Thursday, February 23, 2017

Suicide is Never the Answer, Unless the Question is: “What is it Called When you Kill Yourself?”

I came across an article on suicide written by Becky Cavender of the Huffington Post about 3 years ago. At that time I was in the darkest point of my life and suicide was constantly running through my mind. It was starting to become an obsession. I couldn't sleep at night as I was busy planning and running through options and the ifs, whys, hows, wheres, whens, etc. in my head. I had thoughtful, meaningful letters written to my children telling them why I was doing this and how much better we'll all be in the end. I was drowning in the icky darkness and being done w/ my life in my way on my terms seemed like a warm, comforting blanket. I cringe when I think back to that time in my life.

I know sometimes it feels like there's no way out and suicide is the only way. 3 years ago I was there. I couldn't handle the fear, the self-hate and shame, the feelings of worthlessness and sadness. All the heartache and chaos and turmoil I had caused those around me b/c of my stupid choices and addictions was crushing me. The thought, "everyone would be much better off w/o me" began to make more sense and seem right. Sure, they may all be sad and hurt for a while, but eventually they'd heal and move on and they'd see they were happier b/c I wouldn't be there any longer to inflict hurt and agony. My wife would eventually remarry a man who would be a much better father to my children than I could ever have been and a more decent, loyal, faithful husband than I ever was.

But those are all lies, lies, lies told to us in our fragile state by the master deceiver. We're already heavy and overshadowed w/ darkness and pain and sadness, that suicide starts to become a light at the end of the tunnel. Every person on this planet goes through painful, overwhelming, and seemingly impossible patches in their lives. Some are worse than others. But they do eventually get better. I can't and won't say the difficulties or hardships will end completely, but they do improve. It may take a month or 5 years, but the sun will shine through the clouds again. We MUST endure the presumably endless pain and hurt and sadness and trials b/c in the end we'll realize it was all for our benefit! How much more strong and resilient and wise are we when we make it through those terrible, disastrous times!? Doing just that is was this life is all about!

I happened upon the following article by Ms. Cavender as I was researching suicide stories and methods. While it didn't completely pull me back from the edge, it did stir my soul and it still stirs me today as I re-read it. I think it's beautifully written and very touching. Please, please, please share it w/ others as I have done here <3


Becky Cavender
Huffington Post;
April 11, 2014

She shot herself that March. At 14, whatever pain clawed inside her, my cousin believed hunting it down, releasing it with a bullet from the chamber, was her answer. Our family and her friends were left behind to grieve. We took on her hurt and let it explode in anger or confusion. Some still say she was selfish... that suicide is the most selfish thing anyone can do; but she was young and must've truly believed there was no end, except to create her own.

I know what it feels like to paint yourself in a tight, dark corner so when you look down, all you see are thick spirals of injured agony, a deep sadness, the abyss. You think all there is left to do is let yourself fall. You hope there will be freedom from the ache that gnaws and chews your bones. In desperation, you're unsure if you have a heart left. And if you did, it surely would be charcoal.

The word sadness doesn't cut it. It's an all-encompassing pain that ties and wraps around your muscles and bones, pulling tighter, stringing you to the edge where you feel trapped. Alone. Without choice. Exhausted. So tired from feeling so much, that you just want it to stop. You don't know what to do.

If you suffer from mental illness or if you don't have the skills to cope with disappointment -- the knowledge that things don't always stay so bleak -- and if you don't talk to anyone, get help, you won't see yourself anymore. All your bones will have been squeezed so tightly, that they become scarred and wrung out. You believe you're crumbling. That even your skeleton won't hold.

After she died, someone made me promise I would never do the same; I knew I wouldn't keep it. Then I was asked when I would get back to normal, be my regular, happy self. People needed me to be happy for them, they said.

You don't get over someone killing themselves. It stays with you. It's a story that belongs to those left behind. At Thanksgiving when we gather, we see photos of her on the wall. During weddings, we know she should be there. Her life was not supposed to end the way it did: She is supposed to be with us. There was much more she was meant to give to this lovely world. This beautiful world that can sometimes, yes, feel ugly.

At 17, I made a promise I intended to keep. I promised to pay attention. To recognize the dimness that others get in their eyes, the sound of cracking bones. To remember what it looks like to get that close. I promised to remember the crocus, so resilient, budding with snow kissing its petals. It survived and pushed through winter, ushered in spring. In just one afternoon, the sun can shine enough, the temperatures rise enough, to allow for new growth. That fast. That fast. Things change. Nothing, nothing, nothing stays the same. Not even an abyss. And I promised to live like that, breathing, with new perspective, noticing the smallest piece of beauty. To become a collector of moments and keep them wrapped safely in my heart.

