Saturday, November 26, 2016

Flaming Turkey and the Honey Bombs

Today: Thanksgiving, 2009. I just put the turkey in the oven and feel inspired to offer up a moment of silence. My thoughts are wandering...

Thanksgiving day, 2008.

It was a beautiful day, the sun producing glaring reflections on the crisp snow. As usual, my awareness of daylight came gradually as Blix sat staring at my face, occasionally whining his pleas for me to get my ass out of bed and take him outside to pee. Only a quick and disoriented walk around the block with the dog stands between me and a large cup of dark coffee. Or a pot.

Honey, I had decided, would be a healthier alternative to processed sugar, and a quick spin in the microwave would warm my honey bear very nicely. I thought.

Well, warm it nicely it did. Too much so, as a matter of fact. Granted, setting the microwave to cook on high for ten minutes with the intent of stopping it after ten seconds is not a good idea when one has an obnoxious four month old puppy who is hell bent on making himself the center of attention no matter what. The sizzled-whirling sound reminded me of those loud ground flower firework things that dance nervously around the arsonist. In a flash I threw open the microwave door and, to my amazement, saw the honey bear, blown up like a puffer fish, spinning furiously. Seconds later the small yellow cap went flying, never to be found again. Molten honey splattered across three walls of my recently cleaned dining room, leaving out only the space of a torso and two arms. That honey, flung angrily from the honey bear puffer fish, landed painfully on my skin.

Needless to say, I was awake after that.

Strangely, I've forgotten what Blix did to demand such a diversion from my coffee preparation. Karma came knocking on his doggy door, however, when a couple hours later he ran directly into the glass patio door. Evidently, I cleaned it extraordinarily well after the honey bomb explosion; spotless enough that he couldn't see what separated him from the outside world he loved so much. Indeed, I laughed out loud. My roommate? He laughed so hard I think he wet himself. The greatest guffaw, however, was yet to come.

I've been known to bake a delicious turkey: Thanksgiving, 2008, despite the molten honey and yelping dog, was going to present another beautiful bird. To prevent unsavory dryness I used a roasting bag. Butter, fresh herbs and lots of garlic were smeared all over the skin. Instructions followed to the letter. Two hours later: smoke! Smoke, billowing out of my oven. And, a flaming turkey!

What the instructions failed to warn me is that if the bag comes in contact with the element, it will ignite, and consequently ignite the butter or oil or skin of one's Thanksgiving centerpiece.

I was shocked, bewildered, didn't know what to do, but, in the end, we ate it anyway. Never have I laughed more on Thanksgiving. Seems very appropriate, actually, given that I feel grateful for laughter; Extremely grateful because I believe it heals me. So, here it is, Thanksgiving, 2009, and the turkey is baking, flame-free, in the oven, in a roasting bag. This year I carefully tucked in the excess bag-baggage before baking, and, it's looking beautiful.

Now, I doubt Thanksgiving would feel right without some weirdness, without laughter. That in mind...I think this meal will be eaten on the hard-wood floor, picnic style. But, here, in these few moments of silence, I thank God, the Great Spirit, the Creator, the Buddha nature that binds us, for laughter: brief little moments of healing nirvana.

And, that's all I'm going to say about that.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Remember?

Remember when I did that horrible thing, that absolutely devastatingly heart breaking thing? And remember how angry you were and how much you yelled and screamed and cried and withheld affection. For at least a month, I think,  there was nothing but  "discussion" between us We talked and fought and cried and sulked and deliberated about it so much that eventually I believed I would surely have a stroke, or, a mental breakdown of one sort or another. You resented me so badly I could almost smell it on your skin and you held "forgiveness" in front of me like a precious, dangling carrot, taunting me with the promise of relief from the heaviness. You knew how badly I wanted your forgiveness, how badly I wanted the hurting in your heart to stop and the agonizing discomfort between us to soften. Over the weeks that followed,  I began to feel  tolerated. You gradually mustered up the ability to be in the same room with me without shooting nerve gas out your blankly staring eyes. Ok...I know that's a hyperbolic use of drama, but that's how it felt to me.

