Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Journey To Discovering There is No Destination

Life is a process. And during that process we make shit loads of decisions and mistakes and changes. This weekend was rough for me. But let me supply a little background information first.

I grew up in a family that practiced no set religion. Never had a god to dictate when to eat or not eat or where to ask for help or who to pay money to. My family (mostly my loving mother and father) understood the importance of living freely and letting your soul meander as it wishes. I was taught from an early age to listen to what's inside. To pay attention to my body and follow my heart. If there were any kind of divine anything it was the earth spirit also known as nature. There is a lot of power in nature--trees, dirt, life. Maybe this is something entirely for another time, but hopefully this gives some sort of idea about my family life growing up.

When I came out to my family it went something like this:
Me: family, I've done a lot of soul-searching and feeling things out. After exploring my feelings I've reached a conclusion about a portion of my life and I'd like to tell you about it. I recognize that at any time I may or may not change my mind. I'm lesbian.
Family: Cool. (that's the gist of it anyway)

Coming out to my mom happened much earlier and it went like this (although it wasn't really coming out because I didn't know anything really):
Me (age 14): I don't think I like boys.
Mom: That's okay.  You don't have to. Hell, some girls like other girls.
Me: Actually...I think I might like Sabrina (girl next door, also my best friend at the time)
Mom: Oh, she's darling. Rybread, if you want to talk about things, we can. Although,  I don't know a damn thing about this and some of it scares me a little.
Me: Yeah, I think I'd like to talk about it.

And we talked about it. A little later Mom did some research and we talked some more.
A couple years later I had a sort-of girlfriend who I experimented with a little and Mom and I talked about it. Mom doesn't understand most things in my life, but she's always always been willing to ask questions and to listen and to try to understand what's going on with me on the inside, deep down.

Now, this weekend a lot of shit drudged up concerning family. Not mine (although my family also has shit moments). This time it was Addie's. Addie, if I haven't yet mentioned is the woman I'm in love with. The woman I'm living my life with. She grew up Mormon. Her family is very devout. They are what Addie says people like to call the "perfect" little family (although they'd argue about that). From my perspective they are blind assholes who can't see past their own noses. Now, don't get me wrong. I love her family, as people. I hate their religious excuses. From what I gather, silence is the basis of Mormonism.  If you don't talk about it then it doesn't exist. And if you just close your eyes then everything that isn't "right" and "perfect" will just go away. Addie and I have been together almost four years. She's never had an open conversation with her mom about her being lesbian or about our relationship. Her mom won't let it happen, even when Addie tries.

I'm really pissed off, and I want to blame someone or something because it seems like it's someone's fault that my beautiful girl cries on my face (and my pillow and her pillow and my shoulder and all over her own face) every time she has any interaction with her family.

I don't understand what she's feeling because I've never been there. My family doesn't have a religion saying that being gay is wrong. They don't have some secret code that says to stop loving someone just because they're different or because they don't follow some stupid system that may or may not lead them to heaven. Addie's family, on the other hand seems to think that the fact that she's with me is some kind of evil sin that is condemning her soul to hell or some shit. They used to all be one happy family loving each other and laughing together. Now, even if she laughs with them and seems to have a good time, she comes home and cries. Don't get me wrong. There's certainly nothing wrong with crying, but it hurts so fucking much to see my girl hurting. I want to slap her mom a good one and tell her to pull her head out of her ass just for one second so she can see her daughter--really see her. We're happy together. Addie is happy (aside from the family shit). I don't blame her mom... But, sometimes I do blame that damn church her mom belongs to (see, guys; sorry, Mormons).

When it's all said and done and Addie and I fall asleep after her cry session, I still always wake up in the morning with her next to me. We love each other more now than we ever did in the beginning--which we thought was a whole hell of a lot! We love making this journey together. And that's just it, regardless of family shit or people's ideas of what's coming in the afterlife or what destination we should be shooting for (heaven, maybe?) the only thing that matters is right now. There isn't a place or a goal or a stopping point to get to with life. It's about the mistakes, the hurting, the laughing, the crying. It's about long walks in the freezing cold, hot chocolate and a movie on the couch, late-night talks, and early morning giggles. The journey isn't about the where. It's about the now. I'm so lucky to have Addie as my partner for this awesome journey even if family sucks sometimes, and people can't get over themselves or their religions enough to love each other as human beings. I love being with my Addie.

Rybread Wisdom: The key to a wonderful relationship, as scary as it may seem sometimes, is communication. Guess it's about breaking the silence sometimes--it's about talking, even through the hard things like finances, or family problems, or shitty work days. The great thing though is you always get to talk about the fun things, and the weird people on the bus, and that adorable puppy with the bronze/sandy colored fur and the short legs. Love someone? TALK to them.


  1. Ry, I don't know you yet but I comment on these posts somewhat frequently, so I'll introduce myself and such. My username is L. Fauset because that's my favorite nickname from high school. My real name's Jen. I just graduated from BYU and I'm bisexual and active in the LDS church. That gives me a little perspective into both the LGBT world and the LDS one, so I hope I can say something helpful. First off, I'm terribly sorry that Addie's family has reacted the way they have. I'd cry too! And you're completely right: communication is the KEY to successful relationships. No battle.

