Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Pieces of the Past: The Mission, "I'm not here for this!" (or months 12-18)

By Mister Curie

It was only after my disaffection that I was able to see a pattern in my life indicating that I was not strictly heterosexual. This is part of a series of posts as I try to account for all the pieces to the puzzle of my sexual orientation. By documenting the pieces of the puzzle, I hope to be able to put the picture together. Only by being as completely honest with myself as I can will I be able to understand who I am. This fifth post in the series will deal with months 12-18 of my mission.

I wrote in my journal:

Things have been pretty tough since the new year began. I hate it when things get tough in the way that these things got tough. What caused it? I can't even put my finger down on the cause. It's been bad. I've been wasting 20 days of my mission. Lame! . . . I need to stop thinking about other things, stop letting eyes and mind wander, and stop repairing and repenting when I should be clean and serving the Lord. I'm not here for this!

What I am cryptically writing about was a difficulty to keep my mind focused on missionary work. My mind was constantly on sexy thoughts and my libido was super-charged, such that I was actively looking for sexual explicit or sexually charged pictures whenever we were out. These types of images were plentiful on magazine's displayed in roadside stands. The majority of the pictures were female, but it wasn't so much what the image was (although I'm sure I would have preferred male images), but that the images made me think sexy thoughts. After having kept myself from pornography and masturbation to be clean for my mission and keeping myself that way for the first year of my mission, suddenly I was actively looking for incidental pornographic images and I began to masturbate again. I couldn't understand why I suddenly had these strong urges. Looking back on the journal entries in the three weeks leading up to this, however, and the added perspective of time and a better understanding of my sexual orientation, it becomes obvious that I had a huge crush on my companion. While I couldn't admit it to myself at the time, these strong urges were a manifestation of my internalized sexual attraction to my companion and were an attempt to relieve those pent up feelings.

I was training a greenie and he was really cute. I have a picture of him that I remember thinking was absolutely adorable, although I didn't realize (or couldn't admit to myself) that my feelings were of a sexual nature. We had a great companionship and got along very well. He was very dependent on me as his trainer and I felt a strong connection to him. Things began to get difficult over the New Year holiday when we were ordered to stay in our apartment for two days to avoid the potentially dangerous street conditions of drunken New Year revelry. While you are always with your companion 24 hours a day as a missionary, something about 48 hours alone in the apartment without contact with anyone else allowed my innate attraction for my companion to blossom.

A couple days later I wrote:

Today was tough to stay focused. I don't know why, but Satan sure is working hard on me. . . The bus ride was so crowded, everyone all squished together. Elder ****** was practically spooning me because of so many people.

However, I believe I intentionally mis-recorded events to hide the attraction I felt for my companion and to remove responsibility from myself. How I actually recall events, the bus was crowded when we got on and was standing room only. While traveling to a fairly distant destination, the bus got progressively more crowded and eventually everyone was pressed up against everyone else. I was pressed up close to my companion and was behind him. I felt my body begin to respond to the close contact. I tried to shift my body, but only ended up spooning him closer (the bus was really crowded). I tried to mentally will my erection away, but it only seemed to get stronger. I hoped and prayed that my companion would think it was my Book of Mormon poking him from behind. He never said anything about it.

I also noted in the same journal entry that we later went tracting and were invited into an apartment where there was a large poster of male pornography hanging on the wall. It was a huge temptation for me and I tried to avoid looking at it.

In the next day's journal entry I describe my companion in endearing terms and compare him to a little puppy. I was enamored.

The next day we were cleaning our apartment and I found a stack of pornographic magazines in the closet (I assumed they belonged to the people we were renting the apartment from as our apartments came fully furnished and often had the belongings of our landlords in them, perhaps it was naive of me.) I tried not to look at the magazines and put them into a box so that I wouldn't stumble across them unintentionally, but I didn't feel free to throw them away because I assumed they belonged to the landlord. I think the magazines had pictures of naked couples and it was hard for me to not think about the magazines sitting in our closet. Combining the pornographic images with my repressed desire for my companion was a difficult situation. I ended up masturbating for the first time in a couple of years. I wrote an anguished journal entry and worried about being sent home.

The masturbation, however, apparently didn't relieve the attraction I felt for my companion. Later that day I wrote:

We ended up wasting time [at the apartment] and I gave Elder ****** a back massage to help him study, a mistake! I had to push myself to go out and work after that.

I am sure that my mentioning that giving my companion a back massage was a mistake was due to my becoming aroused while giving him the massage. I also noted on a different day that I gave him a good backscratching. I suspect I also got aroused during that.

I was constantly distracted by my repressed feelings and had a hard time thinking clearly. I even recorded that I almost got hit by a car because I stepped into traffic without looking because my mind was distracted by looking for pornography at the street vendors. A few days later I accidentally cut myself with a knife because my mind was distracted by my repressed sexuality. I started to have difficulty sleeping, recording:

Last night was a pretty rough night. I didn't get a lot of sleep. I hate waking up often during the night. I don't understand it. Satan sure is tricky in his work.

I am sure I was distracted by my desire for my companion and that I would wake up and stare at him sleeping in the bed next to mine. I developed this theory that if Satan was tempting me, his presence might also be causing temptation for my companion. I began to wonder if he was having difficulties with keeping his thoughts properly focused or if he was also being tempted to masturbate. This allowed me to think of him masturbating and was another highly distracting thought.

Luckily I was transferred a couple of days later, and suddenly the difficulty focusing and all of "Satan's temptations" disappeared as I was not attracted to my new companion.


  1. I'm interested in accounts like this one. A lot of us felt this way on our missions. I had serious crushes on several of my companions over the course of my mission.

    Satan sure is tricky in his work.

    I never personified my own internal conflicts this way. I don't which is worse, blaming oneself or blaming an external agent.

  2. @MoHoHawaii - If this account interests you, tune in tomorrow . . .

    By blaming Satan, I was able to externalize the conflict and not accept my homosexuality. I think blaming Satan was in line with my understanding of homosexuality as a temptation and a sin. I have very mixed feelings about my mission now as I go back to look at it.

  3. I'm just catching up on this series. As I look back on high school and the mission, it's hard not to catch little glimpses into the way we used to explain our feelings. For me, that attraction often manifested itself as jealousy of some sort. Luckily, I only had about three weeks of attractive companions in total.

  4. @GMB - now that you mention it, I also had periods of jealousy that were probably evidence of attraction to my companions.

    Thinking about my mission brings very mixed feelings. Being disaffected with the church, I no longer view it as spreading the truth of the gospel (although I sincerely thought I was at the time). And re-reading my journal entries, it is obvious that I had a very difficult time (1) overcoming my introverted nature, and (2) controlling my attraction for several of my companions. If I had known/accepted I was gay at the time, I would definitely have set boundaries to control those attractions (although I may not have gone at all as an even better boundary). If I was disaffected, I obviously wouldn't have served a mission.

    But I also have a lot of great memories, I learned a foreign language, I developed a better understanding of the world and became more compassionate and patient, and I'm sure the experience helped my resume when I was applying to medical school.

    Life is messy.