The Innocent

A few years ago, after several years of consistent writing (and a fair amount of therapeutic results), I had to stop writing on this site.  You see, my brother had stumbled upon it unexpectedly. I never wanted my family to know about it because I wasn’t ready for my family to really know me.  My brother was the worst possible member of my family to be the one to find this blog because he does not have the first clue about respecting people, let alone boundaries.

After finding the blog he spent an entire weekend reading through the entire thing, and apparently, making notes about every single thing that he felt painted him in an ugly light, was, in his mind, inaccurate, or in some other way pissed him off.  He sent me a lengthy, angry email about all of this and told me I had no right to write, and say, the things I did.  He then refused to unsubscribe to the blog because, he said, I needed to be held accountable for the “slanderous” things I had and might say about him.  “Slanderous”, of course, equals wrong.

I tried to maintain control of my circumstances.  I moved my blog to another platform, but he hunted it down.  That platform, unlike WordPress at that time, allowed me the option to block his IP address, and email address so that he wouldn’t be able to see the blog, but he knows a lot more about computers than I, and he utilized some technological wizardry to force his way in.  I tried setting up a whole new blog, but ultimately, it just didn’t feel right.  This is my blogging home.  So I gave up and I lost something that had meant so much more to me than just a place to exercise my writing ability.

As if all the harm he had done to me over the course of my childhood hadn’t been enough, he had taken away the one thing that, at that time, offered me some hope for healing and achieving peace and happiness for myself.

Some time later, I found this on-line:

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I’ve posted this here before, but it is relevant today.  You see, part of the work I’m doing now is to figure out who I am. Not who I need to be to make other people happy or like me.  Not how to live up to the expectations that others place on me to make me acceptable in their eyes.  But who I am.  For me.  Today.  And always.

My life is mine.  My stories are mine.  What has lead me to this moment, to this point in my life, I own that, and I can do with it as I please.

I no longer wish to hide from anyone.  I no longer wish to live up to anyone else’s expectations.  I no longer wish to seek approval or blessing from anyone.

Going forward, in these pages, there will be no name changes “to protect the innocent”.

THERE ARE NO INNOCENT.

If people want me to write warmly about them, they should behave better.

Radio Silence

My family is weird.  We mostly communicate in writing, which frankly, is just fine with me.  I hate talking on the phone and I really don’t like being interrupted and condescended to when I have something to say.

When I came out to my mother years ago, I did so via e-mail.  That may seem like a cowardly approach, but, again, we communicate mostly in writing.  It gave me time to put my thoughts together in a coherent manner.

It took my mother two weeks to reply to the message.  When she did it was a multi-page email riddled with inconsistencies and contradictions which I dismantled one by one.

I don’t remember much of the email anymore, except for the part which said, “I’ll have nothing to do with anyone or anything that puts your name and the word homosexual in the same sentence.”

A loaded statement to be sure.

I responded with two salient comments.  “I am putting my name and the word homosexual in the same sentence.  Will you have nothing to do with me?  I’m prepared for that if that is your choice, but I will not be the one to walk away over this.”  Followed by, “Are you telling me that if I should find myself in love with someone with whom I want to share my life, I cannot bring him around to meet my family?  Do you really believe that given the same ultimatum, my sister would choose you over her husband and children?  I guarantee you she would not.”

It took another couple of weeks for her to reply to that message and all she had to say was, “I love you very much.”

Sounds sweet and touching, right?  We have never spoken of my sexual orientation since.  That was seven years ago.

When I made the decision to come out to her, knowing that she would not approve, knowing that she would judge and condemn, knowing that she would react pretty much exactly the way that she did, and knowing that I was choosing to disrespect myself, in order to “respect” her.  I made that choice willingly so that I could live my life more fully, more openly, and, I thought, more honestly.

