Thursday, December 27, 2012

Further Adventures In Dementia

I actually feel I've been adjusting to Mom's mental decline pretty well (well, as well as a person can).  But some days are still heartbreaking.

Yesterday I was talking to Mom and she was going on about how she's living in this strange house and that she's eager to get back to her old one.  Never mind that she's lived in the same house for 50 years and has never lived anywhere else during that time.

Mom was surprised that my niece and nephew had found out where she was living now, but was glad they were there.  She was having trouble recalling my little sister's name.  She knew that her neighbors lived across the street still (they've also lived there about as long as my mom has), but didn't think her other neighbors lived next door to this "new place."  (They still do)

Mom talks to me about the house I lived in for most of my life as if it's an unfamiliar place.

Dementia is such a bizarre and fascinating disease.  From a scientific point of view, it's so fascinating to me that a person can actually forget (and even misremember) their siblings or children's names or the way their own parents died or think that the house they've lived in for more than half their life is not the same place.  And it's amazing to me what a quick downward spiral she has taken in recent months.

And yet it's also funny the things she still remembers.  Some of them seem so insignificant, yet her brain has accurately captured them in great detail.

Dementia is a sad disease.  It is hard to watch a person you love mentally waste away and know that each day you lose more and more of the person she was.  And it's hard knowing that Mom can never fully take care of herself again.

And yet..., the disease is harder on those of us watching it happen.  Mom seems blissfully unaware of her mental decline.  She actually seems quite content and childlike, over all.

I predict it will not be very much longer (within the next year, I would think) that Mom will have to move into an assisted-living facility.  And actually, I think she will be better off, and I think we will, too.  I just wish these places weren't so damn expensive.

I think initially she will resent the move and be upset with us, but I do believe she will eventually grow to like it and will benefit from it.  It's the initial part that I am not looking forward to.

But like I've said, I'm trying to make the best memories with the mom that is rather than lament who she was.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

One Of The Most Accurate Quotes I've Ever Read About An Actor's Life

“Actors are some of the most driven, courageous people on the face of the earth. They deal with more day-to-day rejection in one year than most people do in a lifetime. Every day, actors face the financial challenge of living a freelance lifestyle, the disrespect of people who think they should get real jobs, and their own fear that they'll never work again. Every day, they have to ignore the possibility that the vision they have dedicated their lives to is a pipe dream. With every role, they stretch themselves, emotionally and physically, risking criticism and judgment.With every passing year, many of them watch as the other people their age achieve the predictable milestones of normal life - the car, the family, the house, the nest egg. Why? Because actors are willing to give their entire lives to a moment - to that line, that laugh, that gesture, or that interpretation that will stir the audience's soul. Actors are beings who have tasted life's nectar in that crystal moment when they poured out their creative spirit and touched another's heart. In that instant, they were as close to magic, God, and perfection as anyone could ever be. And in their own hearts, they know that to dedicate oneself to that moment is worth a thousand lifetimes.”-David Ackert, LA Times

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Just Visiting

Well, I went back to Utah for an audition this past weekend.  The audition went well, by the way.  I am optimistic.

For the first time I can remember, being back "home" didn't feel like home anymore.  I truly felt like I was visiting.  I suppose that's good.  It means I'm learning to let go of Utah and my previous responsibilities dealing with Mom and her health and embracing my life here with Jonah.  It's a good thing.

After being Mom's primary caregiver for so long, it truly felt weird not to be in charge or to be everybody's go-to guy when there was a question about Mom.  In some ways, it felt nice.  In others, I feel bad that I don't have the same responsibilities or same input as I did before.

I really had to drill into Mom that this was just a visit and that I wasn't staying.  She has missed me a lot (likewise for me), and I really think she was hoping I'd stay.

Truth is, Mom has deteriorated even in the short month and a half I've been gone.  She's convinced she was living somewhere else for a while and is back in her house even though she's always been in that house (at least for the past 50 years), and she informs me of this every time I call.  She forgot her own brother's name, and even when I reminded her, it didn't seem to register.  She thinks my brother-in-law took us on a tour on a trip we took to New York back in 1989 even though my sister didn't meet my brother-in-law until 1999 or so.  She's forgotten how to take her blood sugar on her own even though it's something she's done on a regular basis for years.  She couldn't remember her hairdresser that she's been going to for 35 or 40 years.  She tells me my niece and nephew are living with her as if it's complete news to me (even though we all cohabited for a year).  We're worried that she's not using soap in the shower (and she doesn't remember to use soap when she washes dishes, apparently.)

