Thursday, February 21, 2013

FFAQ V Answer--Is life always ponies and butterflies and--dare I say it--unicorns?

Last FFAQ resulted in a near-tie between two questions. This one edged the other (about boy scouts) out by one ditto. Here it is (posed by anonymous):

Everything that I’ve read or heard from you and Lolly about your situation has been positive. Is it all rainbows and sunshine all the time? I know that you’ve made the best decision for you and your family, but aren’t there times when it’s hard?

A parallel to my own life: I know that eating healthy is what’s right for me, but sometimes I just want ice cream, darn it. But I can occasionally indulge without hurting my loved ones and ruining my life.

Do you face frustrations with your lifestyle, and if so, how do you deal with them?

Great question, Anonymous!

First of all, let's get one thing straight (do you see what I did there?): what you're reading here is a blog. This is not, of course, a real-time reflection of our life. What you would get if you were seeing a real-time reflection of our life would be reeeeeeaaaaallly boring. 

It would look something like this:

*Josh wakes up*
*Josh stays in bed for 37 minutes looking at nothing-in-particular on his phone*
"Get out of bed now," says Lolly.
*Josh stays in bed 15 more minutes playing a game on his phone*
"Do you even have work today?" asks Lolly.
*Josh rolls out of bed, takes a shower, goes downstairs and tries to find a bunch of healthy stuff for lunch*
*Josh runs up and down the stairs about 4394 times to get the various things he is trying with all his brain power not to forget (e.g. keys, driver's license, lunch, water, briefcase, computer, phone, phone charger, etc)*
*Josh leaves the house with precisely 15 seconds to spare, hoping that every single traffic light he encounters is magically green*
*Josh says a swear out loud when he hits every red light imaginable and also gets stuck behind a school bus*
*Josh arrives four minutes late to work*
*Josh swears out loud again when he realizes he forgot the key to his office*

And so forth....

Because of this lack of real-time data, often blogs get pretty hyper focused on one emotional pole. If it's a sad blog (like this used to be when it was about my ADD the first few months it existed) then the posts are often maudlin and ridiculous and really embarrassing and I have half a mind to take them down except I have ADD so I never get around to remembering to. If it's a happy blog (like it is now) then the posts often talk about happy or funny things, or at least tend to paint some difficult topics in a humorous or optimistic way. This is just how blogs and online "presence" work. You can't share everything so what you choose to share becomes an inaccurate, though earnest, representation of life.

Thus, it might appear that we are happy 100% of the time. Or that we might be trying to pretend to be.

I assure you we are not.

I assure you that Lolly and I bicker regularly.

I assure you that my three daughters spend about 75% of their lives either crying, yelling, or saying the words "so and so hit me!" or "I didn't make that mess!" (The other 25% is spent being too precocious and adorable for words, thus making the other 75% totally worth it.)

I assure you that our life is filled with all of the challenges of any life. We have stresses and illnesses and cars that break down and messes to clean and sometimes we're really grumpy. Sometimes I'm running groups all night and don't get to kiss my girls goodnight. Sometimes work gets daunting, and we get overburdened. Sometimes this new life of ours--with all its amazing opportunities--gets really, really overwhelming. Right now we're trying really hard to make sure we don't lose sight of what's important to us: God, each other, and our girls. 

Today, for example, I felt horrible when I woke up. I felt bad that I hadn't posted here enough, and that I hadn't written enough in our book, and I worried that all the public stuff we did last week was a disaster and we just didn't realize it yet. I felt that I was just not measuring up. I kinda freaked out and Lolly had to soothe me because she's a miracle worker.

So yeah, sometimes we have meltdowns. It happens. 

 Sometimes the girls dump out an entire box of baking soda.

And then make baking soda angels.

There are definitely times when our situation is hard. But it's probably not harder than most people's lives, if that makes any sense. We're just living a life. And it's a pretty joy-filled, awesome, fun, fulfilling life at that. 

As I reread the question, I think what I've said has only partially answered your query. I infer from the ice cream comparison that you're wondering if my attractions themselves are difficult.

