Hard Letters

So you'll recall that I was pretty terrified of losing some close friends over my recent revelation regarding my sexuality. Needless to say, I was deeply anxious when I received an email from a close friend entitled Re:Blog Post. I almost didn't want to open it! What was it going to say? Was she ditching me? Could she not handle knowing this aspect of me? I know it fundamentally disagrees with some deeply held beliefs of hers... was this going to send us parting ways? I surely hoped not, and I trust in her ability to rationally think through issues and come to solid conclusions. Nonetheless, my hand and heart shook a little as I clicked on the little icon in my inbox.

With her permission, I'm sharing her email and my response, because I feel that not only might it help others who may be reeling to understand my position and how a close (female) friend is coping, (Coping. Sounds like a crisis! lol), but I know that I myself will want to look back and reflect on this exchange from time to time, and I like having it in one place.

Dear C,

Yup, I read your blog.  Yes, I still want to be besties, and I would still be honored to stand up with you at your wedding.  I love you just the same as before knowing that you consider yourself to be bisexual.  As you said about the fibro, you're still the same person as before the 'diagnosis' and that person you are is one of very dearest friends.  

As you have been honest, I will be honest also: I am surprised, naturally, by your news, and not quite sure how to react.  I mean, in one sense, this changes NOTHING.  In another sense, does it?  My stance on homosexuality, which I consider to be biblical (doesn't every Christian consider their personal stance to be biblical? lol) is that yes, it is wrong for a person to have a sexual relationship with someone of their own gender. (It's hard for me to just say 'have sex' because, according to my anatomy knowledge, a homosexual couple can't really "have sex" as I understand it, anyways.. but moving on.)  The Bible also makes it clear that it is wrong for two unmarried heterosexual people to be in a sexual relationship, and wrong for a married person to be in a sexual relationship with someone other than their spouse.  I know that you know that I believe this, so why am I not jumping up and down 'rebuking' you for living with C?  Well frankly, it's your life, and although we're close friends, your decisions are still none of my business.  It might be different if I believed that you were attempting to follow the Bible in every area of your life, but you didn't realize that the Bible speaks against sex outside of marriage.  But no, you went to Souls right along with me, and I don't have any new information for you.  And so I'm happy for the happiness you're experiencing, and I pray for you, because honestly I worry that some of the decisions you're making (not the dairy or the pierced ears, silly) will hurt you in the long run.  I hope I'm wrong in my concerns.  I know that you do want a relationship with God, and you do want to follow Him, and as I've said before (and will try not to say again, because the last thing I want to do is nag) I am afraid that IF you come through your wrestling with the God-questions with the conclusion that you want to be a Christian, you want to follow the Bible, you want a Christian home... I'm afraid for you and your children, because the husband and father has a HUGE impact on the spirituality of the family.  I believe that in many ways, C is a good man.  He takes amazingly good care of you.  He's faithful and responsible.  He LOVES you.  Those are all good things!  So I'm not trying to say he's some horrible evil person, please understand me there.  And I suppose that if you come through this wrestling time with the conclusion that you don't believe in God, and/or you don't believe in the Bible, and you don't have any desire to have any particular religious structure in your life and home, well then, you and C will be 'equally yoked.'  And even if that's what happens, I think you and I would still be friends, because my friendship with you is not dependent upon your spiritual decisions / religious affiliation.  

