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Monthly Archives: August 2015

Just Let Go

Today is just one of those days when I just need to write. It will likely just be rambling all over the place. I have no idea how this will turn out. 

I read a this quote the other day. 

It’s easier to read than it is to actually do. In fact it isn’t something that can be done overnight. It will be a process. Possibly lifelong. 

Tonight after attending a class, I was driving home. While I’ve been living in my apartment since March, I still find myself almost turning into the neighborhood where I used to live. The place I have lived for almost 10 years with my “three girls.”

My new place is just 2/10’s of a mile away from my former home but it may just as well be 10,000 miles away. I feel very far away.  Ya see… This new home is a one bedroom apartment. And as I write this, I now know why I chose it. 

I didn’t want too much space because it is void of the life that I once had. It is void of my daughters. It is void of my wife. It is void of what I thought my life would be at age 46. 

Being alone is simply not for me. I’m wired to have a companion. I miss my friendship and relationship with my wife and children. I’m soooooo sick of driving past my house and coming home alone to an apartment that is void of companionship. It is void of who I thought that I would be at this time in my life. I had plans. 

I miss sleeping knowing that my kids are just a room away and thst if they have a bad dream or get restless, that they can come climb in bed with Christa and me. I miss touching Christa when we go to bed and telling her how much I love her. I miss getting up every day as a family and getting the kids off to school even if there is some yelling, crying and frustration.  I’m  not built to be alone.  

So I drive past where my sweet Christa and Casslyn and Carly are fast asleep and I come home to an empty apartment that is not my home and I scream at the top of my lungs… “I don’t know how much longer that I can do this. It’s breaking me down!”
But I manage. I do my best to focus on the bravery that I displayed by being truthful with who I am. Being truthful to Christa. Being truthful to my daughters. Being truthful to society and my faith.  Being truthful with myself. Even at the cost of so, so much. The price has been high. The finer things in life cost more than the average things. 

 But it isn’t without hurt and adjustment. It isn’t without crying and at times sobbing. It isn’t without anger and frustration. It isn’t without feeling abandoned by God while at the same time calling upon him. 

Not to change my situation. No. No. No.  But a prayer of help. Help to adjust to where he has allowed me to be right now. I don’t believe in a God that sits in the clouds and waves a wand and sprinkles fairy dust to fix and change things that makes me uncomfortable. I ask him to help me adapt. I’m not weak. Far from it. 

I would be weak had I remained in a closet of shame and lies. It takes real resilience and strength to give up everything that I thought was real and to embrace the authentic person that God created me to be. That takes power. That takes Braun. 

So I look at myself in the mirror and I say to myself… “self,” you are strong!  You is kind, you is sweet and you is m’potent. You are good. 

So I will wake up in the morning and drive 2/10’s of a mile to my three girls home and help get them ready for school and make them breakfast. Because I can. I can because of the grace, kindness and understanding that Christa affords me to be the father and helper that I promised I would be over 17 years ago in front of family and friends at that church in Springdale, Arkansas. 

I am letting go of what I thought my life would be. 

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Posted by on August 25, 2015 in Journey to Authenticity

 

Left Out :-(

Left Out :-(

The past three years of coming out have been bitter and sweet. Kinda bittersweet. (See what I did right  there?)

Growing up Roman Catholic and Pentecostal “CatholiCostal” (Assemblies of God) made being authentic (gay) next to impossible. Factually I sincerely believed that I had somehow offended god because I was gay. I believed that I was being punished.  Being punished by God for not behaving properly was a constant threat from both the Catholic and Assemblies of God churches.

Over the past three years, I have loved and hated God. I have even more hated God’s followers. Genuine sincere hate. It was Gods people that raped me of any sort of normality when I came out. I was living in literal hell and torture at the hands of God’s people.

With that said, I was encouraged to leave my faith and political affiliation as they would never accept me as a gay man. I was hell bent on at least keeping my faith.  After all, it was God who gave me the gift of being gay.

The political affiliation was a no-brainer. I’ve always been sensitive to social issues just as God is, but it took me three years to complete a new voter registration card.  I am just plain sick of the “Repugnant” picketing and screaming about everything that they are uncomfortable with. The faith issue became much more difficult.  This almost cost me my life as I planned my suicide on multiple occasions.  I fully intended to eradicate myself from this bitter life.

