Life goes on

It’s been a while, but not much has changed.

I had a wonderful three week holiday with a friend in Asia over the summer break. I’ve never been to Asia so it was great to see. We visited Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Myanmar, Singapore and Bali.

It was interesting to see people living in undeveloped countries. I was challenged by the way they live. To me the amount of work some of them need to do for little reward. Here were people spending all day trying to sell their food in the market or standing outside tourist attractions selling trinkets or cooking over a hot stove on the side of the street late into the night. From where I sit it all seems like a lot of work as if their life was work. Yet I complain and am unsatisfied with what I have in life. But really I’m incredibly blessed as I work a job that uses my mind and challenges me and has further opportunities available. I have leisure time and money to spend to make the most of it. For example by traveling overseas.

Otherwise things are pretty much the same. I keep getting more involved in church and might be made a deacon soon. I also got to preach again. My garden is growing and I spend some of my weekend with family and friends.

SSA is the same as well. I did have a ‘moment’ at church on Sunday when everyone was in families while they took communion and I felt like pretty much the only single person, which isn’t quite true. Then the moment was gone and I felt fine again..

Sunday arvos are the hardest

(arvo=afternoon)

THIS weekend was tough. The 20 minutes an acquaintance spent trying to find me a girlfriend was a bad start and it went downhill from there. Afterwards I was chatting to a friend whom I told about my SSA nine years ago about this experience and he still doesn’t get it. Not that it’s his fault. I’ve never really unpacked what it’s like to be me dealing with this and he hasn’t asked. This was followed by a stressful morning at church on the sound desk and then all afternoon and evening by myself. Something that happens a bit, but usually I’m so busy every other day that it’s a break rather than a reminder of being alone.

The hardest was the uncomfortable 20 seconds of silence after my friend asked me if I had some attraction to women these days and I said no. I don’t blame him or me. It’s just hard. I want to be understood; known; loved. But I’m not very good at self-disclosing or discussing my internal issues at a level that other people can understand. I feel silly and self-conscious and pained. Saying ‘sometimes Sunday afternoons are hard’ makes me feel weak and needy as if I want people to text me or something and invite me to do something. But I don’t want them to feel an obligation just because I’ve put that out there. Then I have expectations that aren’t met about the level of understanding other people should have of me and it’s just hard and it makes me feel it’s easier and safer to do nothing.

The solution that tempts me is a coming out. Saying ‘I’m gay’ and while I don’t act on it it’s what I am. To acquaintances; to my church and to anyone else who asks me why I don’t have a girlfriend. It feels like a relief. Someone at church on Sunday prophesised that the walls of Jericho are going to come down for some people and I feel like this is my wall. It stops me from being free and me. I feel the wall is me.

Yet I worry it could offer a false hope. Being out promises a deep kind of being known that isn’t going to be the actual outcome. It tempts me with this, but more likely is not having this secret as an excuse anymore and still feeling the same issues underneath. Maybe there is greater hope in further transparency and explanation with the friends and family I have already told.

As I was lying on my couch on Sunday afternoon, I wondered if my desire to help others with SSA is because the expression of their issues makes me feel known. Like I’ve found a kindred spirit. Perhaps that’s why I sometimes wonder if so and so if gay and how I could help them. Perhaps I wouldn’t want to help them so much if I felt known and then I would be able to help them more.

My comfort on the weekend was a documentary that Jeff linked to: http://www.compellinglovefilm.com/film.asp About 10 people share their stories relating to sexual identity and struggle over 90 minutes and it was soothing and calming to hear that I’m not the only one again. That this is a tough walk for many people.

Thankfully the afternoon didn’t end in porn or unhelpful emails to people I used to know, but I’m still chewing it over.

Really what I need is to head back to God. I feel like part of me is resisting throwing myself into Him again and saying ‘I want you and I trust you’.

The best time of the year

I feel as if I always say that it’s the best time of the year, but it always is. Things are good. It’s two years since I moved here and I feel more connected than I have in a while. Today anyway; when I posted three weeks ago I wasn’t feeling it. I heard the other day that you need to know someone for a couple of years before you can feel ‘close’ to them. Exceptions of course, but it feels true in my life.

Preaching at church last week went really well. One skill I’ve developed through teaching high school is being able to do some reading and thinking and then practise and then be able to pretty much repeat those thoughts word for word when presenting. It helps with audience connection being able to do it from memory.

I got so much positive feedback; it was crazy. Compliments always make me uncomfortable. I would hope I do a good job after spending numerous hours each week teaching for the past three years. Then I wonder; was it good because people had low expectations? I think too much sometimes. It is a good reminder why research says that praise is only effective for student learning if it is specific. I think non-general praise is good for socio-emotional reasons though.

