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Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011: Let It Go

2011 is one of the Best-Worst years I have ever had. I know the song above may seem a little down or depressing. It isn't. To me its a reflection on where life has been and a message of hope. A message to move on and grab life again. That is my 2011 story.

Started 2011 with a broken ankle, no winter income, just ending my first official relationship (after coming out), facing foreclosure, 20 lbs heavier, and still broken-hearted from the one who took everything and got away.

I was not in a good place and knew the road ahead was long. Because of the broken ankle all hope on saving my home had basically been lost. After sacrificing years of privacy with renting out every corner of my place it would come to an end and I would be homeless. My sons would be without a place to call Dad's. I would have to let go of so many belongings.

I had survived so much. I had fought with everything I could, but it was over. I had no fight left, no more angles I could use to survive. I was free falling.

BEST THING EVER

We all try to find our own place in life. Make a living, hold on to "things" we work hard for, try to be in a better position in life. All too often we hold on to too much. We fear letting go of the familiar. We can only hold on to so much before there is no room for anything else. And again, all too often it is too much; too much of the bad, too little of the good.

I had time to contemplate life while flat on my back waiting for the ankle to heal. Life was miserable. I wasn't happy. What happened? Coming out was supposed to fix it all. I was SO happy that first couple years after coming out. What had I done with my life that it had changed and I was back to feeling dead? I hadn't let go.

I grabbed on to what I thought was a good thing, I gave my heart to what I thought was a good man, I gave my time to what I thought were worthy goals. I stood there arms filled with once happy, worthy, good things. They had rotted and there wasn't room for one more straw. But, the straw came anyway. I held that straw for a few months, but everyday I got closer and closer to breaking. Every minute of every day was stressed or filled with pain from what I thought would make me happy.

Then there was a song (see previous Adele post) and friends and love. I had really no room for the song, or love, or friends but I tried to. I strained to hold on.

I had spent months trying to figure out where the happiness had gone. Why had it expired from what I thought were good things. Mostly I spent time wondering how I could get it back. How I could feel as free as I once had. I knew the answer. I had to let "him" go, I had to embrace the idea of someone like him. I also had to let "things" go. I had to let my roof disappear; lose the only home I had really ever know as mine. I had to remove the scar tissue from the broken dreams. I had to re-discover what really mattered. I needed to get back to being happy to be alive.

I stood in the "wake of devastation....insides crying 'save me now'....impossibly alone." I had to build up hope, despite feeling like I had only known failure. Feeling like there was no one to catch me. I stood defeated with nothing left to do but LET IT GO or find myself broken and buried.

And so I did. I let the house go. I let "things" go. I gave up what I had worked hard for. I cried tears on tears to wash away the stains of a broken heart. I stood up. I grabbed on to friends. I built a support group of men. I dropped the packages of rotten dreams and I let peace try to find its way in. I stood with my arms empty, choosing carefully what I would let them hold. I let go of the dreams I was supposed to have and emptied some space for dreams I wanted to grow.

I began to rebuild. I found a new home. I found a new job. I lost those 20lbs plus. I re-discovered great friends. I began to work on goals I wanted. I found peace.

The stains of a broken, bloody heart did start to vanish. I fell in love a little again. Even though it didn't last more than a brief period, I felt. That was something I hadn't done in a long time. I felt. My heart was beating and someone inspired me. I had't "felt" since "him." Not even with my first official boyfriend. But I feel know. "That's alright, I'll find someone like you" was no longer a practice in fake-it-til-you-make-it hope. It was a reality. There can be someone out there that makes my heart beat a little stronger. Finally.

So here we are with 2012 just hours away. 2011 I'll let you go just like I let everything else go. 2012 is a chance to fill those now empty spaces with what we want.

Choose wisely.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Sometimes It Lasts In Love, But Sometimes It Hurts Instead


I know I should make a rule against blogging at 1:30 AM, but on the other hand, this is what this blog is. The pure, unrefined, raw side of life. Good and bad, here it is. Keeping to the integrity of it. For some its too much, so for you this is a warning. Maybe it seems sappy, maybe dramatic, maybe unreal. Feel free to stop reading here. But for others maybe you can relate, maybe you can see the raw honesty.

I bought Adele's 21 album as soon as I heard "Rolling in the Deep." Oddly enough, the song reminded me of the same person that this post is about. The song speaks for itself. I was angry, and it was a good angry. A controlled angry, an inner anger to never let someone do that to me again. To take control for once and be smarter with who gets my heart. The hope is that I'm not too "smart" and take some chances now and again. I have the following picture as my desktop wallpaper to remind me to push myself a little.


I loved the entire album. If I were straight, Adele would have a stalker. She has an amazing soul in her music that resonates with my life. I love the album, but 3 songs stick out. "Rolling in the Deep", "Turning Tables", and mostly "Someone Like You." As I listened to the whole album that last "Someone" gripped me and hasn't let go.

It unfolded me and summed up me.....and him. I didn't want to share it, but knew it was amazing and destined to hit the radio. I dreaded it. Many a good cry has been to this song. So many songs remind me of him, but this one has some bittersweet, distant hope that things get better.

I remember exactly where I was. I was headed home from a long, tiring day mowing lawns on my route, pulling the trailer, being ultra "butch" and the song played on air. Instant waterworks and I was worried I might hit someone from the blur in my eyes. And it has almost every time it plays. It is a mood changer, a thought provoker. I have sat silently as it played in my ears, and I have sung so loud in my truck American Idol could have taped it from California for their commercial break singers.

While there is always the part of me that hopes I will open the door one day and he will be there; his closet door shattered, facing reality, honesty, and accepting himself...and us, there is also that hope now that someone will fill in the few spaces in my heart I have left.

I can explain away part of the relationship as it happening simultaneously with coming out, being honest with myself, loving myself for the first time in countless years, and all the beauty, possibilities, and experiences the world held in front of me now. I can say it, I can think it, but he is still there. He was there for so many of those first steps as a "baby gay" who wanted to see so much and experience so much. He was there for the ups and downs of divorce, family distancing, and for the good times.

I needed him and he needed me. We filled an empty-ness in our lives that hadn't been filled. A place free of judgement. Filled with hope, texts of "Goodnight/Good Morning, I love You," and hugs. Not the manly pats, but the embraces of understanding and letting go of all the world had thrown at us that week.

Life is great over all. I have faced so many challenges this last year and there are many in front of me, but they are manageable and I feel life moving forward again. But, there is that part left unhealed no matter how many times I try to put ointment on it, or hope it will go away if I try to ignore it.

Dating sucks. I was perfectly determined to be single, until another boy happened along and asked me out. And then like usual (as I have a magnet that almost always attracts closeted men) he flaked and disappeared, even before the date. The idea of dating was left unwrapped and it drew me in. And so it has been, so many frogs kissed.

And the song plays on. Catching me here and there, clearing my throat, hoping no one can see the eyes filling; reminding me of those times I longed for again. For the person I needed. The one who seemed to love me regardless of our differences. The one who captivated me at every level.

The day may never come that I see the fire ring around his big brown eyes or feel his head on my shoulder as we embrace on sight letting the world melt away. I may not get that first kiss. We may never fight the world together again.

I could throw it all away, delete it, or sell it, but it would make no difference. You can't delete the heart. There is no wipe and reload; deleting it all. But there is hope.

Just as the haunting lyrics state, there may be someone like him. I see guys sometimes who carry themselves as he did, or dress like him, or have the same nose or puppy dog eyes. It doesn't compare, its doesn't fix. As I have listened this month for probably the thousandth time I hear the hope. While this guy doesn't know it yet, there has been someone wake chambers that I thought would never beat again. We may never meet, as Australia isn't next door, but even feeling that beat again has revived hope.

I will always love Vic. He will always be a part of my life, but I see hope that he won't be the only part of life I truly lived. I'm holding out that he won't be the only "glory days" I have. Sure I hope he wakes up and sees how beautiful life is outside the closet. Sure, I hope he runs back, but I can't wait longer. There is someone else out there who can make my heart beat. Maybe he's 8400 miles away in the land down under, or maybe he sees the same Rocky Mountains I do.

So there is hope that "someone like" him shows up and has the patience and will to fight for me, for us. The heart is frozen, but I have seen it thaw in spots unexpectedly. Here's to the frogs in the future, here's to this song that may always be "ours," but here's also to a good thaw.


Below is linked my favorite version of "our song."






Friday, November 11, 2011

One of My Biggest Regrets

I have to come out of the closet again. I found something out about myself this year but haven't told many more people than some of my closest friends. So here we go; hoping you won't judge me to harshly.....I love Glee. There, I said it. Even as a fairly secure gay man, I wasn't secure enough to say I enjoyed a show about singing and dancing and feelings. I finally broke down to watch it this year and see what all the noise was about. Its been my dirty little secret for months now. More like a guilty pleasure. After a bad day or stressful situation I could come home, turn on netflix, and forget the world for a moment.

