Saturday, December 16, 2006

The reality of my Christmas

Life has calmed down quite a bit from the melodrama of October. I am working and finding life relatively enjoyable. I don’t think I have life figured out any more now than I did before, but at least I have some clarity to think. I have a couple really good part-time jobs and I am getting myself out of the financial hole I put myself in back in October.

Part of my being hired though was the agreement that I would be able to work through Christmas and New Years. I agreed without much hesitation. I prided myself that I could put economic sensibility in front of holiday fanfare. Besides, I really like the job. It’s a lot of fun.

Earlier tonight when I went into work, there was no snow outside at all. It wasn’t until one of my co-workers went outside to empty the trash that he commented on how beautiful it was. In my mind I was dreading the pending season and was disappointed with the reminder that a cold, dead winter was just getting under way.“Is it sticking?” I asked. “Not too much yet,” he replied. “But it’s perfect! It’s the kind of snow you want on Christmas Eve.”

After work I went outside to my car. Most of everything was slowly disapearing in the white snow. The pavement, however, seemed to resist the snow and was more slush than anything else. I grumbled as I shook the sogginess from my shoes and climbed in my car. I didn’t feel much like going home so I went and visited a friend for a little while. He was excited about the snow that was coming down. We looked out the window. The pavement’s defiance to the snow had weakened and it too was beginning to disappear under the mantle of white.

“Do you love the snow?” he asked. When I was a kid I used to love the snow. I looked forward to winter just for the snow. Where I grew up we got snow a few times in winter, but it only ever lasted a few days or weeks at most and then it was gone. I always wanted school to be canceled so that I could go sledding on my oversized black inner tube. It was a great thing. I would take to the river in the summer and sled with it in the winter. It was an essential part of winter to play in the snow when I was growing up. I was the one that always encouraged my brothers to come out and play in the snow with me. It didn’t matter how cold it was, I was out there.

Things are so different now that I am an adult though. It’s not all fun and games anymore. Snow means getting out earlier to start my truck so that it is warm when I drive it, brushing off the snow on the windshield, driving through bumper to bumper mountain passes, bringing soggy shoes into the house and wading through puddles that my careless roommates created when they didn’t brush the snow off before coming into the house. Cold. Wet.

“I guess I like it all right,” I lied. “It is beautiful.”

“I love the snow.” He said.

I got into my truck to head home. It was remarkable how the landscape had changed so much in just a mere inch of snow. The night sky was lit up with the reflection of civilization against the snow and clouds. I guess I don’t mind driving in the snow since I have four-wheel-drive. I welcomed the strange hypnotic feeling of traveling through science fiction outer space as the snow flew over my windshield.

Shortly after returning home, I went back out into the snow to the grocery store with my roommates. Neither one of them has a car and one of them doesn’t even have a license to drive. So we always run errands together even if it’s late. The real reason we went tonight, in the snow, had more to do with my roommate’s addiction to Pepsi than an actual need for groceries.

We walked up and down every isle to make sure that we had everything we needed. Trips to the store are more difficult for them because of their mobility handicap so they are sure to take advantage of the store while they are there. I wandered around not really wanting to buy much of anything. Christmas paraphernalia was on every isle and the Christmas music blaring. I used to love Christmas music –to sing it, to listen to it. I just bothered me tonight though. It wasn’t even beautiful to me. It was obnoxious.

Last Christmas was probably the worst ever. My parents had found themselves in one of the most trying times of their lives. My father just a few months earlier had been diagnosed with late stage-three cancer. He had undergone major surgery and now he was going through intense chemo-therapy. He had lost his personality and sense of humor in the process. He was pale, grey, and wilted. Things between mom and dad had also not been the best over the last several months and their marriage was strained. To make matters worse, because of my father’s cancer, he was unable to work and the only way they could survive was to sell their home, their sanctuary of 14 years so that they could live off of the equity. They moved into a small rented house in town just 15 days before Christmas. When I arrived home for the break from university, everything was a mess, in boxes, and piles; my parents too emotionally exhausted to even face the work of sorting and unpacking their life. I wanted so badly to organize everything for them, but I just couldn’t do it all. I came down with one of the worst cases of the flu ever. I was out with a high fever for nearly a week. I hated being home unable to move in the midst of such a life-wreck. We didn’t even put a Christmas tree up last year. No one was happy.