Whereas when I left I was skeptical that Mom might be ready for assisted living, there is little doubt in my mind now that that is where she is headed.  Her dementia has gotten bad.  My niece and nephew had originally planned on staying just until June, but there is a chance they may stay longer because they feel Mom isn't as aggressive with them as she once was.  They say she is very childlike and isn't very resistant to doing what she is reminded to do.

I hope they stay longer.  These assisted living places are so pricey.  We will likely have to sell Mom's house to pay for it, and there is certainly the possibility that she will outlive her money.

Some of the places we have visited have been very nice, but most have been out of Mom's price range, even with some of the financial assistance possibilities there are.  I think when we eventually reach the point when Mom has to move out of her home and into one of these places, she will be resentful and upset at first, but will grow to like it and maybe even forget she was in her home at all.

It's the resentful, upset part I am not looking forward to, but I think it will give everybody greater peace of mind if she is taken care of there rather than worrying about the times she is alone in her house.  I think it will allow her to be more social, will help better regulate her medications, and will allow her to eat more healthy (although my niece and nephew have done a good job at getting her to eat better).

I'm starting to reach the point where rather than lamenting the loss of the woman my mom was, I'm trying to make the most of the memories of who she is right now.  I do miss my old mom sometimes, but there are things I enjoy about who she is now, and I figure it's better to embrace it because it's not going to ever be the way it was.

We had a family meeting about Mom and her future.  It didn't go quite as planned.  We started late, and the meeting was cut short because our antsy mom, who was at a friend's house, came back home early.

I can tell my brother is stressed.  My brother reminds me a lot of my dad: kind of a workaholic whose duties to his wife and kids come first, and then his church duties come next; calm and practical and not very prone to emotion; but stressed.  I can tell he's overloaded, and I'm sure the situation with Mom isn't helping.  The thing is, I would say of the four of Mom's kids, my brother is the least involved in her immediate care.  This is not due to an unwillingness to help; it's just that my brother has a leadership position in both his job and in the church, and so he is very busy.

But I also speculate that my brother uses (perhaps unconsciously) work and church duties as an escape.  Maybe I'm wrong.  I think my brother puts above all his duty to keeping his family clothed and fed, and he has to work to earn the money needed to do that.  And I think he puts his church calling second.  But just like my dad did, I think he sometimes drowns in his work and church duties at the expense of his own health and at the expense of his relationship with Mom. 

Perhaps I am not giving my brother enough credit.  I know he does a lot to help my mom in ways I don't perhaps observe.  But I remember shortly before I moved back here to be with Jonah, I reminded Mom that even though I was leaving, her other kids would still visit.  I reminded her that my two sisters and my sister-in-law visited her.  "But not [your brother]" she said, and I had to admit she was right.

That isn't to say that he doesn't visit or love her; because I know he does, and I know it's causing great strain on him trying to figure out how to best help her.  But I also wonder as Mom gets worse if my brother won't regret the time he missed with her.  I get it: he's busy and is supporting a family, and I don't blame him for that.  I just hope he doesn't carry any regrets later on.

I went to my nephew's ordination while I was in Utah.  He was being ordained an elder.  We sat in the high council room, and my nephews and brother and neighbor all ordained my nephew while I sat and watched.  It made me feel excluded, and as my nephew was given some Kleenex to wipe his tears as he bore his testimony, I remember standing in such a high council room shedding my own tears because I was losing my membership in a church I loved and still love.

After these terrible shootings in Newton, Connecticut, I had a long talk with God.  I told him, flat out, that I just can't believe people like Jonah and I are supposedly wicked for loving each other when there is so much selfishness and a lack of love shown by so many others in this world.  I do not buy it.  And when I see people do terrible things in the name of religion and in the name of God, I just find it baffling.  Their actions don't represent the God I know and love.

