Friday, April 30, 2010

Down but not out

Hey guys

Did you ever just wake up depressed? Well thats what happened to me today. I was just thinking about church last week. As I have posted before I am a really shy person so dont have many friends. I really tried to give off a friendly vibe and try to talk to some people after the service but everyone pretty much seemed to ignore me. So I ended up just drinking coffee alone in the corner. There is this friend of my brothers who I have met before and I was drinking coffee after church downstairs talking to my brother and he came up and they were talking and I said hi and tried to work my way into the conversation but he pretty much just seemed to ignore me. I dont know that just really hurt me. It just seems that no one ever gives me a chance. I think everyone misunderstands me and they think I want to be alone because I am shy and quiet. The truth is I ache for friends. I guess people must be able to tell I am needy or something so they avoid me. Maybe I dont deserve friends thats what I sometimes think. I would probably just be a burden anyways. Its my own fault anyways for building up this wall to protect myself from letting others know of my struggle with SSA. The wall is to thick now I fear I never will break through it.

I'm just a coward. After all this time I still cant even get up the courage to tell my family of my struggles with SSA never mind anyone else. Although last week I came closer than I ever have to telling my brother and his wife after the cookout when everyone else left. But they had alot of work to do so I chickened out because I did not want to take up their whole day. I just dont like to be a burden and I fear our relationship will change once they know. It would kill me if after my brother knew we did not hang out because we are friends but instead because he feels bad for me.

Anyways I cant really think of a way to end this post. If anyone has any advice on how to open up to others and tell them of my struggles with SSA I would love to read it! Sometimes I just dont know how to start the conversation like I dont know if I should just mention it in the course of a normal conversation or be all serious and say I have something I am struggling with and need to talk or whatever. But any advice at all anyone may want to share on how to tell others about this struggle I would really appreciate reading.

Ok thanks for listening.

(Hey btw did anyone get the pun in my post title??) :-)


  1. AJ,

    Sounds like you have many things you are pondering in your heart and mind today, but these things are also the culmination of your walk this far. I am sorry that you are feeling blue today, but with this emotion you are feeling can come great profit. Let me see if I can explain what I mean...

    When we do not feel happy, or we are depressed (literally pushed down) we tend to compare how we feel now, with how we have felt in the past OR how we would like to feel. What we imagine "happy" as being? This emotion can either drop us into a spiral of self defeating thoughts (a few which I see in your post above) OR we can use it as an impetus and tool for evincing change in the patterns that have lead us to this place.

    It also tend to make me examine myself a bit more thoroughly in order to trace my way back up, kind of like emotional bread crumbs, if you will, back out of the deep, dark forest I find myself in at times.

    There have been times in life where I have walked alone as well, and to be surrounded by people but ignored for who we are and what we could be, is painful. I am not making light of this at all. We each struggle to find ourselves in community and long deeply for those connections that bring us into love and affirmation. This is especially true for men, as our entire society instills within us the idea that we are strong, independent and silent in the face of pain and fear.

    That is total crap! We are relational beings and draw ourselves out of ourselves by the formation and sharing that comes from our interpersonal interactions with each other, especially OTHER guys! Iron sharpens iron. It was important enough that God included it in the Bible!

    I am praying for you today. I know how this feels. Do not concentrate all your energy in bringing your inner reality of struggle to the table of old and new friendships. That is merely a side note (though weighty matter) in your walk with Jesus Christ. It is NOT a gay issue, or and SSA issue...merely a human issue. The stigma and weight you are feeling, while valid, is also a by product of the church's mishandling and damaging lack of outreach to yet another group of people in its midst.

    You are loved. You are not alone. I am lifting you up. Let me know how you are doing man. I care.


    PS: very punny indeed! :P

  2. AJ,

    I will point out that you will probably have a great deal of difficulty bringing this up in a normal conversation, especially given your pattern of keeping it hidden for so long. I understand because I've been there. You can always find an excuse for why it isn't the "right" time. The "right" time might actually come, but I wouldn't wait for it. What I've done a couple of times is to e-mail the person I wanted to tell, just to let them know there was something I was struggling with that I wanted to talk about for a while. I didn't include any specific details. That way, when the meeting happened, I was forcing myself to tell. That "push" was enough for me to get out what I was dealing with. I would probably suggest e-mailing your brother, if he's someone you trust. This is a journey best taken one step at a time, so don't worry about telling too many people just yet.

    In time, when you tell more people, it will get much easier to just bring it up. But you shouldn't needlessly get down on yourself for not being there yet. You are not a coward! You just haven't learned to talk about this particular struggle of yours, which can be so hard to talk about in our Christian culture. Also, don't fear being a burden. We as the Church are called to bear one another's burdens! We were not created to deal with things like this all on our own. I expect you'll find it really helpful to be able to discuss this stuff with someone who knows you personally and knows your situation better.

