Ready…

I’m ready for a new start… something different. I’ve been hiding for a long time. It didn’t just start when my Mom died last year, I’ve been doing it for as long as I have known and it’s gotten old…

I’ve put up with a lot in my life and tolerated less in my life. I have had enough and can’t keep tolerating less for myself. Expecting that everyone will let me down and then allowing those feelings from taking risks and putting myself out there. It’s a fact of life that people will let you down, they will hurt you and nothing you can do or say will ever stop that. If you put people up on that pedestal they will always fall.

A long time ago I put other people as my center and no wonder I crumble every time I am hurt!!!

Either way I am harmed. At least when I am out in the world I am enjoying life but staying in this cave just brings me more misery. I think I continue to hide as a way to punish myself. I think the only way I could rationalize certain things happening to me, like the sexual abuse, is that I deserved it. Like why would God let something like this happen to me and the only way I could rationalize it away was that I deserved it.

So I have lived most of my life feeling like I deserved the bad things that happened to me to the point when good things would come into my life I would go running away like I was on fire.

I’ve lived life like a victim.

Now I feel like I have nothing left to lose. I’m ready to move on from the past and all the bad feelings that go along with it. The biggest lesson has been that I deserve a lot more than what I have lived. I’ve allowed other people to hold me back. No one else but me did that. It was me and it will be me who allows wonderfulness back into my life.

Losing my beautiful Mother in a way was a wake up call for me. At first again I thought God was punishing me by taking the one good thing in my life but I realize now it was my Mother’s greatest gift for me. She always saw the best in me, even when I felt the worst.

I’ve realized that I don’t need my Mama to hold me up anymore because I am strong enough to do it on my own. No one can tear me down any longer and I can do whatever I desire… to my heart’s content!

There’s so much I want to do, so much I’ve wanted to do and I’ve realized I can do it all and then some. I just have to let the energy flow and allow the wind to blow me where ever I’m meant to go.

So I have to be patient and understand that everything is a process and getting out of this cave will take some time. I just have to remember that I’m doing what it takes to get out of this darkness once again and hope that the next time I feel like hiding I will fight with all my might to not allow the darkness to pull me under, once again…

Joel Osteen’s Mixed Messages

So I have always felt indifferent when it came to Joel Osteen. My mother loved watching his sermons on television and why wouldn’t she with his positive, uplifting sermons of love but they always left me feeling less… knowing how he felt in regards to being gay. I’ve felt his message of love was only for those who weren’t gay.

Now it has come out that he believes that God accepts gay people and that they can get into heaven but he still compares homosexuality (his terms) to sins like negativity, pride, etc. These are all behaviors and actions that one could reasonably change unlike being gay which contrary to other’s beliefs being gay is something we are born with. I’ve always though why would a gay person chose a life full of ridicule, persecution and hate???

Now many of you might believe that Osteen is gay friendly, especially with hearing him say that God accepts gay people but what is important is to look past this message and listen to other many things he has and continues to say about gay people. Like for example gay people “aren’t God’s best.”

He can preach a message of love all he wants but it’s only if you ask God to forgive you for being gay… and then you will be worthy of God’s love… This is a very mixed message and one that can’t only but make you feel less if you’re gay.

In an interview with Pierce Morgan Joel Osteen stated that he would not marry a gay couple, as it went against what the bible taught. Osteen’s wife responded to Pierce asking her if she would attend a gay wedding in which she replied if she had the time.

There are some who are very vocal in their hate towards gay people and I’m not saying that Joel hates gay people but I do believe his message sends a wrong one into this world… especially to gay people. Indifference is just as harmful as hate.

While Joel Osteen is different from many pastors that preach intolerance and hate on the  pulpit, he still is saying similar things outside the church and in the public eye that other pastors preach about on the pulpit… he’s just less vocal and packages it a sugar coated candy shell.

Personally I don’t need man to tell me that God accepts me, nor do I need him to tell me that God loves me… I’ve lived most of my listening and believing man’s lies about God. I’m at the point now where I am learning to break way the hold that their lies had on me. It’s taken me over twenty years to come to this revelation. I still struggle daily with my beliefs and my spirituality, and while I don’t quite know what I believe in I do know what God is not… God is love… Being gay is not a sin… and those who believe otherwise are blinded by their ignorance and fear.

Joel Osteen and other’s like him are missing the point of Jesus’ message was. Jesus was the champion of the oppressed. He was killed for what other’s viewed to be like a sin. It is no different than how others treat the love gay people share. So many get caught up in the semantics of what two men or women share but what they miss is the bond has nothing to do with sex and everything to do with love.

With so many children growing up feeling less for being different, gay and straight, the true messengers of the world have a duty to life them up… not tear them down. While Joel Osteen doesn’t tear gay people down, he surely doesn’t life us up either! Gay youth are killing themselves because others lead them to believe they are bad and there is no way for them to survive in a world filled full of hate.

With the invention of the internet we are constantly inundated in messages, many of them very negative and harmful. You can hear a hundred positive message but it only takes one strong to tear you down. Gay youth grow up hearing others share their hate towards gay people and many of them go home to the same kind of hate. If you are constantly beat down eventually you learn to not get back up.

Joel Osteen could be the hand that helps these beautiful children up, yet he chooses to turn his back. When you have lived your life faced with hate, you get a clear understanding when someone is uncomfortable with someone being gay and how they feel deep inside. Yes some of his message is positive and some not so positive but for me it’s what he doesn’t say that gets me the most.

I look at it this way:

If Sin=Bad and Gay=Sin then Gay=Bad

No matter how you look at this formula there is no way to not feel bad about it because when you say that being gay is a sin, you are saying being gay is bad.

A sin is defined as an immoral act considered to be a transgression against divine law.

So therefor those that believe that being gay is a sin believe that it’s immoral and against divine law. How is that suppose to make me and anyone else who is gay feel good? Osteen believes gay people can get into heaven if we confess our sins and ask for forgiveness. You don’t have to hear him say this because in order to get into heaven you must ask for forgiveness, if you go by the teachings of christianity.

Why would God need us to ask for forgiveness when he made us this way? There evidence that being gay is a choice but there is in regards to being born that way.  All it does is make people feel less for something they can’t change.

