Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Good news and bad news.

Those rockin' awesome wounds I had from a few days ago? They're feeling less fresh. For the most part, I can get through my day without constantly being distracted by what a basketcase I am. There are moments when I just can't get started on life, but I guess that's to be expected after a near-breakdown like I had Sunday and Monday.

I'm going back to therapy. This experience has scared me enough to make me think that I'm really ill-equipped for crises. I've got an appointment with my old friend Max this Friday and I'm making a fix-it list for her today so I make sure to cover everything. I'm looking forward to it, I've really missed having someone to talk to. In spite of their best efforts, the Evergreen support group I used to go to made me really uncomfortable and I just couldn't be honest with them like I could with Max.

So, that's all good. Plus, there's all of you, the people in my life, who have gone out of their way to make sure I'm feeling loved. As syrupy as it still feels to me, I'm grateful for the motivations and intentions behind those kind words.

But a nice little negative consequence of my recent insanity came up today. My mom (who doesn't know what a rough time I've been having lately) asked about my mission papers and going to the temple. The time has come when I can start moving forward on those two options for my life and I'm just not sure what to do. I feel like going to the temple right now is a huge mistake because, frankly, I'm kind of angry with God right now. I just don't understand what I'm supposed to do and I feel really alone in more ways than one.

Like I said earlier, no option feels correct. I feel like I can't just leave the church and go gay, but church has been making me so unhappy lately. My motivation to sink myself deeper into its doctrine (much less proclaim that doctrine to others) is zero right now. I'm really hoping I just need some time to get my head around all this, but frankly, what if this kind of meltdown happens while I'm on my mission? What kind of hell could that wreak?

When I was a baby, I had pneumonia really bad. My childhood doctor came over for a visit one day after church, listened to my chest and told my parents that I had to get to the hospital immediately. A few days later, that same doctor told my parents that they needed "to prepare" themselves, because I wasn't getting better and if I didn't rally soon, they were going to lose me.

I guess today I feel a little like that doctor. I need to tell my parents that they need to prepare themselves. It's different because I'm not getting worse and they're not going to lose me, but I'm afraid my life isn't going to turn out quite like I planned it, at least in the near future.

Monday, August 27, 2012

In which I bear out most of my shit

(There isn't going to be a "light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel" moment in this post. Skip if you're looking for something uplifting. Also, adult language. Hope you can deal with it, because today, I really just don't care)

Today, for the first time in months or possibly years, I sobbed.

As I mentioned before, it apparently isn't just my struggle with pornography that has led me to doubt and wonder if the Church was true. I've been clean about three months of pornography, which is likely the longest I've ever been since I started looking at it at age 17. There's still work to be done, but from a strict obedience standpoint, I'm doing better than I have in years.

And yet...

For the last few months, I've been unhappy. I haven't been sad per se, but I have been unmotivated, lazy, obstinate, depressed, willful and unpleasant. I attend parties and get-togethers, put on a happy face and make jokes, laugh till I cry, make lunch plans with old friends, the works. I go to church and hear the speakers express uplifting words, I see the good examples of those who serve faithfully in their callings, I even participate insightfully in Institute and Sunday school. But underneath it all is a cold, black core of a man who has become bitterly jaded and unhappy with his life.

I saw all these areas of improvement, ranging from reading my scriptures more to eating less red meat to working out better. I tried to get stronger and build myself into a man. I bought a bicycle, thinking going carbon neutral would help. I brushed my teeth better, polishing those pearly whites to a sheen they haven't seen in years. Hell, when I was in the shower once, I looked down and thought, "If that were bigger, I'd be happier."

