I got a secret...

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Shame Verses Me

I have been reading a book* about a transparent people. They are so open, that they can read each other’s minds. They do not lie, they have no secrets, they are not ashamed.

I was recently learning about picture books where the pictures tell a different story than the words, not only are the stories different, they contradict each other. I wondered if I could write such a story about my life: the narrative, what goes on in my head, the pictures, a depiction of my life. Would they contradict one another?

I am not prone to cry, even less likely to cry in front of others. Recently I found myself in tears, video chatting with SJ’s mom, feeling uncomfortable as I allowed her to see my humanity.

I have secrets. I am ashamed of who I am. I constantly fear the disproval of others. I am afraid to be wrong. I am afraid that if others really saw me, they would not like what they see. Therefore, I ponder many different ideas, but I act in a way which I think will be agreeable to those around me. If I do not know how they want me to act, I freeze. I do not think people want to see the negative emotions floating inside my head. I doubt they want to hear my apathy, I can’t be bothered to share much of it anyhow. I fear that if I share my fears and anxiety, others will fear what I fear, or they will disregard my fears, and disregard me, as nonsensical. So I hide my feelings, I hide my thoughts, I hide me.

This is a challenging way to live, and it be sure, I don’t think it is at all good for my mental health. My physical health seems to be suffering too. I want to change, I want to improve. I want to change the name of this blog, post it on my Facebook, and walk around naked (at least metaphorically). Change is hard, and I am afraid. Part of me is afraid that I don’t really know me, I don’t know who I am, not sure who I want to be. A big part of me is afraid that people will not like me if they see the real me. They will learn that I am pesky and miserable. I want to be a happy person, but when I am not happy, is it wrong to pretend to be content for the sake of others? Perhaps rather I should ask, is it helpful or harmful to pretend a mood.

It is also important for me to remember that I am allowed to change. Though posting on the internet is much like writing in indelible ink, and my past has very much shaped me, it does not define who I am today. My feelings, positions and perspectives are allowed to change, and are encouraged to do so. The aforementioned book* discusses how changing and improving are crucial in our lives, and provide us with purpose and meaning. The people have names that change and develop as they learn and become new beings. They celebrate who they become, they celebrate their accomplishments, not to boast, but as a way to acknowledge the goodness in and around them. They know who they are, they recognise their value.

Who am I? I am a child of God. Perhaps my greatest value in this life comes from being a child of God. Because he is my parent, I have potential to become like him.  I am human.

I am a daughter of God. I do not believe I fully understand or appreciate this part of me. I do not mind being female, but I wonder if there are ways I can better be motherly towards children and youth.

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am a follower of Christ. I have chosen to take the name of Christ upon myself, and make and keep sacred covenants with my Heavenly Father. I desire to become like and follow Christ in all I do.

I am gay. I am particularly attracted to one woman, and I desire to express my love for her in a way that aligns with the pure love of Christ and the covenants I have made. I desire to speak more openly about my sexual orientation, but even when given an opportunity to share, I most often shy away. On a deep level, I am still ashamed that I am gay. Since I have yet to fully accept this part of myself, I cannot expect others to accept me.

I am a teacher. I love teaching! Perhaps one reason I so appreciate my job is that I can stand in front of my class, make a fool of myself and still be accepted. My inner class clown, the attention seeker I’ve always suppressed, has an opportunity to shine.

I’ve been taking anti-depressants for about 6 months now. I think they are helping, but I don’t want to rely on them for the rest of my life. I think if I can learn to be, love and appreciate me, I might not need anti-depressants any longer.

I am an auntie. I love my nieces and my nephew. I love spending time with them, though I feel like often my energy in inadequate.

I like to run, I like to bake, I like to write and I like to create, but interest in these hobbies waxes and wanes. These hobbies do not make me who I am.

These sorts of thoughts are not new to me.  They are not new to my blog.  I hope posting this post is the first of many steps to change. The process of reconciling myself with myself, may not be easy. Perhaps the next step will be changing the name of this blog, coming out to a few more people, or crying openly. Change may not be easy, but I believe it is possible, I believe it is worthwhile.

