Shattered Silence

Shattered Silence

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Best and Worst of Times

It has been ten years since I graduated high
school.
As of May, it has been ten years since I finished high school. This July my ten-year high school reunion will take place. It’s hard to believe that a decade has passed since I was an eighteen year-old. The few years following my graduation in 2004 were some of the best and worst that I have ever experienced. This time in my life was highlighted by a number of firsts—new, fresh occurrences and events that I had never before experienced.  Some would happen only once and never again.  Others would be repeated over time.

The christening event of my newly-acquired adult life was attending my first semester of college, just minutes from the home I was still sharing with my mother and stepfather. I enrolled full-time, with a government grant to fund my education, and began classes in January 2005, after a well-desired summer and fall break from educational responsibility.

To summarize the misadventure of my first four months of higher education, it suffices to say that I didn’t apply myself at the full measure of my capabilities, making the entire semester a disaster. Consequently, my failure was the basis of my decision not to enroll for another semester, also making that the first time I dropped out of college (which I would do more than once in coming years).

After a brief summer on my own,
I had to move in with my dad.
With my college career ruined (for a time), I sought out other ways in which to become independent and grown-up. Naturally, at least for me, the best way to do this was to get out into the world (or at least the next town) and try living on my own. So, I packed a few things from what little I had of my own at my mom and stepdad’s house, and moved with a friend into a cheap student apartment just a few blocks from where I had attended college. This was another of my firsts during those years—living away from parents under my own roof that I was paying for myself.

My brief summer stay in that apartment was a time of my life that I think back on often, and with a lot of happy feelings; sometimes I wish I could go back and experience that summer all over again, even if I didn’t get to change anything that happened. All of it could happen the same way again—like the retelling of an epic story, tragedies and triumphs altogether—and I would still be content just to live it once more. I made new friends, experienced new things, and had plenty of room to stretch my independence. 

There were some difficult lessons learned that summer, and they were learned in the hardest ways; but I’m grateful for that now, because those things have stayed with me, and have made me better. It was in that apartment, pondering alone one night with a set of scriptures that I reconnected with my spiritual self, from which I had been separated for some time. One highlight of that summer was attending my first Kelly Clarkson concert that July, which substantiated a long-time obsession with the singer that I am well known for among my friends and family.

After that incomparable summer—my last summer as a teenager—I had lost another job (my second time being fired that year), and was forced to move in with my father back in my hometown; my mother and stepdad hadn’t given me the option to move back in with them when I left, which, looking back, was a blessing. My relationship with my father during those years was not the best, which encouraged me to get back out on my own once my finances were in better order. I moved back into my childhood home with my father in August 2005, and stayed for a little over a year.

I began attending church again, this time with
young single adults my own age.
Back in my hometown again, and a bit more comfortable in familiar surroundings, I began attending church again, this time with other young single adults, another first for me. I had been largely absent from the Sunday worship services of my faith—the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons)—while I was away on my summer exile. As an adult aged 18 to 29, I had the option to attend church and other activities with members of my faith who fell within the same age range, in a special, separate congregation, or ward. There I met new friends and reconnected with old friends from high school with whom I have stayed very close.

During that time, I worked in telephone customer service and as an aide in a care center for disabled children and young adults. Neither jobs were really ones I wanted to keep long-term, but they helped me pay my bills while getting free rent from my father. Both jobs, however, didn’t last long, and I was again fired from both; the growing trend with me and employment was a problem with attendance. 

This began a crescendo of an addiction, you could say, with sleep; I used sleep like a drug to forget and temporarily escape my responsibilities and problems, or anything I didn’t want to deal with at any given moment. This escape tactic and coping mechanism began with problems in high school, which you can read about in my other posts, “Walk Like a Man” and “Dear Andy.”

The next of my firsts would shape my financial stability for the next year or two. I spent my nights in the late spring of 2006 in a trade school to earn my nursing assistant certification (CNA). It was the first successful course of education I had completed since high school, and it boosted my ability to find jobs that I enjoyed, where I could help and serve others, while earning better pay. 

My sins weighed down upon my for years until
I finally confessed them.
In the summer of 2006 (though I wish I could remember the exact date), I made another first-time decision that would change my life forever. It was when I went to my Bishop, the leader of the first ward I ever joined, and confessed to him that I was attracted to men. Not only that, but I had been having sex with men since I was 17 years old and still in high school. My promiscuous activities were spiraling out of control, and I felt that getting closer to God and attempting to forsake my sins would bring about more peace in my life. To learn more about the teachings and beliefs of the LDS Church in regards to homosexuality or same-sex attraction, click HERE.