Wow, I totally sidetracked from where I was going.  Anyways.  So I believe that homosexual 'sex' is wrong, just as I believe that heterosexual sex is wrong outside of marriage.  But I also believe that there are people who are sexually attracted to individuals of their own gender.  Trying to say "you shouldn't be attracted to that" is somewhat ridiculous in my mind, just as trying to tell a young man that he "shouldn't be interested in pretty girls" is ridiculous.  But attraction and sexual purity are two different things - a person may, by God's grace, live a sexually pure life regardless of whether they are attracted to men or women.  Did God 'create' homosexuality?  I don't believe so, but through years of sin messing with genetics, I might even buy into the belief that someone can be "born that way."  Is it fair?  No!  Is it fair that people are born with Downs syndrome or AIDS or anything else? (bad and politically incorrect illustration, I KNOW)  No of course not.  But everyone has unique struggles and challenges, and it may be very hard for a homosexual Christian to come to terms with the fact that they are indeed attracted to their own gender, and not to the opposite, and that if they want to live a sexually pure life in God's eyes, they will be celibate.  That's rough!  I wouldn't wish that on anyone!  But I believe that God offers more than enough to compensate, in this life and in heaven, so that looking back, that person could say that giving up sexual relationships was a very small price to pay.  In your situation, you're acknowledging that you're attracted to men AND women.  Is that "wrong" or "sinful" to acknowledge that?  No, I don't believe so. I think it's unfortunate, because it may cause different struggles for you than someone else would have who's only heterosexual.  But the attraction itself is no more "wrong" than it is for me to acknowledge that I'm attracted to my boyfriend, and yes, I am.  But what we do with that attraction makes the difference.  And it sounds to me like you're making a wise decision to own your attraction to women, but still choose to marry your fiance and remain committed to that relationship.  Does this make sense?  I doubt you're shocked by anything I'm saying.  And like I said before, it's not my job to try to be your conscience.  I'm sharing what I believe, not trying to force or influence you to align your beliefs or behavior with my beliefs.  

Anyways, moving on, the part that gets tricky for me is this: I relate in certain ways to my girl friends, and am far more reserved and careful in how I relate to my guy friends.  I dress more modestly around guys (married, single, or in relationships) and watch what I talk about, because I want to avoid causing them to "stumble" (ha! How we overused that one at SOULS..) and with my girl friends, I'm just not that careful.  I tell you embarrassing stories that I would never tell guys, we talk about whatever, and we're very close emotionally.  Sooooo this might sound weird, but I feel like I don't know how I should relate to you?? It's like, I'm just not sure what appropriate boundaries should be?  So please be patient with me, and offer any feedback you think would be helpful, because I don't want our friendship to change, but this is kinda difficult news for me to handle.  Do you understand?  It's not that I'm judging you or anything like that at all, it's just that I don't quite know what to say.  Which is why this email is so long, because it's hard to be concise when you don't know what you're saying.   

Anyways, I certainly still do love you, and appreciate your friendship so very much.  Talk to you soon.

And then, my response...

Dear J,

As always, I so, so, SO appreciate your honesty!

In honor of absolutely nothing at all, I'd like to address your email backwards, meaning that I will evaluate your last mentioned concerns first, simply because they're the ones that I feel most strongly about at this point. (Okay, really, who am I kidding?! I'm gonna be spiderwebbing like crazy, but I'm sure you're cool with that. Pink it up with me, yeah? ^_^)

I really don't want you to be uncomfortable around/with me in any way. As I said in the blog, nothing has changed. The only thing that's changed, for me, is my ownership of an aspect of myself that I'd been in denial about for a long time. That being said, my behavior and mindset have not changed and, I'm sorry to break your heart, but I'm just not interested in you in a romantic way. (Wow. The things you NEVER thought you'd say to your friends LOL) You know that saying, "like kissing your brother"? Yeah. Ew. Even trying to imagine me entertaining the thought of being interested in any of the girls I know as my close friends gives me the willies. As a favorite book of mine says, "the mere thought had not even begun to speculate about the possibility of crossing my mind". So maybe it will put you at ease to know that those thoughts were never there towards you.

Maybe I can explain this a little further from my perspective, as "bi" is a different experience for every person. It's very fluid, really. I think  for me it's less about gender and more about personhood. It's like, I can have a crush on anyone, and gender just doesn't bother me. I like the person for the person, and whether they happen to have a set of mammary glands is incidental. Don't get me wrong-- I admire the aesthetics of the female body, but that holds just as true for my own body as that of any other woman. I like my curves, and I like the curves on other ladies. They just look nice. But I'm not ogling every girl that gets undressed around me. I never struggled with sexual impulses towards girls during SOULS, and you know that there's pretty much no shame in those girl's rooms! (B. Need I say more? LOL)

So for me when I say, "I like this girl", it falls into the category of "Hey, she's good looking to me and I like her personality and I enjoy being around her and I'd like to do it more", much like you would with a guy. Just as with a guy, it's not like every time you like a guy you're thinking to yourself, "What a nice guy-- take off your shirt!!!" Hehehehe. Just for perspective! (Well, you might think that about Jason... I'm not here to judge ;) But as I recall, your dad took care of the whole "seeing Jason without a shirt on" thing for you a couple of years ago, yeah?)

