Sorry to Bother You

December 1st, 2014

As someone who has posted things to FB that have raised the concerns of our wonderful bishop, I thought a little explanation/clarification for others who may have found these things concerning might be in order.
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I’m not in love.

September 22nd, 2014

As much as I love the song of that title by 10cc, I mean it in a very different way than the ironic sense of the song. I am enjoying meeting women and dating, but I’m not deeply infatuated with anybody, or pushing in a “let’s get married” direction. I really want to be clear with everyone about this, so nobody gets the impression that a date means exclusive dating, and a path to engagement and marriage. Dating is, for me, about getting to know people better, including myself. And I’m doing some writing around here as a way of exploring some of the questions that are arising from those conversations. There’s something else I particularly wanted to talk about here, and I’m forgetting what it is about every half-sentence. Think, think, think.

Romantic Things.

Oh, yeah. I love doing romantic things. A lot. The problem with doing romantic things while dating around in a non-serious non-exclusive fashion is that it can tend to make things look more serious and exclusive than I am. So, if I show up for a date with a (pink, yellow or white) rose, that’s not a sign that I’m going to propose. I just wanted to bring a flower. I would use a red rose if I was going to bring a rose to a proposal, FWIW.

Physical Affection / Physicality.

I like hugging.  I don’t have to be in love to hug someone.  I have learned that just hugging people isn’t always well received.  But I’m generally open to hugs from pretty much anybody, so, if you’re reading this, you can feel free to request a hug anytime I’m around.  Or just hug me.  Probably.

Another kind of physicality I can offer is rubbing/massaging necks, backs, shoulders and feet.  I’ve been doing those things since I was quite young, and am reasonably good at them.  Feel free to request one if you have the need.

My Separation Part 4 — Conclusion

September 11th, 2014

Conclusion:

My separation was a great help to me. It gave me time to grieve and heal and learn and grow, by helping other people. I now have better listening skills, and the things I learned from listening to others. Priceless gifts.

My Separation Part 3 — The relationship

September 11th, 2014

The relationship started entirely innocently. Some friends planned a get-together at a mutual friend’s home and I was invited to it. As a friend-level activity, I was okay with going. And then the other friends didn’t show up, so we had a nice conversation, and I found that we had a lot to talk about. So I began spending more time around her, and there was still more to talk about, and our kids got along okay (mostly) so we began doing joint family things (like pizza and movies for Friday nights), and spending more time together. After probably six months or more of this, things took a romantic turn that was rather surprising for both of us, if not for others around us. For about two years, we made plans and I got to practice my new relationship skills, and things got a little out of hand on my part. I made some (new) bad choices, not the kind I’d made with Faith, and she ended the relationship. I was sad, but found some new things to do with my life and time (mostly dancing), and a few years later, she got married, and seems to be quite happy with where she’s at. I don’t see the relationship as a bad thing, nor her as a bad person for being in it with me, but I don’t recommend relationships before divorces are final, and haven’t had any since. She’s still incredible and I’m glad she’s happy.

My Separation Part 2– What I learned (and how).

September 11th, 2014

 

For those who have read the stories of how my separation started, you will know that Dr. Laura Schlessinger was key in getting me on a more productive path of healing and growing. Some time later, her show was picked up by the radio station I listened to the most, and they carried it for many years. I love Dr. Laura deeply in my heart, for the help she was to me both in my call to her, and over the years on her show and in her books. I learned from her the importance of prioritizing my children’s needs over my own, and the importance of respecting marriage, and preparing to be in a marriage before trying to be in one again. Her butt-kicking style was very comforting to me (after the call). Sometimes people in a bad space need to be reminded of their own power and their own contribution in getting into that bad space, so they can get themselves out permanently. It’s surprising how often the commonality between all of our lives problems is that we are right there making the choices that create those problems.