 

Last year I met the love of my life.  I met a man who was everything I wanted in a boyfriend and future husband.  I fell hopelessly, desperately, completely in love.  Beyond that, I believed I had received a message from the God I used to believe in, telling me that this was THE man I would spend the rest of my life with.  I was over the moon.

I didn’t tell my mother about Alan, not because it was a secret, or because I was ashamed of anything, but because we don’t talk very much, we live 1800 miles apart and there was simply no opportunity in which it made sense to say anything.  We hadn’t discussed my sexual orientation in 7 years.  Hell, we hadn’t discussed my sexuality in 43 years.

Alan, turned out to have Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and ultimately, he destroyed me.  The end of our relationship was a tumultuous ride which I won’t get into today, but suffice it to say, I was strung along for months, and I bit, hook, line, and sinker.  He unraveled me to my very core, and in the end, he just dropped off the face of the earth, leaving me to try to pick up the pieces while refusing to give any answers or explanations or offering any sort of insights that could help me make sense of what happened.

The final, final blow came in early February, and I was a wreck.  My life fell apart around me.  Everything that had mattered, everything that had been good, was just an empty shell of vague relevance which I didn’t care to protect.  I wanted to die.  I couldn’t get through a single day without falling to pieces, and my eyes were in a perpetual state of bloodshot puffiness.  I cried, I thought, until there could be no more tears, and yet, as I write these words the tears are brimming.  I sat in therapy just yesterday and wept over his disappearance from the only source of connection that remained for me.

 

Within a few days of that final, final blow, my mother and I had a text conversation.  I don’t remember what it was about.  It was not especially relevant.  We finished the conversation and resolved whatever we were discussing, and then suddenly, she called me. On the telephone!

I steadied myself and answered.  “I just wanted to let you know I hadn’t forgotten about Christmas,” she said, after we exchanged the customary pleasantries, “I’ve just been really busy and haven’t had time to do anything about it.”  Her boss was writing a book, she told me, which basically means that he was scribbling notes long hand on legal pads, and she was writing a book. She’d been so swamped with deadlines and re-writes and all the other day to day stuff that already filled her life that she hadn’t had time to even think about the holidays, long passed.

I told her that she didn’t need to worry about it.  Since I made the decision to leave the corporate world and pursue an entirely different career path that is still in it’s infancy, I’ve been pretty broke and giving gifts was the farthest thing from my budget, let alone my mind.  I’ve never been comfortable receiving gifts when I’m not able, or inclined to return the favor.  It was just as well that she hadn’t done anything, and didn’t need to.

“Well,” she said, “I’m your mother.  It doesn’t matter if you give anything in return.  Besides, if that’s how things are right now, it sounds like the best thing I can do is just  send you some money.”  It’s worth noting that she never did.

She continued, “Other than that, how is everything?”

There was a moment of deafening silence as I tried in vain to put my thoughts in order and figure out how to reply.  How could I respond to the woman who told me she’d have nothing to do with my sexual orientation when the only thing that mattered in the world was that my heart had just been ripped out of my chest, hurled to the ground, danced upon and set on fire by the MAN I loved.  How could I tell her that every breath is a struggle, climbing out of bed every morning is like climbing Mt. Everest, and every smile I fake for the sake of my clients and coworkers cuts a little deeper and makes me feel a little more dead inside.

In that split second of deafening silence, I opened my mouth to speak the truth, and the only thing that came out was a sob.

“Oooh.  Loaded question,” she said.

“Yes…  And not one that you want to hear the answer to.”

Without missing a beat she said, “Okay.  Talk to you later.  Bye!” and hung up the phone.

We haven’t spoken since.

 

Recently, I found out that in the only conversation they’ve had about me since my life fell apart, my mother told my sister that she (my mother) seems to have “fallen off of [my] ‘acceptable people list'”, an ironic choice of words, I think.  There have been a few half-hearted attempts on my mother’s part over the months to contact me, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to respond or engage.  Naturally, my mother, who I have come to realize has some narcissistic tendencies of her own assumes that for some reason I’m mad at her and giving her the silent treatment.  I suppose she’s not entirely wrong.  I am mad at her.  I’m mad that in the most critical moment of our relationship, she couldn’t find it in her to set aside her bigotry and judgment and just be there for me.

