Saturday, June 30, 2012

Jeremy


Did I mention that my fellah is the child of a MOM divorce? Did I mention that he served an LDS mission in NYC during 9/11? Did I mention that he's super sweet and sexy and YOUNGER THAN ME??

Meet Jeremy.

I love him.

2 Prides and a Lonely Barbie

UG5X27E67KR2 






L.A. Pride 2011 (I'm trying to imagine straight men surrounding me)







And...The truth about Barbie & Ken's marriage  Come on, we always knew, even before Toy Story 3.


Friday, June 29, 2012

An Example of Why Matt is My Best Friend

A few weeks ago, I was visiting my ex in SoCal, and he took me to a drag show he frequents in Riverside featuring Raven (I will post later about how since my feminine awakening in the last 2 years, Raven is the only 'woman' who makes me feel like maybe I'm not really a woman at all). 

I was thrilled to be spending time with Matt, out and about, and asked him to get me something to drink. 

"What'll ya have?" he asked. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Ashley~ the Younger, Lonelier, Depressed, Fat Version

So I saw a young wife/mother when I was in a public place yesterday.  She & baby were meeting her husband, who worked there, to say hello.  When they were done saying hello and chatting for few, she reluctantly started to make her way to the door to go home with baby.  She whispered something to her husband that I couldn't hear.  Then the husband said, "Yeah, I can walk you guys out to the car."

I thought of myself in that moment- a young mom; a desperate, great, hideous mess.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Hey, Kids! Your Dad is Gay! So What's New With You?

Matt and I did not tell the kids the main reason for our divorce right away.  We waited a few months.  You know, let's screw up their emotional health the least possible by dropping only one bomb at a time.

We told our oldest 2 first.  We chose a night that none of us had plans.  It was also a night when Matt had the kids, and they ritualistically watched Modern Family (ain't it precious?).  

Monday, June 25, 2012

I Think a Big, Fat 'Holy Crap' is in Order

An article about how a certain organization believes gays should be put to death.

The First Year, The Hardest One- The Story of Veronica

"I am still healing, still grieving -- I doubt I’ll ever get over this. But unlike when Jonathan first came out to me, I believe that I can be happy again someday. I’m realizing that although I will never have the beautiful life that I dreamed of, that the life I am living can be beautiful in a different way."




Divorce is a tragedy, regardless of how mature and friendly the exiting spouses behave during and after the event.  A family is ripped apart.  Deconstructed.  Redefined.  It hurts.  It is like a death.  We mourn.  Life will never be the same. 

The ability human beings have to move forward and rebuild while our souls are bleeding out is quite impressive. 



This is the story of an aquaintance of mine, "Veronica" -a former straight spouse of a Mo-Mo marriage, like myself.  She's quite remarkable.  I post it with her permission. The names have been changed.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

I Will Throw the Book at You

A for Effort

Matt and I were out having lunch a few years ago, and I said, "I have an idea for a book!"

Then Matt gets the look on his face that he gets when I know he's bracing for something that could be possibly, um, painful.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Ashley, Take a Deep Breath In...and Slowly Let it Out

A Break and a Party

I think we are due for a wee break from The Topics.

I have plenty more to say.  Starting tomorrow.  But tonight, after working an 8 hour day, is a party!  A couple friends and myself planned a party for the Summer Solstice, which was yesterday.  But the Hostess was flying in from Fiji last night.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Absence of Gay Marriage is the Real Threat to Families

I'll give you a minute to prepare...or stop seeing red...


If gay men and women, had the option to choose marriage to someone of their same sex (you know, someone they are actually in love with- mind, body, & soul), most of them would obviously go that route (now stay with me).

With more gays marrying gays, that means less gays marrying straights.

When less gays marry straights, that means less children coming into marriages that are statistically bound to fail.  

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Change

I am now a Blogger and no longer WordPressing.  You may have been redirected here automatically.  I am proud to say that during my time with WordPress (June 13th to today, yeah, about a week) I had over 46,000 views and over 4 thousand Facebook shares.  I am proud of my blog.

More on My Mo-Mo Marriage

Matt

I have so much respect for Matt, my ex husband. His talent as a director of theatre is mind-blowing. His ability for reasoning and talking me through emotional situations is 2nd to none. He makes me cackle and guffaw. I must say, I feel lucky to have this man be such an intimate part of my life. I refer to myself as his #1 Bitch- not in the prison way, but the gay 'you are one of the most awesome people on my life' way.  It is a title of honor.