Subsequent to my confession and the beginning of a process of repentance, I also began reparative therapy, also known as conversion therapy, with a locally-renowned psychologist. The aim of the therapy was decrease my same-sex attractions, and possibly even make me straight. But I quickly became frustrated with my therapist’s attempts to help me, and ended my weekly sessions with him, never going back to anyone to attempt to change my sexual orientation again.

I dropped out of the therapy because I felt that I couldn’t be content in my homosexuality until I had tried—successfully or unsuccessfully—to have a monogamous relationship with a man. These feelings led to another first-time event as I got my first boyfriend. My relationship with him only lasted three months before I decidedly couldn’t be happy living contrary to God’s commandments anymore. I broke things off with him in the early fall of 2006, and returned to the spiritual care of my Bishop and the process of cleansing I had begun a few months before. It was the only time I ever tried to date my same sex. To read about this experience in more detail, see my post “The Greener Side.”

By late fall of that year, I would land a job working as a CNA for a home care and hospice company, travelling all over the county caring for individuals of all ages. Perhaps it is a little embarrassing to say, at my age, but this was the best job I’ve had in my life (thus far). And true to form, I would lose it, too; a combination of things led to that loss, which leads into another first.

My uncontrollable swearing tics cost me the best
job I ever had, and others, too.
It was in 2007, while I was working as a CNA, that my battle with Tourette syndrome became even more grueling. That was the year I developed coprolalia, a rare symptom of Tourettes that involves vocal tics of swearing, cursing, and the (often loud) uttering of inappropriate words and phrases, often at the most inopportune moments. My one-time boyfriend, with whom I spent a lot of time, had the habit of swearing recreationally, and I am almost certain now that joining in with him in his foul-mouthed talk eventually brought me to a point of no return.

Soon I was swearing every few seconds, especially when excited, upset, or stressed. Most unfortunately my word of choice was the dreaded “F-word,” which slipped in between sentences like an impatient, interruptive child begging for attention. The patients for whom I cared daily, most of them elderly, began to notice my foul language, though they knew I had Tourettes and had seen and heard my other tics. Slowly my patient load decreased as more and more patients or their spouses or family members began calling my boss to request a new aide in their home.

Immediately I requested a dose change in my tic-inhibiting medication, which only increased my level of lethargy, drowsiness, and drained me of energy; this did not at all help my “sleeping addiction.” My supervisors were amazingly understanding, and did everything they could to help me. But eventually we came to a crossroads, and, regrettably, they had to let me go. It was a terrible blow to my financial circumstances, and my self-esteem. I would eventually recover to some point, and even make it back to college again, but I have yet to hold another successful job as long as I held my CNA position.

After months of spiritual cleansing, I could enter
the temple to perform baptisms for the dead.
By the winter of 2006, my Bishop felt that my repentance was complete. I was once again able to partake of the sacrament of the Lord’s supper, similar to the Catholic communion; this is a crucial ordinance in Mormon worship that takes place every week in Sunday church meetings as a way to reflect upon the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and renew our devotion to Him. I also received a temple recommend, which allowed me to enter Mormon temples to perform the ordinance of baptism for the dead, as mentioned by the Apostle Paul in the New Testament.

My circumstance were finally beginning to improve; and with a small financial gift from my Bishop (from donations of my ward members), I paid the deposit on a new apartment in a new town not far from my hometown, and moved out of my father’s house to start a new life. I moved in February 2007. While I worked as a CNA, before the coprolalia began, I was enjoying the bachelor life, and a life clean and pure from sin and transgression. I began attending a family ward in my new town—a little reluctantly because of the swearing tics—and it was one of the best decisions I made while living in that apartment for the next two years.

By 2008, I was highly active in my faith, attending regular Sunday meetings as well as weekday activities with my ward members and their families. I developed more relationships, and have held on to many of them to this day. After a period of time, my new Bishop and I agreed that I was ready to advance in my Priesthood authority, and I was ordained an Elder in the Melchizedek Priesthood in August 2007. 

Then, in January 2008, I began preparing to enter the temple, God’s holy house, to receive the higher ordinances of the Mormon faith, known as the endowment. I was open about my homosexuality with my Bishop and other leaders, and they supported me in my desire to receive my temple rites; I viewed it then as the icing on my spiritual cake, so to speak—the last official step in my spiritual journey, in order to better prepare myself for the possibility of a lifetime as a single gay Mormon. I have since become more open to the opportunity of marrying a woman, which would also take place in the Temple. To read more about why a gay Mormon would consider marrying a woman, try my posts “The Road Less Traveled By” and “When a Man Loves a Woman.”

