(This one is for you, Aries Boy.)
This post is structured in the following way: Each section begins with a direct quote in italics from a recent comment I received and is followed with a response.
AB: ...I'm still trying to do what you persistently tell me to do: to accept me just the way I am. It's not an easy road and I think you know that too. Then, at the end of the comment: There is no instant way to get to the finish line. It's just tricky and tiresome.
I know firsthand, Aries Boy, how difficult accepting yourself just the way you are is. Oh, how I know. But, as an older gay man with some perspective on self-acceptance, coming out, and so on, I know of no greater journey you'll take as a gay person. Everything you do now to accept and love yourself will have a direct, positive effect on your future. You are in a dark and difficult place right now, but don't despair. It won't last forever. Like Dan Savage says, it will get better. It will get so much better.
In the meantime, my message remains consistent: accept yourself just the way you are.
Keep reading. I'll provide details on how you can do that as we move on.
AB: Months ago, when I was on my temporary leave from my job, I went back to my hometown. I called it my reconciliation days. In my deepest heart, at that time, I was hoping that I could just go back to the time where I didn't have to cry in the early morning nor in the late night because of my sexual orientation. I wished that I could go back to that happy me. But it's never going to happen. I am fully aware of that.
A couple of comments here: First, dry your tears. There is no reason to cry because you're gay. Already, far too many men, young and old, have cried for the same reason. At the risk of marginalizing what you're going through, there are much worse things in life. You don't see that now, but you will. I understand your tears, but they are not necessary. Nor do they change anything. No matter how much you cry, you will remain gay. Part of accepting yourself is accepting the fact you are what you are, and that will never change. It's all right to be gay. It really is. You'll see.
Second, to go back to that time when you were "that happy you" means you would not be as far along on your journey to self-acceptance as you are now. I don't see how you could think going backward and denying the truth of who you are would make you happier. It wouldn't change anything. At the end of the day, you'd still be gay. So, while you may have been happy in the past, it was a false happy, wasn't it? Because you had to hide or deny or ignore a critical part of yourself to feel that way. That's not happiness. That's living with your head in the sand. It's also not taking responsibility for yourself as an adult.
Finally, you believe the happiness you experienced in the past will be better than any happiness you experience in the future. But I can tell you there is no comparison. You don't see it now, but the elation you'll feel when you finally accept yourself as the wonderful gay man you are will be one hundred times better than any happiness you've experienced before. Because it will be based on being authentically you. It won't be false in any way. And it will come after you've dealt successfully with everything you're going through right now. When that weight is off of you...well, now that's happiness (and relief, I might add).
AB: So, I went to my dad's grave. We never had a long conversation before.... I just sat there and cried. Then I told him everything that I never had the chance to tell when he was still alive. I thought it was supposed to at least relieve some burden that I was carrying on my back. But in the end, I felt like a failure. To him, to everyone. I spent hours there just by sitting and crying like a desperate boy.
I bet if you really thought about it, you'd realize you felt some relief, after all. The crying helped, I'm sure, because crying is about release, letting things go, but putting words to how you felt and saying them out loud for perhaps the first time should have helped, too, even if who you were talking to couldn't respond back, couldn't comfort you. Every step you take toward self-acceptance--and, make no mistake, this was one of them--will help you in the long run. You were meant to go through this experience because it happened. You were meant to learn from this experience, too. What did you learn? What can you take with you into the future?
Now, let's talk about feeling like a failure. A failure because you're gay? How do you figure that? You're gay. So what? Self-acceptance is about letting go of the shame. Do you seriously think you have nothing else going for you? Are you the sum total of being gay and that's it? Not likely. My guess is you are a decent and good and kind human being, with lots of talents and abilities, and a future that shines brightly. You just have to get past all of this. Which you will. So, as a start, focus on the positive and not on the negative. You're here. You're alive. And your whole life awaits you. That's a lot worth celebrating.
One of the ways I moved toward self-acceptance was when I realized I couldn't reconcile the huge discrepancy between what I knew to be true about me as a gay person, and what I believed people thought about those who are gay. I wasn't bad or evil or immoral. I didn't deserve to be treated badly just because of my sexual orientation. And I sure as hell didn't deserve to feel badly about myself over something I couldn't control. So feel like a failure? No, I don't feel like a failure because I'm gay. And you shouldn't, either.
AB: Back home, I saw my beloved Mom and my beloved siblings. Just like what happened between me and my Dad, I couldn't look at their eyes. I couldn't hurt them anymore. So, I just told them that I love them no matter what.
There's that shame again. According to the Oxford American Dictionary, shame is "a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior." Knowing that you have no control over being gay--that, in all likelihood, you were probably born that way--do you believe that any gay impulses you've had or behavior you've engaged in is wrong or foolish? How so? Did you willingly hurt anyone? If you loved another human being, are you telling me that love was wrong? Of course not.
Do you think you're somehow less than your mother and your siblings simply because you're gay? Really? Is that all it takes, to be less than, or less worthy than, anyone else?
And what do you mean when you write, "I couldn't hurt them anymore"? Have you hurt them so many times in the past that you simply can't do anything more to them that would cause additional suffering? What did you do that was so awful?
What about your own suffering? Is your own suffering any less painful than anything your family members have gone through? Are your mother and siblings suffering more than you? I doubt it, not given the anguish I know you're going through, day-in and day-out.
AB: Finally, I told my stories to God. Like on last Sunday service. I prayed for His guidance. I prayed for the strength. And I prayed for everyone that I love. I prayed that they would still [have] the same exact amount of love for me when they, somehow in the future, find out who I really am.
Along with everything else you prayed for, I sincerely hope you prayed for self-acceptance, too.
Turning to God at this difficult time is a good idea. I turn to God constantly, because I need guidance and strength for all sorts of reason.
But I hope the God you worship is the same one I worship, the one who loves you just as you are. I hope He's not the judgmental God of so many people who believe they know better when they don't. I hope He's the God who wants you to love yourself as much as He loves you. Who cries inside when He knows how much anguish you're in. Who wants you to end that anguish by accepting and loving yourself.
Like all of us, you have a lot at stake if your family rejects you upon finding out you're gay. I understand how important maintaining that connection is, because I felt the exact same way. But you know what? At some point, you will accept yourself--hopefully sooner rather than later--not because your family did first, but because you'll realize there's no reason in the world why you shouldn't. You'll realize that being gay is just a part of you, not all of you, and everything about you, including being gay, is worthy and loveable and beautiful.
And, when you get to that point, you'll expect your family to accept you, too. Because you'll see there's no way on earth they should change their opinion of you, when they love you as much as they do now and know how wonderful and special and amazing you are. If they could possibility change their opinion of you just because you're gay, then perhaps they didn't love you as much as you thought they did in the first place. And perhaps, as sad as it would be, you need to let them go, to put them behind you, and move on to meet new people and form a new family of those who will accept you just as you are, and never judge you just because you're gay.
It's not easy to think you could lose your family over being gay--and, in all likelihood, you won't--but, in the end, you have no control over that. Just as you have no control over how the rest of the world will look at you as a fully-realized gay man.
The only control you have is over you. Over how you accept and love yourself. Over how authentically you live your life. Over what nonjudgmental and loving people you surround yourself with. Over what you'll make of your one and only opportunity to be everything you were born to be.