Remember how heart broken I was, knowing that I had hurt the man I had been in love with for years? Remember how scared I was to come home and how I had walked around in sub-zero weather for at least five hours, not knowing what I could do or say that would somehow make it less painful for you? I wanted so badly the ability to reach my arm back through time to one seemingly insignificant moment when I could have made one choice differently than the one I made. I couldn't though. I had to accept that I had fucked up in the worst way and that our lives would never be the same and that you may never love me again like you had and that I was all alone--completely alone with my self-defeating thoughts that screamed horribly hopeless messages that made any reasonable attempt at reasonable-ness seem absolutely ridiculous, and....of course, unreasonable. I totally understand why you left that morning. I feel like I should repeat myself: I totally understand why you left that morning, but, I was left with a lot of pain to manage by myself. Loneliness had never felt so tangible before, as it I could sense it on the skin of my face and weighing down attempts to lift my head and arms. It felt suffocating, like a wet blanket had been thrown over me and that the only way out was to somehow find a way to relax into breathlessness.

Remember when I watched you pack your bags and prepare for escape to that short, kinda cute chick with inviting dimples and how I pleaded with you not to leave, but to stay home with me so we could work things out and so that I could show you how much I loved you from the deepest part of my soul? You just kind of did one of those "herhumpf" with your throat and said very stoically, "I'm going to Peppers." That's when I felt even more ashamed. Had I tail, that fucker would have definitely been hid between my legs and my quiet leave I could not have taken too soon. But, where would I have gone? Reality, with all its wound-opening bitterness would have surely followed me where ever I went. So...I sat on the sofa and cried. I cried a lot for a long time, until finally it came time to go to that stupid AA meeting. I did not want to go! Embarrassment in front of a bunch of drunks?  No way! But, because you asked me to go--actually I believe you made the subtle, yet deafening suggestion that anyone with any desire to save his relationship would be going to the meeting--I went. In fact, I not only went, I chaired the meeting. "Hi, I'm Shawn. I'll be your chairperson for today's meeting, and, um....I relapsed yesterday." I half expected some of them to laugh so hard they spit their burning coffee in my face.

But, as people are fond of saying now days, what's done is done and nothing could be changed that had already been done, despite any doing on my part. So, I want you to know, even though it sounds completely neurotic and narcissistic and maybe even a little creepy...
for leaving me there alone that morning, although you did the right thing, I forgive you.

More importantly...I'm really sorry. And, I love you.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Is This That Little Boy at Play?



A big chunk of time has past since I wrote in this blog, at least with any degree of consistency. I had intended that it be some sort of journal; a chronology of my life, with all the profoundly moving stories of my wacky world. While it started out that way, it quickly became more of a collage, little snapshots of the journey thrown onto this cyber-canvass with the hope that someday the reader of my "journal" is able to put all those pieces together and arrive at a mental image of me.

Today's "snapshot" is that old familiar stirring in my gut, the one that comes up when overwhelm begins to feel too, well...overwhelming. That's when I know it's time to do one of two things: either retreat inward and shut down for a while or sit my ass down and write.

So here goes...

My baby boy is graduating from high school in just a few days, and, I'm an absolute mess. I am very happy for him, for sure; as well as bursting with so much pride I can hardly contain it. I am also, however, feeling sad. In fact, I can't talk much about it without tearing up. Alone, and alone with my thoughts, and I'm a sobbing, snotty-faced nut-case.

Why is his upcoming graduation effecting me this way? With Cody and Hillary, each of whom went about this phase of their education in unique ways that best suited their individual styles, I certainly experienced a range of emotions that went from pride to worry about this or that and then back to pride again. With Alec, it's different. There is something about his graduating that has me asking myself what the hell is going on.

Maybe it's just empty nest syndrome. Could it be that thoughts of seeing Alec pack up and move away from us leaves an empty space in my paternal paradigm? I think I remember hearing my parents talk about something like that when I left the proverbial nest.(Actually, given my adolescent collisions with the law and worsening alcoholic behaviors, it's likely they wished I had left much sooner than I did.)

Or, is it just worry. God knows my mother taught me  how to worry! I mean, seriously, he's not mature enough to go away to college and make the decisions and bear the responsibilities that go with such a move. Is he? Isn't he still that little boy at play? Isn't he still that beautifully shy boy who required a little push when it came to talking with people he didn't know or being the new kid at a new school or trying something with the slightest hint of celery? Isn't he still that boy who I thought would stay close to his parents for a very long time, until he was really ready to step out on his own, I mean, 5 or 10 years from now kind of ready? Where did that kid go? In what feels like and instant,  Alec the boy is gone, and, reality is: I do worry about him, but not much more than I do the other two. Alec is maturing very nicely into a responsible young man, very capable of managing the challenges that lie ahead for him, and/or, gathering the resources he needs to figure it all out. Moreover, he's gifted with copious amounts of  talent, emotional-intelligence and wisdom for his age. (Those are just the facts...not the boasting of a proud dad.)

