Quick Link: Psychology

Posted: November 4, 2012 in Uncategorized

I wanted to post this really quick.  This article is fascinating.  I totally see the psychology of what goes on with someone in the ex-gay movement.  I did this to myself for so many years!

Ex-Gay Denial

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I’ve been doing a whole lot of reflecting in the past year.  How could I not after all that has transpired?  I’ve thought about the things I’ve done, the mistakes I’ve made, the ways I would have done things differently, and the reactions I’ve gotten from everyone around me.  To say the least, I have chosen a very difficult path in life.  One never knows when they start down a path exactly where it will end up.  I never knew when I started seminary that I would go through ex-gay therapy, get married and have kids, struggle with my identity for years, have a rough marriage, get divorced, fall in love with a man, become estranged from my kids, and struggle to have a good-paying job afterwards.  All of that causes one to think and reflect.

So today I start a series of posts on my reflections on this journey thus far.

One of the things that I’ve thought a lot about is “What if I had just come out when I was younger instead of putting so many people through so much pain?”  (((sigh)))  This is a biggie for me.  I have thought about it a lot.  Here are some things I’ve come up with…both positive and negative.

If I had come out when I was younger I would have…

…come out right when the AIDS crisis was hitting.  I was saved from that!
…had a lot more sex with men
…felt better about myself at a younger age
…possibly not had children
…had more disposable income
…not met many of the wonderful friends that I have in life
…possibly still be living in California
…not gained the emotional healing that I received from my former in-laws
…learned earlier that fundamentalism kills
…saved a lot of dollars on therapy, let alone the emotional wear and tear
…probably been happier for the last 20 years
…missed out on so much of life that I never would have experienced any other way
…not deeply hurt the people closest to me

Those are just a few of the things I came up with.  There are good and bad things on that list.  How can I even say, “I should have come out sooner”?  In some ways I would love to say that but in other ways I can never say that.  My painful, twisted journey has brought joy and sadness, difficultly and safety, and an understanding of life that I could not have had any other way.  There are times I think, “I should have…” or “If only…” and there are other times that I just have to be present to my reality and say, “It is what it is.”

So I live with the tension.  Even now as I write this, I am both content and disconent…happy and sad.  It’s not dualistic.  It’s not black or white.  It’s not good or bad.  It just is.  I have a feeling I will probably always live with such a tension in my life.  That tension comes when you make peace with your life and when you have a deeper knowing.  It’s reality.  It’s what I know.

8 Months of Silence

Posted: October 9, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

It has been 8 months since I blogged here.  Why the silence?

 
1)  I needed to live into my new life.  I did a lot of “processing” for the past two years and part of me just needed to live and not do any writing or reflecting for a while.  I needed time to get on my feet and time to experience life for a while.  I’ve done so and I think I’m now ready to start writing again.

2)  Things just got too painful.  I hit a wall in February and really wasn’t dealing with things very well.  Quite frankly, everything felt very overwhelming.  I didn’t have it in me to write because it would just bring up the pain more and I was already hurting more than I allowed most people to see.  I worked really hard to keep everything together and to stay positive and I don’t think even I realized the toll everything took on me.

So I stopped writing.  I just kept looking forward to lived.

And what happened during that time is that I have begun to get settled in my new life.  There have been some very painful times during the past 8 months but there have also been some good times.  Life has become much more normal and healing is beginning to take place in some ways.  I am much happier and healthier than I was the last time I blogged back in February.
But it has been a long road to get here.

So I guess I should fill you in on what has happened, huh?  Well, stay tuned and I will be writing a series of posts to catch up to today.

So I mentioned in previous posts that I am in a new relationship.  I just have to say that I am SO blown away at how easy this relationship is.  Like…easier than any relationship I’ve ever been in.  Maybe it’s the nature of the man I love…maybe it’s just easy to be in a relationship with a man since I’m gay…probably it’s both.  All I know is that it is very easy to be in a relationship with a man.