It makes me sad that people like Osteen miss the mark. His message doesn’t apply to you if you’re gay and there’s anything anyone can do to convince me otherwise. Megachurches are big business and Osteen is a smart businessman. Until the day I hear Osteen change his views on being gay is a sin, I won’t change my views.

Prisoner in My Own Body

I’ve discovered recently how deep my self worth (or lack thereof) runs and how it connects to everything I touch. I have known for years that I suffer from poor self esteem and self worth but I didn’t realize how much of an impact it had on my life.

With depression and PTSD, for me, there comes this crippling isolation. The more depressed or triggered I am the more I crawl into my cave. This isn’t a new concept for me as I have been doing this for year. The closest people in my life become strangers, and strangers become monsters. It is a scary place to me. I lose all sense of reality and often I don’t even recognize myself.

I woke up early this morning (which is rare for me) and instantly felt the need to cleanse myself, as in take a shower. It will have been almost a week since my last shower. I wish I could say that was the longest I have been without bathing but it comes with the territory. The more worthless I feel the less likely I am going to care about staying clean. For most taking a showering is a no brainer but when I am in the low place it becomes like Mount Everest.

Every time I shower, especially if it has been a good while since my last one, I feel so clean and fresh. Pure. That doesn’t last very long, usually less than an hour.

Every time I was sexually abused I tried to wash off the dirty with soap but no matter how long or hard I scrubbed it wouldn’t wash away. My outside would be clean but the soap couldn’t touch or reach the dirty deep inside. So it makes sense when I feel the most worthless I allow my body to stay dirty because this is how I feel inside.

When I am depressed everything goes to hell from my personal hygiene to my eating habits, and everything else in between. You should have seen some of the apartments I have lived in, you would have thought it was a disaster zone. I would leave dishes in the sinks for months to the point where I would have to throw everything away. I haven’t gotten better about that but I still allow my living area to go out of whack. Whenever I would have anyone come over, I would go into a panic trying to clean everything. I couldn’t let anyone know the chaos my life was in. I had to give the appearance that everything was okay.

Today I realized that my body is a prison cell. I started to think my mind was the prison but in reality it is my whole body that is the prison. Certainly my mind has it’s own great big, dark cell but everything is contained inside the walls of my prison body.

I desperately want to break free from this cell but I have struggled for years doing so. I have been off my diet since my birthday (july 3) and I have struggled since to get back on track. I use to really struggle with compulsive overeating. There would be times that I would try to medicate my bad feelings with food. I would eat myself into oblivion until all I noticed was sickness from being full. Sweets and soda were my fair weather friends. This week I have noticed myself pigging out to the point where I just don’t care.

The more worthless I feel the more the need to make the horribleness go away, anyway I can. I become very compulsive and I have noticed an increase in my compulsion recently. Food and sex were two ways I used to compensate for my self worth, both always lead me down a dark road.

Sex has also been a struggle for me. I saw myself as an object for many years and gave the people what they wanted. It wasn’t always that way. I grew up believing I could find someone who loved and accepted me. I had dreams of having a family and spending my life with that one person. When that didn’t happen, I took what I thought was the next best thing… not realizing the damage it would cause. When I am triggered my mind tries to go down that road again.

I have been celibate since April 2012, which is the longest I have ever gone without sex. It is one of the few things that I am proud of. I have taken back my body in regards to sex. For me it’s a reminder that not all of me thinks I am worthless. Now that’s not to say that I haven’t had temptation or have had moments where I have tried to look for sex but thankfully I quickly snap out of it. I have caught myself thinking what the heck am I doing??? I don’t want to give my body up for one night of pleasure. I realize not only will I lose all that time of purity but afterwards I will feel like crap.

I went through a period of heavy sexual compulsion. I didn’t care about the risk, I just wanted to feel good but every time I would feel dirty… just like after the abuse. Every time I would run to the shower and try to wash the dirt away and every time I would fail miserably. Usually it would end in my feeling suicidal. With acting out sexually, I’m not proud to admit, I engaged in some very risky behavior. I was playing russian roulette with my health, body and life. I am thankful that to this day I am hiv negative, so many others haven’t been so fortunate.

I’ve thought long and hard about why I didn’t care about the risks of having unprotected sex. Obviously it’s connected to how I feel about myself. When I couldn’t find a man to love me, I gave up and resorted to taking any kind of attention I could find. I didn’t feel I was worthy of love, care and attention so I gave men what they wanted. I learned very early on that a mans needs came before my own. The abuse taught me that my needs aren’t important. Obviously my mind knows that isn’t true but it’s something I still struggle with daily.

It’s amazing the lies your brain believes. Like you deserve AIDS. I didn’t go out looking to become positive but I certainly didn’t turn it away… nor did I want it. Every time I would get tested for HIV I would go into this panic. You would think that being tested negative would scare me straight but that only lasted so long before I started acting out again. I think in part having risky sex was my psyche trying to commit suicide, it certainly was extremely self destructive. I have often wondered why I wanted HIV. Maybe I thought it was the only way for someone to love me and show me attention? Was I so desperate to lose the weight to think having HIV was the only way to do so? Did I really want to die? I certainly wasn’t a bug chaser (someone who actively wants to become hiv positive) but indirectly I had to be trying.

The only correlation to all of this was when I came out of the closet in 1995. One of the many hurtful things my father told me that I was going to get AIDS and that all my friends wouldn’t be there when I was dying alone in the hospital. He also told me that I had always wanted to lose weight and that getting AIDS that would finally come true. Am I still holding on to the hope that my father will love me in the way I need, to the point where dying from AIDS he’d come to my rescue??? It’s been eighteen years since I heard my father spew his hatred towards me and it still feels like he just said them to me. I’m just thankful I have turned down another road but I fear when I get these urges that I will turn back around down that road…

Even recently I have started to walk down that road. I even created a couple of sex accounts, which I quickly deleted… I know that that road is a slippery slide to some dangerous behavior. Thankfully I have realized that is not the life for me, nor the one I want. That is the struggle with being single and feeling lonely. I miss human contact, intimacy. I watched a movie recently about this gay couple and I watched in awe as they made love to each other, as this is something I have always dreamed of but have never obtained. I’m realizing that something isn’t better than nothing. Nothing is better than something that will hurt me, it’s just learning to cope with the indifference.

