I don't handle weddings well.
Being a Christian gay twentysomething is a drag* during the summer. It's a parade of weddings. It isn't that you're not genuinely happy for your friends, or that you don't want to celebrate with them. You really are, and you really do. It's just that the emotions invoked by weddings for someone who can't really look forward to getting the same thing are rather more complex, and rather less nice, than just being glad for someone. And it isn't easy to figure out how to handle the negative emotions, either -- it would shockingly selfish and tasteless to say anything to anybody there, obviously, and there's only so long you can hide in the bathroom trying not to cry because you are a rampaging, jealous narcissist.
And people look at you funny if your coping mechanism is belting out Gloria Gaynor in the middle of the reception.
The difficulty isn't our exclusive property. A dear friend of mine, a quick-witted and delightful Catholic woman who is one of my favorite fag-hags, has made the same complaint; she's said, and I tend to agree with her, that the church can feel a bit like a commercial for marriage sometimes. It's too bad that feeling guilty about the negative feelings doesn't make them go away, because if it did, that would be boss.
I quite truthfully don't know what to do about this. I have an uncomfortable feeling that it may be one of those problems that just doesn't have a solution. Some problems are like that. Some kinds of suffering, including the suffering involved in being self-centered (once you've realized that you are self-centered and are trying to become less so) just have to be waited out, I think; call it a penance, I suppose.
And even if there is a solution, I have a hunch that it would not be a straightforward one. Dorothy Sayers, a friend of C. S. Lewis and G. K. Chesterton, wrote an essay contrasting her work as a mystery novelist with the work of life in general, in which she said the following:
"The detective problem is always soluble. It is, in fact, constructed for the express purpose of being solved, and when the solution is found, the problem no longer exists. ... But it is unwise to suppose that all human experiences present problems of this kind. There is one vast human experience that confronts us so formidably that we cannot pretend to overlook it. There is no solution to death. There is no means whatever whereby you or I, by taking thought, can solve this difficulty in such a manner that it no longer exists. From very early days, alchemists have sought for the elixir of life, so reluctant is man to concede that there can be any problem incapable of solution. ... The only two things we can do with death are, first, to postpone it, which is only a partial solution, and, secondly, to transfer the whole set of values connected with death to another sphere of action -- that is, from time to eternity. ... 'Whose, therefore, shall she be in the resurrection? For the seven had her to wife.' In the terms in which you set it, the problem is unanswerable; but in the kingdom of heaven, those terms do not apply. You have asked the question in a form that is far too limited; the solution must be brought in from outside your sphere of reference altogether."**
What to do? Daydreaming about what I would have liked to have with Victor, or what my ex-boyfriend and I wanted, only feels good for about twelve seconds. After that things get decidedly worse.*** And faking cheerfulness -- even if anybody could feel authentic and comfortable doing that for more than about twelve seconds -- has the defect of not working very well. Loneliness and its children of self-pity and jealousy, that fear fathers on it, are extraordinarily powerful emotions that do not take kindly to being ignored; especially when, with respect to celibacy, you feel you've been backed into a corner by the conflict between what you feel and what you think -- or, from another perspective, between what you want and what you love.
So what creative thing can be done with such emotions? I'm not sure. Recognizing them for what they are -- flawed, but natural, reactions to the situation of unwanted singleness -- is a necessary first step. Learning to will the singleness God has willed for you is, I presume, part of the solution, but learning to want something is about as easy as carving a statue out of solid marble with a spoon. It can, in principle, be done, but you may be there a while. And in the meantime, there's the feels. Oooh the feels. They're awful. And I really think there's nothing to do but acknowledge them, try not to go nuts, and wait for them to go away.****
So ... I guess this post basically amounts to "Life's a shit sandwich sometimes." I hope you all ... found that edifying.
**From the essay 'Problem Picture,' in the collection The Whimsical Christian, pp. 133, 135, 141. I cordially dislike anthologies, especially ones with cutesy titles, but it's what I've got. I believe it was originally published in her book The Mind of the Maker.
***Which, naturally, means that I do it over and over. "I give myself very good advice ..." (Disappointingly, this doesn't even lead to an encounter with mome raths.)
****Okay, this helps too.