This photo of the Provo Utah Temple was taken the
day I entered that building to receive my endowment.
On March 8, 2008, I entered the Provo Utah Temple, accompanied by many friends and family members, to receive my temple ordinances. It was one of the happiest days of my life so far, and the crowning moment of all the experiences I had had during those four years since my high school graduation. Today, six years since my endowment in the temple, I remain steadfast in the gospel of Jesus Christ and active in my faith, in spite of my continued attraction to men, which passion I must carefully bridle.

Truthfully, not all my firsts have been accounted for in this post. I have left out one of my most beloved and significant influences of the past nine years to create a more poignant effect for this inclusion in my blog. It is not an event or a happening, but a person—someone who was by my side during nearly all of the events I have just listed. In a previous post, “The Greener Side,” I wrote a little about my relationship with this person:  a special girl named Danielle.

I actually went to high school with Danielle; she was a year older than me, but I really only knew of her rather than actually interacting with her on any occasion. However, we finally made a friendly connection during that first semester of college in 2005. She also happened to be good friends with the cousin of my best friend, so I had a chance to talk to her a few times. Though I’m not entirely sure how it started, we began meeting up on campus in between or after classes. We wrote notes to each other, and traded them in between our meetings. Soon I invited her to my parents’ house, where I was living then, to hang out. We would eat snacks and watch our favorite childhood cartoon reruns, something we shared in common (adults though we were).

I couldn’t possibly contain all of my memories with Danielle in this post without it becoming a novel; but from that semester on, she and I grew only closer. Several of her friends became my friends, and mine hers, so we were spending even more time together socializing. When I moved out for the first time, she was a constant guest in my apartment. It was my blossoming relationship with her that made that summer unforgettable. We stayed up late, often with other friends, watching movies, hot-tubbing and swimming, and playing games. After she would leave my place in the early hours of the morning, she would call me when she got home, and while lying in our beds in different towns, we would talk on the phone until the sun came up. Then the next day we would do it again.

I wanted Danielle to be my girlfriend; it seemed
only natural with all the time we spent together.
I remember the night that I thought that I wanted to date Danielle steadily. It just clicked that I liked her, a lot actually, and that the most natural step to take next was to ask her to be my girlfriend. There was protest from one mutual friend when we made our plans to date known, and it caused us some grief; but we moved past the issues involved, and started dating. She was by my side during that first Kelly Clarkson concert, and we sang every song together.

She was there for me when I lost several of those jobs. She attended that single’s ward with me, though we were paired off together, and I was proud to display my love and affection for her. I kept a secret inside me, however, because of my attractions to men. I still desired her, but I also wanted to experience the other world of homosexuality; I was intimate with men many times while she and I were together. I found out later that she suspected I was gay, but she never mentioned it to me directly. She allowed me to wait until I was ready to tell her.

She was the one who told me about the nursing assistant school, which was owned and operated by a family friend of hers; she even came to some of the classes with me. She helped me study and fill out and practice my flash cards. Indeed, she was involved with so much of my life. She was my best friend. After months of knowing her, taking trips together, and becoming intimately connected in so many ways, I knew that I loved her—I had fallen in love with Danielle. I felt like she could be the woman I could marry. But I was still conflicted in my sexuality and wasn’t ready to give up my sexual encounters with men, which I felt were necessary to fill a longstanding void in me and alleviate my psychological turmoil.

Even on the night I went to my neighborhood church building to confess to my Bishop that I was gay and sexually active, she was there to support me; though she knew nothing except that I wanted to make some changes in my life that would require confession. She gave me a note of encouragement to take with me on my walk to the church, which I read just before I entered the building; it brought stinging tears to my eyes. 

On a drive alone up the canyon one night, my admission to
Danielle that I was gay finally came, and not to her surprise.
A few months after the meeting with my Bishop, I told Danielle, too, that I was gay, and confessed every act of indiscretion I had committed while dating her. That was September 2006, and we drove up the canyon together just to be alone for the occasion. It was more of a funny thing for us, as close as we were at that point. We laughed about the odd and crazy experiences I had had, and about how she had really known all along, and was just waiting for me to be ready to tell her.