Yes. They are. I'm not gonna lie. I decided to never have romantic or sexual interaction with the gender I am oriented towards. That can be difficult sometimes. Really, really difficult. I gave up something pretty huge to live the life I live, and I would never claim otherwise. And Lolly, likewise, sacrifices important things for our marriage as well, which would probably require its own post. (Future FFAQ???)

At the same time, I'm pretty sure any man who is being honest will tell you that there are times when he feels sexual attractions toward people that aren't his spouse, and that those feelings can, at times, be very compelling. Learning to appropriately manage those moments is what adulthood is all about in my opinion. All married men (and married people, for that matter) need to know how to process powerful attractions that arise, and then choose to focus on the one person they've chosen to love. It's possible that my situation makes those moments a little more intense than for other guys. Perhaps it doesn't. I think it might only be possible to assess on a case by case basis. 

But the fact is, while I have hard moments (just like any person) I am not in turmoil. There's no seedy underbelly to my existence. The reason it sounds like rainbows and butterflies as I write and talk about our life is because we live a life that is filled with joy--squeaky clean, brilliant, family-oriented, unadulterated joy. The kind that sinks deep in your soul and sustains you and helps you go to sleep at night with a smile on your face--like napping after a large delicious meal. You can't fake that kind of joy. You just can't.

Plus, I find that when it comes to being gay, it is other stuff (besides attraction) that seems to be difficult for me. I've written a lot now about how difficult friendship has been for me, and how I've only just in recent years learned how to be at all vulnerable in that arena. Also, now that I'm out, there are other hard things. I've been blatantly discriminated against (though, admittedly, I do generally enjoy privilege that many gay people do not because I am in a hetero-normative marriage). I've had opportunities shrivel up into nothingness because I'm gay, and even because I use the word "gay" to describe myself. I've had some pretty hateful mud slung at me and at my family. None of that is fun. By no means do I intend to minimize the difficult and over-emphasize the wonderful. I think with my check-ins and various posts about my struggles, as well as my utter honesty in any interviews Lolly and I do, you hopefully get a decent representation of what our life actually looks like: a life that is cheesy, Hallmark card, Christmastime commercial happy interspersed with occasional hard moments that are also very real.

Fact is, things are really, really good for us. I love my life.  I view myself as incredibly lucky. I have two jobs I love, a gorgeous woman I get to spend my life with who is my best friend and lover, three beautiful daughters, a wonderful home, a connection to God, amazing friends, and a life filled with incredible opportunities to share and grow and interact with awesome people (like you, whoever you are.)

In fact, this is part of why I do FFAQ in the first place, and why those posts tend to be my most vulnerable. I want people to know that they can ask me anything. I have nothing to hide, and I'm not afraid to talk about hard things. Here at The Weed, I try very hard to be real. Hence our tagline "All kinds of real." I see absolutely no value in sugarcoating or avoiding hard things. I have nothing to be ashamed of, and sugarcoating life is disingenuous and leads to poor mental health. 

So please know that what you're getting here is as close to real-life as I can possibly muster. And if you have questions about hard things, continue to use FFAQ as an opportunity to explore complex issues. I love answering hard questions. I don't have time to answer all questions, but I will try hard to answer any question voted on with integrity and honesty. And if you ask a question one week that doesn't get chosen, do what anonymous did and try it again! You never know when it will gain critical mass. 

All right, time to go make this day my biznatch.  


  1. I admire people who are real and not trying to hide anything and willing to talk about everything. Thanks for keeping it real.

  2. Thank you for describing so perfectly/humorously the relationship between blogs & reality. You put words to my thoughts.

  3. really great answer, and while I don't understand same sex attraction, I would agree that in any relationship, its about choices and making that choice over and over again to love and stay committed to the one you've vowed to love for the rest of your life, and experiencing the joy that comes with that type of committment, even through the tough times (we ALL have them!)

  4. These 3 following sentences are the best, most succinct, explanations you have given thus far! I loved this. I've read your blog since the coming-out post, and I think this is the best answer you've ever written. Thanks.

