Last weekend I was drawn to my first blog. I flipped through the entries and realized there were many that chronicled the growth of my children. I talked about different phases and funny things they've said and done. And I was reminded of how much I've loved being their mom. They are three of the best humans I've ever met. Now that they're older, I don't know that I'll write much about them. They're adults and deserve not only privacy, but a say in what is published about them online. But I began thinking that maybe it's worth writing about other things. A decade from now perhaps I will value the posts waiting to be written right now.
During the past ten years I changed a great deal. I learned how to accept the person I am. I learned that the results of trauma can be scarring and invasive for a long time. I learned that being a whole person is better than fragmenting oneself. Mostly I learned that there is no shame in being a victim, and that eventually one becomes strong enough to be a survivor. Once survivorship is mastered, it is possible to remember that some things should never happen, but they do not define those who experience them. They shape us to an extent, but at some point we choose the power they have over us. No one knows when that point in time will come. For some it happens quickly. Others, like myself, might wait years and undergo extensive therapy. Perhaps for some, an entire life might be spent trying to find that moment.
I went to a therapy session the first week of this month. I've been seeing Nathan Gibbons for the past ten years. I love him because he allowed me a great deal of control as I tried different strategies to work through my past and resultant post-traumatic stress disorder. I've seen three other therapists who wanted me to work within formulaic structures to resolve those issues. In the end, I left them to seek out someone who would help me think of ways tailored to meet my specific needs, and I found Nathan. Much of what I tried in the course of therapy was unorthodox. Sometimes the results were less than stellar, but often I found answers and met needs as I researched, studied, and discovered. During my most recent therapy session, Nathan said he's not really helping me anymore. I check in with him, but I'm doing everything on my own now.
I'm not sure how I feel about that. I know Nathan's right. But I've been relying on him for a long time. It feels odd to know that even though mentally I think I'm still relying on him, the actuality is that I'm applying what I've learned and coping on my own when stress hits. Well, on my own-- using the support network of people who have walked with me for the last decade. I don't believe anyone with PTSD can be successful without continuous contact with people.
That same weekend I had the opportunity to speak at a fireside about building Zion in the church. It focused on groups of people who typically feel marginalized when they attend church functions, specifically those who are black (a group of people denied the priesthood and temple ordinances until the mid-1970s), transgender individuals, and those who are homosexual (referred to as same-sex attracted by many in the church). I will state right now that I don't really care about terminology and I've been called insensitive more than once. I'm guilty of referring to those who are homosexual as "gay" simply because it's easier to say than same-sex or same-gender attraction, and it doesn't sound like a disease. To me, the word "gay" means your sexual preference is in line with homosexuality. The word has no other connotation. For many in the church, it indicates a lifestyle choice. I think this is stupid, and I have advocated for many years to allow people to choose what terms they wish to use when describing themselves. After all, they know better than anyone else what makes them comfortable. Correctness, or political correctness have a place, but so does autonomy, and I'm pretty tired of the debate in the church surrounding the word "gay."
Here's the thing: Let's suppose if someone says they're gay, that it does indicate a lifestyle choice. This matters because... ?
I hope what I'm saying is coming through loud and clear. It shouldn't matter at all. That choice belongs to the person who made it and has no bearing on the commandment we've received to love one another. In my book, love doesn't mean that I tell you how to live your life, or the things about your life that I wish you did differently, or the people in your life I wish you didn't have sex with. It means that I love you. That's all. It's pretty simple.
And this opens a Morm-norm societal can of worms because then I hear things like, "If I hang out with openly gay people, they'll think I condone the lifestyle." Hogwash. Do you really believe that gay people spend even one millisecond wondering if you condone what they do? They're busy living. They eat, sleep, go to work, spend time with loved ones, enjoy good times and grieve bad ones-- just like you. I promise, they don't go to bed after spending time with you thinking, "Well, that was nice. X spent time with me so now I know she/he condones my lifestyle." Seriously. No one does that. It's time to get over yourself.
Completely random and off-topic experience: Saturday night I was driving to the store. I got to a crosswalk at a busy intersection and Natalie warned me of an approaching pedestrian. He was in dark clothing so I had not seen him. I stopped rather quickly to stay out of his way. He walked aggressively toward my car and pointed at the pedestrian "Walk" sign. I nodded and waved. The man stopped directly in front of me, peered at me through the windshield, then walked on while shouting something I couldn't understand. I turned to Natalie and asked, "Did you understand what he said?" She did her best drunk-man imitation and said, "Yes. He said,'You're beautiful! You're so, so beautiful!'" Then she giggled all the way to the store.
So there you have it. Drunk men staggering through crosswalks find me incredibly beautiful. It doesn't get much better than that.