Quest for Understanding

I’ve started the first paragraph of this post at least five times in my mind already before sitting down to write this, and yet as I sit here to write it they all come up short, all feel wrong or inadequate for different reasons. I feel like despite my warnings, and disclaimer, and change of locale, I still have people that have read and not understood my purpose for writing.

I’ve always considered it somewhat ironic that despite a love of words, reading, and expression, being understood by others in the way I want escapes me. I know that part of this comes because communication is a two way road. I can’t control the way my words are taken despite intentions. A talented English professor explained to me once that words do not have meaning in and of themselves. Words call forth a meaning in the person that hears or reads them. This meaning is unique to that individual based on their personal life experiences. To illustrate this, if you were to say the word Germany to someone who lived in the 1940’s, you would most likely get a different reaction from a teenager today. This leads to the initial problem with people being unable to understand each other in general.

These unique and varied definitions are enough to create confusion and misunderstanding, and it doesn’t even begin to address the amount of communication we do through tone, volume, inflection, body language, and any other non-verbal means. When you have situations with text-only mediums, such as on internet blogs, it is amazing that we manage any kind of meaningful dialogues as it is.

Cut down to the base intention, this blog was first and foremost only for me. In that regard, the reflection and inner dialog this blog affords me means I can already consider it a success. I am way more at peace now than I have been. I do know, however, that people read this, and it’s one of the other purposes for the blog, which was to share my experience. I am a firm believer that hate and misunderstanding is the product of ignorance and lack of perspective. Which means I can’t help but be concerned for those that I know are reading it, their feelings, and how they are taking my words. If anyone comes away from my blog with less understanding, or a bad taste in their mouth, or even more of a negative feeling towards gay men or those that have left the church, I will feel that I’ve failed in part. That may sound unfair and unrealistic, but it is what it is and I can’t keep myself from feeling that way.

One of the things I cherish about my LDS upbringing is the firm learning of some universal principles like opposition in all things. Strong reactions come from strong actions. Those that express strong feelings about the church, or their family, or their college, or anything in life all stem from strong feelings in the beginning. If you know anyone who is having strong negative reactions towards something, it is often because it was tied to something they used to have strong positive feelings about. I’ve heard from others in my position that leaving the church is very often similar to going through the stages of grief. This makes perfect sense to me.

To those brought up in the church, the idea of leaving is incredibly painful. I was taught since before I could understand all the words being used that I was part of an eternal family, that I would be with my brother, sister and parents forever. Not only do we have to deal with the notion of losing that, but with the guilt that we are creating that loss in our family members, parents especially. The thought of what my mother must feel about this situation brought me to tears many times before I made my decision. It still does if I dwell on it too long. Family is so central to the LDS faith, it’s almost impossible not to feel guilt over being the one that ruins that for the rest of your family. Depression was a part of my journey to say the least.

I’ve definitely been through Denial, years of pretending everything was fine. Bargaining happened with every prayer before my decision. I would love to say that I’ve been able to avoid Anger…wouldn’t that be nice. Obviously it hasn’t been true, and bouts of it still surface. ‘Who’s to blame?’ ‘Why me?’ ‘Why did I let this go on for so long?’ All of these questions and many, many more went through my mind just before and after, and all the days since. My public coming out on Facebook was one of my steps of Acceptance. While I still have plenty of time to go to figure things out and come to terms with everything, I’m happy that I finally feel like I’ve started to find peace and true joy in my life again.

What scares those closest to us is that they normally don’t know anything is going on until the Anger stage. The other stages are mostly internal and often quiet. Anger is usually very outward and hardly ever quiet. Human beings are still quite in their infancy in terms of the internet and social media communication. We seem to have all lost the ability to give each other the benefit of the doubt. I’m definitely guilty of that also, but I think it’s something we all need to work on. Given all the possibilities for misunderstanding communication on the internet, we should all strive not to create problems where none exist. Especially if it is a family member or a close friend involved. I’m not going to apologize for the life changes that have brought me so much more happiness and joy, I am sorry if I’ve hurt anyone on the way. I’ll just keep doing what I can towards furthering understanding, knowledge, and appreciation for how we’re different, and for what we still have in common.

Lots of love.