26 April 2009

Drowning Pool

I'm stuck and I don't know how to move forward.

I've become completely crippled by depression and loneliness.

Funny how you can feel the same way you did almost 2 years ago...and wonder if anything's really different:

"I feel sick to my stomach and disjointed today. One of those days where you are so disconnected from yourself that it affects even your 'pretending to be okay' functionality.

I want to cry, but don't remember how and it never helps anyway. I don't want to be alone anymore. I have no direction, no hope. And when you don't have hope, life isn't a very fun experience."

In sacrament we sat behind the lady I overheard last week and I just glowered the whole time. The message resonated in my head to not let other people and their judgments affect me - don't let it interrupt the reasons I come to church... but I couldn't do it. I wouldn't even sing again. She has silenced my voice. And I don't how to recover from that.

Sunday School was about optimism, but it didn't sink in. I listened to the lesson, I commented, I appreciated, but I didn't absorb. I didn't internalize. The darkness is too thick around me.

My stomach won't stop hurting; I'm curled up in my bed, bawling, so alone, wishing for that which I have only truly felt once in my life: peace.

Why can't I have it? If I want it so bad I'm ready to kill myself over it, why won't you give it to me? What else do I have to do to beg you?

As if I didn't have enough on my plate already, I also found out this week - firsthand - that my little sister has started purging. She went in the bathroom and I heard every gut-wrenching moment of it. At first I thought I misheard. Then I thought maybe she was sick. No. She kept gagging over and over and over. It was so loud. I was sick for the rest of the day. Really? I didn't have enough already? More?

The only time I have ever ached in my body this much for my family was the time my brother tried to commit suicide in his room after losing his girlfriend, and I was left holding the bloody knife while my mom dragged him to the ER.

It's so heavy. More than chains and cement blocks dragging me down to death. Is there peace here? At the bottom of the choking blanket, when I open my mouth to gulp in death, will I find it?

I don't want to be here anymore, I don't want to do this anymore. I'm just too tired. And too battered. Being alone - being Jesus - is too much for me to handle.

19 April 2009

The Resurrection of Hope

Pressing on week to week. I get up and I go to Church. And I pretend everything's okay.

Today was no different.

Until I got to Church. I had literally been sitting 3 seconds when I overheard the woman behind me talking to a man about how proud she was. Apparently her son's school newspaper had published an article about gays and lesbians and the woman went to the School Board and all the way to the superintendent and was proud as punch to pull out all the ammunition she could find in order to get the article rescinded. The man asked what the article was about, did it present anything? She replied, it advocated a lifestyle, one that was inappropriate and didn't belong there. And she had researched and she felt absolutely justified in battling such evil.

And I lost it. Inwardly, my shell crumbled. All my protection, all my denial, all my pressing forward in desperate, waning hope... All this. Before the opening song. Well, that ruined the spirit for me. I wouldn't even sing the hymns, and I love singing. Sacrament was drab, dull, and I was boiling with hate for this judgmental woman whom I would no longer call friend. Why? I asked myself, why do I even come here? I thought of walking out a number of times. Going to the parking lot, breaking down, casting off my pretenses, and just sobbing.

Sunday School. My teachers, the married-with-two-kids YSA representatives, were 25 minutes late. I'm just glad they were here this week (Bro. O has been to church twice in the last six weeks). They travel alot, and don't ever get a substitute. They aren't what I would judgingly call the "strongest" of Mormons, but I do believe they are sincere about their faith.

When we do have a lesson, it's usually short, and something like a 5-second thought, because they are too busy chattering with the other kids who come.

But today was different. Bro. O actually followed the spirit and put aside the lesson he'd prepared, and then flat out asked why we come to church. What keeps up coming back? Why do I get out of bed in the morning and come there? I jokingly replied, "My dad."

But it soon turned serious. One girl said, "Because I need to strengthen my testimony." Another, "Because this is one of the few things that brings me happiness anymore." Then it was my turn. I replied, "Because this is a place to grow closer to God, and that's what I'm trying to do."

Bro. O nodded and then asked, "But do you believe in the church?" I replied, "That's open for debate." Then I clarified, "I believe in the doctrines, but not the people. Most of the people suck."

