Tuesday, January 5, 2010


By Madame Curie

I don't like to discuss my feelings publicly until I understand their source. This is the reason I wrote a post, published it, and then took it down earlier this week. Shortly after publishing it, I was struck by an overwhelming sense of fear - fear of my husband, fear of the world, fear of everything. I couldn't post a blog article saying how happy I was when I was feeling so incredibly afraid. I nearly deleted this entire blog.

This has been the story of my week - elation to terror, cycling round and round.

The inquiry into Mr. C's sexual orientation isn't a new development. We've talked about his attraction to men since before we were married. He talks about some of these things in his mission journals, which I have read and discussed with him. And, he has had other experiences that he has shared with me over the years. None of this is new or earth-shattering. The conversation has gotten pretty intense in the last several months, since we have both undergone trials to our faith. He has realized that there is a side to himself that has been largely unexplored due to Mormon teachings on the subject. None of the discussions we've had have made me uncomfortable or caused me to question his love or commitment. We have an incredibly secure emotional and physical connection, unlike anything I have ever experienced in my life.

I realized yesterday that the real "fear" I have is more in his "coming out". It doesn't matter whether he is attracted to men; I actually find that sexy. But I do care - probably too much - what others think of me. While this blog is mostly anonymous, this is not entirely the case. Mr. C's brother, a friend of his from college and her wife, some of our ward members, and several college friends of mine read this blog. There are also the bloggernacle connections I have made: Faithful Dissident, Andrew S, Adam F, FireTag, and others I have been following for over a year. When I read their posts and comments, they each have a distinct voice in my mind. To the extent that this is possible in an online community, I know them and respect their opinions.

Sometimes I think I'm not really cut out for blogging. I'm far too sensitive, and my posts and comments invariably deal with personal stories and emotions more than with fundamental truths or objective intellectual inquiry. The topic of sexuality is particularly difficult for me to discuss publicly, because I have many wonderful and conflicting thoughts and emotions tied up in it. As much as I recognize my husband's need to reach out and hear stories and anecdotes that might help him understand himself, I'm nevertheless terrified at having someone invalidate our experiences.

I have been in psychotherapy now for several years, dealing with repercussions of an abusive childhood combined with a serious psychiatric disorder (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). When I first started with a therapist, I was afraid of sharing with her my childhood experiences, for fear that she wouldn't believe me. There I stood, an 20-something, accomplished, intelligent woman, with several degrees from high-profile universities and an excellent, fulfilling career. How could I tell her about the neglect I suffered as a child? About the horrors I saw between my parents? Or the emotional manipulation my dad subjected me to? How on earth would she believe that an accomplished woman like me could have come from a situation so devoid of physical support or love?

Sometimes I feel the same with this blog. We share our experiences here, and sometimes I'm afraid to hear back, "I don't believe you." Sexuality is one of those things that makes me particularly nervous about hearing feedback about, because its clear my husband and I don't fall into stereotypes. "But... you're happily married and have a child. Its not possible that you and your spouse are only attracted to members of the same sex and to each other" or "If you were really physically attracted to only men/women, you never would have been able to get married." I feel the need to justify myself where I know that I don't need to. Feelings are what they are, and someone else's judgment as to whether or not they are valid doesn't really affect the person who experiences them.

So, I guess what I am saying here is... be gentle. Please remember that these are two, very real people who write these posts. And that one of them is still just an awkward, anxious girl, fearful of invalidation.


  1. No judgement here! But I will say that Mister C's posts in particular have caused me a great deal of personal introspection, and for that I appreciate him sharing them.

    Oh - and not sure if my voice has this, but it needs to have a base of South African English, with a little Kiwi and American added in for good measure!

  2. See my very validating comment on the post before this one. :)

  3. I am a gay Mormon who has been happily married for 25 years. I can validate that it is entirely possible!

  4. you are far more brave than you give yourself credit for! i hesitate to comment (often!) for fear of what others might think. i always SAY that i don't care but i find myself hesitating because, apparently, i DO care.

    there is a saying, "mean people suck." not sophisticated but true nonetheless. ignore the mean people. know that there are likely more people reading your blog (and supporting you) silently. or, in my case, a bit more vocally. thanks for the prompt!