Just as I can’t really tell where my romantic relationship with Danielle began, I can’t really tell where it started to end, either; but end it did. As we attended the single’s ward together, she was introduced to other men, and I was at that time deciding that I, too, wanted to date a man monogamously. We were the best of friends still, and occasionally kissed each other, but there was no real definition to our relationship any longer. Things between us had evolved, and they would never be the same. 

She confessed that she liked some of the guys in the ward, and I expressed how much I wanted to start dating men myself. She was shy, and I did my best to encourage her to flirt and show interest in other men. I still was in love with her, and I didn’t expect my encouragement to lead her into the arms of another man. But I also couldn’t expect her to wait for me to figure out whether or not I was happy dating men and possibly return to her if I wasn’t. 

Some bridges were burned between Danielle and I; but we
never completely lost our powerful connection to each other.
As my relationship with my boyfriend began and ended within three months (and I even introduced him to Danielle once), I desired to return to the church and back to Danielle. But her closeness with one particular man had grown stronger during that time, and they had declared themselves a couple.  My feelings told me that that man was not good for her, but I wasn't sure if it was just because I selfishly wanted to keep her as my own.   I remember standing before both of them on one occasion, outside a church during a single’s dance, crying almost uncontrollably and begging Danielle to leave the other man and be with me. The man knew that she loved me, and said so, trying to console me; Danielle confirmed her love for me, but told me gently that dating her new lover was the path she wanted to take then. I left their presence devastated.

Eventually Danielle would marry that man; then in a few years, they would also divorce. I continued down the path that I had chosen, progressing in the gospel, and making lasting changes in my life after experiencing so much difficulty. Danielle wasn’t living far away, and we were still best friends. But our time together became shorter and less frequent. The enjoyment and pleasure of her company seemed to be only a glimmer of the bright shining romance that we shared that summer of 2005. And though our relationship would never really be the same again, sometimes talking to her or seeing her makes me feel like nothing has changed. 

Danielle is still the one person, besides probably my mother, who knows me best—all my likes, dislikes, favorites, faults, skills, abilities, traits, feelings, emotions, experiences, tastes, talents, and all the rest. She’s still the person who can laugh with me about things that were funny to us five, seven, or nine years ago. She’s still the one woman whom I can look in the eye and honestly feel that, had circumstances been a bit different, I could have made her my wife. And though we don’t get together often, she is still my best friend, and the only woman I have ever truly been in love with.

The poem I wrote for Danielle, about our changing love,
still reminds me of what we could have had together.
Not a tenth of my legacy of friendship and courtship with Danielle can be told here; but I hold it all my heart. And all of what we went through together has built me into the man I am now, in many ways. I’m not sure if it is a good or a bad thing, but Danielle is the pattern to which I compare all other women nowadays, if and when I date them. All I know is that I would want any woman who would become my wife to be just like Danielle: My best friend in the whole world, the one I can laugh with, cry with, and the one I desire to be with forever.

Once, Danielle asked me if I would write a poem for her. I don’t normally accept such requests, because inspiration for writing isn’t something I can force. But when things started getting rocky between us, and emotions were high, some inspiration did come to me, and I wrote a poem for Danielle. It was a May evening, and there was a soft rain pour outside, which started the pattern that repeats in the verses. 

It was not the romantic sonnet that perhaps she and I had hoped it would be, but it was meaningful and accurate of our relationship. It remains one of my favorite free-form poems that I’ve ever written, and a beautiful portrayal of two lovers drifting apart, but not forgetting each other as they embark on their individual journeys.




Not the Only Thing

~

Raindrops are not the only things falling today—
I look into your eyes and can see the tears you are holding back.

The color of my eyes seems to reflect my somber emotions.

Love is not the only thing I feel for you—
The frustration and pain I possess condenses in my eyes; it’s so unusual to me.

Time becomes almost still as a single tear falls;
My imagination magnifies the sound as it meets the pavement; it pierces my thoughts.

I am not the only one who is alone here—
My offering to you lies coldly on the ground, unnoticed.

You turn away, but don’t seem to want to go;
If I reach out, will you take my hand?

I fear we are so far away that no one can save us.

Our moments together are not the only things being wasted—
Your hope for a better day waits upon my ultimate decision;

My serenity lies only in you.

We are heading for unknown destinations, both not knowing what may become of us;
But I hope you can see me there on the horizon.

The sun descends upon who we once were, 
setting the firmament aglow with orange and red;

But the sky is not the only thing burning tonight—
Already abandoned bridges are aflame in the darkness,
The light of them guiding us on journeys down diverging paths.

