');}

Falling Into Life: A Gay Exmormon’s Journey

March 2nd, 2009

Chapter Twenty-One – Experiencing Evergreen

After I was directed to attend Evergreen meetings by my LDS Social Services Therapist, I threw my heart and soul into healing my broken self, my broken soul…

We met at first in a church building, and then we gained approval to meet in the public library. Each week we met following a printed, suggested schedule we received from the Evergreen people in Salt Lake. You can find their official website here:

http://www.evergreeninternational.org/ Notice there’s a link for materials for therapists and church leaders.

I suddenly felt like I was in this alternative universe, maybe several, a Mormon on the fringe. Like I was a visitor at the Four Corners, two feet in two states, two hands in the other two states. I vacillated between feeling unique and feeling damned, depending on the day. We had a young child at home, and my Ex and I worked many jobs to keep our lives moving. Taking time out to attend these meetings was a strain on our resources, and so I wanted to ensure that I used my time wisely, my time away would become a sore spot between us. I needed to get this taken care of, and I assumed it was only a matter of time, maybe a few years, before I was gay-free entirely, so strong was the messaging presented to me.

I drove to the Stake Building where we were to meet, and immediately ran into members I hadn’t seen in ages and suddenly realized that I had to hide what I was doing. The onslaught of invasive questions was appalling, and for the first time I was unable to fly under the radar. My dad was Bishop of my Ward when I was a kid, and so *many* people knew my name, knew my family intimately.

One older man in particular, who had treated me roughly as a kid growing up was the first to rush up to me and ask me what I was doing in *his* building. I became suddenly aware that he *knew* Evergreen was going to be meeting there. I shrunk inside, not just because I was found out, but because of whom this man was and our track record through life. It was flat out alarming. I *never* liked this guy.

All these memories of him, and his son, and everything from growing up with these people came flooding in, and I would now be their “a-ha” moment. And I hadn’t even found the room we were meeting in yet. This was daunting. This was one of those untrained leaders, idiots that held power above me, silently judging me, now knowing *so* much about me. I just wanted to find the room and disappear. Several times during our first meeting that night, this man would barge in on us, using any excuse he could to open that door and catch us mid-sentence. It was humiliating to even sit there.

We knew after that night that we’d have to find a better place to meet with privacy, and so we applied to the Public Library and began meeting there. It allowed us some space and privacy, and the ability to open our hearts fully knowing we wouldn’t be walked in on. Each time as I parked my car and walked to that library I had paranoiac fantasies that the “gay community” would find us and attack us, or they would try and block us.

I was sure that there was this “gay agenda”, some type of angry written list and we were on it as targets and someone held that list tightly clutched in their angry hand, upset and ready to fight us. I had psyched myself out completely, I *felt* Satan around me all the time. But in the end, no one cared on the gay side. I had it reversed, the only ones who would continue to attack us for being gay were the Mormons.

We opened the Evergreen meetings with prayer, exactly as you would in an LDS church meeting, we ended them the same way. It was like we were *at* church except that we were discussing material that was extremely taboo. Sometimes we’d have a “Priesthood Holder” attend from a Ward, always a straight man. During those sessions we never really opened up, we never really talked the truth; we alluded to it due to the embarrassment factor. I was *never* going to have a repeat of the episode with my LDS Therapist.

When it was just us, just the gay men, we let it all out, and we tried to temper it, but it was a strange scene. Discussing it was arousing at times, disgusting at times, blasé at times because it was *always* the same messages, always the same experiences. The more you attended, the more you realized that the only novelty was a new member. Once you’d been there awhile, no one discussed “getting better”.

We were mostly a group of exhausted men, using the same energy most people did towards life, but having to spend *so* much more energy fighting this SSA (same-sex attraction) problem we all had. It was a problem that Heavenly Father had given us, the special few, like alcohol abuse or drug addictions. We just happened to have to deal with sexual depravity for life. We said we were all one kiss away from being gay, like being one drink away from alcoholism. I could never figure out what our “substance” was we were supposedly abusing.

My thoughts were more focused on the sexual side of these men. I enjoyed hearing about what turned them on, what were their major temptations, and if they gave in to them. I rarely admitted, after the first year, that I was giving in to my own temptations. I saw that as a way to dissuade them from making progress, assuming that perhaps others really *were* making progress. None of us were, not one of us.

It was a sad group, we pleaded in our group prayers together, and hoping that somehow our collected numbers might add more weight to our prayers and get God’s attention more than individual prayers. Mormons are *big* believers in group prayers having more impact on God’s ears. Now that concept just makes me laugh. All we gained from attending Evergreen meetings was the knowledge that we were not suffering alone.

Years upon years of knowing that these other men were in the same agonizing pain you were. I was the very last one to stop, and give it up. As each and every member slowly dropped out, and sent me messages they were moving on, I viciously attacked them. I told them our friendships were based on our mutual need to fight homosexuality, and so therefore we could no longer be friends. I was a horrible person to them.

