In late November 2010, I wrote a blog post in which I shared seven lessons or realizations I had come to as I tried to make sense of the choices I had made in my life. Here is the first part of that post:
"I’m going to be honest. There is a part of me that deeply regrets not coming out before I was married, or at least not too far into my marriage. Let’s face it: it’s hard on the psyche to accuse oneself of a betrayal of a large swath of one’s adult life.
"As I have been contemplating this recently, I have thought back over the years of my marriage and tried to see and feel where I was at various points along the journey that has brought me to where I am today. As I have done so, seven “lessons” have come into my mind.
"First lesson: I wasn’t prepared to live life as a gay man when I decided to get married.
"I was far too far into the closet and into my Mormon religion in order to take that step at that time. In addition, then was then and now is now. It was far safer to get married then. I didn’t really think of myself as “gay” then, just someone who was very attracted to men. Despite flirting with the idea of coming out of the closet while on my mission, I really had bought into the Church’s teaching that I could be happy living in a heterosexual marriage and that I could control my attraction and be a better person because of these choices.
"Second Lesson: Though in a sense I was living a lie, I couldn’t see it at the time.
"Most of my life had been spent trying to please other people and to hide the real me (which was not limited to just the gay me). In a very real way, joining the Mormon Church facilitated this process (i.e., pleasing other people and hiding the real me) and gave me the ultimate reward for doing so: eternal salvation. So, psychologically, I had a vested interest in “toeing the line,” i.e., living the “priesthood path.”
"I also didn’t really know who I was. Again, I had spent so much of my life with my false persona, I actually thought my false persona was the real me. Though I had some moments of connection on my mission, I had grown and continued to grow so out of touch with my real self that I could not possibly have allowed myself to come out at that period in my life."
(I'm working on a memoir about the year I came out. This is one of a ongoing series of posts based on the blog - entitled "Invictus Pilgrim" - that I kept during that year.)