Conundrum

As part of my job here in Japan, I am supposed to be helping be a cultural ambassador for my home country and to help internationalize my students/peers. This is, of course, probably the easiest parts of my job. I mean, all I need to do is be myself and represent my country in a positive light. However, there are two facets of myself that I am not sure how to handle: my sexuality and my religion. Neither of these things have I ever really been “out” about, but now that I am here in Japan, I feel like I have a lot more freedom to “become myself”, so to speak. There are some obstacles in my way, though, about “coming out” in this country.

Japan is, for the most part, a secular country, and most of the religious practices here are mostly just continuing the traditions of their ancestors. Also, because there is only a 1% Christian population here, on either parts of my conundrum, I am not likely to be threatened with hell fire and damnation. However, there are cultural things that give me pause about being out and proud of being who and what I am. Of course, this is amplified by the feeling of wanting to be open about who I am, and the truly odd feeling that is accompanying this new want of mine.

As I mentioned before, Japan is a secular country, but the people here, generally, have very strict gender roles. Of course, historically, homosexual relationships between men were tolerated because it was seen that this type of relationship between an older man and a younger one was the passing of knowledge from the older to the younger. However, this social acceptance of homosexual behaviors did not apply to women. I will not go into further detail here about the particulars of this double standard, but it needs to be said that it is still something that is a social “rule” even today, at least with regards to strict gender roles (though I am not sure that the formerly accepted homosexuality is still something that is socially acceptable in present times). Another Japan-specific set of beliefs is that they do not share personal information with anyone outside of their inner circle of friends and family. This means that most information, like that of religion and sexual preference, is something kept to oneself. Altogether this means that this is not something that would ever really be asked of me to answer, but because I am to be a cultural ambassador, I face the unique problem of playing the balancing act of conforming to Japanese societal standards and conforming to that of my home country, which pretty much is a free for all, being a free country and all that.

With this is mind, how should I proceed from here? Am I to conform or am I to be myself? In all honesty, there will probably be very few times in which I will have to share these things with my Japanese colleagues, but if I were to keep quiet in the times I do have the chance to share, would I not then be in breach of one of my purposes in being here? I have already been very honest and open about being bisexual and pagan to the other ALTs, but this is not something that really was ever an issue. Being from other English-speaking countries, this is something they are (I assume) accustomed to anyways. But, I still have no idea how to go from here. I suppose I will have to come up with the answer on my own sometime, and I can only hope that what I choose will be the right answer for me.

In Vain, I have Struggled

It has been a long 3ish weeks since my arrival in Japan. I have been struggling so hard with myself about everything. At first, I scapegoated my feelings onto my situation and my placement here in Japan. Now, I have come to realize that I have been struggling with myself. I have had to face myself, insecurities and flaws and all, with added resentment of my Deities on top of that. (No, I have not yet let go of those feelings that I had from being shackled, but I will explain that further in this post.) There were days where I had to be forced out of bed by obligation alone, otherwise I would have willingly tried to wither away to nothing. As over-dramatic as this sounds, I can assure you that this was the complete truth.

My depression has been very bad these last few months. I will not pretend that I do not know why, and I feel somewhat ashamed at myself for having this wonderful opportunity handed to me (well, I did work for it, I suppose), but I am and have been sitting around with my feelings all awry about it. Shamaness has been overly confused as to why I am so depressed when I have “gotten everything [I] have ever wanted”. It’s nothing so simple as being able to explain easily in a few words, but if I had to, I would say that it is because I am terrible at change. Of course, being married to Loki, the Lord of Change Himself, this sounds a little absurd that His wife would be bad at changes, but alas, I am so very terrible at it. Poor Susano, who has become my new task master/ring leader, has had a very difficult time with me, not only with my depression, but also with my flip-flopping mood regarding Him and my Deities in general.

I am and have been utterly miserable since my arrival here. Jet lag and infinite boredom have taken a huge toll on me and my psyche, almost to the point of making me catatonic. If it had not been for Susano’s “you must leave the apartment at least once a day” edict, I probably would be a lot worse off. I cannot be anything but grateful for His patience with me as I roller-coaster through my feelings. This does not mean I have always expressed this gratitude to Him. In fact, there have been times when I have been down right nasty to him, and He didn’t deserve it (to which He responds, “As long as you acknowledge this…”). I am getting better at treating Him better, because He really does not deserve my ire, but it has not been easy for me, not only because I am unusually bad at acclimating to new Deities, but also because I have leftover anger at my other Gods for my time with Them prior to leaving for Japan.

My resentment has had time to fester as I have had time to think about everything that has transpired recently. I am still angry about what happened those final days in America with my Deities. I will not explain fully here the exact dealings I had with Them during that time. I will, however, say that, in general, I was lied to and promises that were made were not kept. For someone as untrusting as I, this was possibly one of the worst things that could have been done. On top of this, They forgot to remove my shackles until almost two weeks after They had told me they would be removed. So, as it can be imagined, I have had a hard time of trusting any God in my life. As time has passed, though, I have been getting less and less angry, but rather increasingly sad at the prospect that I feel like I cannot trust the Deities in my life. I am praying that this feeling too will pass, because if it happens to be the truth, I will be heart broken.

I will be completely honest here in that I have thought, however briefly, about asking to be released from my vows as a Godspouse. I have wondered what my life would be like without the Gods that I love so very dearly. In the end, though, I decided against it. I know that my present feelings are unfavorably colored by the depression I have been fighting, as well as the circumstances that I am in. I have the consciousness of mind to know that this would be a poor choice in the end, especially since I know that things could have gotten worse and could be worse. They asked me to do nothing that I did not need to do, with only the exception of forcing me to confront my sister and mother about not cutting off contact with them. Despite my thoughts, I am pretty sure that They would never really have allowed me to be released, not this being my reasoning for being released.

Honestly, I am a coward. I am. I don’t know how to be a good person, partner, anything in difficult times. I was taught growing up that it is better to avoid all things dramatic than to have to deal with it not only then but also the lasting effects afterwards. I think this may be a lesson in learning how to deal with conflict, and though I am very bad at it, I hope to get better (at coping with it, not causing). With other people, it is easier to address, but within myself, it is very difficult to face what I hate about the person I am. I hope that by the end of this venture, I will have overcome this obstacle I have placed in my own path, if only because I know I cannot live forever as the coward.

I have come so far, yet I have so much father to go. It’s daunting and disheartening. I think it’s best to think of the present only at this time, lest I get overwhelmed by my own faults and spiral back into the black hole of depression again.