You learn that feelings are not necessarily the truth of a matter. They ebb and flow. Wash out to the mighty sea, and are released there. Yes, you will hurt sometimes. You will experience pain that brings you to your knees. You will feel you've already died. Your stomach will cut you up; but after awhile, that terrible pain fades.

This is when you choose to paint over that corner you painted yourself in: And it is just a corner. It's not the whole room, let alone the whole house or the whole neighborhood, the entire world, your life in full: It's just a corner. There is more beyond it. Look. Step over the edge. Paint it white.

That invisible rope that has scratched you to the bone... kiss it off you. Look at your delicate mortality. You have skin. You are not desolate. You are here. You exist. You belong. There are people who love you. And sometimes, that doesn't feel like enough. So you look in. What do you love? You know you love something. There are things you would miss if you were not here. Music. The stars. The sea. The taste of salt on your tongue. Old oaks growing and all the storms they have weathered. They didn't stop. They kept growing and now give you oxygen.

This is the thing: You have to save yourself. You have to believe that there's something worth it. Because there is. There is no one else like you. The world needs you. You need you.

So here you are. You're stronger than you know. You can plant yourself, grow your own roots that spread so deep and marvelous, allowing you to stretch and bloom like a cherry tree. Sprout out from that darkness and lift your arms in the sun. Let it brush against your sweet face that is precious and rare. Put your palms out and allow it to seep in.

Life is a gift. So fragile. So miraculous. So mysterious and exquisite.

You won't be the same. It will take time to heal, to learn new tools on how to cope with life. You'll learn how to think differently -- and that's one of the most important things -- because much of this, how you live, is in your head. You can choose how to think.

You'll give a blessing of compassion to others because you know what it feels like to get through to the other side, that life is not black and white. (It is NOT black and white.) You will help others by not judging them -- because you'll know there is no way you have any right to judge another person. You will see despair on someone's face when others don't notice. You will smile at them. It may save them for one more day -- and you know this. You know the kindness extended by a stranger can save a life.

Daffodils. The beach. Campfires. The smell of babies. A loved one's touch. The wind. Walking barefoot in the grass. A full moon. These are the things that will mesmerize you for the rest of your life. You'll know it's simple, really. It's not the car you drive, the kind of house you have, the job you go to, the clothes you wear, or if you had a hard day. It's your spirit. And it's the things that you can rely on to always be there, these stunning little gifts of magical life. Someone's laugh. The feel, the warmth of a forehead kiss. The smell of the earth after it rains. They ground you. Remind you what a blessing it is to live.

Twenty-four years later, we still think of her. We miss the girl who rode horses in the fog; the tough country girl who scoffed at me -- another country girl -- for not wanting to scale a fish. She could do it with her smile. We still ask questions. There was no note. We have coffee, talk of her, and cry. We tell our children that sometimes life is hard, but it is -- in equal measure, at least -- splendid and captivating. We miss her. We love her.

And the best thing I can think of to do is not just exist, but to love -- really love. To live -- really live. To pay attention. Keep gratitude close by at all times, because that, truly, is what keeps our mind full of wonder. That wonder keeps us here, shining. And that's what we're meant to do. So shine.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Choking the Chicken and Other Such Matters

✊Tossing off...jacking off...beating the meat...spanking the monkey...bopping the yourself a handy...jerking off...flogging your log...waxing the dolphin...whacking your willy...

I could fill pages!
Last month I heard the term "geeking out". I always considered 'geeks' to be those people who are typically into IT, sci-fi and fantasy, Star Trek/Star Wars, comic books, 'magic' games, video gaming, LARPing, Lord of the Rings, and who usually fall short in personal hygiene. Ok, ok...I'm stereotyping a bit, but honestly, in my experience, most of those types of guys (geeks) have quite a number of those things in common. Am I mistaken here?

Anyhow, I thought 'geeking out' refers to when a 'geek' or group of 'geeks' really get lit up and passionate when talking about any of the above mentioned items. It's what ignites the fire w/in. I've been asked what do I geek out about and nothing really came to mind. What do I get really passionate about or obsessed with and enjoy learning about and soaking in as much information as I can get? After a little bit of thought, I realized I do have some things I geek out about...

a) Golden Girls, b) horror movies, c) soda pop, d) DIY projects, and e) playing w/ myself.