My heart tells me it's not that; that it's not about my son at all; not even a little bit.. Alec, I think, represents something to me. I think he stands out in the caverns of  my psyche as the last chance to get it right. Drug addiction is an isolating illness. It's ability to progress through its' usual course generally comes at the expense--at least to some degree--of relationships between the addict and those around him. So how is the relationship between Alec and me? How has my addiction effected his ability to feel close to me as his father? How have my attempts at recovery improved on my abilities to draw him closer in as my son, rather than keep keep him at arms length because of shame and guild? Apparently, despite any kicking and screaming on my part, now is when these questions are begging to be asked.

I used to think that, because I'm an addict, I am automatically a bad parent; At best, little more than an ineffective presence, always sort of looking into their lives, wanting in--desperately wanting in--but feeling separated by the consequences of my choices. Now I'm realizing the "cross of shame" that fostered separation was something I, after having been indoctrinated into the false belief that addiction is a moral issue, chose to drag along with me. The truth is: addiction is a medical issue, a disease, and is completely separate from my morality, or that of any other person or religion or society. The acceptance of that fact has allowed for a degree of  self-forgiveness that is long overdue. So...why the sadness?

Here's why: my relationship with Alec, while certainly not worlds away from where I'd like it, as in years past, is not where I want it. Frankly, I have not been honest enough with him about my drug use, in recent months, to allow an authentic deepening of our relationship to happen. (Alec is no dumb-bunny! He knows I've been using more than that for which I've been accountable.)  I have put far too much effort into maintaining the appearance of the "appropriate" parent, to allow the real me to be consistently present.  Now, to some degree, I feel stuck in that superficial limbo sort of energy that sits like the awkward silence between strangers just getting acquainted. And that's not what I want! Damn it! I want authenticity. I want a stronger closeness between my son and me. I want Alec to trust me and look to me for at least some answers to the questions life will be presenting at this important juncture. I want to be more than just the cumulative  example of decisions I hope he does not make; more than just the do as I say, not as I do kind of parent!

Deep breath...

So, what the fuck am I going to do about it? That's not a question I can answer right now. More about that later I'm sure. I do want to thank my son for holding up for me the mirror I really needed to see. Thank you Alec, for showing up me in complete perfection and for showing me how I can better show up for you.  I am so proud of you, son. I love you with all my heart and I am honored and grateful for the opportunity to be your dad.

Congratulations my dear boy!


(There better be lots of facial tissues available at this graduation...that's all I can say! Perhaps I'll just shove a roll of toilet paper down my pants before going in.)



Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Good Bye Melanie-A Tribute To My Beautiful Sister


(Read at Melanie's funeral, January 5, 2013)

When I stood at this podium, just a few months ago, honoring my niece Jennifer, I had no idea that I would soon be here doing the same for her mother. If there is one thing I know about my sister, it is that she operates on HER time frame, doing what SHE chooses to do, when she decides to do it. I’ve heard it said that some people “march to the beat of a different drummer.” It’s more accurate to say that Melanie stole the damn drum and beat it herself.

That said, I cannot seem to stop asking WHY. Why, God did she need to go now? Why not let her wait until she’s 95 like her great-grandma Talbot, so she could use old age as an excuse for wearing her right shoe on her left food and her left shoe on her right foot and saying she couldn’t figure out why her feet hurt. Why not let her wait until she’s 78 like her grandma Ransom, so she could use her tired aging bones to explain why she absolutely MUST watch the Price is Right—and that annoying soap opera that followed it-- every single day. Or, I’ve asked God why not let her wait until she’s 71 like her dad was, so she could say that she’s just too old to drive amongst all the crazy drivers on the road, “and why won’t they just home, and this rush hour traffic is going to kill me.”

Then it occurred to me that if Melanie had lived as long as those people she would probably have become so amazingly refined-- kind of the way coal turns to diamonds when the weight of the earth bears down on it-- that I wouldn’t recognize her. There’s not a person I know now or perhaps in my lifetime who has suffered as much heart-ripping grief as Melanie. Even if her life did not fit the mold that some of us, unfortunately, require that one fit into to demonstrate courage and fortitude, Melanie held her head high and walked bravely through what is likely the most painful thing some of us humans have to endure: the death of a child. And, she did it three times.

