About 6 weeks from now I'll mark the one year anniversary of beginning this blog. Lately I've been hearing from some folks, whose comments I don't publish at their request. These folks are closeted pastors and their friends and partners. Their comments and questions tend to fall within the scope of two very broad categories. One I would label, "I have been hurt by a closeted pastor." And the other I would label "Relationships are hard." Obviously, there is some crossover within these categories.
Today, I'd like to talk about that second category. Relationships are hard. Relationships in which one person is closeted are particularly hard. And it may be that relationships with closeted persons who, in their public role, do some measure of interpreting the Word of God, whether by word or deed... these might well be the hardest to pull off.
I don't talk a lot here about the intricacies and intimacies of my life with Beloved. Part of that is because every couple deserves their privacy. Another part of that is because I'm not convinced of the general interest or applicability of our particular problems. And still another part of that is that I fear, perhaps, the kind of feedback I might get. What if people say things like, "That's a terrible thing to say/ do" about something one of us said or did? What if someone says, "I wouldn't put up with that"? What if exposing our problems doesn't help but instead makes it harder? So I don't tend to talk about these things.
But the point of a blog seems to be openness, and willingness to engage in a particular type of community. So, in the interest of being more real, I will share with you one of the issues currently at play. I blogged two posts ago about our difficult sleeping arrangements. That is one of our problems. Another is my weight. I am not at a healthy weight, and Beloved worries about me... she fears for me. Her fears are reasonable, but it has never been my experience that nagging ever helped anyone to deal with making significant changes in lifestyle and health choices. It has to come within. But Beloved is concerned. Most of the time she holds back, but occasionally (for instance, yesterday morning at 6 AM) she needs to let it out: she is scared. She wants me to be healthy so that I'll be around for a long, long time. This is both endearing and very, very hard.
When I am nagged about my weight I tend to rebel. I tend to want to retain sole possession and ownership of my body. I was not sexually abused as a child. But I was subjected to rather humiliating forms of control and intervention. I tend not to want anyone to have sovereignty over me, but me.
[Sovereignty is an interesting word. As a minister, it certainly rings a bell. And perhaps there is a way in which I might consider letting someone else-- Someone Else-- have sovereignty over my body, in the interests of making better choices to care for it. ]
I'm getting off track. Beloved and I have some struggles. They tend to originate both in our particular personalities and in our (sometimes badly expressed) desire to care for one another. Sometimes, they bounce off my closetedness in a particular way. For instance: as long as I am at an unhealthy weight, I can live a life in which people in the church community, both at the level of the congregation and in the larger judicatory, don't think it odd that I'm not in a relationship. That's the way for women of a certain size. No one expects you to be partnered. So, in a sense, it's easier to dodge the whole question. Is that why I deliberately make unhealthy choices? Of course not. But all sorts of motivations come into play. In largeness there is a certain invisibility. Invisibility can only be helpful for me, right?
I will not get to any conclusions this morning. I simply wanted to share one struggle, and I will share more: such as, loving an atheist. Now that's an interesting conundrum for a closeted lesbian pastor.