    I really hope that Addie's mom can let herself have the conversation she needs to with Addie. I'm surprised that she's resisted that conversation for so long. And, I dunno. If Addie hasn't already tried a gazillion times, maybe writing her mom a letter could start things off? Sometimes writing can get things going... Not always though, and Addie's mom seems especially against talking about this. It's small comfort, but maybe she doesn't know what to say, or is afraid of saying the wrong thing. You're right about silence though and, whatever her reasons, Addie's mom isn't helping herself or Addie.

    Something that's been on my mind lately is that people seem to have a hard time coming to terms with another person's method for happiness. For those of us in the LDS church, it can be hard to understand the idea of happiness as separate from a destination (heaven) or from religious teachings. And for you and Addie, obviously happiness comes from your relationship, from the things you love in your life and in a particular moment. It comes from the things that really matter to you. I'm sure that Addie's family loves her, but don't know how to approach her relationship, and I hope they can learn to talk about things someday. Because silence pretty much never helps anything. But even if that never happens, I'm glad that Addie has you to talk to. Thanks for sharing this; it was a good reminder on communication. And, by the way, Rybread is an awesome nickname.

  2. Great post, Ry. You're right. All that we have is what's happening right now. And finding your happiness doesn't mean that everyone will be happy for you. In my experience, discovering what really makes you happy and following your heart generally come with mounds of disapproval from family and friends because you're not doing it THEIR way. It seems silly, really, that we can't just be happy for people because they're happy, and not because their happiness is the same as ours.

    I'd like to be able to say that someday Addie's family will open their eyes and see what they are missing, that they'll see how easy it would be to love, but I can't. Maybe they never will. But it sounds like you and Addie can follow your own happiness regardless, and that's cool. Really cool, in fact. I'm also gathering that Addie knows that she doesn't need her family's approval or their blessing to live her own truth, but it's probably still hard. You can hardly blame her really. Family is supposed to be the one place you can call safe, the one place you can expect love, and there is definitely a loss to be mourned when that doesn't happen. It's sad how we let religion stand in the way of love. Seems a little backwards, doesn't it?

  3. wow. crazy sad times. or maybe crazy happy times.

    Ry, I know that it's easy to blame a religion when it comes to things like this, particularly the Mormon religion since it's so prevalent in your life with Addie, but to show the flip side of things a little bit let me tell you about my mom. She's the most wonderful person in the world. I admire her more than anyone because she has a deep understanding of what her own religion is. Knowing my mom as well as I do and also having been an active member of the LDS church for such a long time, I wouldn't say that the Mormon church is the entirety of my mom's religion or spiritual belief, but she does have a very strong commitment to the LDS religion. I think what happens sometimes is people lose sight of the "basis" of religion, which, after taking a world religions class and studying over a dozen different religions, seems to be (at least in theory) love. My mom, despite her strong devotion to her church has never treated anyone differently because they choose something she wouldn't choose for herself. She will take anyone into her home and invite them for Christmas gatherings and even put them in the family drawing list for when we draw names. She gives gives gives to everyone around her and receives a lot of hate and rebuke when what she deserves is thanks and praise. A lot of people in the Mormon religion seem to get lost in simple "commandments" like keeping the sabbath day "holy" by not shopping or studying or doing anything on sunday, or by completely shunning anything that appears "evil" (such as coffee, tattoos, tobacco, or people who drink coffee, have tattoos, and smoke tobacco). The truth is most people get scared, like Jen said, and they pick the easy things to avoid and they stick hard to those, often losing sight of what the real purpose of life is--LOVE. I know all this from experience. As a teenager I got so wrapped up in the tiny little things about my religion and I judged everyone about all the mistakes they were making. I tried to boss people around and force them to do things my way--the Mormon way. But, all we can do is feel it out and try to understand people. Being lesbian has helped me see new perspectives to life, and I'm so glad I've had the chance to be in a slew of different positions so I have a tiny taste of what some people are going through.

    But, I will say, I'm with you on the family stuff--I don't know what it's like to have family reject me in a sense because of my sexuality or the people I choose to spend my time with. My mom is very open about things with me and asks questions and wants to know about my life and my friends. I guess we're just lucky. :)
    Of course this isn't to say that I don't understand the hard religion thing. A lot of shame comes from religion--particularly when it comes down to homosexuality. That stuff is hard to deal with even when you've got an understanding family who loves you no matter what and treats you like the same person you've always been.

  4. Thanks for the comments.
    Jen, maybe that's a good option. I'll see how Addie feels about it. Sometimes, though, there is no real answer.

    Jo, agreed on all of that. Addie will be fine. She is fine--better than fine. But, it doesn't change the hurt, and I suppose that's really just part of life. Part of the whole journey to nowhere.

    Tif, I kind of get what you're saying, but check out this blogpost. I'm not about to praise the mormon church for being founded on love anytime soon unless they do something to change my mind. To me they're all a bunch of hypocritical assholes.