These terrible shootings have been devastating.  I can't even watch the news.  I just can't.  It's too much for me to handle.  I am normally a very optimistic and forgiving person, but these shootings have really had a negative effect on me.  The innocent lives lost at the hands of a selfish, mentally-unbalanced man simply makes no sense to me.  The only solace I have found are the positive reactions and actions I have seen by those affected by the tragedy and by those who want to ease their pain.

Two days ago, someone stole Jonah's rear tail light covers right off his truck right in our driveway while we slept.  I'm so weary of dishonesty and selfishness.  I'm so weary of cheating and lying and killing.  I'm weary of the taking and destroying of property, lives, and innocence.  I try so hard to see the good in all, but the bad eggs really make it hard sometimes.

But I try to remember how incredibly blessed and happy I really am, and I try to always remind myself that I can't control what other people do; I can only control how I choose to react and my attitude.

Anyway, those are just some of my thoughts today.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Shooting In Newtown, Connecticut

My heart is just breaking today for the all the people who lost loved ones today because of such a senseless tragedy.  I couldn't even watch the news.  It was just too much for me.  I think of all the innocent lives lost today and, even more, the innocence that has been taken away from those kids who survived.  It is so overwhelmingly awful.  When will stuff like this ever stop?  And why does it always seem like things like this happen so close to the holidays?  My heart grieves so much for those who will not ever spend another Christmas (or another day, period) with their loved ones.

All these parents did was send their kids off to school.  All these kids and adults were doing was going to school and work.  And then this guy has to come in and destroy innocence and lives.  I am normally such a forgiving and optimistic person, but this was just too much for me.

And then there's all the "whys?" and arguments for and against gun control and politicizing and the media trying to get the next sound bite, and it's just too much.

We have got to be kinder to each other.  We have got to keep our humanity.  We have to show more love and compassion, just in general.  When I read the vitriol in the online comment section of a newspaper or read some heated Facebook argument or see some reporter trying to pry the gory details out of six year-old kid or see videos of Black Friday shoppers mauling each other for some eternally worthless bargain or watch human beings treat each other with contempt or ignorance or watch politicians squabble to gain political power at the expense of the people they supposedly represent or read stories about kids driven to suicide because of bullying or see examples of racism or watch some clip of some stupid reality show that celebrates and exploits bad behavior and ideals or become smothered by the 24-hour news cycle of all the horrible things human beings do to each other, I crave a world in which love and understanding and hope and light and compassion and charity and thoughtfulness and joy are the norm.

I continually try to find the good in people.  I try very hard not to judge and to give people the benefit of the doubt.  I try to exercise mercy and compassion.  I am not always successful, but I really try.

I long for a world in which kindness and love are the ideals.  Days like this make me feel like we are losing that.  The world and its people just seem to get more wicked and selfish, and it has to stop.  It just has to.


Things like this and this and this remind me of the good there still is.  And, in my heart, I still believe that humans are mostly good.  I hope so, anyway.

One of my very favorite quotes is from Anne Frank, who had every reason to think otherwise: "It's really a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart." 

There is another I like: "I simply can't build my hopes on a foundation of confusion, misery and death... I think... peace and tranquillity will return again."

I have to believe this is true.  It's all that keeps me going sometimes in this crazy world.

Monday, December 10, 2012

My Thoughts On The New Mormons And Gays Website

Well, in my last post I said I would talk about my thoughts on the LDS Church's new website,  First of all, I was surprised that they made it at all.  I will say this: in spite of any faults I see with it, I do think it's a step in the right direction; a very tiny, baby step in the right direction, but a step nonetheless.

Some critics contend that this is just the Church trying to do some damage control with the gay community and give themselves a more positive spin by making it look like they're evolving somewhat without actually doing so.  I tend to think the Church's motives are sincere; I think they are trying to deal more compassionately with an obviously difficult issue without compromising the doctrine that teaches that acting on one's homosexuality is sinful.

What I like about the site:

That it requires a greater call for sensitivity.  I like that the Church is finally owning up to what a difficult and complex issue this is and how it is a reality for many people and that more love, sensitivity, and patience and less judgment is required in dealing with it.

