Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Layers of My Onion

We learn at the Journey into Manhood (JiM) and Mankind Project's 'New Warrior Training Adventure' weekends that there are 4 core emotions: Joy, Fear, Anger, Sadness. All other emotions are offshoots of these core 4 and if you think about it deep enough all other emotions could really be broken down, dissected and categorized to fit into one of the core 4 boxes.

In other therapy groups I've attended, I've also learned that we are onions - layer after layer after layer of XYZ that must be peeled away until we reach our core. Use that metaphor as you wish: complexities, emotions, experiences, personalities, etc. But I like to use the onion to metaphorically describe my core emotions. As I have begun peeling away some of the layers of my onion through experiences at these experiential weekends and therapy groups, I have dismally found that my onion is nothing but layers of...

Anger
Sadness
Anger
Sadness
Anger
Sadness
Anger
Sadness

Layer after layer of complete and total ANGER (rage, anger, fury, madness) and SADNESS (hurt, heart break, rejection, sorrow). IDK how many son of a bitching layers I would need to peel away to finally reach the gold at my center. And my dark passenger has taught me oh-so-well how to numb out to those feelings and layers of anger and sadness, to the point that I don't feel much of anything anymore. But when I do "feel" something, particularly anger or sadness, watch out!

Do any of you deal w/ anger management issues? Do you suffer from intense road rage, intolerance, impatience or pure anger and rage at times? Do any of you deal w/ incessant deep, dark periods of sadness and depression and doom and gloom?

I think I need to invest in some punching bags or installing a rubber room in my house where I can scream and rage and cry and sob and hit and punch and throw myself around and weep to my heart's content. What say you?

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Letting More Things Go

My LDS re-baptism and confirmation have come and gone and now I'm feeling a bit like it's the day after Christmas. You know.. those terrible post-event woebegone doldrums. To add insult to injury Satan has been hard at work throwing punch after punch to try and bring my spirits down even more. And he's done a pretty good job. I've had a couple of bad instances of male rejection lately. And when that rejection comes from dudes in the MOHO community, it hurts even more.

Case #1

I first met Guy A at the North Star Conference last Spring (March 2016). There was an instant attraction/infatuation one for another and we grew quite fond of each other's company that weekend. Did I lust after him and him me? I'd be a liar if I said no, but we kept our lusts reeled in pretty well. I actually had the opportunity to stay with him for a few nights at his house in AZ when I was down there last summer. Nothing ever happened, but we did enjoy some good physical closeness (no sex) and we enjoyed our time together. Guy A and I communicate maybe once every 6 weeks or so either via phone or text, so we're not too terribly close and we live 2 states away. I actually invited him to fly to Idaho last fall and stay w/ me for a weekend, but he blew me off and said he couldn't for one reason or another. So, I didn't think much more of it, nor him. Just another patch in my patchwork quilt of MOHO friends.

Fast forward to this year's North Star Conference that I wasn't able to attend. Guy A happens to meet Guy B and there is an instant attraction/infatuation between them. Well, they DO happen to talk and text every day. Coincidentally, I actually reached out to Guy B on a recent trip to Utah to spark convo and possibly a friendship, unbeknownst to me that him and Guy A had become bosom buddies. I didn't even know there was an existing connection there. Anyhow, Guy B and I happen to spend some really good, close quality time that weekend and I really like him a lot. Yet, while spending time w/ him I had to hear about his and Guy A's cutesy relationship and witnessed how often they communicated back and forth one to another. The cherry on the cake came a few weeks later when I found out that Guy A actually went to Utah for the weekend and spent some cozy, quality time w/ Guy B. Therefore, it seems Guy A was so quick to haul his pecker to Utah and snuggle up w/ Guy B yet he couldn't come to Idaho when I had invited him to spend time w/ me last fall? Ouch.

So, I have to ask what's so special about Guy B that Guy A sees in him that I don't have? Is he just younger? Fresher? Cuter? Or is it just the fact he's the more tight-assed and newest piece of man meat on the MOHO market/scene and I guess I'm old news?

That bugged me, and it still bugs me. And I don't know why. Am I jealous of their connection and friendship? Am I jealous that Guy A is pawning all over Guy B instead of me and taking more of an interest in him? Am I jealous that perhaps they are both in the same situation (single and acting out) and they could both get together and have some awesome otter sex while I can't? Maybe all of it and then some :(

Case #2

There is a single, mid-30s MOHO gentleman who lives and works here in town who has made quite a good presence for himself in the blogosphere and North Star Community. A lot of guys who meet him think he's the cat's pajamas and have nothing but good things to say. But I say, au contraire.

I first tried to reach out to DB (short for douche bag) via a FB friend request about 9 months or so ago when I found out who he was and that he was another North Star guy living in my area and w/ whom I could possibly connect with. Well, my friend request sat there, and sat there, and sat there. For a few weeks I let it sit until I finally reneged it. A few months later I put together the Men Finding Peace group here in my area (see MFP post) and decide to reach out to any and all queers I know or suspect and are living in my area. Anyhow, I took a flyer over to DB's workplace w/ my contact information written on it inside a sealed envelope and told the kid I spoke w/ to deliver it to DB. I also sent DB a PM in messenger telling him about the local group along w/ another FB friend request. Again, as in all other instances, crickets. Why???

Well, piss on DB I thought to myself, and again reneged my friend request and put him out of my mind.

Then a couple of weeks ago, I hear stirrings in the North Star community of some poor, sad little soul who had recently blogged about feeling lonely and neglected with no one to connect w/. Outpourings of 'you poor, poor little baby' were coming in by the droves. I couldn't believe it! Well, I was delighted to see that DB has his blog set to public so I knew that was my chance to tell him what I thought of him and his situation. So I did. I told him I didn't feel sorry for him and that I had tried several times to reach out and help him get connected to other good MOHOs in the area only to be met w/ ignorance and rejection.

And while I didn't get a response to my post from him, I know and am assured that he read it and knows what I think of him and how bad he hurt me and called him out on his douche-baggery. And that makes me a feel a little better. It was almost like I was able to FINALLY have my say and tell him what a DB I think he is and he really needs to get off himself.