Then, there is the weight of the burden of her disease: the disease of addiction. And, if by chance there are any of who still struggle to see addiction for what it is: a disease, a medical issue--not a moral issue--I invite you to get the appropriate education. Like others, there was a time when I allowed Melanie’s addiction to justify and fuel my self-righteous judgments against her. There was a time when I proudly wore the “I AM NOT AN ADDICT” badge on every shirt I wore. And that badge somehow made me strangely better than my sister. I can no longer proudly wear that badge because the one that reads: “I’M SHAWN, I’M AN ADDICT,” has replaced it. You see, Melanie’s addiction has been perhaps the greatest teacher I’ve ever had. It has straightforwardly shown me the truth of the advice I once received from a beautiful old Shaman woman. “If you remember any of what I’ve taught you, remember this,” she said, we will forever attract to us that which we fear, and we will forever become that which we judge.”

So as you can see, with all that stress and all those challenges, a deep and brilliant refinement would have surely have eventually taken place and, that transformation, I believe, was not part of Melanie’s divine purpose.

Now, far be it for me—a liberal, gay, Buddhist, vegan, drug addict—to determine what another person’s divine purpose is. So, I’d like to turn to scripture that most of you value as truth. I believe Matthew, chapter 25 offers a hint at Melanie’s divine purpose and an answer—if only an answer to comfort my broken heart-- to why this has happened now:

Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was an hungered , and ye gave me meat. I was thirsty and ye gave me drink, I was a stranger and ye took me in.
Naked, and ye clothed me. I was sick, and ye visited me. I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? Or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee.
And the King shall answer and say unto them, verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

In recent months, if I can just be really honest, it has been difficult to listen to and even see Melanie at times. Her disease had brought about changes in her body that made it apparent something was dreadfully wrong and changes in her cognition that made simple conversation awkward. Her speech was often pressured and her mannerisms came from a place of anxiety, self-preservation and defense.

More than that, in recent years, Melanie’s tremendous grief showed through every goofy thing she did, her smile and her laugh. When she wasn’t visibly mourning the loss of her beautiful daughters, she was expending the energy required to keep her emotions at bay. Melanie’s emotional body had been so wounded that to watch her go through it was difficult, to look at her squarely in the face was often painful, and to simply BE present with Melanie, sometimes felt like it was too much.

Hindus have what I think is a beautiful practice of bathing and adorning statues of their Gods, while joyfully imagining they are actually bathing and adorning those beings whom they love and honor. According to these scriptures from the Bible, Christians are given the same opportunity, except with fellow brothers or sisters, their friends and neighbors and even strangers and those they call enemies. Isn’t it comforting to know—according to his own words-- that when we did watch Melanie and when we really saw her and the challenges she faced, and when we were willing to do our best to just BE present with her-- faulty though it was because we’re only human—we were actually doing those things for Christ? Melanie provided us with opportunities to step outside of our boxes, to listen when the listening wasn’t easy and, and to love when it felt like indifference was the only path. Indeed, if you are a follower of Christ, you should offer up your prayers of gratitude for the assistance Melanie provided in the development of your relationship with your God.

Melanie—my dear sister, my friend, my teacher, my confidant-- thank you for sharing your life with me. Thank you for helping me to love and accept myself when to do so felt unbearably hard. Thank you for making me feel special and loved, for feeding me and taking me in and for visiting me while I was imprisoned. And, last but in way least, thank you, Melanie, for being for me the voice and face and light of Christ.

Amen.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Celebrating Jennifer


(Read at Jennifer's funeral, July 25, 2012)

It is such an honor for me to speak at Jennifer’s memorial, the celebration of her life, her willingness to love and the laughter and joy she brought into our lives. It’s my belief that Jennifer is with us right now, and it is my intention that my words leave her with an awareness of our gratitude and affection for her.

I have had the pleasure of being close  with Jen since the day she was born. Someone asked me about my fondest memory of her. Perhaps my fondest is also my first. When the twins were born they had to spend some time under funky ultra-violate lights. Melanie would feed them and love on them and then immediately they’d go back under the lights. Jennifer would only sleep with her butt straight up in the air, which I thought was funny enough. But, one day I saw Jessica staring blankly at Jen’s butt, which she had managed to put right in front of her face.  I laughed out loud. I also remember hearing her make a purring sound when she slept, earning her the nickname Purr, by her mother.