It has made me question my gayness. While I have zero issue with men who's flame shines a bit brighter, I don't fit in that stereotype very well. I can cook and can appreciate dressing better, but I couldn't tell you what the new fall colors were at Nordstrom, what names they carry, or what the great vintages of wine are. I will tell you that Ross carries some decent clothes at decent prices and I do enjoy shopping. I can also tell you that Cumin is an undervalued spice in this world. That's about as far as my gay gene takes me in the world of fashion.

Regardless of how "straight-acting," "masculine," or butch I may naturally be, there are areas that Kurt and I relate on a very personal level. He goes through many insecurities that I have dealt with, even if they weren't as easy to spot as his are.

I have gone back and done something I almost never do, I have started re-watching episode one. I never watch shows I have seen over again. Always seems pointless to live in the past (Even though I have bought the first six seasons of Smallville, but haven't watched them over again at all), but Glee has me doing it.

I watched the 4th episode of season one last night and it hit me strongly again. For those that haven't seen it, Kurt (the gay character with a "bright flame") comes out to his dad, but not without some final attempts to prove his masculinity and hide his secret. While he meets being on the football team with moderate success, it doesn't fulfill him. It took me back.

In high school I was always asked what I played on the football team. People were suprised when I told them I didn't play football. I was tall and husky (still hate that word) and probably would have done OK as a lineman, which I think is a real position, right? I had no real interest in football, but did play in the band at home games and enjoyed that instead.

Sports scared me. I avoided them at all costs as I worried my lack of talent would be discovered and somehow that would immediately have people arrive at the conclusion that I must be gay. I wasn't going to have that shameful secret exposed. Now looking back, not joining in church ball and avoiding all other sports probably wasn't as good of a cover as I once thought. I did play one sport, soccer. I loved it and played until I was old enough to realize I wasn't as talented as my older brothers and would end up on rec teams instead of competition teams. I wasn't the worst player, but just was shy of having enough talent and speed to move on. Thus ended my career in sports at the old age of 13.

I wanted to play church ball, I really did. My dad was the coach and had been a star player in high school. He would always ask me, but I always had a good excuse about homework or fixing a car, or some extra curricular school activity. Secretly I had hoped he would just take me aside sometime when others weren't around and show me how to play basketball and be like the other guys. I was too prideful and too embarrassed to ask. My older brothers had more talent and I didn't want to embarrass him or me by my lack of athletic skill.

I think mt dad was fairly perceptive, even though he never caught on that I did want to play basketball, but I just wanted him to get me up to speed before I looked like a fool.

There is the old chain of thought that being gay was as a result of an over-bearing mother and distant father. I don't buy it. I will have to cede the fact that my mother did fit that stereotype, if not the very definition of it. Her picture may actually be next to the word in the dictionary. I am too afraid to look. As far as my father goes, he wasn't distant, but he was "old." I had one of the oldest dads among my friends. I loved hearing about all the camping, shotgun shooting, hiking, sports, etc that my older brothers and sisters did with him. I was often jealous. I was the youngest of seven and now see why he had to work so hard to provide for us. I knew he was older, but it didn't make me not wish for those days they would speak of that I spent coddled by my mom while they played.

Looking back, I don't think that makes him a distant father though. He worked hard, but he was always there at whatever I was doing. Whether I was in a play, or a concert, or just having him watch me color on his workbench as my mom would be off shopping or doing some important civic work or something "important."

The most fond memories though are when Dad would take some time off for just me and we would go to the local car show. I loved it and couldn't get enough of his old stories of which car he drove or what he dreamed of. I love my dad and I miss him more than I can possibly explain. [Hopefully my spelling is OK as the screen is a bit blurry at the moment. Must be allergies, right? ;)]

My eyes did well up a bit honestly as I watched Kurt come out to his dad. I never did. It is one of my biggest regrets. I was 20 when my dad passed away after a long, and often painful two years of kidney failure. It was not an experience I would wish on anyone, but there were silver linings on those dark, cloudy two years.

I stayed home from my mission for two reasons. First, 24/7 with another guy my age seemed like way too much of a temptation and I needed to avoid being gay at all costs. Second, I was the youngest and only one at home still. Someone needed to car for dad and help him. I will say the latter helped mask the first well. (Aside from all the promises that he'd be "cured" if I would only just go serve God for two years....don't get me started on that one.)

Dad died just before my 21st birthday and right after his 60th. We hadn't even celebrated it yet. He chose the morning of Memorial Day 2001 to leave us. It was almost 2 years that he had been ill. 2 years that I spent serving the mission I should have been on. I felt at peace with that. Had I gone on an LDS mission, I would have missed many painful moments as I watched this giant of a man slowly die. However, I would have missed some of the greatest bonding moments of my life. This was my time with my dad. While not as fun as shotgun shooting, or hiking, or camping. This was my time. I got to know this well-loved man in ways many did not. Unfortunately I live with one major regret from that time, that I didn't tell him.

Every boy wants his dad to be proud. I did a lot of things trying to be a son he could be proud of. I was smart, excelled in scouts, involved in church, etc. But, I was gay, and it was my weakness.

Today, I regret not having that conversation with him. It was one thing I regretted from the moment I came out. As I watched Kurt last night come out to his dad, it took me back to that regret and made me wish I had. I wasn't quite ready then, but I wish I would have been. It took me 8 years, a wife, and two kids later after that to finally accept who I was and come out.

Coming out was ugly all around. I was ill prepared and floundered many times. Many that read this blog or know me personally will know that my family has all but vanished in my life. I was the party planner in my family. I made sure the events happened and that we got together. I was the glue that brought together all the differing opinions and drama hoping to keep the family together after dad died. I was often told I should have been the oldest, not the youngest. I acted like the oldest. Having them disappear from my life out of misunderstanding, fear, or religious beliefs has been tough. I have often thought these were not the children my dad raised. He would never have stood for this.

I never did come out to him and I regret that deeply. I could go on and on about my dad and all the fond memories, but for now I'll shorten it up. He was a great man. He was loved by his children, his religion, his community. He is the man I look up to and wish to model my life after. When I hit a hard spot in life and consider my options, he comes to mind. Its not "what would Jesus do" that I think of, its "what would Dad do." Its not a weird pressure like religion. I don't feel like I am earning points or avoiding his dissatisfaction and guilt by wanting to be like him. He is just the man I admire and know that his heart was always in the right place. I see happiness when I remember him and I find happiness when I make decisions I know he would make. He loved everyone, even those who made his life harder. He accepted everyone (which will be a separate post one day). He had friends from all walks of life and he treated them all with dignity and respect. He would have done the same to me.

I do believe things would be different today had he lived to see me come out. I wish I would have been in a place to tell him 10+ years ago, but I wasn't. I think he knew though. Just like Kurt's dad, he may not have loved the idea, but he would have loved me. There may have been some questions. He may have needed a moment to breathe, but he would have loved me. He would have been my ally and biggest fan as he always was. Whether he has a soul somewhere or is just moved on to being a part of the circle of life here on Earth, he loves me. I know my dad and I do believe it would cause him pain to see his other children act towards me in the way they have. I feel sorry for them, they missed Dad's greatest lesson; to love unconditionally. He wouldn't have put up with it. While he rarely put his foot down, this would have been one of them. He would not have let the prejudice, disgust, or distance my family has chosen stand for one second. Sure, there is pain in not having my family accept me. Sure, there is pain in no longing belonging, but the sadness I feel is mostly for them. They have had an opportunity to "do what Dad would do" and they have ignored it. They have looked past, and in some ways, dishonored the man he was. They have stunted their growth and missed an opportunity of a lifetime. Dad didn't love because he was commanded to. He loved because he wanted to. After years of loving how I was commanded to, and now loving as I want to, I realize how different those two things really are.

I love the saying "I may not be perfect, but parts of me are pretty awesome." I have to say that those awesome parts are things I learned and felt from the greatest man I will ever know; my Dad.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A Place of Refuge

I'm moving.

While all is not completely final, my home should be sold and papers signed on September 15th.

There is a lot running through my head. It has been a wild journey the last few years. So many good things, so many new experiences, so many new challenges, and so much more stress and heartache than I could have imagined. Unfortunately the heartache and challenges are more recent that the good times that were had in this home. But....I have survived and I feel a renewed sense of peace and hope as I venture on to a new chapter in life.

Although this home was the first, and only, marrital home I have had, I have been single here now longer than I was married here. I do have faded memories of those first few years though. All the expectation and planning and working to nest in our own plot of land in the world. The anticipation of how this "fixer-upper" would one day be a jewel in the neighborhood. I recall the first night here. It was great to be living above ground again. We had space! Ben Jr wasn't quite so thrilled. He didn't sleep well that night and it took some effort to not run into his room at every rustling or cry. Luckily he adjusted quickly.

