Saturday, April 18, 2015

Leaving NOLA

The time has come to move. I am tired of living in the path of hurricanes here in Louisiana. We are looking in Texas and in Denver, Colorado. Leigh even applied for a job in Salt Lake City, Utah. I am actually pretty ok with that if she gets it. I MISS the mountains and there would be a lot of cool ex-mo's to hang out with. Plus we could actually get married.

Louisiana's marriage case is being heard by SCOTUS on April 28th. It may not be too long before we can get married here too... But again hurricanes. Terrible economy. Lack of mountains. Corruption abounding. I am ready to leave New Orleans.

I hate the unknown. I can pretty much get a job anywhere but Leigh's profession is tougher. Moving up in her job requires us to live in very specific big cities so before I can do my own job hunt I have to wait on her to get something first.

I am so excited to get to go somewhere different. Hopefully by summer we will be packing up the moving truck and moving to the west side of the Mississippi river...

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

L. Tom Perry's Talk...

Counterfeit… The problem with this word is that it alienates so many. If we listen to the talk we know what was meant by "counterfeit" and we know what the church loudly and proudly believes a "real" family to be. 

As a LGBT member I of course felt horrified and attacked. I was meant to. The words were meant to be divisive. The words were meant not to draw a line in the sand and create a boundary. The words were meant to build a big brick wall with my believing family members firmly planted on the other side of the wall and me left out. I won't be calling home for a few weeks because I don't need the preaching. The preaching that believing members feel entitled and called to give because they have The Truth. It is all part of that wall I was talking about. Ugh. 

I don't just feel horrible for the closeted gay Mormons both the kids and adults. This sort of talk is always a bit of a witch hunt designed to drive them to their bishops' offices… I feel bad for the single Mormon mom who dared to leave an abusive husband. I feel bad for the Mormon mom who stays in an abusive marriage for the sake of hanging on to her "real" family. I feel bad for the Mormon couple who simple got married too fast and maybe there is no abuse but they just shouldn't be together who can't get divorced now. I feel bad for the hetero Mormon couple that can't have children for some reason. I feel bad for the hetero Mormon couples who don't actually want to have children and feel pressure to.  What about the single members? Maybe they don't all want to be married. How many of its own faithful membership does the church continue to alienate because it keeps declaring that the only valid form of family is the man, and the woman, with children. 

Not to mention that such decisions about one's own personal relationships should be -well- personal?! It should be YOUR choice. Why does a panel of aged and dying old men get a front row seat into anyone's bedroom but their own? Pervs.

Do you love who you are with? Congrats you are in a genuine relationship. You have a real family. No further definition required.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Five years

Five years ago today I printed out, signed, and mailed my letter to the Church asking them to remove my name from their records. Five years ago I took action and did the steps required to leave. It felt so defiant. It felt so brave and it really was. People who have never faced down an abuser before probably don't quite understand that complex feeling of joy that is mixed with fear, liberation that is mixed with a sense of what now, and the question of what do I want now that I CAN want?

I had drawn a line in the sand for the first time in my life and told them not to cross it. Seriously, not even trying to be cheesy or funny, I shouted at Salt Lake like that girl from the Labyrinth movie, "You have no power over me?! You have not power over me!" That line has been whispered about a million times sense as the whole deprogramming process has unfolded itself over the years.

After mailing that letter every act and choice that I have made that was contrary to the Church's teachings but that was true to my "self" brought that feeling back - brought that bravery back. It was sort of like flexing a new muscle that I had not realized was there. It was great and tragic at the same time knowing that the answer to the question of who I was was not automatically and mechanically, "I am a daughter of God".

Such an awful identity to be a daughter of God really. The Mormon idea that you are this incredibly powerful woman with awesome and tremendous abilities but with a golden leash around your neck held by some ass-hole god who sold you some dude that you pledged in a holey temple to obey. Forever an after thought and never a hero. Always support staff.

Who am I now...

The great thing about the answer to that question now, post church, is that I get to decide. I get to create it. I get to live it. I get the freedom to let my identity grow and change on my own. There is no need to know the whole answer to that question right this second. There is no limiting and definitive answer to be memorized and spit out on demand. It is not given to me by someone else. I don't have to shave a little off there, cut an appendage down here, throw the right color of paint on myself to fit any sort of regulation or to make myself fit some church's answer.

