The limits of understanding

UnderstandingIt’s been  a while since I last posted. Before this unscheduled hiatus, it seemed like I was on a roll. So many thoughts rushing through my head, so much to process… the urgency felt a bit like giving birth: when the time arrives, there’s no holding back, you know it’s going to be painful, yet there’s some hope of getting through to the other side. So I feel like I went through the pains of labor, but where the hell is my baby?

I guess there are limits to the utility of “understanding.” I think sometimes I operate as if understanding will solve all of my problems. “If I can just find the right way to look at things; if I can adopt the right perspective – then everything will be OK.” But every time I approach some new perspective, hopeful that a new level of understanding will bring me some relief, instead I find that the mirage evaporates, and I’m alone again in the desert. (Geez, faux-poetic much?)

Don’t get me wrong – it’s all been very productive. Amazing progress, I’d say: I genuinely accept myself as a gay man. (Hmmm… well, at least I’ve come a long way in that direction). I have deeper insight into how I’ve been affected by the evangelical culture I grew up in. I have greater empathy for people all over the LGBTQ spectrum. I’m more willing to speak out on behalf of LGBTQ people. So sure, great progress. All very good. But…

  • I’m still lonely. I don’t feel like there’s any community I really belong to. I don’t quite fit in with my new-found gay friends, who find it strange that I remain in a mixed-orientation marriage. I’ve never quite fit into the dominant heteronormative culture, and especially not into the evangelical subculture I’ve now abandoned.
  • I’m still stuck. I love my wife and she loves me, but we haven’t been able to find a path for the future that we can both embrace. She places a high value on mongamy and faithfulness. I totally get that, and I think I feel the same way. But now that I finally accept myself as a gay man, the thought of remaining celibate for the rest of my life is depressing.
  • I still have authentic sexual needs. For most of my life I’ve denied it, because I refused to accept the legitimacy of those feelings. But as I said, I really have come to accept that I am gay. No more artificial walls to separate me from that basic truth. Maybe masturbation and fantasy can geninuely express my sexuality, but they can’t really fulfill the need for sexual intimacy.
  • I still have authentic emotional and relational needs. I need friendship and intimacy. I don’t doubt that my wife and my family love me. But I can’t get past the thought that they love me despite the fact that I’m gay. She doesn’t love me because I’m gay – everything would be so much easier if I weren’t. It feels somehow pathetic to be loved despite who I am. I desperately want to experience being loved because of who I am.
  • I’m still afraid. Afraid that all this understanding has come along too late to do me any good. Afraid that even if I had the freedom to look, that I’d never find a guy who would really love me for who I am. Afraid that I’m too old or too broken to be worth it.

Sorry everyone – just venting here, I suppose. I usually try to make these posts something that might benefit someone else, but for today, this is all I’ve got.

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16 comments

  1. I apologize in advance for how cheesy this may sound (because it’s spoken so often), but I totally relate to this post. The best I can offer to you, my friend, is – you are not alone. At least that’s what I have to continually remind myself.

    Hugs!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Trevor – I should have added this to my list of good things that have happened throughout this process, and number 1 would be the people I’ve met in person and online. Thank you for your frequent words of encouragement.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s hard enough being bi and being married, I can’t imagine what you’re dealing with. I hate to mention divorce, but is it really fair to either of you to stay married?

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    1. We have of course talked about that possibility, but mostly in the abstract. Like guyforsi says below, “no relationship can meet all of our needs…” Despite what’s lacking (and I obviously feel that lack acutely at times) I think we both still feel that there is so much we get from our marriage. I’m genuinely at a loss. 😦

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  3. You bring up some difficult and good issues. No relationship can meet all of our needs all of the time, and one of the weaknesses with marriage is that it locks people into an impossible situation. On the other side, short term relationships cannot give us the riches that long term ones can. How to balance? I think it is possible to have a long term primary and romantic relationship while at the same time having other people in our lives for things like sensual relations that may not be possible with our partner. I have found this through erotic massage, or what I refer to as sacred intimacy, and have developed some lasting and loving relationships that are not romantic. It’s one possible avenue to explore. One place to begin, if this is of interest, is with a Body Electric intro to erotic massage weekend, a google search will take you to the site. However you proceed, I send you good wishes for success in finding others to share you journey with as you seek to find ways to realize all of your needs.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You, my dear friend, are not too old or too broken. I was 54, when I began the process of accepting that I am gay. I have been very blessed to make some very dear, gay Christian friends, who I see on a weekly basis. They are my new, intentional family and my support group. You are loved and not alone.