I do recall a sense of sadness as we moved a whole block from our condo into our house. So many memories in that home too. It was where I became a dad. I guess the bittersweet of moving isn't new to me and its reassuring to remember that I never really looked back at that condo after we closed the door behind us for the last time. I keep the memories with me, but not the sadness of leaving. I imagine this move will be the same.

I became a dad for the second time in this home on Finair Street. I built a business here. I learned too much about wiring and remodeling. I chased my boys round and round the kitchen and living room here. I had a family, I lost a marriage. I spent my first night out and divorced in this home. I found my first "domestic partnership" here and I left it here. I built new friendships, and lost an important one I will never get back. I finally was called to a "respectable" position in my church here and I lost my religion here. My life continued on as a "normal" family man here, and my life shattered here. I fought my last battles in the closet in these four walls. I snuck out of these four walls and lied as I searched whether my feelings were "real." I lost the battle, but won the war like I never would have imagined winning.

The single most pivotal point in my life has happened while this red brick has been called my home. But, its time to move on. I fought hard and long to keep this piece of sheetrock mine, but finally found some peace as I am learning to let go. We can't have it all, so only keep what is important. Pride is not one of those things to keep. Authenticity, truth, and integrity are.

I had no intention of writing tonight but my mind has been running non-stop in this bittersweet moment of time as I say go

od-bye to a once cherished dream. As I was singing "This Little Light of Mine" to Tucker and Ben as they drifted off to sleep, my favorite piece of art hung in front of me and brought me peace. I was thinking how I loved the room I finally built for myself. I love the can lighting, I loved the color, I loved where my hopes were as I built it; I was leaving it. This would be one of the last nights I would sing these songs to my boys as they closed their eyes to sleep within the wood and plaster of my home on Finair. "A Place of Refuge (IV)" (left) hung in front of me as I sang and I felt what that meant.

I found this painting as I waited to hear from a friend who had gone home to tell his wife he was leaving. Nervous and excited for him the obvious had to be done to distract me as I awaited his follow-up call: shopping! I fell in love the second I saw it. I kept this one for my self but a few months later ordered and gave "my refuge" to him on his birthday. Aside from the money and my heart, the only worldly thing he never gave back was the copy of this painting I gave him. There will always be a reminder of him as I see this painting hang in my room. I would bet he hangs this in his room too, but it can't represent to him what it does me. I gave him refuge and he gave me lies and a broken heart. I hope one day that will change. As for now, this painting became more mine again tonight as I lay watching my boys slip into nightly dreams of adventure as I sang.

My walls may be another color and my space may be smaller, but that painting will hang with me wherever I go. More importantly what it represents will stick with me wherever I find my head resting. My sons will always be in my heart and I will always be in their's. We will always find a place of refuge where we are together. Songs will still be sung regardless of geography and paint color. We will always be "home" when we are together.

So I sit in a dark living room and see life's things scattered everywhere as I pack and throw away and give away and sell. As I move from a home to an apartment. As I learn to accept the things I cannot change and move forward with the things I can.

Two songs come to mind:



Saturday, July 23, 2011

Response To A Recent Forum Post

I wanted to take a minute and address an issue that is far too common: families rejecting their children and siblings due to homophobic ignorance. There was a post in a forum today about a gay son who had a partner. They had recently moved back to Salt Lake and closer to his family. He was now facing from the family the "pretend he doesn't exist" and ignoring his partner even when being in the same room. How sad. Look at all they are missing out in. He was needing advice and wanting to vent. I shared the following in his post's comments: (I think it resonates with many, unfortunately)



This definitely strikes a chord. About a year ago my family held a meeting in my sisters backyard. The discussion wasn't even welcome in her house because I was there. It was their form of intervention. Unrelated to a boyfriend they had made a few attempts to take my children to family events while seeing that I didn't know about them. The Papa Bear in me shut that down fast and we stopped talking. I refused to let them "save my children" from me.

So the meeting was their attempt to reach out and say we want you back in our family....but here is a list of do's and don'ts. Of course they didn't want me kissing the guy I was dating around them, my sister was concerned I would parade around grabbing his ass (wtf?), and other "gay" behaviors. These are things I never even did with my wife as a newly wed in front of them. I was told he could come around if we acted only like friends. I could go on and on about the ridiculous notions and stereotypes thrown in my face that day.

I looked back at them and said that I would never ask them to do with their spouses what they were asking of me. I would never ask them to leave their spouse home or remove their garments when entering my home, or anything else that would deny them what makes them happy. I would never tell them "absolutely no contact" with their spouse in my home. After having them absent in my life for a year, a year that I desperately needed them, it became very clear that I no long did need them. I didn't need the closet door reopened and to be shoved back in.

I explained to them the hurt and pain that came along with being in the closet. I explained to them that I was in a better place. Their response was "You know what is right." They were right, I did. I let them know if they accepted who I loved into their homes without ridiculous judgement, stereotyping, or unneeded rules I would be there. We left it at that and I left. For me, the dishonesty to myself to heed their rules wasn't worth it. I refused to be the guy I once was. I went home and fell apart briefly in the arms of the guy I was dating and that was that.

Yes, it stings. There are times I miss it, but there is no way to describe the self-respect and strength I find in being authentically me.

A year went by and my mom apparently was trying again. As usual it was still on her terms and whenever she could get around to it. After inviting her to a few things and never showing I sent her an email titled "Your Gay Son."

I didn't post it in my blog for any fanfare. I hope know one sees this as a pat on my back. The reason I share it is because I do earnestly hope that more GLBTQ people realize their self worth and move forward with their happiness.

Consequently I got basically no real response, just a superficial excuse and I'm sorry. Haven't heard form her since really.

I do have one brother who has kept an open mind but is still not close. My bf and I were invited to their sons bday party with no rules. It went well and the supposedly homophobic (not wanting to see Uncle Ben as a gay man) children of my sister were asking when they would see my bf again. You could see the smoke coming out her ears. I take that a day at a time. If you have someone in your family who is earnestly trying, work with it. Never deny who you are are do anything that causes harm to your self-respect or authenticity.

Good luck on your journey. It has its painful moments, but it is always worth being "dyed in the wool true blue through and through" with who you are.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Chasing Cars


Chasing Cars Video Link

I played that song over and over on my cell phone’s tiny little speaker. I couldn’t fight back the tears anymore and my sons could see it. They just fell and I couldn’t stop them anymore. I wouldn’t stop them anymore. I was done. I KNEW I was a good father and couldn’t hear one more person question that. Not only just “another person” but my own mother; the person in my life that was supposed to be my biggest cheerleader; the one who should know me better than anyone else. It was the straw and I was finished. There was no need for further thought. I picked up my sons, put their shoes on we were out the door. Gone. Doing something that was technically illegal, but should never have been so. There was no “approved” supervisor at that moment; I was alone with my boys and we listened to this song over and over as I just drove. It had given me strength before and I was hoping it could work one more time.

To give some background, I separated with my wife at the end of January 2008. I had lied, I had cheated, and worst of all, I had hurt the people I loved. However, amongst all those lies I had gained truth. It was a truth I had fought against. I didn’t want it to be truth, but I could no longer deny it. There was turmoil in how to embrace that truth and not destroy lives. Unfortunately I did hurt people. I loved being a father, I wanted to be a father and I couldn’t see that existing after I told my truth: I am a gay man. My truth had finally brought me peace when I was taught that it shouldn’t. It did and I couldn’t pray that peace away. It, however, didn’t come without complications and pain.

I had made plans to tell Liz that it was over and that I would be leaving. It was going to happen. The first Wednesday in February; I couldn’t deny it any longer. I was going to go tell one of the guys that had been very present on my journey. He was out of state at that time and I was going to take off with the car for a few days and, after telling him, I would be home to tell Liz and find a new place to live. Boston was the plan as “Boston” by Augustana was an unofficial theme for me. That was the plan and I had finally accepted it. I was nervous, but I had an inkling of peace.

My plans didn’t happen. I was driving to work one morning (1 week before my first Wednesday deadline) and I got the call. The guy I had shared my journey with was on his way home to SLC and I knew it was over. I wasn’t going to be in control of my coming out. She had no details, but knew enough to know that it was over. That I wasn’t going to be around anymore. We were no longer a couple facing this together; we were now individuals backed into our corners. I said nothing to her, I didn’t need to. He would be in SLC soon enough and he would tell her everything. I was numb.