 As Elder D. Todd Christofferson says, "Initial reactions are critical. And the inclination, the temptation that people have often is anger or rejection. Sometimes it’s simply denial, on both sides of the question, whatever it may be. And it’s important to have enough self control to lay all that aside and to have a little patience, and to begin to talk and begin to listen and begin to try to understand better. We lose nothing by spending time together, by trying to understand, even where there’s not agreement on a course to follow at the moment or how to respond or how to react." 

From an individual on the site:  "If you have not charity you are nothing, so I think we can’t profess to be believers or disciples of Jesus Christ if we don’t love all people. Regardless of what their lifestyle may be that shouldn’t change the way we feel nor our response to them."

That the Church doesn't have all the answers. From a church that often makes people think it does have all the answers, it's nice to know that it admits it doesn't.  From the main text of the website: "No one fully knows the root causes of same-sex attraction. Each experience is different. Latter-day Saints recognize the enormous complexity of this matter. We simply don’t have all the answers. Attraction to those of the same sex, however, should not be viewed as a disease or illness. We must not judge anyone for the feelings they experience."

Elder Christofferson: "We don’t have to do everything today. We don’t have to resolve everything in a month or a week or a year. These things are questions of resolution over time and accommodation over time and seeking the will of the Lord over time and guided by him over time. So, I hope we will give ourselves the time and have the patience to listen and understand and not insist on everything being resolved within a certain framework of time."

That it's not a choice.  I like the reiteration that homosexual feelings are not chosen.  This has been said before, but I don't remember hearing it so bluntly, and it's not something the Church has always taught.  I like that it's there in black and white: it's not a choice to have homosexual feelings.  No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

That it could further open up lines of communication.  I like anything that creates a dialogue.  For so many years, especially when I was younger, homosexuality seemed like such a taboo subject.  It was rare that you would hear anybody talk about it, and usually when it was, it was accompanied with hellfire and brimstone.  I like that this encourages people in the church to perhaps talk more openly and more compassionately about it.

That marriage is not a cure.  Also contrary to what the Church once taught, I like that they admit that marriage is not always a good option.

Elder Christofferson:  "You’ll see in some of these experiences that are related on this site that it has been a successful experience in a few cases, or some have expressed the success they’ve found in marriage and in raising a family and in the joy and all that has filled out and blessed their lives as a consequence. But that, we know, is not always true. It’s not always successful. Sometimes it’s been even disastrous."

That leaders have not always handled this issue well. I like that the site admits that leaders haven't always handled this matter with the grace and compassion that is required. 

Elder Christofferson: "I can understand that there could have been a legitimate concern about the kind of reception one might find from a local priesthood leader in the past."

That it includes the voices of gay people and their families.  I like that the site gives gay people and their families a face, and while the one of the site's main goals is to encourage gay members to stay true to its tenets, I do like that there are individuals reflected on the site who didn't necessarily choose that path.  I like that it includes practical advice from those individuals that could help others to better deal with this issue.  Things like:

"Don’t lecture. Don’t preach. Don’t tell either of my children why they’re wrong, why their positions are wrong because that is going to do absolutely nothing more than push them further away. And it’s hard to have a conversation with someone that is going away from you." 

"To just be honest. Let them share, let them be open. Let them be with you, let them come. Let them be where you are. I think the absolute worst thing we can do is to exclude them or to make them feel uncomfortable." 

"It’s hard when you feel that your experience is negated or in some cases outright denied."

"I can speak to the fear of wanting to tell other people and not being able to because they are afraid of losing their friends, losing their relationships, being castigated. If you have a family who is very religious and they’re afraid that if they tell their family they’ll lose your family. We actually do need to do the exactly opposite and reach out in love."

 "One thing that’s always important is to recognize the feelings of a person, that they are real, that they are authentic, that we don’t deny that someone feels a certain way. We take the reality where it is, and we go from there. And we want people to feel that they have a home here, that we have much, much more in common than anything that’s different about us."

That they're willing to use the word "gay."  Frankly, just the fact that they didn't call the site is a step in the right direction.  They do use the term "same-sex attraction" (which doesn't bother me), but they use "gay" and "lesbian," and I like that.

That not every apostle is a Boyd K. Packer.  And let me state for the record, I don't think Boyd K. Packer is a bad man.  I have said so before.  But I do think he thinks in very black-and-white terms as far as this issue goes, and I don't think he has always handled it with great compassion or sensitivity.