Personally, I think funerals suck. I know there are very important reasons for having them, but I don’t like them. I’ve done a little research on the origins of funerals. Turns out that primitive humans—with our lack of knowledge and understanding about the human body, the cycles of life and death, and the process of decay—lived in fear for their impending death. In many cultures, the sight of a corpse was a very bad omen and something to run from. Most primitive humans also had strong beliefs in spirituality and beliefs in God or Gods or other beings capable of creation, capable of sending blessings to the humans, and capable of causing death and destruction. Understanding that, it’s been easy for anthropologists to find lots of evidence showing that rites, or ceremonies, were developed to either placate or please the Gods and wart off any more of their rath on us helpless human creatures. And, that, is how the modern day funeral came into existence.

I prefer the concept of a celebration; a tribute and honoring of a person’s life. A celebration would, I believe, honor the cycles of life and death, health and illness, youthfulness and not-so-youthful and instill and reinforce in us a more profound sense of respect for these cycles, rather than fear of them. Celebrations of life also fit more appropriately with my belief in the principles of NON-DUALITY. At the risk of sounding like a pot-smoking hippy from the sixties,  let me just say that non-duality is the belief that WE ARE ALL ONE. Many of our worlds cultures believe in the principles of non-duality which reminds them that they are not here, while God is there. Or, that you and I are different and separate. Non-duality says that we are united with each other--and with God, whether that be a Heavenly Father, the Great Spirit of the Universe, or our Mother Earth—like a wave is a part of the ocean. When a wave gives way to gravity and falls back into the sea, it doesn't cease to exist; it simply changes form and units with its source until another opportunity presents itself to dance again in the sunlight. Like I mentioned before, I believe Jennifer is still with us, she has not ceased to exist, she simply has changed form. She still contemplates and feels. She still laughs and loves. And, she probably still purrs.

That being said, there are four attributes of Jennifer’s that I absolutely love. I'd like to briefly touch on and honor those today. I'm entirely confident we all have personal experiences with her that serve as examples of these attributes. 

The first is her big smile, her wacky sense of humor and her contagious laugh.
(Put on goofy glasses)
When Jennifer was a child, if I felt sad or depressed, one thing I could do to make myself feel better was to make Jen laugh. Her laughter was contagious. I laughed at her laugh, which would make her laugh more, giving me yet more reason to laugh myself.
Some of you have envelopes taped to the bottom of your seats. Please get those and if your says “Big Smile” please open it and join me in wearing these goofy glasses in honor of Jen's laughter.

Thank you Jennifer for the memory of your awesomely contagious laugh, your corky sense of humor and your big beautiful smile.

Next is her generosity.  
A few years ago, when she lived in Logan, Jen and I spent a lot of time together. That was during a period of my life when I didn't have much, materially, Emotionally and spiritually I was pretty bankrupt also. If I needed something and Jen had it, she offered it to me without thought or reservation. And, no matter how she felt physically, no matter what condition her self-esteem may have been that day, she always spoke with love and kindness. 

Some of you have envelops that read “Generosity.” Inside you’ll find chocolates, more than one, mind you. Your task now is to share the chocolate with those around you. In honor of Jennifer’s generosity, make certain that everyone gets one, including those people with whom to share may NOT be convenient or comfortable. For example, some are labeled “diabetic,” On a little more emotion level, some are labeled “Not like me; different culture, lifestyle or beliefs,” and some are labeled “Never met before.” Look around the room and share with everyone your abundance. While you do so, please offer a small word of kindness, a compliment or an appreciation.
(pause…allow for sharing.)

Next is her Rebel.
Jennifer was indeed a rebellious one at times; she was a rule-breaker; she was an envelope pusher. Often to the breaking point she pushed that envelop! However, I believe the term “rebel” has been terribly mis-understood. Europeans came to this country in effort to rebel. I’m pretty confident that, if not the Bishop, at least the janitors of this building do not encourage the eating of chocolate in the chapel. (That being said, please put any wrappers in the envelops they came from.)

And, Lastly, is Jennifer’s Spirituality and her childlike open-mindedness.
Will those of you with the remaining envelops please open them. Inside you’ll find candles, symbolic of the pure light of Jennifer’s spirit and the open mindedness that guided her through some of life’s most painful experiences. If I can maintain my composure, I’d like to read a text conversation between she and I. On May 15, two months ago, I received a text from her that read,

 "Uncle, I have a crazy question, but I won’t ask it unless you give your word you won’t tell anyone.” (Don’t hate me Jennifer, but I’m actually gonna tell everyone.)