  5. Thank you for facing your fears and expressing your inner self. I appreciate your blog a lot and I feel like it helps me to understand myself and my experiences better. Thank you.

  6. No judgement here either! You and your husband are obviously very bright and sensitive people. I don't need to tell you what you already know: life is messy, and this include the whole gray spectrum of sexuality - where there is no last word - except that your experience is yours alone to own and love. However, because I'm a bit on the aged side at this point in life, I will mention one of the more important lessons learned over the years: You do not need to explain/define/defend yourself to anyone if you don't want to. Life is precious and wonderous and good and (reality check) short. Hold your head up and embrace the incredible creation you are (that goes for your husband, too), go forth and do good. Lecture over and many hugs to you!

  7. I am not sure I'm cut out for blogging, either. Commenting can be a challenge, too.

    My general reaction to the last couple of posts:

    (1) You are both brave, honest, and admirable.

    (2) You guys love each other.

    (3) I think you are right to question the value of labels - what do they matter if you love each other? A rose by any other name...

    (4) How does Mr. C see the possible outcomes of his exploration? (What would the decision tree look like?) Is it just in terms of understanding one's own sexuality better, and does it really have no implications for your marriage? If you stick to the labels, then this would be the decision tree as I see it (again, best to get rid of the labels):
    (a) happily married bisexual- despite studies;
    (b) happily married homosexual;
    (c) homosexual, but now feeling unhappily married.

    And I think people are reacting to that 3rd potential outcome, which may be only 0.001% likely, but which could be tragic.

    At the end of the day and doing away with the labels, it amounts to this: Mister Curie loves Madame Curie, in a way that (maybe) defies conventional labels.

    Any further analysis is just seeking to define that parenthetical "maybe". Is the analysis necessary for self-awareness and growth? Maybe. Could it be possible to over-analyze? Maybe. But I don't think any one could answer that question for some one else.

  8. Between reading this post and the last (with your comment on what kinds of things people could say to "invalidate" your experience), I think you should face your fear of invalidation head on, because I think it is something that is highly probable to occur in life.

    I mean, consider, is this not what happens to disaffected Mormons? In defending their own positions, many members have to make sense of the disaffection. The ex-Mormon story just can't be! So, they have to invalidate.

    Disaffected members, in turn, have to become stronger than the people who will invalidate them, and realize that they are the ones who live their lives. They are the ones who know exactly WHAT their situation is.

    Didn't I say something similar in response to the posts about the studies? I guess this is a kind of anti-scientific attitude for me to take, but my first impression -- and the impression I still have is -- if science seems to "disprove" or "cast doubt" upon something I have truly experienced in my life, then I'm WAY more likely to think the scientists don't have it right yet than to think my experiences are nonexistent.

  9. Urban - I never would have imagined you with that voice. I admit your voice was much less bass in my mind, and never had the kiwi :) But, I will keep that in mind in my future readings. Crazy!

    I recall once putting a mental image to what I thought Bridget Jack Meyers looked like, and I was 100% wrong. Its sometimes amusing to me what we (as humans) subconsciously do to make online connections more real.

    EV- You like your new nickname? I thought it was a nice Eve reference ;) Thanks for your support.

    Na'me- Mr. C's response to your comment was, "He's thinking to himself, 'Man, is she the lid for his pot!'" :) Please remain friends with us!

    Andrew- See, I could have guessed that you would make a post on emotions into one discussing human behavior. I agree that its pretty frequent that we as humans often feel the need to invalidate someone else's experience in order to make sense of our own. I fully realize that this is part of the human condition. But that doesn't mean I can't fear invalidation, and attempt to set up boundaries on my blog before it happens.

    Thanks for your feedback, everyone. It means a lot to me.

  10. Love the new nickname. Gracias!

  11. Personally, I have found YOUR discussions of this issue validating for ME. I almost never mentioned these questions to anyone because of that fear of invalidation. I come from an abusive childhood as well, so I understand the source of that fear.

    (I learned today that there are whole genres of pornography, anime, poetry, novels, and photography devoted to women who are attracted to homosexual men. So I, a queer woman, can love a straight man and also indulge in my attraction to gay men. What a confusing, label-defying mess! And yet somehow, it just works.)

