Shame

Shame is something we all learn at a young age. Perhaps you were once told “shame on you” for something you did wrong. Or maybe you recognize it as that queasy, gut wrenching, heart pounding, nervousness right as you debate whether or not to confess to your mother you broke one of her prized possessions. Can you glue it back together? Will she notice? Or should you confess now and hope for the best? It was an accident after all, maybe she will go easy,  or maybe if you don’t say anything she won’t notice…but that feeling of shame will remain if you don’t tell her. Surely if you do not tell her, God would know. God always knows. Better fess up.

I have struggled with a lot of shame over being gay. The moment I learned what it meant to be gay, that familiar feeling of shame rushed over me. I felt as though I had done something wrong. I had been taught that I was immoral, and would be boxed into the same sexual perversions as bestiality, incest…etc. This was worse than accidentally breaking one of my parents belongings. This could break their hearts. It became my deepest darkest secret. There was no way I could be gay, so denial became my lifestyle of choice.

Denial only works for so long. When my marriage ended I had a choice. I could either start living true to myself, or I could keep living in denial. It was a hard confusing process but I chose to start being true to myself. The hardest part to get through was the shame. Even though I had stopped living in denial, I constantly worried. What will my parents think? Will they still love me? Will they be ashamed of me? What will my friends think? What if they don’t want me around their kids?

My secret was eating me up inside. I couldn’t keep this all to myself any longer. I finally built up the courage to come out to my counselor. It wasn’t exactly the best first coming out experience. When I told her I was gay she asked me. “Well, is this something you want or don’t want?” I was confused. I replied “Who would want this?” She proceeded to tell me there were groups out there for me where I could “beat this.” That there was hope for change. But what could these conversion groups do that I hadn’t already tried? I prayed to God, and I got married. To a man. If that doesn’t work I don’t know what will. Then she said something to me I will never forget. “You will never be the woman God wanted you to be.”

Those words stung worse than any other words I had ever heard. I left her office and never looked back. She tried contacting me multiple times through text message saying that she hoped that I hadn’t given up. Well, I had. I had given up lying to myself and believing that I had something to be ashamed of. I realized that all of this shame I was feeling wasn’t from God. It was from people. How does she know who God wants me to be? I already tried to live how I thought God wanted me to, and I failed miserably. I was living a lie. Doesn’t God say thou shall not lie? I believe this means  you shall not lie to others… or yourself.

For a long time I thought being gay meant you could no longer believe in God. That I couldn’t be a christian and be gay. I no longer believe that, and I no longer feel shame. I know God loves me, and he doesn’t just love the sinner and hate the sin. He loves all of me. No person can ever tell me who God wants me to be.

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I Couldn’t Change

OH, where to start. So much has changed in the past couple of years it is hard to know what to cover first. Well, I guess I might as well start with the biggest life changes. Lets get this shiz out of the way.

You may or may not recall that I was once married. Yes, to a man. The problem: I’m gay. Yep. Gay. and unfortunately I couldn’t be straight if I tried. And boy did I try.

It has been a little over two years now since my marriage ended.

A little back story:

I grew up in a Christian home. I went to church every Sunday and went to a Christian school from Pre-K all the way up through high school. I don’t recall learning a whole lot about homosexuality in church but it was a pretty common topic at school. We had a Bible classes devoted to homosexuality and how it was wrong. We watched videos on it, how it was a perversion, a sin, unnatural, and how God did not approve of gay people. I remember sitting in class watching these videos feeling like all eyes were on me. My hands would clam up, my heart would beat fast. I was terrified someone knew or would find out I was gay and I was so ashamed. I was pretty paranoid throughout high school that someone would think I was gay. It consumed a lot of my mind and it made me withdraw even more than my introverted self wanted to.

I think the most common question I get is well, “if you are gay then why did you get married?” This is not only the most common question but it is also the most difficult to answer. There are a few reasons. Number one: Considering my upbringing actually accepting being gay was never an option to me. I was taught that it was a sin that God would send me to hell for. I didn’t drink, smoke, do drugs, or have sex for the same reasons. I was a good kid. I wanted to please God, and be everything I was taught he wanted me to be. Because of this I also saved myself for marriage. This brings me to reason number two: I thought that attraction to my husband would come after marriage. Perhaps after the wedding night if you get my drift…but it didn’t.

I spent the next year of my married life confused, frustrated, and depressed. I became so angry at God. I had done everything I thought he wanted me to do. Why couldn’t  I just be like my friends, why wasn’t I attracted to men or able to love my husband the way my friends loved theirs? Needless to say there was no real honeymoon phase of our marriage.

A year after we were married my husband joined the military. Off to bootcamp he went, and back to the parents house I went. We were apart for about 6 months. During the time that we were apart it forced me to take some time to process what was really going on with me. Unfortunately I was still unwilling to accept being gay and followed him to his first duty station in Germany. This is where I spent some of the darkest moments of my life. I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t pretend to love someone. It wasn’t fair to me, or him, but I was also too afraid to tell him what was wrong. I had found support in message boards while I was in Germany. I was told, “you are still young, go enjoy and live your life.” So that is what I decided to do and enrolled in culinary school. I was still too much of a coward to tell my husband that I was gay, but he could tell how miserable I was and allowed me to go back to the states to attend school. The “plan” was that I would go back after graduation but I knew I was never coming back. I was secretly running away.

A couple of months after returning home my husband unknowingly gave me an easy way out. He found someone else. Although this was an easy out for me, it also allowed me to stay in the closet and delayed the fact that I had a lot of things to deal with and process. As usual I pursued support through the internet. This is also where my support turned into a relationship. I had met someone who had also been previously married and was in a similar walk of life. This is also when I experienced love for the first time. I fell for a girl.

At the age of 25 I experienced love for the first time. My whole world changed and so many things finally made sense to me. Love songs, cheesy chick flicks… the excitement, butterflies, and joy. It was like I was able to see the world in color for the first time. I was in love and it felt so natural. My anger towards God disappeared and instead I was so thankful to finally be experiencing these feelings that I had never felt before. I have also realized that since experiencing love I now have a new understanding of what God’s love for us means. This is where I have a hard time believing that being gay is a sin. How was I ever supposed to understand love if I had not experienced it? And if God is love, than why would he ever want to take that feeling from us? I don’t believe God would ever be that cruel.

Unfortunately at the age of 25 I also experienced heartbreak for the first time. It is definitely something that I was not prepared for. I never really got the phrase heartbreak or where it came from. Your heart can’t break…that’s just not possible. I was so wrong. I never knew emotional pain could be so physical. It was another painful time in my life but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I learned so much about myself and about life. I have made some pretty awesome new friends in the meantime that have helped me in this new aspect of life and actually being able to feel. “It is better to feel pain, than to feel nothing at all. The opposite of love is indifference.” — Lumineers.

It has been a crazy two years but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I am finally living true to myself and no longer feel ashamed of who I am. I feel no shame from God, and am so thankful for the life he has given me. It is hurtful to me when people tell me being gay is a choice. In my experience the only choice I had was to be miserable or happy. You only get one life, and I chose happiness. It is true what they say. I couldn’t change even if I tried.