He nodded. That was what he wanted to talk about. And so we did. We talked about prejudice, and hate, and how so many Mormons are discriminatory. He said that they have, oh guess what?, a number of friends who are gay and still trying to stay in the church, and for the first time I knew that I'd be okay being honest with them.

Each one of the students knew exactly what he was talking about, and the girls talked about how eye-opening (and faith-shaking) it was to be brought up in young women's and never have anyone talk about you, and be taught that everyone and everything in the church is perfection and goodness and righteous. Then as soon as they graduated, the hate began. The gossip. The distaste for their choices.

One moved in with a boy.
One dated (and married) a non-member.
One is continually judged for being overweight.
Another slept with his girlfriend and now has a kid.

All of them have received less-than-kindness at one time or another. In this way, I am not so different.

But the question bubbles to the surface: WHY? Jesus supped with publicans, the church is supposed to be a place of refuge - a hospital - not a place of judgment.

Yet we do it. All of us (yours truly easily included). Bro. O could feel the hate emanating from me, and so I told them about the woman behind me in Sacrament this morning.

It was stated that there are NOT good and bad people out there. We are all both. Just like Asher Lev taught me. :) "There is in my hand the power of demons and of divinity. Two aspects, one force. Creation, creativity, are; all demonic and divine." I AM DEMONIC AND DIVINE. There are no good people who do bad things. There are no bad people with good intentions. There are just HUMANS. And that if anything is what Mosiah 3:19 is about, when it describes the natural man: judging.

We do things, and say that we are doing good, but fail to consider how many we are hurting. If it hurts people, and destroys lives... if it pushes me away, then how can you call it good?

It was a very enlightening discussion and exactly what I needed to keep me going right now. I refused to write my comments on Conference because I knew how faithless and questioning they were... and I felt like I didn't measure up.

Others are still here and they are still going.

I kept saying to myself, they are sticking it out. They are continuing to fight. I'm tired of fighting, but I don't know how to quit. I don't know how to walk away.

I don't know how to reach the freedom of struggle.

And then the thing that really struck me... after we were done talking about these people who judge and hate, and don't live the religion the way we want them too... Bro O. said, "Don't let any of these people, or the things they convey, be the reason you stop coming. Don't let them drive you away. Keep coming because of the reasons you hold in your heart."

And so inwardly I'm weeping. Because I have a reason to hope again. I was drowning, sucking water into my lungs greedily, waiting for the blackness to take me, and then in my darkest moment, my hand was grabbed. And I was pulled up just a little.

But A Little's Enough.

The Death of Hope

Going into Conference, I will admit that I as hopeful. As I am every Conference. They say that if you prepare, and you hope, and you pray, that you will find the answers you're looking for. And so I do the same thing everytime, and end up feeling jaded. This time was no different.

This was the first conference I didn't attend in person since returning from my mission 3+ years ago. But I made a day of it anyway, leaving home for the first session and just chilling at the church until it ended (I took a lunch and a book both days).

If you are a sincerely converted, deeply believing Mormon, I warn you in advance some of this may be a little startling. I'm just going to go down the list and give you my reactions as I penned them in my little notebook. This is 100% honest, sincere, guttural, and intensely emotional - consider this your fair warning disclaimer.

Pres. Monson - He said "the work is moving forward uninterrupted" and immediately the hope and strength I had mustered in putting on my tie and bringing myself to hear these words in hope of upliftment, begin to falter. Are you ignoring all the issues before your eyes? How can you honestly stand by such a statement and say that there are no interruptions to the work of God?

You pray for me but do you have a place for me here?

Coming into conference, and having it start this way I find myself more skeptical than ever before. I'm just not as ready to believe. Prayers for Bobby states that questioning spawns deeper faith - Am I simply in the limbo before I get there? Or will I never make it?

Robert D Hales - I need to have hope, in my Savior.

Is my deepest hunger a love of God? I don't really think so. I think it's to have a place, to feel equal. I know with all my being that God loves me, but does the Church? Because I still don't see that.

Margaret Lifferth - Reverence

Michael A Neider - Virtue. Live by quorum and priesthood principles.