At the beginning of the week (the week of my Wednesday) she told me we could file online and it would be over. No need to fight or make this expensive. By the end of the week, I was notified she had an attorney and it was time to lawyer up. I knew I was fighting her family and I knew it was going to get ugly. I had already gotten the call from her saying that I would not have any in-person alone time with my sons. I could call or I could see them at my sister’s house, there was no other option. I was angry. I had been stripped of my natural duties as my son’s father. Then, I made the number one mistake most heterosexually married, but divorcing gay men make: I let guilt drive me. I had met with a “bulldog” attorney that was going to push fast and push hard to stop this madness. It was going to get even more ugly and he was going to make it a point to become a total annoyance to the other attorney. I felt good, but then guilt came back. I was the one who cheated, I was the one who stepped out. I was the GAY one. So, I kept looking. I met with an attorney that seemed “nice”. He appeared to have some knowledge as to what he was doing and he seemed calm. He was the guy I was looking for. One who could solve my problems, talk smoothly, and persuade the other attorney to solve this. I was wrong on so many levels. He was tree-hugging hippie that suggested I take a trip to nature to calm down ahead of the temporary orders hearing. I was still only seeing my sons if I agreed to have my sister supervise at her house. I went from Dad to visitor. April 12th rolled around and we were set to meet in court for the first time. (Ironically that was the day I proposed 5 years earlier, and the week I had first talked to Liz in 9th grade) I had grown concerned over the overly calm demeanor of my attorney and his lack of responsiveness. He assured me that he knew what he was doing. The attorneys decided to try to settle as much as possible before meeting the judge. I went into a little conference room and Liz and her gang went into theirs. Two of her brothers were there. I knew I wasn’t fighting her, I was fighting them.

This was a temporary orders hearing, not an actual divorce hearing. I gave in and gave in and gave in. I was losing everything and wasn’t too surprised. Material things were not my concern. Being a father again was my concern. It finally came down to that. She had requested that I be granted minimal visitation with strict supervision. I was appalled. I had always been a great father. She had always told me how glad she was that I her children’s father. She had told me how much more involved I was than many of the other fathers she knew. This was her anger talking, this was her family’s anger talking. She had requested that I jump through all sorts of hoops and psych evaluations in order to allay her fears that I was a danger to my sons. I had lied, I had cheated, I had emotionally hurt her and others in my coming out, but I had NEVER hurt my children. My lies had brought out a greater truth. I was a gay father. I was finally at peace with myself. I had a sense of honesty and integrity that was never present before. I was a great father and needed to be in that role ASAP. I will give my attorney some credit. He at least didn’t foul up as much as he could have. He convinced me (because he really was unprepared) to go along with her request with a few modifications. I would only be allowed to see my children if one of my family members was present or one friend that I had known since I was a kid. That was it, no one else unless they were directly approved by her. I would see a therapist of my choice and she would have a chance to talk with her as well. I had to prove that I wasn’t a danger to my children. That was really the one and only night I have ever drunk alone. A bottle of 99 Bananas, some poor gay man I was chatting with, and my misery. I’m a lightweight when it comes to alcohol, but that didn’t stop me that night. My life had been stripped from me and I had no idea where to go from there. My lawyer had failed and I had failed. However, it did cure my guilt. My infidelity had nothing to do with my children and I wasn’t going to watch as she attempted to push her version of cause and effect on me.

My over-priced attorney dropped me 3 weeks later…..magically just before his license was suspended.

So as of April 12th 2008, I had been unnaturally stripped of my natural role as a father. I was a visitor in my children;s lives; a visitor that was ordered to have supervision. I was told that I was an unfit person. Those that knew me had decided that this punishment was fitting an unrelated crime. Worst of all, my sons became fatherless at the hands of an attorney that took an early weekend to go paint his house.

Flash forward about 6 months. The divorce still trudged along. My family became more and more distant and even less likely to act as supervision. I honestly stopped texting them about it. It hurt too much not only to hear the “we’re” busy, but more the overwhelming silence. No reply, no excuse, no concern. Shane’s wife (Shane being the one and only non-family adult allowed as supervision) had returned from Mexico and I had moved out of his place. It became difficult for him to be supervision anymore, but he did what he could. I saw my sons for a few hours here and there. On a rare occasion I would see them for an overnight. That was rare.

The only time I had my boys to myself was in putting them to bed. There was no one there (not that Shane really wanted to be). It was dad time. It was our time. It was time to sing “Baby Beluga” or “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” or “Down by the Bay” and all the other favorites. It was time to snuggle and talk about the day. It was time to laugh. It was time to be a family; no one there to look down on us or try to step in and parent. It was our time. It was always too short, but I cherished those quiet moments laying on the floor of Shane’s basement “camping out” with my sons. It was the few moments of peace I had in those ugly times.

Those that have survived some of my previous posts (a certain novel-like one comes to mind) will know that music has a very strong way of connecting with me. “Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol is one such song that has great meaning.

I first heard this song as a heterosexually married man. Many may think of it as a romantic love song, but it never was for me. I liked the song a lot, but had no real life attachment it matched to. I didn't feel this way about being with my wife even though I did earnestly try. I tried and tried to find songs that matched us, but they never did.

So, it was a song I just loved and let it at that. No correlation to real life, just good music.

That changed in those nights of momentary peace when my sons and I would lay down for bed and have family time; time where I could look in the eyes of these amazing boys and see that they didn’t judge me or hate me. They looked up to me. They loved me.

This song came to have meaning. I would play it on my phone on occasion when they almost asleep and I was taking a few moments to myself to enjoy being a dad. They would hear me play it occasionally and began to see it as Daddy’s song. Tucker would asking me to play the “car song” over and over. It melted my heart and it was our song to us.

It may have the appearance of a romantic song, but it doesn’t have that meaning to me. To me it fits life with my sons and the love I have for them. It is a song that reminds me of the few moments we have to ourselves. (side note, finally proved supervision was ridiculous and no longer have that hurdle in my life). It reminds me of those nights just laying in bed sharing time with my sons as they fell asleep. We had the world in front of us with no limits in those fleeting moments.

My sons are my greatest teachers. Their innocence, their compassion, their resilience, and, most importantly, their unconditional love for me have kept life buoyant in an otherwise world of rough seas. Love is only the beginning of how they touch my heart.

Looking in their eyes I saw innocence. I saw the promise of letting my children keep their optimistic, unconditional love for the world in their lives. I unlearned so much prejudice as their student. I hope to be a better man and help them keep that openness to the world. Let them love who they want and see people as people, not gay, not straight, not black, not Latino, not poor, not “different.”

And, so it happened as I mentioned in the first paragraph. Those who are supposed to love me and support me didn’t. My family had walked out in a time of need. Those that didn’t walk made it a point to stand around and take their jabs. My mom’s comment to me about whether I wanted to be a good dad was enough. I didn’t need to feel their lack of understanding anymore. I didn’t need their judgment anymore.

So, as said before, I picked up the boys and we left. I broke the rules, and I didn’t care. I was their dad and I was a damn good one, or at least did everything I could to be.

Life is tossing some ugly things at me. People I want to trust (one specially) continue to break that trust. Continue to turn to the negative. Continue to hurt and bring me down. I have stood up to that, but it comes at a great price. Now I will have to fight to secure that my sons have equal access to a dad they love.


So, this song is our song. My son’s still ask me to play it on my phone or light up when it comes on the radio (partially, I’m sure, because Tucker loves cars so much). It is about us. There will always be rough seas, but I will always be their dad and they will always be my sons. When life hits hard and I feel alone or when my heart just aches to see my amazing sons I play this song. Still makes me cry, but brings me peace. I picture their love as I look into their perfect eyes. We will always have that love and bond that fathers and sons should have.

We may end up being a family always doing it all on our own. I may never find the right guy to love and add to our family. I may never be loved or accepted by my family again. I may never have riches or even a house of my very own again, but we will always have each other. We still have our nights at bedtime to sing, to laugh, to smile. We can forget the world, forget their judgment, forget the pain. We can look forward to their dreams and wishes. We can see a “garden bursting into life.”

Friday, April 29, 2011

A few days later

It has been an interesting week. My blog throw up on my last post is an example. However, throwing up can be good sometimes when your body needs to expel a poison.

My week has been filled with Victor and all that entails. Most of it has been in figuring out where to go from here. How to attract guys that are good for me.

I've noticed that there are many men I find mutual attraction with that want a caregiver and someone to take charge. Victor was a tough case, he wasn't always the best friend or most concerned, but he was there. He was support I had nowhere else. He was also someone who wanted support. And, he is one who obviously took advantage and went too far.

I am generally a strong willed man who likes to take charge. Having someone fall in line is "comfortable" for me, but it gets exhausting towing the line. I think I may keep in mind to have the next guy be my equal in taking charge and being strong willed. Should be interesting to see how that dynamic works. More on Mr Perfect (I know, in reality it will only me Mr Almost Perfect) later.

One more song at the end of Victor week. One that speaks for itself. I know he thinks of me. He missed out on an amazing opportunity.