But still, that rejection remains, and it stings and hurts like hell. In fact, if I were to let it, it would continue to rip my guts apart. So I thought it best to block him on FB and completely and totally put him and the circumstance out of my mind. I never want to hear or see anything related to DB again.

I try and tell myself, no matter; I know who my friends are and those who genuinely love and care for me and who enjoy spending time w/ me. Why do I care so much about being (accepted? validated? acknowledged?) by this DB prick and why-oh-why would I give someone whom I've never even met in person so much power over me!? Give me a break!

Well, no way! Not any more! I am in control of my emotions and my actions and my own happiness. I won't have it dictated to me by ignorant turds or stupid, petty, worthless, insignificant occurrences such as these.

I've come a long way, but obviously, I still have a long ways to go and have more growing up to do.  I guess I'd better eat some more fruits and veggies and stay away from the 'junk' food.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Lot's Wife Syndrome

Tomorrow I'm getting re-baptized a member of the LDS Church. It's a day 3½ years in the making and I'm super stoked and humbled to once again call myself a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. What's even more wonderful is knowing that my God, the Stake Presidency, the High Council, and the Bishopric as well as many of my friends and family all know I'm ready to take this step. They can see the change in my eyes and heart, even though it hasn't been that long ago that I was pretty checked out and dark. But even so, I'm at peace knowing that God knows my heart and my potential and He (as well as countless others on both sides of the veil no doubt) have helped get me to where I'm at today. Tomorrow, I will have the opportunity to be "born again" and renewed in Christ and have the past 30 years of horrendous, heinous, grievous sins washed away forever (symbolically) in preparation of once again having the Gift of the Holy Ghost bestowed upon me.

But someone who isn't thrilled w/ this event? Yep..that ole' bitch Satan who has been uber busy these past couple of weeks whispering loads of sweet lustful thoughts, memories, desires, wants and wishes into my DP's ear. And my DP is listening and TBH I'm struggling to keep my eye single to the glory and keep myself focused and resolute in my thoughts and desires.

My wife and I talked surface-ly about my struggles this week. I told her Satan has been hitting me hard core w/ a barrage of temptations and thoughts. And the more I look and lust, the more Satan seems to provide more things for me to lust over! Does that sound like someone who is ready to take upon them the name of Christ and be baptized? :/ Factor in the sunny spring weather when everyone decides to start shedding clothes or putting on tighter pants and exercising, riding bikes, flexing their muscles, and flaunting their beautiful otter-esque bodies for everyone to see. Oy vey.

Now, I do have to give myself some slack as I realize I'm also a man and us men have that natural instinct in the spring to want to screw. That natural urge to mate and spread the seed doesn't lie w/ only animals; it hits us dudes pretty hard too. In addition, my wife and I are in the midst of building a house and I'm feeling excited yet nervous about that next chapter and my work life is a little bit in the doldrums lately too. I'm feeling disconnected and unappreciated and blah-zay at work and some of my close friendships have been estranged.

Last night I was able to talk out some of the more raunchy, deeper thoughts and feelings I'm having w/ a few friends in my Men Finding Peace group meeting. I talked, quite authentically, about some of those naughty, carnal, lustful thoughts that my wife A) wouldn't understand and/or B) would freak out about if I said those things to her. It's just that inner turmoil of my DP still holding on to that love and desire for pure, worldly, carnal gay sex and lust and realizing I can't do those things anymore. And I love doing them! But I tell myself, what's the big deal? In the end is that 7" penis really going to dictate the rest of my life and eternity? I can still enjoy that connection w/ men and fulfill some of those physical needs. I'll just never again know and enjoy the raw, carnal feelings and sensations and the mega hot ecstasy that is gay sex. I will never again feel the pleasure of having a man inside me. Sure, I can have my wife peg me, but really, it's not the same as being dominated by another male; a bigger, stronger man and be subservient to his lust. I will never again service a guy and taste him in my mouth. Nor will I be able to experience the power of an orgasm through performing or receiving gay sex acts.

I don't mean to trigger you, reader, but these are the real and raw thoughts I have. I've had a lot of gay sexual encounters in my day. And they were awesome. I love gay sex. I always will. Men are my sexual preference and my arousal template. While I do enjoy preforming oral sex on a woman, I would much rather suck a dick. While I do enjoy the softness and tenderness that is woman, I would prefer the scratchy, scruffy, strong touch of a man. While I do enjoy being the dominator in my straight marriage, sometimes it's nice to be dominated by a bigger, stronger man and feel him inside me. While I do enjoy cupping a female's breast, I'd prefer to cup an attractive guy's tight, hairy bubble butt. Are these feelings and desires wrong? No, they're not. And I don't feel shame or embarrassment or guilt in having them. The "wrong" part is when I lose control and act out those desires w/ a man outside of my marriage. While my cross of lust is heavy to bear in this life, God thankfully gave me the ability to carry it and temper it and in a sense 'overcome' it. "There hath no temptation taken hold of you but such as is common to man. But God is faithful; He will not suffer you to be tempted beyond that which ye are able to bear, but with the temptation will also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." 1 Cor 10:13

I am choosing God and the purity and peace of mind that comes w/ living a "celibate" life from gay sex. I am choosing the beautiful, simple, genuinely happy life I have w/ my wife and my children and the love we share in our happy home. Is riding a cock really more important than all of that? Some would say yes and that I should stop denying myself and just give in and live my life as a gay man. Well, I'm sorry haters, but while that may give YOU happiness in your life, I've come to find and KNOW that my happiness is found in my family, my church, my strength/control and the peace of mind I have when I'm not allowing my DP to take control of me anymore. Sure I'm still a fuck up in a lot of ways, but I'm still trying to fight the good fight and have not and will not give up! And you know what else I've found out? I can still enjoy a man's touch and his company and snuggle w/ him and feel that closeness and bond w/ him. I just need to absolve myself and grieve the fact I won't ever again partake in some of those beloved carnal desires. Sigh. I just need to grieve it and move on.

