Who I Am and What’s Been Going On

This might end up being pretty long. I’m in the mood to write… And I’m not in the mood to care too much about organization, flow, coherence, grammar, or whatever else I might usually care about. I just want to write about who I am and what’s been going on in my life lately. I used to be a regular journal writer. I’m not anymore. These past few years have just gone by so quickly without much record of anything really happening.

A few days ago, I started a blog post by saying that I don’t feel much like writing anymore. I suppose that’s kind of true, but also not true. I’ve always had a desire to connect with people… and I’ve always felt like I’ve failed pretty miserably on that account. Instead of connecting with people, the things I write seem to push people away. Instead of increasing understanding, my writing seems to breed misunderstanding. The only comments I ever get seem to be the result of people jumping to conclusions. 

Family members especially have disappointed me. I don’t blame them though. They’re just unable to see from my perspective. I’m in a new space. I’ve moved on and left them behind, and I lack the ability to share how I think and feel without making them feel like I’m attacking them personally. It has never been my intention to hurt others, but I still have that deep seated need to form connections with others. So… I want to write, but I don’t want to at the same time. 

I hope that at least makes sense. No one ever says anything, but I can’t be the only one. Surely others have been in the situation where they’ve wanted to express their true feelings and thoughts, but also not wanted to for fear of hurting or offending the ones they care about. This is my life now, where a great majority of what I think and feel has become a point of conflict instead of a means to connect with those I care about.

So when did this great disconnect start? Maybe when I came out as gay? I can’t even remember when it was now. I put it in an email to the family, or a blog post, or something of the like. Maybe around 2011? Anyway, most of you know, but for those that don’t, my family is really big. I have 8 sisters and 2 brothers. When I came out to them, and everybody else, I believe only two, or maybe three, of my siblings made any kind of response. I don’t think my parents said anything at all. The word ‘gay’ was never uttered. I remember the siblings that did comment were positive, saying that they weren’t surprised or that now they finally understood why I never seemed interested in dating.

Nobody said anything negative to me. Why should they have? I was already married to a woman and had had a child with her. I was doing everything they thought I was supposed to be doing. What did it matter if I “used to” struggle with same-sex attraction? It was so easy to just ignore or pretend I’d said nothing. I guess it was my fault that things went that way too. I tried to pass it off as something in the past. I was gay but living a straight lifestyle now. People respected me for doing the “right” thing under difficult circumstances. Eventually, in the next life perhaps, God would take away my same gender attraction.

I wish I could have had someone to really talk to though, about everything I had been going through. I had nobody. I was so alone, and none of my family members were there for me. And although my wife had known I was gay from before our marriage, not even she really accepted it. Just pretend we’re a normal couple. That’s what we did for over a decade. She said she was okay with it when I came out to others eventually, but it did cause tension in actuality. It was difficult for her to deal with when others found out, and she couldn’t just pretend we were normal anymore. Still, I was able to connect with her better than I could with my parents or siblings.

The thing is, being gay isn’t just about who you want to be intimate with. It affects so much more than that. I used to pray for God to take away my gayness, but I think I never really wanted that prayer answered. If I weren’t gay, I really wouldn’t be me anymore. It’s more a part of me than how I look on the outside – like hair, eye, or skin color. Physical appearance can change, but I’m still me on the inside, and being gay is part of that, and is a part that I wouldn’t honestly want to change.

A couple years after coming out as gay, I felt compelled to come out in a different way, in a way that would drive the wedge deeper. Despite a deep trust and faith in the religion of my family for most of my life, I was unable to hold onto it. That was six years ago now, in 2013. The thing is, religion is a defining characteristic for most of my siblings and certainly for my parents. Most of them are so deeply religious that I think they’d even be willing to die for their religion. I know I would have been willing, right up to the moment I let go.

And so there I was, back in 2013, knowing in my heart that I was now fundamentally different from my family members and most of my friends. I could have pretended that things hadn’t changed, and I seriously considered it. But that’s not me. If anything, I’m true to my ideals. I prefer to live authentically, even if that means losing connections with those I had previously been close to. For those of you who are familiar with MBTI personality types, I’m an INFP. I think that’s probably pretty obvious to anyone that has read many of my blog posts.