The last five years have been hard, full of mistakes, full of some painful growth spurts, but good. The last five years have been really, really good. I don't even know the person that I was before except that I remember how sad she always was. Sad. Now I have the full range of emotions and I have gained my own feet. 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

I said yes of course

We have talked about marriage off and on for over a year now. I proposed and we weren't ready about five months, six months ago. It was rushed. Sort of on a whim. 

She proposed last night and I said yes. We have almost completed our third year together and I really love her so much. We are very much in love and it has just gotten deeper and deeper the with time. Though honestly three years is not that much time I know she is the one for me.
She is the most sincere, honest, loving, and open person I have ever met. I am not going to sugar coat anything. My upbringing in the church has left me somewhat distrustful of people, and a little bit scared of what "family" means. She is exactly the type of person that could have wiggled her way past all of my walls and barriers and into my heart. 

There is not really a nice way to put it my parents have been very passive-aggressive, unaccepting, and steadfast in their testimonies of bigotry and intolerance. My decision to say yes to her is likely a decision to not really be part of my parents' family anymore. My siblings are pretty great though. Some of my extended family is really great but for some reason my parents won't budge. 

It is weird to me the soapboxes that my parents have chosen to pick up. They don't even know what the term "cafeteria Mormon" is but they are cafeteria Mormons. ( I suppose most are to one degree or another…) They are devout to some commandments of the church and completely blow off others. The gay soapbox is one that they cling to for some reason. 

I sort of hate that because of the way that they are my "yes" is still happy and with a lot of joy but with a fraction of my heart completely torn up by what it means to build my own family. Part of me wants to just yell at them and cut them off. The part of me that is still very much Mormon wants to just continue to be patient, long-suffering, and be a good example of love to them. (I can do that and still call them jerk-faces on my blog…) 

I am glad that the part of me that is happy is the bigger part.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Dear residual Mormon guilt, Get out of my bed...

TMBs that may lurk beware… This post may not be for you. (I don't actually believe that there are TBM lurkers but people clicking over from the MoHo Directory tend to have varying levels of belief.)

I am now just over two and half years into my first important major relationship. I have learned a lot about myself. Now two and half years into an active sexual relationship I seem to finally be ready to deal with some of my sexual hang-ups. I had very little sexual experience prior to this relationship. While Leigh was not my first she nearly was… I was after all a true believer in the church. I was such a good girl before my belief fell apart.

I think that though my belief crumbled and the dust blew away long ago I still carry a lot of elements of Mormonism around with me. I have come to terms with this. It is not always a bad thing but sometimes it is. In the case of my sex life I think my Mormon roots are a bad thing. 

I should preface this by saying that my sex life is not bad. I am however starting to notice that I wish it was better. The problems with our sex life have nothing to do with Leigh and everything to do with my own inhibitions. I thought at the beginning of our relationship that with more time, a closer connection to her, and more experience that my sexual hang-ups would go away more or less on their own but they have not. While they don't by any means wreck our sex life they do hold me back.

I think Mormonism has really left me with some residual guilt on the sexual front and I get in my head a lot rather than experiencing things in the moment. I have problems asking for things that I want and or need. I also tend to have problems opening up emotionally and really and truly being vulnerable. All of these things combine to leaving me feeling a bit disconnected when it comes to sex. This "disconnection" varies in its strength and is weaker or stronger from time to time but it is always there on some level. I really resent it. I feel like it holds me back from really connecting with my lover as much as I would like to. 

Leigh ends up having really good and strongly emotional experiences and reactions fairly frequently where she lets go and feel so connected to me. I am so jealous of her sometimes! (Jealous in a good way.) I think her example of really and truly letting go is what is driving me to finally address these things in a serious and somewhat structured way. (She is so supportive and caring. Everything we talk about these things together I am amazed by how much she loves me and how accommodating and patient she is. Best girlfriend this sort of messed up ex-Mormon lesbian could have!)  