    "I'm pretty sure any man who is being honest will tell you that there are times when he feels sexual attractions toward people that aren't his spouse, and that those feelings can, at times, be very compelling. Learning to appropriately manage those moments is what adulthood is all about in my opinion. All married men (and married people, for that matter) need to know how to process powerful attractions that arise, and then choose to focus on the one person they've chosen to love."

    So true!

    1. Agrees to!! People don't realize that a person has a choice to make to stay faithful. We all have been attracted to others when we shouldn't, but its a pure choice to act on it.

      I also think josh made a huge point .. That life is about choices and keeping our desires in check because we all have desires of one sort or another whether a SSA or other things.

      Good post josh. I think it answers a big question on what everyone keeps hounding you about in making choices and what you believe.

    2. Yes, I agree - great comments.

      I'd also like to share something that my husband does and has been doing for years now. He tells of how he is literally 'training' his thoughts. He believes that as he stops himself from 'going down' the path in his mind that was, for most of his life, the well traveled, easily accessible path - and, instead, he continues to consciously blaze a 'new path',.. then, the old, originally path, since it is not being traveled, is growing grass & weeds, etc. (so to speak) and, the new, currently well trodden path, is becoming more familiar, more comfortable, and the path of fulfillment and happiness and peace.

      He is 'still' very aware of that old original path, and he is sometimes tempted be adventurous and take a stroll there, but then he's reminded of the dangers and snares that are there, he believes that path is not right for him, and he 'decides' not to go there again.

      Hence his name 'I Define Me'

  5. I read a quote from President Monson that has helped me and I think you would like it. He said "The best decision I have ever made was to give up something I love to the God that I love even more...He has never forgotten me for it" It helps me remember that my sacrifices however large or small don't go unnoticed by Him. Best of luck to you and your darling family.

    1. Love that. These things we love can be ideas, habits, addictions, temptations, diversions and sometimes, and I will admit most painfully, sometimes these "things" are actually people or A person. In THIS life we must prioritize and commit to do the least amount of damage to people we love and care about. That is a very personal and private matter between any individual and their higher self, power or God. I have chosen a life where God is a God of love and He totally gets a say in these very personal decisions because I TRUST HIM. And yes, I love Him above all and believe that He is ON MY SIDE and would not promise me things He would not fulfill. That includes consecrating my afflictions for experience and ultimate restitution , if they are conducive to a fullness of joy.

    2. Beautiful. :) Every sacrifice we make has meaning in the greater context of the glory of God.

  6. A long time ago, faced with a plumbing disaster of moderate proportions (caused by my then 2yo) I was faced with a decision:

    Get angry?
    Or get the camera?

    Choosing to get the camera has fundamentally altered who I am as a parent.

    There are days I get angry. But whenever faced with the CHOICE, Ive gotten my camera. And have never regretted a single instance.

    Baking Soda Angels, and their cousins (shaved dogs, mountains of toilet paper, pink whites, treasure map ties) are the light & joy of my life. All against a backdrop of peanuts butter kisses, flying hugs, "oh hey, its you, Im busy" (secure attachment VICTORY lap, sniff pout, I wanna flying hug!), I had a nightmare can I nuggle?, where are my SOCKS????, You're em-BARE-ressing me! Eeeeew Moms afraid of.... I'm TELLING. I love you, too.

    Pure. Unadulterated. Joy.

    Compai, Cheers, Brava, Too Right.

    - Grey!

    1. "I was faced with a decision:

      Get angry?
      Or get the camera?

      Choosing to get the camera has fundamentally altered who I am as a parent."

      Love this...

  7. I for one, don't think you should delete your first posts about ADD. #1 Because they are really interesting and have taught me a lot about ADD. Since I got pregnant with my first born and even more so since my second, I certainly feel ADD and was beginning to wonder if I am, but thanks to you, I know that I'm not. I'm just scatter-brained. And it's helpful to know what to look for as my kids get older and develop more. And #2 Because they're part of the journey you've made with your blog. We learn a lot about who you are and what you've been through and how you got to where you are now. New readers would be missing a huge part of you if you deleted all of that very revealing info. And the change that you went through once you started taking medication was amazing! Overnight you were like,"Okay, I'm over all this ADD nonsense and I'm going to be hilarious now." Fascinating!

