early on in our relationship where she asked me point blank if I was interested in men more than her.  Naturally I said "of course not, it's just a phase," fully thinking that once I was in a relationship with someone I like all of this "checking out the dudes" would go away.

Well it didn't.  I just kept pushing it away as I did wrestling with what I believe.  So time marched onward and Sarah was becoming impatient.  She wanted to be made an honest woman and was looking to settle down, as I had thought I wanted too.  So the pressure was on when it came to looking at engagement rings.  While having no intention to purchase at the time we happened to be at a jewlers that had "the perfect ring."  I can remember the inner turmoil I had over making that purchase, and not a small sum for me.  Four digits for a ring and then another four digits for a diamond was hard enough. But still in the depest denial I went through with it having faith it would all work out.  Being married and having a family was, as my Mormon skewed mind thought, was what God wanted from me.  It was the "right" thing to do, and we all want to "choose the right," always.  After I paid off the ring I had enough courage despite the part of me that was screaming "what the the hell are you doing, you don't want this," to propose on July 4, 2007.  It was another awkward day.  The romantic scene I had in mind just didn't happen that way, but she was glad to finally have the ring on her finger she always wanted.

So we set a date for January 19 2008.  Women seem to like the stress of planning that first marriage.  I didn't care for the extra work load although, admittedly, she did most of the work.  I mean how could I be fully on board for a wedding at least half of me deep down didn't want.  Perhaps the lack of success in some of the planning should have been an omen.  We had difficulty securing a photographer despite personal assurances of their availability.  The guy that took the engagement pictures in rather short notice became unavailable.  The lady we hired and who ultimately shot the wedding had a great artistic sense but ended up loosing her business, and our photos, in a bitter divorce battle.  Lots of money out the window there.  Despite that we decided we didn't really need pictures of a ceremony to make us happy.

The honeymoon was a week long adventure to Disneyworld.  My parents gave a present from their time share and we were privileged to stay in a nice one bedroom suite with a full kitchen and the works.  I secretly hoped to become independently wealthy so I could enjoy such a lifestyle all of the time.  If you are picking up on a theme here, yes things were awkward even on the honeymoon, but yet we were so entranced with enjoying all of Disney that any "issues" were pushed aside.  It was a nice relaxing time there and I wanted it to last forever.

As we started to settle in to being married Sarah was on a quick move to permanency.  We were both tired of apartment living and the unsavory neighbors that often come with it.  So the push to buy a home persisted.  Fortunately a guy in the church I work for was a master realtor and would go to bat for us in the crazy housing market.  The first battle that I would lose was where we would go looking for a house.  I work on the North side of Seattle and she worked in the South end of the county.  In her mind we couldn't possibly afford anything near the big city so we weren't even going to look.  Within weeks she found "the perfect house."  It was indeed quite perfect for her.  Not ten minutes from her job, close to the church we were at, near a super mall, close to all of her friends and business associates.  I got the short end of the stick with a daily hour and fifteen minute commute when traffic is good.  So it is clear who is in charge.

Despite my reservations we went through with the purchase, draining all of our savings for the down payment.  I was committed and had no way out now.  I can remember praying to myself "Oh, God please let this all work out since I can't afford a second chance."  As the economy was going south the company took a bit of a hit, not so much from a slowing in business but from horrible book keeping.  We had hired and placed way too much trust in a bookkeeper that said "don't you worry, I'll take care of everything."  Well it darn near shut us down, and I'm still awaiting backed pay.  But that's a different story.

So we buy the dog nose pink colored house and get to work on it to make it livable.  It had been a rental and was well lived in.  Time and stress filled jobs move forward and we start hitting the same wall in our relationship that we had been hitting time and time again.  She felt she was doing everything both in the relationship and out, and that I was doing nothing.  Perhaps part of that is true.  Newly weds should have love and intimacy dripping off of them - but no, not us.  Things were just as awkward years later, just as they were in the beginning.  We couldn't emotionally connect, and the intimate things of marriage just weren't going to happen.  At the poking of a friend on my facebook who is a very active Mormon I knew it was time to finish what I started in working with my beliefs.