Matt tried so hard.  Harder than I did, I think.  Meaning, I was ready to call it quits way before we mutually decided to end it.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Who Am I? part 1

Or Who the hell am I?  Or Who the hell do I think I am?  ("She said hell.  I will no longer read this blog. Now excuse me while I get ready to attend a PG-13 movie.")

Y'all wanna know what 'technically Mormon' means.  I'd like to know what it means as well. (cue 80's sitcom laugh track)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Nutso

I don't know that I've ever used the word 'nutso' before...or if anyone has for that matter.  But that is the first word that comes to mind in regards to the response my post has had in its wee tiny 36 hour life span.

The emotional effect of it exhausted me last night.  I crashed at about 12 to only be tossing and turning and eventually wide awake at 4:30 am.  So I texted my fellah, who has insomnia, to see if he was insomniating (I make up words).  He told me he hadn't slept a wink because he was voraciously reading comments posted on my blog.


I told him to knock that crap off and meet me for breakfast.

Zombie boyfriend met me at our favorite diner here in town.  He gave me a big squeeze, and I felt incredibly lucky to feel his extraordinary support.

Flashback to last night pre beddy-bye:


I was experiencing a slowly building freak-out because of the number of responses to my post.  Granted, I am thrilled beyond words to offer a voice of honesty and realness (for many).  I've been wanting to do something akin to this for a long time, but I was not expecting the nutso numbers and this fast.

I was texting Matt, my ex, about it, but to no avail.  I could not articulate what I was feeling and thinking (Ala Paula Abdul on American Idol).  But then he said, "I'm kinda feeling the same way."  Ha!

So, basically for a few hours there, I was nervous.  Very. 

Now back to today.

I have not read all the comments.  I simply don't have time, working 2 part-time jobs and raising my 2 youngest kids (the 2 older ones have lived with gay dad in California for about 4 months now- my babies...I miss them so much).

However, this morning, zombie boyfriend gave me a briefing at our impromptu coffee date.  I knew there'd be some major dissenters.  Super!


My most excellent boyfriend (and, yes, it feels silly when I say 'boyfriend' at 36) is a strong man who's been through hell himself, and if I didn't have him in my life when I'd posted this blog like I did, I might be a frightened mess.  But who knows, maybe I'm being too hard on myself.

The dialogue that's happening through the comments on my post is wonderful- good, bad, and ugly.  Talking about things that have rarely been talked about openly ever before is...golly...CONSTRUCTIVE.  How's that for a word?

I must go now to kick some tukis at the library- I'm a librarian 20ish hours out of the week.

Before I wrap up, though:

Matt, I love you.  So much, man.  We gave it our best, and these last 2 years, since the big D, I feel closer to you than ever.

I am proud of my blog post...and still a little nervous.

Lastly, and let this go down in the annals of blogdom, I would never tell anyone currently in a mixed-orientation marriage to get a divorce.  I'm not trying to preach that what Matt and I chose is the choice for all. 

However, I would strongly discourage those of you who are unmarried to choose this type of marriage for yourself.  Understand the huge risk, the desperation and misery.  My blog exists to offer 'responsible information' and 'humane guidance'.  Oh, and also... you should probably just not do it.



Tuesday, June 12, 2012

In Which I Feel Compelled to Start a Blog Because of a Club and a Unicorn...


I'm not really crazy about blogs.  I read a blog post maybe once every 6 months.  It's just the way I am.  

Today I use this blog as a tool.  And this may be the only post.  

(If you are FB friends with me, you've already heard some of this)  

I want to share my story.  That is all.  

Here goes:  

My name is Ashley.  I am 36 years old.  I have 4 kids, ranging from ages 7 to 14.  I am a part-time professional actress.  I have been divorced for 2 years. Technically speaking, I am LDS.

Yep, I was baptized when I was 8.  I went to BYU where I received a Bachelors in Theatre.  I married a returned missionary in the Mt. Timpanogas Temple.  We were full tithe payers.  I fulfilled several callings diligently, including serving as Primary President for 2 years.

About a year after my divorce, I was chatting with my new bishop, who I had known for several years prior to that.  He asked me, "So, Ashley, why did you and Matt get divorced?"
I replied, "Matt is a homosexual."
I just looked him in the eye after I said this and waited a few seconds while he absorbed it.
Then he asked, "Well, was there another problem as well?  Like drinking? Or gambling?"
I looked him in the eye a second time and replied, "Nope.  Just that."

