Monday, January 6, 2014

What would I tell myself five years ago?

I came out to my best friend a week ago.  He comes from a Mormon cultural background, but didn’t grow up in the church.  He’s lived in Utah most of his life and married a very Mormon girl, so he understood my frustrations about not wanting to leave the church but wanting to be happy.  
After talking about how I should have realized things a lot sooner he asked “knowing what you know now, what would you tell yourself five years ago?”  I wasn’t sure how to answer that.

Five years ago I was finishing up my mission.  I was very much in denial about my sexuality, and took the lack of attraction I felt toward any of my companions as a sign that God had rewarded me for serving a mission and was finally making me straight.  I wouldn’t want to interrupt my mission with news like that.

Would I tell the 21-year-old, freshly returned missionary me?  Probably still no.  I learned a lot of things during the time between coming home and accepting that I’m gay.  I now have years of evidence to support that I will never be able to form a successful relationship, let alone marriage, with a woman.  A lot of the things I experienced were painful during that time, but I think I learned a lot of important life lessons from them.

Would I ever travel back in time and give myself a heads up?  I think I would.  I would wait until March 2013, right after the most painful dating disaster of my life.  That marked the turning point in my life that led to me coming to terms with things, and I really could have used some advice from future me.  Here’s what I would say to myself ten months ago:
 You’re right, life sucks right now, and it’s only going to get worse.  Dating girls just isn’t working out, and probably won’t ever work out.  It’s not because you have a major personality defect or some sort of social disorder.  It’s because you’re gay.   
   Remember how you’ve been burying those feelings since you were 12?  It turns out your worst fear is coming true.  And you know what?  It’s not the end of the world.  Yes, there are some very tough decisions you will have to make, but you don’t have to decide anything right away. 
 Pray about it.  Tell Heavenly Father that you’re gay and ask Him if He still loves you anyway.  Call up [one of your district leaders from the mission] and talk to him about it.  He’ll help you with this more than you could ever imagine, and you’ll be surprised at how well he understands what you’re going through.  
 Don’t jump into things right away.  Think about it first and then decide what you want to do and with whom.  You can avoid a lot of awkward and sketchy situations that way.  When you’re ready go on dates with guys.  You’ll be surprised at how natural it feels.   
 Yes, it’s clichéd, but it does get better.  It will be difficult, and you will want to just give up on life at times, but you get to make your own life according to the dictates of your conscience.  It’s a unique gift, so make of it what you can.

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