    So I think you should just forget about worrying about forgetting to delete those old posts. You've got enough on your mind as it is without adding that to the list.

  8. Just realized.... wow. This is the *F* FAQ, and Josh got it up on *Thursday.* Did I totally miss that that's how this is supposed to work, or was Josh amazing today!! :D Go you. :>

  9. I liked the part about the Biznatch :)

  10. Needed to read this post this morning. Thanks for doing what you do.

  11. Absolutely awesome answers. Your ability to express 'reality' is REALLY spot on. :)

    Also.... absolutely LOVED your Voices of Hope. Seriously, I felt such a kinship with you both, it's almost like we belong to the same 'club' ;)

    There was one point where I (totally unexpectedly) burst into tears and cried like a baby. I had to stop the thing and go blow my nose. My heart ached for you (and kinda for us as well) when you said you started looking for someone, somewhere, like you, and in your situation. I was blown away by that comment - as I knew that, (although our story is different than yours because of the acting out and addiction in our marriage), 'we' were here all along, working on writing a book, and dragging our feet, and letting other things get in the way. We 'could' have been available to be a help and strength to you guys. - We were active in Evergreen for several years, starting back in 1992. We had been doing workshops, we were participants on panel discussions at conferences, and had started our book.....

    Josh & Lolly... we 'could' have been there for you, we could have finished our book (and it might have been available when you needed it), but it all got put on the back burner, and everything went down hill... - until about five years ago when things started to change for the better, and ultimately our marriage and literally, our lives, were saved and renewed and brought to this place where we are now. Wonderful, full of Love & Joy, and close to God (just exactly as you have described your beautiful life in this post).

    Josh & Lolly, we are here to say, publicly, that we are sorry that we were not there for you when we 'should have' and 'could have' been. I guess things all work out somehow, and clearly we weren't ready to be the 'example' for good that we wish we would have been for you and others along the way. And now, you are an inspiration and great example for us instead. Thank You.

    Even though Mr. IDM had already stopped his 'down low' activities, and things were getting much better for him and us, and he had already been through his repentance process, and was already 'a new man', when we first heard about 'The Weeds', it was through your blog that we were inspired and encouraged to write our blog (instead of finish our book), which has been a blessing and a miracle in so many ways for us.

    The bottom line is that THERE IS HOPE, for folks like 'us', and the world is learning and growing and things are getting better.

    High Five! - :D

    We love you guys

  12. No one's life is a bowl full of cherries no matter if your gay, straight, or something I haven't heard of yet. It is call LIFE! Heavenly Father never said it would be easy, he only said it would be worth it. I say that to myself at least 1589 times a day. Now my real comment is after the girls (who are as cute as buttons by the way) dumped the box of baking soda, did you decide it was time to start thinking about more kiddos? I think 10 is a nice round number :) Bless you and Lolly for having the strength and energy

  13. I'm really glad that you posted this. I have to admit (as ridiculous as this sounds and really sad on my part) I look forward everyday to read your posts. I never really comment on them, but they always make my day :). I'm wanting to go into the field of social work and I'm really excited and by reading your posts it makes me even more excited to help people out. I have always wondered if most social workers are always happy because they always have that persona whenever I meet with them. See I'm bipolar so I have a lot of ups and downs and life sometimes sucks and is great when I'm in my manic or hypo manic stage :) So I've kind of been a little jealous thinking that all social workers have "perfect" lives (even though I know it's really not true) So I'm glad that you posted this so then I don't feel so awkward believing that I'm going to be the only social worker without a "perfect" life. Thanks again :D

  14. I think we (us readers) can all identify with this post. We don't (or do, depending on the person) have the exact same issues, yet my life, and probably all of ours, is a mixture of blessings and hardships. (Me: aspergers and the accompanying pain, (bisexual, but it causes no hardships) the loneliness of being single,never got that gorgeous guy, would love to have children making messes, or fighting, or doing anything,yet...the friendship of a gorgeous guy, the love of children I've cared for who are not my own, and the knowledge that God is present and the comforting love of His Will.)