My entire social structure was based inside the church. More than 90% of my relationships (Family and Friends) were within the scope of the church. I was an altar boy in the Catholic church and a licensed minister with a main-line Pentecostal denomination (Assemblies of God). I earned a degree from Central Bible College in Springfield, Missouri which is the former flagship Bible College of the Assemblies of God denomination.  We were taught to call it a fellowship and not a denomination. The church has played the semantics game from the beginning of time. Due to failing enrollment CBC was “absorbed” by Evangel University.

All that said, I have been struggling to find my place back into a faith community.  I have tried “gay” churches, I have tried “unity” churches, I have tried “liturgical” churches and I have tried “community” churches. Denomination simply isn’t in my vocabulary any longer.  I would become Atheist and/or Agnostic before I ever affiliate with a denomination again.

So I set out to find a faith community that met my requirements of being “upbeat” (non-liturgical) and at least welcoming/accepting of LGBT people.  I have resolved in myself that there is not yet a church here in the East Valley that will be both accepting and affirming. I’m OK with that for now.  I contacted the Pastor at the Church that I was attending just after I had come out.  He agreed to meet with me and we discussed my concerns about being gay and being the father of a gay child.  I want a place that is safe for me and my children to be a part of to practice our faith without the fear of being rejected, made fun of or ignored.

He assured me that we would be welcomed and that there were several other LGBT people who attended as well.  He made it clear that not EVERYONE would be welcoming if they knew that we were gay.  I promised that I wouldn’t wear my “Queer for Jesus” T-shirt.  Up to this point and short of some anxiety and nervousness, I’ve been doing well in my new endeavor to renew my faith.  Until this week…

This week started a new series regarding relationships.  Yeah, the big “R” word. It’s always an exciting topic when you are SINGLE.  (can I get an amen from the single people???)  The illustrations were of course flooded with examples of Man/Woman Boy/Girl relationships.  Of course there was the obligatory reference to Adam and Eve.  While nothing derogatory or positive of same-sex relationships were spoken, references to partners and or partnerships were clearly void.  After about the third or fourth reference to Man and Woman, I began to get a lump in my throat and a sick lonely feeling in my stomach.  That feeling you got when back in school, team captains were selected and then they got to pick their team from all the “rest” of us lined up along the fence.  That feeling of not wanting to be the last one selected but inevitably you were.  Yeah… I know that feeling real well.  Its my life story.

As the tears welled up (or maybe it was my allergies..) I felt alone.  I felt left out.  I felt again that I was not welcomed.  (And please don’t tell me how to feel).  I felt second or last class and suddenly the message became unpalatable and unrelatable to me.  I felt dejected.  Not intentionally but unintentionally.  I don’t think that it was malicious, but nonetheless it caused me angst.  I wanted to run out.  So I quietly gathered my belongings, made no eye contact with anyone and attempted to sneak out of the back door.  No such luck…a big burly machismo man at the top of the stairs asked me if everything was OK.  I smiled gracefully and gave the obligatory “I’m OK” and left to my car to gather myself.

As I sit here and write this post, I am reflecting back to a point in the message where the pastor stated that regarding relationships, “rules without relationship will result in rebellion.”  It just stuck to me like bubble gum to my shoe from the hot asphalt…  I get the “rules” I really do.  But is not the relationship with the gay community worth more than rules?  We are human.  We love, we feel, we pray, we need, we want… just like anyone else.  We are human and to expect us to somehow not desire relationship and partnership is flat-out insane.  Lets pretend for a minute that the Bible instructs you to reject those who are part of the LGBT community as a rule in general (that is not biblical by the way) would not that “rules without relationship will result in rebellion” not cut both ways?  “Rebellion/Hate comes from a relationship based on rules.”   Think about it.

I did everything that I knew possible to relate to my wife for 14 years.  The harder that I tried, the harder that it became.  I was making her miserable and falling deeper and darker into shame, guilt and depression.  I simply could not grasp the Male and Female relationship.  I was not designed to be heterosexual.  I was created homosexual.  If you are not gay, don’t even attempt to explain or relate to me.  You cannot possibly ‘get it.’  There is a reason that faith-based programs that once claimed to change peoples sexual orientation have had a 99% failure rate and have shuttered their doors.  Admitting that they caused more harm and suicides than any other faith-based “recovery” programs.  God will not fix what is not broken and will not heal what is not sick.