Even though I had a week and a half left before school started, I left to go back before New Years just to get away from everything. I sat on the edge of the futon packing my things, grateful to be leaving the horrible place that my parents were living in. My mom walked in and watched me pack. She started to cry. My mom hates crying in front of other people so she always tries to hold it in. She walked over and knelt down in front of me. Trying to sniff back the tears so that she could talk. “I know this hasn’t been how you wanted it to be –that it’s been hard for you,” she sobbed. “I just don’t want you stop coming home.” I wanted to cry, but I was too angry at life to cry. I just sat there paralyzed as her tears soaked my knees…

I continued to wander aimlessly through the grocery store amazed at the embellishment of normal products under the guise of Christmas spirit. I saw a display of Mother’s brand Circus Animal cookies. Ever since I was a child, these cookies have been a snack favorite of mine. The top of the display had the normal pink and white cookies where as the eye level and arm’s reach portion of the display had the holiday version of the same product in green, red, and white. I reached high for a bag of the non-holiday cookies. But before I could grab the bag I noticed that to buy the normal cookies I would have to pay nearly fifty cents more than if I bought the holiday version. I didn’t want the holiday cookies. I wanted the pink and white ones that I always ate, but the store probably realized that they basically had until Christmas to sell out the holiday cookies and consequently lowered their price to accommodate the upcoming deadline and to persuade customers to dish out their cash on the festive cookies alternatively.

I stood there and stared at the bag of holiday cookies that I didn’t want. The Christmas music played the worn out tunes and I subconsciously hummed along with it. Unexpectedly I was overwhelmed with the sadness realizing that I would be spending Christmas by myself in my apartment. There would be no Christmas decorations, no family or friends or even roommates to watch Christmas movies with, no feast. Nothing. I will spend Christmas all alone hundreds of miles away from those that I love most. I just stood there glaring at the stupid bag of holiday cookies. I tried to swallow the knot of sadness welling in my throat. I miss my family. And as much as I lie to everyone and tell them that I will be fine, the truth is, I will be lonely without them this year.

I continued staring at the cookies, the familiar Christmas feeling sweeping over me and leaving a heap of sadness in its wake. My eyes burned from not blinking as I was lost in my thoughts.

My roommate pulled up with our shopping cart. I continued staring. “You gonna buy some?” He asked noticing my fixation. I looked over to him, gave him a dry half-smile, grabbed three bags of the holiday cookies, threw them into the cart, and continued to wander.

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Rest of the Story


At Last! I know you all have been waiting with baited breath for the rest of the story to unfold as to the meeting between JS and myself. The following are excerpts from emails:

Caspian-

I am sorry that you felt compromised by meeting my friends, I guess that was my fault for assuming that you would comfortable with them like I am. Forgive me for not taking your feelings into more consideration.
All I ever said to them was "you were someone I met on a blog." The end. I didn't tell them it was a blog dealing with gay issues, or anything about your blog. They know nothing of the intimacies of your life, I don't out people like that. The only connection they had to the fact that you were even remotely dealing with issues was that I wanted to meet you because I'm the same way.

I think the one thing that probably offended me MOST was you assuming that I would lack respect for you. Let me assure that if there is anything I have it's respect for other people and their privacy. I would never ever ever give your blog link out or tell anyone about anything on your blog. Your anonymity is safe. I promise you that. I KNOW that "this" can be hard, and that blogging is a help to many. No one around me knows about these blogs except me. I respect you and your privacy, the privacy of everyone who blogs actually. I'm not trying to endanger anything you all do by sharing your feelings and honestys. For the record, you weren't being an ass, you were protecting yourself. Been there, done that. Again, I have always respected you, I would never even THINK of leading people to your blog.