Allen F Packer - Deep personal conviction. Where is it? This is the way to build on rock.

Desire, Experiment, Study and learn (Ponder), Have realistic expectations of inspiration/revelation, and ASK.

So are my expectations for answers to the questions that continue to vie for purchase in my heart and mind unrealistic? Unattainable?

The lord needs EACH of us, I have work to do. There's a reason I'm not dead, so why can't I see it? Why don't I know where to go?

D Todd Christofferson - Covenants provide the faith necessary to persevere through all tribulation. Faith also grows through trails. So is this my hang-up? My covenants aren't all in 100% working-order, so I can't hack it anymore? Getting everything back where it needs to be would cost so much, am I ready to pay the price? Is it worth the cost? That's a question I really want answered.

Henry B Eyring - We are human. Comfort gives way to distress, good health wanes, and misfortune happens. And the one he didn't say: Good intentions don't necessarily work without harming others.

Is God indifferent? Does he just not care about the way we suffer, racked with pain and agony? Greater trust is only gained through trials. Then brings the joy of forgiveness, to heal and help us. So how much more is more? How much deeper does deep go? How many more tears do I have to cry in order to wash my soul clean? Trials are an invitation to grow, and faith endures when it's hard. This is why I'm still here right now, despite my misgivings, my struggles, my doubt and the inherent discrepancies I see in the conduct and attitude of the Saints.

One day I want to be able to say this: "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith" 2 Tim 4:7

M Russell Ballard - Darkness results when we turn our backs. So which way does that mean I'm facing? Where is the so-called "collapse of morality?" Everyone raves on and on about the moral depravity and rampant collapse of values and principles, but I have yet to see documentation of this. I have yet to understand that there is a world-threatening endemic of people ravishing the streets have wild, gratuitous sex with whomever they come across. Where is the evidence of this collapse? The economic collapse - that I believe in because I can see it.

This was one of the first talks where I felt a strong sense of irony as he preached about the past repeating itself, and I thought about the Church and it's position with the Blacks and how that changed. Is this the next repeat?

Why do you, whom I look to as leaders, and guiders, and the ones in whom I should place my trust - WHY do you dance with your words and skirt the issues? If you're going to take a stand, then by all means, TAKE IT. Come out and say exactly what you intend to do, and who you are going to do it against, so that I can have something solid in which to base my decision and know for sure what's going to happen. Then I can make my informed decision without your damned ambiguous vagueness.

Quentin L Cook - No notes.

Kevin W Pearson - Fear and faith cannot coexist. We get what we focus on - so is my focus misplaced? Is my hope in the wrong thing? Should I just go back to grinding myself against the wall some more so that my focus is directed to the right place? Even if it kills me? At least my focus will be in the right place...

Rafeal E Pino - Adversity happens.

Richard G Scott - Going to the temple is #1. More important than addressing the situation of those struggling? Stop mincing words! I need to thank the Lord more for trusting me enough to give me adversity? Stop your bitching, there's no reason to complain if you're living worthily.

Russell M Neslon - To be forgiven, you must first forgive.

Unity is key, but it's going to fail in the face of unacknowledged divisions. How can you build unity around secrets, prejudices, and false judgment?

Boyd K Packer - Read D&C 89. Resist the impulses that will trouble your spirit. The hardest part of war is UNCERTAINTY. You don't know how it will end. Who's going to be a casualty?

Happiness is NOT available to me according to his definition. Because that is only found in taking a woman to the temple, where "happy" is.

Richard C Edgely - Get a job.

Claudio R M Costa - Give faithful service.

Dieter F Uchtdorf - Focusing on being gay and finding my way and place in the church seems vitally important, but is it causing me to crash? Am I going to go down and miss the truth? Am I focused just on a burnt out bulb?

Henry B Eyring - The wounds of sin are not readily felt at inception, and if not resolved, fester and kill. So how have I survived? Shouldn't I be long dead with all the "sin" in my life that goes unmentioned?

