Tuesday, February 3, 2015

No One is a Victim Here

I just finished my third counseling session with Cori and feel like I need to debrief about some of what happened by writing. I wish I could meet with her more often. During our first session she disclosed that she self-identifies as a lesbian, had grown up Catholic, and that she is completely open to helping me find whatever path is right for me without pushing me down any path based on her own views. I had always felt like a female counsellor cannot fully understand things like male sex drive or thought patterns and being counseled by someone who is openly gay would inevitably lead to me being pushed down that path. I was wrong on both accounts. She is very warm and understanding and is completely open to letting me find a path that is uniquely mine.

Apparently I scored pretty high on the depression questionnaire today so she commented that despite it appearing that I was in good spirits that there must be a lot going on. I agreed and confessed that I had no idea where to start because my mind has been pulled in so many directions over the past few weeks. After a moment's thought I indicated that despite being pretty confident during the last session that my wife and I would probably get a divorce, I was much less certain about that and everything else today.

She noted that the Church had been in the news regarding their statement about treating LGBTQ folks a little better. I mentioned that most of Mormondom is hailing this as a hugely positive event but that the reality for the MoHos who deal with these issues on a daily basis is that it shows the continuation of a mind frame that leaves thousands of us feeling like we are a disgrace for existing. She agreed that she had not received the message in a very positive light.

I also told Cori that my wife and I had begun couples therapy with a man who is probably not very well-equipped to deal with our situation and that we have been told that there probably is no one local who has dealt with our situation. She asked me to clarify in which ways he was ill-equipped. I told her that he is LDS, which makes my wife happy, but for me is more of a non-issue insofar as we do not compromise the best clinical practices for LDS dogmas that may be misguided. I explained that he has never had any experience dealing with homosexuals. I then said something like "if i hear one more person say this is like alcoholism, my head is going to explode."
[Can anyone direct me to a good source that really distills this down in a way that others can understand? Please explain it in the comments or direct me to a link where someone else has described how/why homosexuality is not like an addiction or any other ridiculous parallel that people like to draw. I would like to have some intelligent dialogue from which to draw the next time this happens. Any help?]
She was observably taken aback and I quickly clarified that our counselor (let's call him Scott) had not said that to me but had demonstrated a very limited understanding of what makes reconciling homosexuality and Mormonism so difficult and had vaguely lumped it into an unspecified group of struggles that many people must face for their entire lives. I noted that, if nothing else, he is providing a safe place for me to talk (compared to trying to do it with just my wife and me alone where things tend to get way out of hand) and equipping us with some tools for better communication.

We talked about my efforts to blog and how diverse the approaches for dealing with the truthfulness of the church are and how vocal gay Mormons can become about their solution being right and that I can so easily be swayed from one extreme to the other, and everywhere in between, about what direction my life should follow. I mentioned that I have felt a little attacked about being selfish for staying in a marriage where I will never be able to fully love nor give my wife all that she needs and deserves. She interrupted me there and said "No one is a victim here. All of the players here are adults and are free to leave or make the decisions that are right for them." And then I lost it . . .

Well, I didn't lose it as bad as I sometimes do, but that was the trigger that started the crying during this session. As the tears flowed and I tried to make sense of them I realized that I had been internalizing what others have said about staying married being selfish which was leading to even further self-hatred. I am really not trying to be selfish in all of this. I am trying to be honest, methodical, and genuine in my effort to find what is best for us as we try to navigate a situation that I do not wish upon anyone. So I reaffirm that here: No one is a victim here. We are trying our best to play with the cards that we have been dealt. If my wife feels like a victim or needs to leave then I will honor and support her in that decision (although I would really prefer that we not immediately disassociate ourselves from one other, move to opposite ends of the globe, and speak vitriol and hatred about each other the rest of our days). Cori gave me permission to take my time and really figure out what's best given our circumstances. Amongst other things, I mentioned that I am terrified by the idea of dating (for the very first time in many ways) and that I cannot yet pinpoint what my essential needs are that are not being met, but maybe we will find a way to change that as we continue in counseling together.

So the struggle continues . . . My wife has been trying to place the decision squarely on my shoulders, noting that she is committed to staying and that I am the only one who still needs to decide if I can commit myself to making this work. She tries to place being the victim on me, saying that she is holding me back from being happy and being the person that I need to be - which I continue to tell her is not how I see the situation at all. If that was really how I saw things, as her holding me back from happiness, then I would already be gone. I'm not sure how many more times or ways we can have the conversation that we will each take responsibility for our own happiness, because it really seems like we're going in circles. I continue to say that until one of us is decided that leaving is the only way to find happiness this, by necessity, remains a two-person decision. I have pleaded with her to really consider what staying together will require of both of us. Last night I tried to show her that I had become aware of The Straight Spouse Network that might be a good source of comfort and understanding and a realistic view into what our lives together would likely entail. She basically said that it doesn't matter because I'm the one who has to make the decision. I could not disagree more because staying together would require each of us to pay the price, which Oisin so eloquently described, more than we have thus far been willing to pay to make our marriage work. Until she has really considered that my attractions will never be a non-issue, that I will need significant support and understanding for the rest of my life, and that I will more than likely have to make up my mind again in the future, she still has some deciding to do.

Am I wrong here? Can someone back me up or help me see things otherwise? [also, a reminder to comment below if anyone can help me explain why homosexuality is not like an addiction]

1 comment:

  1. Here is a link to a site that makes good arguments against the idea that "being gay is like being an addict".