I began really digging in to the doctrine of the church and the history and I just couldn't refute cold hard facts and truth against the church's "faith" in what is believed to be truth.  There was no more running away for me.  The empirical evidence disproving all claims of the Book of Mormon, the existence of a people that Christ visited after his resurrection and its historicity as well as the prophetic abilities of Joseph Smith are damning - most especially with the rediscovery of things like the papyrus the Book of Abraham and facsimiles are "translated" from.  To this day I still find it hard to swallow that I too, being an educated person of keen intellect had been deceived by the "feelings" claiming to be truth.  But we are told in the Bible that there shall arise many false prophets, and even the elect shall be deceived by the cunning of the devil.  There was no more denying that I could not be part of a church of conveniently obscured or lost history, while proof of the Bible story exists to this present day.

While my faith journey is still a new one and I am still grieving the loss of my old faith life, this was a critical and necessary step to finally getting to the root of my personal problems.  With the walls and mental barriers of Mormonism in place the door of sexuality didn't even exist to me.  I was led to believe that being gay was a choice and since, at the time, I did not make such a choice there is no reason whatsoever that I should be unsuccessful in a marriage with a person I cared for.  But then it occurred to me that sexuality is no more of a choice than hair color is.  Now we may make the claim on whether or not we should act on those instincts or "urges" some like to call it.  But there is no changing who I find attractive or like looking at or even desire to be close and intimate with.

When I started looking at this piece of myself I was terrified.  It was the first time I posed the question to myself, "what if I'm not straight?"  And I was scared of it beyond all measure.  Things were finally coming to a head in the marriage.  And after only a year- it was fast.  In what would be the first of many big arguments, a rarity for us in the past, I found out how my wife really wanted to have an affair and had begun looking for such opportunities because I couldn't make her happy.

We started to air our "dirty laundry."  I knew I had to come clean but it was hard to do so, especially since a month or so previous she was starting to push to have children and had gone off birth control.  Not that things were in place where procreation was going to happen at this point in time.  So I took the plunge and came out to her - although claiming bisexuality at the time.  Because I did love her on some level and that should at most make me bi, right?  Well of course I have refined that label to be truer to what I think I am and where I think I will most connect in relationships - and that is with guys and not women.

Interestingly, as all of this heavy major stuff was happening Sarah had reconnected with a mutual roommate guy friend of ours.  And now I have to fill in some more history.

The short story was that Scott was a friend of a friend who ended up a roomie while Sarah and I were in college.  He had parted company with us on somewhat bitter circumstances as he had lost his job due to not showing up, wasn't paying bills or his part of the rent.  He was very depressed from past relationships and hardships.  As he got further in to debt there came a point where I knew we would have to cover his backside just to have a roof over our heads and I told Sarah if that were to ever happen he is out on his ear.  And indeed it did.  We received an eviction notice just a couple weeks before Christmas 2005 and the amount he owed was a severe strain to my bank account.  Fortunately I am pretty good with my money and saving so it got us through as Sarah didn't have the funds to contribute to keep us from being homeless thanks to our friend.  So at great heartache, we kicked him out.  It was hard to do that as Scott was a fun guy when not depressed and was good to be around.  I considered him a long lost brother, and perhaps I was just slightly attracted to him - but not any more.

So after he left we never heard from him again.  A few years past and we often wondered what happened to him.  We found out after he left us that he was living with his mom again.  He eventually got a job working at a major electronics superstore in the area.  There were a few times in recent years where we would see him at this store and didn't know what to do and just avoided him seeing us.  Once he was on facebook he began to reconnect with us albeit at a distance.

Right after I came out to Sarah just prior to Easter of 2009 they had reconnected being at the same parties and events being held by our mutual friend Noah.  Unfortunately they were events I couldn't go to being at work or just simply wasn't invited too.  So they started connecting.  You could guess where this is going and you would be right.

So all of us happened to be at a social event together and after not seeing Scott for several years exchanged pleasantries.  Of course Sarah had seen quite a bit of him in the weeks prior.  I could see in their flirty behavior that there was more at work than just mending burned bridges but I just wasn't sure.