*Morgan, Marlo. Mutant Message Down Under. (HarperCollins, New York, NY: 1994)

Saturday, 6 October 2018

My Very Best Friend


I have a lot of friends, I know a lot of great people, but I have one very best friend, a friend I know I can always count on, because I know she always cares about me.
There are very many reasons why I love her so much, but I will just name a few. She is incredibly humble. She eagerly learns from others, accepts feedback and seeks to improve. She doesn’t think of herself as being better than others, but values all people and sees good in them. She is patient. When waiting in necessary, she is willing to wait. She is helps me to wait patiently and recognise the good in each day. She is responsible. When there is work that needs to be done, she does it. When sleep is the responsible option, she takes it. She is also very hard working. She is respectful. She will never treat me in a way that makes me uncomfortable. She listens to and cares about my opinion. She values my thoughts and she values me.
The more I realise that she cares about me, the more I feel safe trusting her with my heart. It is hard for me to believe that someone might love me, and yet, I know she does. It is wonderful. Though she is far away, we look forward to a day when we can live together and do life together. I wish that could be right now, but she reminds me that we need to be responsible and patient.
I can imagine a day when I won’t be waiting for her to come online, rather, I will be waiting for her to come home to my embrace. I look forward to a day when we can eat together, shop together, play together and pray together.
I want to tell the whole world about my very best friend, but they have a hard time understanding. Most seem to doubt that we can accomplish our goals and our dreams. I look forward to proving them wrong. Still, their hesitation, and the uniqueness of this friendship, can make me hesitant to share this good news with others. Regardless, I don’t need them to understand, because my very best friend takes time to understand me.
Our friendship is sacred, special, unique and peculiar. Our friendship is ours. It does not require the approval of others, we seek rather to delight each other and to serve our God. 
I am so thankful to have a very best friend who cares so much about me.
Happy Birthday SJ.  I love you!


Monday, 17 September 2018

Canadian


Being Canadian means smiling at a stranger
when it is minus twenty-two
and this common experience
connects me to you.

Being Canadian means loving our land,
Enjoying the mountains, prairies and sand,
Laughing with the geese as they fly away
The winters’ snow and gusts we will withstand.

Being Canadian means watching from the sideline
as our big sibling makes choices
and we can only shake our heads
and raise our silent voices

We wait and see what will come to be
and hope we don’t make the same mistakes
We hope that we can stay afloat
that we don’t drown in their wakes.

Being Canadian means clinging to our own,
and watching as ownership slides through our fingers
to another American company
And only historical pride lingers.

Being Canadian means listening to the CBC
allowing them to normalize differences
giving voice to the minorities
challenging our inferences.

When others are different,
we stick up for them
We’re united in our uniqueness
Those who are rare, are our gem.

Being Canadian means I am sorry,
for the hurt and pain on this earth,
I take responsibility
Though I can to little to help of worth.

Being Canadian means feeling small
Though grand in size our numbers are few
Like a little sister we tag along
trying to be liked while to ourselves staying true

Being Canadian means knowing who we are not
before knowing who we are.
Being Canadian is always changing
Looking behind to see we’ve come far.

Being Canadian means I must end by saying
That this is what being Canadian means to me.
But out there, I’m sure, are 36 million ways to be.
Each one is right and each one is free.