Take it away Keith

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Your Gay Son

Now for something very personal and very cathartic for me. But, whether you like it or not, you know me to be pretty blatantly honest. So here is an unabridged, unedited version of an e-mail I sent today. It has weighed on my mind since the Pflag meeting. I will try to explain one point here. Titles were/are important to my Mom. My brother being the AP in his mission was such a highlight to her life. Every Elders Quorum President calling or Young Men's calling to her sons offered some sort of validation. It was honestly a relief when I was finally called out of Primary to be the Exec Sec. Not really for me, but just because I could finally hope she'd be happy with her son that didn't serve a mission.

I used the title I have because it is something I wear proudly. Not because of the title but what it represents. A group of gay fathers reaching out and supporting each other. It creates a sense of validity in our community as we work to build bridges. Sure I like the title and do get some warm fuzzies as we all do when getting a calling, but what really excites me is that it makes the existence of such a great group of men even more real. In other words its the respect for the mantle not necessarily the person holding it (which sounds all to self-important as I write it). So here is the very personal e-mail I finally wrote this morning:

Mom,

I stood over a week ago on a Tuesday at the PFLAG meeting. I stood as the representative and Director of The Utah Gay Fathers Association. I stood as your gay son. I stood as a loving and effective Father. I stood as a decent man trying to help others. You should have been there. You should see the man you raised. But you don't. You are missing it. I was surprised to feel the hurt so much that you weren't there. Shocked really. As my biological family has chosen to distance themselves from me I have found many others who love, respect, and celebrate who I am. It is sad for me that a sister who I was once close to and did anything/everything for chooses to call me disgusting and bitter. It is sad to hear bro and sis claiming to defend their gospel and protecting their children while isolating and dis owning their own brother in very un-Christ-like ways.

This was my piano recital. This was my sports game. This is what matters to me. This is my passion. You raised a great son. Coming out has allowed me to fully grasp all those lessons in honesty, integrity, love, compassion, acceptance, respect, and service that you and Dad taught me. This is who I am and you should be there to see it. You should be proud to have me as a son.

I spent 27 years hating who I was, loathing my attractions and having countless nights of heartache over what my heart was drawn to. Remember all those late weekend nights I wasn't home til 2 or 3 or later? Most of those were spent driving around crying and begging to not be a disappointment. Trying to find a cure to my orientation. Pleading with God to find me worthy enough to be blessed and cured. Spending nights in quiet desperation just wishing God would end it all one way or another. He finally did.

After 27 years, marriage, and 2 amazing sons, he did. Not how I thought he would, but he did. He made me see that I was just fine. That I was his son and he LOVED me for who I am. He was proud of me and he is there watching me at my version of a "piano recital." I know that Dad accepts me for who I am. I know that he is Proud to have a gay son. I wish he were here to tell others, but he's not. It is only in my heart that I know this.

I don't use my title to gloat. It only represents that you raised a good man who is trying to make a difference. Trying to reduce the suffering for those who are on the journey I was. Trying to stop the nights of quiet desperation. Trying to stop the Bobby's who feel they are alone and have no choice but to end it.

I have no wish to feel like "that" brother anymore at family events. I do not wish to fill my life with that negativity and attitude of "disgust" toward me. I have "family" in my community who care for me and love me. I will be involved where I feel loved and uplifted, not merely tolerated.

This was your chance to be proud. To see that the boy you raised is a strong, confident, and loving man. You weren't there and you have missed seeing it. I wish you wouldn't miss anymore, but I won't beg. I know and love who I am. I intend to celebrate my life and the amazing lives around me. Wish you were here.

I do love you and appreciate the many examples Dad and you gave me. I am a man you should be proud to call your son. Thank you for giving me life and providing for me in my younger years. That has given me a chance to be who I am.

Love,
Your Gay Son

Sunday, March 13, 2011

What an odd week

For those that have followed the recent events I have been on a weight loss journey. A healing journey. Honestly, I have always been on a weight loss journey of sorts, but I have become more resolved again recently.

The pounds haven't been falling off, despite my best efforts. I have hit the gym 4-5 days a week for over a moth now but the scale doesn't show it. My belt does and my pants do. That part is awesome. However, this is a mental game and seeing numbers drop on the scale is a huge rush. One that I haven't really had the chance to feel yet. It became even more complicated this week.

I have always dreamed of being on the TV show "The Biggest Loser." Sure, it is narcissistic in a way. I won't deny that. The other side of me sees that exposing myself and embarrassing my self and sharing myself on national TV could help others. There would be no way to avoid the "gay" issue and part of me hopes that it could shed a more positive light on it. I wanted to get on with my ex-wife. I think we have an important story to share on living life and being happy with the unexpected wrenches thrown your way.

Liz and I went to a Biggest Loser casting call here in West Valley yesterday morning. It was a weird group of emotions. The first one was, I'm not big enough to be here and that feels kind of nice. The second was, I'm not big enough to be here and I'm embarrassed because I don't fit in by not being big enough. (odd reversal of the same emoti0n, but opposite of the ususal reason) And then there was the third emotion, I'm still worth being heard and I'm going to fight for this.

We were #56 and 57 in line. We were in and out relatively quickly once the doors finally opened at 8AM. We had been there since 4:30 AM. We were the second group of interviews to go in. It was a group interview with 12 people sitting around one casting call director. The whole interview was under 10 minutes and consisted of 3 questions. I'm sure there is some method to the madness in that process, but I have no idea what it could be. There is no way to really show who you are in under 1 minute of total speaking. I have no idea how they can pick up anything from anybody in that small time.

Liz and I left feeling happy we went and a little determined to send in a video to really have our voices heard. But reality set in. Taping starts in May and in all likelihood we wouldn't know for sure until about a week before. That would mean I would have to stop losing weight and working out for 2 months and possibly gain a little. I tried that this week. I gave up on my diet on Friday and it has been Hell. I feel like I am giving up, even if it could possibly get me on the show. Its a strange set of emotions.

I've spent since Friday going back and forth on what to do. Liz seemed more bought into the idea than she has been for a while. I didn't want to crush that by saying that I didn't want to go further. But I don't. I want to be heard. I think Liz and I should be heard. TBL isn't the only way though. I want to keep momentum. I want to go to the gym. I can't hit the pause button.

After talking to Liz today I think we have decided together to not go further in TBL endeavor and making a video. We ARE going to move forward in losing weight and hopefully we can be on the same health bandwagon to change our lives and make the lives of our sons better.

I have eaten whatever I wanted the last few days, and the first day was kind of nice, but honestly that ended quickly. Liz and I went to breakfast after because I still wasn't sure I should lose anymore weight until we made the video and either were called back for an interview or we knew we wouldn't make the cut. I was quickly reminded as to why I don't eat that way. Honestly the food wasn't great and feeling sluggish after was horrible.

I've honestly been embarrassed by myself and have just stayed home. Its totally mental because I don't anyone could really tell about my stumble....yet. It won't continue though. I'm headed back to the gym today. Biggest Loser or not, I'm moving forward and losing weight. I'll keep you posted. Liz seems on board still too. I'm excited for where this will be going.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

My response to a posting on a blog I follow. A response to "enduring" to the end in a hetero marriage as a gay man

Here is the question posed to the blogger I follow (his posting is linked here). Invictus is just making the first steps out. Here is a question he received on his recent separation form his wife:

Sincere question for you here.

You have a teenage daughter, so I'm guessing you have to be at least mid-40s correct? Average life expectancy of the American male is 76 years. So, assuming you're 45, and will live to be 76, you're approximately 60% of the way through your life. Up to this point, you've been a faithful member of the Church, paid your tithing, etc. So, you've only got 40% of life to go and if you can just keep on the path for that last stretch, you'll very likely receive exaltation and be together with your family, as the LDS Church teaches.

On the other hand, if you choose to live a homosexual lifestyle, you've got, on average, 31 years (assuming you're 45) left. Keeping in mind that after 65 you're pretty much "old" (no offense intended) which brings the "wild oats" years down to roughly 20. Are those 20 years worth it?

I'm not your bishop so I don't think what you do directly affects me very much, but I'm just curious about your thoughts on whether those 20 years are worth what you're giving up.

Here is my response to such a question and train of thought:

I find topics like these philosophically interesting. I'm most comfortable fitting in the Agnostic box. While I sometimes contemplate and can relate to spiritual ideas, my life doesn't revolve around having anywhere near a perfect understanding. There are times I feel like God could exist and other times that it really doesn't add up. Either way, it doesn't matter. God or no God doesn't change who I am and what makes me happy. It doesn't make me someone "devil-ish" or without any sense of what is right and wrong. In fact, I find it liberating to know that what I believe and how I choose to live my life is all based on what I feel is good and right. It is no longer based on what is supposed to be right and wrong as written in books. With that background here are some thoughts:

I love Jeff's response. I share a very similar belief. If we delve into some of the most commonly accepted beliefs in Christianity we will see that the greatest commandment is love. Notice that it isn't "strict obedience" it is "love."

You hear on talk radio shows and other therapeutic geared media that you can't truly love others until you learn to love yourself. How can you love yourself when you feel that "enduring" and "burying" your feelings is the only way to be accepted by God? Where is there love in unacceptance?

