AmyJ wrote: ↑18 Jul 2023, 06:22
There is a lot out there about "purity culture" and "Scrupulosity" from a religious standpoint that may be useful to you - there are even posts about the second topic on this site. Trauma does a number on sexuality too (especially for men - that is a growing field of data and information on that) - that might be a useful topic to explore in general.
Thank you, Amy! I have returned from my vacation (which was lovely), and I confess that my photo could sit comfortably in the dictionary beside the word "scrupulosity." I have never previously encountered this word, but it perfectly encompasses my childhood, adolescence, and a few more years after that. Thank you for enlightening me — and for also making me feel terrible about myself!
AmyJ wrote: ↑18 Jul 2023, 06:22
I don't know you, and I am female - so I might be off base. But at the end of the day, it seems that your soul is in conflict because what feels "normal" is also defined as "perverse" as defined by the church culture (and some teachings). I can relate to that conflict.
The word "normal" doesn't fit well for me in any context, but I understand your reasoning. I always felt "abnormal," and I somehow understood from the age of four that I must never put my feelings into words or even spend time dwelling on them. I was repeatedly taught in the home, classes, meetings, and conferences that such abnormality was of one's own choosing, and I believed the message that I could extricate myself from its clutches by consciously rejecting it.
I searched all the materials we had at home back in the 1970s for advice on how to fix myself — but the messages with the greatest impact were found in The Miracle of Forgiveness
and Mormon Doctrine
— and I was left squirming in discomfort and bewilderment. In terms of the "perverts" to which it referred, all I could think was, "That's not me! That can't be me! That will not be me!"
I subsequently served my entire full-time mission feeling dirty for something I had never done — but was somehow inexplicably drawn to — while, at the same time, being driven to despise by my quest to rid myself of all things unholy.
The final piece of my misfitting jigsaw puzzle was the 1995 article by Dallin H Oaks about "same gender attraction." It convinced me that normality was something within my grasp if I pursued it with singleness of mind. It was everything I longed for from a logical and gospel standpoint. I could be as straight as an arrow if I put my trust in God. So I reasoned that I should never question the matter further. Simply accept and become.
I believed that marriage could fix what was wrong with me — as directed by my patriarchal blessing — even if it required me to pretend to be someone else. So I did. And I ended up not knowing who I was. I even paid for two courses of hypnotherapy (first in my thirties and again in my forties) to banish the morbid thoughts that plagued me (while explaining to my wife that the treatment was to help me deal with work stress). And while my marriage continues to offer a veneer of acceptability and cosiness some 27 years later, I have always felt like an imposter. The way I love my wife is possibly similar to the way someone might display an overly touchy-feely love in a sibling relationship — perhaps even as a form of co-dependency (although I don't really understand how to properly use that term). And I did everything as an act of faith.
And then, in November 2016, I received a Church email saying the "mormon and gay" website had been updated — and all my frames of reference went out of the window. Everything I had learnt to pretend wasn't real was being written and talked about openly. How was that possible? Everything I had suppressed and denied for almost 50 years was there in black and white, couched in an entirely different we-don't-really-know narrative. So I have spent decades destroying my emotional and mental wellbeing for what, exactly?