I know I must leave, but I do not know where I’m going;
My stubbornness enshrouds all my doubts and gives me false hope.

But I am not the only one who is uncertain of my future—
You continue to run from everything that you know is right, 
determined to reach happiness.

Can’t you see that we are both lost, slaves to our own indecisiveness?

But I know, even now, that our hearts will lead us to each other again.

I hope to find myself out there, though I’m not sure if it will really happen.

But if I do find something more that this life can offer,
How much will it really matter if you’re not here to share it with?

A beloved friend is not the only thing I would lose if you left now—
But if you go, you will take my whole heart with you.

~

- Wade A. Walker -
May 21, 2006


Danielle and Wade — Summer 2005
~

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Saturday, February 15, 2014

When a Man Loves a Woman

Emotions run deeply in me, and I am very
sensitive to an array of feelings.
I feel like I have a great capacity for emotions. There are some emotions that I experience more strongly or more often, and others that I don’t encounter much at all. For example, I tend to succumb to sympathy and empathy for others, especially those who have apparent physical challenges or hindrances. My heart automatically hurts for people who seem to struggle with disabilities or misfortune, and I’m always left feeling like I wish I could do something to make things better for them. 

Also, I don’t typically become outwardly angry; confrontation makes me terribly uncomfortable, even when I’m not directly involved. And because of my passive-aggressive nature, I usually keep to myself when I get frustrated or upset, until the feelings pass or I have a chance to vent my emotions to a third party. Sometimes I feel as though I have more sensitive receptors for emotions. Things that would mildly bother some might be tremendously hurtful to me; or things that would normally put the average person in a good mood can leave me feeling absolutely elated.

I learned the emotion of love from the amazing
women in my life, particularly my mother.
Love is one of those emotions that I have always had an abundance of. Between family and friends, especially particular women like my mother and paternal grandmother, I have never had to be without exceptional loving support and care in my life. Affection has always been an important way of showing love in my family, especially kisses and hugs; friends sometimes tease me for the fact that kissing on the lips is normal in my family, at least with female family members. My mother, my grandmother, and even one aunt have always greeted me and parted ways with a kiss on the lips, even now that I am well into adulthood. For my three older brothers, it is the same. To others it is awkward and abnormal; to me, it has always been the sweetest form of love and affection.
Aside from family, good friends have long been sources of love and caring in my life. It wasn’t until junior high that I feel like my friendships from school began to transition into personal relationships outside of the classroom. Many of my most enduring relationships that I still have today began in classrooms and other school activities. 

Crushes and infatuations with both girls and
boys started early for me.
The first crush I ever had on anyone was a girl with whom I attended first grade. I was infatuated with her. I still remember a dream I had about her one night; we were on the playground at my elementary school. We ran off together and hid under an outdoor staircase and shared a brief, innocent kiss. I woke up wishing that it had really been true. However, other crushes that I had at that time (around seven years-old) were usually on young celebrities—but they were all boys. Young movie stars, mostly, whose films I had seen and enjoyed. I began to obsess over many of these boys. I admired their talents and their looks; that’s when I really remember noticing an attraction to other boys’ facial features.

Looking back, I think early sexual involvement with boys my own age who lived in my neighborhood had triggered such same-sex attractions in me. The details of the beginnings of those behaviors are vague, and I don’t remember if I was the initiator or if someone else was. I knew that my parents and the parents of the boys with whom I did such things would be upset if they found out (and a few times they did), but to me they weren’t abnormal behaviors; I actually liked it, and I often sought opportunities to experiment with my and other curious boys’ bodies. I noticed boys, and even grown men more often after that, and was drawn to them in emotional and sexual ways. It wasn’t until I got older that I began to recognize what such attractions implied—a separate orientation altogether, different from all other people, one that I realized didn’t fit in with the rest of the world’s expectations of normal feelings or behavior.

I felt more comfortable around girls than
I did boys; like I could be myself.
As early pornography exposure turned to an addiction that fueled unhealthy sexual appetites and habits, crushes and infatuation with boys and girls became more intense. I was highly attracted to many boys and girls in my school; with the boys, my attractions were strictly carnal, lustful, and emphasized by a desire to act out sexually with them. I took immediate notice of the boys who were more handsome and good-looking, and they were the targets of my erotic thoughts; sexual fantasies were common place during those years. With boys my age, I felt inadequate and inconsistent as I constantly tried to act in a way where I could be measured according to masculine standards and expectations, wherein I always failed.