The part of me that accepts that there could be a God sees a being that isn't entirely foreign to the LDS faith. Through refining my thoughts and relating to my own life I sift away many of the "Hellfire and damnation" views of a vengeful God. I am a gay father. My marriage ended 3 years ago. I have two amazing boys that have taught me more about what a God should be than anything else I ever learned.

I have felt many ranges of emotions as a father. I have felt fear, anger, embarrassment (of my lack of ability), heartache, worry, contentment, and joy. Most of all I have felt love.

We have this strange concept in life of what is wrong and what is right. Everything has to be black or white. We somehow picture this book in heaven that judges each move in life as either sin or its righteousness. We either get a check in the naughty or nice column. Our hope is that we get enough "nice" checks to get into heaven. I don't know many Earthly fathers that live that way in everyday life. How many of us have watched our children make mistakes? Do we judge everything they do as right or wrong and worthy of praise or punishment. How many of us have watched our kids build something with legos or blocks knowing that the laws of nature will never allow it to stand on its own. Do we have to rush in and command that they alter their course and do things "right" or do we just make a mental note for punishment later? I don't and believe that most fathers don't as well.

Being gay is no different than being straight in that we all will have our own opportunities to learn and grow. These may be strictly my own morals, but I don't see "sowing my wild oats" as inherently sinful or something that God has noted for later punishment. Just like the legos, its a life experience for me. It is my chance to see what will stand on its own and what will not. While I have greatly slowed my sowing, I can't deny what I have learned and the value that came from such supposedly damning behavior. I have found contentment in being single, but there is always that part looking for love. In my sowing I have found a greater understanding for what love is.

Back on track with fatherhood. My love for my sons is not contingent on them making all the choices I want them to make. I know we are taught that God loves us all no matter what. There is a HUGE BUT (no pun intended) in LDS teachings though. He loves us BUT if we don't heed everything he COMMANDS of us, we have no place in his house. Really?? I can not fathom the day that I would bar my own children from everything I have. I cannot imagine not allowing them to stand in my presence, let alone not always feeling the desire to hold them and show them all the love I have for them. If that is true with me, why not a more perfect Father in Heaven?

The only expectation I really have for my sons is that they not willingly injury another either emotionally or physically. Even then, they would never be banned from my presence. I may want them to be a doctor, or lawyer, or great politician, but if they find joy in working at McDonald's so be it. I may have things I'd like them to do in life, but all I really want is for them to find happiness, joy, and love (in one form or another). If I feel this way about my children, why can't God?

I can't imagine the sorrow I would feel if I found out that my son endured years and years of Medical school "enduring" to be a doctor, because he thought it would make me happy, only to find that he didn't enjoy it and would rather have been a garbage man. I don't have those expectations of my sons and I would never want them to put their happiness on "hold" in order to live up to some ideal they think I have for them. As Jeff stated above, what if our "test" wasn't to endure? What if it was to love? Why deny the amazing man (who loves other men) that God created? Why not be authentic, real, and happy in this life? How can that translate into damnation in the next?

I feel that I have more to contribute to society as an openly gay, authentic, self-loving man than I ever did as a closet case "enduring."

I can't believe such a God exists that expects us to deny the greatest commandment of love and replace it with enduring. Enduring is not fair for me as a gay man in a hetero marriage, and it is not fair for the woman that has to endure as well. Would any one of us want to be in a marriage to someone who was "enduring" rather than "loving" us?

If love is the greatest commandment, we should live it.

Weight Update

I realize that I haven't updated on here. I am much better at doing it on Facebook. Just a quick update. I'm down about 6 lbs, but struggling to move out of the 280's. I'm toying with taking my ex-wife to the Biggest Loser cast call here in SLC this Saturday. While I have plenty to lose, I'm not sure I am big enough for the show (based on what I have seen the past few seasons). I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Journey (long one at that)-Back To My New Old Me. The Backstory





There has been a lot I have wanted to write, but just haven't. Unfortunately I'm the kind of person that feels like I have to follow step-by-step in everything. This translates into me feeling like I couldn't blog until I addresses all the blogs I've wanted to write. At this point, I'm throwing that notion out. If I get to the previously intended writings, great. If not, oh well. So here I am after a LONG pause. I'd ask that you read this entirely before coming to conclusions. Reading half-way will leave you with the wrong impression. I do realize I can't control your thoughts and am aware that some will walk away completely misinterpreting my feelings. I guess thats the risk I take. This is more cathartic than anything, but hopefully there is an ounce in value in my ramblings.

Today I make part of my usually private journey
very public. I intend to blog and Facebook update on my journey into being skinny and healthier. I have generally been pretty quiet and embarrassed about my weight situation, but I'm getting to be more and more i
n a place where I don't care about only presenting the "good" side of me. I am human. I make mistakes. I embarrass myself. I sometimes embarrass others. Oh well. After so many years hiding who I was and avoiding ANYTHING (no
matter how absurd it seems now) that could label me as possibly gay, I just don't care anymore. I have loved coming out, even though it has been tough. I have found being a more authentic me to be something tha
t brings me great peace and joy. So here it is,
the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful. All in one package.

I will warn you that I will
be pretty blunt about things. I will talk about things I have never talked publicly about. Sure I'm a little scared, but overall I'm excited. Sure, this may
be narcissistic, but don't we like that? We like being narcissistic about ourselves and we enjoy getting the juicy details of others. We are hum
an.

You may feel lost in how the following revolves around weight loss. Its more than a physical journey. So here is the mental and emotional part of this journey:



I was a very skinny kid when I was younger. About age 6 or 7 that changed rapidly. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out why. Was it
genetics? Was it how my parents fed me? Was it
due to lack of activity? Probably a little bit of all
of that. In reality, the major cause wa
s hiding. It may se
em counterintuitive to think that putting on weight would mak
e me more invisible, like an elephant trying to hide behind a daisy, but it worked. I struggled with weight all throughout my school years. I hated being in that shape.
I hated not making the soccer team. I hated not being noticed by others. I hated being embarrassed to show up for swim meets. I hated buying clothes that fit. I hated so much, but it kept me safe and secure.

From what? I wanted to feel attractive, but didn't. I wanted to be noticed, but also didn't. I didn't want anyone to see the "darkness" in me. I w
anted no one to realize how hot I thought the basketball players were. I wanted no one to pay attention to me as my gaze lingered a bi
t too long at the guy at his locker. I had to hide in plain si
te. There was also something else I subconsciously consciously hid. I was not a believer in t
his and its very hard to portray exactly my thought pattern.

Just imagine a spiderweb of thoughts that was continually wovern and re-woven over each other. Each strand of thought somehow
making things appear better, but in reality just making such a tangled mess that its possible to find yourself unable to get out one day. Luckily I never found myself sown so tightly in my own web that I died there. There are far too many that have. After being out and after meeting some that were in that woven mess of thought I was in, I am amazed. I am sad for those people. I can
see where their logic and "new, miraculous, c
uring" thought has brought them temporary
peace. I know all to well, however, that the bright day follws with a dark night. That miraculous thought loses its shine and you quickly fall into that despair, once again, that it didn't work. The nights I spent crying over the loss of whatever new miracle that died is far too many to count. And far too painful
to spend much time thinking of. I feel such sorrow when I run across others who are in a place I once was. I deeply wish they could see how amazing they are just the way they are.

Slight tangent there. But those thoughts were part of my hiding
. Part of what allowed me to feel safe as a fat kid.

There was another side to my hiding. I had wr
apped it up in the same web as being gay. After all, we are taught that you aren't just born gay. We are taught that somehow I had let the devil in my sole and chose to find that guys smile intoxicating. We are taught that somehow I chose to be different. I chose a life where people would hate and be disgusted by me for merely loving another man. They didn't have to watch it or know anything else about me. All they ha
d to here was "gay" and I was suddenly drenched in garments of blackness. Really? Why would someone choose to be hated? (To clarify, I am very happy to be gay. I wouldn't have chosen any other way had their been a choice now.) So my "other" dark passenger (Dexter theft there) was easily mixed into and the blame for my attraction to other men.

As I said before, I w
as a skinny kid. (the youngest in the pic below) Looking back now, I realize more and more what one of
the building blocks for my weight was. I can trace it in p
hotographs even though I can't specifically place an age or time on it. I never believed people who could "forget" abuse only t
o remember it years down the road. I
always found it troubling....until it happened to me. I guess I can't say I never forgot entirely, bu
t it the memories had a fleeting
dream like quality where they never seemed all too real to me. It wasn't until I was 19 that those dreams were sharpened and I realized that they were, in fact, real. I had been abused. I had been experimented with. That teenage boy and those flashbacks of events were real. Not just some random boy, but someone I had known well and still know of. Someone who still is in my life from time to time, even though he has moved on to marriage and kids.