He was genuinely confused.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I was in a mixed-orientation marriage- a marriage between someone who is gay and someone who is heterosexual.  I would venture a guess, an educated one at that, that spouses of mixed-orientation marriages understand homosexuality better than any other 'category' of people, besides homosexuals themselves.  Why do I say this?  Because the marriage relationship is meant to be a sexual one.

Now, let me give you a few seconds to absorb that.

Why do I need to share my experience with you?

Because it’s okay.  It’s okay to talk about homosexuality and how it affects us.

Because there are homosexuals, Mormon or not, who don't know that it's okay.  It's okay to be gay.  It’s okay that you are attracted to people of the same gender that you are.  You didn’t ask for this.  And it’s okay.

Because there are moms and dads and brothers and sisters and children and friends and neighbors who don't know that it's okay.  It’s okay for gay people to be gay.  It's okay for you to know gay people.  To love someone who is gay.  To treat homosexuals the same way they would treat heterosexuals.  It's okay for them to be gay.

And, also, because, frighteningly, there are straight, or heterosexual, spouses of homosexuals who don't know that THEY are okay.  There is nothing wrong with you.  You may feel trapped.  You may be deteriorating.  You mistakenly, and dangerously so, take on the responsibility of 'fixing' your spouse, or at least, the responsibility of lessening your spouse’s homosexual desires by doing your 'duty' as a sexual partner.  And that is incorrect.

All of you know someone who is gay.  And if you doubt that, it's because you just don't know yet that that ‘someone’ is gay.  But not everyone understands what it is-what it means to be homosexual.  Unless you are gay yourself, you'll never really know.  However, if you put aside judgment, put aside fear, and put forth love and an accepting mind, you can get a grasp on it.  You really can.  Talk to your gay loved ones.  Actually, let them talk while you listen.  Let them cry.  Let them scream.  Let them explain.

Let me tell you how my perspective on homosexuality has changed throughout my life.

In high school, my best friend, Chris, was gay.  He was not out, or openly gay, not even to me.  We all knew he was gay, I think, but we didn't want to think about it.  It was the early 90's AND it was Oklahoma.  It was simply not accepted by society.  For example, it was a common occurrence to hear football players comment aloud in class that they'd seen a couple of 'homos' in the store or elsewhere and wanted so much to "bash their faces in".  So that experience didn't necessarily help further my understanding of homosexuality.

Then there was BYU and the theatre department.  All I was WILLING to perceive was that there were some men that seemed more masculine than others.  I didn't entertain the thought of anyone being gay.  We were all at BYU for heaven's sakes!  The 2 things just didn't go together.  The end.

Then there's Matt.  Matt is the man I married.

Before I tell you about my experience with him and our marriage, I want to tell you a few things first.  He is still my best friend.  He knows me better than anyone on the planet, and visa versa.  And, yes, I knew he was attracted to men before we got married.  But that’s not what he said when he told me.  He didn't even say, "I'm gay."

We'd been dating for a few months, when he introduced me to his lesbian sister.  He'd told me that she'd been openly gay for several years and was not a practicing Mormon.

At some point after I'd met this sister, and we'd already said our "I love you's" and were quite seriously dating, Matt said to me one night, "There is something I should tell you.  I have the same problem my sister has."


Problem.

The word 'problem' denotes that there should be a solution.  Or that something is wrong.  That the situation can be fixed.  And, oh, boy!  That was the first thought that came to my mind!  "I will fix it."

What neither of us realized at that time, was there was nothing to be fixed.  There was nothing broken.  There was no perversion within Matt.  There was no disorder or distortion or 'problem'.  Everything about him is right and beautiful.

This is how I now see my best friend and ex-husband.

But at the time, when we were dating at BYU, we were temple-minded.  We were 2 people on the path to a life dedicated to eternal marriage, children, and life-long service in The Church.

After he told me he had the 'problem', the rest of the discussion went like this:

I was quiet at first.  He couldn't look at me as he said it or after.  But I just sat quietly and supportive in the passenger seat of his car.

He went on, "I've never acted on it.  I don't want to.”

We were both quiet now.

Then I spoke, "I don't care.  It doesn't matter."

“I want to go to therapy when I am making enough money to afford it.  There is a certain type of therapy that fixes it."

All of these things sounded very reassuring to me, a 20 year old.  Naive, hopeful, and in-love.

Neither of us realized at the time that it doesn’t go away.