Masturbation is one of my favorite subjects b/c I consider myself to be a veteran of it. I started when I was 7 and for most of my life, like many men, have been a complete and total addict. I've never even had a wet dream b/c I've never given my body time enough to build up my juices and naturally release them! Though it sucks to suffer the pains and trials of addiction, experiences like these have changed me and taught me and helped me grow and understand more about myself and my physical, carnal body and the experience I'm having as a spiritual being inside a mortal body while here on the earth. The whole purpose of this life is to learn to master our natural man desires, appetites, passions, lusts, etc. and for some, this comes easy. But for many others, like myself, it takes a life time to master. This is especially the case w/ masturbation!

Unlike an alcoholic who must go to the store or bar in order to purchase liquor, we carry our vice around w/ us everywhere we go and we go to it for soooo many different reasons. Little boys are constantly fiddling w/ their tally-wackers. And why not? He's fun to play w/ and it feels good. Exploring our bodies and discovering ourselves and the things that give us pleasure is a normal and natural part of human development. We love to smell and eat delicious foods, have our backs tickled or scratched, soak in hot tubs, have our hair shampooed by another person, watch colorful sunsets, listen to beautiful music, etc. In the preexistence we couldn't wait to come to earth and receive a physical body so we could have these physical experiences and delight in the things that only a mortal body can do. 

I do believe in something called mindful masturbation: completely emptying your mind and focusing on the sensation of it all; to really indulge in the experience and sensation and purpose. Let it be something special, not something quick and fast and lustful and 'carnal.' Use it to relax, or reduce stress and anxiety, and to free your mind. This is particularly the case for those who aren't married or for whatever reason will never have that opportunity. I can't even imagine going through my whole life w/o having and enjoying the pleasure of sexual relations w/ another human being and then being made to feel like an occasional jerk off is a terrible sin and that I'm a bad, naughty, unclean person. WTF? The first commandment God gave to Adam before any others was to go forth and multiply! Think about this: do you think it's by accident that our arms and hands end at exactly the same point our nether regions are located? Coincidence? HAHA That sexual desire is bred in us from the get-go! It's our natural instinct to have sex or have that experience and release. For men, this is a natural and normal part of ALL our lives. But for some of us, it can become habit forming and addictive. That is where we need to be careful, b/c as we're taught and I believe: the natural man is an enemy to God.
A lot of it depends on the thoughts and actions that are going on whilst you're masturbating and where you're at and what your intentions are and the frequency. Are you doing it 8 times a day? Is it interfering w/ your work or schooling? If you're married, are you keeping it secret and is it interfering w/ your relationship or desire for sex w/ your spouse? Are you viewing porn while masturbating or has it led you to? Are you fantasizing about someone or the porn you've viewed in the past or past experiences you may have had w/ another person ? Are you doing it publicly or in a steam room or somewhere risky that adds to the thrill of the act and ultimately strengthens the addiction? Are you doing it w/ someone outside your marriage or if you haven't yet married are you masturbating w/ another person? Whether they're hands on you or off you aka sitting side by side, that would still be a definite no-no.

I've done it all, and in some instances, continue to do so. But I'm aware and am continually working on it and keeping it in the forefront of my brain. I do not get hung up on masturbation as some LDS folks tend to do anymore. Now, is it something that ought to be controlled and kept to a bare minimum? Yes! When and if you do toss off, should your soul be racked w/ torment and guilt? Absolutely not! We are healthy, vibrant, normal, virile, sexual men! Stop sweating it!
If masturbation is one of the things you 'geek' out to and consider it to be one of the best things since sliced bread like myself, that's swell. But if you're finding yourself overwhelmed w/ guilt and pain after every jerk session, maybe you should stop and take a look at yourself and try and understand why it is you feel that way and why you're masturbating in the first place. Maybe you're jerking off 10 times a day and you feel completely out of control of this addiction and it's interfering w/ your life. Recognize it and try to make some necessary changes. But please try and let some of that guilt go! You are normal. And you are not a terrible person. Just keep working on mastering it and try what I said about the mindfulness and stop obsessing! Similar to the Lord's Word of Wisdom that we Mormons LOVE to pick and choose our judgments on ("herbal" teas, cola drinks, pigging out at buffets, all-meat diets, Veganism, etc.), the whole masturbation topic is a personal thing between you and the Lord or between you, the Lord, and your spouse.

The one and only time my Dad and I ever talked about masturbation, he said this: "Are YOU controlling IT, or is IT controlling YOU?"
Solid, sound advice that I will never forget. And that is my measuring stick.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

SSA vs. Gay... WTH!?

In an online group I'm a member of, someone recently asked the question what's the difference between SSA and gay? Why is there so much confusion and people using both words interchangeably and yet mutual exclusively. Aren't they the same thing?