Right at Easter I had come out to my dad and step mom.  They were going to be over at our house for Easter dinner so I wanted to get that off my plate.  I had been so messed up over the first round of coming out to Sarah and the parents that it made life difficult.  I had come close to driving my car off the Ship Canal bridge in to lake Washington fearing that I would lose everything if I told my secret to my wife or my family.  I was fairly sure I would lose my dad telling him, but surprisingly things went better than expected there.  Actually I think my dad has always knew but couldn't say anything.  My little brother who himself wrestles with orientation and gender identity issues understands what I'm going through.  My very Mormon sister however is not adjusting so well.  We had gone rounds after I had professed rather publicly that I wanted nothing more to do with Mormonism.  My brother in law exchanged less than pleasant words with me after I published the first two chapters of my story on my facebook.  My sister, while with much softer choice of words, echoed her husband's sentiment. So lots of family drama too.

While trying to sort things out Sarah and I were both in counseling.  We started on the premise of couples therapy which after only one session turned in to individual sessions with the same counselor.  I latter learned how unethical this was especially as we started talking about divorce.  So the big "D" word finally entered the picture.  Sarah was already checked out of the marriage and wanted off the hook.  I wasn't going to realize how badly that was until I made a fateful mistake.

Since I had taken over the extra room that had been her craft room there was still the transfer of clothes and personals to my new surroundings made up of her hand me down furniture while she got the master bedroom with all of the stuff we purchased as a couple.  She had made the error of leaving her diary out when she and Scott went to a gathering I wasn't invited to. And while it wasn't the right thing to do I knew that she and Scott were not being entirely upfront with me about their relationship.  When Scott found out that we were probably going to divorce he of course expressed his condolences but in the next sentence confessed he was in love with my wife and wanted my permission to enter in to a relationship with her.  I was entirely caught off guard and certainly was not in a state of mind to make a wise choice.  But after his coercion I reluctantly gave in.

So back to Sarah's private book of thoughts... I should mention that anyone not wanting to know the truth about what people are secretly thinking or doing should not be reading another person's journal or diary.  But since there was no remaining trust at this point in the transition of our relationship I just needed some answers and boy did I get them.  Now was it the right thing to do, absolutely not.  While I won't get in to the nitty gritty too much I had learned they had become very involved with each other even before I gave Scott any sort of approval to pursue someone I was still married to.  Yes they were physically involved.  Now the sad thing is that while I was reading more than I wanted to know the two of them were out for the evening and came back late.  I was so upset by what they were doing behind my back I was up all night especially when they were saying it was just casual hanging out.  I felt horribly betrayed.  I couldn't sleep all night so when they finally came in at around 1 a.m. on a work night I was losing it.  They went to my former bedroom and for lack of better words were "going at it" in my house, in my bed etc.  I couldn't handle it any more so I went downstairs and started crashing around the house doing dishes in the middle of the night hoping someone would show themselves wondering what all the noise was. I didn't have the guts to pound on the door and tell them to cut it out.  I wish now that I would have. And then tell the both of them exactly what I was thinking of them at the time for flat out lying to me.  It was clear by the moaning and groaning what both of them were after and while we were still married and hadn't even started divorce proceedings.

I couldn't take it any more, it was the last straw, and I stormed out of the house.  I was done with life done with the bullshit and I was running as quickly as I could to the near by train tracks to end it all.  I was nothing, I had nothing, and their inexcusable actions only proved that they were using me to get to each other.  Especially when Sarah's feelings for Scott, in her own words, were secretly always above those for me, but since he walked out on his responsibilities all those years ago she "settled" for me.

The rail line is always very active in the early morning and I was praying that it would be quick and painless.  It was rather clear that no one cared about me.  I had hoped that they would figure out I left the house and would save me from myself.  But no one came after me to stop me, no one called to say where are you going... No one cared!  There was no reason for me to go on with life.  It was over.

I'm not sure how long I stood at the rail crossing waiting for it to all finally be over.  It seemed like hours.  But for once in the only time I can recall no trains came that night.  I broke down sobbing and cursing God for not letting me end things, but there must have been some reason.  It is to date, the only time I was following through on a suicide plan only to have it be intervened by something I couldn't control.  And it pissed me off.  After breaking down on the curb for a while I picked myself up and sauntered around the block back home.  I would have to endure a little further.

