WOW! It’s been a month since my coming out post. It’s hard to believe that it’s been that long already… on the other hand, it’s hard to believe it’s only been a month. It’s certainly been an interesting month. In addition my SSA missionary experience with Steve, I had two other SSA missionary experiences (I’ll probably write about those later). I also had the opportunity to participate in the Voices of Hope project this past weekend. WOW! What an experience! I felt so jumbled and that my video isn’t coherent, but I guess that’s what post-production is for. I also had the opportunity to attend the conference that AMCAP (Association of Mormon Counselors and Psychotherapists) put on in Provo. Such an amazing experience! I brought Steve and Garrett and both were able to learn a lot.
I’ve been reflecting a bit in the last week or so of how things have changed in the past month. I’ve had some emotional episodes, but in general I feel that I’m happier. Why is that? What’s made the difference? Honestly, the answer I’ve found is authenticity. I think this point is really well said in Tyler Moore’s story “Being my True Self” in Ty Mansfield’s book “Voices of Hope”:
“As scary as increased honesty and openness have been, it has felt great not to have to carry the load by myself. So great, in fact, that I actually started to have feelings of really liking myself, something previously totally foreign to me. Initially, I associated those feelings of self-acceptance with finally accepting that I was gay, but I’ve realized over time this was naïve. I now know that the reason I started liking myself is because I was being honest and appropriately authentic, and I felt support and love from others in that authenticity.”
I can really relate to that. I’ll be honest; October 20 (when I did my “coming out”) was the scariest day of my life. Did I expect negative responses? No, not necessarily, but putting yourself out there that much gives you what some of my friends would call a “vulnerability hangover” (basically, being so emotionally drained from divulging deep personal information, making you feel vulnerable). However, as I’ve seen and heard the responses to that post, I have felt loved and respected. Like Tyler Moor said, I feel that I’ve been able to like myself more by being able to be honest about myself and not hold back details about myself. And because I like myself more (though I still struggle with that at times) I’m happier.
I’m not saying that you should be public about all of your deep dark secrets, like I’ve been with my same-sex attraction, but I invite you to think about how you can be more authentic with the people around you. Reach out when you need help, be honest with your friends and family, BE YOURSELF. Rejoice in the good that you have and work on the stuff you don’t like. And above all else, remember that through the Atonement it gets better.