ACT:

Abuse Control Training was the place where I was taught new approaches to relationships based on equality and respect, rather than power and control. I learned about how gender-role expectations that I had never thought about had guided my belief system, and, subsequently, my thoughts and actions in ways that had been unfair and hurtful to Faith, and to me. I took responsibility for my belief system and made some adjustments to it that made it more comfortable for me. And I learned how to let go of my marriage and Faith, because nothing I could do or say at that point would undo what I’d already done. I created my abuse website around this time as a way of sharing links to useful resources I’d found online in those early days of the WWW. I also generated some questions people could use to assess if they were involved in abusive relationships, and some resources that could be useful to them if they saw that they were. And I spent time online in spaces frequented by survivors of all kinds of abuse, including Child Sexual Assault. After completing the year-long ACT program, I was asked to come back to the program to help co-facilitate the groups, which I did for several years. This continued my learning quite a lot. I found I had useful things to say to men and women who had been abusive in their relationships. And I got involved with the local DV community, making friends and sharing my perspective with leaders in it and with the community.

Early in my time at ACT, I noticed that I was getting lots of information about how to work better with my wife, who I rarely even spoke with, but I needed to learn more about how to deal better with my children. So I looked around and found Parents Anonymous, through which I was able to learn the 1-2-3 Magic program developed by Dr. Thomas Phelan, which was very helpful to me with them, and has proven quite applicable to my work with children since.

Kids:

And then I took my perspective and experience to the Human Services field, through employment in the Child Welfare System, where I’ve been working now for 13 years. I was working with children from homes like the guys from group – in one case, I worked with the child of someone I knew from group. There were new things to learn, but this kept my head in the realities of family dysfunctions, their causes and consequences.

Divorce lists:

A year or two into this, I discovered some mail-lists for LDS people experiencing divorce. I subscribed to one, and found the interactions there quite useful. A while later, I was contacted by some of the list members who decided to leave that list because they didn’t care for the style of the list-owner so they could form a new one that they wanted me to participate in. I was invited in as a co-owner of the list, and that grew to a group of four lists, three that I co-own, and one that I took over after a list-member was encouraging others to treat their ex-wives abusively and potentially murderously. I did my best to report his information to law enforcement, as it sounded like he was planning to kill his ex-wife, quite confident that he could get away with it. I did a lot of listening to the mostly women on these groups, and added their input to my healing/growing process. I developed a much richer and more realistic model for understanding the world and relationships and marriage due to them. And made some life-long friends in the process.

My Separation Part 1 — Overview

September 11th, 2014

Recently, I’ve had a number of people ask me about my separation, particularly why it was so long before it became a divorce. When talking about something that lasted more than 20 years, there’s a lot to say about that. So I’m going to write about it in some useful detail which, I hope, will answer all the concerns about it.

The tldr; version:

I was separated for 20 years for a variety of reasons. One was to have my kids all grown and gone so I would be as available for them as possible. Possibly the most complete answer is that I had to have the time, money and emotional energy necessary to push it through at the same time, and at least one of those was insufficient until the end. During that time, I did a lot of healing, processing and growing, developing a new set of skills with which I could avoid the failures of my first marriage.
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Comment Spammers: Look elsewhere

September 4th, 2014

You keep on trying to spam here, and it keeps on not working.  It took me a while to figure out what you were doing, but no spammy comment has been approved here in over 5 years.  My settings require approval of comments by new people, and between that and the built-in filtering done by Kashimet (sp?), your spammy comment is never going to be seen by anybody but me, and I”m just going to delete it and add it to the Kashimet database, so it’ll be less likely to get approved anywhere else.

Please stop wasting both of our time, and find another way to try to make a living.

Attraction

September 4th, 2014

Attraction
Why is being attracted to someone treated like an act of violence?

