In the Mormon church, the first Sunday of the month is different from the others. Instead of having assigned speakers, we have what is called a fast and testimony meeting, which basically means it’s open mic Sunday. Anybody can get up and extemporaneously share their feelings for and their belief in the gospel, the church, their Savior, etc. Sometimes it also becomes an uncomfortable exercise in oversharing (at which point, I usually lean forward, rest my head on my hands and soak up the awkwardness). These unscripted meetings are usually among my favorites because the odds of them being more interesting/entertaining/inspiring, in comparison to the other Sundays, are high.
I didn’t bear my testimony this past Sunday, but if I had, I would have shared my feelings about vulnerable places. Those places that we sometimes voluntarily go to and sometimes try our hardest to avoid. Those places where we put ourselves out in the open, naked, for others to see us as we are instead of who we think they want us to be.
My becoming more transparent about my sexuality has been a fairly gradual and thoughtful and important process. One of the many reasons why it has been so important and impactful for me is that it has often taken me to vulnerable places that are fertile ground for my own personal growth. I’ve grown and become more whole in ways that I know I couldn’t have if I’d kept everything to myself.
It’s also enriched my personal relationships. By allowing myself to be fully seen, I’ve been able to create more meaningful and enriching relationships, whereas before, I felt like nobody fully knew me and therefore no one was qualified to say they loved me. If the words “I love you” were ever said, it hardly ever rang true.
Of course it isn’t all roses now either. It is, after all, a vulnerable place. Showing up as yourself carries a price. Some relationships will require some adjusting and shifting. Some of the seismic activity is uncomfortable, and sometimes it doesn’t lead to where you’d hope it would. It will lead to more authentic relationships though. My sister doesn’t always agree with me. Sometimes she’ll bring up something she’s read on my blog that doesn’t quite ring true for her, and we’ll discuss it and sometimes we still won’t agree. My relationship with her is much more real and meaningful as a result.
Recently I signed up for OKCupid. There’s a part of me that has been calling out for relationship and not just for the companionship (although that is a big part of it). There’s a part of me that hungers, almost masochistically I suppose, for the type of relationship that takes you to a vulnerable place the way that putting yourself out there for someone you are attracted to on all levels only can.
I’ve dated women a little bit before and that has presented its own unique circumstances for growth, but it doesn’t come close to comparing to the limited experiences I’ve had dating men. With men, I feel the experience in every cell of my body (and I’m not talking about sex here). A gay friend married to a woman once told me that he didn’t think he was the jealous type because he didn’t mind the male friends his wife had. I couldn’t help but wonder how that declaration would change if he was in a relationship with a man he felt emotionally, spiritually, intellectually and physically attracted to. I have a feeling that jealousy and insecurity would much more easily rear their heads.
Based on my limited experience, being in an intimate relationship with someone you are completely attracted to stirs up insecurities like nothing else can. It takes you to the most vulnerable of places and provides opportunities to learn about yourself and grow as a result, in a way that nothing else can. I want to go there.