Other things that have happened since last time include getting back on top of masturbation and enjoying life.

Awkward dot points

– I’ve been feeling a little bit awkward and odd lately. I don’t know. The Year 12s (seniors) graduated this week and one of the things they always mention is that there are some awkward moments with me. I don’t really care, I’m not a teenager who is concerned about how I’m coming across all the time and the things they find annoying At the same time; I don’t want to be the awkward guy. It just runs in my family. My dad is awkward and so am I. I can tell when he does something awkward and yet I catch myself doing the same thing. In this way it’s more like a someone who laughs a lot or something and it’s not actually caused by social anxiety or something. Sometimes my awkwardness comes from self doubt. I’m not entirely comfortable or confident in myself or what I’m saying (ie when I’m teaching something new or trying to explain something complicated and that comes out in halting sentences or odd pauses.) Dealing with teenagers just has a way of creating awkward moments (ie put your phone away! I’m adding the due date to my calendar (doubtful), uh….okay…hurry up) I don’t want to be those ridiculous teachers that insist on being firm and right all the time. I guess sometimes I just wish I was more likeable and easy going and enjoyable to be around.

– I really want to draw close to God. I feel distant and I realise I’m the one who moved and stopped praying so much and reading the word, but it’s a hard thing to get back into. I used to be so disciplined with this stuff.

– I’m going to preach at my church in 1.5 weeks. It will be on 1 Corinthians 13. The love passage… I think I’ll focus on the love that Paul is showing the church in the midst of their wanderings. I haven’t preached in years. It’s something I stopped doing when I felt like I was sinning too much and felt guilty about preaching. I’m excited to be back. Last time I preached I wasn’t a teacher yet and so it will be interesting to see how it goes now ‘teaching’ groups of people is my thing.

– I’ve got into a bad funk with masturbation. I’ve been doing it pretty regularly for a couple of months. (Only with porn a couple of times). It. Has. Got. To. Stop.

– It’s the best time of the year here. My garden looks amazing. On the weekend I had some family, and then the next day, friends over for meals. It was wonderful to sit and enjoy each other’s company. It’s also the time of the year where I’m not overwhelmed with marking. For the next four weeks I can pretty much keep my work between 8-5pm every day, which is a nice change. I just need to make it productive, which is a good challenge.

– The guy I thought might be gay from my church isn’t. I don’t think. Some of the signs were there until they weren’t and he was staring at a new girl in church off and on all sermon, haha. I don’t think I’m very good at spotting gay people and usually I don’t really care, which takes away any incentive.

Come so far

IT’S school holiday time again! Ah, the life of a high school teacher although it is much needed and I always feel like I am falling over the finish line.

Thanks for your thoughts and support on my last post. Since I wrote it, the guy has been pretty much out of my head. It’s nice to feel free from that. It’s crazy how just sharing some thoughts on the net and with people I know can be so healing. There must be a verse for that.

Life goes on otherwise. I love this time of the year. It’s warming up and my garden is coming back to life and people are in a good mood and I know my students quite well by this time and sometimes class is almost like hanging out with casual acquaintances. (Who of course then feel overly familiar and push a little too far and find out that I’m still a teacher, haha. Oh well.)

So to get to the title of my post…there is a 20-year-old or so guy at my church who I think could be gay. It’s an outside chance kind of thing. I wouldn’t be surprised either way, but I was trying to practise empathy and I was thinking about what it was like for me back then. It was probably around the hardest year of my life. And, I was wondering about what it would be like for this guy if he was gay and it was such a revelation of how much I have come as I had to actually think about it to try to access the memory of what it was like. Even then, it felt like I was thinking about something that is so far removed from my life. Change comes.

One thing I haven’t really improved on is love. To my shame my thoughts about this guy were more as if I was in a mystery/suspense drama thinking is he/isn’t he and not about what it would actually be like to be him and how I might be able to support him if he is gay and if I were to find out for sure.

For some reason in the past couple of years I became a lot more inward focused than I used to be. I don’t know why for sure. It’s something that hasn’t been good for me or the people around me and now I’m quite conscious of it; I’ll be trying to change that.

Come so far, but still so far to go in so many ways.

Can’t get him out of my head

I’ve got it bad for a boy (obviously actually a man, but boy sounds better, until I explain it, haha) Anyway, I don’t even know why I’m writing this. It is embarrassing. But maybe someone out there has some idea how to move on.

Back in xanga days, circa mid-2011, I started chatting with this same sex attracted guy and we got on well and then we became accountability partners, which meant we were communicating quite frequently, and then we started skyping quite frequently and we became good friends. Nothing weird; just good friends. Somewhere along the way it became something else to me. I didn’t have a crush on him. I didn’t want to get physical with him. But I cared a little bit more than I should have.