That being said, I also want to say I have a solid testimony of this gospel and of Christ's true church. Despite some of the flaws of the men inside the church or who hold leadership positions, they are just men, and are full of worldly weaknesses and flaws and biases and judgments and frailties. Christ's gospel offers nothing but peace and freedom and joy and sweetness and warmth. I would much rather have that joy in my life, that is true and lasting, than the fleeting, empty, hollow pleasures that the world offers. Is it hard to turn away and leave Sodom behind? Hell yes it is! I'd be lying if I said it wasn't! There will always be a tiny bit of my heart in Sodom living amongst all the gay sex orgies and hot, otter-bodied men in their tank tops and tight pants w/ their gorgeous bubble butts. But the eternal part of me knows that for me, that life and way of living is death - metaphorically or realistically speaking. Living a life of chastity and loyalty and service and faithfulness to my covenants and to my family is what I must do. And really, it is what I want to do.

That is what the Spirit speaks to me and just like Nephi, I MUST OBEY! So onward and upward! Show me the way to the font!


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

My Story (Updated 4/25/17)

I want to get this out of the way early on. This is more of my addiction history, rather than family, friends, religion, etc. I'll try to keep it as concise as possible but mind you it does gets rather intense.

I started experimenting w/ my male cousin when I was about 7. We were both the same age and were like brothers growing up. We had frequent sleepovers and would watch raunchy 80s comedies and then pause the movie and lick the body parts (female) on the TV screen. His older sister (she was 12, we were 8) once put on a strip tease for us in the middle of the night too. Ordinarily we would just lay in bed and fiddle w/ one another; stupid stuff...like dare each other to lick here or touch there. Totally experimental. I honestly don't remember anything beyond that happening w/ that particular cousin. There were other occasions here and there at that age w/ other boys and cousins, usually just showing each other our erections and fiddling w/ each other and stuff like that.

I also started messing around w/ myself at about that same age. Not completely masturbating in the regular sense, but I would just rub myself while watching TV. And I think I would orgasm, but I don't remember for sure. I did it a lot and I got caught a lot. It was always a dirty, shameful thing when I got caught playing w/ myself, or at least I was made to feel that way. Therefore I really tried hard to keep it secret.

I also remember experimenting w/ girls. I loved to kiss girls as they came in the school room and was always curious about them sexually. I had crushes on the girls in all the movies I grew up watching. There was a girl I rode the bus w/ that would let me suck on her breasts under a coat while we rode home from school. I think I was about 10. I also remember going into an empty classroom while at church and asking her to stick her finger in herself while I watched. She said it hurt. I remember it smelled funny.

My mom had a Greek statue in her bathroom and I remember licking the breasts while I masturbated. I masturbated at church lots and lots of times alone in an upstairs classroom. I remember sticking my penis in a hole in the drywall behind the door at home. I remember watching movies that had love scenes in them and I would rewind and play w/ myself while watching. I remember messing around w/ other male cousins and friends growing up; basic mutual masturbation stuff like sitting side by side and playing w/ ourselves or even oral sex. We were so young! I can't believe I was so stinking sexual at such a young age.

I was extremely sexual during adolescence. I know it's all part of growing up and masturbation is a normal part of a boy's life and all that, but give me a break! Going into Jr. High was really rough. I was severely bullied and taunted and made fun of and rejected by my peers. I had absolutely no friends and no one to turn to. I never told my parents about what was going on at school or let on that I was being severely bullied and harassed. I don't know why I was targeted. I wasn't effeminate or anything like that. But for whatever reason, I was an easy target at school for kids to horrendously bully and torment and harass and embarrass. Coincidentally, this is also the point when I became really close to my other male cousin, who was like my best friend, little brother, etc. We did everything together, including sexual stuff. We were inseparable until we were about 18.

I remember building a fort w/ some other cousins of mine out in the woods and looking at porn and trying cigarettes and chew and huffing gas together. We were always getting porn one way or another and trading it amongst each other. I can't recall being particularly drawn to dudes sexually back then nor only looking at the guys in the porn magazines. But during this time I was still having a lot of male-male experimentation! I think it's b/c I was so made fun of and rejected at school by guys and yet was also experimenting sexually w/ guys that the wires somehow got crossed in my brain and that is where the problem really started. Yet all along I still had crushes on girls and became easily infatuated by them. It's bizarre, I know.

When I was about 15 I remember seeing a picture in one of the ads at the back of one of my porn magazines that showed two men having sex. It was so weird b/c the thought had never even crossed my mind up to that point. I remember being intrigued by the picture of the 2 men and masturbating to it many times. I told my close cousin about it and the next time we got together we tried anal sex. From then on we started having regular anal sex. It was always sneaky and quick, w/ no love or emotion. It was more of an exciting 'we know we're doing something wrong' excitement. Always spur of the moment. We continued this until we were 18. At that point our sexual relationship ended b/c he said what we were doing wasn't right. But we're still very close to this day and talk openly about our childhood and sexual exploits.

During my senior year I had some sexual encounters w/ other guys on random school trips and other places. This is the year I can pin point that I got a lot more sexually active. I was learning how to gain validation and acceptance and get attention from other men...through sex and being sexually desired/lusted after by them. I had another cousin that I would have anal sex w/ and we would perform oral sex on one another quite frequently. In my Junior year of H.S. I remember traveling to San Francisco once w/ a group from school and once there I left the group to go off by myself. I took a trolley car and went into the city. I noticed a guy cruising me on the trolley (this is the first time I can actually remember "cruising" or looking for sex or knowing someone wanted me for sex). We went and got a hotel somewhere and had sex. I don't remember much about the actual sex part but I wasn't even 18 and in San Francisco aka gay/AIDS central of all places!

During my senior year I wrote some extremely sexual and vulgar letters to a kid at school. Long story short, I got caught and had to meet w/ a prosecutor who threatened to send me to Cottonwood in No. Idaho (correctional facility). You have no idea the trauma and stress that was going on in my brain at that time. I was also graduating from high school that year and was completely living a double life! I was my parent's apple in their eye, Eagle Scout, ward organist, honor's student at school, etc. yet I was doing these horrible sexual activities very frequently and masturbating at least once or more times a day.