I actually don't know much about Elder Quentin L. Cook, nor did I know of the experiences he shared on the site until I visited it, but you can see that he sees a more human side of the issue, and I appreciate that.  Check out his video clip where he shares his experiences serving as a Stake President when several young men died from AIDS.

Quentin Cook: "I think the lesson that I learned from that is that as a Church nobody should be more loving and compassionate. No family who has anybody who has a same-gender issue should exclude them from the family circle. They need to be part of the family circle."  

"...let us be at the forefront in terms of expressing love, compassion, and outreach to those and lets not have families exclude or be disrespectful of those who choose a different lifestyle as a result of their feelings about their own gender. I’m sorry, I feel very strongly about this as you can tell. I think it’s a very important principle."

 That it could help families with gay family members.  Just this evening I received a call from a friend who is Mormon and is wanting to come out, but is scared of how his parents will react.  It is my ardent hope (and I believe church leaders probably hope the same thing) that this site will give parents permission to handle things more compassionately and with more love and to respect their kids' free agencies if they choose a path that is contrary to what the parents may wish.

Elder Christofferson: "I think what’s critical is that we try to resolve this in patience and with a divine perspective, not trying to dictate to God how and what His answers will be to our prayers or when and how He might intervene in this situation, but trying to achieve and understand His perspective on things so that everyone’s desire is to do what the Lord would want done, to do it in the Lord’s way, and not one’s own way, and not simply to be thinking of one’s own feelings exclusively. And that might work out differently in one family than another. We’re trying to communicate that our love is inclusive, that we want to have the family remain intact, and the relationships we’ve treasured over the years to remain and to grow. So there will be some work to be done but its work that ought to always be with the question, ‘what does the Lord want, how would He have us do this together?’"

Stake President Roger Carter "The best case scenarios that I have dealt with are where families have been unequivocal about their love and compassion for a family member who is gay and who has decided that they are not going to live the standards of the Church."

That they're trying.  While I feel the church and its leaders have sometimes floundered and made great missteps regarding this issue, I do appreciate that they are trying.

Now, what I don't like:
Failing at inclusiveness.  The Church wants to create a feeling of inclusion, but can't really be successful in doing so if it maintains its doctrine.  Now, I don't expect the Church to change its doctrine to suit me.  If the Church believes homosexual behavior is a sin and that it's contrary to God's law, it is its right to teach that.  But for those of us who felt we had no other choice than to follow our hearts, it's not going to win us over or make us "stay with [you]."

You also might want to consider helping those of us who have been excommunicated feel less isolated and excluded.  I get that my choices put me here, but I've also tried to maintain fellowship, and it is not easy when I feel so limited in my participation.

That we have to compromise in order to stay "valiant."  Ty Mansfield shares an experience where he talks about having dated men before eventually getting married to a woman.  He says, "And it was interesting because I felt more emotionally alive but I also felt a loss of light, and that was clear to me during that time. It was a slow decrease in light but I noticed it.At one point, I was feeling very, very distant, probably as far from God as I had ever felt, and I had this very strong spiritual experience, kind of a mystical experience, where I was almost being enveloped in this feeling of love. There was nothing in that that was ‘what you’re doing is right, what you’re doing is wrong’ it was just this feeling of ‘I love you.’ And I felt like God knew me, that he remembered me. And I needed that more than anything. Again, it wasn’t an affirmation, it wasn’t a rebuke, it was just ‘I love you.’ "

That is Ty's experience and is valid to him.  Fine.  But what about people like me who feel they found greater light in a homosexual relationship?  Is our experience to be denied?  Do we have to compromise our love to stay true to the LDS Church?

One guy named Ted, who is a celibate and active Mormon, said, "The gospel of Jesus Christ provides love and light and enhancement of our abilities to do things. You know, men are that they might have joy and I feel a great joy in my life these days."  He, apparently, has found joy in following that path.  I could not find it following the same path.  The path I'm on has been the best possible thing for me emotionally and spiritually.  Does not my experience count for something?  I felt the same love from God that Ty speaks of, but I was led this way.  So is his path right and mine wrong?  Or is it just possible that both of our paths were right for each of us?  Which brings me to:

 Not enough variety.  Dallin H. Oaks clearly states, "Our discussion is limited to two related questions we sometimes hear in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. What does our doctrine teach us about how family members and church members should treat one another when one of their members is struggling with some of these issues, and how can we help members of the church who struggle with same-gender attractions, but want to remain active and fully engaged in the church?"