Their entire program revolves around this premise: If you act straight, you will become straight.

That’s all you get. You discuss gospel principles and why you must adhere to them or you’ll suffer the consequences. You read books on the subject, all worthless. You read through their suggested discussion materials, all worthless. You search for answers as to why you have chosen to be gay, all worthless. You wrack your brain, you ramp up your prayers, you cry and plead, and you beg and promise, all worthless. You feel alone, cast off, marked, diseased, and uncared for. Your endless thoughts about salvation, about your sins, about your tainted soul increase. You rarely experience more than a fifteen minute reprieve from remembering what a fuck up you truly are. You hurt inside all the time.

And it never ends. The first thing in my mind when I woke up was, “You are a loser.”  The last thing in my head as I fell asleep, “You’re still a loser.”

The *only* thing that made me feel better during those years was to experience the fleeting feeling of the enemy: a naked man in my arms. It was what we avoided at all costs, and it was the thing we desired more than anything else. As we talked about our experiences trying to frame them in a “spiritual way” in the Evergreen meetings, we became more hot under the collar, more aware of what we looked like, how we smelled, what we liked in other men. It was insufferable sometimes. The meetings often became the impetus that drove my fantasies towards cheating.

There are many ways to find gay men. You can look for public restrooms that have signs of gay cruising. You can locate the park where gay activity occurs; every single city on the planet has a “gay park” where men cruise. Sometimes men have sex after dark in the parks, sometimes they find places to go after they meet. Men can cruise adult bookstores and follow someone out to their car, or they can go to bookstores with porn booths inside and have sex there. You can create a profile online on a gay site, there are millions of these. Simply add your location, and wait for a man to contact you, strike up a conversation and decide on a place to meet for sex. You can also go to gay bars or clubs, too.

During Evergreen meetings we would discuss how easy it was to find men, to get that taboo need filled. One guy found some sex with a guy in a restroom at the zoo with his family watching animals outside. Talk about wild beasts! When I confessed to cheating, I discussed steps I was taking to avoid my personal “haunts”, mostly porn booths. I avoided this street, I avoided that direction, I never went down that way. I *never* had difficulty finding men who liked me and wanted me.

I specialized in finding other gay married men, I found them wildly attractive. They looked as desperate as I did, crazy hungry. It was so easy to cruise a place on my lunch hours, get in and out in a matter of minutes, they were so hot, so ready to go, and as tortured as I was. I’d walk in and over to the magazines, where many other men were standing. I’d look around to see which men were looking at me. If I saw a man I liked, I’d make sure they saw my wedding ring; they’d flash theirs, too. This sign meant “fast sex, no phone numbers, and no further contact”. I’d put my magazine down and walk to the booths, being followed by my prey. The few minutes we’d spend together when the clothes came off were so intense; I would be covered in sweat when I left. The feelings seemed so much more intense than with my wife, a hundredfold. And I felt horrible for it, but I could never stop it.

As time rolled on, and the Evergreen meetings became more of a nuisance than a help to my wife, I’d stop attending and stopped talking about it. I never went back to another meeting after the fourth year of starting the program. I would always refer back to the materials I had from Evergreen, knowing that if God somehow knew I was doing my best, and that he would forgive me in the end. And I did this pattern over and over and over again for the remaining eight years of my marriage. Never experiencing real male intimacy, just stuck in an endless loop of pain. And with time, the feelings for men became more intense, and my anguish even more pronounced.

So strong was my Evergreen programming that even after I left the Mormon Church, I continued to believe in my heart that I was straight and had to fight it. I assumed that leaving the church would be what I needed for me to smother my homosexuality. That’s how crazy it got inside my brain. Perhaps it was the church that was making me homosexual? I didn’t know, and now that wasn’t working either. I launched into a “Closed-Loop Relationship” with a married man, and during that time I realized that my marriage wasn’t going to make it, nor were my plans to somehow remain “monogamous” with a wife and a CLR partner.

That’s when I reached my limit. And when you’ve reached your limit, you have two choices: You end your life to stop the pain, or you end your belief in the church to stop the pain. Those are your only two choices. Either of them are daunting choices. Some choose physical death, and men like me choose transcendence. You take that knife that’s been created from all those years, and you turn it around, and you wield it at all those you love. And you do it to survive because you can’t imagine one more minute of that pain.

Evergreen is a horrific program. Humans can’t be placed into a box like that. Treating any human, Mormon or not like a second class citizen due to something they cannot control or change is a tragic thing. Being homosexual doesn’t hurt anyone else, and it really doesn’t hurt yourself either, I was just convinced that it did. I don’t *care* if your “God” says so. Treat everyone like you would want to be treated, no matter what your “God” tells you to do. This is your invitation. Now is your time to change. Transcend.