But the plain and simple fact of the matter is that since about the time pornography stopped being a scapegoat, I have felt alone and forsaken. There have been brief moments where I see empathy and love in the world all around me, but for the most part, I am lonely. I crave the presence of the Spirit but I feel it retracted from me. I pray for little miracles to help me see that I'm not alone in this world and they seem to go unheeded. I feel like I'm talking to the wall whenever I pray and I think that no one is listening. It's been a deeply frustrating three months, three months that I thought would see the Spirit and blessings of the Lord pouring out on me as a reward for giving up pornography but instead have been filled with spite, jealousy and bitterness on my part. I even tried to punch a hole in the wall underneath one of my posters, but apparently I'm so weak that I couldn't break anything but the skin on my fist.

For the first time since these feelings started coming, I talked them over with someone today. Last night, as I struggled to fall asleep amid the anger and bitterness I felt towards my Heavenly Father, I texted my brother, who is faithfully trying to live the teachings of the Gospel, asking if we could talk. He returned my call this morning and we spoke for awhile. As the tears started to flow from both of us, we tried to figure out why this life is so hard, why God has chosen us to live these lives with thrilling highs followed mere minutes later with painful lows. I told him how I felt like God had forgotten me and to my surprise, he agreed. He said that God had indeed retracted from my life because for whatever reason, I need to do this alone. I need to be tested and tried and I need to do it without His help. He said he felt the same thing often and while he may not understand completely the breadth and scope of what I'm dealing with, I can see that he understands the underlying emotions.

And then the praises came. He told me how strong I was, how godlike I was and what a good person I had always been. He told me how much he loves and prays for me and how much he looks up to me. And again, I felt nothing. I saw none of myself in those words. I never do. Whenever people praise me for being so wonderful and brave and faithful, all I can think is that they are just saying that to be nice. I feel none of that, no bravery. All I see is this scared little bitch cowering under his covers, wishing that he were braver. He told me I was my own worst critic and I gave myself too little credit, but his words, and the words of my bishop and parents and friends who have said the same thing, have always sounded a little syrupy, if well-meaning. They still do. But whatever. He loves me and I appreciate the efforts he made.

We hung up the phone and I went to take a shower before being overcome with a poignant sense of, "Who gives a shit? What person in this universe gives one single fuck about me and what I do with my life?" I couldn't even look myself in the mirror, I was so ashamed. I turned on the water so no one would hear me and crumpled to the ground and sobbed. Sobbed with every muscle in my body, sobbed like it was going out of style, sobbed until my ears ached and my stomach was sore and my forearms were bleeding from the prints of my fingernails. I prayed for some time, just hoping that I'd feel some kind of presence from above. I offered gratitude for a brother who cared enough to cry with me on the phone for an hour, for friends in real life and friends I'd met through this blog and friends I knew were praying for me. And then I was done. I was done crying. I had offered my last ounce of energy and I had nothing left. I lay on the rug for a few more minutes, got up, got in the hot water, and was done.

I don't know what's going to come next. I still feel crushingly alone, in spite of all the people around me and in my life. I know there are those of you who send me encouraging texts and e-mails, who call for no reason just to chat, who pray for me and love me and who hope that I find the thing that will leave me with lasting joy.

But I have to admit, I don't know where to find that joy. I feel like every avenue for happiness is closed off to me, that my life is just one huge long detour from stopping point to stopping point with no clear destination in sight. I feel very little joy in the journey and I see very little light.  God is not in my life today and His presence is missed. Nothing feels right, no decision seems like the correct one. It's all just darkness. And probably some dragons. I'm sure I'll be okay, but I just have no idea how or when. Kinda ready for it to be my turn though.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Some pretty amusing junk over at Northern Lights!

¡Buenos dias, blogosphere!

I was perusing my new internet home away from home and found something pretty amusing.

"He Might Be a Moho If..." is one of the most hilarious, true to life examples of the genre, at least for me. It had me in stitches the whole time I was reading. Let's evaluate, shall we? [Sidebar: I really, really hate the term "moho." It sounds so lame to me. Non-mohos, it means MOrmon HOmosexual.]