    And with the pun, it's actually the first thing I noticed when I read the title, but I didn't realize it was intentional until I read the post. But good one!

  3. AJ,

    Hey, just stumbled across your blog the other day. I wanted to let you know that your recent post describes my experience to a tee. I'm a little younger than you (21) but I highly doubt many more people will know about my sexual attractions by the time I'm your age than do now (none do in real life).

    Anyway, I know the difficulty of building close relationships, while at the same time keeping your sexuality concealed. I'd be happy never bringing my sexuality up, but, invariably, in a truly close relationship the issue of sexuality pops up. . .

    I'm curious why you feel such a need to tell your family about your sexuality? Not that you shouldn't. . . but is it really as important that they know as you seem to feel it is? Just curious.

  4. Hi gaypk. Ya its really hard to build relationships when you hide this big secret. It has held me back alot. I always clam up when people ask me about personal stuff. I am sick of putting on a fake smile and pretending everything is great.

    As for why the need to tell my family. Well I still dont think I am going to tell my parents any time soon of least but I am really close with my brother and it just does not feel right that I have hid this for so long. Plus I am tired of always pretending everything is ok and that I am happy being alone.

    I change my mind everyday though. One day I am sure I will tell them then the next I chicken out and decide it would be a bad idea.

    But really I just need to know my family loves me despite my attractions. I just long to be accepted for who I am, not who I pretend to be. Does that make sense?

  5. Neo thanks for the advice! That is a great idea about the email! That would really force me to talk or else I would look really silly if I showed up and started talking about some sports team or something lol. :-) But seriously that is a good idea about the email I thank you for it. It would let him know I really have a struggle that is tough for me to talk about and would force me to talk about it. I am going to have to think about that seriously for sure!

    Really liked what you said about burdens too. I never thought about it like that. You are right we are not meant to carry our heavy burdens on our own but share them and help eachother along the way as we strive to be like Christ. I pray that I will be able to do that and soon. Anyways Thank you so much Neo!

  6. Daemon thank you so much for the thoughts and advice. You gave me alot to think about it.

    I see what you mean about the feeling of loneliness or depression being good for me in a way as it forces me to examine myself. Just wish it was not so painful! But actually I have been numb and in denial for alot of years so in some ways I actually am a little thankful just to feel even if the feeling is painful. At least I am finally starting to come to terms with who I am becuase of this though and realizing I want closer relationships with others and to be loved despite my struggles with SSA. Of course its still tough to make that happen but I hope I will slowly make progress.

    Anyways thanks for caring man!

  7. You know how you can go to a church event to try and not be anti-social or withdrawn and still manage to leave without actually talking to anybody? And how you can wear just enough of a smile to look content and slightly preocupied rather than lonely and alien?
    Yeah, me too. Remember the days that aren't that way though.
    Congrats on being so close to talking with your brother! That's a good thing, not a shame. Sadly, there is no "perfect time" to tell somebody. I can say that you should tell them in whichever way is most comfortable. If it's a casual conversation & you suddenly get an urge to share, go for it. Casual conversation is so random and tangential that it works. The first person I told was in a very serious conversation, because I was asked some very serious questions, but the second was a super casual conversation. Both were just right. Daemon, Neo, & gaypk said really good stuff too. Keep us updated on it all, b/c we really want to know how you're doing & what happens.

    & can I say real quick that I think it's phenomenal that you're able to be so honest here?

  8. "But really I just need to know my family loves me despite my attractions. I just long to be accepted for who I am, not who I pretend to be. Does that make sense? "

    ...and that would be another interesting way to preface the conversation...

  9. oops. too much to say, sorry for multiple comments all at once. Forgive me, o honorable AJ.

    gaypk: hiya. I'm JahTeo. [amusing mental image of introductory chit-chat]. Personally, it was really important to me to let my family know too. It's hard to say exactly why, but parts of the reasons included that I was deceiving them about who I was interested in (& they kept on trying to hook me up with all these nice christian gals, which was... awkward), how frustrated and turbulent I was secretly feeling, and how afraid of their reactions I was. When I did come out to them, they were actually (among a whole slew of other emotions) kinda hurt that I didn't feel safe/comfortable/loved/everything-a-partent-tries-to-give-for-their-kid enough to tell them for so long. We completely see differently on some things, and my sexuality is now added to a very short list of things we've ever actually fought about, but I have a more meaningful relationship with them now. When Dad jokes about something piddly or tries to tackle me just like before (I'm not one to wrestle or tackle back, but he's always done it), I know that he loves me completely. Regardless of how off the rocker and out of god's plan he thinks I may be. It still kills me everytime I realize that I can't talk with my brother about this part of me, though. He's always telling me all sorts of "secrets" and things about himself, & I can't reciprocate or be honest with him. It hurts.
    Taken outside of just talking about homosexuality/SSA, I fully believe that being vulnerable and open is a huge part of building close, true, (& esp christian) meaningful relationships with people. Right now I feel like some of the people who I really want that sort of relationship with know about me, and it's a great feeling. So nice to be able to talk (like I am here, hehe) about the chaos of inner life. Plus it keeps me accountable when things might happen. Like prom tomorrow. *blush*
    Oh, I'm just a couple years older @ 23. Admitted to myself and God that I'm only attracted to guys last summer/fall, and I've been accidentally, and very cautiously coming out to certain folks since. Sometimes very accidentally.

