Chapter Twenty-Five – Easing Up and Reconnecting
My goal has been simplification. I realized that I had allowed myself to become buried under a ton of other people’s desires for me. I was doing everything to please everyone else…
I had been raised to take on a myriad of roles: Faithful Mormon, Returned Missionary, Dentist, Heterosexual Eternal Husband, Peacemaker, Family Breadwinner…they seemed to go on forever. What I wasn’t paying attention to was the fact that it was not making me happy. My core persona is none of those things, and the things I did love in that list were buried so deep that even they weren’t pleasing to me anymore.
When I sought out and attended my first non-Mormon Therapist, the first thing I said to her was that at one time in my life I thought I was gay, but that was not my problem anymore, I had all these *other* problems I needed help with. She was so kind. She looked at me, smiled widely and slowly, and said, “OK, let’s talk about your parents…” She knew that eventually I would face that non-problem of mine. And I did, with her, a few years later, and we had a good laugh about that.
I desperately needed to learn how to ease up, to enjoy life, to slow down, and to have fun. Those were my *new* roles, and my goals came from that list. No more crazy! I wanted to be the man I desired: supportive, fun, enjoyable, easy-going. I wanted to live with someone who was supportive, fun, enjoyable, and easy-going. I wanted to raise kids who are supportive, fun, enjoyable, and easy-going. See how easy my goals became? This couldn’t be that hard!
I allowed my panic attacks to just wash over me, overwhelm me, and pass. Each time that happened, they became less and less frightening, and more and more manageable. After seven years post Mormonism, I’ve only had a small one and it passed in minutes, they used to be pretty debilitating, taking sometimes up to ninety minutes to pass.
I stopped stopping myself. I went after all things that intrigued me, removing any pre-tagged sinful label. I went to strip clubs, and to art galleries, and to leather stores, and to lunches with other Exmormons. I felt myself physically decompressing. I got up happier, I sang more, I delved into life. Rex and I pursued Shambhala Meditation Training together, we gardened, we hiked, I read poetry in a wedding in a kilt and matching tank top. I worked out in gyms with hot guys and I liked it. We still go to an old bath house on men’s days and wander around stark naked steaming, baking, and showering with scads of naked men. We simply enjoy life.
Rex took me to a spa in Santa Fe, New Mexico called Ten Thousand Waves. We drove off the freeway route, heading behind the San Luis mountain range in his fast car. He let me drive, I punched it and I let that car catch up to my heart racing through that high desert, a blur as my eyes teared up and the sage rushed by. I cannot fully describe how my heart felt at that moment, but my heart felt on fire.
One time I watched a paraplegic man in a straight strip club wheel up to the stage, the only thing he could move were his lips to blow the directions to his chair. I watched these beautiful women slather him with physical caresses; they practically climbed on top of him, showering him with their breasts, their amazingly fit bodies, they gave themselves entirely.
They did not hold back, the music thumping, the crowds buzzing around him. And it dawned on me in that moment: “Where in the world would this man be able to go and have stunningly gorgeous women treat him like a lover?” Nowhere else. NOWHERE ELSE! My raw heart broke and I cried. I was so happy for him. All the judgments of that place fell flat to the ground.
Rex and I caught the tail end of the public art display by Cristo called The Gates in Central Park in New York City at sunset. It was a chilly afternoon, and my heart exploded in the same color, I *felt* brilliantly orange. It infused us and we walked through hundreds of them at sunset around the lakes, through the fields, over the stone outcrops.
That was my first trip to New York City and my mind was thoroughly blown. We ate fantastic food, toured the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and attended a three-day screenplay writing workshop with Robert McKee. We saw an amazing play. I felt free and unencumbered, my imagination soared!
I felt as if my mind was reconnecting to the vast human network. I was discovering such brilliance and color and vibrancy! I read Walt Whitman’s Crossing Brooklyn Ferry and absolutely identified with his common theme of connecting to humanity: How curious you are to me! The glories strung like beads on my smallest sights and hearings. I wasn’t fighting my desires; I was seeing how they fused with the world around me. I became less a stranger to myself as I watched others. People might separate me based on how I looked and acted differently, but I focused on what made us alike, how our desires engulfed us all.
When I was most faithful to Mormonsim was when I desired order most, the farther away from it the more I realized I loved jazz music. Before, its syncopation and unstructured approach drove me crazy. Now I loved it and especially Brazilian Jazz due to a radio show on 98.3 KUVO Denver each Sunday afternoon. The DJ was this exuberant, effervescent woman named Cenir who made each hour a delight. Her voice practically jumped out of the speakers! I dreamed about meeting her, what it would be like to be around someone so amazingly energetic about her passion. I loved the Brazilians at ASU.
Things seemed to be falling into place. Daniel, a friend of mine who had discussed with me several times moving from a professorship at CU into the corporate training world for more than a decade, was hired on my suggestion at my current workplace.
On a business trip as I was riding the Denver International Airport tram to my gate, I looked up and there staring at me from two feet away was my old CLR lover, Ken. I immediately asked how he was, we found out we had some time before our flights and we ate breakfast together. He told me he was divorcing and dating a nice guy. I asked, “And that makes you…?” He said, “It makes me gay.” We smiled and we keep in touch now and then; he’s very happy and settling into his genuine life.
One time I boarded the wrong bus and as we drove by my Park-N-Ride station, I decided I’d make the afternoon an adventure. I called Rex and he was too busy to stop for dinner. I hopped off the bus, walked to a nice restaurant in Boulder, had dinner and some Spanish wine. Each sip of a Spanish wine is a big ol’ fuck you to the Mormon Church. I love drinking wines from the areas I spent on my mission. As I waited at the bus stop by myself to head back to my car, a woman approached in the dark, the bus stop was dimly lit but nice. Suddenly I recognized that voice. I waited for her to hang up; I sauntered over and said, “Do you listen to KUVO?” Knowing full well that she was not only a listener, but a radio personality, she *had* to be!
She looked at me, and said, “I am a DJ for the Brazilian Fantasia Show on…” and I blurted out, “I know! On KUVO! I am your biggest fan!” In the ensuing few minutes before the bus arrived, I had gushed so many compliments to her that we are now best friends. We meet each other on Friday evenings at the Brown Palace Ship Tavern, the oldest bar in Denver to belt out jazz standards at the piano bar where her good friend John tinkles the ivories. As of last week, John’s partner Brad became our new home design consultant helping us redesign our home colors and bathroom remodel projects.
I see my connectedness now like a vast colorful field where I can make anything happen. I sit in this time, and I project out these threads into my possible future. Years ago, as I dreamed about befriending Cenir, that dream manifested itself like a thread into my future. When the moment arrived to make it connect in that lucky space, I did.
I am sure that had I desired it to happen, and had I not been standing there that night, I would have been provided another attempt to connect my thread, to make my future happen as intended. I do not chalk this up to a deity, or to a “higher power”. I believe this happens when a person is open, aware, living genuinely and in balance.
And I think that every single person deserves to live genuinely and in balance. Follow your bliss.
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