So, I decided I had to tell everyone the truth. In the same way as I shared my homosexuality, I came out to everyone as a nonbeliever. This revelation got a bigger reaction, though still quite a bit less than what it might have been in any other similarly religious family. If anything, my siblings hate confrontation of any sort. They tend to be very agreeable and inoffensive.  I suppose these are good characteristics for the most part, but often I’ve wished that they’d just come out and say what they really think and what they really feel. That would be so much better than the overwhelming silence I’ve had to face these past several years.

Lonely, and craving human connection, I blogged quite a bit between 2013 and 2015. I asked my family members not to read my posts because I recognized that rather than bringing us together, my writing was pushing us further apart. I did want to connect with people with regards to what was going on in my life back then, but I didn’t want to completely alienate my family. I don’t think I really needed to ask that of them though. Those that would read, would. Those that wouldn’t, wouldn’t. I don’t think anything I said ever made a difference.

Of those that did choose to read, the one that was hardest to deal with was my mom. The problem was that she never seemed to read in order to understand me or how I felt. Instead, it seemed that she just wanted to figure out where I’d gone wrong so that she could fix it. She had all the wisdom and I was some poor lost sheep that needed help. At least that’s how she made me feel. 

Years have gone by and not much has changed. My “wiser” loving mother, along with a couple of siblings, will occasionally comment on one of my more controversial blog posts or send a more private email regarding something I’ve written. You’d think I’d want that. I’m always asking for comments or more interaction from my readers, but what I get from family usually disappoints. They don’t understand what I write. They can’t understand even when they try. I write as clearly as I can. I say things in direct fashion, and still they misinterpret and take things the wrong way. They quote scriptures at me and the words of church leaders that speak to other issues than the ones I’ve written about. And yet, I’m not sure if I prefer the silence of my other siblings or not. One sibling, out of 10, has seemed to make more genuine efforts to connect.

The point? I still want to be understood. I still want to connect. I’m tired of all the shallow conversations I have with people in my day to day life. Hi. How are you? I talk about traffic and the weather all day, wishing I could talk about philosophy, religion, and the purpose of life instead. As an academic tutor, I talk on a variety of topics with my students, but not one of them, or my fellow tutors, knows that I’m gay. Not one has an inkling of what sort of things I like to think about. Nobody knows me, and that hurts. I write to connect and to be understood, but I’m not making those connections and I’m not understood.

So should I still write?

Sometimes, my son talks about how he would really like a friend – a best friend. That was always my dream as well when I was young. I don’t think that dream has changed. My two closest friends when I was young have never talked to me about anything deep or real. I still long for the day when I can make that kind of connection with even just one person in my life. I shouldn’t say that I’m completely without that in my life, but what I have is simply not enough. Who can I talk to about being and growing up gay in an extremely religious family? Who would understand what that is like? I know there are people out there, but nobody that I’ve met or talked to. Who knows what it’s like to feel a great rift between themselves and all those they’ve ever loved or cared for? Who knows what it’s like to believe in a religion so deeply that you could give your life for it, and then have that taken away from you? Who knows what it’s like to be so completely misunderstood by what feels like everyone? I know there are many of you out there. Why do I have to feel so alone?

Oh, and then there’s depression and all that comes with that. I think I’d be depressed by my life even if I didn’t have some other brain related reason for it. I wonder if anyone else in my family goes through the same thing. I don’t think they’d admit it though. Maybe they would, but there’s such a stigma placed upon unhappiness in the church, it would be difficult to admit it. If they’re living the way they’re supposed to, according to their religion, they should be happy. So what if they’re not? I hope they know they can talk to me, that I’d understand.

For two years now, I’ve lived separate from my wife and daughter, and one year separate from my son. I miss them. I love my kids so much. Originally, my wife had suggested that I take both kids with me to America. I was only able to take my son because my daughter is adopted and required more paperwork to prove she’s our legal daughter. I kept my son with me for a year, and then a year ago, my wife came and took our son back with her. Now, two years since I left Taiwan, the initial paperwork has finally been approved. The wait isn’t over though because there is still more that needs to be done. It will probably just be months though instead of years.