Aside from being caught masturbating from time to time or occasional porn magazines or messing around w/ my cousin, my parents had no idea how truly sexual I was or the deviant behaviors I was participating in at that point. They didn't know about the letters either. Let me just say I don't hardly even remember my senior year b/c of all the mental stress and turmoil that was going on in my life. I think that maybe perhaps I had somewhat of a mental breakdown.

I lost my "regular" virginity during my senior year. It was w/ a girl I was dating at the time. We would always make out and pet very heavy. I don't think we had sex b/c I was attracted to her. I think it was more of a curiosity thing. In fact, since I was a little boy, I don't recall getting sexually aroused by looking at or thinking about naked girls. There were other girls here and there from time to time over the years that I dated and would let me experiment w/ them sexually (usually heavy petting and such), but aside from my wife I have only had sex w/ that one girl.

Despite being so sexual at such an early age, I was still really innocent and naïve, as hard as that is to believe. For example, all the times my male cousin and I had sex, I never once thought to myself, "well since I'm a boy and he's a boy it means I'm gay." The thought never even crossed my mind and still didn't for years later! It was always just about the sex; the quick fix. It's like I was in a fog or a trance. The connection never happened in my brain. I never did consider myself "gay", and still do not. After all, what IS "gay?" Who I'd prefer to have sex with? Who arouses me sexually? Who I want to date and romance? Who I want to the spend the rest of my life with? What does "being gay" mean!?

Even though I was pretty promiscuous during my senior year, I got really bad the summer after I graduated. In July, I was in a video store w/ my sister and we were checking out. I got a really weird vibe from the guy clerk. When we got home I called the store and asked to speak to him. I came right out and asked him if he was gay. He said yes, but that he currently had a boyfriend and that he was moving to Seattle. But he invited me to a going away party he was throwing. I went to the party and met a guy there. We left together and ended up having sex. After we were done he took me to the house of a friend of his. This house was a meeting/hang out place for a lot of gay people in the area back then and for the next year or more I met many, many guys and had lots and lots of sex. Sometimes I was safe, sometimes I wasn't. It was like a turn table. Sometimes it was one on one sex, sometimes group sex, etc. I was really out of control.

I started college at Ricks College the fall after High School. There was a guy in my class that I noticed had his fingernails painted black. I thought maybe he was gay b/c he had his fingernails painted, whereas no regular straight guy would do something like that. I wrote another vulgar, obscene letter requesting sex w/ him and sent it to him. It got turned over to the Dean. I got caught and got kicked out of Ricks. Another one of my huge mistakes I still regret to this day.

The next 3 years I was very, very, very promiscuous. I remember a time shortly after my mission when I decided to compile a list of all the sexual encounters I had had up to that point (this was October 2003) and it was well over 120. I was constantly living in complete turmoil and fear b/c of my sexual addictions and I had mentally convinced myself I had AIDS. I was still hiding my many secrets and lives from my parents and had absolutely no one to turn to or help me. I was never completely nor thoroughly honest in my dealings w/ church authority. I was just floating from one sexual encounter to the next and losing myself mentally and spiritually. I couldn't get my act together w/ regards to school or a career or a mission or anything. It was just sex, sex, sex. I think that this is when (age 18-20) I completely lost touch w/ who I truly was (or am). When I was young I had so much potential and talent and opportunity, yet lost sight of it all in a world of sexual addiction. I had completely lost touch w/ myself and WHO I AM, what I want, what my goals are, what do I want to be when I "grow-up" etc. I still struggle w/ that.

Between the ages of 19-21 I was attending ISU on a semester and off a semester taking general courses. I was living at home, then I would live a semester in Pocatello, then I would live in West Yellowstone for the summer (and sometimes fall). I began regularly cruising the gay parks and bathrooms and book stores and having anon hook ups all the time. Unsafe, anon sex was a regular occurrence for me. I was smoking and drinking and experimenting w/ pot. At 20 I got involved in the club scene in Salt Lake and would head to Salt Lake every weekend and go to the nightclubs and basically pick out who I was going to go home w/ that night. It was a game to me. And if it didn't happen, meaning I didn't get the guy I had set my sights on, I felt absolutely and completely devastated and worthless.

W/ regards to the internet that was just getting big at that time, I can recall chatting on line in gay chat rooms now and then and surfing some internet porn pictures (no videos), but I can honestly say that internet porn wasn't that big of an issue of me at that time. It was mostly the real deal. I did rent gay porn videos from the book store now and then but truthfully, porn wasn't in the forefront.

At 21 I started working w/ my Bishop to go on a mission. I never had a desire to go out for the right reasons (to convert people to the gospel and teach them about Jesus Christ and the POS), but solely b/c it talks a lot about my mission in my patriarchal blessing and I thought it would be good for me to go. Somehow or another, I got my act together (though not thoroughly) and went. Of course I didn't tell my Bishop everything I had been involved in nor to the extent I had been involved while I was preparing to go. And of course I continued to struggle w/ masturbation. I think the last sexual experience I had w/ another man at that point was September 2000 and I left on my mission in March 2001. Yet the few months prior to my mission were some of the happiest and most spiritual of my life. I was attending the temple almost daily, going on Utah temple trips w/ my family, and serving in different capacities (e.g. temple laundry, Bishop's storehouse and cannery).

The first year of my mission was ok. I continued to struggle w/ masturbation but I don't recall lusting or fantasizing after any companions or anything. I thought I had put all the tumultuous sex addition stuff behind me. Yet within my first 6 months I had something that awakened those feelings again. I went on splits w/ a member and we went back to his apt. for a while. He asked me to play some hymns on the piano. While I was playing he came up and stood directly behind me to sing some of the hymns. I could feel he was gently bumping and touching me between my shoulder blades w/ his pelvis. While we were singing and playing hymns, no less!