Being back in the singles world has brought the topic of attraction into my mind a lot. During my limbo time, I spent a lot of time thinking about it as well. There is an aspect of attraction that’s based primarily in visual appearance. This aspect is very large. Our culture places a lot of value in visual appearance. We’re fed a steady stream of images of beautiful bodies and faces to try to sell us products or influence our choices in any number of ways. This builds in us expectations about what our romantic potentials can be, and those expectations can be problematic. Not everyone can match these ideals, especially because the images we are shown are retouched, to take the individuals at the 99th percentile of physical attractiveness beyond the realm of the possible. They don’t even look like the images of them that we see, not even after professionals dress them and do their hair and make-up. These images of women seem to be based in a model of beauty most closely associated with women 20-25 – prime child-bearing years. Girls as young as 12 and 13 and older women are using make-up and other appearance-altering technologies to try to match that model. Which only serves to validate that this is what beauty is supposed to look like, and that this is what men should expect from women they are going to pursue romantically.

I have learned that there are a number of basic looks that I find attractive. Frequently, when I see someone in the wild and find them attractive, there is someone else I’ve known or known of with a similar look that I already liked. looking at And I’ve analyzed some of those looks to see what about them I like, and what that says about me. Those who’ve known me for long know about the short, blond, cute combination that’s a particular favorite of mine. For me, short is easy to come by, since women taller than my shoulders are few and far between. But very short – under 5’4”, for instance – has a particular appeal, and I think it has to do with the implication of physical vulnerability that I want to protect. Experience doesn’t teach me this – I’ve found short women to be frequently quite feisty and tough, and I respect that. And like it.

In my interactions with the Mormon Single Adult world, even before I joined it, the complaint I’ve heard the most frequently has to do with older men attracted to and pursuing younger women. The Middle Singles program is for those 30ish – 45ish, and this means that the younger women are in their 30s, and the older men are, perhaps, in their 50s. Those familiar with my dating rules will know that I think a decade is plenty enough age difference for most folks, as too much age difference can bring generational differences in cultural and life experiences, making it more difficult to relate to each other. I know of couples who demonstrate that this rule is not absolute, but I do understand the principle behind the complaint. However, I want to point out that 30 isn’t 13, and being attracted to a 30 year old woman isn’t a sign of pedophilia. One of reasons for the subtitle of this article.
I’ve come to the conclusion that pretty girls are always going to catch my eye, because they always have. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Being pretty doesn’t mean that they are better, smarter, whatever-er than anybody else. I’ve decided that, for me, the thing to do with pretty people is to look at them, and enjoy that feeling that comes from looking at them. It’s kinda like the feeling I get when holding a baby. But that feeling doesn’t mean anything about what I should do with the future regarding that person.

Dancing Partners

Most of my dancing experience has been in the world of Country Dance (not in any way to be confused with dance styles linked to Country/Western Music, like Country Line Dance aka Cowboy Disco, which I do not do). Scottish Country Dance, English Country Dance, and Contradance. In these styles of dance, your partner is your ticket to dance, as they are danced as couples, in sets of two to four couples, arranged in squares or long-lines. One can not line up until one has a partner, so the selection of a partner is something to be done quickly, and need not imply any kind of romantic interest. When attending with a date/spouse, it is customary to dance with that person as a partner for the first and last dance of the evening. and the waltzs that may end each half of the dance, and then to dance with other partners the remainder of the night (exchange of kisses for those in a kissing relationship when passing by each other is not uncommon). My former (male) roommate, found that the best partners in contradance were the older women, because they really knew what they were doing. I agree. Some families dance together in any of these forms, and so there can be young girls dancing as well. When selecting a partner among them, I’ve found that there is a minimum height below which it is quite awkward to try to dance with them, as certain figures nearly require picking them up, but, otherwise, I have found no minimum age for a partner.
When I was 13, asking a girl to dance felt’ like declaring undying love and asking for marriage and babies. It’s not. It’s just asking for a dance, and keeping closish company for up to five minutes.

