Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Warm Fuzzies* and Cold Pricklies

Tonight S-Boogie showed me a pink ball of fur she'd found in the toy box. She explained that it was a warm fuzzy, and that she'd gotten it from school. I vaguely remember hearing something about discussions they'd had at her school about warm fuzzies, and their archnemeses, cold pricklies, but I'd forgotten that she'd actually brought a warm fuzzy home.

On an intellectual level, I understand that there are many serious problems in the world that will not be solved with warm fuzzies. Sometimes cold pricklies are called for. On an emotional level, though, I can't handle the prickliness. Contention makes me feel sick to my stomach and it makes me intensely uncomfortable to see anger in others or in myself. Nevertheless, a passion for principles and causes that tend to be controversial together with an ego that demands to be seen as right get me into confrontations increasingly. The problem is that I am simply not equipped to handle negative emotions. I don't know what to do with them.

Several unrelated events of the past month, most of which I've already talked about here, have left me feeling vulnerable and irrationally scared. I got up from the computer earlier this evening and felt momentarily terrified at the realization that the blinds were open. I quickly closed all the blinds in the apartment. (Perhaps I was worried a bicycle would come flying through?) My compulsion to check my email as frequently as possible now butts heads with a constant fear of getting another comment in some blog comment war I've been part of. I could simply unsubscribe from the comment feeds so they don't show up in my email, but then I wouldn't know what people are saying and I fear the uncertainty would be worse.

The worst part, at least in so far as one specific incident is concerned, is the implication that the verbal attacks against me and my family are my own damn fault for putting aspects of our private life out where people can see and therefore debate. This stings particularly in the context of the several warnings I received two years ago, that I would regret making myself and my family so vulnerable. When considering the possible ramifications of putting ourselves in the married gay Mormon spotlight, FoxyJ and I took these warnings into account, but decided that the potential for good outweighed the potential for bad. I will also be the first to admit that my motivations for publishing essays and appearing in news media and blogging were not purely altruistic; as I've admitted before, I like attention. But I am self-aware enough and self-repressing enough to not allow myself to do something if I know my only reasons are ego-driven. I allowed myself to speak publicly and FoxyJ supported me in this, despite the fact that she does not share in my need for public approval, because we wanted to open up the discussion. I have seen evidence to suggest this has indeed been the result--not just the people who have contacted us to thank us or the people who say nice things about us, because as wonderful as that is a bunch of folks agreeing with me and telling me how wonderful I am isn't discussion. It's warm fuzzies. As much as it hurts me emotionally, on an intellectual level I am happy to see that people are saying my arguments are crap and that gay men who marry women are misogynists and that no ethical gay man would even think about subjecting a woman to such a life of misery and hey why isn't anyone talking about gay women? I'm happy to see this because that means people are talking. This was not the case five years ago. I certainly don't take full responsibility for the fact that mixed-orientation marriages and all the complicated issues they involve are being discussed more now than they ever were before, but I do think I've had a part in that, at least in the Mormon sphere.

So yeah, it hurts, but for the moment I'm going to fight the impulse to run away and hide from the internet, because I believe there's value--for myself and for others--in continuing to engage in discussions about marriage, sexuality, religion, parenting, politics, and above all, avocado. I will, however, keep away from the living room window.

Thanks to everyone who's left me warm fuzzies over the last month, either publicly on this and other blogs or privately via email.

*Which I accidentally mispelled at first as warm fuxxies, which is an entirely different way of making someone feel loved.


Samantha said...

...why isn't anyone talking about gay women...

I'm thinking it's because we're not misogynists. And we don't often throw bicycles.

Janci said...

I must admit I like to argue, but not in situations where people take argument personally and attack one another.

That said, I think things are better talked about than left unsaid. This may because I despise alienation more than contention. I feel slightly guilty for this, because it means I'm glad you're doing something that is potentially hurtful to you and your family. I suppose this means I am, at heart, a selfish creature. Maybe I should change.

But reading your blog makes me think, so thank you for that.

Craig said...

The problem is that I am simply not equipped to handle negative emotions. I don't know what to do with them.

Does anyone really? I know I don't.

because I believe there's value--for myself and for others--in continuing to engage in discussions about marriage, sexuality, religion, parenting, politics, and above all, avocado.

The most important ought always to be all things avocado.

Have you ever been to the California Pizza Kitchen (CPK)? They have a wonderfully delicious miso salad that is full of delightfully creamy bits of avocado, crunchy noodles, peppery cabbage, and tangy miso dressing. You should try it.