Anyhow, I think that is when all those sexual feelings, desires, etc. started waking up. It all just fell apart. One day we tracted into an apt of gay men. That night I snuck out of my apt. and went back and had oral sex w/ one of the guys. That was the first time. After that I was on a constant hunt for sex. I started sneaking out to the porch to smoke cigarettes while my companion was in the shower. I would occasionally sneak into the downstairs single guy's apt and watch straight pornography and masturbate. I would perform auto-erotic behaviors on myself. I would cruise the train station bathrooms and would masturbate in the stalls w/ the men I had hooked up w/.  I also snuck out of my apt many times and went to gay bars and would drink alcohol and cruise for hook ups. All this occurred while I was serving as a representative of the Lord!

One day we were walking down the street and a guy was coming towards us. We completely cruised and eyed each other as we passed. I ran back to him and got his number and address. When I caught back up w/ my companion he asked me who that was and I told him it was a guy I used to teach in my old area! That night I snuck out and went to the guy's apt. and we ended up having sex. I did that twice w/ him on different occasions.

The way this farce of a mission I was supposedly 'serving' finally ended was I one of the other missionaries in my apt. apparently caught me in the downstairs apt. masturbating while watching porn. At least, I think that's what happened. I was never told the full story. It got back to the mission president and they sent me home 2 days later. I was shortly dis-fellowshipped after that. I was into my mission 20 months at that point. So I left on my mission in March 2001 and came home Oct 30, 2002.

What an absolute disgrace and embarrassment to myself and my family! Such self-disgust and loathing! But let me just say here that despite what happened on my mission I am eternally grateful I went when I did. Even my Bishop at the time told me I was meant to go on that mission. It really did save me even though I completely made a mockery of God and of all things holy. I remember virtually NOTHING from my disciplinary council. I think I was in such disgrace, shame, and embarrassment that a lot of the things that happened to me after I got back from my mission are lost in a black hole.

So now, at 24 I was living at home, disfellowshipped, and going back to school, working, and dating my future wife. I was trying to get my act together, but still had no clue who I was or what I wanted to do. The relationship w/ my wife (then-girlfriend) was hot-cold-hot-cold. I was still cruising a little bit here and there. I was working w/ my Bishop to get my masturbation under control, but it was nearly impossible. I was also seeing a counselor at LDS Family Services.

Shortly after that I had one of the two (the first was to serve a mission) most strong personal revelations happen to me at that time. It was to ask the girl I was dating to marry me. I did and we made a goal to get married in the temple. I was still messing around w/ men, though I did not have anal sex with them. My Bishop wouldn't let me go back to the temple until I controlled my masturbation for 30 days. Well, I ended up faking my way through the 30 days. I would masturbate, but I wouldn't allow myself to ejaculate, therefore "keeping" my commitment w/ the Bishop in my mind. How is that for sick justification? I was also continuing to have sexual encounters and hook ups w/ men from the park but during our encounters I would not allow myself to orgasm. Again, I was justifying my actions in my mind and keeping my commitment w/ the Bishop.

My wife (then-girlfriend) and I were also experimenting w/ one another. We would heavy pet and even perform oral sex on each other. We never did have sexual intercourse, but did pretty much everything else. Despite all of this, I got my temple recommend back as well as was re-instituted into the church and we got married (in the temple) in April 2004. I was 25.

I know if the Bishop had known what I had done or what my wife and I were doing prior to getting married we would not have been able to get married in the temple. Yet my wife and I have had many discussions about that since and we both strongly feel and agree we were meant to start our marriage w/ that eternal bond. We have faith God sees and knows all, especially our hearts.

My wife knows everything about me. She knows my struggles, then and now, and that I deal w/ same-sex lust. She also knows I don't consider myself gay, never did and never will. But I have an intense sexual attraction and lust-addiction toward men. She also knows I have been w/ many, many partners in my past. Yet she sees me for who I am and she loves me unconditionally and is seeing me through all this. We have a beautiful family. We have a great sex life and a wonderful friendship and relationship and I love her very, very much.

It was the fall after getting married I started looking at internet porn or renting it at the porn shop. We were living in Pocatello and I was attending ISU. I would go to the gay parks or saunas and watch men have oral sex. But I would never do anything w/ them or to myself while I watched. I would never take my penis out of my pants or touch them or allow them to touch me. I would just watch and then re fantasize about it when I got home and would masturbate there. I was justifying that since I wasn't "doing" anything w/ these men I wasn't being totally unfaithful to my wife and vows.

I really went over the edge when I went to Los Angeles for work and went to a gay bathhouse. I went 4 times during that week. Nothing happened w/ other men, but it was all around me. I also went to a bathhouse in Vegas the next January while I was there for work. I also remember being on that trip and staying up and watching gay porn ALL NIGHT LONG (literally ALL NIGHT) and masturbating.

Over the next few years I had hook ups here and there and saw a lot, yet I never crossed that fine line. But my lines were getting blurred. I started to masturbate while watching 2 men in the bathroom have sex rather than just keep it in my pants. I would let them touch my leg while we masturbated together sitting in a car side-by-side. A few times a couple of guys would try to touch my penis, but I would quickly tell them no. Some men were ok w/ me just watching; others wanted me to do something otherwise they weren't interested. I was also self-stimulating myself w/ all sorts of objects. Autoeroticism is how I define it.

In Oct 2010 I was at the point that the many years of repressing my secrets and lies and sins had completely racked my soul w/ torment. I decided I didn't care anymore if I was excommunicated or not. I had to unload this guilt and these secrets. I told my Bishop everything (up to that point). It was good and hard and embarrassing at the same time. He told me to tell my wife (which I did). Things were so good for me then. He worked w/ me, was understanding and compassionate. And one of the best things was I did not masturbate for the next 4 months, which I know was a blessing from God b/c I had finally done things HIS way for a change. I had never gone more than a week in my life w/o masturbating. Which continues today, unfortunately.