Here are my 2 ¢:

In the end I think I think it's a very convoluted topic and I don't think anyone really gets it or has the correct answer. We can all toss our opinions and thought on the matter into the pot, but in the end it'll still be messy.

I am under the impression that church leaders may consider SSA to be more of a general unwanted physical/sexual attraction to members of the same sex but it may also imply that the person is not actively having sexual relations w/ members of the same sex or experimenting on those attractions or desiring to pursue them. They simply find themselves as "same-sex attracted."
Whereas I think the term GAY connotates the individual has accepted they are 100% attracted solely to members of the same sex, they can't and won't ever change and will live their lives accordingly and will possibly pursue a sexual relationship. The notion that "I find myself attracted to members of my same sex but it's something I don't necessarily want and won't act on" vs. "yep, I'm gay; this is who I am now and forever so perhaps I need to be pro-gay in all things and consider living my life that way" has fused together in their minds. No longer are they simply just "attracted" to members of the same sex; it has now become an unwavering acceptance which may possibly result in a change of lifestyle and life goals and ideals and actively pursuing homosexual behaviors and sexual relations.

For me personal I do not identify as "gay" nor do I think that's the correct label to slap on me. But I sure as hell am same-sex attracted. But if I were to say I am solely SSA, that doesn't seem right either. Hmmmm
So, in a nutshell: SSA vs. Gay = No sexual behavior and unwanted attractions vs. acceptance and possibly sexually active w/ a change of lifestyle..

What say you?

Monday, January 23, 2017

Ok, I'm Out! Now Let's Do This!

These past few weeks have been energizing, exhilarating, and yet also extremely frightening for me. I have had to take some huge steps in regards to publicizing my sexuality and situation. In a previous post I wrote about unmasking myself. Well, I think I can safely say, as of today I'm pretty much officially unmasked. Some people 'come out' w/ a lengthy post on their FB wall and share their experiences or they bake a cake and write "Yep, I'm Gay" in frosting on the top. But my experience has been a little different.

For months, nay years, I've noticed how many LGBTQ LDS folk there are in Utah. However, up here in Idaho, while I know there are a lot that exist, there aren't many who are "out", including myself, or who are ready to confront that part of themselves. So they suppress it, and it sometimes rears its ugly head in not-so-good ways (casual and anon sex, porn, etc) b/c those needs, feelings, desires, etc. need addressed! Come now or come in 20 years, they will eventually want to be heard! For a middle-aged guy like myself it's lonely as hell around here. Sure, I could jump on Grindr or Craigslist or another app and find a whole world of men. But ideally I want friends or a group of friends who share my views, beliefs, wants, desires, and goals. The gay/bi/same-sex attracted, married w/ children, middle aged dudes w/ strong testimonies of the gospel. I knew I had to do something to coax these scared, closeted men out of the closet, even if it would mean flinging the closet door wide open on myself!

I took it upon myself to launch a chapter of Men Finding Peace support group here in East Idaho for LDS SSA men. This would mean I would have to basically come out to the whole world in order to spread the news and message of this group as well as my involvement and support of North Star International. At first I did everything I could under the radar w/o actually outing myself...creating flyers, FB and Blogger pages, putting ads in the newspaper and everywhere online I could think of. But then it came time for me to really step outside of my own safe, cozy closet and share the news of the new support group w/ the world.

So, on 11/28/2016 at exactly 4:34pm I shared my Men Finding Peace East Idaho page w/ the world and since then I have continued to share various events, posts, pictures, etc of my group as well as those of North Star. I have sent messages to people on Facebook telling them about the group and asking them to spread the word to any they may know or who may be in need. I've sent invites of the page to most of my FB friends. Any wonder or question or doubt anyone may have had about my sexuality is now out there. And you know what? Nothing has changed. I've had supportive messages and comments here and there and a few negative ones, but as a whole nothing awful or devastating has resulted in my 'coming out.'

I'm excited to start this next chapter of my life as someone who is secure in his sexuality and his desires, goals, wants and values and who can help support, encourage, love, understand, and advise other men in the gospel/church who need support and brotherhood and friendship and connection.

It's refreshing and worth-while to be 'out' and to be a spokesman and advocate for SSA/gay/bi married LDS men at this stage of my life. I am most definitely a minority amongst minorities, and I couldn't be happier!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Men Finding Peace East Idaho

I've recently had the wonderful and blessed opportunity to help launch a chapter of the Men Finding Peace support group/brotherhood here in East Idaho. I'm hoping it will cause more LDS gay/bi/SSA men in the area who are living their lives alone and scared and in secret to know they are not alone and there is a place for them where they can feel welcomed and loved and supported and encouraged.