Neither of us understood at the time that homosexuality, like heterosexuality, is at the very core of your essential being.  I can base this belief on my experience with Matt and the fact that throughout my life as a Mormon in the theatre community, I have yet to meet one person who said that they used to be gay, but now they are as straight as an arrow.

That night with Matt in his car, I didn’t understand even a little bit, that he, as a true-blue homosexual, was not able to appreciate my femaleness in the way that I would need, that women need.  During our marriage, we did have sex.  It was mechanical.  It felt wrong.  It was like a chore.  It was a way to relieve tension…sometimes.  Other times it only created more tension.  It was not intimate in any way.  Oh, I had orgasms...from time to time...especially once I hit my 30's.  But I could also give myself orgasms, if you know what I'm sayin'.

We both were on our own individual roller coaster of depression, denial, angst, and wanting to die.  A roller coaster we stayed on for 13 years.  And while we were each on our own separate coaster, our kids were on the ground watching us, wondering why we were on a ride that we weren’t enjoying, and why we couldn’t be on an enjoyable ride all together.

Good times existed.  Like I said, we were best friends.  We enjoyed many of the same things.  We laughed a lot.  We were both hilarious.  Both involved in theatre, heavily.  Also, because we were in therapy off and on our entire marriage, our communication skills were superb!  But there was always a pit in my stomach.  A voice in my head telling me, “There is something more,” over and over.

At the altar of the Mt. Timpanogas temple on the day of our sealing in 1997, my subconscious was screaming at me, “What are you doing?!”  On our honeymoon, it was yelling, “What have you done?!”  But it had been drilled into me my entire life to achieve temple marriage at all costs.  That programming made it very easy to shut out my subconscious and its urgent cries.

About 2 years into our marriage, Matt went to therapy.  A wonderful, loving therapist gave Matt the first outlet he’d ever had to talk freely about his sexuality.  He went to group therapy.  He did art therapy.  He did free-writing therapy.  He took Prozac.

He was very gung-ho, but no matter what he did, he still had several bouts of depression- depression so deep that I could feel it whenever I walked into a room he was in.  This cycle continued our entire marriage.

Matt served a mission.  Matt went to church.  He paid a full tithe.  We prayed together.  He accepted callings.  He blessed our babies when they were born.  He baptized 2 of our children.  He gave me blessings from time to time.

A mission, marriage, the church, and therapy did not make Matt heterosexual.  He didn’t become less homosexual.

A few months before we decided the marriage should end, he announced to me that he was ‘taking a break’ from the church.

“Oh?  Why?”  I asked.

“Because the only thing I’ve ever gotten out of it is guilt.”

I looked at him with compassion and said, “That’s awful.  I wouldn’t want to continue on that way either.”

I began to perceive a new Matt.  The weight of the world, and the solar system, and the galaxy were lifted from him.  When people would ask me about Matt’s choice to stop going to church and if it upset me, I would always reply, “This new Matt is so much more pleasant to live with.  I will take this Matt over the old one any day.”

Now let me back up.

Me.

I began therapy about the same time as Matt did- a couple of years after our wedding.  I didn’t understand why I was so angry all the time, and I hated how I felt.  The therapist, though I liked her a lot, never entertained the idea with me that I might be unhappy because of my marriage to a homosexual.

I started taking Zoloft.

I prayed.  Lots.  Not about my mixed-orientation issue, but about how to be happier and better, because I believed the misery of the marriage was my fault.  I believed I wasn’t trying hard enough.  And I didn’t want to try, and that made me feel guilty.  And now I know I was in a severe, deep, dark depression myself.  It was a miracle that I got out of bed every day to take care of our baby.

I cried.  A lot.  I ate. A lot.  I slept as much as I could.  I tried to get out of the house if I even felt the slightest inclination to.  Take a shower, round brush my hair, put on make-up and get out.  But somehow, that always made it worse.

I threw myself into callings.  Obsessed about them.  I took a teaching job at a college that was an hour and a half drive each way, twice a week, just to get away from what I didn’t want to face.  What I could not let myself accept.

It was 5 years into the marriage when I finally did.

Fast forwarding to 2002.  I knew Matt had looked at porn before.  And, yes, of course it was gay porn.  But I thought it was over and repented of.  I didn’t feel a threat necessarily when I learned about the porn.  I felt compassion.  I felt sorry for him.  I knew it was an act of desperation.  But then, in our 5th year, I discovered he was still looking.  And this time, I didn’t feel compassion, because it made me feel like a joke.  “I am married to a gay man!!!  Matt is gay!!  Why am I in this marriage!!  We are both miserable!! Why do I continue to kid myself that this will make me happy?”