As time went on, a year or so, he became busier and he also became somewhat accepting of same sex relationships, so both the amount and duration of our contact decreased. This left me disappointed as I really did enjoy communicating with him. I am not someone who often meets a person and we just click and then talk for hours in free flowing conversation, but this guy was someone with whom five hours skyping felt like no effort.

Another year on and we stopped speaking to each other, which was about a year and a half ago. While I did a couple of things that weren’t helpful to the friendship, I felt that ultimately the reason he ‘choose to withdraw’ himself from my life as he put it, was because our divergent views on the acceptability of same sex relationships meant that we couldn’t sustain our friendship. We did discuss our views and each of us shared our opinions but neither of us was rude or disrespectful. (As an aside it is interesting that while people who come to support same sex relationships are meant to be the ‘open minded ones’, in my experience they are more often the ones to end or decrease friendship when their beliefs shift.) Further, I felt like he was almost looking for reasons to stop talking as he would bring up conversations or things I had said a year or two earlier, which he seemed to have no problem with at the time, and criticise them.

In the final six months of our friendship, I felt that we would stop being friends at some point. One day he sent me an email where he pretended to have a boyfriend to test my reaction and also asked me questions that he knew I would answer and later he said he was doing it to ‘test me’. I realised at that point it was all over bar the shouting as doing that was not the action of someone who genuinely wants to find good in another.

I don’t want to make it sound like it was all his fault or anything. We both had the wrong attitudes and said things that we shouldn’t have along the way.

And so we stopped being friends. He defriended me on facebook and skype. It was sad and disappointing because, as I said I got on really well with him, but our friendship was obviously unsustainable although I did hope that we could stay connected on social media so I could see what was happening in his life.

So here’s the problem in the present day. Sometimes I still think about him and there is emotion there. Sometimes, if I’m not particularly busy, and I hold onto the thought of him, I can think about him, in a totally platonic way, for several minutes. And there is still emotion there and it feels like a hook is stuck in part of me that despite our non-communication has not been released.

It frustrates me. I don’t want to think about him at all. I don’t want to feel anything when I do think about him, but time so far has not removed the emotion. I think to myself ‘a year and a half should be enough to not care anymore; to not wonder how he is or what’s happening in his life’.

Does anyone out there have a solution to this? Is there something I need to do?

It makes me feel odd that I still think of him quite often. I have met (literally and via skype) many guys from xanga and other places who deal with SSA and have never had any problem with this kind of thing. If we skyped heaps that was great and if we stopped skyping as much that was cool and if we didn’t talk for six months, I would miss them but I might only wonder how they were once or twice in the whole time. Yet with this guy it’s totally different.

Reset

My three weeks in the USA in late June and early July was a great time! Food, friends and fun was what it was all about.

Driving from Detroit to Chicago with a mate for a week had to be the highlight. I loved spending time with him as well as eating some great American burgers and fries and slow cooked meat and seeing some new sites. The most memorable day was the one when we picked up a hippie hitchhiker then I got pulled over for speeding and then we attempted a 10 mile mountain bike trailer. It was my first ever speeding ticket. It turns out they do care about speeding in the USA despite everyone going about 15mph over the speed limit on the freeway. As always a bike ride is a great way to deal with the frustration and it was a good challenge to ride around lakes in American forest, which is very different to Australian.

I feel like the speeding ticket is a metaphor. Here is me that never speeds and generally doesn’t do anything wrong and the one time that I do, I get caught! I probably sound bitter, but I feel like I’ve done the right thing for years and years and there is never any internal reward for that.

After the drive, I hung out in Chicago for about a week and a half. It was a good time. Unfortunately a friend I was originally going to meet there for a few days was stormed in on the east coast just before independence day, but it was fun otherwise. I love slowly exploring a city and getting to know it inside out, so it was good. Chicago was such an easy city to get around in and had some great neighbourhoods.

On the way back to Australia I spent two days with a friend in LA. It was such a chilled beautiful time of hanging out and taking it slowly. It was very therapeutic.

One of my favourite memories was reading Matt Chandler’s Recovering Redemption as I walked around the Chicago Botanic Gardens. I sat down and read a chapter then I walked to another part of the garden and read another chapter and so on. It was a great reminder about the basics of the faith and how the gospel changes at and how it works out in day to day life as I was surrounded by God’s creation on a beautiful warm day.

The holiday acted as a great life reset after I got pretty exhausted towards the end of the school term and had been sinning pretty frequently. Things are the same as before I went, but something’s changed and I’m thinking a lot more positively about things in general and I’m doing a lot better with temptation.

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