  10. So glad to hear from you jahteo! You always brighten my mood. Dont worry about writing alot of posts, the more the better! Ya your description of being alone while with people is pretty much exactly what happened. I think I looked just comfortable enough that everyone thought I was happy to be by my self. Thanks for telling me how it went when you first told people. Its great to hear you have such a great relationship with your dad still.

    Ya I keep looking for the perfect time and I guess it may never come so I am leaning towards Neo's suggestion of emailing him and saying I need to talk about an issue I am dealing with. To prepare him for a serious conversation and force me to talk. Not sure exactly when I will do this but I am hoping in the not to distant future.

    I am sorry that you feel you cant tell your brother of your struggles. Is it that you dont think he would accept you? Or do your parents not want you to? Or maybe I misunderstood and you have told him but dont feel comfortable talking about SSA issues with him?

    And thanks for the compliment about my honesty here. I have to be because if I was not I would go insane bottling everything up! :) Although I have to admit now that I am thinking of telling my brother I kinda worry he will find this blog somehow if he tries to research homosexual things. I talk about my family alot here so that is a worry that they would be offended if they found this! Oh well I need this outlet though so I am going to keep being honest!

  11. AJ,

    I have started this comment so many times but always feel what I am saying sounds not really helpful to you so I delete it. I so identify with the things you have shared. Being quiet and shy brings a lot of apprehension with it, like feeling alone, ignored, that feeling in your stomach that when someone does talk to you you will not have anything to say. It is so easy to envy those people who 'always' have something to say and go from one person to another and every one loves what they say. I guess I have just come to accept that part of me and if people don't embrace my person then that is okay, I am just being me. Understand that you are doing the best to be you and just be at peace inside. Life is a process, keep your head up and don't worry about what others might think. You do deserve friends, maybe won't be million friends, but even a couple close ones are very valuable, I see the value in that. Being a burden you will never be 'cause you are a sensitive thoughtful guy and you care a lot, I see that.

    Don't you often wish God just had a big eraser and that He would erase all the SSA junk that plagues us. That's how I feel today. When I read your post it makes me wish that even more. It hurts to see someone else hurting like you do. Keep trusting God, praying and giving it all to Him, He alone has the answers you need. What a precious child of the King you are. Believe it.

  12. Well I am glad you did post this Stan! It really means alot to me to know that someone else can identify with me in regards to being shy. Man everything you wrote is how I always feel. Like the part where I think I am not very interesting compared to others and stumble with my words when I talk. And then ya I am always amazed at the people who are so out-going and can talk to every person in the room and become best friends with them all in like a half hour while I have trouble talking to one person! I guess its just my personality. God must have created me with this personality for a reason.

    Yea I would love for God to erase that part of me that struggles with SSA! It would just be so much easier to be "normal". But if that does not happen I just will have to trust God that there is a reason and that He loves me still even when I don't love myself.

    Anyways thank you Stan this really lifted my spirits and encouraged me!

  13. I'm ready to tell my brother. My parent's don't want me to though because he's still in HS & has enough to deal with at the moment. I really, really believe that there'll never be a time that is appropriate though. Not until we actually talk about it. No idea how he'd take it. I can see him being completely fine, not a blip on his radar, or wigging out on me, pulling out a bible for the first time in months and proceeding to shout how disgusting I am. That's up to him though. I can just (one day) lay myself out honestly. If things go well, then great. If things go horribly, I believe that (eventually) we'll be able to reconnect. Either way, I walk away at peace with myself, having tried sincerely to be the brother he deserves.

    That's my sentiment these last few months. But it's also much simpler letting my parents shoulder the burden of not telling him right now.

    And Amen to Stan's "Understand that you are doing the best to be you and just be at peace inside. Life is a process, keep your head up and don't worry about what others might think. You do deserve friends, maybe won't be million friends, but even a couple close ones are very valuable, I see the value in that. Being a burden you will never be 'cause you are a sensitive thoughtful guy and you care a lot, I see that."

  14. Ya that makes sense Jahteo about them wanting you to wait. From your posts here and on your blog I think your brother will react well! You seem really good at expressing yourself and I am sure he loves you and after the initial shock he will support you.

    I also think my brother will support me too I just gotta tell him though if I want the support! :) Like you said there is no perfect time I gotta just do it, lay my soul bare, and let him react how he will.