Sunday, December 27
Today was our ward Christmas program. My younger sisters sang a song called "One Little Candle." It was beautiful, but I didn't understand all the words during the program. I came home, found the music, played it on the piano... and cried.
The song starts out simple. But the second verse begins:
One little word to someone new...
One little deed of kindness too...
Kindles the friendship flame anew...
Soon the loneliness is gone.
Ironically, this verse captures both essence and anathema of my life. One of the things I care about most is helping people feel wanted and loved... so I'm the person who greets & tries to befriend new people in my ward, the author here at (G)MG, and the owner of a shop where anyone can make something beautiful. Most of the things I do are driven by people, from the person I've never met to my best friend.
And it's worth it. Being outgoing, showing kindness brings rewards that nothing else does. I get to watch people learn to smile, find new hope, and become new people. Having someone who honestly cares when no one else seems to understand can make all the difference.
The bitter irony of the verse is this: For many people who are truly outgoing and friendly, the blessings go both ways. They have no lack of friendship - their loneliness, too, is gone - and they develop close friends from the many around them.
"Soon the loneliness is gone" doesn't really apply to my life. Yes, the loneliness goes away when God takes it away. Other times it gets locked in a box when I'm too busy to worry about it. But it's still there... and no amount of kindness, from my side or sometimes even from others, can make it go away. Most of the friendships I kindle with kindness are stepping stones or waypoints on a journey to something else. People realize, either consciously or no, that I'm different, awkward, and broken. And so they move on.
Sometimes I feel like I need someone to put their arm around me and let me cry into their shoulder. Or to listen as I just talk about all the things I wish I could change in my life. Or to be physically in the same room, not because they feel obligated or want something or admire me or are attracted to me, but because they honestly care.
The reality is that someone could do all those things, and more. It would make a difference. But it wouldn't take the problem away. It could chip away the outside, but the core would stay whole. People have moved mountains and done countless things for me... yet I'm still the way I am.
Part of my feeling this way could be the holidays. I began writing a blog post on Christmas Eve about how much I couldn't stand holidays - here was the beginning:
Can I be honest? Totally honest?
I want quiet. I want to be alone. And I want there to be no more holidays.
Being with family is great for the first ten minutes. But then it plunges into constant, loud, insistent chaos. It makes me concerned that someone will push me over the edge and make me yell at people and cry or rip my hair out just so that I don't have to deal with it.
The holidays are loud, overwhelming, and chaotic. That usually means I have to look for time to retreat and find quiet. In this case, I was really sick yesterday - the day after Christmas. And during the quiet that brought, I thought about my life.
I *am* lonely. But I've been lonely for a long, long time. First I fought it, then I prayed for it to go away, then I fought it more in every way I could fathom. I've read books and studies on communication, gone to see therapists and counselors, tried medications and lifestyle changes, and pushed myself far beyond my comfort zone. And then I finally accepted it. A while ago I realized it probably would never go away - that, most likely, God has given me this so that I'll always remember to reach out to the people around me. That realization killed both hope and pain.
All the fighting, while it hasn't changed my feelings, has taught me how to be a better person. How to apologize. How to listen. How to watch for cues and signals and signs, and little bits and pieces of what they mean. What it means to really show someone I care. And all the things I can improve to better show kindness to the people around me. From that perspective, it was worth it.
No. It was worth it. It is worth it. *People* are worth it.
But there's something else. Some people must have some type of ability to break through to me - else why would I be so deeply drawn to them? Why would I crave friendships, yet also push some people away? It doesn't make sense that just because I'm lonely I would reach out to help others avoid my same fate... or does it? Maybe I love people enough to give without getting anything in return, or maybe God aligns blessings with when I reach out, or maybe something in some of my relationships with people actually fills a need, albeit partially, deep inside me.
I don't know.
Talking like this makes me wonder if I should let myself hope again. Tonight I'm too emotionally exhausted to deal with that demon, and I probably still have a fever from yesterday. I blame anything wrong with this post on the flu.
Maybe someday I'll understand it all. Maybe someday it will all make sense. For right now, I'll just keep trying to be a good person. To be friendly. To be kind. To be a friend to the people around me the best that I can. Perhaps it may not meet the needs I wish it would, but sharing the light of Christ helps others find their way... and that's worth it. That sounds like a good thought.
Posted by Mormon Guy at 8:30 PM
Sunday, December 20
I turn 30 today.
Happy birthday. :)
My life the last few weeks have been hectic and stressful. Holidays always are, and moving my business at the same time has made it even more so. Thankfully, I've had time just to sit back and enjoy - to watch the snow fall, or sing Christmas carols, or look up at the night sky.
I've begun posts about Christmas over a dozen times. I've tried to share my feelings in just the right words, to tell stories that make sense and give justice to an infant Savior. But nothing works. Nothing feels right. The words sit on my phone screen and don't communicate the feelings I have and the real meaning of Christmas.