I guess it turns out for me more like, "I like this person." Whether it's "I like this girl" or "I like this guy", it's just... "I like this person." Does that make sense? I hope that clarifies and de-creepifies the situation. I can totally understand how you might feel uncomfortable after a revelation like this... I really didn't want you mentally rehashing our friendship thinking, "Well, that was a vulnerable and awkward situation now that I know what I know and MAN I sure wish I hadn't put myself in that position because it might have come across as to forward and..." etc. As far as I'm concerned, nothing at all has changed in our friendship except that now you know one of my "deepest darkest secrets" and have chosen to still be my bestie and stand up with me at my wedding, so I feel really relieved, honored, and more confident in the strength of our friendship and your maturity.

That being said... you are absolutely right in your talk about boundaries. Again, for me nothing's changed. At all. But I understand if you feel the need to set up stricter boundaries in regards to emotional sharing, physical touch, etc. I won't be hurt, because my boundaries are just as important as yours, and your comfort level is 50% of what keeps this from turning into the world's best awkward story. (Except then I'd have no one to share it with! The torture! The humanity!! The sheer insanity!!!) *The following is a reference to stricken example from J's letter* I can imagine how that could get a bit... awkward, at least for you. Like, yeah, you don't want to lead anyone on. Poor J! It's bad enough having to fend off the good looking, spiritual young men... now you have to be careful around the ladies, too! See? ...You're just too frickin' gorgeous. ;) (Uh... can I still make that joke? 'Cause I totally don't mean it in a "hitting on you" way. Ew. This could get awkward if we launch into the whole "let's evaluate every sentence" thing... Can we just leave it at: as far as we're concerned, I'm totally hetero?) 

Yes, I went to SOULS with you, and I understand the Biblical position on homosexuality. Yup, nothing new there! :) One thing I have so appreciated about the way you conduct yourself in our friendship is that I know what you believe, and I know you know that my beliefs don't exactly jive with that system anymore, and yet you don't judge me. The fact that I am making choices that you see as unbiblical, yet you still support my happiness and consider C to be a good guy though he's an a-moral soul-sucking atheist (according to some lol) is, well... that's tremendous. I really consider it to be part of what makes you such a good person. That you can stand firm in what you believe and not condone others' choices (because I know that, while you support my happiness, you do not in fact condone my choices, and that's okay) is an unfortunately rare quality that belies maturity, both emotional/mental and spiritual. I'm not saying all this to flatter you-- I genuinely feel this, and this is a perfect opportunity to express it. I think that you will handle the situation with so-and-so well. I mean, you've gotten lots of practice in this stuff with me, yogurt-eating barbarian that I am. ;)

And I'm on the same page with you as far as "what to do with" the attraction that I find myself with. Let's face it-- I've been denying this for, oh, twenty-something years? It's nothing new for me to repress it now. The whole reason behind my "coming out" was to become a more fully integrated person that can honestly and openly acknowledge all parts of herself. That being said... I'm getting married. I'm in a monogamous relationship. Whether I'm attracted to males or females or purple sea urchins really has no bearing on anything at all at this point because I've chosen my mate and I'm not in the market for anything else. (To be clear, when I discuss in my blog that I'm becoming overly sexual as a side effect of one of my drugs, my whole sexual world begins and ends with C. The sun rises and sets on that boy, and I only have eyes for him. I'm not lusting after other women any more than I'm pining after other men.) Cheating is cheating, whether it's with a girl or a guy, and I'm not into that. I've accepted this aspect of myself, and now it must go into remission, in a sense. I liken it to being a heterosexual monk. Sure, they're attracted to women, but they've taken a vow of celibacy that transcends the desires and attractions they may have towards any woman, so they choose to subdue those desires for the sake of what they consider to be the greater cause. I'm in a lovely committed relationship, and while I will always be attracted to other people incidentally (because you can't say that, just because J's a total hottie, you're never gonna be attracted to another guy again, ever.), it's just not an option. So, for me, I may be incidentally attracted to a girl, or incidentally attracted to a guy, but... it doesn't matter. I've chosen my mate, and we're gettin' hitched. (Can you please go back and re-read the last half of that sentence-- from the comma onward-- with a really over-exaggerated southern accent? Thank you ^_^)

I will totally be patient with you, and you don't need to fear making me stumble. (Yes we sure did overuse that one at SOULS!) Unless you're tripping me. In which case... prepare for revenge! Bwahahahahahaha! LOL

But yeah. This is a learning curve for me, too. I've had to do a lot of thinking on it, and I've realized that while it's a reality that I acknowledge and accept, it really doesn't "have a place" in my life at all because of the choices I've made. I can't see myself ever acting on it, simply because I've already committed to one person. I'm off the market to both genders, soooo... yeah.