I get it.  The goal is to keep gay members active and true to their covenants, so of course, experiences that back that view up will be the ones featured.  And I do acknowledge that there were one or two people featured on the site that didn't choose that path.  But it would still be nice to see other facets of those who have chosen other paths, but are still happy. 

It still seems like a lot of the same old, same old.  There's still a call to overcome it or live with it, even if it means a life of loneliness.  On some level, it still feels like the Church doesn't understand what it's like on our end.  No reason why it should, but there it is.

Stuff like this: "Reconciling same-sex attraction with a religious life can present an especially trying dilemma. Anyone who lives in both worlds can attest to its difficulty. But with faith, love and perspective it can be done. Every human being, Latter-day Saints affirm, has worth and dignity as a child of God. In this respect we are all equal. Our lives here on earth are full of joys and sorrows. But God created each of us for greater destinies. Gender is an eternal characteristic. Latter-day Saints believe that the family is the central unit of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our most cherished relationships can, under the right conditions, last for eternity." still feels like the same rhetoric that has caused so much pain and heartache over the years.  Just because you try to wrap it in a pretty bow doesn't mean it still doesn't cause damage.  But it is my hope that some of the more compassionate rhetoric will diminish the pain.

I guess my biggest complain is this:

That it seems too little, too late.  Although I applaud the Church for trying to make things better, and although I'm hopeful it will build bridges and heal hearts, why has it taken so long for the Church to acknowledge that which seems so basic to me: that whether someone is gay or not and chooses to follow that path, we should just love them and not make them feel excluded or judged or alone.  Too many people and families have been damaged by some of the old rhetoric.  A softer, more compassionate tone isn't going to undo some of that damage.  I'm grateful for a softer tone, but why hasn't this always been the norm.

Anyway, bottom line: I think it's a good step, and I hope it does good things.  Unless the Church fully accepts gays and lesbians for who they are, it won't change the attitude of most gay people, I imagine.  But a step is a step, and I'm grateful for it.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Building A Relationship With My Partner's Parents

I don't think people think so much about getting old until their own parents do.  At least, that has been my own personal experience.

With my own father's health problems and early death in 1992 and my mom's relatively recent battle with dementia, I have thought about my own mortality and future as I grow older.

Today Jonah and I helped his parents out.  Their current Medicare plan will not be in service next year, so Jonah and I were trying to help them pick a new one.  What a process!  Researching and picking out a plan was a chore in and of itself, but actually applying for the new plan with a benefit advisor proved somewhat difficult.  Jonah's dad can't hear hardly anything and suffers from dementia himself, and yet they needed to personally talk to him and get his approval, so that was challenging.  We actually had to write cue cards in huge letters (he can't see very well, either) so he could answer the questions.  Just talking on the phone with the agent and getting both parents taken care of took two to three hours.

Neither of Jonah's parents are internet-savvy, so they couldn't have done a lot of the research on the internet that I did for them.  The plan specifics are very confusing to them (and frankly, some of it was confusing for me).  I honestly don't know how the government and the insurance companies expect senior citizens to wade through all the confusion and bureaucracy.  It's very complicated.  There's no way someone like my mom or Jonah's dad (or even his mom) could have done what needed to be done on their own.  There has to be a simpler way.

And then trying to figure out which plans cover what and if their doctors accept specific plans is a headache.  If we had a single-payer universal healthcare system like some countries, we wouldn't have to deal with a lot of this.

I was disheartened to see that the best plan offered for Jonah's parents in their area will be a  considerably higher cost to them than their current plan.  And yet my mom has a pretty good plan in Utah that costs her very little, but that plan isn't offered here.  Somehow it doesn't seem fair.