"Ok.” I said.

“Do you believe in heaven?” she asked. “I've been trying to come to grips with being sober, and , so much of what I have thought—through my whole life—has me so confused!”

A pause from the texts, and then: “It seems I don’t know how to be sober real well, but, one day at a time! It’s just so sad to think about my sisters. You know? And so many people say there is no Heaven. No Heaven! I just hope there is a good place! But what do you believe uncle?”

A longer pause on my end, before my reply:  “Absolutely! Absolutely I believe in Heaven. But, Jennifer, it’s not a place where we go after we die.   It’s a STATE OF MIND. Your sisters are right here with you, and, their state of mind, whether they are at peace with themselves or not, is what determines if they are in heaven.”

Her response came quickly, showing how easily she cultivates faith and how open her mind is to matters of the spirit:  “Thank you so so so much" she said.  "That helps me a lot.”

Jennifer...thank you for your beautiful example of generosity. Next time I’m asked by someone considered different, or the “other” for some spare change or a dollar to two, I’ll think of you and I’ll share what I have, and I’ll try set aside any judgments and do it with a smile and a kind word. Thank you for your rebellious side that reminds us that to stand for something--or someone --is not always an act of defiance, but often an act of courage. And, Jennifer, thank you for the childlike curiosity and open mindedness, it is truly your spiritual path, and it serves as a sublime reminder that, just like a wave is part of the ocean,  we are, indeed, ALL ONE.

Amen.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Today's Gratitude List

When I first began to write this particular blog, a friend told me I'd most likely write consistently for a few months and then stop. "Like most everyone else," he said.

Damn it! He was right! I have not made an entry in the Index of Potentially Purposeful Stuff for months. Strangely, when it seems there is little to bitch about, when my life is going relatively smoothly, I don't write. Perhaps it's the psychoanalyst in me, deliberating on my own self-diagnosed conditions, that makes me want to share my inner most self with potentially millions of strangers. Who knows? It doesn't really matter. I just know that tonight I'm feeling compelled to articulate some thoughts.

More specifically, I want to express my gratitude. Below is exert from an entry I posted in September, 2009, after participating in a gay men's spirituality retreat, where I had a powerfully spiritual experience with an oracle:

...On the final morning of the retreat I went into the dining area for coffee and found a friend engaged in a personal reading from the Fairy Cards. Their observations of him where right on and their forecast was downright exciting, so, naturally, I wanted in. After carefully shuffling the cards, dividing them into four groups, re-stacking them and pulling the top card, I was told what the upside-down “Lilly of the Rainbows” said. I’ll paraphrase: The universe has given you significant challenges lately. You need to relax, trust and be patient with the process.” Quickly, I shuffled again, divided, re-stacked and turned the top card. Surprisingly, upside-down “Lilly of the Rainbows” appeared again, telling me that the universe has given me significant challenges, I should relax and trust the process and be patient. Well…needless to say, I was a bit taken back. Right back to the book shelf where the I Ching was waiting. I was determined to hear something different, insisted on it. After carefully following the steps for getting a reading from this ancient oracle, the message was loud and clear when it told me, almost verbatim, the same thing. Thankfully, it also said this: “…success is imminent, if only you BE PATIENT.”

I labeled that entry "The Fairies Have Spoken." Or, "I Am Patient, Damn It." Hopefully the irony is apparent; much of the time, during the months that followed, I was not patient. Nor did I trust the process. The oracles were right , the Universe truly had given me some significant challenges. OK...enough of the politically correct, soft and easy language: since becoming addicted to meth, my life has pretty much totally fucking sucked! I created one situation after another that overwhelmed me. I felt despair like I never imagined possible; I marinated in that heaviness sometimes. I began to believe I wouldn't make it out alive and sought some weird form of okay-ness in knowing I would probably die a lonely junky.

Deep breath. Here is my truth today: I am alive and happy and healthy and sober. Three words in the quote above stand out worse than the pimples I sometimes get on the tip of my nose. TRUST THE PROCESS. What I've learned is that I am not, nor have I ever been, the victim of addiction. When I relax, set aside judgments and trust the process, whether I understand it or not, I'm able to see the perfection of every single experience I've had. Finally...I "do not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it."