Number 8: When he refers to the type of “person” he’s attracted to, pay attention to whether he EVER indicates a gender. Just a thought. 
Back at home, we have this word we use to describe those who haven't made out in 6 months or more. Until I was 22, I had never made out, but when I did the deed with Toby, the next time the conversation came up with my friends at home, they found out that I'd made out. Naturally, they asked for a description of, ostensibly, the girl, so I was forced to describe this dude I smooched using gender-neutral pronouns and adjectives: "beard-burn" was obviously out.

Number 16:  Watch his eyes during a kissing or love scene–does he even notice there’s a woman there?
Both Easy A and Crazy Stupid Love were tossups between Emma Stone and Penn Badgley and Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling for me. I love Emma Stone, but damned if Penn and RyGos didn't make the teapot whistle...

Number 17: When introduced to groups of people, he connects with the best-looking guy first. Or the exact opposite for those a bit more adept at avoidance or repression–they connect with the homeliest girl.
Guilty. Constantly scanning for the best prospects, I am.

Number 18: When caught checking out a guy, he immediately scans the room like he was just scanning all along. …or he looks the girl next to the guy up and down like he was just sizing up his competition. …no, I haven’t done that.
Indeed. I've even done the fake "sizing up your competition" thing.

Number 24:  He makes friends with the best-looking elders in his quorum at Elders Quorum BBQs, all while artfully dodging questions about why he doesn’t date.
I'm somewhat convinced that if my best friends in the ward suddenly became not-hot, I'd stop liking them a little bit. Sorry guys.

Number 28: While walking through the mall, he shoots a casual glance in the Victoria’s Secret window, looking away quickly to show his remarkable self discipline like a good LDS guy should, but he lingers at American Eagle or A & F.
I purposely linger in front of the lingerie stores when I'm with guys so they think that's how I like it.

And finally, the best one...
Number 29: When confronted with the underwear section at Target (or other applicable store), one of two things occurs: He either avoids it like the plague, or he spends an inordinate amount of time ‘browsing.’ Option two is especially true if he wears garments.
I have a love/hate relationship with the underwear aisle at Target. The men on those packages are like the beta test for the male form, plus the models gotta be able to shape the underwear masculinely, if you know what I mean... I want to avoid it, but as I am not endowed yet, I have to go there at least once or twice a year. It's the chore I hate to love.

There's a treasure trove of amusement on those old posts.  It's pretty great.

The relaunch of Northern Lights has been pretty cool, but if I pointed out a fault, it'd be that it's got a very serious tone so far. That's to be expected, because each of us who is blogging is obviously facing a scary facet of a very complicated life situation. But still, I'm hoping that humor will infiltrate the blog  again soon.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Treating the symptoms while ignoring the causes

My brother is a doctor of osteopathy. It's a unique school of thought within the medical field that emphasizes healing the body's core problems, rather than merely treating the symptoms. He's a full-fledged doctor who works at a legitimate hospital and can write prescriptions and perform surgeries and do anything a medical doctor can, but he was educated to not merely prescribe painkillers to someone with a sore throat. Instead, he finds the root cause of the pain and treats that to solve the problem from the inside out.

My struggle with pornography addiction has been similar.

For years, I have had doubts about the LDS church. I have always wondered why this and why that. I have heard the vile rumors about Joseph Smith's personal life and speculated more perverse motivations behind plural marriage as the early Utahans practiced it. I have pondered about the nature and origin of the Book of Mormon and questioned its validity as a book of scripture.

However, these questions always coincided with my struggles with pornography. I'd relapse and binge, then feel terrible, then doubt the truthfulness of the gospel. I always assumed that because I'd chased the Spirit away with my porn consumption and made way for the Adversary to enter my thoughts. It became easy to quiet those doubts by reassuring myself that it was my disobedience that fed them.

However, after abstaining from porn for longer than I have in years, I've found that the opposite may be true. My consumption of porn may have been a manifestation of my doubts, rather than the other way around. Those doubts may have always been there and merely covered up by a scapegoat of pornography, when in reality, I only watched porn to distract myself from the core problems.  As I abstained from pornography, I treated a symptom of the doubt while ignoring the root cause of it all.