Once I admitted this, accepted it, looked it in the eye, I went between feeling trapped and complacency for the next 8 years.  It can make one’s head spin.

At one point during those last 8 years, I wanted to die.  I wanted to cease to exist.  Living was awful.  It felt impossible.

So…

Maybe you’re getting the idea.  I share this brief version of my experience with you so that you can see through my eyes what it means to be gay, and even more specifically, gay and LDS.  The damage was, of course, not just happening to me, but Matt and I were both deteriorating.  That slow, but constant, state of deterioration is easy to mask.  We masked it with things like eating (that was a big one for us) and the self-satisfaction of living the Mormon dream (or fairy tale as I not-so-lovingly call it)- sitting in sacrament meeting each week, looking our best, singing the hymns, smiling and judging everyone else but ourselves.

If you can deepen your understanding of homosexuality, and I’ll quote Carol Lynn Pearson from her book, No More Goodbyes, then,

“parents at home and leaders at church will be able to respond without shock, with more responsible information, more compassion, and more humane guidance.” 

I like the phrase, “responsible information”.  I would offer to you that irresponsible information would be things like, ‘go on a mission and it will go away’ or ‘get married and your wife will fix it’ or ‘fast and repent and pray and serve and you will be made whole’.

I feel a responsibility to tell you that our gay loved ones ARE whole.

I feel a responsibility to tell you that your sexuality does not go away.

I feel an acute responsibility to tell you that marriage does not 'fix' a homosexual.

The book I quote from by Carol Lynn was published in 2007.  She sites that in that year, roughly 1 in 175 children suffered from autism.  We all know someone or at least know of someone who has autism.  She goes on to point out that in that same group of 175 children, 8 of them will be gay.

These are our children.  Or your niece or nephew or grandchild.  Right now, today.  They need love.  It’s that simple.  Love without judgment.  Love without disappointment.  That is called unconditional love.

Who do we believe loves us unconditionally?

Do Heavenly Father or the Savior ever state anywhere in the scriptures to love conditionally?  To love only our heterosexual children?  To love only our children that please us all the time or follow the path we envision for them?  No.

Think of how it feels to feel the Spirit, to feel the Holy Ghost.  I believe with all my heart, that it is God’s Love that we feel in those times.  Is that what a father is feeling when he tells his gay son to leave the house and never return?  Is that how a mother is feeling when she tells her gay daughter that she would rather she’d never been born?

A 20 year old SUU student put it so perfectly when he said, “Can’t I just love who I want to love?  I didn’t ask for this!”

If I, as a heterosexual woman, decided to completely commit to another woman in a romantic, sexual relationship for deeply held religious beliefs, I would be lying through my teeth if I ever told anyone I was truly happy and fulfilled.

Sometimes, perhaps, a lot of the time, our homosexual loved ones will choose to love as they feel naturally inclined, in same-sex relationships.  I believe that they are choosing joy.  I’ve known too many gay men and women personally who have attempted either celibacy or relationships with the opposite sex, because of their strong testimonies of the church, and they DO NOT experience joy.

Men are that they might have joy.

Members of the church who have never deviated from the church’s teachings expect the reward of joy in return.  Gay members who have never deviated from the teachings of the church expect the same.  Many times they do not find it.  So they choose another path, and many times that path, living true to their orientation, keeps them from committing suicide.  Because they have finally experienced joy.

When my husband came out, a friend he’s known for several years contacted him and told Matt he was also gay.  He is also LDS and has never acted on his desires.  He went on to tell Matt that many times he’d seriously contemplated suicide.  Some of those times, he actually planned out the suicide.  He knew exactly how he was going to kill himself, but when the time came to go through with it, he couldn’t.  His words to Matt were, “everyday I regret that I did not have the courage to end my life.”  Again, this man, never has acted on his desires and remains faithful to the church.  Where is his joy?

So in the title of this post, I mentioned a certain other blog post that seems to have gone viral.  I am frightened at the message that the other post is sending.  Some couples might be able to achieve what the Club Unicorn couple is (hell, Matt and I did when the denial and repression were working), but in most cases that type of arrangement can only end badly...and where children are involved, let me tell you first-hand...

I am frightened that the message that other post sends will further encourage Prop 8 or Prop 22 mindedness.

Let me ask you this:  How did those Propositions protect my marriage, my family?  Hm?

They did not.       :)