Friday, August 24, 2012

A Beginning- The Other Side of the Story

On the long flight home from my mission in Spain I remember thinking about how I wanted the next chapter in my life to look.  A part of me was really uncertain of what to expect- I'd been called "Hermana" for so long I kindof forgot what it was like to be Theresa.  But as I thought about life and returning to BYU, I was determined to really focus on a few things.  One of them was dating. I'd always felt like I wasn't doing it quite right, if that makes any sense. While there had been a few guys that I felt a connection with, I always felt like things were just a bit off, but I couldn't put my finger on it.  This time though, as I returned to the fertile dating grounds of Provo, I decided that things would be different.

Soon after returning to BYU life, I met Rachel.  We became fast friends and found that we could talk and talk for hours. We talked and joked about the little things, but also spent hours talking about our thoughts, our fears, our joys, our pains, and our hopes for the future. I knew Rachel was dealing with some demons, and I just wanted to support her and lift her up.

One Sunday morning Rachel called me and said that she'd been talking with her bishop, and there was something she needed to talk to me about. As I hung up the phone, I knew what she was coming to my apartment to say to me. I had never previously considered that Rachel felt more for me than friendship, but in that brief moment I knew that was the secret she was about to share with me. In the next moment I realized that even more surprisingly, I was okay with that. As we sat down on the couch together and she told me that she had romantic feelings for me, and that she struggled with something called "same sex attraction," I knew that the friendship I felt for her and the way I cared about her was unchanged. 

Hearing the words "struggle" and "same sex attraction" sounded to my Mormon ears like a good, old-fashioned trial of faith. I knew that Rachel's heart was pure, and that she was so believing. Between her faith and efforts, and my faith, support, and prayers, I knew that this struggle could be overcome. We talked about this grand triumph for hours, and how happy I would be to sit on the front row of her temple marriage, seeing her kneeling across the altar from her future husband. 

To be continued... 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Amazing Moments on... an Elevator?!

Rachel and I will finish telling "our story", but I have to fast forward to now. This past weekend we went to San Francisco to attend the Circling the Wagons Conference.  The entire weekend was amazing, but it was capped by a moment that was, for lack of a better word, a "tender mercy" in the truest and most incredible sense.  You see, Rachel and I have just started the process of coming out, starting with our families a little over a month ago.  We've both been craving the chance to talk to others and just be us, fully and completely, no hiding, no explaining, just being.  It's been an emotional roller coaster, and along the way it seems like just the right person has been there at just the right time.

So, after a great weekend Rachel and I were getting ready to check out of the hotel.  We double checked the room to make sure nothing was being left behind and then headed out to the elevator.  We boarded the elevator on the 11th floor surrounded by several people and started downwards.  Then, we stopped on the 5th floor to pick up one last couple.  As they stepped into the elevator, one girl stepped into the small space between the door and me, and as I looked up and saw her face I recognized her instantly.  It was *Mo*, a good friend from junior high through high school who I hadn't seen in 10 years.  Just after the last time I saw her at another friend's wedding, she sent me an email and came out.  Now Facebook friends, I saw the pictures from her wedding earlier this year.  Lately I've kept thinking how much I want to talk with Mo, and then, just like that, she's inches away from my face in a random elevator in a city hundreds of miles away from either of our homes.

Elevator Buttons
Image by chriscardinal on Flickr

After a long hug and a "What are you doing here?" I introduced her to my sweetheart by saying, "This is my girlfriend Rachel."  And just like that I came out of the closet to someone from another time in my life whose first interaction with Rachel was a full acknowledgement of who she is to me. Mo then introduced me to her lovely wife.  After exiting the elevator to quickly catch up some more, Mo said, "Welcome to the club," with a smile on her face. And I knew that she understood something of what I've been feeling and experiencing, because she's been there before. And she's come out on the other side of this tunnel. We talked for a few minutes and I felt myself literally shaking at the craziness of seeing her there in Oakland, but even more at the fact that I saw her now at this point in my journey.  Even now as I write this I feel overwhelmed and excited.  I look forward to reconnecting with her and talking with her more than the time constraints of yesterday permitted.  And I feel like there just may be someone, some higher power, somewhere, who is looking out for me.  A tender mercy indeed.


Monday, August 6, 2012

A Beginning

Our story is a story of two Mormon girls who grew-up believing in the Mormon script for our lives and wanting to following that script.  Only life doesn't work that way.  We have decided to start a blog because of the strength and support that we have received from so many blogs over the past couple of months.  Let's start at the beginning.

Theresa and I (Rachel), met at BYU in the winter of 2001.  Theresa had just returned from her mission in Spain and I had been back from my mission in Guatemala for about 7 months.  On a cold winter night I made my usual trek over to my friend's apartment to watch Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?  I knocked on the door and it was answered by someone I had not met before.  I fell for this beautiful woman instantaneously.  She was clever and funny.  She bantered with the t.v. and with me, which I found incredibly attractive.  She was yelling at Regis Philbin because he guided a contestant to the wrong answer.  I remember that she was wearing a duck scrunchie in her hair and I was mesmerized by her.

Being attracted to women was not a new experience for me.  I had felt this way many times.  Actually, I was only attracted to women and that was all I had even known.  At that time I believed that there was something wrong with me, but it did not stop me from falling for Theresa that night.  Little did I know that this meeting would be with the woman that would become my partner, my best friend, my confidant, my everything.

I knew I was smitten by Theresa, but I also knew that having "same-sex attraction" was bad and that if I ever told Theresa how I felt, that she would probably reject me and think that I was a horrible person.  I decided to pursue her as a friend anyway.  I listened carefully to where her classes were and I would occasionally be studying under a tree that I knew would be in her path.  Every time that I talked to her it was heaven.  We became close friends rather quickly and spent many nights talking into the wee hours of the morning.

I felt so safe with Theresa and one day I decided that I wanted to tell her that I was attracted to her.  I trusted her, but I also knew that it was a risk.  It felt like the right thing to do.  As it turned out, it was the right thing to do.  She didn't even flinch when I told her my feelings for her.  She was completely okay with it and wanted to still be my friend.  I was shocked and elated.  It was the first time in my life that I had shared this part of me with someone and her reaction showed me that she was full of love.  We continued to build our friendship over the next few be continued...