While I have been able to fend off the sexual compulsion, I haven’t been so lucky when it comes to food. Food is my biggest battle and my biggest addiction. Food has been my biggest friend and defense. I have built this physical blubber of a wall to protect myself and it’s killing me. It makes sense to me that I have been struggling lately with eating healthy. This is really the first time since January that I have struggled this long. I believe in part is that I am getting to the core of all these bad feelings and untruths about myself. All this time I have seen it as digging a tunnel to my core, when I have been digging my escape route to expose it all. They say it gets worse before it gets better. This is the first time in my life that I have been actively working on my body. I am facing the truth in my own time, doing what I need to do to heal… going to therapy, taking my medicine, etc. I might not be moving as quickly as some feel and want me to but I am moving at my own pace… and I will get there. The road to taking care of myself is bound to be bumpy. I have to realize that occasionally I will fall off track, sometimes I will even take the wrong road but the key is to always get back on track… regardless how long it has been.

I’ve been living in darkness so long, that it’s only natural the dark force will try to pull me under. I have been living so unhealthy for so many years, so I must realize the road to healing isn’t going to be perfect. I will fall. I will get scratched. The difference I am no longer in that hurtful place, it is all an illusion. A way to keep me from what I deserve, which is love and happiness.

So I am going to keep moving forward and as a little fishy once told me… I am going to just keep swimming.

Obstacles The LGBTQ Community Must Jump

Recently George Takei commented on his facebook page about how many people on his page were sick of people talking about gay issues and it brought up something that I have been thinking of for the last few weeks.

Many on this page have commented that they are “sick” of people talking about gay issues, or simply “don’t care” if someone is gay and would rather they would kept it to themselves. I find this disheartening. There may come a day when we need not come out of the closet, and need not remind others of the terrible violence, inequity, and ostracism that LGBT people face daily simply because of who we are and who we love. But that day is not here, and more importantly will never get here, unless people continue to step forward and offer themselves as examples, often at great personal cost. I am called “faggot,” “degenerate,” “queer” and “homo” by misguided people every day of my life, even on my own page, but this does not discourage me. It only reminds me of how far we have to go. Once upon a time I was called a “Jap” and put into a prison for four years with my entire family, for no reason other than who we were and who we looked like. It is my life’s mission to fight against the dark forces of fear and intolerance that could ever lead again to such an injustice. Thank you for taking the time to listen. The next time you feel fatigue from hearing about LGBT issues, ask yourself this: Do we live yet in the kind of society where violence, hate and prejudice is not an issue? Until we do, be part of the solution, and stand always for justice and equality for all people.

As far as we have come, it is a realization that we have a lot further to go. I often wonder why do so many have such a problem with homosexuality? In the end I believe it is the unknown that scares people the most. We live in a world where we feel we must conform to something and for many that is religion. If we are told something, then it must be so. Passed down from one generation to the next.

I was watching The Golden Girls, my nightly tradition, and I was kind of taken aback by the fact that even Blanche didn’t quite understand what being gay meant. I mean dimwitted Rose is a given. Then I started to think what was being gay like before the Internet. I have to think that the Internet helped kick start the gay revolution. It is still hard for me to believe that people back then didn’t have any concept of homosexuality.

I think that is the main problem today. Those who spout off about gay people keeping quiet probably don’t even know anyone who is gay or if they do they are themselves are triggered to face the facts. Once you get to know someone who is gay with an open heart, how could you take away their love and happiness???

People get caught up in the argument that it is a choice. I often wonder how many would chose a life filled full of hate, discrimination and the potential for great harm. Even those who chose to live the straight life, usually end up so miserable they have no choice but to come out of the closet. People would much rather please their own beliefs even if it means making someone living a lie and when that happens it usually hurts everyone around them.

Being gay, you have to give up a lot. Not only do you have to live in fear of being discriminated against but it’s always in the back of your head what if the one time you show your true colors and someone goes ballistic on you. You see it on the news often enough to make you fear that outcome. When I go to a new area I find myself cringing and holding who I am in. Granted I am a big guy but if you have a group of people come at you, I don’t stand the chance. If you don’t think that is possible, look at the recent outbreak of hate crimes in New York City.

Thankfully nowadays many teenagers are coming out at an early age but even now they are faced with reticule and hate. Look at how many of these children are killing themselves. How many others face bullying on a daily basis even if it isn’t extreme. Words can do a lot of damage. They are like little stones, that do their damage one little crack at a time. If you throw enough of them, they will shatter your self esteem into a million pieces.

It is bad enough when we have to face this kind of hate from the world but another thing when it comes from within our own families. You don’t have to be told that you are going to hell that many times before it wears you down. You might can handle hatred from your peers and strangers, and even your own family but God is another story. If that is all you have ever known, how do you know there is anything else out there in this world.

I recently discovered how much I wanted a family of my own and what a great loss that I am almost 37 and am without a family of my own. For years I had convinced myself that I didn’t want or need children, figured it just wasn’t meant to be. I gave up on the idea, especially after I have struggled in finding a mate to settle down with. I have become accustomed to having things taken away from me and what it boils down to is love.

I grew up hiding who I was. People during my time weren’t out in High School and they certainly didn’t take their same sex to the prom. I didn’t get to do the whole dating thing, nor did I get to do the whole bringing my boyfriend home to meet my parents. Holding who you are in, is like keeping a fire within a confined area… all it does is damage. That flame is meant to shine.

Another thing that many try to take away from gay people is our spirituality. Whether you have any personal experience with spiritual abuse, all you have to do is watch the media to see the damage church going people cause. Sure not everyone is as extreme and hateful as the Westboro Church but it all causes harm. At least they are upfront and honest with their hate. So many others do it in silence or sit back and don’t do anything when they are faced with that same hate.

While 12 states plus Washington DC have legalized gay marriage, we still have 38 states to go. Plus with DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) so far in tact, without federal recognition we still will lose out on many rights. Not to mention that in many states gay people can be fired from their jobs and lose their housing all because of their sexual orientation.

With the hate crimes that have been committed recently in Columbus and New York City it also goes to show you how many have had their own security and well being put at risk. Imagine going through life having to watch your back and live in worry that someone might try something.

What it all boils down to is human rights and the lack thereof.