  12. Andrew S - "if science seems to 'disprove' or 'cast doubt' upon something I have truly experienced in my life, then I'm WAY more likely to think the scientists don't have it right yet than to think my experiences are nonexistent."

    How is this different from a TBM? This sounds very much like clinging to one's "personal witness and testimony of the Truth" in spite of evidence to the contrary. I think that as a general rule, personal experiences are fairly worthless when it comes to objective truth. However, when it comes to the use of labels and the interpretation of personal experiences, which are both entirely subjective, science can't really provide many answers. Perhaps this is why we turn to religion to try and make sense of the human condition.

  13. Mme. C,

    In response to your message at 8:01 AM (well, according to my clock)...I'm not saying you can't fear invalidation and shouldn't set up boundaries to avoid it on your blog, but I am suggesting that the best "boundaries" are not walls for the blog but walls within your consciousness. If that makes any sense?

    Mr. C,

    You're definitely right...it is an issue I have grappled with as well. I think it has moderately scary implications, but for my sanity, I try not to think too deeply about it. I think the reason is because I really *don't* emphasize historicity, "objective truth," "external truth," etc., (and I point that out on my blog, because I have been intrigued by people who do, on either side of the fence.) The reason I am disaffected, for example, is not because of historical issues, "evidence to the contrary," etc., but because I don't have a personal witness and I don't see anything wrong with not having a personal witness. If I *did* have a personal witness -- and it worked best if I interpreted it in a specific way (e.g., if I believed the church was true), I wholly feel that things would be different. So, that is why I am really intrigued by people who say they had great spiritual experiences, and yet over time came to realize they weren't what they thought they were...what is that process like? I don't know.

    STILL, I think I would completely sidestep your claim "personal witnesses are fairly worthless when it comes to objective truth." This is not because I disagree with this statement, because actually, I wholeheartedly agree. However, it is because I don't value objective truth that much in the first place and secondly, I am skeptical of our ability to "purely" and "objectively" discern the data.

    I think the difference between a TBM and me (depending on the TBM) are these few things.

    1) I acknowledge that I am prioritizing the subjective over the objective, so I know I can't bind others to what I subjectively feel. I think that the TBM, while they may prioritize the subjective over the objective, often doesn't realize that they do so.

    2) To the extent I am making objective, external claims, they apply to me. For example, I can say that "It is true, for everyone, everywhere, at all times, and all places, that *I* do not believe in God." The first part of the sentence prefaces an objective, final, absolute claim...but the latter part narrows the focus of the claim on to me. So, even if they must be reformatted to fit into an "objective framework," I can still do that. (e.g., even if I must be a "rare anomaly" in terms of science.) Again, I think that the TBM, on the other hand, doesn't make such reserved claims. They don't say, "I know that *I believe* the church is true." (which is something they, of course, can know.) Rather, they say, "I know that the church is true,"

  14. Andrew S- Ah, how I long for that ideal world, where one is in complete control of their feelings and emotions, and where irrational worries can simply be ignored! Until that utopia appears for me, I will accept my limitations that come with being an emotional individual, and try my best to minimize the damage others can incur on my psyche.

  15. Andrew S, I would agree with you that frequently TBMs take a subjective experience and believe it is evidence of an objective fact. I find it very interesting that your personality is such that you emphasize subjective over the objective. I, with my scientist's brain, prize the objective above the subjective. I know all too well the experience of having great "spiritual" experiences and then coming to the realization that they aren't what I thought they were. I thought I was a pretty spiritual person and I had lots of spiritual manifestations. I received a witness the church was True, JS was a Prophet, etc. Then I came across some historicity issues that challenged my testimony. Then I received spiritual witnesses that the church was not true, JS was not a Prophet, Jesus did not die for my sins, etc. All of this put me into an intellectual quandary that led me to realize the world made a lot more sense without God.

  16. The above comment was from Mrs. Na'me, not Mr. And of course we will always be friends! - like I said, I truly admire you guys for your honesty & courage, and I can understand MrC's need to explore his sexuality in the same way a content mormon might need to explore his spirituality.