Showing Attraction:

The past 20 years, I’ve been separated, but still married, so I practiced making no external sign of attraction. Prior to marriage, I avoided making external signs of attraction, because, when people found out who I was attracted to, they would do their best to torture me about it, because they found that torture funny. If you’re one of those people who enjoys this, you are an ass-hole, and you deserve no friends. Now, stop doing it, and you might be redeemable. Maybe. Showing women signs of attraction toward them seems to be highly valued, but not so much when they don’t find you attractive back (in my experience). There’s a fine line between showing attraction and stalking and being creepy, and I want to stay on the right side of it, but it’s not always clear where that falls.

This is also where the attraction can be treated like an act of violence, thus the subtitle above.  To paraphrase an old advertising slogan, “Don’t hate me because you’re beautiful.”

I won’t be Tenchi

August 20th, 2014

In recent conversations I’ve had about sex, particularly among Mormons, I’m reminded of a phenomenon I’ve noticed in some Japanese anime series, most particularly Tenchi Muyo. Tenchi Muyo tells the story of 20-something Tenchi Masaki, who lives with his grandfather and a group of extra-terrestrial women, all of whom pursue him romantically. That is, they fight over him, and who “gets” him, on an ongoing basis. However, if he ever gives any indication that, at any point in the future, in any kind of context (like, after marriage), he has any interest in having sex with any of them, he is declared to be a “pervert,” and, usually, slapped.

Now, I am not the object of romantic rivalry between any number of women, let alone extra-terrestrial women. But I do find myself being treated with suspicion and accusation for wanting to talk about sex. I’ve not yet been slapped for it, or openly called a pervert (which is good — I will not hesitate to refer anyone slapping me for assault charges), but I’m not willing to let this suspicion and accusation issue go unchallenged.

In a Mormon context, sex is a very important thing. Sex with anyone other than a heterosexually married spouse violates the Law of Chastity, which is seen as among the most serious of sins (sometimes, second only to murder in severity). I don’t disagree with the standards of the Law of Chastity, although I do think the ways in which the subject is treated among Mormons can become unhealthy. Laura Brotherson, a Mormon therapist, has written a book on the subject titled And They Were Not Ashamed — Strengthening Marriage through Sexual Fulfillment that discusses the importance of a healthy sexual relationship in marriage from a Mormon perspective. Interest in sex is normal, and a good thing. Discussion about it isn’t necessarily inappropriate. Sexual conversations, of course, can be inappropriate. But where the purpose of the conversation isn’t to encourage people to inappropriate sexual behavior, there is some room for conversation.

My positions on some Mormon questions.

June 25th, 2014

It has occurred to me that some folks might be interested in/concerned about where I stand on some key questions about Mormonism, particularly when I’m speaking up for people who are being accused of apostasy. This will kinda be a wordy version of what could be nicely handled by a Mormon Geek Code if such a thing existed and was widely understood.

The Church is true?
Yes. But I’m not entirely certain what “true” means. But my Yes is solid and unequivocal.
The Book of Mormon is true?
Yes, solidly and unequivocally also. Again uncertain about “true” and reasonably certain that the explanation of who and where it describes that I was taught as a child is not literally true. I’m okay with the legendary descriptions of how it was translated not being literally true, and I’m also not bothered by horses, iron, swords, concrete, etc.
Prophets are fallible men inspired by God.
Yes. So stories about their frailties, mistakes and bad choices don’t blow me away – I’m interested in those stories, but they don’t impact the first question at all.
Plural marriage
Also doesn’t blow me away, even the post-Manifesto stuff. Don’t expect to practice it in my lifetime.
Book of Abraham
My position is a hybrid of the Catalyst Theory and the Missing Papyrus Theory. The papyri we have were not written by Abraham and do not contain the text of the BoA. However, there might be missing papyri which contain that text and could possibly have been written by Abraham (but I doubt that last part). The text is the word of God, and I’m not bothered if it is not literally connected to the Abraham Papyri.
Ordaining women
I don’t know. I’m not persuaded that this is necessary, or that it would be good. OTOH, I strongly support the ability to ask for this, on the grounds that it’s always okay to ask for what you want, as long as you will gracefully take “no” for an answer. I don’t accept that that answer has been given yet.