But that’s not what the silence is really about.

It’s been almost ten months since my world stopped moving.  My earth is standing still on it’s axis and I am on the dark side of the planet during a new moon.  There is a power outage. The clouds are heavy and the fog is so thick, I can see no stars.

Nothing matters.  I still struggle to take every breath.  I climb the highest peek every morning I have the misfortune of waking up again.  My body aches, my heart hurts, my mind reels and I cannot for the life of me figure out how to make it stop.

What I do know is that only I can.  And she definitely cannot help me.

The silence is me trying to figure out how to take care of myself.  Trying to figure out how to heal and come out of this anguish better than I went in.  The person I was before is gone, never to return.  And thank god for that, because that guy was a loser who was easily manipulated and taken advantage of, as evidenced by the fact that Alan was not the first emotionally deficient man with a personality disorder to get his hooks into that guy.  No, that guy cannot be allowed to return and I have to figure out how to destroy him for good.  One thing I know for sure is that I won’t heal and I won’t come out of this better than I was by focusing on making other people feel better.

I spent my entire life trying to be what other people want me to be, to the point that I don’t even know who I actually am.  This is the time to find out.  I don’t know how I’m going to do that.  I don’t know what it’s going to look like, but I know that I don’t yet know how not to be that same simpering, pathetic loser I was before, so I steer clear of situations that invite him to resurface.

And that includes talking to my mother.

So for now, I stay radio silent

Mr. On Time Strikes Again

I’m terribly behind in my blog reading and just stumbled upon a prompt from WordPress’ Daily Post from 27 days ago. It’s about unintentional flubs that cause laughter.

Not many people know what spoonerisms are. Simply, spoonerism is when you take two words and swap the first letters. For (a bad) example, butterfly becomes flutterby. (Bad example because it’s technically one word. Whatever. You get the idea.)

When I was in my early teens, my little conservative, Christian family fell into a habit of spoonerizing, a lot. One evening we were all at home in the living room. I think we were about to leave to go out for dinner. My mother was in the process if scolding my eldest sibling for something. I have no idea what. In those days he did a lot to warrant such reprimands.

After my mother made some statement about his behavior, said sibling argued, “you make it sound like I’m a (insert complaint here.)”

“Well, if the shoe fits,” my mother replied.

Without missing a beat, my goodie-two-shoes sister, who had been trying to focus on homework throughout the exchange, without looking up from her textbook said, “or if the foo shits.”

No sooner had the words left her lips, before her head popped up, her jaw dropped, and her face was bright red. Given that she was not prone to such language to begin with, and the amount of spoonerizing that had been going on in the house already, she did not get into any trouble for this apparent slip. This did, however, let the wind out of my mothers sails, and the scolding session was over.

I wonder if the eldest sibling ever thanked my sister.

Because You Gotta Have Faith

I didn’t get a job that I interviewed (twice) for last week.  I’m really disappointed.  I really wanted that job and I was really optimistic about it after my interviews.  I texted my mother to tell her I didn’t get it, because I knew she was wondering.  She called me back to tell me, “don’t despair over it, honey. God has a job for you.”  She proceeded to tell me how I just have to be faithful and trust that God has the job for me.  Oh and that I should be going to church (like there’s a comfortable church that would have me) and that I should be giving 10% of the money I can’t afford to spare to that church, because apparently, even though I was taught growing up, that God wants to bless me financially and that He can do anything, the only limit to that awesome, unlimited power is His ability to bless me financially without provocation.  Apparently, that’s just not possible.