I cannot believe I just gave a commercial recommendation. Well the salad really is that good.

Scot said...

Have you ever been to the California Pizza Kitchen (CPK)?

I have. ;-)

Here, Mr. Fob:

* <--one (1) warm fuzzy from us.

ambrosia ananas said...

Sam makes a good point. She's certainly never thrown a bicycle through *my* window.

I really admire you and Foxy for being willing to go public with this and open it up for discussion. I know I wouldn't have the guts.

Th. said...


Viva el avacado!

C. L. Hanson said...

I think I know what incident you're talking about, and I'd like to say a few words about my participation in that discussion:

I'm not interested in passing judgement on your marriage in particular. Only you and your wife can decide what your marital expectations are and whether you're fulfilling them for each other. Also, for those who choose to stay in mixed-orientation marriages, it is reasonable for such couples to provide support for one another.

However, I don't think that gay men should be encouraged to seek out marriages with women. At all. Your original article -- the one that attracted the criticism -- seemed to be saying "If a straight man gets to have a woman to be his wife and bear his kids, then a gay man should get one too. Fair's fair, and gay guys should get the same things that straight guys get (despite the fact that they aren't offering the woman the same kind of relationship in return)."

That is not progressive at all. That is the opposite of progressive. You can read my article on same sex marriage to see my position. However, since you appear to support same sex marriage these days, I'll assume you've been sufficiently chastized for that article and don't need any crap from me. ;^)

Anyway, since I assume you saw my comments over on some of those discussions, I thought I ought to clarify my position. I hope I have not offended you and we can be friends. :D

B.G. Christensen said...

Thanks for the comment, Chanson. I remember reading your post on same-sex marriage in January and enjoying your take on the issue. I have actually been in favor of same-sex marriage since long before Holly "chastised" me for my essays. I remember in a high school health class a visiting speaker asked for a raise of hands of who thought gay people should be allowed to get married, and I was one of four or five people in the class of thirty who raised our hands--and this was in Hawaii, a pretty liberal state, in the nineties. I did, when I was seventeen, heed the counsel of church leaders and attend an anti-gay marriage rally at the state capitol, but even at the time that didn't feel right to me. The next time I had to choose a position, when an amendment to Utah's constitution banning same-sex marriage was up for vote in 2004, I voted against the amendment. This was the point where I realized I couldn't support a church that asked me to vote contrary to my conscience--and, as it happens, a couple months before I wrote "Staying In," the second of my two essays that were published in the Fall 2005 Dialogue.

I won't argue about what my essays seemed to be saying, because at least two intelligent people (you and Holly) have taken that reading from them, so to you at least that is what they seem to be saying. I do maintain, though, that that is not what they do say. My position has always been basically the same position Holly states in her recent Sunstone article--that any two (or more) consenting adults who wish to marry should be allowed to do so. I perhaps go a step further than Holly in saying that those consenting adults should be respected in that choice because, as you say, "Only you and your wife can decide what your marital expectations are and whether you're fulfilling them for each other." In the essay I was talking about how I felt about (at that time imagined) criticism of my marriage decisions, so the example I used was that of a gay man marrying a woman, but I never intended the right and respect I asked for to be exclusive to any single group of people. If I had foreseen Holly's criticism, I would have made it clearer that I believe every human being deserves the right to marry any person(s) who want to marry her or him. Unfortunately, that's one of those truths that is so obvious to me that I didn't think to explicitly state it. It's also a self-evident truth in my own little mental universe that in any worthwhile relationship both partners should be getting what they want and need out of the relationship, so that's another thing I failed to make clear in the essays--but it's certainly something FoxyJ and I strive for in our marriage.

If you're interested and haven't already come across it, I did respond to one of your comments here. I did so knowing that you were the same person whose blog I've read and enjoyed for the past year, a person I've come to respect quite a bit, but I was unsure as to whether you had made the connection between Ben Christensen and Mr. Fob, the random guy who comments on your blog some times. I'm glad to know that you have made the connection and you still want to be my friend. Whether any disagreement we've had comes from not fully understanding each other's position or from a genuine discrepancy in our views, that's no reason for us not to be friends.

B.G. Christensen said...

Oh, and I forgot: I also don't think gay men should be encouraged to marry women. That's at least one thing I did say in the second essay.

C. L. Hanson said...

Okay, cool. :D

To be honest, I'd seen your blog before, and I didn't realize you were the same person Holly was talking about until quite recently. Not that it matters...