The Bible is full of “rules.”  No need to go to the obvious.  Why then would we select just ONE rule and stand on a mountain and declare this as the only rule that we are going to enforce?  Consider the idiocy of that for just a minute.  Let’s call out the divorcees, the seafood eaters, the mixed fabric wearers, the abusers, the speeders, the gossipers… No? Why? Because they are rules… rules without relationship will eventually cause rebellion.

SIDE NOTE:  When I do find the man who I will marry (its legal ya know), I will never shop at Shane Co. jewelers.  Why?  I’m glad that you ask.  Their commercials which we all know by heart, exclude male same-sex partners/boyfriends.  The commercial says your girlfriend this… your girlfriend that… even a female gay couple qualifies…but not gay male couples… when it would be so easy to just use the word partner or significant other. I’m pretty confident that this is intentional.  No company with that much marketing savvy would “forget” that it is now legal for same-sex marriages and not make a simple marketing correction.

OK now I’m back from my rant about Shane Co.That was free.  I won’t charge you for reading that part.

So where does that leave me right now?  I’m so glad that you asked.  I’ll be back next week to the same church.  I believe that the tide is coming in and changing.  The key is education.  Allowing people to talk to me instead of talking about me.  If I run off and cuss and scream, then I don’t allow people to approach me.  IF they cannot approach me, then they cannot talk to me.  They are left to talk about me.  I will create a safe place for your to talk to me.  We may walk away in disagreement, but at least you will have a fresh view of what its like to be both gay and christian.

That leads me to my final points of the message that I heard today regarding relationships.  Don’t give people what they deserve, give them what they need.  Give them grace.  To listen is to love.  The win is not in WINNING the argument, the win is in the winning of the RELATIONSHIP.  If anyone knows me, they know that I love to win the argument.  While I won’t tolerate disrespect, shaming or swearing, I will entertain a sincere person that wishes to engage me in sincere dialogue without throwing “spiritual swords.”

If you are sincere about learning more about why “so many people are coming out” and what the church and faith communities can do about it, please, please, please consider reading and or listening to some information that will help you move forward in unity with the LGBT community.

If you just wish to make fun, banter or discover more fodder to feed your hate, then this is not for you.  These resources are only for people who desire to be educated and learn.  Education comes after you listen to both sides.  Listening to one side is not education it is ignorance.  There is a difference between being taught and being educated.  Being taught is listening to one person’s opinion and making it your own.  This is also know as blind ignorance.  Being educated is listening to and considering all points and then taking a position.

http://www.amazon.com/Walking-Bridgeless-Canyon-Kathy-Baldock/dp/1619200287/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1439754240&sr=1-1&keywords=kathy+baldock

http://www.amazon.com/God-Gay-Christian-Biblical-Relationships/dp/1601425163/ref=pd_bxgy_14_im

http://www.amazon.com/Bible-Gender-Sexuality-Reframing-Relationships/dp/0802868630/ref=pd_sim_14_3?ie=UTF8&refRID=14NQYVVX6JN923GK47MM

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2015 in Journey to Authenticity

 

Facing My Demons 

I must be honest. I don’t really believe in demons. Never have. I don’t believe that anything has the ability or power to indwell itself inside of me. And I surely don’t believe that it can just sneak inside of me if I don’t behave like denominations say that I should. 

So when I speak of a demon, I speak metaphorically of course.  I grew up in a denomination, specifically The Assemblies of God, that teaches and believes in a literal and indwelling demons. I was also taught that from time to time, those real demons must be cast out through fasting and prayer and the laying on of hands. I would say that I was religiously “raped” as a young teen and on into adulthood. Oh the literal trauma that I have endured. 

Most of that faulty teaching is what actually brings be to this post.  As I write this, in less than three hours, I will celebrate my 46th birthday. Over half my life has passed. It cannot be undone and I cannot go back in time to reclaim not even just one second. 

One can imagine that being raised in South Louisiana, in a Catholic home until I was in Jr. High and then converting to evangelical/Protestant/Pentecostal/Assemblies of God until just about the age of 43… That I have some “demons” that have been dwelling in my life. 

Of course I never believed that I had issues with the aforementioned demons and therefore never felt like I needed to face them. 