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    1. Bruce – that *is* a remarkable group. As I said above to Trevor, one constant positive throughout this whole process has been the connections with people I’ve met online and in person. You were one of the first – thanks for your constant friendship. Even when I’m in a crappy mood like I was when I wrote the post, I can remain thankful for friends.

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  5. Hello. I do have an idea that you can think on. I am basing it on some people who have a couple blogs I read and my own experiences as a 20 year old man. ( way back in the time before internet. ) First there is three boys in Scotland, who are deeply in love with each other, and they are monogamous with each other. They were from different areas, and in love, but were missing something in their relationship UNTIL they became three. It has worked out for them for years. I know of several other relationships that flourished as a three person partnership. One was a four year relationship I was involved in with two other men. We were very committed and devoted to each other, and the relationship was not considered open. It was best for us, with our different needs and the different things we each brought to the relationship to be three instead of two. We felt unfinished as two. As I have said I have know other relationships were this worked out as the best for all.

    You may ask why I am not in that relationship today. I was forced by my military service to move away and I gradually moved out of the relationship. It is hard to keep a long distance love going strong. I moved back to the states after a few years. I fell in love with Ron and we have made a wonderful life together for 25 years. However we have talked about what may happen if one of us feels we are not getting what we need to be fully happy in our relationship. This has never happened but we wanted to have an understanding if it did. We do not believe in “open” relationships”, we are committed and bound to each other. But we agreed that if one of us needed someone more in the relationship we would talk it out, work it out. We agreed it would have to be good for both of us, and all things shared. We agreed that the love we feel for each other would have to be three ways, not just two. We would both have to love the new person, we would all have to have feelings and respect and care for each other. The list goes on. However we faced early the idea that a problem could come up and what we could do to solve it with out losing each other. The main reason we could look at this is we feel we do not OWN each other, but we are in love with each other. Our relationship is built on the idea we WANT to stay together, not that we have to. So seeing each other as individuals with needs of their own makes dealing with things easier some times.

    I hope this has helped some. I will keep you in my thoughts. Hugs

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    1. Thank you Scottie for taking the time to share so personally, and for getting me to think beyond the limited categories that life has so far equipped me with. Just last weekend my son was home from his freshman year of college for his spring break, and we went to lunch one day. I asked how he was changing and growing, and he talked about how he was seeing that people live in so many different ways than he ever knew; he felt like he was becoming more open minded. And this from a kid that I’ve always thought was very open minded (as you may remember from some of my other posts). We went on to talk about how dangerous, but how easy it can be to settle into a particular subculture, a particular slice of society, and surround yourself with people who are by and large very much like ourselves. I don’t know, maybe this is especially true of certain very conservative religious elements – fundamentalists and evangelicals etc. But that conversation was such a great reminder to me of how limited my own life has been in so many ways. I have largely remained planted in a particular milieu throughout most of my life – sadly one that consistently told me that I’m a bad person, that I had to be something and someone that I’m not if I’m to be acceptable. Meeting you and others through this blog has been such an eye-opening experience for me. I can see the love that you have in your life – something that many in my life would believe to be absolutely impossible. So again, thanks for taking the time to share your personal story and for broadening my horizons. Bit by bit my mind is opening… 🙂

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  6. Hello and good morning!
    I just started reading your posts today. I just started blogging last week. So here I am.
    I just wanted to mention something. (and I don’t know how much you value your evangelical faith at this point because I’m new here)
    It’s important to think about where you draw your worth. People place their worth in all kinds of things.
    Some people put worth in their clothes or cars.
    Some in their romantic relationships and others in their work.
    I intentionally put my worth in my relationship with God.
    I have an identity as a Christian,a partner to my partner, an interpreter and writer, and as a gay person.
    All of these things are shaken at times or taken from me.
    However, having my worth in God, a God who never fails me, is solid. It’s unshakeable.
    I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts.
    I hope my comment here, is fitting to your situation.
    Be well,
    Daryl

    Liked by 1 person

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