Girl crushes and attractions were simpler, characterized by feelings of belonging, relation, and understanding; I could act like myself around girls because I felt more comfortable doing things that were considered to be more feminine, and that was okay with them. I admired girls for their talents and personalities, but there was no sexual attraction at all, and certainly no erotic fantasies involving girls. With girls I felt wanted and accepted, and my own personal talents like humor, kindness, and sincerity were able to shine through and were appreciated.

My love for girls began to grow,
while with boys I could only lust.
By my high school years, my admiration of my female friends eventually crossed the line into my first loves. I loved them romantically, affectionately, and emotionally. They were confidants and supporters. Attractions to their minds, personalities, and spirits shifted into physical attractions that in previous years I hadn’t experienced much, since a natural inclination towards women was not (and still isn’t) as normal for me. The boys, however, remained immediately attractive in every physical way, and the subjects of my fantasies. But I had never been close enough to any attractive boy long enough to discover if he was also beautiful on the inside. Very few boys seemed to accept me as I was, and the ones who did were typically not the boys I felt the most physically drawn to.

Actually, I was doing it all backwards: I was getting to know girls on a deeper, more emotionally intimate level first, while physical attraction and true emotions followed after; with boys, I was awkward and struggled to see past their handsome looks and muscular bodies long enough to actually find out if I was even compatible with them as a friend. So, the boys remained sexy, but mysterious and elusive—strange creatures that were so different from me, despite the autonomy in our chromosomes and anatomy. Girls however, were the entire package—beautiful, smart, funny, sexy, sweet, and everything I felt like I could ever want in a relationship—a relationship that I felt could last and really mean something. And perhaps unlike other boys, my goal was not to run the figurative bases with the girls I loved; I wasn’t interested in what they were like underneath their clothes.

Even though I hugged, cuddled, and even kissed
some of my female friends, we never dated.
There were several girls during those years in high school, and the years following, who I truly had intense and loving feelings for. Because of the perfect match I felt we were as a pair, I would’ve loved to date them and make them mine—and I can’t say I didn’t try at some point with a few of them. But I knew (and they insisted) that all we would ever be was simply friends, and to this day, we are—even the best of friends, who have stood the test of time together. One or two girls I came very close to dating, and having as my girlfriends. Our relationships progressed from long hugs, into cuddling, even kissing a few times, and saying “I love you” constantly. But ultimately even those relationships weren’t meant to be anything more that lasting and beloved friendship. 

To this day, with many of these girls whom I truly loved, the emotion is still there. I could still see myself being with them, if things had ever happened differently. I can still feel the love that I had for them all those years ago, but with time I have seen how that love has gradually been molded into something more poignant and beautiful and deep—something beyond friendship—something eternal, and perhaps more meaningful than if we had been lovers.

It was important for me to learn that
I could romantically love a woman.
To some extent, this may all seem like normal boyish emotion—something all males went through at that age. But to a boy like me, who from five years-old onward knew that he was different because he liked other boys more than he should, these emotions are significant. Now, as a grown man who is more or less openly gay, I have accepted the fact that I may or may not ever feel emotion and love strongly enough to make a relationship with a woman last a lifetime—even an eternity. I may or may not ever find the girl to whom I can propose marriage, and make it actually work. But if the love for a woman has touched me so powerfully before, it can come again. And when it does, I will be open to accepting it. Most times I wait patiently; other days, loneliness can creep in. But I know that I have the capacity to love a woman, despite my strong attractions to men. And that gives me hope that maybe, somewhere, there is a girl out there for me.

Here is a poem that I once wrote about a girl whom I was very in love with. I wanted her to be my girlfriend more than I desired anything at that time. She was afraid that dating would complicate our unique friendship and possibly cause damage to it, so we never did get together. But she was right to choose as she did, because she remains to this day one of the best friends I have ever had—one who knows me inside and out, better than many people do. Her love for me, and my love for her, as it is now, is something I would never give up or replace with anything.  This poem reminds me of the powerful emotion that is present when a man loves a woman.




My Heart

~

My heart makes its journey
from my chest to my throat,
and then back down again.

An up-beat tempo
rattles my ribcage
as it beats furiously for you.

You look into my eyes
and smile laughingly,
and my heart leaps;

I gaze back into yours
and see into forever—
the soft hazel hue
reflects your genuine nature.

My heart overflows with joy
at the sound of your voice—
only the enlightenment of your laughter
exceeds the beauty of your song.

You occupy my thoughts,
lost in the corridors of my mind,
possessing only the key to my heart.