For the record, I do not believe that.  I believe wholeheartedly that God can and will bless me.  I believe wholeheartedly that God does have a job for me.  And I believe He will provide for me.  I’m just not 100% convinced He will provide for me in a way that I feel good about.  I don’t believe for a minute that I will be homeless.  I know that I have friends and family who will take me in if push comes to shove.  I know that I will not have to be the troll under the bridge (and by the way, BayAarea?  Count them…  The bridges, not the trolls.)  I’m even relatively confident that I will find a job that will prevent my utter financial collapse, before I have to move out of my apartment.

It’s just that, well, I’ve been through a lot.  I’ve made considerable efforts toward that job.  I’ve applied for things that I didn’t want to do, knowing that I was surely qualified.  I’ve applied for jobs as file clerks.  I’ve applied for jobs as grocery store Cashiers.  I’ve applied to staffing agencies which, in the past, were completely reliable to get me working, even if it wasn’t for enough money.  I’ve applied to COUNTLESS jobs that are exactly in my wheel house, right up my alley, catered to my unique set of qualifications.  I’ve been ignored and turned down at nearly every turn.  I’ve had a handful of telephone interviews, each of which went wonderfully and ended with assurances that I would be called in for face to face interviews, only to have the person never contact me again.  I’ve had an even smaller handful of face to face interviews, each of which ended with me feeling utterly confident about my chances, even if I wasn’t 100% sure it was the best fit for me.

And then last week happened.  I had two interviews, first with the hiring manager, then with his manager, for a job that was perfect for me.  Possibly a little beneath my abilities, but something I could build on, with a company at which I could confidently build a reliable career, lots of opportunities for advancement.  I was told repeatedly that there was no doubt I was qualified for the job.  No question that I would be able to fulfill the responsibilities of the role with ease.  I was told that I was excellently qualified…  and that, in truth, that was the only thing that might work against me.  I’m “overqualified”.  I’ve heard it more times than I can count.  I’m too qualified for a Facilities Coordinator position.  And you know what?  That’s true.  I am.  The problem is, I’m not quite qualified for the next step up.  I’m ready to take that next step, but nobody wants to hire me for that step, because I’m missing a few key components that I ought to have.  I get that.  I understand it, and that’s why I’m willing to start in a Coordinator position, so I can get my foot in a door, and work my way up to what I’m really ready for.  But if everybody thinks I’m “overqualified” and doesn’t want to hire me for that reason, what the hell am I supposed to do?

My mother went on and on about how God has a plan and there’s a job out there just for me, and I shouldn’t worry because it’ll happen.  The fact is, I’ve been hearing those messages my whole life.  I’ve been taught not to speak negatively because “words have power”.  So I don’t.  I don’t tell my friends how I’m running out of money, and I’m scared that I can’t afford to continue to live in my apartment and how if I don’t find a job soon, I might  have to move out of state and live with one family member or another, who doesn’t accept my sexual orientation and who doesn’t want to (or can’t afford to) support me, not that they should have to, and that I can’t even make any assurances to anyone that I will work and pay my own expenses while living with them, because if I can’t even get a fucking grocery store cashier job, what can I possibly hope to expect?

I get it.  You don’t walk around moping and spilling your guts to anyone and everyone who will listen about how horrible your situation is and how dire things are and how scared you are because there is NO livable solution that involves moving away, because you don’t want to be spewing all that negativity into the ether, or the universe, or whatever you believe in, because again, apparently, God can only bless you and provide for your needs, if you’re speaking positively about it, because God’s will and power is inhibited by negativity…  apparently.  (Except it’s not.)  The problem is, if you never tell anyone the truth of your situation, then no one knows you need help.  No one, who might be inclined to offer assistance if they know you need it, can do so, because they don’t know you need it.

Thinking strictly about my current financial obligations I have about a month and a half to two months worth of money left, assuming I’m very careful and don’t spend any more than I must.  That does not account for giving my fabulous landlady 30 days notice if I have to move out, and it does not account for moving expenses if I have to move away and it does not account for having money in the bank when I get wherever I’m going, because I can’t face the idea of moving and I’m holding out hope for something to come together at the last minute and save me from that devastation of having to move.  (Honestly, I’d rather die.)

