So, where was I?

 Oh yes, I’d just gotten home from my mission. And the next logical step was to get married. I did what I could to try and make it happen. I went to a singles ward (a congregation of all single young adults) and tried to flirt and look pretty. I still had 3 quarters of school left before I got my bachlors degree, so I hung out at the Institute of Religion when I had spare time and tried to put myself in the path of eligible young men.

But really, though I didn’t want to admit it at the time, I was terrified. It was at about this time that I started slowly gaining weight. And I think I was subconsciously trying to reinforce my own belief that guys wouldn’t be attracted to me if I was overweight. It was a convenient reason.

I finished my B.A. and then became a bit restless. All my friends were either getting married or going to grad school, and I felt like I didn’t really have a direction. I went to New York City with some friends, and decided I would really like to know what it’s like to live there. So, that fall, I packed up and moved, without a job or a place to stay. I guess I’m pretty lucky I didn’t get into any trouble or end up homeless. I managed to find an apartment to sublet with some guys in the singles ward there (they were a bit more comfortable with “gray area” things like that back there, probably because affordable housing was in very short supply) and I temped for a while before finding a full time job.

It’s kind of funny, looking back, that I didn’t make more progress getting to know myself while I lived there, because one of the things I really loved from those first few months was the feeling of total and complete anonymity. No one knew me or had any preconceived notions of anything about me. I loved feeling like I could really do just about anything and no one would look twice. But despite enjoying the idea of that freedom, I didn’t stray very far from the path I had been on. I went to church. I worked hard at my job. I had good friends. I went to the theater.

But I became progressively more unhappy during that time. I dated Guy 3 (see Pt 1) for a while, and liked him fine, but there were no sparks.

When I decided to move back to Salt Lake, I was very depressed. I was 28 years old, resigned to being alone for the rest of my life, and feeling completely without direction. I got a job working with a friend of mine and her husband, and I was often alone for much of the work day. I would cry at the drop of a hat, sometimes more than once a day.

I was having some physical issues as well, and went to see my mom’s doctor. She came into the room, still looking down at her clipboard while asking me how I was doing, and I burst into tears. She treated my physical symptoms but also referred me to a therapist. I was a little nervous about going – I really wasn’t sure what we’d talk about – but I went anyway. And during that first session, as I was giving her a basic outline of my life, I felt myself start to cry but I tried really hard not to give in to it. And she said to me “You work really hard.” One simple sentence. But somehow, it felt so significant to me. I WAS working hard, at everything. Everything in my life felt like so much work. In that moment, I felt for the first time in a long while that somebody really saw ME…not the me I wanted them to see, but the real me underneath.

Don’t jump to the conclusion that I immediately came out to her and it was one big pride celebration after that. I wasn’t anywhere near dealing with that yet. I saw her for 2 years, once or twice a month, before I brought up the, what was at that point, very enormous fear that I might be gay. But I think the work we did for those 2 years got me to the point where I could deal with what was to come. We talked a lot about body image, which was a big issue for me. And we talked about my desire to write, to be creative, to not just work in an office, collect my pension and die. I was moving in the direction of knowing myself better and loving myself for me, not for what other people thought I should be. I didn’t realize for most of that 2 years how important those lessons were about to be.