The media makes gay relationships to be all about sex and living a wild lifestyle.  But I’m proud to say that my life now is fairly normal and boring…and hardly explicit.  My man and I eat dinner by candlelight and have a great time talking together every evening.  We go on walks in the evening and dream of our future home.  We look forward to living in a house so we can get a couple of dogs.  We take turns trying out new recipes on each other.  We look forward to hiking in our local mountains when Spring comes.  We love hanging out with friends…gay and straight…and actually tend to relate more with our straight friends.  Life for us is just like life for most other people.  That’s right…we’re normal.  And it’s easy to be normal.

What I love about our relationship is that there is a love and passion that are very deep.  And to have both of those combined into a single relationship is wonderful.  It brings a passion that binds us together in a way that is stronger than I’ve ever experienced before.  We don’t fight, though we are clearly two very different people.  We support each other, respect each other, and agree to disagree when needed.  Literally, this relationship takes no work because it all happens so naturally.  I never knew that a relationship could be so easy.

So I’m thankful.  I’m thankful to have a love that is fun, easy, caring, and natural.  It means the world to me and I hope that ease never changes!  Being with a man is wonderful and something that I should have pursued a long time ago.

It has definitely been a while since I posted.  Life has been very crazy, to say the least.  I will have to take a couple of posts to get updated.  The big things are that I have a new job and have moved out of my former home.  But today’s post will focus on the backlash that I have experienced in coming out over the past month.

The end of December and beginning of January was a roller coaster of negative backlash in my life.  For a while, it seemed like every day brought a new negative response from people in my life.  It was a VERY emotional time for me as I dealt with the pain of tons of anger and rejection.

The backlash began with a friend stabbing me in the back.  I won’t go into the details here but suffice it to say, this friend was upset with some of the decisions I was making with my life.  The ensuing fallout with the friend got very ugly and even spilled over into the new church I am leading.  The wounds of a friend cut deep, to be sure.

Additionally, my former boss (senior pastor) found out about the truth of my new life much faster than I had planned.  His response was typical of conservative Evangelicalism and I am pretty sure by my phone call with him that I am now considered to be the spawn of Satan.  While I would love to repeat some of the things said to me for shock value, I will choose not to do so in this forum.  I will say, though, that I am very glad to be out of conservative Evangelicalism and will never look back after what I have experienced in the past couple of months!

Finally, I have experienced a great deal of backlash from my kids.  At the moment, none of my kids want to see me nor are any of them speaking to me.  This, by far, has been the most painful thing that has happened in the past month.  Though my marriage has really been over for a year, the fact that I am already in a relationship even though my divorce is not final has not gone over well with my kids.  Ultimately, I understand their feelings and know that there is no way that they can walk even for a minute in my shoes.  So I just have to be patient with their process.  I miss them like crazy and hope that they will be able to forgive me someday.

It feels like I have lost a lot in this process.  I know there are probably still some relationships that will be lost as the news of my coming out touches more and more people.  Though there has been a lot of backlash and pain in the loss, I am positive that I have done the right thing by being honest about who I am.  Change couldn’t possibly happen without backlash and pain.  But on the other side of things, I am now happy and content.  Hopefully over the next year, things will calm down and I will be able to rebuild the trust and love that I once had with my kids.  And I imagine that I will find out who my real friends are in this process.  But in the process, I am boldly taking one step forward at a time…knowing that my happiness and destiny are now beginning to come to fruition.

Much has happened since Thanksgiving.  This is going to be my “get caught up” post.  Ready, set, go!

1)  After my dad’s drunken stupor, I went to my parents’ house a few days later and we had a very long talk about everything.  It was not an easy conversation but in the end, everything is ok.  They are shocked…felt they knew me but now realized they really didn’t…and were sad about the breakup of my family.  But they are accepting of me as a person.  So that ended up working out ok.

