Now Part 3: Sometimes all it takes is a fairy
I came home from my mission and was instantly assured by everyone that I would be back out in the mission Field in no time. German doctors were most likely just shaved baboons with learning disorders. So where they had failed in months, American doctors would surely succeed in a week. I just needed to have the faith. People asked me how I felt, and I was dumb enough at the time to be honest with them. I told them that I not only felt horrible, but that I felt that my recovery was going to be a slow process. This always brought on a lecture about listening to Satan. Oh, Satan, that sneaky douche, was whispering in my ear again. Everyone had so much advice to give to me about what they felt about me, and my future, and how wrong I was about my own feelings, and clearly I was listening to Satan, and these people couldn’t possibly be wrong or listening to Satan. From all of this, I guessed the best way to avoid “listening to Satan” was to have your head shoved up your own ass like these people did. I thought “personal revelation” meant “personal revelation,” but clearly it meant “everyone else tells you what they would like to hear.”
It would be a kind and gentle description to call the next two months of my life hell. I was still a missionary, but I had no companion so I couldn’t go anywhere. I was sick and couldn’t do anything but go to doctors and not get better. Just before my mission, I earned my Black Belt in Taekwondo and was taking other classes in Jeet Kune Do, Shaolin Kempo, Capoeira, and MMA. But now working outside in my parents' yard (or the "farm" as we called it because of the shear amount of plants), left me exhausted and drained for an entire day.
I spent a good portion of my time reading everything written by Hugh Nibley. I had encountered Nibley at the end of the mission and at the time thought that he was neat-o. I had never had an interaction with "apologetics" before. And while I had heard criticisms with Mormonism before, I had not ever taken the time to read the “other side.” Mostly these “concerns” had been dismissed by seminary/institute teachers as having “already been addressed,” but I wanted to see the “addressing.”
At the time, the writings of the Grand Apologetic were interesting. I enjoyed his works, and liked some of the parallels with early Christianity and some of the ancient writings of the “Gnostics,” but I didn’t quite gain any real ammunition against criticism. Parallels aren’t evidence, and at best the works give a very articulate way of saying, “yes but, here’s a grandiose way of making it a possibility-- a maybe.” At which point Nibley would delve into a lengthy "spiritual" tangent.
I was enthralled in soaking up as much information as possible, but yet, at the end didn’t get anything substantial. I never realized until later that an apologist argument is someone simply waving a hand in front of your face and saying, “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for. He can go about his business. Move along.”
Those two months truly were the worst mental and physical suffering I’ve ever encountered, and at the time there was no end in site. I went to doctor appointment after doctor appointment with no results. My friends were all still out on their missions.
People were uncomfortable to be around me. No one said anything at church. I tried my hardest to be and act "normal." I over-compensated. I talked up my mission trying to find any kind of validation. No one said anything. I couldn't tell how I should feel. No one said anything. I felt like a failure. No one said anything.
I fantasized about suicide at least once an hour. I imagined taking a knife to my abdomen and plunging it in and sliding it across to release all the pain and hate and anger and guilt and shame once and for all.
After two months the Stake President decided to take pity on me and release me as a missionary. I was astounded because I knew this man for years, and he had nary a pity in him. (Interestingly, a little after I was released, this Stake President was excommunicated for having an affair. I can’t help but think that he had been discovering his humanity.) When the Stake President told me that he “felt” like I should be released, he asked how I felt, and for the first time since I was sick, he really wanted an honest answer. I told him that I felt that I still had a lengthy battle to get my health issues taken care of, and that if he wanted to release me as a missionary, he needed to be the one to call my parents and tell them. He was perplexed, and I didn’t know why he was perplexed. My mission was to be cut short. Everyone had insinuated that I was a failure in some regards--because I got looks but no one said anything otherwise. EVERYONE—including my parents. The only “honorable” way to come home from a mission early was in a body bag. Sure, no one said that out loud, but you felt it. You faced a wall of silence with nobody to support you. I had never been so surrounded by people and felt so alone in my entire life, and that included god. Where was god in all this? I did everything I was supposed to do to serve him and what did I get in return? Empty priesthood blessings and the chance to “suffer a portion as he did.” Oh boy, what a great exchange. I didn’t get love, or encouragement, or support from jesus, I got the old D&C 122. “Oh, you’re having a hard time? Are you in pain? Well, fuck you, f.aggot! Do you think you’re better than me? No! I’m Jesus H Motherfucking Christ, and I didn’t bleed from every pore and die on a cross so you could whimper like a little bitch. I asked god to stop when it happened to me, and he told me the same thing I’m going to tell you, ‘Fuck yourself, stop being a twat, and do what I tell you to do.’”
Unfortunately I was still too stupid to argue.
I went back to school. I was a late birthday and had gotten two semesters in before leaving. I picked up where I left off and started taking classes again. I had to repeat one Physics class because it was too stressful for my body to attend and focus. I focused and passed Calculus 2 instead that semester. It was shameful. I had to quit a class, and take it over again.
About 18 months passed before I was diagnosed semi properly and on a treatment that worked for me. I was also sporadically going to therapy as well. One of the kindest things that my father has ever done for me was just say "ok" when I told him I needed therapy. Not one question. Just an "ok."
The suicidal thoughts had continued this entire time. After I was released, that had lightened slightly. I was now fantasizing about killing myself once every couple of hours. I was trying to “endure to the end” but the “end” was still very tempting. However I began to have panic attacks and couldn’t stop the worst parts of my life (my mission) from replaying over and over and over again in my mind, I knew that I needed help. I went to counseling and was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder. I worked on rebuilding a “normal” life by still going to school and church and trying to date even though it made things awkward whenever I had to bring up that I came home early from a mission on a date. I never felt “good enough” for anyone.
One Christmas my brother decided to come out of the closet to the whole family (this oft time to out oneself is what’s known in parts of the gay community as “homo for the holidays.”) My family was shocked and appalled. I was shocked and appalled. This little q.ueer was going to be making a terrible “lifestyle choice” that would most likely ruin him forever, and I told him as much when he asked me how I felt about it. He told me that he still loved me and that for once in his life, he felt at peace and was happy.
I was skeptical, and I was devastated. How could he do this? He was putting his eternal salvation at risk, and he was splitting apart our family. We wouldn't be together forever, and I loved my brother. We were always naughty together. It was a contest sometimes to see what kind of shock we could bring to each other. Like when he said, "fufferin' fucketash!" Except that my dad was unknowingly in the room and about shit himself. Or the time that I was changing a light-bulb and the bulb exploded and I blurted out, "fuck my tight little school girl asshole!"
We weren't going to be able to swear in heaven together. And what kind of heaven would that be?
But over time I realized that I was wrong. The only choice he had made, was to be open about himself and for once to choose what would make him happy. We kept a good relationship, and I just empirically saw that he wasn't any different really. Nothing had changed.
I was wrong about homos; the church was wrong about homos.