Many gay people lose their biological families for being gay. They are kicked out and treated less all due to the gender they love. To expect someone to change something that is so tied to who they are inside is like telling someone to change the color of their skin, it is impossible. Sure people can hide and repress the feelings but eventually it will come out… usually in an explosive way.

Look at how many teens kill themselves over being gay, as well how many homeless youth identify as LGBTQ. For many the discrimination and hate follows them all the way to home. Everyone has the human right to feel safe but often that is the first thing that gay people lose.

Some will try to say that being gay is abomination, a curse and a sin. While being gay doesn’t always make your life easy, I wouldn’t change it at all. Being gay is a gift from God and those who don’t see that are delusional! They don’t see the true meaning and message of this world. While many of us weren’t born into families that validate and accept us, I have learned that it doesn’t mean we can’t have the families we need. For many gay people they have had to go outside of their biological family for the support and love they need. Their friends have become their family and support system.

Some will try to take away things that aren’t theirs to take, like spirituality and God. These are things they don’t even have the power to take, yet that doesn’t stop them from trying. The key is for us all to stick together and stand up, as a solitude front. They might not listen to one voice or try to drown us out but when that voice gets amplified it will knock them to the ground.

The time has come for us to take back what is our for the keeping and that includes our safety, spirituality and families.

Death Becomes Us All

As much as we try to hide from it, death is inevitable. When you are younger it is easier to hide from it, especially if you haven’t ever had to face the death of a loved one. As you become older you are forced to face it when people you know start to die. Though regardless the number of deaths that have hit home it never makes it any easier to deal with.

I remember my first experience with death when my grandfather passed away in 1986. I was ten years old. I can remember his funeral very clearly. I can also remember watching everyone cry and wonder what it all meant. It was almost like I was watching a movie. I wasn’t particularly close with my grandfather and really didn’t understand what death meant at that early age.

It wasn’t until I was twenty that I experienced someone else dying. This time it was my Aunt Karen who had cancer. While we didn’t really get a chance to see each other that often, she was someone whenever I saw her I was happy. I can remember she had bright red hair and we always were able to joke with each other. It was also my first time dealing with Cancer. It didn’t take me very long to realize how horrible of a disease it was.

The last time I saw my Aunt alive was about a month before she passed away. It was very important for me to visit her before she passed. I knew I had to see her one last time. I wasn’t prepared to see her in the shape she was. Her skin was yellow and her stomach was severely bloated, even her hair had faded to a dull red. I could see that her life was being slowly drained out of her by the Cancer and chemotherapy. I remember bringing her white daisies. I was told regardless where the vase was put in her room, the blooms would grow towards her.

When it came time to say my goodbye at her showing it was extremely difficult to face her. I can remember my Mom having to walk with me up to her casket. I was so afraid. When I walked up to her sleeping so peaceful I envisioned her waking up. I am not sure if it was a hallucination or some spiritual connection but I really saw her getting up. All I know is that it severely spooked me.

Later that year her husband, my uncle, passed away… He also had cancer.

All these deaths were expected, as they were sick. It wasn’t like it was any easier but it at least prepared you for the idea. The next death I encountered was my Aunt Fran in 1999. I was in my early twenties by then. I can remember that day very clearly. My Mom and I were out shopping for Halloween decorations for our family party coming up. Our family tradition was to have a big Halloween party every year with a haunt as part of the festivities.

As we pulled up my father met us at the door and said that something had happened with my Aunt and that they rushed her to the hospital by ambulance. I don’t remember what happened next other than that my Aunt had passed away of an aneurism. There was nothing that they could have done, it was quick and sudden, and she was gone.

This was the first time I really felt a high level of grief and of course shock because it was so unexpected and sudden. This was the first time I realized how fragile life was and how there was no guarantee for tomorrow. It also hit close to home because if someone close to me could die, so could my own mother. At the time I couldn’t imagine what my cousin was going through losing her mother at such a young age, she was only 50. Of course now I know…

My Mom and Aunt were close so it was particularly hard on her. It was tough to see her in deep pain. I was pretty close to my Aunt and I can remember every time she called our house she was always giving me a hard time. After she died it dawned on me that she would never give me a hard time again, and that made me extremely sad.

My Aunt Fran was the first person close to me that had died and I felt the harsh sting of grief. After her death we didn’t have another Halloween party for many years. Her death changed the family and it was never the same.

Five years would go by without any more deaths. As I grew older I realized it was only a matter of time before another death would take another loved one away. The next death was my Grandfather from my father’s side. We weren’t as close to his side of the family as we were with Mom’s family. I can remember feeling a sense of loss of getting to chance to get to know him better and never getting a chance to do so. He was also really the only grandfather that I was somewhat close to. My other grandfather passed away so young, that I really don’t have too many memories of him. Plus he was very sick the last couple years of his life.

So I also grieved over the loss of my last grandfather. He was the closest to a positive father figure for me. I have fond memories of him and my grandmother taking me up to their cottage on Lake Manistee in Kalkaska. Every time I would see him he was always so warm and jolly. I couldn’t help but smile whenever I saw him.

The next death really brought into question my own mortality when my Cousin BJ passed away at the age of 23 in 2006. At the time I was living in Florida. Again I can remember that day very clearly. My Mom called me to tell me the news. When she said his name beeg (that was his nickname), I thought she said Paige. Which set me in a state of panic because she is my niece and was only four years old at the time. I will say that after that moment, how I looked at death completely changed.

I can remember feeling so helpless being so far away from my family and wanting to just be with them. It felt like I was a million miles away. I wasn’t able to get a flight back home until the next day. Living so far away you lost the luxury of rushing back home in an emergency.

This was the first time someone around my age had died. BJ was someone I grew up with and while as adults we weren’t very close, it was a tough loss to deal with. He was someone I shared a decent amount of time with between birthday parties, family vacations, holidays and various occasions. It was extremely sad and tragic how young he was. It was also tragic that he was just starting to get his life back together.

After his death I became to fear death more to the point where I would panic when my loved ones were sleeping. I can remember countless times checking to see that my Mom was still breathing or panicking when she was sleeping thinking she had died. My biggest fear in life was losing my Mom. I honestly felt like we were invisible. I can remember thinking that God wouldn’t take my Mom early because she was a good person and so were my sister and I. Boy was I wrong…

A few years ago I started to force myself to prepare for the loss of my Mom. I can remember out of the blue starting to think about it. Now I realize something or someone was preparing me for that dreaded, awful day. While I began to prepare mentally I still thought my Mom would live to an old age.