Because of all that I learned from Sarah's diary and what I experienced in their thoughtless acts of the evening and not being able to end things as I designed them, I was wound up.  I had to confess to them that I knew what they were doing.  I was so exhausted that in the early morning it drove me to a panic attack and I needed to vent before I explode.  So I burst in on them in the early morning, naturally they were in a state of undress and I broke down again.  I have never been so close to permanently going off the deep end.  It took hours before I could form a word to say I knew what they were doing and I'm not ok with it happening around my house with someone I still technically have a relationship with.  It took even longer to confess that I read her diary.

But it all came out eventually.  They proclaimed to have not done anything "too intimate." Yet if that were true there would not have been the sounds I witnessed followed by the scurrying for clothes after I barged in on them.  We were at a point of no return.  The divorce had to proceed and things were not easy from that point on.  The fights and back stabbing ensued as we worked through our anger and hostility.  She refused to admit that what the two of them were doing could be construed as her having an affair, but what else do you call it?  While we were working towards divorce, we were not separated, and she became intimately involved with another guy.  While she may have convinced herself that what the two of them were doing wasn't wrong, we fought about it until I lost energy to pick the fights.  Scott and I attempted to talk it out but he was telling me at the time the I should consider myself lucky.  With other guys he wouldn't be so nice as to have even asked me first before pursuing someone I was married to - but according to the timing of Sarah's diary entries and what happened on those "dates", that's exactly what happened.  I was no exception to his predatorial actions of becoming involved with a woman in a committed relationship.  They were involved weeks before they even considered my feelings on the matter.  And months before we signed for divorce and even more months before it finalized. So nothing held water for me from either of them.

Therapy was becoming a dead end and with the problems of health insurance expiring in the company thanks to the bad book keeper was becoming expensive.  In one of our later arguments Sarah had let slip something she was steered towards by the counselor we were both seeing that I had shared in confidence in my session.  While it was indirect it was clear that it was a conflict of interests for us to be seeing the same therapist, especially one that was leading my soon to be ex to certain things that I had discussed in my sessions. There was no trust whatsoever in anyone.  So I ended all therapy although Sarah thought my reason for quitting was because the counselor wasn't telling me what I wanted to hear.  When I reminded her of a point she made that she could have only learned from what I told the counselor she back peddled slightly suggesting that she reached that conclusion on her own.  Either way it was clear I couldn't go back to that counselor.

Still thinking I might be bi I looked in to other support groups for men who were coming out and were married. Sadly all of them dead ends for me.  But I did manage to get some support and meet some kind people at Tacoma PFLAG.  Sarah and I went to a meeting together once early on after I came out but after that she had no desire to return.  I guess she was hoping to drop me off and leave me with others who might sort me out and let her move on with her life with Scott.  Perhaps if we didn't have a mortgage together it would have worked that way.  Kick me out and move a new guy in and pick up where you left off with your story book relationship idea.  But it wasn't going to happen that way.  The housing market is still slow and the house needs more work before it can go back on the market.

We had to endure each other longer.  Summer was in full tilt and I was looking for the next chapter for me in my personal life. I started signing up for all of these gay social networking sites.  Knowing full well I would be completely alone if I didn't move on my personal life.  I started actively seeking out other guys. I was at a point where I pretty much decided to let go of the idea of being bi since I was so burned by a woman and really don't ever want to go back to that.

I went on a first date with a nice guy, who ended up not being my type, but at least I made those first steps.  In all of the other people I've chatted with, I have yet to get past that one and only date.  He was a nice guy but way too tall for me, and was rather shy in person.  I need someone who can hold a conversation.

Being very competitive I couldn't stand seeing Scott and Sarah together all the time.  They are just constantly hanging off each-other when together.  And the discreet attempts to steal a kiss... I can still hear you!!!  It just feels as though they are flaunting this relationship in front of me while trying to pretend that such isn't happening.  When I learned the two of them were going traveling over the 4th of July holiday weekend my stomach turned.  I was able to learn they would be staying in one bed rooms together on their trip.  Mind you the divorce still was not final yet and wouldn't be for at least a month.  But that didn't slow either of them down.  Neither of them seemed to have any respect towards the relationship we had as a married couple to leave it alone until after the divorce.  So I didn't see a need to be so honorable to the nuptials either.  July 3rd a gay friend from Portland was in the area, and we did end up having a bit of a fling together.  I saw no reason why Scott and Sarah are the only ones entitled to some fun.  I sometimes think they wanted me to be miserable while seeing how happy they are together.  Sarah's retaliation.  So I started exploring my gay side, and enjoyed it immensely.  The first time I felt alive and even with someone I didn't have any interest in dating.