Then in February I fell off the wagon (w/ masturbation) and then everything started spinning out of control again. I soon got into watching more intense porn on the internet now and again in spurts. I could go months or a year w/ nothing and then I would have a huge binge and masturbate 6-8 times in a row while watching porn. It always had to be video; still pictures do nothing for me anymore. It was mostly gay sex that I had to watch and w/ each view it got more vile, more depraved, more raunchy, etc.

The line got blurred a little bit more and I sunk to a new low Spring 2011. I was in Phoenix for work and cruising the men's locker room/steam room. I met a guy. We cruised all afternoon in the bathroom on each other and I went back to his hotel room. He was naked but I stayed fully dressed while we watched some gay porn. The whole time in my mind I wasn't interested in this guy and wanted to get out of there. I told him I was just a "watcher" and that I'd go and find another guy to bring back so they could both have sex while I watched. I left and went back to my room but my mind was in such turmoil and temptation that I didn't stay there for long. I went back to the steam room, met another guy, propositioned him, we went back to the first guy's room and we all got naked and I watched them perform oral sex on each other while I layed under them and masturbated and watched. Upon ejaculating, I was immediately horrified at what I had done. Never had I gone that far. I was devastated, thinking about my wife and my kids at home.

Upon returning, I told her what had happened (not all the details; especially that I had left the scene, but had gone back. That detail came out at a later date as was not good). She was hurt and cried but was forgiving as always. I was ok again...for a few months.

Then summer 2011 I completely spun out of control. I began cruising the gay park almost everyday. I was surfing ads on craigslist and getting into more raunchy porn. I masturbated w/ a guy (no touching, yet naked) w/ a guy in a video booth in a porn shop. I frequently watched guys have sex in the park bathroom or in their cars while I masturbated, sometimes multiple times a day. I had also become involved in an online LDS same-sex attraction support group where I drew really close to a guy on there and became emotionally dependent on him. This was another new low for me. Up to that point I had never developed an emotional attachment or "need" for a guy.

He came to my town over the 2011 Labor Day weekend and we ended up hugging and rubbing and petting. We ended up getting completely naked w/ one another. We never kissed or any of that but it felt good to feel him and hold him and touch him. You can imagine my poor sweet loving wife when I told her what had happened. Oh, did I mention we did some of this at my house b/c he was staying the night w/ us?

Yet, miraculously this was when things really began to change and the realization that I am a sex addict really started to set in. Up to that point I always knew I had a problem, yet I was just so different from other guys in other groups. I didn't consider myself gay b/c I didn't want love and kissing and romance and all that w/ a guy, like the majority of men in same-sex attraction groups do. Yet my life was completely unmanageable and I realized I was (am) powerless over lust. My addiction ruled me. I think through maturity and self-understanding, I had finally come to the realization I was a sex addict and that I was seriously SCREWED UP! This was my "Day of Reckoning" as I like to call it. It was Sept. 08, 2011.

After my "day of reckoning" I really tried to be completely transparent w/ my wife and my Bishop all fall and winter in everything. I started seeing a therapist, I attended a Sexaholics Anonymous group in town every week and even though I still continued to struggle w/ masturbation off and on I really felt like I was actively trying to move up and out of the hole of addiction.

Then, my cycle started again in Spring 2012. I started cruising the gay parks and bathrooms and answering ads on Craigslist. My infatuation w/ urethral sounding was getting more and more intense and I started doing it to myself all the time. I stole glow bracelets from the store to sound with. I would leave work and cruise all afternoon. I knew my addiction was escalating b/c I had no problem (and little guilt afterwards) when I would masturbate w/ men in their cars or in park. I didn't even have to fight the "you know you shouldn't be doing this" feeling anymore. One guy and I had several hook ups over a 3 week period; we would go into the woods, get completely naked, and lie on top of each other. At one point I allowed him to masturbate me. Another escalation.

3 things happened at this time that told me I needed to do something different to break the cycle. I couldn't just go to meetings anymore and do nothing else. I needed to do more or not do some things.

A) The experiences w/ the guy in the woods when he masturbated me. For some reason I was having intense needs for touch and bonding w/ men in inappropriate ways;

B) I masturbated w/ a 60 year old man in a bathroom. I did not finish, but still...I had started to;

C) I answered an ad on Craigslist to engage in watersports (which is urinating on another person).

I guess I felt like such crap about myself as a human being that I was actually willing and wanting to lay down and have somebody urinate on me.

So, I put together an ABC Action list  which really helped me get myself abstinent AND sober all summer long. I was sober and abstinent for 4 months - the longest I have ever gone in my lifetime. And it wasn't just white-knuckling it. I was in a really good place mentally, sexually, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Then in October 2012 I had a vasectomy and that threw me (again) into an intense addiction spin cycle.

After my vasectomy in October 2012 my interest and addiction to porn as well as sounding my penis really got bad. The thing that aided this was I had an iPhone for work and I would escape off sometimes 5-6 times a day to the basement which has a private bathroom and would view hard core, raunchy porn videos and masturbate. I also started answering Craigslist ads on a regular basis for hook ups; although (thankfully) nothing ever became of them and I never did have a hook up. One of the ads was looking for intense sexual activities. I all but had the hotel room booked to meet up w/ this anonymous stranger. But at the last minute I wrote him and told him 'I can't do this. I have a family and I can't do this to them. I'm sorry'. The guy was understanding. Talk about a close call!

My porn interests and fetishes also took a darker, raunchier turn. I won't go into the details, but in a sane mind I admit they are depraved, disgusting, vile, and horribly evil. Luckily I haven't gotten into beastiality videos or child porn or rape or any of that, but I whole-heartedly believe it would only be a matter of time if I don't get a grip on my addiction. Plus, when I'm acting out, I've been hurting myself physically. But even that doesn't stop me. The pain and hurt and depravity actually feeds my addiction.