After following some blogs online for years I finally gathered the courage to take a ecourse focused on dominance and submission. Elements of the d/s scene appeal me and while I don't think our relationship could ever change dynamics so much to solely exist as a dominant and submissive relationship I think we could incorporate things into our space… The thing that sold me in the class description were the journal writes with guiding questions, homework, and various task cards along with access to a private forum. Nothing helps me more than writing things out. 

I am going to post some of my realizations and changing approaches to sex as I go through this course this month. I need to processing space and the processing time.  (On this very public blog I am going to be general... Plus, I don't want to violate the privacy of mine and Leigh's relationship. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

We made it through introductions unscathed...

I have been in Utah now for five days. Leigh went home on Tuesday. (She has a normal 9-5 job and only gets two weeks of vacation. We didn't want to blow it all on this trip.) She had just enough time to see Arches, Antelope Island, and Space Jesus on Temple Square. 

We came in on Sunday and did a quick stop-by just to drop off presents at my parents' house, do a quick introduction, and leave to go hang out with my sister and her boyfriend. We came back the next day for a longer family BBQ. We hung out and chatted with my family for about four hours.

I kept the visit short. I did not want to put a lot of stress on any one party so a family BBQ for a few hours was perfect. It went really well. My mom was friendly and warm. My dad was my dad. He is not friendly and warm with anyone so he introduced himself and listened while my mom asked all of the questions. It went well. There was nothing passive-aggressive said. My dad shook Leigh's hand and my mom hugged her.

The next day conversation with my mom was really positive. She said some very affirming things that show me that she has put some serious and honest thought into the issues involved.

  • She said that she really like Leigh. 
  • At one point she honestly said, "We were really nervous to meet Leigh but then again we are always nervous when you girls bring anyone home." (The "anyone" she meant were the boyfriends and son-in-laws that my sisters have brought home over the years.) It was nice that she was not separating my homo relationship from my sisters hetero relationships.
  • She was sincerely excited when we mentioned that we thinking seriously about moving closer to Utah and settling possibly in San Antonio or Albuquerque in the future.
  • There have been some snotty things said or done by a few my super-Mormony relatives.  My mom said, "They don't realize that you are who you have always been. You are happier than you have ever been." This is a major shift in her thinking. It does not mean she agrees with it but she recognizes that this is not some sort of a phase that is going to go away.
  • She is not discriminating. All of my siblings and I am cohabiting. None of us are married to our significant others. She is equally bothered by this and is not singling me out in her disapproval of this. (I laugh that disapproval could be affirming. J )

It has been a really positive visit so far. I am so relieved and surprised.

I worry about the cognitive dissonance that my parents are surely feeling. War with accepting Leigh and I and the teachings of the church... BUT I think significant progress has been made.

Now to just keep my expectations low and realistic… 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Clearing the debris: Proposal gone awry, the Dehlin/Kelly debacle, leaving for Utah in one day

I need an attitude adjustment… I have been grumpy all day. Actually, I have not been exactly "happy" for several days now.  

My mood is not without justification.

1.  I'm coming down off of being really stressed out towards the end of the school year.
2. Getting my car totaled by a guy that was texting instead of driving. (I am lucky I walked away… I drove a Corolla and was hit by a giant Silverado.)
3. I have been following the whole Dehlin/Kelly debacle a little too closely. It sort of stabs at old wounds.
4.There have been a million chores to do and things to take care of that were neglected due to stressful school schedule.
5. I'm having some serious anxiety about the long drive to Utah.
6.  I'm having some serious anxiety about what may or may not happen when we get to Utah and Leigh meets the family.
7. Probably the biggest issue - There was some serious proposal/future marriage fall out.

#1, #2, and #4 have mostly been resolved.

#3 - My short and somewhat insensitive answer to the whole Kelly/Dehlin issue is this - Is anyone really surprised? The Mormon church kicking people out that loudly voice their own agendas  axes to grind doubts or demand ask for change?!  

I'm surprised Dehlin was not excommunicated long ago. Did Kelly really think that in all the patriarchal glory that is the Mormon church that there would not be major backlash?