That's it.

I'm glad you're still my friend :) No, really. Those tears I talked about? They were for you. I was terrified... not that you would judge me, because that's not your style, nor that you would reject me, necessarily, but... you're like, my best friend... and I was afraid that it would be too awkward for you and you would have to step away from our friendship. I would understand, and I would totally respect that, but I would grieve deeply, because our relationship is very dear and meaningful to me. Shoot, you're very dear and meaningful to me. You're family, for crying out loud. You're gonna be my kids' Auntie J, and I would hate for that to be disrupted over something that isn't even going to impact or change my life at all!

So, on a totally unrelated and completely happier note... we went to the realtor's after my colonoscopy today (speaking of which, call me! I've got some funny and awkward stories from that one :D ), and already have a list of listings from the realtor that we can check out... We did a phone application with a lender while C was getting ready for work, and we go to get pre-approved for our loan tomorrow morning. From there, we can actually begin the house-hunting process, which I anticipate to begin sometime... ohhh... next week! :D :D :D :D :D (and so forth.)

I'll forward you the e-mail with the listings so you can see what we're looking at, too. Thought you might find it interesting :)

J, we're getting a HOUUUUUUUUUUUSE! Me and C! Together! The love of my life and I! And we're getting married!

Is it right to be this deliriously happy? Somewhere, someone is starving in China... but I'm getting a HOUUUUUUUUSE! And I feel a little bit of privilege guilt at being so happy when other people are so unhappy, you know? I wish I could be the Happiness Pixie and sprinkle magic happy dust on people so they could be one iota as happy as I am with my life right now. Even with all the God stuff.

Oh! Speaking of which, I forgot to address that little nugget.

Regarding the whole God/family patriarch/but-he's-an-atheist thing... Yes. That's something that I've had to confront intentionally, specifically, and meaningfully several times throughout this relationship. There was the initial "should I even be dating this guy?", which was quickly complicated by pregnancy, which was quickly complicated by love, which was quickly laid bare by pre-marital counseling when I came up against the issue again... and several times since then, frankly. It is something that I think about, especially as I'm looking to our future a whole lot these days. My answer is this: I can't pretend to know where our paths are going to take us in regards to God and religion. For all I know, it could end up where C becomes the Christian and I become a dyed-in-the-wool militant atheist. Really, there's no way to predict these things. When I was at SOULS, I never thought that I'd leave the church. I was going to be a Bible Worker and a leader foreverrrrrrr and get into the medical ministry and marry a wonderful SDA guy and wear long skirts and make granola and sound suspiciously like a hippie lol. Needless to say... I only wear long skirts and make granola anymore, and even the granola is a rarity these days. (Although I am going into the medical ministry, in a way...) Anyway, the basic conclusion I've come to is this: regardless of our beliefs on the origins of the universe and whywe are responsible to live moral, ethical lives, our moral systems match up. The motivations behind them? No, not necessarily. But the way we live our lives is so in sync that it doesn't seem to matter. No matter who ends up where, we still believe in the same basic gears that keep our lives (and society) running smoothly, if you understand what I mean. This actually comforts me more than if we believed the same way, because I can see that even if our reasons for believing what we believe change (i.e. should I decide to become an active Christian again, should C become a Christian, should be we both become Hindu, whatever), the basic foundations of morality that we have will not. You see what I'm saying?

Like, just because I get with a solid SDA man doesn't mean that he won't have a faith crisis and abandon his morality and choose to become a crazy, irresponsible party animal. Now, that's no reason not to, granted, but I'm just saying that you can't bank on people remaining on one path the rest of their lives. C is a moral man, and changes in his belief system will not affect that, because it is who he is in his core. I can bank on that, barring a frontal lobotomy. (And really, who's to say he won't have some horrible accident, and... yeah. I could do this all day. I think I'll just stick to being happy in the present, if that's okay with you! ^_^)

Thanks for your friendship, J. It means a lot to me.
I love you in all the totally platonic, sisterly ways that I know of :)

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