You know how they say that people usually die in threes? Well I believe that to be very true. I am not quite sure why but I have experienced it on numerous occasions. The last few years was a domino death effect.

By now you have probably come to the conclusion that Cancer runs in my family. A little over two years ago my Aunt Thelma was diagnosed with a brain tumor and about six months later she died. While we weren’t particularly close, as she lived in Kentucky, she was again someone I was very fond of. I was always happy whenever they would make a trip up. I wasn’t able to see her before she passed and that was tough to deal with. I regret not being able to say goodbye and see her one last time.

This was another occasion I experienced the grief of the children of a parent, pure desperation and grief… you could see it in their eyes.

During the funeral service the preacher talked about not being saved and never getting to see Thelma again or something like that. This completely triggered me and sent me into another state of panic, so much that I couldn’t drive home to Michigan. Being gay in a Southern Baptist family didn’t make me very popular. At an early age, my father brainwashed into me that I was going to hell for being gay. I grew up in the church and it was all fire and brimstone.

As an adult to cope with spiritual abuse I had two choices, live in fear for the rest of my life or put away my spirituality. I took the lessor of the two evils and buried my spirituality deep within me. I got to a point in my life where hearing the terms God or Jesus would give me panic attacks. So I tried to stay far away from anything related to religion, even my Mom’s side of the family.

Being there that day unearthed my fears of never seeing my loved ones again. While I no longer believed completely that was the truth there was still a part of me that held on to that untruth. So much that I still struggle with it. I connected God to pain, misery, judgment and damnation. I saw God as this angry Judge, Jury and Executioner.

Recently it dawned on me why I have struggled to get my creativity back and that’s due to me hiding my spirituality. For me, I can’t have one without the other. It has been a slow and daunting battle to get connected back to my inner spirituality. I know that it is there but I struggle reaching for it.

The next death was something I honestly didn’t think was ever going to happen because my grandmother (mom’s side. All her grandchildren called her Mom Mom.) was in her early 90’s. She was tough as steel and I thought she would out live us all. About two years ago she was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer. They removed the volleyball sized tumor but her body couldn’t take it and six months later she died.

Losing her was particularity tough for me for many different reasons. The first one that growing up we were close. She lived down the street from us and we saw her quite often. She didn’t drive so my Mom would usually be the one to drive her where ever she needed. Her and my Mom were very close. Losing her broke my Mom’s heart.

While I felt close to Mom-Mom growing up, that faded with adulthood. I held a grudge with how she treated me after I came out about being molested by the cousin she raised. She was someone who made it clear who were her favorites and who weren’t. After that it was clear that I was not her favorite.

When my parents split up my Mom and I had no place to go. So my grandmother let us stay with her but I was only allowed to stay for two months. Even though I had a job and was working on getting my own place, I had to go. She didn’t care that I had no place to go.

My hurt was too big for me to be around her, so I hide from her. Even when I found out that she had Cancer I didn’t come around that often. I emotionally couldn’t handle the pain. Part of it had to do with the fact that I avoided situations where I might possibly see my Cousin. Coming out about the abuse and being gay made me the black sheep of the family. Talking about the abuse was something our family didn’t do, they just swept it under the rug like it never happened. If you would only life up that rug you would see the countless skeletons that were buried deep underneath.

While I couldn’t be there for her during her illness, I was able to be there for her at the end… When it became apparent that she wouldn’t live longer than a few days I rushed to be with her. I put all my hard feelings aside and faced the chance of seeing some people I didn’t want to. At the time it was the toughest thing I had overcame, not only for having faced my fears but to see the process of someone dying. It was horrible to see a woman so full of life and spit fire, lay there motionless and pale… almost like a ghost… The only thing she could do was whimper. I knew that she wouldn’t make it til the morning. I honestly didn’t want to leave that night but due to the pressure of others I did… That night I couldn’t sleep… I had this vision of walking my grandmother into the light, where loved ones were waiting for her. I later found out that it was around the time she passed away. Soon after my Mom called me to tell me she had died. I rushed over to her house. Again I could feel the fog of grief and desperation.

Everyone was too grief stricken, so I went into action calling the funeral home and other family members who hadn’t heard the news. I even called the cousin who had bothered me, that was not an easy feat. When the funeral director came to pick up my grandmother it was important I stay inside, when everyone else couldn’t handle it emotionally. I didn’t want strangers handling her body without me watching. It was important that they took good care of her.

Again I experienced children grieving over the loss of their mother, now this time it was my own mother grieving over the loss of her own mother. I was amazed at her strength dealing with the pain. My grandmother was someone of great support for my Mom. They were very close and I wasn’t sure how she would handle her death. I don’t think she did either but I was able to see her inner strength come to shine. It was quite remarkable. I was reminded how strong of a lady my mother was.

Around the same time my grandmother passed, a dear old friend of mine passed away from Cancer. We had lost touch the last few years but he was someone I was always fond of. We became friends during a time in my life where I was in turmoil over the sexual abuse. His and his partners friendship meant the world to me. He was an old soul, very spiritual. He was also an amazing painter, painting these very spiritual life like pieces of art.

Every Christmas he would send me a home made Christmas  card. Even after I moved away he kept sending them. He had a very gentle, loving spirit. Whenever I was around him I could feel the warmth of his inner glow. I can remember the first time I met Stephan very clearly. He was a vegetarian and I told him I would try to eat his food. As much as I didn’t like vegetarian food it was important for me to try it, which was a huge feat for me as I am not really someone who tries new things…

He made me soy meatballs with vegetables. I ate the whole plate and politely turned down seconds. 🙂 From then on we became good friends. When I learned that he wasn’t doing very well, I was deeply saddened. I couldn’t imagine God taking away such a gentle spirit. This was the first time I had a friend who I was once close to pass away. I regret not being able to see him one last time or not being able to make it to his funeral.

By now death had become a familiar part of my life, though it never made it any easier. Especially for what would happen next. Around the time my grandmother passed away I started getting these thoughts of my own mother passing away. They would usually come to me out of the blue and were always quick thoughts. I forced myself to think about the idea, as scary as that was to prepare myself. Something told me it was something I need to do… I never thought that almost two years later my worst nightmare would come true.