So...all that being said, a gratitude list is in order.

1. I'm grateful my life today is not in survival mode. I'm building my "nest," growing a garden, setting goals, working out, experiencing the present moment.
2. I'm grateful that I feel loved, rather than fear being alone.
3. I'm grateful for mysterious thing that I don't understand, like seeing a rock as my grandfather, because it's been around since the creation of time.
4. I'm grateful for moments of clarity and moments of confusion, because without both, I wouldn't experience either.
5. I'm grateful for feelings of lust inside a committed relationship.
6. I'm grateful for those moments when I realize my mind is relatively calm. I used to wonder if it would ever happen.
And, 7. I'm grateful to feel like I'm part of a community. That sense of being the outsider looking in, or alone in a crowded room isn't there so much any more. I like it.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fuck Your Feelings, Christian!

 by Terry Dean Bartlett on Thursday, October 14, 2010 at 4:19pm
Gay Kids Are Dying, Fuck Your Feelings

October 14, 2010

Dear Dan:  I was listening to the radio yesterday morning, and I heard an interview with you about your It Gets Better campaign. I was saddened and frustrated with your comments regarding people of faith and their perpetuation of bullying. As someone who loves the Lord and does not support gay marriage, I can honestly say I was heartbroken to hear about the young man who took his own life.
If your message is that we should not judge people based on their sexual preference, how do you justify judging entire groups of people for any other reason (including their faith)? There is no part of me that took any pleasure in what happened to that young man, and I know for a fact that is true of many other people who disagree with your viewpoint.
To that end, to imply that I would somehow encourage my children to mock, hurt, or intimidate another person for any reason is completely unfounded and offensive. Being a follower of Christ is, above all things, a recognition that we are all imperfect, fallible, and in desperate need of a savior. We cannot believe that we are better or more worthy than other people.
Please consider your viewpoint, and please be more careful with your words in the future.
—L.R.

Savage:
I'm sorry your feelings were hurt by my comments.
No, wait. I'm not. Gay kids are dying. So let's try to keep things in perspective: Fuck your feelings.
A question: Do you "support" atheist marriage? Interfaith marriage? Divorce and remarriage? All are legal, all go against Christian and/or traditional ideas about marriage, and yet there's no "Christian" movement to deny marriage rights to atheists or people marrying outside their respective faiths or people divorcing and remarrying.
Why the hell not?
Sorry, L.R., but so long as you support the denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples, it's clear that you do believe that some people—straight people—are "better or more worthy" than others.
And—sorry—but you are partly responsible for the bullying and physical violence being visited on vulnerable LGBT children. The kids of people who see gay people as sinful or damaged or disordered and unworthy of full civil equality—even if those people strive to express their bigotry in the politest possible way (at least when they happen to be addressing a gay person)—learn to see gay people as sinful, damaged, disordered, and unworthy. And while there may not be any gay adults or couples where you live, or at your church, or in your workplace, I promise you that there are gay and lesbian children in your schools. And while you can only attack gays and lesbians at the ballot box, nice and impersonally, your children have the option of attacking actual gays and lesbians, in person, in real time.
Real gay and lesbian children. Not political abstractions, not "sinners." Gay and lesbianchildren.
Try to keep up: The dehumanizing bigotries that fall from the lips of "faithful Christians," and the lies about us that vomit out from the pulpits of churches that "faithful Christians" drag their kids to on Sundays, give your children license to verbally abuse, humiliate, and condemn the gay children they encounter at school. And many of your children—having listened to Mom and Dad talk about how gay marriage is a threat to family and how gay sex makes their magic sky friend Jesus cry—feel justified in physically abusing the LGBT children they encounter in their schools. You don't have to explicitly "encourage [your] children to mock, hurt, or intimidate" queer kids. Your encouragement—along with your hatred and fear—is implicit. It's here, it's clear, and we're seeing the fruits of it: dead children.
Oh, and those same dehumanizing bigotries that fill your straight children with hate? They fill your gay children with suicidal despair. And you have the nerve to ask me to be more careful with my words?
Did that hurt to hear? Good. But it couldn't have hurt nearly as much as what was said and done to Asher Brown and Justin Aaberg and Billy Lucas and Cody Barker and Seth Walsh—day-in, day-out for years—at schools filled with bigoted little monsters created not in the image of a loving God, but in the image of the hateful and false "followers of Christ" they call Mom and Dad.



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