2)  While I never expected the timing to work out the way it did, I have now found myself in a new relationship.  I had planned not to date or anything until after my divorce but you can’t always control timing…especially when emotions are involved.  I have literally fallen head-over-heels in love with a man that I have known for the past 6 months.  He had been having very strong feelings for me for quite a while but I was not in a place before to allow myself to be open to the possibility.  But once we spent some time together just one-on-one (we had only been in groups prior to that), the sparks flew and I allowed myself to be open to feelings I have never had before.  I will surely be sharing more about this later but suffice it to say, I am thrilled because I am fairly sure I have found the man of my dreams.

3)  I have spent the last couple of weeks working through an online course and passing the licensing exam that I needed for my new job.  This now means that I can start training for the job (hopefully this coming week) and can begin earning money soon!

4)  I am moving out this week.  The time has finally arrived.  On one hand, I am very excited because my new life is just beginning.  On the other hand, it feels very weird to think about the reality of leaving all that I am used to.  I will be moving away from my family (not far…just to the next city) and I don’t think I have yet been able to process that I will no longer be living in the same home with my kids.  It’s hard…but it’s time and it’s necessary.  In what little spare time I have had lately, I have been shopping for furniture, finding an apartment, and getting ready for the move.  Friday is the big day.  Wow!

Anyway, this is the quick update.  It has been a whirlwind for the past 3 weeks!  More updates to come after Christmas!

 

Sorry for my lack of posting for the last few weeks.  Life has been crazy.  I will get back to my regular updates shortly.  But today I want to pause and add this post as a part of The More Excellent Way blog carnival on the subject of “inclusion”.

I am in my 40’s and have been “in the closet” for most of my life.  I lived a straight life, got married, had kids, and have been a pastor for 17 years.  All along, though, I knew I was gay.  But the message that I got from churches and from seminary was that being gay is not ok…and therefore I had to do whatever it took for me not to live as a gay man.  During the past 20+ years, I have silently struggled, constantly trying to suppress my sexuality so that I could be a “good Christian”, a pastor with integrity, and a husband and father.  Unfortunately, the result is that I ended up depressed, withdrawn, and acting out in unhealthy ways because I was trying to be something that I was not…straight!  You can only suppress your identity for so long before it affects your emotional health in negative ways.  My negative emotional health crippled me, my marriage, my parenting, my relationships, and my ministry.

18 months ago, I began a journey towards emotional health.  With the help of a counselor, I came to grips with my identity, my sexual orientation, and how living a lie has caused tremendous damage to me, my family, and my ministry.  As a result, I have recently quit my job at a large Evangelical church in our area, had to find new employment, am moving out next week, and will be getting divorced from my wife.  After so many years in the closet, I am now beginning to live a new life out of the context of who I believe God created me to be.  There has been tremendous cost to become who I already was…but I now believe it was worth it so that I can be true to myself and how I am wired.

I am in the process of planting a new church that is radically inclusive and I have found that there are many people in our city who have been a part of conservative Evangelical churches and have suffered a similar lack of emotional health due to the lack of a message of inclusivity in those churches.  Many are very wounded by the lack of acceptance…and even downright rejection…that they have felt.  It is so sad that so many of us have had to live a lie because we couldn’t be accepted a Christians in any other way!

I often wonder how my life would have been different, had full inclusion for the LGBT community been a value in churches 20 years ago.  While I am thankful for the blessings that have come out of the last 20 years of my life, I know that the pain and damage done could have been avoided if I had had even one Christian tell me that I was ok.  If only I had known that God loved me just the way I was!  If only I had learned that I could be gay AND a pastor!  If only.

My new little church plant seeks to be inclusive of everyone.  I pray that other people’s lives will be touched by the message of Grace that I hope we always communicate.  And maybe…just maybe…a life will be saved from the damage that I had to go through in the past 20 years.

Full inclusion of the LGBT community in Christian churches can LITERALLY save lives from the irreparable damage that is caused when a person tries to suppress who they are for the purpose of acceptance by God and other Christians.  While people my age can’t go backwards to fix the past, we can certain fix the future for the sake of our brothers and sisters who desperately need to know they are loved by God and others!