In June 2013 my wife and I sold our home b/c we needed a larger home for our growing family. Although the move was necessary, the change and disruption in my life and routines resulted in me being thrown in a horrendous spin cycle for the remainder of the summer and into the fall. It was the worst slide down a slippery slope I have experienced yet.  I again began with-holding secrets from my wife and withdrawing from friends and activities and isolating myself. Once again I was surfing Craigslist ads and having anonymous hookups, sometimes daily with multiple people. I would get to work and begin cruising online ads first thing in the morning. I began smoking pretty regularly again also. I loved the rush I would get with the first cigarette of the morning. Each day on my way to work I would pull over to a park, go have a smoke behind the bathroom which would leave me buzzy and light-headed, then I would go masturbate to those feelings in the bathroom. First thing in the morning!

An encounter w/ a man in early August introduced me to poppers, which intensified the sexual experience. That encounter w/ him and the resulting memories drove me to go back to him a few weeks later and act out in order to get the same, satisfying sexual experience as I had the time before. At this encounter, I allowed him to perform oral sex on me, a first since getting married. Another rock bottom! I felt terrible afterwards, but it didn't stop me. The hurt and pain eventually subsided and I was on the prowl once again. I continued to cruise the gay parks and bathrooms and ended up receiving oral sex again and again from various men. On a few occasions, I even performed it myself.

The crappy feelings I was experiencing started to be more intense than the thrill and rush of acting out. I was growing weary of constantly worrying about my future, my family and was tired the lies and the sneaking and the heavy load I was carrying. I told all to my Bishop and then Stake President.

I was excommunicated from the LDS church on 10/13/13. It was horrendous and scary; but it was necessary and I understand that. I hold no bitter feelings or anger or resentment toward the church.

I continued drowning in a world of secrets, compulsion, darkness and lust for the remainder of the fall and into the winter. I met a guy while cruising the park one day in November ’13 and w/ whom I subsequently acted out w/. We met up again in December and did the same thing - but this time it was worse and more intense. Since my wife and I were married 10 years ago, the one thing I have never done w/ a guy is kiss. This guy asked me why I wouldn't kiss him and I told him it was too personal. But he did it anyway, and I gave in, and it was sublime.

Around this time I had been doing some research on various drugs and things that help decrease a man's sex drive. Similar to antidepressants, I needed something to help take the edge of my sexual compulsions. I came across a Wikipedia article on Chemical Castration, which highlighted a woman's birth control drug (Depo Provera) that when administered to a man decreases his compulsiveness and libido. I talked w/ my Doctor about starting this treatment and did so the first part of December. It is a monthly shot that costs approx. $60 and really was a life saver. For the first time ever, I did not experience the obsession, the compulsion, the overwhelming feelings of lust and desire for depravity and carnality. I still had the same desires and attractions and thoughts, but the ability to temper and control them increased. I was able to take a tub or shower w/o needing to masturbate, for the first time ever!

However, along w/ a lessening of my libido, the drug also caused horrendous suicidal thoughts and feelings. We all have occasional suicidal thoughts, but the sobering reality of actually going through w/ it was becoming more gray and thinkable. That winter (winter 2013-2014) was by far the hardest and darkest days I have ever experienced. Be it the Depo Provera drug (which causes depression), the gray, cold days, or the lack of the Holy Ghost due to my excommunication, I don't know; but whatever it was, feelings of hopelessness and despair and hate began engulfing my black heart and mind. Suicide became more of a reality for me. In fact, I spent many sleepless nights completely planning out every detail of it. I had mentally thought out the letters I would write to my children and wife and my explanation as to why it had to be this way. My detachment and numbness grew as well as the feelings of self-hate and disgust. Many times I asked Satan and his hosts to come and finish the job. I had given up; I was lost. I was tired of the fight and struggle. It was never going to go away or get better.

On April 04, 2014 I met a guy whilst cruising the gay park and rapidly developed strong feelings for him. This is the first time anything like that had ever happened to me before. All my life it has just been about sex sex sex, but this time was different. There was a part of me that 'fell in love' w/ him, almost immediately. Rather than just wanting to get off w/ him, I wanted to hold hands, cuddle and kiss and lay together. And then of course there was the sex w/ him, which was great b/c in my mind it was more about connecting and being close rather than just getting off. And I allowed him to have actual penetrative anal sex w/ me, and I w/ him, which I hadn't done in 12 years, nor since I had been married. So I had now crossed every gay bridge there was to cross. There was nothing else left to experience anew that I hadn't before I was married. Everything was off the table.

Looking back on this experience, which lasted 2 months to the day, I know he came into my life for a very specific purpose. This guy saved me, whether he knows it or not, in many ways. A) He helped me realize where my true happiness lies. As fun as it would have been to have moved in w/ him and play house for a while, it wouldn't have lasted. Whether a few weeks, months, or a year or so, we both would have moved on. We would have grown bored w/ one another and needed that excitement and passion and intensity that only happens w/ a new screw or relationship. B) He came into my life at one of the darkest and saddest periods I've yet experienced, and helped put me back into my right mind and out of the mental tumult. C) It gave my wife the opportunity to strengthen her faith and deepen her understanding of my SSA. Writing about this now, it does seem rather ridiculous that I almost ended up leaving my wonderful wife, who I have known since we were 12 years old and truly and genuinely love and am happy with, for a guy I had met in the gay park who (like I) was only there looking for a typical hook up. All of the memories, tears, holidays, dinners, nights spent having sex and snuggling in our bed, mortgages, arguments, laughter, movies, trips, etc. was going to be thrown out the window for a man I had known for 3 days. Where was my head!?

I honestly don't feel like going into all the deep whys, what fors, and hows about this 'affair' nor the hours upon hours of deep talks my wife and I have had, the tears shed, or prayers offered to God by her for me. Suffice to say I truly love my wife and family and I am happy being w/ them. My wife loves me too and we have grown and come so far as a family by working through this. I will never forget him, nor this experience, however. He will always hold a special place in my heart. And as I said before, I do not regret what happened. It was completely and totally necessary for ALL of us involved.

