Follow by Email

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Thoughts On Obstacles In Happiness

"In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."
It is hard living in another country and not telling at least part of the story when people on either side of the border ask what brought me to Tijuana. Those who will continue to be a part of my life, either here or Utah, generally get some explanation while those only in passing are given a simple and ambiguous reason("work" or "family"). It isn't a story that truly can be summed up in a paragraph,  let alone one blog post. There will be others, hopefully soon, on love and Tijuana.

Even for those who get a longer explanation tend to look at me quizzically. "Quizzically", that's a nice way of putting it. Most look at me in unbelief as they wonder why I haven't given up. Many have said that after a month or two or a one visa rejection, they would have given up.

There are those who continue on and then call me crazy or "too trusting" or ridiculous. Unfortunately there are those who also call me a deadbeat or misguided father, a deserter, etc.

It has been an interesting and sometimes personally painful path. I related some of these feelings recently on a separate post that can be found here. People I once considered friends have disappeared. Others who were only acquaintances have chosen to chime in on gossip or ignorant judgement.I get it, sort of. I had become fairly cynical myself before meeting Endhi. Hopefully I haven pushed others as hard as some have with me.

"How could I love someone so quickly? Why would I sacrifice so much for someone? Why not find someone closer to home? What about your kids? What about you?"

My answer to most of the "why" questions is simply "why not?"

I don't write this blog in hopes of changing anyone's mind or attempting to justify or explain my actions. I have had to learn in a rather painful fashion that my choices are mine. My life is mine. My happiness is mine. Who I am or how I live isn't up for a vote. It is not a choose-your-own-adventure life for others to select my path and it simply can't be lived based on what others think.

After being verbally assaulted as a deadbeat dad, fool, dreamer, etc. I took a moment, a very, very brief moment and visualized living life according to the polling numbers and outspoken opinions shared with me. It wasn't a life I wanted and it wouldn't have made me happy. After leaving 28 years of Mormonism & feelings of guilt for simply loving other men, I have had to unlearn the need for approval of others; the need to check in with those who had "authority" over my life and worthiness. This experience has tested how well I have unlearned the need for outside validation.

As I was reading the facebook posts berating my choices and life there was a reaction in me to immediately try to explain it all andvalidate the choices I made. However, something amazing happened. I realized that I simply didn't care. These weren't people directly impacted by my choices. They weren't even really close friends. I shut down the PR department in my head that was busily writing explanations and rebuttals. I stopped wasting energy worrying what others thought. I knew what I wanted in life and I knew I was making the right choices for myself and family. Did it still sting, of course, but not like it might have before.

I share my thoughts, not as a justification, but hopefully more as a perspective for others. Maybe something I write will click with others like me who have felt the pressure to conform to a society over-filled with selfish views on life and love. Maybe someone will see that their opinion is their own and isn't necessary to be shared and pushed on others where there is no personal impact or danger.

There have been some rough bumps on this road; bumps that have come from every angle. Evaluating and re-evaluating friendships has been an unexpected part of this journey. To be honest, were it not for my sons, I would feel less inclined to return to Utah after this experience. I know it’s a feeling that covers over some good friendships I have. I do sometimes wonder what life in Utah will hold as my soon-to-be-husband return and begin life. I think for now it will be a little quieter. For now it will be about making a home and a life. While I have a passion for being involved with the GLBTQ community and the coming out process, I may just take that on a case-by-case basis. I say that now…but don’t make any bets on that just yet.

We interview in Jakarta for his fiancĂ© visa in 15 days. It’s really hitting me now that my Tijuana adventure is coming to a close. I drove through the part of town where I first landed. It was slightly nostalgic. Not because I loved it there, but because I remember the scared little boy who moved to Tijuana blindly. I remembered the challenges of a foreign land that first few weeks. As I drove through this time there was no fear. I saw life and a different culture. There was a sense of accomplishment that I had lived through those fears and the unknown. A new confidence in myself was seen in those reflected memories. I feel optimistic that this visa will work. It is our time and it seems like the sun is finally rising on a new chapter in life.  

Would I recommend this path to anyone else? For the path’s sake, no. For love? Absolutely. As you have seen samples above, I have had plenty of bad with the good. Am I more cynical about friendship? Maybe. There is some bitter taste from those I once thought at least allied with me. There is some hesitation in moving to Utah and having these people inevitably in touch with one part of my life or another. We are a smaller community after all. There is no sense in worry about that now. That is a road we will travel later.

I have met some great people here in Tijuana. I don’t think it is necessarily geography, but maybe it is a little. There are parts of this culture I greatly admire. All in all, I think it is more about me than anything. More about separating lines of those that are acquaintances and those who are friends; letting those who lift you up stay close and others  move to arms length.

It is much more than just who you choose to surround yourself with. It is about self-assuredness; knowing what you are made of. Life shouldn't be lived alone on an island, but it is good to know a few days on a deserted island won’t kill you.

There are still opinions awash about my choices. Still those who find it necessary to vote or hop on a bandwagon about other’s lives. There will be more said to me as I return to Utah. But I have learned to believe in myself. Hopefully I have learned more patience and willingness to hope for others who do seemingly crazy things. So to those dreamers and those faced with challenges on the path of your own personal happiness. Push on. Don’t give up. Follow your heart. Take control of your life. We truly are the largest obstacle to our happiness.

A favorite quote I have held on to for years.

Robert Kennedy:

 “Some men see things as they are and say, why; I dream things that never were and say, why not.”

So I simply say “why not?”


Trevor said...

I think like you said, when you shut down the PR departments in your head, you free up a huge amount of mental energy. That free energy can now be used for more productive and more rewarding things in your life.

Trev said...

Nice! Hope it all works out.

I remember reading something about Tijuana on your fundraising page, but I don't recall an extended stay there. What are you up to down there? Did I just miss that?