Men Finding Peace is a group of men who share common goals and needs. It is a place where men can learn from other men what it means to experience SSA and simultaneously live a covenant life of faith. It’s a place where learning how others have found strength and resolve is explored with like men who share a common bond in brotherhood.

It’s a forum for healthy dialogue around what men are doing to live within the bounds the Lord has set, and thrive in a gospel centered life. This is a place where God’s grace and power in our lives is openly discussed without apprehension or apology, but without the intent to change or convert others. It’s a place where the opinions and experiences of others represent opportunities to learn and grow and where respect for our fellow man is considered sacred.

This is an open group where all men are invited to attend whenever our schedules allow without commitment in our already, over scheduled and busy lives. Where a man can attend without fear of being called on or called out, with the right to remain a silent observer for as long as they may wish.

This is a group where confidentiality is the only commitment we must make for admittance and participation. In this group, our personal safety is respected and upheld by everyone that attends.

Men Finding Peace is more than a social gathering of men who experience SSA or identify with what it means to be gay or bisexual. We value the power of community as a priority for finding strength and in building relationships that enrich our lives.  Men need other men.

For some men that have never attended such a group with like men, just walking through the door requires great courage.  We remember what it felt like and can never forget.  For others, this group offers a place of service and mentorship in an environment where everyone has the desire to learn and grow together.

If you live in the East Idaho area, please come to a meeting and see for yourself what a wonderful and positive, safe place it is!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Unmasking Myself

Today is Halloween, my favorite holiday of the year. I thought it would be a perfect day to post about the removal of my past masks of shame, guilt, sin, embarrassment, fear, anger, and self loathing.

When I started this blog 4.5 years ago I was filled to overflowing w/ all of the emotions expressed above, and my homosexuality/bisexuality/queerness was a big WTF? So many dark, vile secrets, thoughts, desires, and sins running rampant through my soul, tearing me apart. "I just know there's something dark in me. I hide it. Certainly don't talk about it. But it's there. Always. This Dark Passenger. How when he's driving, I feel alive. Half-sick with the thrill, complete wrongness. I don't fight him. I don't want to. He's all I've got. Nothing else could love me, especially not me. Or is that just a lie the Dark Passenger tells me? Because, lately, there are these moments that I feel connected to something else...It scares the hell out of me." I came across that quote about the Dark Passenger from the TV show Dexter and it really resonated w/ me. Indeed I did have a Dark Passenger inside of me, grabbing the wheel and taking control and running my life off the rails at his whim! I had absolutely NO CONTROL.

Fast forward 4.5 years to today; while I do still have some of that darkness down inside of me (and always will), I've come a helluva long way these past 4.5 years in self discovery, realization, understanding, control and acceptance. I have dragged those dark demons and skeletons out of the dark closets of my soul and out into the light. No, I haven't come out publicly on FB or anything yet, but I am pretty open and willing to talk to others about myself. I am much more at ease w/ myself and my past and addictions and urges and attractions. I'm usually happy to share my story w/ others and hope to turn some of the bad I've done in this life to good.

I'm so much more happy and content now that I've taken my many masks off.

Happy Halloween friends, and may you have the strength to take your masks and costume off and let the world and yourself see who you are in a whole new light.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Friend Requests...Never Again!

I recently had 15 outgoing friend requests to dudes who are in my same social circles. And there they sat! Day after day after day. Finally I canceled each and every one and have sworn I will not do that to myself again. I am again left to wonder what the hell is wrong with me!? Why would guy X have 25 other men as friends, (who show as mutual friends in our social circles), yet not accept mine!? Do I reek!? Am I poisonous!? Not hot enough?! Smart enough!? Gay enough!? Religious enough!? What the hell gives!? Stupid bastards.

So I say to him and the other 14 assholes who rejected me, which has become so damn commonplace lately: FUCK YOU! And that's just what you did to me...rejection. :( And I could have  been a really good friend to you.  Seriously, ouch! But I have faith that  what goes around comes around.

Lesson learned from all of this: I will NEVER AGAIN send friend requests out to people, especially guys, who I would like to connect with. Never again! I just can't handle the passive rejection. I will focus on the friends I already have in my life and to hell with all the rest of you douchebags.

To those of you reading who perhaps know me and wanted to possibly connect more personally someday with won't be receiving a request or hearing anything from me anytime soon. Sorry, but the ball's in your court. Don't expect me to be reaching out to you. However,  should you choose me as your friend, I think I would be a worthy choice. But that's all you, dude.