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Eyelash

We had transformed our basement into a theatre. The large room at the bottom of the stairs was divided into a seating area and the stage. The rooms which linked around the basement felt like secret passages and acted as our backstage. I sat with Celine it what was an undeveloped laundry room turned into our hair and makeup studio. I would have objected to the idea of makeup, but I knew I didn’t have a say. I had already heard her articulate the importance of stage makeup, and it was opening night. As she applied mascara, she commented on my eyelashes. They were long, and she said beautiful, and I didn’t care. “Someday,” she promised, “you’ll be grateful for them. They will catch the attention of all the cute boys.” I shuddered at the thought. She discredited my discomfort, and guaranteed that when I was a little older, I’d be grateful for my eyelashes, I’d want to know how to apply makeup to them, so they would jump out and capture the attention of men.
Age came, but I remained indifferent to my eyelashes. Beauty was something I hid rather than embraced. Baggy clothes offered a picketed fort of protection from where I could fire warnings at any male who got too close. More often than not, however, I just hid. I was glad that I was so successful, most of the time. Occasionally I’d wish someone would notice me. Honestly, I was always longing for attention, but I didn’t want the sort of attention I would garner by wearing makeup or stylish clothes. It didn’t seem to matter how much my age increased, my desire for the attention of cute boys, or men, never came to be. And just as I felt uncomfortable when Celine complimented my eyelashes, I continued to feel bothered every time someone suggested that I am beautiful. That suggestion had me worried that I might attract the attention of a man.
However, when SJ tells me I'm beautiful, I do not retaliate. When she tells me, my defence system is not triggered. When she tells me, I don’t think for a second that what she is actually communicating is, “don’t worry, some day, some boy will be attracted to you.” When she tells me, it is never with the suggestion that I wear mascara, fix my hair, or engage in any other activity to enhance my looks. She is talking about me, just as I am. When she tells me, she speaks both of my interior and exterior qualities. When she tells me, she believes it. And sometimes, when she tells me, I almost believe it myself.  When SJ tells me that I am beautiful, suddenly I care. I don’t want her to ever change her mind. I look at me in the screen and wonder if my nose is too pointy, if my wrinkles are to pronounced, yet I know SJ thinks I am beautiful. I also trust that as my wrinkles become entrenched, and all my hair turns white, she will still find me beautiful.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

To Sacrifice All

Sometimes God asks for sacrifices. A classic example is that of Abraham being asked to sacrifice his son. Abraham, determined to do as the Lord commands, takes his son and sets of on that journey. He will be obedient. I wonder if Abraham ever doubted, after his arm was stayed, after the cords which bound his son were loosed, as he watched a ram sizzle upon the alter, I wonder, if at that moment he wondered if it should have been his son’s flesh burning. Did he question if it was really an angel which stopped him from killing his son. Did he ever wonder if perhaps it was a demon, or his own imagination?
Perhaps there are times when God wants us to be willing to sacrifice everything, when he tries our faithfulness, takes us to the edge of the cliff and then pulls us back. Do we then, hang out on the edge of the cliff, waiting again for God to change his mind and tell us to jump, or do we enjoy the meadow and trees behind us? Perhaps God is saying, “well done faithful servant. Because you were willing to give this up, you may now enjoy it.” Because Abraham was willing to kill his son, he was able to thereafter enjoy time with his son. Still, that son belonged to God, and was called to a righteous purpose. Abraham was required to raise his son in righteousness. I think of the Israelites who were required to bring animals for sacrifice, and yet were given a portion of the animal back to sustain them.

Yes, God requires sacrifice, and he requires obedience, but he will bless us in ways far beyond our comprehension. He will bless us in ways we never thought to ask for or imagine. When he does, he wants us to enjoy the blessings, and remember that they came from his hand. For my blessings, I will thank God, They are a gift, given because of his goodness, a gift I can experience because of my obedience. May my life glorify God.

Saturday, 23 June 2018

I am gay, and that's okay... but I am not sure what that means.

When I told my bishop that I am gay, he told me “that’s okay.” I’ve been wondering ever since exactly what that means. Does it mean it is okay that I like rainbows and the colour purple?
I suppose it is difficult for me to say what it means for me to be gay, because I don’t like stereotypes. I can’t say that the reason I like playing soccer is because I am gay. Maybe I just like playing soccer. So, perhaps I can stick only with the basics. I am gay, that means I am attracted to women, and that is okay. God made women beautiful, and it is okay if I notice that beauty.
Perhaps a better starting point would be: “I am me, that’s okay, but what does that mean?”
My identity and my understanding of myself has changed a lot in the past 7 years. I was once held the belief that Mormon’s were very wrong, and headed to hell. Now I am a Mormon. I once thought that being gay was a choice, and that being gay was a wrong and bad choice. Now I identify as gay. I once thought I’d be a Christian youth worker, now I teach adults in a secular environment.
I’m a Mormon, and that is okay. Generally I have come to terms with this. I have grown in my faith and confidence, and my love of the Book of Mormon and our living prophets. It is still tricky around my family as I try hard to avoid offending them, and as I fear I cannot fully talk about that part of my life. At times I feel like they do not want to hear much about the church. At other times, being a Mormon is hard for me, and I don’t want to express these struggles in a way which might make the church look bad. I am a Mormon, being a Mormon is hard, and that is okay.
I am gay, and that’s okay. It took me many years of life to accept my orientation, and even now, I am not sure I fully understand what it means. I am coming to understand that being gay is about more than dealing with certain temptations. Yes, there are certain temptations that come with being gay, but there is more to being gay than being tempted. Perhaps being gay is more than okay, perhaps it is beautiful. God didn’t just make me okay, he made me good. He has a plan and a purpose for me, yes, even for the gay me. We are not all meant to be the same. We are beautifully different, and gay me has something unique to contribute. I am gay, and I hope one day I will fully see that I am gay and that’s beautiful.
I am a teacher, and I really do love my job. Sometimes I feel bad for leaving behind the dreams of my youth, but I am happy to do what I do, and to allow this job to become part of my identity.
Another addition to my identity which I picked up nearly 5 years ago is the title “Auntie.” I love being an aunt, and I seek to be the best aunt ever. At times this is very hard, as depression and anxiety keep me from engaging as fully as I wish I could. But, I love being an aunt. I love my nieces and nephew.
I am me, and that is okay.