I'm going to try again.
I know that Jesus Christ is the literal Son of God. That He was chosen in the beginning to be our Savior and Redeemer. That He spoke to prophets of His coming and revealed the pathway that would lead us all to eternal happiness.
I know that He was born to Mary and raised by mortal parents... yet grew into a perfect God. I know that He lived, taught, served, suffered, and died for me, and that He lives again in a perfected body of flesh so that I can live again.
I know that He felt my pain, my sorrow, and suffered for my sins. Even the feelings I couldn't imagine anyone else understanding He understands... because He felt them to better love me and help me overcome the world.
I know that He restored the Priesthood to the prophet Joseph Smith, and brought His Church back to the earth for us today. I know that He speaks to prophets and guides the modern Church with a steady hand... and I know that following His teachings, counsel, commandments, and advice will always bring greater lasting happiness than any other alternative.
I know He is the great Healer. That He knows me and understands me. That He is there for me even when I've pushed Him away or forgotten how to hear His voice. That He will always be there - not distant, but standing beside me every step of every day. My life is the Gift He gives to me... and as I follow Him, He makes me into a better man than I could ever become on my own.
Yes, following Christ and giving my soul to the Child born in a manger will make life hard forever. True strength and growth comes from overcoming obstacles and triumphing over circumstances. And He will be with me.
I know that Jesus is my Savior. That He lives and loves me. And that His way is the right way and will always be.
That feels right.
Merry Christmas, friends. May God bless you with a feeling of His love, the ability to see His hand all around you, and the generosity to share the Gift of Christmas.
Posted by Mormon Guy at 6:00 AM
Sunday, December 13
Sometimes blogging inspires me. And sometimes it stifles me.
Today I'm feeling both.
I started half a dozen posts yet finished none of them. And half-finished thoughts are, honestly, best left alone until they find their other halves.
I felt like just saying that life is good. Most of my published writing is full of complicated emotions, chaos, and stress. And while that's definitely a facet of my life, it's also only one facet. Most of the other facets are crazy, funny, happy, or whatever else I'm feeling.
Feelings that don't always come through here.
I'm not completely sure why. Part of the reason could be that I've painted myself into a corner. I feel like things are only worthy of being on (G)MG if they seem useful. And then when I'm having a good day, I don't blog about it because I'm just having a good day. It's a lot harder, for me at least, to write about good things. It's ironically much easier to see the hand of God when I'm going through some type of deep emotional turmoil.
Either way, life is good. I have a lot to do and a lot to change and improve, but the gospel offers an amazing promise:
If I do my part, everything will work out for the best. The road will be rocky, chaotic, and probably nothing like I expect or want, but the final destination will be better than anyplace I could have found on my own.
Posted by Mormon Guy at 9:45 PM
Friday, December 4
I did some reflection today and realized how messed up I am.
I'm autistic, and while I've worked with dozens of therapists, few were able to even understand me, let alone help me see improvement.
I was sexually abused by someone I trusted.
I bear scars of major emotional abuse (thanks whichever therapist told me that...), probably symptomatic from autism and a late diagnosis.
I'm attracted to guys and not girls.
My adolescence was made up entirely of and dictated by bipolar mood swings.
My habits and hobbies all changed to match bipolar. Everything, from cleaning my room to exercise, revolved around the cycles of up and down.
I'm no longer bipolar. I don't have depression anymore, but the pattern that governed my life is broken... so everything - including my life, room, and exercise habits - is a mess.
Being my close friend seems to cause massive amounts of chaos in people's lives. And the chaos doesn't seem to go away.
I can't seem to communicate properly with most people unless I'm in a specific role and I know what to say... and then is that really real communication?
Someone told me, after knowing me for over a year, that until I asked to be their friend a week earlier, I was literally terrifying as a person... and that even though they wanted to be my friend, they assumed I didn't want to be theirs. Others have said I exude an aura of "don't touch me" or "I'm not interested."
I'm hypersensitive to touch, so touch confers intense emotional meaning. For a long time I avoided being touched, ever... and then realized I needed it but was essentially a one-year-old who pokes other kids in the eye because they don't get it but then cry if a dog licks them. Yeah.
I'm terrified of pushing people away... and even more terrified of getting close to people because of how awful it is to be rejected... and see burning bridges.
My mind doesn't always prioritize the right information, so instead of a list of people who have hurt me and ideas of how to improve for the future, I often just feel hurt.
Instead of turning to people and opening myself up when I need help most (and hence creating opportunities to improve relationships), I turn away from relationships and potential friendships and write on a blog. First, because it's safer to write to faceless masses. I'm terrified of losing relationships, so much so that I avoid even starting them, and I'm afraid to just talk to people because my thoughts aren't put together. But anyone who reads my blog isn't going to think twice about my going through something frustrating or just talking. And it doesn't impinge on their time. They can change the page or stop reading when they want, and read when they do.