I hold your warm body in my arms
and listen to your gentle breaths;

My chest rises and falls with yours,
while underneath my flesh
my heart melts away into ecstasy
and flows into my soul.

My affection for you blossoms
each time I hear those words
pass through your lips:

I love you,” you say,
and at that moment
my heart fills with excitement.

Your embrace ignites my bosom with passion;
blissful emotion fuels the flame
which burns in my heart.

At the moment you pull away,
almost unwillingly,
I go cold—

My heart frozen in a state of longing,
With only the warmth of your tender touch
to keep me alive.

I soar through the unique wonderland
that is your personality;

My already-frantic heart quivers with amusement
because of your matchless style.

Images of you circle like a whirlwind in my head,
Mixing with the pounding sound
coming from within my chest.

Time slows as I listen to the rhythm,
and your name repeats with every beat
of my enamored heart.

~

- Wade A. Walker -
November 30, 2004

To read more about why a gay man would
choose to be with a woman, try my post,

"The Road Less Traveled By."
~

** NOTE: I share my writing on this site trusting that visitors are scrupulous enough not to plagiarize. If you'd like to share this poem or other content with others, please share the URL to the entire blog post. Please DO NOT copy and paste any text for personal use without written permission. As the original writer of the content herein, I’d like the credit for these pieces to remain mine. **

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Of Good Courage

I always prefer a fresh beginning to implement
new goals.
A member of my extended family recently confessed on Facebook that she was an “all-or-nothing person.” There were many who spoke up to declare the same about themselves, including me. She was referring to the many New Year’s resolutions that she wanted to implement in the coming 365 days. She asked others for suggestions on how they stick to their annual goals of focus, especially with an attitude of black-and-white perfection like hers. I could only lament as I empathized with her; personally, if I can’t be a top performer in any one of my endeavors, my first instinct is to give up completely. Even worse, I so often let fear of failure (whether along the way or as my end result) stop me from even pursuing goals to begin with.

With the New Year here, so suddenly as it always seems to me, many friends and family are using social media to toss around ideas and philosophies about life and where we need to be as individuals, families, communities, nations, and as a world. Many are taking time to reflect on the up and downs of 2013, and then setting a course correction for the journey through 2014. I am following suit, but not for anyone else; most of the changes I want to make happen this year are all for my own wellbeing and personal benefit as an individual. I am also going about it more privately, telling few about my goals in advance—probably so nobody has to know if and when I fail.

My all-or-nothing think patterns and fear of
failure are an explosive combination.
Once, a while back, I read through some of my old homework that I’ve saved as I’ve attended college. One response paper from a health class was really interesting to read again. I had to respond about how I could improve in all the areas of my overall health during the four months of the semester—physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually. The instructor wanted us to set small goals in each aspect of health, but to make one area of health our focus, and then try to make a behavior change in that area. I chose to focus on my mental and spiritual health.

My mental health goal was to seek more motivation and resolve in attending my classes, not procrastinating, and completing my assignments on time; each of these things I have struggled with in college, with the roots probably going back to some bad experiences in high school to which I never adjusted well. Daily I have been affected by these issues, even when not in school. Jobs have been difficult since I graduated from high school because of my apparent inability to care about whether or not I show up, and my tendency to crush under stress and responsibility.

Even though it took me longer than expected, I
still reached my scripture-reading goal.
My second goal was to improve my spiritual health by reading more from the scriptures and saying my prayers more often. I made a goal to read from the scriptures every night or every morning, which ever was more convenient on a day-to-day basis, but at least once a day. I didn’t reach my goal by the end of that year like I wanted to, but I did reach my goal of reading the Book of Mormon front to back in the early months of the subsequent year. Through diligence, I was also able to make praying a more ritualistic part of my daily life; I prayed on my knees at my bedside every night before bed, and sometimes in the morning, too, if I remembered before I left the house. Since then I have been able to make prayer a daily habit in my life, and my communion with God has strengthened me immensely in many aspects of my overall health.

My successes don't have to look like
someone else's successes.
At the end of the semester, we had to write another response paper reflecting back on the health goals we made, what our experiences were, and if we felt we achieved the goals in the manner we wanted. Surprisingly, though I had not met my mental health goals as well I had wanted—I still missed a lot of days of class that semester, and put off a lot of things to the last minute—I nevertheless learned a lot about myself and why I behaved the way I do. I felt like my perfectionism in everything could be just as much of a curse in some areas of my life, as it was a blessing in other aspects. I understood better that my successes didn’t have to look like other people’s successes, and that my failures were truly better for me when they were learned from and then forgotten from week to week, instead of harbored and dwelt upon for unnecessary lengths of time.