But at some point, you have to speak the truth.  You have to tell someone what your circumstances are so that people understand what you’re dealing with.  Is it really necessary to give the person a sermon about faith and positivity in that moment?  Can’t we just let the person vent their frustrations and understand, sympathize, without making them feel guilty for “not being faithful”?

2014 New Year’s Resolution… Failed Already

I guess it’s good to get these things out of the way early.  Heh!

I had a plan.  It was a good plan.  A great plan even.  If I do say so myself.  And I do.  Because if I don’t…  who will?

As demanded by my nephew, age 2 1/2.
As demanded by my nephew, age 2 1/2. My sister has a strict rule against pictures of her children appearing on the internet, but I’m pretty sure a photo of the indistinguishable knees of her only male child would be considered harmless enough to not cause offense, if she even knew this website existed.

You see, it’s like this.  Back in April, after I was offered the short-lived disaster of a job I had this year, and negotiated a start date that would allow me to take a much over-due trip to visit my sister and her family, including four children (my nieces and nephew), two of whom I had never seen in person, I decided that it was the opportunity and excuse I needed to invest in a fancy new 35 mm digital camera.  I’ve always been interested in photography and wanted to learn more about it and with a digital camera I’d be able to see the immediate results of my attempts to improve on technique and composition.  I bought the camera and took it with me on the trip, and of course, as soon as I took the camera out on the first day, the children started being children and wanted to take pictures themselves, and tell me what pictures I should take (my nephew kept saying, “take a picture of mine’s knees”), and insisted on seeing the pictures the instant they were taken.  Very few pictures were actually taken on that trip because the camera posed such a distraction and any hope of getting some candid, true life photos was dashed on the first day.

Over the summer, I decided to take a photography class at the local community college.  I knew from other’s experiences that this class would teach me not only how to compose a good quality, artistic photograph, but also, how to use editing software to make the picture look even better.  A few days after I registered for the photography class, I decided to register for the first level, beginning swimming class and soon after decided that both classes were too much to do all at once, at the time.  Ultimately, I decided that the swimming class was a higher priority because I wanted to be able to find a place to go to swim for exercise and once I had that covered I could be swimming for exercise while I learned to take and edit good quality photographs in a later semester.  That is still the plan, although when classes start up again in a couple of weeks, I’ll be taking the next swimming class with the hope of getting more effective and confident in that skill.  Photography will wait until Summer or Fall Semesters.  The camera sits in its case for weeks or months at a time without getting used and I’ve never finished reading the owner’s manual, or the “Photography for Dummies” book that I purchased and lugged all the way to New York and back with me, without ever cracking the spine.

During my most recent previous stint of unemployment, I began participating in a “photo-a-day” program run by the author of another blog, using just my iPhone and an Instagram account I haven’t even looked at in months.  When I started working, I found myself far too busy and far to pre-occupied to keep up with it and I let it drop.

Recently, my urge to learn to properly use my camera has returned, as has my desire to practice and build my skill.  I have also wanted to get back to more regular posting here on this site, and not have everything be all gloom and doom and woe is me as the last several months have been.

And then it hit me!  The great idea!  The perfect “solution”!  “Photo-A-Day” meets “posting 365” (or whatever the hell they called it) meets new inspiration for both more and better photography AND more and more cheerful writing…  I decided I would pull out the photography books and read a little bit of them each day, and I would combine that with the photo-a-day prompts from Fat Mum Slim and everyday, I would take a picture that is prompted by the Photo-A-Day prompt and post it on this here bloggy thingy.  I would write a post about the photo if the spirit moved me, or I would just post the picture with a minimal explanation/caption and let it stand on its own.  Every day.  For 365 days.

I’ve already failed.

