Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Reaction

Well, I sent the letter to my parents on Wednesday morning after I called them and asked them if they would be ok with me sending them a "pretty important and impactful letter." My mom wanted me to just tell them what's up over the phone, but I told her that she would have to be patient for the letter and that the letter would explain everything. They said, "yes, send it." So I sent it Wednesday morning and it was guaranteed to arrive Friday afternoon.

Thursday night, like usual, I stayed at my friend's place in Holladay. It's practically where I live these days. I got 2 hours of sleep because I was just too anxious. I went to the grocery store at 2am because it was the only thing open and I sat into one of those automated blood pressure machines and my bp was 143/87! It's usually 90/50. I felt it in every part of me. My capillaries were screaming for me to calm down! ;) Then Friday night, after I hadn't heard anything from my parents, I called my sister to ask her if mom and dad were at home or if they were out of town for the evening. She said that they were at home and that they seemed to be, I knew they had read the letter...but no call...was that good or bad? I knew I couldn't do anything about it, so I just tried to forget about it-which proved to be absolutely impossible.

That evening, I went to a house party with my Holladay friends (they knew about the letter and the timetable and all). I was soooooooo grateful for these guys. The next morning, they told me about how every little bit, I would kinda go quiet and my eyes would go distant and they knew I was picturing what was going on with my mom and dad...and their possible reactions... These friends didn't just care about what was going on, they cared for me enough to be really perceptive and every time my eyes went distant, someone would come over and talk with me about my worries or anything else. It was sooo incredible that they not only professed their care verbally, but that they were sincere in it enough to pay close attention to me during the night. Even though I tried really hard to stay upbeat and fun, they watched for the times when I was starting to feel really sad and they would come over and make sure that I didn't feel alone through the evening. Thanks to heaven for these friends. Wow. I didn't sleep a wink that night...not at all. I stayed over in Holladay and the friend I shared the bed with stayed up with me the whole night and we talked and laughed like there was no tomorrow. Stories (true or false), jokes, plans, dreams, wishes, regrets, longings, and philosophies. We covered it all. Yep, sooo grateful for dear friends. How can you not be?

Saturday morning, I had the Rex Lee 5k to run at 9am. So, without any sleep the previous night and only two hours the night before, I ran the race. There was frost on the ground even by the finish of the race! Ahhhh, that was cold! I was happy with my time and I had that great endorphin - happy feeling you get after a great competition. My mom had called while I was running the race - her message said that she knew from my sister that I was wished me luck and told me to call her back after I finished. Because I ran hard, I was exhausted when I called her so our conversation was not very long. We talked about the race for a minute or so, then we went quiet...waiting for someone to breach the subject of the letter - of me being gay. She said that her and dad read the letter - that when it was done, they looked at each other and knew that it was true. It wasn't something that they were suspecting, but after reading the letter and remembering things from my childhood and the conversations we had had over the last year, they knew that what I said about myself, my feelings, my nature, and my attractions was the truth. She said that I had to know that they still loved me and that they always would. My mom said that my dad took the confession really hard - we couldn't pretend that I was going to have my family with 10 kids and all that I had wanted. I was coughing from running such a cold race, so my mom told me to go get a warm shower and some rest and to call her later on in the day.

My mom and I are talking daily again and it's not often that we talk about the letter or it's subject matter. I'm really happy about that. She called me on Sunday morning and it was a few minutes before I could understand what she was saying because she was crying so hard. She said that she was sitting in church waiting for the sacrament when she became so emotional that she got up and left church because she just couldn't contain herself. She said that she became so upset when she thought about the journey I've had over the past year and how hard that must have been. We talked about trials and learning and awakenings that challenge long-held beliefs. We talked about unquestioned faith and questioned faith as well as unchallenged faith and challenged faith. After about an hour, we were laughing some and we both felt so much better. Now, our conversations and interaction is normal again...but deeper. I'm grateful for it, very grateful.

I hope someday, I can become the kind of individual that my father is. He's strong, he's focused on integrity and honest conduct, and he greatly values kindness and compassion. My dad and I have spoken once since he read the letter. He called me and asked for some time to process things. My mom told me on Sunday that dad has been taking this really hard. I have only ever seen my dad cry twice - both times he was talking about how much he loved and missed his mother who died of Lupus when he was in Germany on his mission. When mom said that dad was taking this really hard, it made me hurt. I believe that we'll have a quality relationship in spite of this, but I worry that a good quality relationship will have to exist in spite of this - not along with or because of this. Only time will tell. I told my dad that it's taken me a very long time to process this part of my life, a very long time. I told him that I knew that it would take time to understand this news and what it means for us and the future. I said that I was prepared to and committed to be patient and understanding of his need for time. So...I wait. I wait and hope that he isn't hurting. I wait and wish that we didn't have to be in this position. I wait and remember that he's a wise father with an enormous soul - that this isn't his first rodeo, even if it is a bit unique. I know he loves me and that that's why this is so hard for him - that it's why he needs time.

Thank you to my parents for being wise in their reception of this letter. Thank you to my friends here in Provo and SLC for their support and attention over these past couple of weeks. Thank you to our blogging family for your love and support and advice and encouragement. I've said it before and I mean it as sincerely now as ever, I could not do this without dear friends who truly love me and care enough to make themselves known. I've got a marathon in DC this weekend. It'll be so nice to just run and feel love and health and gratitude. I have been blessed, no doubt about it.


Andy said...