I always minimized the trauma that I was living with as a “Cathli-costal” gay man.  I was just fine. I could handle it. It wasn’t so bad anyway. Right!??  I mean other people had it worse. After all, some people have witnessed murder, war, natural death and other horrible issues. THOSE are the people dealing with real demons. Not me…

Well, I wish that was true, but it was a lie. A lie that I had convinced myself to believe for over 40 years. Being a closeted Christian gay man, I had literally watched the horrific murder of ME!  I was beaten, abused, taken advantage of and left for dead.  Gruesomely Murdered at the hands of society and the “Christian” church because of who I am in my most inner being. 

Oh the heartbreaking trauma that l lived. You can’t unring a bell. You cannot un-hear a sound and you cannot Un-see or in-live horrific trauma. It lives somewhere within the brain for life, forever. 

I learned to minimize my trauma. I learned to call it by other names. But truth be told… It was literally killing me from the inside out. 

For years I have neglected and abused myself. My psyche mostly. I put everyone else before me. Thinking somehow that if I gave of myself to others, that would somehow erase the trauma. I could go on and on about the specifics, but truthfully, you just wouldn’t understand and it would make you sick to your stomach. 

So as I enter the 46th year of my life, I am taking time for me. Selfishly and intentionally without shame and without apology. 

I began seeing a therapist. And while I think that I used more than my allotted share of tissues, I’m understanding that my demons are in fact real. They are dangerous and hurtful. To me and to others. 
I don’t want to hurt any longer.  Myself or others.  I don’t need the shame, guilt and embarrassment of being gay any longer. I simply don’t have need of it. So I have made a conscious choice to look those f#*%€ing demons right in the face and open up a can of whoop-ass on them. I’m going emerge a healthy, whole and born-again man who is gay in a heterosexual world. 

I sincerely don’t think that my therapist realizes what he’s gotten himself to. Bwahahahahah.  

See y’all on the other side of ME. 

Chet

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2015 in Journey to Authenticity

 

A time for mourning

Over the past few months, I have found myself yet again sinking into a dungeon of darkness and depression. So deep that I had even become convinced that taking my life was likely the only way to exit the excruciating pain.

As is my usual attempt to process what is going on around me, I began to ask myself why. Why am I feeling so hopeless when in reality my life is going pretty well. I have a good life.

So the questioning turned to frustration and the frustration turned to hoplessness and the hoplessness to a plan of suicide. It was irrational I know. But if you have never been cursed with the disease of depression, you simply cannot comprehend how suicide becomes a viable solution to the pain. It is 100% true, DEPRESSION HURTS. It physically hurts.

I was sincerely attempting to get to the “why” of my sadness. I have been living authentically as a gay man for just over three years. I have grown past the loss of siblings and other people in my life that have rejected me. There was only one thing that kept resurfacing.

Even before  Christa and I chose to end our marital relationship, we had talked about selling our home. We had come to the realization that it was much too large and very needy. The maintenance was becoming overwhelming as the girls got older.

I wonderd if selling the house was it. After all, This is the last physical and literal connection that I have with Christa. I thought this may be the source of the renewed depression.

I began to wonder if it was because I felt that my faith had been raped and I was no longer part of a church community. Could this be it?

So I began an intentional journey to renew my faith in God. I felt that my life had a hole in it that needed to filled. So I made tiny steps by gently moving toward my broken down faith.

As I was sitting in church, I did my best to keep my emitions in check. Being in the same room with that many Christians was very overwhelming. I have become very tentative of people that are Christians.  I just scanned the room to see if I knew anyone. Wondering if they would be as kind to me if they knew that I am gay. Edit

I noticed families walking in together, sitting together…WAIT… THAT WAS IT!  I had spent most of my time over the past three years protecting Christa, the girls, my family and my friends from bearing the shame of me being gay. I never wanted them to hurt.

While making sure that everyone else was ok, I neglected myself. Most importantly I neglected to mourn the loss of my marriage. The thing that I was most proud of in my life.

All my life, all I ever wanted was a wife, children, pets, a lawn to mow, a white picket fence, a red front door, a pool, a trampoline,to go to family get togethers and holiday celebrations and an SUV parked in the garage.

Well that was all lost in 2012. I lost the most important thing to me. My biggest accomplishment was my marriage that I shared with my movie star wife. It was a death. A loss. I took no time to mourn. I took no time to just be sad. I have not mourned.

So now I begin the process of mourning my marriage.  I will allow myself time to be sad, to cry to feel the pain of this giagantic death that used to be my proudest accomplishment.

Thank you for being patient with me.

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2015 in Journey to Authenticity

 

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