I LOVE both of them. I LOVE the causes that both of them have taken up. It is more than a little naive to think that punishment was not coming in some form or another. Honestly, what were their agendas?  "I LOVE the church?! You are excommunicating me?! I'm just going to send this letter to the New York Times and see if that will resolve the problem…" 

If the church were something that they seriously loved in their heart of hearts why would they run and tattle to the media thus criminalizing the church they love? Really?

Ugh. I'm sorry. Did I mention that I am grumpy today? (I was not lying when I said that I loved them both…)

#5 and #6 will be fine.

#7 is the one that I am truly agonizing over… #7 is the one that I want to talk about.

My last post was about the upcoming trip to Utah and about coming to the conclusion that I do want to marry Leigh. We have talked about it for about a year now. She brings it up all of the time. We debate about where to have it since my family is in Utah and Oregon and hers are all in Texas or here in Louisiana. She wants a major party. She practically had the playlist for the dance after the ceremony totally planned out. A few weeks ago after one particular conversation she wanted to change our Facebook relationship status to "engaged" and I told her no. We weren't engaged yet. She asked me a few days later if I meant to propose or something. I told her she need to wait a little and not rush to any sort of conclusions. Blah. Blah. Blah. Stall. Stall. Stall. I am by no means suave or good at keeping secrets. She knew what was coming.

Last Friday I took her out for a nice date. Great restaurant. A nice walk. Some serious cuddling. A nice chat about all the things about her that mean the most to me. Talk about how much I love her. I propose. I proposed knowing she knew it was coming. I proposed knowing the answer already. Imagine my surprise when she freaks out.

Now she has some general anxiety issues. She has some major needs to be in control of things, lives by routines, and needs to control her environment. I know these things… In hindsight I should have seen the potential for a "freak out " response to the proposal  coming…  Despite our history of conversations about this very topic I should have - could have foreseen that it would not go as planned. I should have planned for it somehow…

So her answer was a yes, a hug, an "I love you", and then a freak out.

Why did the freak out happen really? All of the bullshit attached to marriage. Her anxiety hit her because of worrying about what family members were going to say and think. What coworkers were going to say or think. And why it is so unfair that when a heterosexual couple get engaged everyone is happy for them, but if we got engaged it would be this political thing. If we got engaged it was going to be difficult and we would have to face people saying bigoted things… People would not be happy for us. What was she going to say to her mom, her dad, her sister… Blah. Blah. Blah.

We got into an emotional conversation. Not really an argument but still very emotional. We just seemed to go in circles about how much she loved me and wanted to spend her whole life with me and what marriage actually meant for LGBT people. How at this point we live in Louisiana so getting married would mean going somewhere else and then probably fighting an uphill battle getting the rights that we might want…

The next morning she apologized and said that if it was important to me we could go to another state and get married. We could get a lawyer and get all of the paperwork and forms done so that we could do things like visit each other in the hospital, and file our taxes together. She moved the silver bands we have each been wearing for a year and half to the wedding ring finger. She desperately apologized for her reaction. She needed to resolve the drama ASAP and know that everything was ok.

Despite being hurt and dealing with an array of complex emotions I still loved her. I really felt that everything was going to be ok if I could just process for a minute… The problem with the conversation Friday night and Saturday morning is that I felt somewhat like I was being held hostage. I needed time to process and though I asked for time  there was no space or time granted.

I have had time since the weekend to process but I have avoided thinking about it.

As I sit here tonight and try resolve in my own mind what happened and how I feel about it I am mad. I hate that just by being myself - out, gay, in a relationship - my life ends up being somewhat political. I hate that my hyperaware-of-the-heterosexually-dominated-society girlfriend turned what should have been an intimate moment into a conversation about how we are repressed… I hate how what happened has caused me to doubt a relationship that I was pretty sure of. The thing about that doubt is that I feel like it is unfair. What did my marriage proposal mean in a state where we can't even get a license? Why does the legal legitimacy of that license mean so much to me?

After next week I will have some serious alone time to think about these things… I am still just a little shocked that the proposal went the way that it did. I think her and I will be together for a long time but I feel a little bit like I opened way up and got stabbed a little bit… I don't think it was intentional, but I am way to close to it to see it objectively…    Argh…