Thursday, 19 April 2018

I felt like… a prophet.

I’ve been teaching English as a Second Language, and I generally enjoy my job. I work part-time and pick up other shifts subbing. I was asked to sub yesterday, and I was asked to give the students an assessment… a test. The students were not pleased by this news, and it was very much new news to them. I took the first part of class teaching them about letter writing. It was supposed to be review, but it seemed full of ideas foreign to my students. When it came time to administer the test, they retaliated. They gave me every good reason why they should not have to write the test, and begged me just to teach them instead. I told them we were writing the test. I tried to prepare them for the test, giving them all the information they would need, but they were not listening. They had determined that they were not writing the test. I tried to explain that the test was the material which the teacher had left for them. I was just following orders. I didn’t know why she had left them this test, but I gave possible explanations, guessing at her motivation. They were stubborn. So was I. They threatened to go to a different school, an easier school, if I made them take the test. At one point another teacher walked by the window. I gave a slight nod of my head, beckoning for his help. When he entered, I told him the situation, and he told the class that I was just following orders. They could complain to their teacher, but they shouldn’t complain to me. It was nice having him back me up. He was a second witness, but the class still did not care.
It was then that I started to cry. I didn’t want to manipulate them with my tears, really, I didn’t want to cry, but it didn’t feel like I had much choice.  My tears softened them, but didn’t change their resolve. They assured me that their frustration wasn’t against me, they promised that they liked me, but they were frustrated with all that had gone on that semester and they were not writing that test. One of the students came and put her arm around me, another told me not to cry, while a third asked me why I cried. The only answer I could think to give him was that I am fragile. Through my tears, I taught them the English saying “don’t shoot the messenger,” and pleaded with them again to write the test. One of the students asked me to just teach them. “I can’t teach anymore,” I said. I didn’t mean I could never teach again, only that it is hard to teach and cry at the same time.
The hour allotted for the test was now diminished by half. My resolve was weakened, and I asked them to try. I told them to do the test as practice, and I would help them, and they could ask me questions. I placed the tests on their desks. They looked one to another, trying to decide if they would indeed try. Slowly pencils met papers and they began the test.
I reflected on the question, “why did I cry?”
I cried because I felt disappointed.
I cried because I felt like they were trying to manipulate me.
I cried because I want to do what I have been told to do. Foundational to my molarity is a need to do what I am told, and what I have agreed to do. I am good at following instructions, but they sought to deny me of the joy of doing that.

As I walked home, I thought about prophets. I thought about prophets like Samuel the Lamanite who stood declaring a message only to have people hurl stones at him. I thought about prophets during the years when black members could not hold the priesthood. They wanted to give suggestions about why that might have been so, but really they did not know. They were simply doing what they had been told to do. I thought about prophets today, declaring hard truth against gay marriage. People may threaten them, tell them they will join a different church, an easy church, if the prophets don’t change their mind. The message doesn’t come from the prophet. If we must complain, we should complain to God. President Nelson offers that invitation in these words, “Pour out your heart to your Heavenly Father. Turn to Him for answers and for comfort. Pray in the name of Jesus Christ about your concerns, your fears, your weaknesses—yes, the very longings of your heart. And then listen!” (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2018/04/revelation-for-the-church-revelation-for-our-lives?lang=eng)


I’d better post this, and then get back to work.