Robert, I am so happy for you that things have gone this well. You are truly an incredible individual and I have no doubt that our Heavenly Father loves you so very much. Just knowing the amazing person you are speaks so highly of your parents and how great of people they are. I feel very fortunate to have you as a friend and can't even imagine how blessed your parents feel to have you as their son. Love you so much man!

Bravone said...

Amen to what Andy said. I asked my dad this week if he wished that I hadn't told him. He answered honestly, "Sometimes, but I'm glad that you feel that you can share with us. I am so sorry that you have had to deal with this for so long." Loving parents are wonderful. I still feel a bit awkward around them, but I think that will fade with time. I bring it up occasionally so they have the opportunity to ask questions if they want.

You are a good son and friend. Good luck in DC.

Love you Robert, Steve.

Scott said...

Robert, I'm happy for you. I remember a conversation, not all that long ago, when you were absolutely certain that you would never come out to your parents. Now you've relieved yourself of a burden and deepened your relationship with your mother--I hope you believe that you are better off now than you were a week ago.

For your father, acceptance will come. The Spirit has already begun to work on him (letting him know that everything in your letter was true) and it will continue to do so, helping him to understand and accept and embrace this new knowledge. Just as your relationship with your mother has changed, in time you'll find that your relationship with your father him deepened as well.

I'm glad you have good friends to lean on for support. I hope you count Sarah and I among them. We're here for you if you ever need anything, and you're always welcome in our home.

October Rising said...

i was just thinking about you the other day wondering how everything went. luv ya.

robert said...

What great news. I understand something of what your dad is feeling. Many years ago I discovered that the biggest problem my parents had with my being gay was what they would say to their friends about me!? Wow, that really surprised me. I learned that very often pride is at the basis of much of our pain. And the struggles we have are not nearly as existential as we imagine them to be. Congratulations !

Z i n j said...

This is an amazing experience for us all...thanks for sharing. I can only imagine how difficult this would be for a father to process. There are so many implications given the hard edge that the church has portrayed. As time goes forward you can peel that orange and see what really lies beneath. Siblings would be another challenge....I think especially brothers. Old roommates, missionary companions, kids you grew up with and so forth...what an opportunity to see beneath the skin of souls. I don't think its about you so much as about them. You will remain the sweet soul that gives so much to others. The true test will play out in the characters that surround you. Stay Kool my brother. Zinj

2Mod4U said...

Robert, It sounds like this has gone about as smoothly as can be hoped. I've certainly been praying for you and your folks.

I've yet to come out to my folks, and I don't know if the time will come that I am prompted to do so.

As a Dad, I hope that neither my son nor daughter will have these SSA feelings as I know that they are a huge burden.

I've certainly struggled in my life with this for just about forever.

I really look up to you. You are an amazing man.

Years ago, one of my incredible R.M. cousins told me that he didn't want for to put him on a pedestal as he was afraid that he couldn't live up to that kind of expectation.

I must add that He has never fallen off of that pedestal for me.

You are doing astonishing things in your life, and I can't help but feel that God is looking upon you with pride as well as love.

I'm really new this entire scene of coming out. It's sometimes scary as hell, and sometimes it's simply liberating.

Your Friend


Sean said...

This is a little late, BUT... I'm glad it went well buddy! :)

Anonymous said...

Wow! Thanks for sharing your story. As a gay man, I know how frightening it is to go through the coming out process. I'm glad that you have a good group of friends for support, as you will need them and your family. I'm not a mormon, so I only understand mormon attitudes toward gay people from my own reading and discussions with a mormon coworker.

It sounds as if you have a lot of determination to remain faithful to the mormon religion and I hope that you will always find what you are looking for there. I personally would not be comfortable in what I have heard is a hostile environment.

If you ever find yourself doubting your faith, I want you to know that the path of leaving your faith is a process that is similar to coming out. It's long, personal and, sometimes, painful but there is hope on the other side of the tunnel. There are many people who have abandoned the pain associated with being gay in a religion that doesn't honor their person and their relationships.

I wish you much happiness and wellness in all that you do. Enjoy DC, I went to graduate school there and love it very much!


A random gay guy named Jim who stumbled onto your blog.

Anonymous said...

That's great I'm jealous of you, I don't think my parents will handle it well (that is, if I ever tell them) thanks for encouragement. You're a strong man.

BYU student who found your blog

Robert said...

Thank you guys so much. I was definately lucky with how my parents took it. I'm definately going slow with them about exposing this new facet of myself. A little bit by little bit, right? :) They're coming down this friday and I'll see them on Saturday. We're all back to talking close to every day and, while there is a little bit of that wierd feeling of "the thing we don't mention for now," our conversations are getting more and more normal as well. Yeah, I'm pretty fortunate.

Anonymous BYU student who found my blog - I hope that you subscribed to get emails of additional comments on this post, but I COMPLETELY understand your worry. For almost all of last year, I was sure I wasn't ever going to tell my parents, they'd just have to figure it out themselves or never know. My dad even expressed his very 1970's and 80's views on homosexuality being a choice and perversion of natural and divine laws. I think that because of how much they love me and because they know me so well and what I stand for and am devoted to, they (especially my dad) had to re-think their positions on those who experience homosexual feelings and desires. Email me if you want, but don't count them out. The time might someday come when it's right for you to include them a little bit more in your experiences. Be strong yourself my friend. Don't do this alone unless you feel better that way. We're here for and with each other. :)