I was in the middle of a nap before work when my sister woke me in a panic. She told me that Mom had been coughing up blood and we needed to take her to the emergency room. Obviously I wasn’t going into work. I can remember calling my boss and telling him that my Mom was coughing up blood and he was like we are really busy, do you think you could come in later? I am like HELL no, well I didn’t say that but I surely didn’t go in. I wanted to tell say something like are you crazy?

I will never look at an ER ever again the same. So much so that the last time I had to go to the emergency room I was horribly triggered by the privacy curtains. I was alone in the ER room and instantly I was transported to that scary day.

I wasn’t sure if my Mom would ever stop coughing up blood. I remember telling convincing myself that it was strawberry sauce, as I was very squeamish when it came to blood. I knew that it wasn’t normal for someone to cough up blood and I was obviously concerned. I just wanted the blood to stop and would have done anything to make it stop. I don’t think I had ever been so scared than I was that night. My mind raced to understand what was happening. If there was a normal amount of blood to cough up, this was abnormal. I felt so helpless.

That day our lives forever changed and things would never be the same…

After countless tests, scans and blood work the C word was mentioned. Especially after they compared a chest xray to one that was completed eight years ago that both showed an abnormality to her lower right lung. When it was confirmed that my Mom had Cancer my heart dropped to the ground. At the time we knew nothing about Carcinoid. I had never even heard of the term. When you think of Cancer the first thing you think of is misery and death. I forced to think about the death of my beautiful mother. It was a day I wasn’t prepared for.

She was diagnosed with Cancer in April of 2012 and by September of that year she was dead. Never in my scariest dream did I think this was to be so early. Granted my Mom wasn’t in the greatest health, as she would frequently get bronchitis and pneumonia but nothing would make us believe that this would happen.

Two years prior to her death, I started to get these premonitions of my Mom’s death. Losing her was my ultimate fear of all. Having those premonitions was very alarming but something told me to face them. Granted I had no clue that it would happen so soon. I now realize someone was trying to prepare me for her death. I honestly don’t know if I would be here today without having mentally prepared ahead of time.

When we drove our Mother down to Nashville, TN to have the tumor removed it never dawned on me that she could die. I am a major worry wart but even during her surgery I wasn’t freaking out. I was calm. Her surgery was a major success. Her doctor was able to remove the tumor and found that Cancer hadn’t spread to her lymph nodes like previously they had thought.

She was on the road to recovery. About a week after her surgery my Mom’s vitals started to deteriorate. They struggled to find a balance with her pain medicine that wouldn’t make her loopy but still managed the pain. She went from being out of it, to lethargic. She started to go into afib which they said was normal for a chest surgery. Her oxygen levels started to decrease as well. Something wasn’t right but my sister and I seemed to be the only ones to notice. By the fourth day of all of this, I noticed a strong odor and questioned the nurse about it… In which she said “oh, I didn’t notice it. She must have soiled herself.” She said that she would give her a bath, which three hours later she still hadn’t so my sister started to clean our Mom herself. That is when she noticed a brownish liquid coming out of her wound.

Finally they took notice. By the morning the xray showed that her lungs were filled full of infection and she would need to have another surgery to clean out her lungs. During the second surgery I was obviously more concerned but I still had confidence that she would make it through it.

Thankfully she made it through the second surgery but reality hit us all when the Doctor came out to tell us how serious her condition was. He stated that she wouldn’t have made it through the weekend without surgery. Of all the news prior, this hit me the hardest. This made me realize that Mom was not invincible and could die.

This time she was hooked up to a respirator and was sedated. Even though I was more concerned I didn’t doubt that she would recover.

Through the cultures they found they discovered that sometime that first week my Mom aspirated and became sepsis. The rest of her right lung was very damaged, and they found gangrenous tissue as well. Plus her left lung was now sick as well. They struggled to find the right setting on the respirator that my Mom tolerated. She didn’t seem to like that tube down her throat even when she was sedated. When they tried to turn off all the sedation, she went into a panic and her whole body began to convulse. Her legs and arms went crazy. My sister and I had to hold them down. It was a very scary moment for us.

They talked about putting in a tracheotomy, as they felt that my Mom would handle that better but the day they were to put it in she began to deteriorate again. She began to run a high temperature and her oxygen levels began to drop.

The next twenty one days was a constant roller coaster ride for my sister and I, as we watch our beautiful mother deteriorate as she so peacefully slept. During it all we never gave up hope, even when many doubted her stamina. Many of the Doctors told us there was little hope for recovery but that didn’t stand in our way of believing in the strongest woman we had ever known. We knew she would overcome it and in the end she did.

The day before her death, I awoke to a room full of doctors, nurses and staff surrounding her bed. It was like I was in the middle of a dream but yet I was awake. My Mother’s healthy lung had collapsed and they had to do an emergency procedure to install a chest tube. They were successful with the procedure and she started to improving slowly. Even then I still didn’t give up hope.

The next morning I again awoke to a room full of staff, this time her potassium had dropped to dangerous levels. I was told if they couldn’t get her levels to the normal range she would not make it. They advised me that they would put her on dialysis. I won’t lie I have never been more scared in my life. I prayed and prayed that she would make it.

Two hours into the dialysis, her potassium levels had increased but her other vitals had not and I was informed that she would not survive. I sat by her side and never gave up on her. Once the dialysis was done, she slowly began to drift away. Her heart rate slowed… lower and lower… I can remember this deep feeling of desperation and feeling out of control. I grabbed ahold of her and wept, as her heart began to give out. Five minutes seemed like an eternity and I just wanted relief. I went from disbelief to acceptance and told her it was okay for her to go home. They pulled her breathing tube out and not a gasp escaped from her lungs. Her body had gave out and it was time for her to return home. Finally her heart gave out it’s last beat and she had passed on.

I’ve never felt more alone than at that moment, as I stared at her worn out lifeless body covered in bruises and filled full of tubes. I finally realized how sick her and worn out her body was. She gave her all and fought fearlessly for twenty one days.

I had envisioned us living a life like Sophia and Dorothy from The Golden Girls. She was my everything but life had other plans. I know now that if she would have survived she wouldn’t have been the same lady as before and her quality of life was very important to her. As much as I miss her, I would not want her to suffer any more. She suffered enough on this earth. She is free from it all, including the Cancer.

