Monday, May 24, 2010

To Love and Be Required to Let Go

Dear Mom,

I want to share with you about some of the strange pain that I feel while at BYU. In keeping with the Honor Code, you know that I cannot date other men. I want you to know that I look forward to the day when this self-imposed prison is at last removed and I can stand in the full light of freedom. In those days, I will have already chosen to ask men out on dates with the purpose that one day I will find someone to spend the rest of my life with in service and love. 

But that day has not arrived. No, rather, today I am planning to return to BYU in the fall to begin what I expect to be my last year of undergraduate work. I will return to what has come to feel like the walk of shame. Each and every day I see couples walk hand in hand. They are beautiful couples and I smile easily when I see how happy they are together. I am happy for them. I am happy for all those couples choosing to make commits of faithfulness and love to each other. I wish them all the opportunity and chances to succeed in those commitments. But I know that if I were to ask for the same opportunity I would be denounced, hated, and verbally and emotionally spit upon. I know that they would not rejoice in the same way that I rejoice in their relationships. 

See, I may not be allowed to date while at BYU but that does not change the reality that I still develop crushes on other men. I cannot help the fact that my heart wants to feel and that I desire to truly be human. Such a shame, I know. I cannot seem to turn off my heart or shut away my feelings. Last school year, I developed a crush on another guy. I knew nothing would come of it but my heart still yearned as it does and I was helpless to do anything about it. My friends became worried for me; afraid I'd make the tragic mistake of getting involved with that man and thus screwing myself over at BYU. I am grateful for their kindness but I cannot remove the sting I still feel from that memory. But the cruelest comment of all came from one woman in particular. She once told me that she hoped that I failed in my relationships with men. I understood where she was coming from. Being gay was wrong, sinful. She hoped that somehow I would repent and come to God and the Church. 

I still wanted to cry.

When my heart skips a beat or my breath is stopped when the guy I like says something or stands close to me, the words of my friends and those around me echoes in my ear. My heart is twisted already by the yearning to love, to reach out in hopes of being loved in return, and the knowledge that such would only hurt me because of the school I am at. I feel hurt and confused. I honestly don't know what to make of this. I feel like I am taking a dagger to my own heart and twisting it.
Beyond that, there are no words of happiness anyone wouldwish to extend me. Will you ever speak words of kindness and hope that I find someone to love? Or will you express "loving the sinner, and hating the sin" syndrome? Let me explain to you this, it is the cruelest thing of all. I would rather have them hate me then mock me with kindness. I am a second class citizen to them. I am somehow subhuman in their eyes. The cruelty of their mockery is that it is wrapped in some kind of nicety. I want to vomit. 

It is the most painful thing I have ever experienced in my life: to love another and know I can do nothing about it. My heart is bound by my own decision. For every love I possess towards another, I must ignore it with all my might lest I break BYU's rule of falling in love and being loved in return. No amount of words can convey the anguish that my heart feels and there is nothing, it seems, that can truly soothe it.

That, and that most of all, leaves me bitter towards BYU and the Church.

I want to love and be loved in return. I want to have the opportunity to mean something to someone and for someone to mean something to me. At the end of a hard day who do I have to turn to for solace and love? No one. If I had someone it would be equal to being expelled. How tragic...

So what will you do, Mom? When I am finished with school and am free to date, what will you say? Will you breathe the same insanity that I have heard here, "I hope you fail in finding love"? If so, spare me and just don't say it. I doubt I would ever be able to hold back the tears after you have so stabbed me in the heart like that. 

Your son always,

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Your Children

Dear Mom,

I never realized how hard it is for you in all of this. A friend of mine helped me realize that you are still grieving over the loss of so much. What must it be like to be in your shoes? I have been so selfish these past couple of years focusing on trying to come to grips with who I am and wanting you to see this that I forgot what you are going through. I am a terrible for this.

I have never been able to fully comprehend the loss that you have felt and continue to feel since Grandma and Grandpa passed away nearly eight years ago. My relationship to them was never really wonderful and I was most definitely not close to them. I preferred to love Grandma and Grandpa with as much distance as possible between us. Grandma always seemed to know exactly what to say to make me want to yell at her and Grandpa was as warm as a stone in northern Alaska would be to me. But they were your parents and provided you with decades of support, advice, and love. You could always turn to your mom whenever something was going wrong. I remember countless times that you would call Grandma and I remember how she would do her mother-daughter bonding time (which was usually shopping). Grandpa was the fountain of advice that never seemed to cease. Whenever any of us kids were sick, you knew that you could always turn to him for advice. He, the only doctor in town, knew all the ways to cure our childhood illnesses. 

