Sunday, May 5, 2013

This is a post about my family fasting for me. Titles are hard.

Read this one to the end. It's scattered and confusing, but the end is what matters.

My weekend was very interesting.  Friday began as usual, then rapidly descended into so much homework and projects that I didn't end up leaving my house until 9 pm. So all of this might have happened sooner had I not been so consumed with homework that I almost literally didn't have space in my head for emotion.

Saturday is when the real story begins. I woke up with a general sense of ennui. I fixed my breakfast and went back to bed for a few hours, trying to escape the clamor of my roommates making breakfast for their various and noisy love interests. I read my book for awhile (Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez. Dense but interesting), got out of bed, cleaned the kitchen, showered etc., but all with a looming fear or anger or something hanging over my head. It finally hit at about four in the afternoon. I lost myself in angst. Everything set off my rage and loneliness.

It was about this time that my mom called to simply tell me that my family was fasting for me the next day. She said that they knew that I needed a boost and was feeling depressed and they wanted to help. At that, she closed the conversation and hung up.  The feelings of angst lifted a bit. I drove into town, found a place to read my book, and spent the evening in vague contentment. The raincloud that was hanging over my head had lifted a bit and sun was beginning to spill through ever so slightly. It was still a grey day, but there was promise of sun tomorrow.

This morning, after a night of Coke Zero and reading and preparing a Gospel Doctrine lesson and 30Rock, I awoke on top of the world. I dressed for church in a bowtie my dear friend made for me, a reminder of how wonderful people can be and how blessed I am. Sacrament meeting went well; I even bore my testimony of my Heavenly Father's love for each of us, including me.  I was surprised by that, as anyone who knows me knows my testimony is shaky at best. But there it was! And my Sunday school lesson went well. I went into Priesthood ready to learn about family history, my tail wagging as fast as ever.

And then, not five minutes into the lesson, my breathing became labored and shallow. I began to black out and there was an intense tightness in my chest. I left class and sat in the foyer for a moment before deciding to walk home. If I was going to have an episode, I wanted to have it in private. I got in bed and lay there in silence, listening to my breathing get faster and faster before I passed out.

I awoke later and felt every ounce of sadness from the prior two days (weeks? months?) on my mind. I cried silently in my bed. How was this happening today? How, on this fast Sunday when everyone I loved was fasting for me? How, on this day when I tried to focus on others by fasting for my aunt and cousins, was I so consumed with my own grief, in spite of my best efforts and the efforts of the rest of my family? I began a prayer, but all I could say was offer thanks for my family's love and ask for a blessing on my aunt.

After an hour or so, I got out of bed and broke my fast before attending tonight's CES fireside. The food in my stomach improved my mood considerably and on the walk to the fireside, my roommates and I laughed and joked and enjoyed the sunny day. We sat down, the fireside began, and suddenly, the breathing. I held it together this time and enjoyed the fireside as best I could. Afterward, I went for a walk instead of going home. I spent time on the Rexburg temple grounds, touching the temple walls and trying to let them touch me back. Little flutters of inspiration came, but punctuated with thick clouds of worry and self-doubt. What was I doing? What path was I on, and was it the right one? After a few more minutes, I turned my feet towards my apartment.

After getting home, I compulsively checked my e-mail and found something from my pregnant sister-in-law. I'm not being trite when I say that I love all my siblings and in-laws equally, but she has always occupied a soft spot in my heart, while simultaneously being something of a tough nut to crack. I've never received an e-mail from her, so I practically jumped on my mouse to open it.

She told me about our family fast for me. She said that since she's pregnant, she tried to think of other ways to fast since she couldn't go without food for the day. Instead, she gave up sugar and treats for two weeks. This was a huge gesture from her; cookies and candy are practically a food group for her, her waifish figure to suggest otherwise. And yet, she gave up the food she loved for two weeks, for me. She told me repeatedly how much she loved me, offered me sincere encouragement and advice, and closed her letter with a quiet "I love you."