    I hope I didn't give the wrong impression!

  17. Na'me- You didn't give the wrong impression ;-)

    Whenever you guys post, when I think I am talking to this Misses its the Mister and vice versa!!! I'll get it right one of these days....

    Regardless, we all need to get together soon!

  18. Mme Curie,

    So cold, so cold. I deserved it.

    And a painful awakening for me and what I myself believe. I am fully aware that people cannot just disregard their feelings and emotions. That's a taste of my own medicine!

    Mr. Curie,

    For me, if the historicity challenged my testimony, then I would take that as my *subjective framework* being affected. For example, the historicity (or lack thereof) is the same, today, yesterday, and forever (events that happened are set in stone, right). So it seems more accurate to say that what's REALLY going on is 1) different historians are perceiving different historical narratives from events that make certain conclusions more or less likely and 2) I am perceiving historicity in a certain way, and that way can change as my perception changes. Both of these processes, I think, however, are subjective.

    When I think about science, I think that scientists use some creative tricks to break out of subjectivity. For example, peer review is kinda like diversification in financial investing...if you invest in one stock, you have great risk related to that stock...but if you start investing in different stocks which have different levels of investing, eventually, the risk related to volatility of the stock evaporates because of the diversity. There is still "inherent" risk that cannot be filtered out, but other kinds of risk can be creatively mitigated, and I think that peer review is something like that. There are still risks (e.g., we completely missed a lurking variable) but we mitigate the subjectivity factor.

  19. @Andrew S - I think you may be on to something. Everything about our existence is that it is entirely subjective. Everything we personally know about the world is perceived through our five (6?)senses, which are entirely subjective.

    As far as historicity concerns, I guess I simply perceived that one interpretation of events seemed more likely than the one I had always previously believed, partially because the original interpretation left out many discordant historical facts, but the new interpretation included those facts.

  20. Mr. C

    I wouldn't say that everything about our existence is subjective...but rather, to interface with the world and universe (e.g., to "perceive"), that will always run through subjectivity.

    The test is something like this: if all humans were gone. Vanished. Poof. What would be left? Since there is an objective, external world, things that do not require perception and observation would still exist. But anything that requires observation or perception -- e.g., beauty -- would not, if we weren't there to perceive it.

  21. @Na'me - The nature of this exploration of my sexuality is meant to be primarily intellectual, not physical. I see it as a journey to self-acceptance and being honest and genuine with oneself. I think it is probably a necessary journey, much like I needed to research the historicity of Mormonism and organized religion when I became disaffected (which has gotten a little side-tracked with this new curve life has thrown at us, but I'm still reading "In Sacred Loneliness" on the morning and evening commute - I'm on page 550, so almost done.) My personality is such that it seeks "Truth", about the world around me and about myself. I hope that this journey will help me to break down prejudices and to be more compassionate toward others.

  22. @AndrewS - Sorry, I mistyped, Everything we perceive about our existence is subjective. We cannot know the true nature of anything because everything we know about our existence is filtered through our senses.

  23. I love you "Madame C"! You are one of my favorite friends from college and I promise, I don't judge you and I won't. If you ever want me to stop reading, since I do know who you are and you are sharing very personal things, just let me know. I don't exactly fit into the general audience of your blog, but I do enjoy it. The things that you, and now Mr. C. write about, are very interesting to me. I'm not interested in making judgment calls or getting into debates; I mainly just like to read what you write and think about it.

  24. @Donna - I'm okay with you continuing to read, if Madam C is. I think I'll be comfortable with you reading anything I post, however I'll try and give adequate warning before posting anything that you might want to self censor, since you know us in real life.

  25. Donna- I'm not uncomfortable at all with your reading the blog. Mr. C and I have already discussed placing disclaimers before the start of posts that might be uncomfortable for those who know us and don't really want to know about our sex lives ;)

    As per Princeton Boy, I never told you but he asked me on a date the week before Mr. C and I were married!!! Mr. C wrote him a fairly... strong... email. I wasn't sure how to talk to him about things since we saw each other so infrequently, and so I had gotten into the habit of ignoring his emails. I know, I'm terrible. Hopefully it hasn't hurt your friendship with him!