I assumed that after I'd had some time apart from pornography, things would seem brighter and better. For some time, they did. I felt more confident and stronger in my day-to-day life; nothing could touch me. But as time passed and the "new" wore off, I found those same doubts wriggling their way into my head. They consumed me. "What if I'm totally wrong? What if God doesn't care who I marry or what church I go to or how I live, so long as I'm nice and kind and helpful?" I laid awake at night, wondering about the possibilities.

This all came to a head today. I was so sick of these questions bouncing around in my head and I snapped. I woke up for work early, but called in sick. I spent the rest of the day aimlessly walking around the house, checking the fridge every few minutes, washing a dish or two, flipping channels. I browsed the Internet listlessly, wasting my time in front of Craigslist or YouTube or Facebook. I planned on doing some work on the house and yard, but when the time came, I stayed on the couch instead. I had zero motivation to do anything; my brain was broken. I was overcritical of myself and my family, sarcastic and unkind to the one individual I saw when gassing up this morning and completely out of touch with my emotions and reality.

I was (and still am) amazed that removing pornography from my life didn't cure my doubts. But after a holistic blessing from that same osteopath I mentioned before, I see what I need to do to fix them. I have some motivation to do what needs to be done and to literally get my house in order before I can get the answers I need. I'm still shooting for a mission and all the blessings of faithful church membership, but I recognize that I'm on shaky ground, standing on a thin crust of earth ready to give way at any moment.

I do not regret removing pornography from my life and I encourage everyone affected by it to do the same. But it's interesting and surprising what you'll find after you've removed that scapegoat.

As usual, if you want to talk, feel free to e-mail me. But I'm also asking that you please pray for me tonight and tomorrow. I need motivation to work and I need a clear head to get those answers I seek.  Thanks.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Improving my prayers

I have noticed something disturbing about myself.

I have a temporary job doing road work for a fracking company. That's right. I'm facilitating the use of machines that burn fossil fuels inefficiently for a company that fractures bedrock to get to natural gas, tainting groundwater and releasing methane into the atmosphere in the process. Mother Earth is my bitch, apparently.

Anyway, this work is really backbreaking and difficult. My first day, it was over 100 degrees and I got a bad case of heat exhaustion and just about barfed in the truck. Since then, the weather's been a lot nicer, but it's still been achy, tiring work. I find myself praying every morning, in the car on the way to work and at every lunch and water break for strength to be able to do what I need to. This is FAR more prayer than I usually do, and the majority of it is about what I need and want.

It's been reminding me a lot of the pride cycle from the Book of Mormon. The Nephites are prosperous and forget their God. They're travailing and all of a sudden, they're loyal disciples. I'm afraid I'm the same way.

I've been striving to overcome that by devoting one of my longer prayers each day to either only things I'm grateful for or prayers for blessings on others. I think it helps me step outside myself and try to be a little more humble.

Still, the problem I see is that I'm so eager to turn to the Lord when things are kind of rough, but not when they're good. I feel like if I prayed more when things are good, it'd be a more balanced relationship between Him and me.  We've all had those friends that are always there when they need help or a shoulder to cry on, but disappear when they're happy. We only see one side of them and it's not a particularly pleasant side. I feel like my relationship with the Lord might be that way.  I know it's better than not praying when things are hard, but it's still kind of a strange dynamic.

Goalsetting time. Those of you who know me, when I vacate this job in a few weeks, you get to keep me accountable for how I spend my prayin' time as a happy, content kid, because I'm going to start expressing gratitude for that contentment and telling the Lord about how carefree my day was, just so He can see that other, non-needy side of me.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Post over on Northern Lights!

Here's my first post over on Northern Lights! It went live this morning while I was driving across the badlands of one of the flyover states, so I'm a little late linking it. Some of the comments get passionate, guess the readership over there isn't used to my sarcasm. Oops.

Anyway, enjoy!

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