That simple three-word phrase was the emotional straw that broke the camel's back and I instantly erupted into tears. Today, my family fasted for me. Even my pregnant sister-in-law found a way (and a more meaningful way, I think) to fast specifically for my happiness. In that moment, their fast became real to me. All of a sudden, the broken heart I'd been tending for three weeks melted away somewhat. The scholastic concerns and religious conflicts and social fears began to fade. What mattered was my family's sacrifice for me.

I'm not naïve enough to think that all of those concerns are gone for good. There is still some mourning and some growth and some work that needs to be done. But tonight, things are okay. I have a family who loves me and wishes me happiness and peace. That makes today a win.

Image source:, image copyright Roberta Boice, 2008


  1. I read this and tears came to my eyes. Our families love and suport is soooo important in our lives.

    I too have learned that my Heavenly Father loves me for who I am, blemishes and all. I am not sure about all the issues you are dealing with emotionally. I need to go back and catch up on some of your previous posts. But, let me say this, in those sill quiet moments when we are all alone is when we can be overcome with our inner thougts. Sometimes they can be negative feelings about our self worth and purpose in life. But at other times those moments can be when we can be touched to our core with the quiet spirit that tell us we are loved. I'm not always sure why some times it's one way or the other. I guess it depends on our state of mind.

    I have felt extremely lonely sometimes as I lay there at night in the dark next to my wife of 38 years. I came out to her in the year 2000, thirteen years ago, hoping beyond hope that she would understand what I had come to belatedly realize about myself.

    But that was not to be. We are still together and actively engaged in the Church which says alot about her but I am still struggling with my anguish, despair and confusion about being gay and all the conflicts it causes in my mind.

    I hope the you and I will realize that Heavenly Father knows us and loves us as we are. That there is a deeper purpose that we are not aware of yet. We need to hang in there and not get overwhelmed with our lack of knowledge about "his plan" for us, the purpose for all of this.

    I know that you don't know me. But I am a kindred spirit. Hang in there, Buddy.....Adon

    1. Thanks for your words, Adon. I too hope that you find peace and joy in your life as it is and hope for your life as it will be.

      Thanks again, I'm grateful for your kindred spirit :)

  2. Oh wow, I can very much relate to this.

    While I was in ungrad, there were a few years where I seriously struggled to attend church (or institute, FHE, etc) because I would get random severe anxiety attacks. There were times when it would be due to things said that were legitimately unkind (Prop 8 was a big deal then), but many times I would find the smallest things that were said and link them to much bigger personal issues. After that, I would lose focus for the rest of the session, my face would blush, and immediate depression would take over.

    It's okay to take breaks and don't feel ashamed when you do leave. It's great that you have family there that love you. A few in my family who support me unconditionally really helped me through those tough times. It's great to know that you can talk to them when you need to (take advantage of that :-) ).

    1. Thank you for your words, Evan. I'm so grateful I lived in a very liberal area during Prop 8, it would have been a difficult thing to hear in church so frequently and with such venom.

      The strangeness of it was that none of what was said in church was even slightly a trigger for those feelings. It just happened. But every time it does, I'm somewhat grateful because it reminds me that I need to take care of myself. Like Adon said above, in those quiet moments of bitter solitude, we really begin to understand who we are deep down.

      Thanks for the solidarity, brother. I'm jealous of Shadow, BTW. First thing after I graduate, I'm heading for the pound and getting a puppy :)

  3. Your family loves you immensely.
    I think that you are having panic attacks (which are awful, I get them quite a lot as well as generalized anxiety) are due to your depression (depression fuels anxiety apparently). Your depression may well have a lot to do with the fact that you have to fit your homosexuality into what is acceptable to your church. Were you to live as a gay man? My prediction (for what it is worth) your panic attacks would go away, your depression would lift. No, living as a gay man isn't a panacea, not at all. I just hope that your family supports you Just as much were you to do that. God bless.


Be nice, mmmmkay? I allow anonymous comments, but not anonymous (or even attributed) douchebaggery. The Gay Mormon Pioneer's tolerance for hate and venom are incredibly low, but his love of communication and debate are high, so have an opinion, but be kind and gentle when you share it.

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