Mama was always afraid of death. That was one of her struggles with having the surgery but she faced it like a warrior and didn’t let fear conquer her. I know that she went to heaven at peace.

It has only been recently that I have been able to use the terms death, die, etc. when it comes to my Mom. My mind knows she is gone but my heart still struggles to grasp it. The last nine months have been the hardest of my life and there have been times I wasn’t sure I would survive. There were even times I felt so desperate that I contemplated taking my own life.

This whole experience has also made me face my own mortality, including others close to me. When your Mother dies, anything is possible and you realize that nobody is invisible. The unknown becomes the scariest boogie man ever. I still struggle not knowing what I believe in when it comes to the afterlife. Now that I was forced to face death I have so many things that I think about, like what it is like to cross over? At times I struggle to grab hold of my own spirituality that I fear never seeing my Mother again.

I struggle with the concept that one minute a person is healthy and then the next they are not. Recently someone else I knew was diagnosed with Cancer in January and by May she had passed away. This experience has showed me how fragile life is and that there are no guarantees. I have struggled to get back on my feet and I feel like I am wasting valuable time. At times the grief is so crippling.

Any advice for those who also fear of losing a parent, is to force yourself to think about the day when they die and value the time you have with them. As hard as that may be, it will help you face that dreaded day.

In the end, we are all terminal. It is a wake up call to value even the littlest specks of life because eventually death becomes us all…

Where Is God At?

I have seen some posts in regards to people praying for the victims of the Oklahoma tornado’s and my first reaction was disgust but then I thought about that feeling they were having. It made me think about my own questioning in regards to the various bad things that have occurred in life. Like why do bad things happen to good people? Why doesn’t God intervene to protect his/her children?

If I really start to think about it, I can get really angry. There is a great injustice of living in a world where we are told there is this high power who created such wonderful things in seven days and then have that same power stay silent. I guess in a way it triggers my own insecurities about a father figure never being there for me, never protecting me that way I needed.

Of course I am no longer a child and have learned in life that it is only I who can protect myself and I think that is the tragic flaw of religion… is that it passes the buck to some external force, when all along the power has been within in us. This beautiful and wonderful force isn’t outside of ourselves, it is deep within. I also feel that is why the world is in such a discord. You have those who have a lack of regard for anything beautiful, loving and full of life. People who have turned off their own inner humanity and have learned the only way they will get anything is by force. Then you have those individuals who are so out of control they use this idea to keep their fears at bay and in order to keep them safe they feel the need to save everyone around them…

As a gay man I have been severely turned off by religion for many different reasons and by doing so I also turned off my own inner spirituality. That is the true loss of it all and those who feel the need to preach their message and save the world. They cause such harm that they scare away those that need the light the most.

When tragedy happens it is natural for people to come together and pray… I also think it is natural for others to feel anger too. I am not discounting prayer at all and I believe in the power of the energy behind it but I also think it takes more than prayer, it takes action. It is sad that it takes tragedies like Oklahoma for people to come together. What about all the other days in between? Have we lost our sense of humanity. People need help every single day of the year but how often do people go without?

Help isn’t something that has to be grand. It can be as simple as smiling at a stranger or calling a friend to see how they are. Help could also be picking up a piece of trash on the street or reaching out to someone who is struggling. For me that is God in action. If you think about Jesus, what was he all about? His message was service and taking care of others. I look at many aspects of this world and I don’t see him in peoples actions, though I hear his name spoken quite often.

We live in a fast paced world these days, where many people don’t want to be troubled. They don’t have the time or the energy. So many people just hide behind the crowd. Look how many people look at the homeless and I am not talking about the people on the street corners asking for money. People either don’t want to get involved or they just don’t care or they are waiting for the person to ask for help. Well sometimes the person isn’t strong enough to ask for help.

Today I watched this video of a courageous young man by the name of Zach. At the age of 14 he found out a he had a rare form of Cancer. He didn’t let the news that he had terminal Cancer stop him from living a full life. Honestly I think he lived more in the three years, that most people do in their whole life. You didn’t have to know Zach to know he was filled with the essence of God. He glowed with so much love, life and spirit. His mission in life was to just make people happy, to make them feel loved. In a short period time he touched so many people, it transcended the globe.

Today he passed away. Zach is an example of what life is really about, love and happiness. His love was infectious and even Cancer couldn’t kill that. Though I don’t think the news of him having Cancer and that he would die really changed who he was, other than that he probably embraced it more. I will admit I wish I was more like Zach, so unafraid of living. I mean we all are terminal, we all will eventually die but even I get bogged down with life. We lose our will to fight and become zombies looking for our next feed.

I have been on both ends of the spectrum when it comes to God. I have doubted and questioned him/her/it… I have felt the grace of God as well, usually when I have met someone else. Many are taught to question God is unholy and not natural but I don’t believe that to be true. I think it is our duty to question anything that doesn’t seem right and outside of the message of love.

There is so much that I don’t know and I don’t begin to act like I know anything, especially when it comes to this universe. I don’t know why Tornadoes happen or why people are taken before their prime. Why do humans hurt children and why do they get Cancer? Is this world a test or a punishment. These are all things that I have thought about during my time on this planet.

The only thing I am confident about is love. This world can never have too much love and care. I see what the absence of it does. It causes war, murder and hate. Will you be the person who reaches down to help someone up or will be the type of person who just walks right by… or even worse keeps them from getting up.

As someone who has a big heart living in this world can really cut you up, if you aren’t careful. It is so easy to put a big wall around your heart and become jaded. I have been there and done that. I wasn’t getting hurt but I was just as miserable as before. I see the world and believe we are constantly at War. I look at the world and see so many wounded people, not wounded by guns or bombs but by hate, words and judgment.

Words can cause just as much damage as any gun, knife or bomb, especially if it’s constantly repeated to you. Just look at the various social media outlets, advertising and news organizations. Just look at the CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch’s attitudes towards overweight people. Think of the damage that those words do to children that hear them. In a sense corporations are telling the world that if you don’t fit in that image, you have no worth. This is just one example and these kinds of things happen because we allow them to. It all trickles down and effects everybody, especially our children who are our future.