I do want to write about the moment that the switch flipped in my brain and I started to come back into my senses. I don't remember if it was May or June, but I had made the decision that I was leaving my wife and moving in w/ my guy. The mental and emotional internal fight was over and I had accepted what I was and where I was headed. I went upstairs to my bedroom to pack a few clothes. My wife and I sat on the floor and hugged and bawled and sobbed b/c we knew it was inevitable. I looked out the window and saw my beautiful daughter jumping on the trampoline in the back yard and that is the instant something in my brain and heart changed. My happiness was right there, w/ my wife and children in our home and in the life we had built together. I stayed; and from then on, things began to change. I told my guy that I was choosing to stay w/ my family. While I continued to mess up occasionally w/ him and others the remainder of the year, my heart had changed and I was no longer searching for my heart's desire elsewhere. There was no more confusion or restlessness in that aspect and never would be again.

I would also like to mention an experience I had w/ a fellow LDS gay married friend of mine that has altered the course of my life when it comes to male affection and physical touch. It was the same spring of that year and I remember being at his house and laying on the bed together. We were talking deeply about life, spirituality, and what not. While we talked I had my head on his chest and would occasionally feel the scruff of his beard w/ my hands and run my fingers through his chest hair and down his arms and hold his hand. I remember feeling such peace and safety and contentment. I looked up at him and said, “I have nothing to be ashamed nor guilty of and never will again! There is nothing wrong w/ us doing this, even as married men. I’m not doing anything I would want to hide from my wife or Bishop or anybody else. There is simply nothing wrong w/ 2 men being physically close and fulfilling those physical needs w/o having lust and carnal passions arise.” That moment was pivotal for me! I knew it was possible for me to feel that pure, awesome connection w/ another man and not allow it to go into the realms of lust and carnality. Physical touch and affection w/ other men, for whatever reason, is absolutely crucial to my survival as a gay/bi married Mormon man. It recharges my batteries and fills my cup. It is my vitamin.

I’m not going to even pretend to say that was the end of my acting out sexually w/ other men. Not in the slightest! In fact, I would go on to have some of the hottest and most carnally awesome sexual experiences w/ other men in the next couple of years. But it was different now b/c I was aware of what I was wanting and desiring vs. what I was actually needing. I a skilled master at distinguishing the difference between wholesome physical connection and lust. I realize that ultimately I am the one who makes the choice to allow myself to ‘let go’ and allow that heat and those passions to wash over me and take control. I’m able to look to the end of the act, to that moment we’re laying there in the afterglow of our burning hot erotic encounter and we think, “Damn. Now what!?” After we’ve both gotten off and allowed ourselves to escape and lose control for a while, what then??? Do we remain friends? Do we continue to get together for an occasional tête-à-tête? Do we go our separate ways? Do I tell my wife and break her heart for the umpteenth time? Do I tell my Bishop and risk falling further and further away from my rebaptism goal? Do I lie to everyone and tell everybody I’m doing great and swallow the guilt and shame?

In the end, I realized that quick rush of ecstasy is SO NOT WORTH everything I would lose. Why do I need to engage in mutual masturbation or oral/anal sex w/ a man in order to feel validated or connected or accepted? That is lust, plain and simple, and when I allow myself to go there that is when I’m being unfaithful to my wife and breaking my covenants w/ God. As much as I love having sex w/ men and always will, it is not enough for me to cast aside all of the other things I love and hold dear.   

I have changed and grown leaps and bounds these past few years. My sense of self, awareness, identity, and acceptance is real and pronounced. I know that I would never be happy w/ a man. I am not denying myself and pretending to be something I am not. I am and always will be sexually attracted to men and continue to struggle and occasionally give in to my same sex lust addiction. But I have learned that I can still have my cake and eat it too. Well, most of my cake. Aside for the awesome, mind-blowing gay sex, I can still enjoy some level of closeness and deep connection and touch w/ men. For me, there is a very real distinction between connection and love vs. lust and sex w/ a man. It's almost as obvious as a line drawn in the sand. So if I can just continue to gain strength and power over the part of me that wants to drink in the lusts of the flesh and reserve that part of myself for my wife, then I'll be alright. Had I not been excommunicated and lost the companionship of the Spirit for a time and had some of these positive and negative experiences, I would not be where I'm at today. 

And this is where I’m at and who I am, April 2017. I have some great friendships w/ men, gay and straight, that allow me to feel love, connection, touch, closeness, and acceptance yet keep our relationship on a level that doesn't curtail to sex or just getting off together. Am I sometimes tempted? Sure I am. But I stop myself by reminding myself and the guy I’m w/ what will happen in the end. I feel spiritually stronger and resolute to make wise choices and help others do the same.

These are the things that make me happy:

A) My wife and children;

B) Living a life of honesty and integrity and having freedom from secrets and lies;

C) Control;

D) Consistently trying to improve myself in ways satisfactory to me.

I know I must do what I know I need to do to keep myself out of addiction and to make certain Satan's flaxen cords don't affix firmly around my neck again. I must  A) Forgive myself and stop shame spiraling; B) Come to know Christ and develop a relationship w/ him and FEEL His Atonement and love in my life and in my heart; and C) Learn to love myself.

So, that's pretty much my story. Of course there's more experiences and details here and there I've omitted or have forgotten about (thank heaven!) or just didn't include, but as you can see it's been one hell of a ride!

I hope this blog will help me understand myself even better as I have an outlet for my feelings, testimony, desires, recovery, weaknesses, trials, hardships, strengths, and my victories. I have to say it has been a long, dark, twisted, stormy road, but there is light on the horizon. It's just up to me to take the road that will get me there.
 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

5 Year Blogger Anniversary

Really, there is only 1 word to describe my journey these past 5 years...

WOW!

Do I have regrets? Embarrassments? Shame? Sadness? Absolutely.
Would I change anything? Hell no. I would not be where I'm at today nor have the pure knowledge I have of true, lasting happiness and joy and fleeting, worldly pleasures had I not had these experiences.

Here's to another 5 years of growth and change and faith and wisdom!

2 Nephi 2:22-25

22 And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.
 
23 And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.
 
24 But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.
 
25 Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.
 
 

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

-------------------------------------

ON SUICIDE
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 baloney...giving 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!