You have done everything you can to live up to the model that Grandma and Grandpa have shown by example. You have raised us with all the love that a mother could give. For each and every injury I had as a boy from running through the fields and forests to riding bikes and doing all the things that a boy can do to hurt himself, you were there with the patience and love to get me back on my feet. You let me play make believe and helped me realize that I could build cities, star ships, castles, forests, forts, and hundreds of other worlds in the family room. I love you, Mom. You have been such a powerful influence in my life. Yet I have smashed practically everything of value that you have ever tried to instill in me. Love. God. Politics.

But I am not the one that makes you cry at night, right? That will perhaps forever belong to my sister. She is the one that became a mother, to your chagrin and eventual joy, only to turn and throw it all in your face. It was she that cruelly destroyed all that you had hoped for her. Mother of two, and she decided to throw it all away and turn into chaos the lives of so many. I know that she wrenched out your heart and did so with such anger and fury that you are still stunned by it. Now she has come back into your life in an attempt to set things right. But your daughter of yesteryear is gone. She is full of such unyielding stubbornness (a family trait, I've noticed). What could you have possibly done more to help her be a good mother? Now your grandchildren's future is uncertain and that has to break your heart. Do you wonder if you have somehow failed Grandma's legacy? I know you haven't and believe that you have ultimately succeeded. But what do you think and believe?

Your oldest son divorced his first wife, left the Church and is seems bitter about it, and is now married to a non-religious and beautiful Japanese girl. He has come a long way but he was the first of your children to hurt you. Have you recovered from that at last?

Now what of your youngest son, my little brother? He should have done everything you ever wanted. But that didn't happen did it? And now what? Now he is married, having never served a mission, and you know that he will regret it. None of us could ever convince him to serve a mission first. He knew what he wanted and now he has it. What now? 

We have all not lived up to your hopes. Such is the nature of kids, right? It is my hope that you realize that you are not a failure to any degree. All four of your children are strongly independent. For the problems that we have inflicted upon each other, we have worked to amend and solve. Your daughter is trying to build a better life for her children. Your youngest and oldest sons are working hard to be good husbands to their wives and to work hard to build their careers and education. I am working hard to finish my degree and have high hopes that I will find someone that will be good and kind that I can love with all my heart and expect the same in return. 

I love you, Mom. You are truly amazing. I hope one day that you will see that with your grief you also have much to delight and rejoice in. 

Your son always,

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Dear Mom,

I write this letter to you in the hopes that in the future you will either stumble across this blog or that I will be able to feel comfortable enough to invite you to view it. A friend's mom recently discovered his blog and the result was extremely positive. It is my hope that that will be the same when the day comes that you read my blog. I love you and no amount of words (however fluent in the English language I become) will ever fully express the depth of that emotion and feeling towards you. Perhaps when you read this my heart will have broken because you cannot accept all of who I am. But it is my hope that you will take things as you did the night we walked together and talked of my growing disbelief in God.

That night - how strange it seems that only last week we talked - I walked with you not really expecting much beyond pleasant words exchanged and nimbly dodging topics of substance in our lives. Certainly that's how things began. Our conversations about people we knew and things going on in their lives was pleasant and nothing more than superficial. Sure, I love all those people, but I haven't talked to any of them in years with the single exception of Jo Ann.

That you should bring up the topic of my not holding a temple recommend was a wonderful surprise. When you did I tried my best to be careful and respectful of your feelings and desire to remain ignorant of all that was going on in my life. You have so many things on your plate that I didn't want to burden you with the knowledge that yet another one of your children was beginning to move away from the foundations you and Dad had tried to build for us.

Thank you for not backing away.

Your willingness to know, to really know, meant so much to me. Yes, I do have a hard time believing that there is a God in this whole wide universe. I have an even harder time accepting the notion that some anthropomorphic Being has done all that the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants claims He has done. I read of so many inconsistencies and I hear so many contradictions that I cannot help but wonder what is really "true." But if anyone can truly help me see "the light" it will be you and Dad. You know my heart better than anyone.

I've seen the actions of so many Mormons from California and Washington state to Colorado and Wyoming and I see so many conflicting attitudes and views concerning doctrine and beliefs within the Church. I see the same disorganization concerning God as I do within Christianity. For now, Mom, I just cannot believe. It makes no sense to do so and it hurts too much. You know that now, and I thank you for that.

Perhaps in time I will change and perhaps not. But know once more that I love you and to me that's all that matters. I love you so very much. You have done so much for me and have been a wonderful mother. Thank you. I know that hard times are coming for us, all of us. What with your daughter still volatile, the grandkids' future unknown, your oldest son and his wife so far away and him struggling with some kind of depression, and your youngest son and his wife uninterested in so much.

Life is life. You cannot ask of it for something else. We must accept what is, change what we can, and deal with what we cannot. So, thank you for listening to me. It is my hope to write many more letters to you and that one day you will be able to read them and know of the love and concern I have for you as well as the optimism that I have for the future.

Your son always,