Add to that the fact that turning to (G)MG, and processing my thoughts here, instead of with people in real life, sometimes helps people in dire situations. So in addition to being easier, I feel obligated to the unknown people who could potentially find something useful in my thoughts.
And then people in my life read my blog... and some wonder why I didn't talk to them or tell them what I was thinking in person, and others never talk to me in person because they already read my blog.
I've realized that the few close friendships I've had were usually based on romantic attraction. The other person was willing to brave the chaos that comes from being my friend because they were in love with me.
That's not completely accurate.
I mean, I have an amazing relationship with one of my sisters. That isn't based on attraction. So I can't really just say it's attraction, though that was how it was in my head a few minutes ago... and for the past long time. But it's also not enough to say "attraction or family," because my relationships with some family members have been some of the toughest ones in my life. And there have been people who were my close friends when there was no attraction involved - though those were somewhat rare.
I've always just classified those people as outliers in my life. Unexplained blips on the social chart that just happen. But writing it here, I just realized I can't do that. Because that's not really fair to them or reality. I have had relationships with people that were different from the norm, and they weren't based on attraction or just being family members. There was something different about them... or, perhaps more, different about the way that we communicated.
I feel like, potentially, those people who got far enough to hit the chaos... I'm not sure how to describe it. We could communicate clearly? Most of the time, I feel like my conversations are underwater. Garbled, with tons of things said that I can't hear and neither can they. But I look back and... the other group feels different. These were people I could communicate with... conversations where I felt safe being myself no matter what that meant... and where sometimes I didn't even have to finish my sentence for the other person to get my meaning.
Wow. I was about to honestly rethink blogging to process my thoughts because I realize how messed up I am to turn to a phone instead of people, and then I have a revelation that totally changes how I think and helps me realize that learning to understand and be understood should be primary factors in developing and growing relationships... which may not have happened if I weren't writing my thoughts on my phone's screen for the world to see.
I really am messed up.
Posted by Mormon Guy at 8:54 PM
Thursday, December 3
I'm leaving my essential oil company.
A lot of things have happened in the 6 years since I founded Nature's Fusions. I made a lot of mistakes with my first business, and somehow it still has kept going. I've also learned a lot - things about myself, things about others, and things they taught me in MBA school but I was too proud to believe at the time.
It might seem ironic to someone on the outside that I'm moving right when Nature's Fusions is finally starting to make money. Maybe it is ironic. Money is important, and perhaps I'll get a founder's benefit/legacy... but the reality is that in the past few years I've turned down careers that would have made me much more.
But that's beside the point.
The reason why I began writing tonight was that I wanted to write about blessings.
A little over an hour ago, I felt awful. Emotionally drained, exhausted, tired... after finishing work I drove to the Provo Temple and cried in the parking lot.
My best friend texted me today and told me that I needed to get a blessing. I'm grateful that he followed the prompting to tell me that, because I definitely needed help.
Sometimes I'm too proud to ask for help. People ask me for advice on life and health and *everything*... so I should have all the answers, right. But a bigger issue is that I'm honestly afraid to ask people for help because... because I'm afraid that I'll be a burden. Or that my huge issues will become an issue. Or that by asking for help (even something as simple as a blessing) I'm sending a social signal that is incongruent with the level of our friendship. Or that I'll inadvertently say something so socially inappropriate or shocking or whatever that the person will never talk to me again.
It's happened before.
But I really needed help tonight.
But who to call?
It was after 9:00 at night. I thought about calling my home teachers. But I couldn't remember their names. That's a familiar experience - I forget everything. The elder's quorum presidency was sick on Sunday, so I didn't want to be a burden there. My bishop has been swamped with tithing settlement and interviews... and I know how busy he is, so I didn't want to call him.
But my bishop, while he wasn't the first person I called, ended up being the right person after all.
I got to his house, cried for a bit, and then we talked for 20 minutes. He gave me advice, asked for some advice, and we just talked. And as we did I felt loved. I could feel how much he loves me and the people in my ward. How much he prays about decisions and ward members. How much he cares.
Then he gave me a blessing.
And I feel ok.
It's likely that tomorrow and the days to come will bring a whole lot of frustration, difficulty, stress, anxiety, and a lot else. But tonight I feel better. Peace that I'm definitely doing the right thing. Knowledge that, in God's eyes, I'm ok. And confidence that everything will turn out in the end for my best.
Note to self: When you're facing rough times, or life seems harder than you can handle, ask for a blessing. And ask early. Don't just go to Him for "special occasions" or when you're in dire need. God is always there. He always wants to be involved in your life.
Posted by Mormon Guy at 10:56 PM