In the CEO’s message could love be found anywhere? Other than the love of the all mighty dollar and that is what it comes down to. The value of the dollar has been put above humanity. Just look at our health care system. Those that need help are often turned away or go broke in order to heal. Where is the love in that?

Then you have those who believe in various causes like global warming, abortion rights and many different worthy causes. They post their causes all over Facebook, they exercise their right to vote and might attend a rally but where are these people in the day to day living of life and those who are in need. My point is that so often people get behind a cause and it is the people affected by those causes who lose out.

Like for example when I tried to kill myself, sure there were people who got involved that day out of concern but where were they before and after? After I got out of the hospital I didn’t hear from many people, especially my family. I don’t say this to make anyone feel bad, I am just using this as an example. I am thankful that I am strong enough now to fight and am working on recovering but so many people don’t have that luxury… So many people are successful in killing themselves. People don’t get involved because either they don’t know how, they don’t want to upset you, they don’t have the time or they just don’t care. So many people fall through the cracks.

I guess I am angry… I have been very angry at God for a while now… and I guess in a sense angry with the humans of this world that sit by and do nothing!!! Wow, I guess this post and this idea has uncovered some hidden hurt I have been feeling. I know in the end it will be me that saves me but every one needs support and love… There are so many people who are like myself who have been kicked down and don’t feel they can get back up. They feel unworthy of any kind of love from God, the world and even themselves. They have lost their will to fight. The longer you are down in that horrible place, the harder it is to get back up… Many just give up and stay in that position or take their own lives.

In the end, I can see why people lose their faith and even become atheists. There was a time that I was close to atheism. While I am still figuring things out for myself and working on releasing my own inner spirituality, I know one thing is for sure. That I am going to continue to embrace love and reach out to those in need.

The World is Your Oyster!!!

So in therapy yesterday I had the realization that I am capable of doing anything I want, as in my dreams are a reality. This was a monumental moment for me, as previously my dreams were clouded over by extreme doubt. Anything is possible.

Without dreams your world becomes a very dismal place. Dreams are aspirations, where you want to go.

In the world we live in it is very easy to have your dreams turns into nightmares. If you listen and believe the naysayers you will always live your life in their shadows.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Marianne Williamson

So shine brightly, even if everyone around you is trying to turn off your light. The harder they try to pull you down, the brighter you need to shine your light. Everyone has that light, some just chose to not use it.

I have been thinking deeply about that, those who choose to let their light shine in a positive matter versus those who hide their light and try to drag others down. Prior to my Mama dying I was the person in the middle, hiding in the shadows. I let other people extinguish my light. I felt broken and useless.

Now I realize I was only scared, hiding from the light. The light will protect me and the darkness only hurts me. Seeing my Mama battle her illness and the bravery she had facing her death, gives me courage to come out of darkness. I want to live my life in honor of her. I want to make her proud.

Last Sunday I watched the Super Bowl. I usually only watch it for the commercials but this time I actually watched the game. When I heard the San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver say that no gay person would be welcome on his team, I instantly wanted the Ravens to win. He went on to make other homophobic comments. Previously some of the players of the 49ers made a “It Get’s Better” video in regards to anti-bullying. Now two of the players who are in the video linebacker Ahmad Brooks and nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga have denied making the video. Then when they were showed the video with them in it they said they didn’t realize the aim of the production was to fight the bullying of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender teens.

This is a perfect example of someone not being lead by their light rather by their fears and hate. Anybody who is in the public eye has a great opportunity to make a difference, especially with children. Those like Culliver are only wasting their opportunities.

Thankfully there are those unlike Culliver who stand up to injustice and embrace their light with courage. Linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens Brendon Ayanbadejo is a prime example of someone embracing their light by coming out in support of equality. For someone in the sports world to stand up to the rampant homophobia and fear that exists is a true act of bravery.

Brendon has vowed to use the Super Bowl as a platform for marriage equality and anti-bullying, saying “This isn’t a fight for gay rights, this is a fight for human rights.” Now this a true champ in my eyes.

After winning the Super Bowl XLVII he was interviewed in a video produced for The Respect for Marriage Coalition, where he spoke out in defense of  lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.

“Being the first pioneer publicly accepting same-sex marriage in the three major sports was difficult at first but the more people scrutinized me and ridiculed me, the stronger I became for the issue,” Ayanbadejo told Simmons, who has also been praised by a number of advocacy groups for his own defense of LGBT rights. “It was like lifting weights; the resistance made me stronger, stand taller and speak louder for LGBT rights!”

Brendon urges others, “Join me and the majority of Americans who support marriage equality — it’s the right thing to do.”
Think about how much good he is doing for the gay community but it goes much further than that. His light will travel to many unexpected places, touching those who so desperately need to hear his message. Ayanbadejo’s message isn’t just for gay people but everyone as his message of acceptance is universal. Plus the courage he exhibits by standing up and doing the right thing, even when it brings him heat, is another way that he is making a difference.
Just like in Marianne Williamson’s quote The Deepest Fear, “as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
So I am making a conscious effort to embrace my light fully, even if that means taking heat for it. There are so many people out in this world trapped in the darkness and need that light to help them out of the dark. I am no longer that scared little boy, stuck in the bedroom where the bad things happened. I am a strong, loving adult with the skills to rescue myself when need be. I must constantly remind myself of that.
You are worthy. You are beautiful. You are capable of greatness. You deserve so much in your life. You are lovable. You matter. There are people out there who embrace all of that and more. Those who share their light with others. Not everyone in this world are leeches. If you find yourself surrounded by them venture outside your world. Trust me it isn’t an easy task when you are consumed by darkness but the more you try the better it will get. At first the light will be frightening but the more you embrace the light the more comfort it will give you.
As a good friend of mine pointed out it isn’t about perfection but persistence. Keep at it. If you fall down, get back up and keep getting up even if it takes you a while. Healing is about the journey, not the destination. Keep moving forward even if it is one small step at a time. Taking a step backwards is not the end of the world, just take another step forward. Falling down doesn’t mean defeat, use it to fuel your flame to power you.
Embracing yourself for who you are and the light you possess takes practice, especially if you have hid it for most of your life. I remind myself that I may not be there yet, but I am closer than I was yesterday… We will get there… Together!!!
The world is our oyster, now it is the time to go out and get it!!!