I almost forgot about my Advice series. I'll try to pick it up a little more. The subject of patience has come up in my comments on several other blogs lately, so I thought I would try and talk about it here in a little more detail.
Patience is a virtue ... that I don't have.
That used to be one my plethora of mottos. And it used to be so very, very true. I have a fair amount of Scottish blood in me, and it shines through. Growing up I had an anger fuse that was about the length of an amoeba. Anything and everything would set me off. Just think of Groundskeeper Willy on The Simpsons, but without the red hair and the beard.
The lucky thing is that I've always been a fairly scrawny person, so I could never actually do anything with my anger. I never got into fights or broke things. But, what I would do is take it out on my family, both my parents and siblings. I feel so sorry for my parents that they had to raise such a little turd. And, I had very estranged relations with my brother that is closest to me in age because he was younger and smaller than me, so I used to pound on him. It's taken many, many years to finally become friends with him.
Carry that anger on into adulthood. Since I returned home from my mission 13 years ago (egads, I'm old!) there has been this constant pressure to get married and start a family. The pressure has come from all directions: my family, church leaders, friends, and even myself. We all know the rule as laid forth in the D&C and preached repeatedly over the pulpit. We're supposed to get married to be able to obtain the highest level of the Celestial Kingdom. My being gay, and lack of ability to find a member of the female persuasion to attach myself to has been an unending source of anger for me.
Several years ago I had a horrible experience with my mom. She was being her normal, caring self and trying to counsel me on getting married and starting a family. This was before I came out to her. She was trying her best to do exactly what a parent should do, given the limited knowledge she had of what my life really was like. I snapped. I was on the phone with her and just could not stop yelling. Decades of pent-up rage and frustration all came spilling out in one fell swoop. It was a verbal massacre. She was devastated and hung up the phone crying. We didn't talk for several weeks after that.
I came to my senses and apologized for what I had done. She told me that she was just doing whatever she could because she wanted me to be happy. She was showing me love and concern, and I met it with verbal slap to the face. There are few things worse in this life than being rejected when you are trying to show love to someone.
That became a turning point of sorts for me. I did realize that she was just showing love, and I was completely out of line in my response. I was wrong to yell at her and disrespect her the way that I did. I felt bad about it then, and I still feel bad about it now. I decided that I needed to get control of my emotions and have more patience with people.
Even though I apologized to her back then, things weren't really smoothed out like I thought they were. That happened several years ago. About 4-5 months ago, after I came out to everyone, I was talking on the phone with my mom while driving home from work and she made reference to that experience and began to apologize to me for being such a bad mother. She said that after that happened she had always carried in her mind that somehow she had failed me as a mother because how could a good parent have made their child so angry. That just floored me. It was so painful. I could not believe that I had hurt her and that she had been carrying that around with her for all these years.
I think that is all finally smoothed out now. She understands where I was coming from at the time with being all alone in coping with my homosexuality. And I understand where she was coming from, being a parent who just wants the best for her child.
That was a horrible experience that lingered for many, many years. And that brings me to the point of this post. If I had been more patient with people who did not understand me fully, and had helped them to understand me, that whole thing never would have happened. There wouldn't have been years of mental turmoil that my mom went through, thinking that she had failed as a parent with me. Her suffering truly was all my fault for letting my anger get the best of me. I am ashamed of that.
Be patient. Be kind. Be loving. That is what we expect of them, so why not offer it in return?