"Man Down!" Help your brothers! Go above and beyond the call of duty. What hypocrisy! How can you profess to do this? How can any of you claim to stand here and do this? What about the 100's already down? What about me? I've been screaming MAN DOWN for months, years. Where is my aid? Where is my rescue? I don't even know who the enemy is that's shooting me. Is it the advancing menace? Or those who would call themselves friend? Where's MY badge of honor for fighting for all of you even when you turn your backs and disdainfully leave me here to die?

Pres. Monson - Study diligently, Pray fervently, and Live righteously. Are these principles fully incorporated into my life? Or ignored? Prayer provides spiritual strength and is a passport to peace. So why hasn't it EVER EVER EVER worked for me?

Dieter F Uchtdorf - Hunger for meaning and purpose... oh wait I do. The more we hear the gospel truth, the more faith and hope blossom within us, filling our hearts and minds... NO. I don't feel this. Where's my disconnect? How did I break somewhere?

The gospel supposedly has the answers to ALL problems. So where the hell are they? Why aren't you giving them to me? What is the "ultimate formula for success and happiness?" (besides the one I can't fulfill).

Day after day after day after bloody day I do what you say but get NO closer to elusive happiness. None. "Practice what you preach." HA! Okay, I'm waiting for you to live up to that hypocritical statement.

I stop, I see myself. Yesterday: Innocent, naive, full of hope, budding with joy for Christ and His church. And again Today: Tired of crying, of fighting, of pushing myself away from inviting death, waiting for someone, anyone, to finish my faith that I continue daily to retch toward the thing I love most that only returns hate to me.

God sees me forever. What does he see? What do YOU see?

Neil A Andersen - Keeping covenants in these days of destiny will be a badge of honor in the eternities. Well, I already forfeited mine, so now what?

Steven E Snow - No notes.

Barbara Thompson - No notes.

Jeffrey R Holland - Finally in this battery of hate, lack of acceptance, indifference toward my plight, and hypocritical preaching, I find something which provides me a flicker of new hope, which I desperately cling to.

Jesus is who I follow. He is the reason I am still here. He has walked alone, just as I am. ALL turned against him.

Judas was a special witness of Christ. An apostle of God. He saw Jesus heal, heard him pray. And yet, he could betray him? Don't JUDGE Judas. The apostles Peter, James, and John fell asleep in the Savior's greatest hour of need. THREE TIMES.

Peter denied Christ three times.

Jesus' support circle collapsed around him (though the women stayed - way to go faithful ladies!)

Jesus had no comfort, no companionship. So why should *I* expect any? God went through this hell of hells, and I need to be like him right? Was Jesus emotionally prepared for what he suffered? He made it through, and that is sufficient reason to continue hoping, and to press forth. God was pleased with his Son.

Jesus pressed on even when he was in complete anguish; completely, and abjectly alone.


Pres. Monson - The moral footing of society continue to slip? You are the PROPHET OF GOD! It your duty, calling, and obligation to sound your voice as a TRUMP to shake all nations against deviance and wickedness. If Prop 8 is WRONG, then come out and say so! Don't just mildly refer in passing to things which upset you. Tell me so I can know to leave!

2 Ne 2:25 "Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy." Okay, HOW? How the hell do I achieve this when you stand there and paint it against me? When you paint me on the other side of you and all those who are righteous?

You tell me to center my life on the gospel. I AM. I DO. And it's done nothing but bring me closer to DEATH.

The future is as bright as my faith? Well, that's going to be a problem...

Dallin H Oaks - What am I willing to sacrifice for the Lord? Happiness? Normalcy? Equality? I have a different destiny.

Ignore your plight, ignore yourself. Forget your conflict, forget your problems. Just serve! With a smile! Everything will be peachy peachy!


David A Bednar - Temples are the focus. Celestial marriage is the goal. The only goal worth having.

-In this painting, I have no place. So why do I stay?

All in the gospel looks to the temple. Here is where the highest blessings are available - just not to me.

Take upon ye the name of Christ and then wage war viciously and unrelentingly against all who would threaten you because God will protect you in righteousness. Is he really saying this? This is like a free pass to just hate us more and more and it's okay. What more permission do the Saints need?

Gary E Stevenson - Go to the temple or you are the mist of darkness.

Jose A Teixeira - We are born with GPS, to know right and wrong. So why the hell is it so HARD? Confusing? I keep the commandments, but... no one's guiding me - how do *I* know?