Almost all the plans offered here are HMOs, which are less costly, but also very restrictive and don't let you see the doctors you want to see without incurring great cost.  There were only two PPOs offered, both of which were costly (doubly so because each parent is charged separately, which seems lame).  We ended up getting the less expensive of the PPOs, but it will incur costs that Jonah's parents didn't have with their old plan, which was also a PPO.  (C'mon, Obama, you're making me look bad for believing in and voting for you.  Isn't the Affordable Healthcare Act supposed to make things easier for people like Jonah's parents, who are already strapped for money as it is?)

Anyway, I was glad we could help Jonah's parents through a complex process.  Then we went out and trimmed their rose bushes and cleaned up some of their yard.  It needed to be done.  Those rose bushes were out of control.

Jonah is such a good and devoted son.  I admire how attentive he is to his parents' needs, even when they drive him crazy.  I suppose I'm the same with my own mom.

It was really nice helping Jonah's parents out.  I really feel like stuff like that helps me bond with them and helps them see me in a positive way.  I know Jonah's mom, especially, initially had difficulty with Jonah's sexuality and our relationship (and perhaps she still does), but as I've gotten to know her and Jonah's father, I think we've really started to develop a positive relationship.

Jonah's mom said that she hoped I would find work here.  She said she likes it when I'm here and that she doesn't worry so much about Jonah when I'm around.  That really made me feel good.

I also feel like I'm reaching a point where I can talk about my living arrangements with Jonah more comfortably.  I don't feel we're at the point where I can refer to Jonah as my partner or husband around them (even though they know we are), but I do feel like it is acknowledged that we are together, and that it's a good thing, and that is a nice step forward with them.

We were there from about 9:30 or 10 am until about 5 pm, so it was an all-day thing.  But it was nice.

When I look at Mom or Jonah's parents, I sometimes wonder who will take care of Jonah and me when we grow too old to take care of ourselves.  It concerns me.

Anyway, it was a good day.

I hope to write about this website soon, too.

It's an interesting, perhaps progressive, move for the LDS Church.  In some ways it's positive.  In other ways, I feel the Church is still getting in its own way as far as the issue of homosexuality.  But it's step in a good direction, I feel.  Anyway, hopefully that will be another post for another day.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Speaking My Truth

So I have this friend who's kind of "New-Agey."  I've always liked her, but I have sometimes found her ideas unconventional.  I know, for example, she does work as a spiritual birth assistant, which helps parents develop a spiritual and kinetic relationship with the baby while it's still in the womb.  She has also worked as a new energy practitioner, which involves channeling and balancing other people's energy.  She is also into reincarnation and angel readings and numerology and once paid for me to have a reading done by a numerologist/psychic.

She's actually a very smart woman and an extremely kind, loving, and spiritual person, but for a long time the skeptic in me felt like a lot of the ideas and practices she was into were...well, hooey.  That didn't mean I didn't love her or that I didn't believe that she wasn't benefiting from her own beliefs.  I just didn't quite buy some of them.

There are still some things she believes in that I'm not sure about, but others which I have since decided have more validity than I once thought.

I remember when I was still in the closet and trying to live the "good Mormon" life, I used to get laryngitis a lot.  I'd get sick and lose my voice.  As an actor, that was very frustrating.  It often meant lost work and pay.

I remember my friend, who knew that I was trying to figure out how to reconcile my homosexual attractions with my religion, once theorized that perhaps the reason I would get sick and, specifically, get laryngitis was because it was a physical manifestation of my inability to "speak my truth" (her words).  At the time, I dismissed this theory, figuring that these illnesses and loss of voice were just part of my particular health issues.

My friend had once been an active member of the LDS Church, but at the time she made this proclamation about speaking my truth she had pretty much left in the church and was pursuing these more New Age beliefs.  I was still trying to live according to LDS tenets and felt that my friend was losing her way spiritually.

I no longer feel that way.  I think there is much truth in many of the things my friend believes.  I don't know that I quite believe everything she believes, but I do believe in much of it.  I actually recently read the memoir of an actress I like, Ellen Burstyn, and much of her belief system reminds me of my friend, and I hope to write in a future post about some of the things I read in her book that spoke to me.

I do know this: since I came out of the closet and found Jonah, I do not get sick anywhere close to what I used to experience, and I have not experienced the laryngitis issues that once plagued me so often.  I think my spiritual health and happiness has had a great and positive effect on my physical health.  Maybe the theory about speaking my truth was true, after all.  In any case, I believe it is.