So that was that.
At age 19 I had found my root. I had found where I had
let Satan into me. I had found where I turned gay. (please don't stop re
ading here) So, I did what any good Mormon boy would do. I talked to my bishop. I walked in with a heavy heart but expecting that my revelation
would lead me down the "straight" and narrow road to heterosexuality. I fully expec
ted that this would be a day of miracles. I would get a priesthood blessing from a man of God and find myself cured......I walked out of his office later that day disfellowshipped, (
LDS form of temporary punishment), the charge to correct my immoral thoughts and behaviors (think "Little Factories" or more officially "For Young Men Only" talk by Packer), and an appointment with the Stake Presiden
t. Y
EAH!! Talk about disillusioned and hurt. Who the Hell was this man to disfellowship me when I had just poured out my heart? I had tried to finally get help with my burden only to have him throw another rock on and send me on my way, alone. That was the straw. I saw the Stake President once and got the same treatment. I was done. I faked going to my girlfriends
church and just stopped going.

I was now angry and hurt. But I knew it was all my fault
. I had let myself get there. I had let the gay thoughts continue. I was still intoxicated by a guys smile and very attracted to the jocks amazing biceps. I had let it happen. I knew that the sexual experimentation, when I was young (narrowed it to somewhere between 4 and 6 years old) was not my fault. I had no guilt there. my only guilt was that I had let it affect me and turn me gay. I had let down my family, my parents, my church,
my friends, and my God. I was ev
en letting down the girl who thought I was so amazing. I plead with God nightly. I spent hours and hours driving the valley at night. Listening to music. Trying to come to grips with a new plan to be cured. Begging and begging and begging God to just let me be normal. To let me be cured. To let me be worthy of his presence. I began adding new thoughts to my web and began making things look better. I began again. I went back to church (the g
irlfriends ward) and I worked on trying to be more spiritual. I worked to lock those
feelings up. I built a safe that would survive an atomic blast. I did something else. I sought out counseling. Of course, as a good Mormon boy, I
would not see a counselor that was not LDS. I would not be lied to. I would not hear that being gay was OK. I found an old LDS man who was a practicing therapist and I went. I drug my girlfriend along with me. I had my sword and shield and went full on into battle to overcome my "root" and cure my homosexuality.

About all I recall from my sessions was one bit of advice. "Picture where you want to be in life. Picture what would make you happy." (aka think happy thoughts and it'll go away) I still have a very vivid memory of what that picture was. I was on a
porch swing in the brightest spring sun. I was sitting next to my
girlfriend. We were happily married and I could see myself being a family man. I now realize how ridiculous and absurd the "happy thoughts" counsel was, but it was something to hang onto and I ran with it. I was going to overcome my abuse and being gay. I didn't continue seeing the counselor as I felt I had found enough rope to hold on to and start climbing up.

After Dad passed away (whole other story and also another way I hid. Although I am grateful that I hid behind his illness and caring for him for those two years. I would never have gotten to know my father any other way. I was blessed to spend that very difficult time with him as he slowly died. My one regret is that I never told him I was gay. I think he had an idea though.) I contemplated a mission again. I was still worried about being w
ith another man for 24/7 and being able to control myself. Especially if he was cute. I sought counsel from my bishop. I retold my story and disclosed my
attraction. He knew who I was dating. It came down to marriage or a mission. His counsel was marriage. It came across as the best option considering what I had gone through and my weakness for being attracted to men. It felt, again, like marriage was going to be the cure and I had the Lord's blessing to prove it.

Liz and I married in the Salt Lake Temple. It was a beautiful day. I was so happy. I had arrived. I was sealed in the temple. I was as good as my brothers finally. I was a good Mormon. Also, the day was beautiful for another reason....I had planned it all. (S
hould have been a sign). I helped pick out the flowers. I insisted on the venues for the breakfast (Lino House, of course. Couldn't be more righteous) and for the reception (Joseph Smith Building 9th floor window right in front of the Temple). I was on a roll. I was immersed in all things LDS and "holy." It was a beautiful venue. I honestly think I was more about the decor of the room and the place then I was about it being my wedding day. There was a moment while Liz dressed for the reception that I stepped out in my Tux into the the decorated, but empty reception room. I was blown away at how awesome it looked. (seriously have no idea why no one else, including myself, had picked up the gay scent on me yet)

So maybe you don't see where weight comes into this, but it does. I'm long winded and terrible at short stories, Sorry, deal with it ;-)

We married in 2003. Things were good. Sex was great. My "darkness" only occasionally managed to break the lock on the safe. And then there came being a dad. That first night hold Ben Jr was pure magic. What an amazing experience. I spent most of the night awake in the hospital that night just holding this amazing being in my arms. He was so cute, so adorable, and I was HIS Dad. I can't even come close to describing my thoughts and feelings that night. I was blessed.

Things got a little rocky in my world. I loved being a dad, but Ben Jr had colic and I had much more patience for his crying. Granted I hadn't just had a C-section. I loved being a dad and seemed to have the patience of Job when it came to his late nights. Unfortunately lack of sleep, late night TV, and the fact you can't be at peace in a lie gave strength to my "darkness." I controlled it better this time. I hid it better. I had time at hom
e alone. I couldn't hide driving late at night, but I could listen to music at home and get lost in my web.

January 2007 came along. I found myself openly struggling with my "darkness" and looking for the next miracle cure to come along. I sat watching a relative playing water polo and being embarrassed at my weight. I wanted to stop hiding in plain site. I wanted to be playing water polo. I enjoyed the view of youth I never had. I liked seeing the buff swimmers builds out playing in the water. I wished I was in that kind of shape. I was determined to shed the weight and get in shape. I weighed 317 lbs that January. That is the heaviest I had
been and I was well on my way to XXXL and XXXXL shirts. Enough was enough. I needed to get in shape for myself and I needed to be an example to Jr and the new baby on the way. I downloaded a program on my Palm phone and watched calories like crazy. I went swimming when I could get away. I started losing weight. It wasn't too hard, but still required concentrated attention.

A few months into it I was seeing and feeling results. I was too afraid of anything but swimming. I didn't want to weight lift and look like a weakling or be on the treadm
ill. I wanted to avoid public view as much as possible. I didn't want anyone to see my lack of athleticism or ability as being "gay." Ridiculous now. So, I swam laps and was able to hide amongst the old people doing water aerobics. They did there thing and I hid doin
g laps.

I had opened Pandora's Box with all this "health" stuff. I started feeling better about myself. I felt better and felt I started looking better (even though I couldn't fathom why even my wife found me attractive). I had hid in flannel shirts and the most conservative, aka camouflaged, clothes I could find. I was a walking fashion faux pas. It didn't matter. I was ugly anyway. But, the worst thing happened. I began to realize that if I lost my weight an
d that the rumors were true that I was a decent looking guy, then I would be in a Hell of a mess. I would no longer be hidden. I had put out such an ugly vibe and self-loathing that I would never have known if another guy had ever given me the time of day. But losing weight? I was panicked. I could become a slimmer, more attractive guy. I could attract other men! I was scared to death. I had no will power to fend of the advances of another man. I had never felt the need to be equipped that way. I knew I was ugly and was sure every other guy thought so. My safety was unlocked on my gay trigger. No one had noticed me, I had still maintained, but one day they might. I had a lifetime of training, but had never prepared fro the thought that I could actually be attractive. It was over if another guy found me attractive and made advances. I knew it and I felt nak
ed and defenseless.

This is when I realized that marriage hadn't cured it. It hadn't even contained it well. It was a force stronger than a nuclear blast and my emotional safe was about to be destroyed. I was going to Hell. I should stop losing weight, but I didn't want to. I was worn out in my fight to be straight and narrow. I WAS MAD AS HELL. WHY HAD GOD FORSAKEN ME?!?!? I was not cured and never would be. It was a slow realization over the course of most of that year. I was the Executive Secretary to the Bishop in my Ward and found it increasingly convenient to find busy work in order to avoid Gospel Doctrine and Elder's Quorum. I would even just go sit in the Clerks office and hide at times. I was down with church. I was mad and hurt by God. I had built a family and my sons were going to lose a father to the Hell and misery of being gay. I spent more and more time just feeling numb as I went through the motions of th
e life I had built. I was facing a life of misery as I knew I could never really be happy if I were to be gay. We had been told that. My whole life I had heard how miserable turning from God would make me. I was too tired though. I had nothing left to give. I had tried and failed. I would not be counted among God's children anymore. I just couldn't do it any longer.