While I'm not as strong about it these days as I was just a couple months ago, seeing them together still bothers me.  But now I try to ignore them when ever they are around together - even when they are eating food I pay for etc.  Despite Scott professing early on that he would never want to jeopardize any chance at a friendship between us, it is clear that he is going for the "hoes before bros," to use an expression the other way around.  But I have no loyalty to him what so ever.  I am as polite as I can be and make jokes at his expense, but that is where it ends, and I care for nothing further.  You don't tell me that you would break off the relationship to keep us all friends not wanting to ruin a second attempt to mend the fence only to proceed with having an exclusive relationship with my ex and think that it's going to work out.  There is no having cake and eating it too here.

These days I focus mostly on work and making connections to the gay world I have been ignoring.  I continue in my search for Mr. right.  Everyone that I have been around is surprised I don't have a boyfriend yet.  Thanks for driving that knife in a little further people.  I get the usual comments about how cute I am and smart and all those desirable things. But I'm not stereotypically gay.  My hair stylist just yesterday, she is German by the way, told me that she would have never remotely guessed I was gay.  And I guess therein lies my biggest problem.  I'm not "obviously gay" enough for anyone to be interested in me.  But I'm not about to overhaul my personality or identity any further just to meet a stereotype. I'm not about to wear the tight designer jeans or the skimpy fashion underwear just to publicly profess my gayness (I like my loose/baggy pants and boxers thank you!).  That's not me or who I am.  One thing I learned in all of the mess of this last year is to not lie about who I am.  I'm also not going to start smoking, doing drugs, or get drunk just to appease preconceived labels.  While I like going out with friends to have fun I'm not a party animal and while the gay bar can be entertaining just for people watching purposes, odds are that isn't the sort of person I'm interested in.

But I hope that through some miracle God will cut me a break and bring me to a good guy to be with.  As I have posted in my other blog it pains me to be with out a relationship that everyone else seems to have and says is so easy to get.  It hurts even more so when I'm told how cute and desirable, etc. I am yet there remains 0 interest.  I am still at having only been on one date and the prospects of moving beyond that number seem remote.  But I still hold out a small shred of hope. Not a day goes by where I don't pray for that one guy, heck any guy, just to ask me out.  I've got so much to explore that I just can't do on my own.

So this brings us current - to today.  This is an ongoing journey.  Not the end but the beginning.  I expect that now that my story has been told (while there are some details not put in) that this will evolve to more of a journal and record of my personal life.

To my readers may this give you some insight as to where I've been and perhaps where I hope to be.  It seems like this is a good time to give advice.  First be true and honest to yourself and who you are.  While it may be difficult for those still in relationships that do not fully acknowledge who you are and what you need - be honest with yourself and who you are in a relationship with.  Brushing aside part of who you are will only bring you down harder in the end - believe me.  When possible have faith in God.  Easier said then done for me, but it is a new relationship I'm working on for just myself although I hope my guy would be one of faith.  Don't put your trust in any religion professing restored truth as absolute and innate to just their faith.  Such blind, obedient, faith only leads to destruction.  Love yourself as you want to be loved.  Have trust if nothing else in yourself.  Do not be alone while working with your struggles - find friends to share with.  Trying to work through some things by yourself could only lead to the most permanent of misjudgments - suicide.  Lastly have hope and know that you are not alone.  Somewhere in this big world and even universe there is a least one who loves you for what and who you truly are.

It is a new experience for me to love and care about people I haven't even met.  I think about them often and they may even know who they are.  But it has happened and there are people sending you their positive, loving energies.  Open yourself up to feeling the always present vibes of love in the world- even the love of God who is always there and loves us all at all times.

[to be continued as life unfolds...]