In my final behavior change paper, I came up with a unique analogy for what I had learned about the struggles I had been through that semester, and that I would likely go through every day in my life from then on. Here is what I wrote:

          “We are not expected to complete the challenges of life by blazing triumphantly across the finish line on a majestic white stallion, clothed in a spotless, regal robe, with a glimmering crown of achievement resting upon our unfurrowed brows.
          “Sometimes the only way we can make it to the finale is by crawling low through the dregs and refuse of mortality on raw hands and knees, bearing the weight of our long venture upon our twisted backs. And so often, there is no royal welcome—no fanfare to announce the feat which to us is so monumental.
          “It is, in fact, when the self-satisfaction of personal accomplishment and the promise of greater enlightenment fuel the body and mind through each endeavor worthy of our every strength that we find ourselves pressing forward to journey’s end.”

In comparing life to a race, sometimes we can only
make it to the finish line by travelling slowly, but consistently.
I wouldn’t say that my lesson learned during that semester was utterly life-changing, but it did strike a chord with me. It helped me realize that, very often, success is not reached in a perfect manner, free from pain, struggle, or hard, dirty work. Very rarely do we look over our shoulders after completing the journey to a higher plane in life and say, “Wow! That was easy!” More often, I think we feel exhausted, drained, and humbly but honestly glad that it’s over and that we made it at least that far. And most likely, it will not be our last time making such a trek; if we find ourselves unhappy with where we are or who we’ve become, we should naturally seek to better our circumstances and move forward and upward to greater strength and enlightenment, and we will do so many times in our lives.

I also learned that living my life for the rewards I received from others was not the way to go about things. I couldn’t perform like a trained seal in order to please my parents, my friends, my teachers, my counselors, or anyone else. I had to stop living for the praises of the men and women who surrounded me, even when their encouragement and support were genuine and sincere. I needed to learn that doing my best for myself was what was required for ultimate happiness. I had to center my pride, satisfaction, and the joys of success upon my own efforts and abilities, and be willing to celebrate my own power in meeting my responsibilities. More importantly, I had to learn to rid myself of the guilt and shame that I was heaping upon myself by supposing that I had let everyone down. I needed to learn that I was the most important person in my life, that I was the one who would be most affected by my behavior, and that truly loving myself meant that it was important not to let myself down more than anything.

Even taking the same steps every day can count
for something if you are reaching a higher plane.
Once again, and for the first time in nearly three years, I am enrolled in school in an attempt to complete my higher education. And so, these lessons of the past are ever more relevant as I face some of the same challenges all over again. So far my New Year’s goals are going smoothly. With some, there haven’t been any mistakes. With others, my track record for the year is not perfect, but not yet ruined or even tarnished. The overall goal with all of these smaller goals is to rise up when I fall, and carry on. To not dwell or sulk for unnecessary amounts of time on mishaps once they’ve occurred; to be better today than I was yesterday, and to be better tomorrow than I was today. Daily improvement is my resolution this year, even if the successes are few and small, and the rewards are celebrated only by me. 

Some days will be easy; others will be hard. And my resolve to be my best self will be challenged more than once, I’m sure. But as long as I am trying to be a little bit better each day, and accomplishing something—anything—that I didn’t accomplish the day before, then I will be more comfortable with my shortcomings and temporary failings and more willing and quick to overlook them. I also know that I can’t expect to be perfect every day, or any day. Some days I might just barely make it, other days I may only make it halfway. But where I find quiet courage to do it all over again with each rising of the sun, I will also find peace, hope, and joy in living. 

Indeed, my mantra during this time in my life has been, and will continue to be this:  
          “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day, saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’”
                  ~ Mary Anne Radmacher

I relate so much to the Cowardly Lion in "The Wizard of Oz."
It was not until he went looking for his courage that he
discovered he had had it within him all along.
~

**NOTE: My personal inspiration for daily improvement, consistence, and courage to try comes from many recently published sources. See, for example, some of the following:

~ President Lorenzo Snow, Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Lorenzo Snow (2012), 93-105 (Chapter 6).
~ President Thomas S. Monson, “Living the Abundant Life,” Ensign, Jan. 2012, 4-5.
~ President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “The Best Time to Plant a Tree,” Ensign, Jan. 2014, 4-6.