I wasn’t going to get too bogged down in the details of actually starting the plan on January 1st.  It’s already 2:00 in the morning on January 2nd, so you see how well that worked out.  But I was going to do a post for every picture and a picture for every day…

I worked last night.  For the first time in more years than I can remember, I worked on New Year’s Eve.  I would far rather have been out celebrating somewhere, preferably somewhere far away, like Las Vegas, or Sidney Harbor, but I need the money, and New Year’s Eve seemed like a good opportunity to earn a lot of tips.  (It could have been a lot better than it was, but the whole experience is a separate story for another post.)  I didn’t get off work until 1:45 AM.  One of the other bar tenders who happens to live right down the street from me and I rode BART home from the city together and I gave her a ride from the station to her house.  She invited me in and we had a two plus hours over-due celebratory glass of champagne and chatted for a little while before I went home.  I arrived at home around 4:00 AM at which time I took a shower.  I’ve never been able to go straight to bed after either arriving home, or taking a shower.  I need time to settle in first.  Plus, I had “nerd things” to do with my tip money.  I briefly entertained the idea that I just wouldn’t sleep until bedtime on January 1st, because I knew that what happened, would happen…  By 6:00 AM I was exhausted, could barely keep my eyes open and had no idea what I was seeing on the Netflix DVD I was watching.  I gave up and went to bed, slept until noon and have not had the slightest inclination to sleep again.  This is a scenario I do not want to make into a habit

When I woke up I was hungry and didn’t have time for “what should I cook for lunch”.  I needed to eat immediately, so failing all other options (or rational consideration thereof) I ended up eating a couple of Eggo toaster waffles.  Once the waffles were gone and the dish was washed off and in the sink (the dishwasher is full of clean dishes and I haven’t put forth the effort to put them away yet) I went to the living room and sat down.  It was only then that I pulled up the schedule of prompts for the photo-a-day program and saw today’s prompt:  lunch.  I couldn’t even think of a viable and reasonable way to cheat.

Sometimes it’s good to set the bar low right up front so you only have one way to go from there…

The End

I grew up in a family and a world full of abuse: some violent, some physical, mostly emotional, all horrific.  I never learned how to care for myself in that world and was constantly subject to the whims and mood swings of my abusers, be they family or school mates or even the occasional teacher.  Because of this, or maybe in addition to it, I was cripplingly clinically depressed for most of my life.

Almost four years ago, I started blogging.  I didn’t really know what would come of it and it was hard at times, because the truth is, I don’t know how to censor myself or not be open and honest in my writing.  This is a good thing since I’m not really capable of being completely open and honest in my face to face communications.  I’m constantly censoring myself and holding back.  As it turned out, blogging was very therapeutic for me.  Where I’m not any good at developing relationships in the real world, I’m good at dealing with people on-line.  While I’m not able to cultivate friendships face to face, people on-line and in the blogging community are very nice, friendly, supportive people.  Obviously, that’s all about the circles in which one travels, but I managed to develop some good circles; surround myself with good, decent, honest, caring people… Or so I thought.

I let my guard down.  I began to trust people; something I’ve never done easily.  I couldn’t trust my own family, why would I trust outsiders?  But this blog and the people who have been around it showed me that there are people out there one can trust… Or so I thought.

But I got complacent.  And now this safe little world of mine has been invaded.  Now, now that my blog has really gotten a good readership.  Now that there are actually people who like me and want to read my words.  Now there are people who feel it’s appropriate to stalk and terrorize me.  People who think that just because this is a “public website” they have the right to force their way in.  People who think that they have the right to treat me like shit, just because they don’t like something I wrote on MY  blog.  People who relish taking the control over my life away from me.

I have taken the rational, reasonable measures I can take to put a stop to these activities, but unfortunately, the mechanism does not exist in this world for me to protect myself and my rights.

So I have to take drastic measures.

I have to take myself, out of this world.