F Michael Watson - Wisdom of those who have gone before and those with us still will lead us and guide us on the search. But where is that going to lead me? Barred doors?

Master speaks through his Prophets... so WHY do they continue to be silent when I'm screaming for all I'm worth? "Man Down!" We need more than a talk for me to believe this.

L Tom Perry - Be a better missionary - warn your neighbor. (And then when they get baptized, they can do what E.Bednar suggests and hate everyone else).

Pres. Monson - The words don't even phase me anymore. It's over - again. I've spent more than 60 HOURS listening to these men spit words looking for something to hold on to, something to give me a reason to continue trying to cut myself into the mold I don't fit, and again, I'm leaving empty-handed.

Hate and bitterness, scorn and rage, are all growing in my heart. The scary thing is that I don't know how to stop them. I don't know how to save myself from falling apart the rest of the way. "Choose ye this day whom ye will serve" - but I'm WEAK, so I serve Satan, right?


After it was over, my dad picked me up and said, "So did you enjoy it?"

I deadpanned and replied, "No."

He wasn't expecting that. But he did get points by actually turning down the radio and asking why.

And then I exploded. "Because every time I go looking for answers, I only end up with more questions. It compounds the hate and loathing I already have for myself, and leaves me feeling utterly hopeless because the "focus" the "goal" is something I can't have, and it's something I can't achieve."

I paused and looked at him, "And most of the time I wish that it wasn't such a part of me - that it wasn't so deeply in my heart and soul. Because then I could walk away, make peace, and move on with building my own happiness. But I just can't do that, and it's destroying me. Why do I have to believe? Why?"

He really wasn't expecting that. And he didn't reply. But I didn't expect him too. He listened, and that was enough.

And so I'm breaking down. And I can't hack it anymore. I'm ready to be done. But just as I felt enslaved to the devil as a child with sexual desires, now I feel chained to the church with my spiritual ones. The role has reversed, but I'm just as bound as ever.

And I hate it.

That's why I wouldn't write about it. Because I don't want you to see my pain, my hurt, my frustration. Because I don't want you to understand. Or sympathize. Or try and comfort me.

It's easier to pretend nothing's wrong. Nothing's broken. I'm not floundering in a sea of doubt and despair. I'm full of hope and joy, and forgetting myself I'm simply beaming with service, loving everyone as they love me back, warmly, openly, and wholly. I put on my tie, shine my shoes, and go to church because it makes me feel so safe and happy...right?

14 April 2009

Self-same Silence

I'm not blogging, not because I don't want to.

Because I can't.

I'm fiercely in denial, in order to hold together the fractured pieces of my world. The other day I knocked a lid off one of my mom's kitchen decorations - a glass strawberry - and it shattered into pieces. My little sister taped it back together with scotch tape. Pathetic, and not entirely the same (there are still chips and tiny fragments missing), but it's there. This is me in every sense.

Only I'm effacing the reality, because I don't want to breakdown and start drowning again. Yes, I'm ready to hack blogging now - that's a difference; but I'm still flailing wildly against the quicksand of despair and screaming desperately as I try to prop up the crumbling citadels of hope and faith.

Lying is so much easier. It's pain-free, care-free, and un-stressful.

I need to talk about Conference. How wholly unhelpful it was. How hurtful it was. How much it brings to the surface everything I'm trying to force back under the water with all my might in the hopes that it will finally run out of air and just DIE.

But it never will.

It fights, and kicks back, and I'm just not strong enough to beat the Goliath; even if I am David.

My old Bishop -friend and more- called me last night, and I spoke to him of it. For the first time. My facade dissipated and I became real for a brief, choking moment. As the Assistant Director of the counseling department of BYU, he talks to people like me all the time. And he told me that he's having the SAME conversation with others. The SAME one.

But... I'm not ready to talk about that. Not yet. But it's coming soon.

Like a child growing inside of me, except it's fully aware; kicking, and tearing at my insides, until it finally rips its way outside of me. It's only a matter of time before that happens, and my guts and blood, and dripping soul will slather the pages of this blog for your prying, wondering, hopeful... pitying eyes to read.