So, while others have come out and not taken the same path, I stepped out on my marriage. I am an analytical guy. I once shopped at every single electronics store just to find the right CD player/ Alarm clock. I was facing Hell, but still couldn't accept I was gay. I was just same-sex attracted and a failure at it. I was never going to be good enough to be cured. I had my root cause and that young men and sent me to Hell. Being as analytical as I was, I did step out on my marriage in order to see if there was really anything to these "th
oughts" that haunted me. I had to find out if there was a heart behind a cute guys pecs. I had never experimented with another man beyond locker room antics. Like with the alarm clock, I shopped at several "stores." during this time period. The difference was that I had hoped I wouldn't find what I was looking for. My last thread of thought in my ugly web. My last attempt to prove I was heterosexual. I was so wrapped up in myself and my plight that emotionally missed the birth of my youngest son Tucker. I loved him. I had a s
trong attachment, but it wasn't the same. I wasn't anywhere near peace in my life. My emotional absence those last few months of marriage is the one thing I truly regret. I wanted to be a better father, but I was lost in a world of self-loathing and disgust. While there are more honest options, I really didn't feel bad about stepping out on my marriage. Those random connections were the only thing keeping me alive. The only things that brought me an odd sense of peace and truth. I wish I had found a better way, but things are what they are a
nd I cannot change them.
In October on one late night I finally found the thing I had hoped I would never find in such a place. I found peace, joy and excitement. I had lied about needing to help someone fix their car late at night and I had stepped
out to meet a younger man who I had had a little interaction with. While we were not a long term match by any means, something clicked inside me. I found the heart behind the pecs and I knew that being gay was not about sex. Sure, thats what I was doing, but there was a more intimate and emotional connection than I had ever felt in my life. I drove home in a sense of euphoria and peace like I had never felt. The feeling of safety I had imagined to be in another mans arms could actually be had. While the even
t was only a fleeting moment, I knew my feelings were real. But now what? Now what do I do? I have a family. How could I ever tell them I was forsaking God and giving up? Giving in. I didn't and I tried to find one more strand of thought to hold me to my web of internal lies.

I was on cruise control. I nearly stopped my "shopping around" to some degree. I was no longer only intrigued by the physical intimacy with a man, I was yearning for the emotional connection. Liz and I separated during the week of Thanksgiving. Awkward to s
ay the least with family. I made up an excuse that wasn't believed, but wasn't fully confronted. My sister with a "Savior" complex stepped in and to save the day. I told her everything about my "root." I told her of the abuse and told her how it had made me gay and how I was tired of fighting it. Here response was that she knew of gay men who were making marriage work. She started pulling up talks and everything about surviving abuse. I listened, but my mind was mostly made up. I just couldn't pull the trigger. The song "Boston" by Augustana (youtube link here) had come out that year and spoke to me. Music had always spoken to me. It had always been my sacred place to go when the world hurt too much.I had started planning to move away from Utah and leave it all behind. No one would have to watch
me give up on God and live in sin. My sons would be better off without the poor example of a gay dad. Liz came back and we survived the holidays. I was gone, there was no part of me interested in my old life and I spent another month in limbo, hoping for a cure, but no longer feeling an ounce hope. I had lost 50 lbs and was feeling physically better and excited for what the road held. I planned to come out, but not really. I still wasn't "gay" I just was attracted to men. Makes sense, right? It did to me. I had planned the day I would leave my wife and fall off the cliff of righteousness. It was a week away. Unfortunately Karma is a bitch. The week before Hell Day a man I had been with several times and had helped me realize I had worth decided the guilt was too much and let my wife know he had been involved. I don't blame him and wish him the best on his journey. He gave me that final push and thats that. We separated and things got ugly. I'll save that for later. I came out to my brothers and sisters on Superbowl Sunday 3 years ago. I could only admit to being bi at the time (also another blog post for later). I spent hours listening to music before that Sunday. John Mayer's "Say" had just come out and it spoke to me on such a
personal level. Hence the title of my blog. Believe me my hands were shaking. It was my life he sang about. (linked here) I'm sure my brothers were thrilled to be taken away from their Superbowl parties to find out there brother was a homo. I told them of the abuse and of course linked it to being gay. (promise I'll address this in a minute).

So, if I get the time I'll continue those stories, but back to the weighty matter at hand. I dropped down to 260 at my lowest. Unfortunately I too have a history of a "Savior" complex. I link this directly to my upbringing in the church. If I could help and "save" others it might help me be good enough in God's eyes. Thats was my train of thought then, but not now. The habit dies hard though. I began talking to this guy who was in Provo at the time and looking to divorce his wife and leave the church. (another post as well). He claimed to be straight, but played every chord
perfectly when summoning my "Savior" complex. I lost myself in his world. Hypnotized like a Cobra to a snake charmer. Unfortunately, he was the snake. I fell for him and eventually told him that I had very strong feelings for him. I was being my new, more honest and authentic self. Unfortunately that ended badly, but not before I nearly let him break my spirit. I found myself in depths of pain I hadn't felt since my closeted years. He had built me up, told me he loved me, then ran. He literally conned me. I have later found out details that lead me to believe that he lived a double life with me and was using it as his own way to test the waters of coming out. Of course he hasn't, but all signs point to it. Unfortunately he is a Utah County LDS closet case (in my experience that can be the worst kind, sorry to offend). I feel for the pain he must feel, and it has taken me a year and a half to overcome the depth of my feelings for him. I do hope good things for him, but I have finally had enough with letting him hurt me.

So this is where I am today. I have regained my spirit. I am single and happy to be working on purely myself. I have also come to some conclusions on my abusive "root" and being gay. I did come to some peace with it shortly after coming out, but thoughts still linger. I do not believe in any way, shape or form that the abuse has anything to do with my sexual orientation. I was born gay. I have luckily had some memories come back to me where I know I had crushes on other guys my age, even before the abuse. Crushes is a strong word as I didn't even know what one was at the time, but I do recall a connection and attraction I felt to other boys my age. I was born gay. It is just who I am. I once found relief in blaming the abuse, but I find peace in knowing I was always this way.

This does leave me amongst a world of thought and wonder. Surely the abuse had some impact on me now that I can't believe it made me gay. This will take time to iron out. I truly believe that the abuse only enhanced the ugly and damaging internal beliefs that being gay was a ticket to Hell. It was like salt on a wound. A wound that should never have actually been a wound. I believe the abuse drove me further underground. The abuse wasn't physically painful. While I was incredibly young, there were still feelings and sensations that weren't unpleasant. I do believe it scared me in that I did not hate it. I think it ushered in some realizations that otherwise would have waited a few more years to manifest. I do believe it is part of the root to my physical health and the need to find safety by making myself ugly. It led me to hide in plain site. It created awareness that I was too young to begin to comprehend. I hid it and I locked it way. I used weight as an insulator and protector of those impure thoughts and unanswerable questions.

In breaking my ankle in early November, I felt derailed. I had fought through the pain of the closet case that almost killed me, but I did put on some weight in my "Savior" attempt. I lost focus on myself. Maybe that sounds selfish, but I believe you have to take care of yourself in order to be any help to anyone else. When I take care of myself I am a better person. This does not jive with LDS teachings of putting others first. It does jive with the thought that you have to love yourself before you can love others. Bad habits die hard and I stopped caring for myself with this closet case in my life. I crept back up to 280 while "saving" this fraud. The broken ankle added 10 more to the mix.

I have done some things to deal with the pain the Provo boy caused me and have felt like I have taken control of those feelings. I am back at the gym and it feels great. I no longer have Vic haunting my every emotion. Any that have seen "Biggest Loser" know that losing weight is more than a physical journey. It is a mental and emotional one. So here I am, cathartically sharing this journey. It continues today.

I am sure I will have to deal with confidence issues as I become more active. I avoided all sports when I was younger. I made it look like lack of interest, but it was lack of skill and worrying that my gay "darkness" would somehow show if I couldn't dribble a basketball well. I couldn't publicly handle embarrassing the self I already hated. I didn't lift a single wight until a year ago. I didn't want to be a sissy. Today, I don't really care. I will work at my own pace. Great for those that can bench 5 million pounds. I don't care. This is about me and how I feel.

I'm back to the New Old Me that had a sense of confidence after coming out. Here is my journey.

My conclusion is that I am making this weight loss journey public. Not because I seek praise, but because there will be bad weeks when I need the push. I am fairly good at being self-motivated, but know that won't always be. I hate to come across like a narcissist in this journey. It is not my intent. If you feel like adding encouragement, great. There may be times I ask for it. It will be more regularly tracked on Facebook. If you aren't my friend there, just send me a message about where you find my little corner of the universe and I'll add you.

Goals:

I don't have an exact number that I want to weigh in at in the end. My guess is somewhere around 215. I don't recall being that small, so I have to see where I am when I get there. I do have a short term goal of being 240 by June 2011. I'm not up for diets or crazy cures. I am going to do this through eating better and exercising.

I will weigh in every weekend.

Todays weigh in:

290.0 exactly

I'm sure I'll post "before" pics, but probably not til I'm closer to "after." Not enough confidence to let it all hang out right now.

Thanks for reading.

Have a great weekend!
-Ben