I am not ashamed to admit that I am in a very happy place. I live in a beautiful location, I have a great job, and, despite all the lies I told myself for so many years, I am happy as an active member of the Church and as a father/husband. It seems so strange to think that such could be possible, especially considering how discouraged and distraught I felt for much of my teenage and young adult years.
When I returned home from full-time missionary service, I was numb. I felt let down and frustrated that after years of praying and hard work, I had not been cured/healed of my feelings of same-sex attraction. I wouldn’t say that I was angry with God; I believed He was all powerful, but I guess I figured that I just wasn’t worthy enough, or didn’t really want to give up “my sin” enough for God to fix me.
Whereas some people testify of a deeper relationship with God that results from dealing with unwanted same-sex attraction, in some ways I experienced the opposite. I had to take a step back from God in order to allow my self to grieve for the life that I, as I slowly began to accept, would never have. Perhaps I had to allow myself to feel truly sad for what I thought I was losing, before I could come back to Him.
For the next four or five years, I still continued to attend Church, but with the exception of one YSA ward that had NO pressure to date/marry, I attended mostly just to keep up the habit. I frequently fell into the trap of deriding romance and happiness, and I worked hard to convince myself that I was better off as a bachelor. In truth, there is nothing wrong with remaining unmarried, but for years I didn’t really believe it even though I kept telling myself I was better off that way.
During those years, I spent a lot of my free time listening to music, mostly post-grunge alternative rock. I think I felt better knowing that I wasn’t the only one who was disappointed and disillusioned with life, but hung on anyway. I felt comforted by the dark tones of Matthew Good or loser anthems of Travis. I wallowed in the words of Ryan Adams or the protests of Green Day. And then, after a few years, I finally got over it, and moved on.
Some might say that listening to sad music causes depression, but I was depressed for years before I found music that reflected my mood. Alt Rock let me know I wasn’t alone in my depression, and those artists helped me realize that life could be worth living even if it felt awful, even if there appeared to be no purpose at all in staying alive. It helped me trudge on until I had made peace with “the death” of the life I thought I deserved.
By the time I reached my late twenties, I had gradually stopped seek refuge in melancholic melodies. I suppose that I had finally begun to believe what was trying to convince everyone else: I could have a happy life as an unmarried, active member of the Church. Of course, shortly after, I met someone wonderful for me and was married in a matter of months, but that is another story.
I don’t often listen to music much these days. When I do, it’s usually something mellow and folky. I still have some of my old Alt-Rock CDs. Everyone in a while, I’ll put one in the car (if I’m alone). It brings up some memories, but it just doesn’t feel like me anymore. And I’m happy about that.