I'm sorry for the disorienting nature of what happened. I had the inclination to say do you want to go somewhere and talk, but I didn't.

Let me tell why I didn't. Because I was under the impression from the second you got there, that meeting me was a letdown for you and you were not interested in me more than 2%. After all, you did engage in FAR more conversation with my friends than me. In fact, I felt quite ignored. The reason why I made comments about a "brotherhood" etc, and wanting to be your friend, etc. is because I was making feeble attempts to reconnect with you once I felt you lost all interest in me. I'm not trying to be self-centered, I'm just giving you my prespective. Part of my personality and the way I connect with people is through intimacy (the non-sexual, non-physical kind). I thrive on my personal honesty and openness and if I trust them I will self-disclose...pretty much anything. I get the impression that you are not like that and want to keep your struggle to yourself. That is your perogative and I will respect that. But it's interesting the next sentence you wrote: "I am willing to be friends, but friendship takes time and needs to be built upon multiple commonalities." Those comments on brotherhood and friendship were again, a feeble attempt, to establish commonalities...because I didn't have anything else to go on, and frankly, I was floundering to connect with you.

I agree with what you said that my friends have not earned the right to know the intricacies of your struggle and what is going on with you... not even I have earned that. All they know is hey, one more guy who is kinda like JS; gay, or whatever I can call you since you don't want to be labeled. And not that it matters, but in their defense... they are completely chill, gay, bi, hetero, whatever. They don't judge anyone, ever. That's why I like them. I know them and they aren't the people to fixate on that topic if you don't want to. And as I remember, the conversation didn't.

You said you need me to understand and I'm trying. I'm sorry for not considering how uncomfortable other people would be for you. Again, they do not know anything about your privacies or struggles, I am not one to share other's lives. That is yours and your decision to share, or not. In no way was I consciously trying to center on that and draw it out as your distinguishing feature; sorry if you felt my comments did that. On no level have you hurt my feelings or offended me. I RESPECT YOUR FEELINGS. AND I RESPECT YOU. ALWAYS.

I don't know what else I can do to right this. Clearly, the word "sorry" does not repair damage done or uncomfortable feelings felt. It only shows I regret not considering how you would feel and how that would be.

A rocky start indeed, but yes, good to meet you. If you wish to continue our interacting, and/or try again, I am willing...alone this time. lol Just drop me a line.
~JS

And my reply:


Phew! Thanks for the email!
And I do feel TONS better now. Yes, you are right that you have also not earned my trust, but you were in a slightly more trustworthy position than they... probably because of the intense surprise that I felt upon meeting them -surprise to be meeting them. I know that I "ignored" you. The primary reason was because I felt that I needed to feel out your friends to see if I could trust them. I needed to know what they knew without "outing" myself to them.

I apologize if I was neglectful, but it wasn't for lack of interest as much as it was for trying to calm my awkwardly pounding heart.
And, the truth is that I DO indeed thrive on intellectual conversation -to uproot the rooted, to whether the raw, and to filter the unrefined. I felt like a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs and I apologize if I seemed somewhat distant... I was nervous and on the defensive.

Thank you so much for respecting my feelings. And as far as I am concerned we can consider the matter closed and no longer a need to fret over it.

~Caspian

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Just a quick note:
In my post Man vs. Self I said some pretty strong words... I need to clarify and so I have posted a dialogue between myself and Scot as a further explanation.

-Cas

Anonymity


Well, I feel like I may have made a mistake that has compromised my anonymity here in blog land. I got an email from a "fan" of my blog and he expressed interest in meeting for the sake of support and discussion. I agreed. Things did not unfold as I had expected. I was pretty miffed about the whole thing and when I got home I wrote this email to him:
JS-

I just want to make a couple things clear so that you understand where I am coming from and for the sake of transparency.