Five years ago this month I walked away from my marriage. Time has healed a lot of the pain, and people ask me what it’s like. This is what it’s like:

People say I’m crazy doing what I’m doing
Well they give me all kinds of warnings to save me from ruin
When I say that I’m o.k. well they look at me kind of strange
Surely you’re not happy now you no longer play the game

People say I’m lazy dreaming my life away
Well they give me all kinds of advice designed to enlighten me
When I tell them that I’m doing fine watching shadows on the wall
Don’t you miss the big time boy you’re no longer on the ball

I’m just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round
I really love to watch them roll
No longer riding on the merry-go-round
I just had to let it go

Ah, people asking questions lost in confusion
Well I tell them there’s no problem, only solutions
Well they shake their heads and they look at me as if I’ve lost my mind
I tell them there’s no hurry
I’m just sitting here doing time

I’m just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round
I really love to watch them roll
No longer riding on the merry-go-round
I just had to let it go

No related posts.

Related posts brought to you by Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.


5 Responses to “Falling Into Life: A Gay Exmormon’s Journey”

  1. Charemae on July 12, 2015 12:29 pm

    ΣταύρουΜεχρι το 1959, η Κούβα αποτελουσε το προτεκτορατο των ΗΠΑ και ανηκε ουσιαστικη στην αμερικανικη mafia, που κατειχε τα ξενοδοχεια , τα κεντρα διασκεδασης, τα ναρκωτικα και την πορνεια.Γι αυτό και-λογω της μικρης αποστασης απο τις ΗΠΑ (90 μιλια) αποτελούσε διαχρονικά τουριστικό προορισμό – και σεξουαλικο- των απανταχού μεσήλικων αμερικανών.Ομως ας σοβαρευτουμε:Βεβαια οι καπιταλιστες τα κατειχαν σχεδον ολα, οπως ειπε ο JFK :”At the beginning of 1959 United States copnmaies owned about 40 percent of the Cuban sugar lands almost all the cattle ranches 90 percent of the mines and mineral concessions 80 percent of the utilities practically all the oil industry and supplied two-thirds of Cuba’s imports. U.S. President John F. Kennedy, 1960[56]” Τωρα, απ’ οσον γνωριζω απο φιλο μου ναυτικο, οι γυναίκες ασκουν ελευθερα το επαγγελμα χωρις προστατες.Ομως για να τεκμηριωσαω αυτο που εγραψε για τους δεικτες η cynical:1. Cuba has a 99.8% literacy rate,[3][14] an infant death rate lower than some developed countries,[15] and an average life expectancy of 77.64.[3] 2. In 2006, Cuba was the only nation in the world which met the WWF’s definition of sustainable development; having an ecological footprint of less than 1.8 hectares per capita and a Human Development Index of over 0.8 for 2007.[16]πηγη : wikipediaΑφωτιστος Φιλελεληνnn1

  2. Colleen Parkinson on March 5, 2009 12:31 am

    AMEN! It is such a relief to be free.

  3. etienne on March 3, 2009 9:45 pm

    Colleen,

    You know, Most of us trapped in this situation experience a spiritual death as opposed to a physical death. It’s such an odd life experience, to be trapped into a religion that is your own energy vampire, your own spiritual vampire. Every single thing suggested to us was the opposite of what would have healed us.

    e

  4. etienne on March 3, 2009 9:40 pm

    Here’s the link to Lennon’s inspirational song:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=moCf_pghM-U

    e

  5. Colleen Parkinson on March 3, 2009 7:10 pm

    I have to admit–I teared up at “heal my broken heart, my broken soul”–we all turned to them to heal our pain. I wish I could come up with words. This is much more REAL, more personal–especially for someone like me. There is so much that I could say–or not. I can read the confusion and pain–as I’ve been there in some fashion–just not the same fashion.

    I, too, had to choose between death or mormonism–as my life made NO SENSE in mormonism. Even after all the years after he left and I worked so hard to pick up the pieces, I DID NOT HEAL until the day I admitted to myself I no longer believed–and then it all became clear. All the confusion and pain that you talk about above–it ended for ME, too.

    When I first found out my ex was gay–I had been taught he was a monster. I fell into a suicidal depression. In my mind, he would become this demon. I would have to call him and as soon as I’d hear his voice, I’d know he wasn’t what they told me he was. When I quit trying to figure it out by THEIR RULES–it all became perfectly clear.

    These are much better–I can “feel” what you are saying.

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply

Name (required)

Email (required)

Website

Speak your mind

  • About

    This is Heather's blog.

  • BlogTACular
    • Beanie Cap Guy - Open, raw and beautiful. I love reading the things that are tapped out by this man.
    • Dooce - Another exmo chic who has an excellent sense of humor and ability to make me laugh out loud. For real.
    • Growing Up Artists - Mom to five kids… homeschoolin’ all. She must be fabulous to be able to do that.
    • Joe and Heather - The adventures of one of our favorite couples. We live vicariously through them. They have no kids.
    • Kombucha Chic
    • Letters From a Broad - The adventures of a friendly American exmormon atheist mom living in Switzerland.