I’m not sure how to feel about the progress that’s been made. On the one hand, I’m excited about the prospect of being with my kids again. One of my greatest desires in life was and always has been to be a father. On the other hand, I’m not sure the issues that made my wife feel like the kids and I needed to leave have really been resolved. The truth is, my wife and I never should have gotten married in the first place. I don’t want to say it was a mistake because a child came into the world as a result, and he is very loved by both of us, but as I am now, I wouldn’t have married her, or any woman. We got married as the result of family and religious pressure. I used to feel guilty for subjecting my wife to a life with me when I couldn’t love her the way she needed, but now I blame the religious culture that brought me up. I don’t think I really had a choice. Religion has hurt us both. Now though, without those pressures, I wouldn’t make the same mistakes.

What else is there to say? I did warn that I had a lot to write today. I have to say I’m actually pretty happy with my life at the moment. I have a job that I love, even if it doesn’t pay very well. I get to interact with kids of all ages and with other great people. We can’t connect on any deep level, but even that surface level is enjoyed. I have a brother that lives nearby that will occasionally be in the mood for the kind of conversation I enjoy, together with his wife, and I’m often able to feel a connection with them. Even when they’re not in the mood for that type of conversation, I enjoy the experience of having family nearby. It helps to lessen the general loneliness that is my life.

I think I will continue to blog from time to time. Maybe this kind of writing doesn’t ultimately allow me to connect with people the way I’d like, but it does feel good to put thoughts into words. I just need to learn not to care too much about what others think about it. Any of my family members who are going to be offended by my writing probably already have been and have likely stopped reading these posts at this point. It’s sad, but that’s just how it is.

One more thought that’s on my mind before I finish today – since I’m just rambling anyway and don’t really have a topic – is how I feel that despite all the changes that have occurred in my life, I don’t really feel any different than I did as a young teenager. This may seem random, but it’s how I feel about who I am. I’m still a kid inside – the same kid I always have been. I’ve learned a few things over the years, but I’m fundamentally the same. Perhaps my expectations are somewhat more realistic, but maybe not. I wonder sometimes, when I look at older people, if they see themselves the way I see myself – as a kid in an adult body. I have to act grown up from time to time, but it really is just an act. I hate seeing mirrors and being forced to acknowledge that my face is looking older. 

I feel like my mind is stuck in my teen years. I often wish I could go back and really live them. Not relive them because I don’t feel like I ever really did. I wish I could have attended school without religious beliefs. Would I have figured out that I was gay earlier? I wish I could have pursued a youthful crush. Would I have gotten my heart broken? I would still like to have tried. I wish I could have lived life in a more carefree manner… but then I guess it wouldn’t be me anymore in that case. Still, it would have been so much easier to connect with others if it hadn’t been for religion. I remember feeling that connection with the world for the first time back in 2013. It was such a great feeling. I wish I could have felt that earlier in life.

1994 Tayson
Me – 25 years ago, and how I still see myself

 

These days, I love the world. I love people. I believe most people are good. Even when people do bad things, they’re usually just doing what seems right to them based on their circumstances. The world isn’t the evil place it seemed when I was young. I was taught that the world was full of wickedness, ripe for the Second Coming of Jesus. The Millennium would be here in our lifetimes. The truth though is that the world is better than it’s ever been. People are kinder and more tolerant of other backgrounds and perspectives than ever before. There is real hope for eventual sustained world peace. We may not be there yet, but there is hope. 

Okay.. I guess that’s enough for now. This is who I am. This is what’s been on my mind recently. I’m happy today. I still don’t have that best friend both my son and I crave, but I at least like myself at the moment, and that’s enough for now.

3 thoughts on “Who I Am and What’s Been Going On

  1. Hi Jay, it’s been a long time! I’ve read and enjoyed a few of your blog posts, and have always found them interesting. I was surprised when you came out because I knew you through work and had always seen you with your wife. I just wanted to say that I think you’re very brave to have made the decision to be true to yourself even though you knew it wouldn’t be accepted by your family and church. I was also surprised that you left the church since it had been such a big part of your life. I’m glad you’ve found some happiness in living your truth, and how you find more and everything you are looking for in life. I think many of us feel somewhat disconnected in life and it’s hard to find people to make a truly do connection with as friends. I wish you the best!
    Brian

    Like

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