Thursday, November 17, 2005

The obvious child

Some say a lie is just a lie, but I say
Why deny the obvious child?

(Paul Simon)
Well, evidently I qualify, br'er Simon. Take, for example, the response of one friend of mine from Kansas to my coming-out email...
I'm sitting here with a little smile on my face having just read your letter. I wondered when a letter or phone call like this might arrive. And to think, I was concerned you were going to tell me something life shattering like you feel off the wagon or had AIDS! I've known for MANY years that this was a struggle within for you my friend. I'm very much looking forward to reading your blog on this one! And I'm sure this will make for some interesting discussions!!

Like the love of our Lord, my brother, I can love you no less for that love is not predicated on your sexual orientation but on your heart and very soul which is so beautiful to me!
Now if I could only find some gay men to love my heart and soul, life would be really good...

But I have to admit, in amidst all the relief and acceptance, I find this annoying and haunting pair of questions:
What the hell was so obvious, that more than half the people I've talked to have said, "Well, DUH..."? And if it was so clear-cut to them, why wasn't it so equally clear-cut to me?
and...
Why the hell did I wait so &$%#ing long to do this?
There are lots and lots of promises spread through the 12-step recovery literature - and I've experienced a whole lot of them over the years. But the one that's been elusive (at least as far as my homosexuality is concerned) is the one that says We will not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it. God help me, but I'm just not there as I look back on my three damn decades hiding in the closet. Intellectually, I know that it took every minute it took to get ready to come out. But there are times - like today - when it seems like such a hideous waste of time and life.

On the journey from work to my regular Thursday-night AA meeting, I stopped at the Istria Cafe', a little joint tucked under the 57th Street Metra station. My original intent was simply to pick up a cup of pretty-good coffee for the chilly walk from the train to the meeting. But since I was significantly early, I decided to just sit there sipping coffee and people-watching. And one of the people I was watching was the fellow who served me - a particularly-attractive late-20-something man with golden curly hair. It seemed so strange to be looking at him, suddenly realizing, "He's really good looking," and finding such freedom in just allowing myself to look, and to enjoy.

Yeah, I know...it's lame. But these are baby-steps from a person who thought he'd given up use of his legs.

By the by - if you haven't made the acquaintance of geek_boi, you definitely need to read this post of his. As Shakespeare wrote, so I say to you, brother: "All I can say is thanks, and thanks, and ever thanks."

6 comments:

  1. Hey steve;

    Just in case you feel too unique, I am here to tell you that regretting our past is not not limited to out vs in...many people suffer from it...others, like me, are absolutely plagued by it...but today is today, aint it?

    peter

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  2. But the one that's been elusive (at least as far as my homosexuality is concerned) is the one that says "We will not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it." God help me, but I'm just not there as I look back on my three damn decades hiding in the closet. Intellectually, I know that it took every minute it took to get ready to come out. But there are times - like today - when it seems like such a hideous waste of time and life.

    The two -- wasting our past and coming not to regret it -- are not inconsistent, Steve. It will take you a while to come to understand that on this issue, just as it probably took you a while to come to terms with your past in the context of AA.

    The path to freedom often takes a "hideous waste of time and life" to progress. 12-Step literature points out that "We are only as sick as our secrets ..." and denial and self-loathing are part of the sickness that results from keeping secrets.

    You have taken the critical step to freedom.

    The next step, I think, is to work the program on this issue. Consider whether you might want to go back to the beginning and rework the 12 Steps around this issue -- in particular, making an inventory of the damage you have done to yourself and others by keeping your orientation hidden, the underlying fear and resentment that were and perhaps remain involved in that hiddenness, and amends as and where needed -- and the promises will follow in time. The promises come only after a spiritual awakening, and a spiritual awakening comes as a result of the steps.

    You have the tools and the experience. All you need now is the patience to move forward and see what happens, without setting expectations.

    Now if I could only find some gay men to love my heart and soul, life would be really good ...

    In God's time, not yours, Steve. I suspect that when you come to accept and love yourself, you will find happiness.

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  3. Your question "What the hell was so obvious, that more than half the people I've talked to have said, "Well, DUH..."? Is interesting. It's like - as so many seem to say - being gay is NOT just a matter of sexual orientation - it's who you are and taking note of that, for your true friends, isn't anything shocking.

    It's not some silly swing of your hip when you walk, or a limp wrist or anything stupid like that. It's more the way you look at life. Guess I'm not explaining it very well but I don't think you should take it as a negative that some people say they already knew. It just means they were paying attention to YOU and who you really are. Kinda a compliment if you ask me.

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  4. First, I like Cinders' wise remark: They were paying attention to the real you already. How loving is that?

    Second, I am reminded of the promise that no matter how far down on the scale we have gone, we will see that our own experience can be helpful to others. It is too soon to know what you learned from those years before coming out that you will someday be able to share with other people. You are still the beginner and learner in this area, not yet the teacher. But I am sure you will discover that there are many lessons learned during those painful times past that will serve to free some other person you are called to help in the future. For now, be patient. One day at a time and all those other cliches. "Platitudes always come first."

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  5. steve,

    Sorry that it took so long for me to respond to this post, as work and school have been tremendously busy lately.

    thank you for the plug and I'm glad that my words have helped you. I'm glad that I'm doing *something* right in this life.

    As for living through a "waste of time", well, I think looking back you'll find that none of your life was truly wasted, that every path you took lead you to the place where you'll finally end up. Hindsight is 20/20 and all that.

    keep up the good work, Steve!

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  6. Isn't it fun when you finally let yourself really look at guys and enjoy it? No more looking, noticing, and then pretending not to see. No more self-hatred for liking what you see. Such freedom!

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