I really wasn't expecting to be introduced to any of your friends gay friendly or not. You need to understand how completely awkward of a situation you put me in. You introduced me to them as someone you met on a blog. Ok, I guess, but they seemed to understand that this was a blog that dealt with gay latter-day saint issues. Immediately I begin wondering, "Wow have they read my blog and now know who I am?" "What has JS told them?" "Can JS accurately describe my ever-changing feelings or do I need to offer and explanation to these two strangers?" As far as I know they haven't read my blog and I assume and would appreciate it that you won't share with them the link to my blog nor the contents of my blog. You have to know that it is intensely uncomfortable to walk into a situation where you have no idea what the other people know about you, but simply know that they know about the intimacies of your life on some level and you know NOTHING of them.

That's the reason why I have my blog, I want to remain anonymous. I broke a personal rule by meeting you. I was not expecting to meet anyone else. Don't get me wrong, your friends seem like great people and I am sure we would get along just fine. But I am forced to put a lot of trust in strangers with one of the most intimate struggles of my life. Even if they know next to nothing about the details of my struggle, they have not earned the privilege to know; the privilege to be trusted. Even some of my dearest friends that I am closest to do not know about my struggles. Call it closeted if you like, but I say its keeping my sacred struggle sacred.


I also want you to know that my blog still remains my one place where I am able to be completely honest. Don't be surprised if you read something on my blog that mentions my frustrations about tonight. And, yes, I will respect your anonymity. If this meeting has compromised my ability to be both transparent and anonymous in my blog then I will delete my blog and start over. Do you understand? I'm not writing this to be an ass. I need you to understand where I am coming from and why it is important for you to respect my wishes.


I am not ready to be identified as either gay or straight or bisexual. I am not part of an underground gay LDS community. I am me. I have friends and support. You expressed interest in meeting me because you wanted to know more about my stance and opinions -an open dialogue. And simply because you and I share one thing in common, it doesn't mean that we are instant friends with an instant kinship or "brotherhood." I am willing to be friends, but friendship takes time and needs to be built upon multiple commonalities. You may very well find that you don't particularly like my personality and that's ok. We aren't expected to be friends with everyone we meet. Simply because I am a Mormon it doesn't mean that I am friends with the greater part of Provo.


JS, I am sure that my forthrightness may be a bit harsh sounding,but I really need you to understand.
I'm sure on some level in writing this I may have hurt your feelings as well and I am sorry. It is not easy to write something so critical to someone that I hardly know and then expect them to respect my feelings. But that is what I am asking you to do. I also hope on the same token that you will be frank and honest with me. After all, this is partially my fault for being so careless with keeping my privacies private.
So that is what I wrote... I am left feeling pretty uneasy right now too. Ya know, I mean hell, the fact that I have same-sex attraction whatevers doesn't mean that it is the only defining feature of my life.... there is a helluva lot more to me than that. That is one reason why I don't feel such a need to share it with even my closest friends.

And I do feel that my struggle is sacred. It is what I was destined to have as part of my life. Its what I do with it that matters. Isn't that how it is with all aspects of life?

Why? Why do I do this to myself? Why do I stress myself out??? Grrrrrr.

I need some feedback on this one guys...

-Cas

Monday, December 04, 2006

Man Vs Self

Learning to undo years of self loathing was a painful but liberating process. But the tables have turned. I used to really love my life and my goals and who I wanted to be and what I believed I could become, but hated myself and was afraid of my SSA. I knew that the only way I could ever become the person that I wanted to be was to somehow let go of all the pent up energy, fear, self loathing, and shame. I finally did it and I was free.

However, now as I look at my life, I hate the direction it is going. I have lost my goals, my passions, my beliefs, and I don’t like what I am becoming. But I love me, I have accepted me and I wouldn’t want to change who I really am.

I find that I no longer hold myself accountable for my actions. I consequently victimize myself. I make poor choices and then just
ify them and say, “Well, I can’t blame myself for this because my set of challenges is unique and God cannot judge me for this.” I am not happy.

In the end it is just a fight against myself.

In my last post Elbow commented that I am at a cross-roads and that it is an exciting time for me. Well, as exciting as it may be at times, I am overwhelmed by indecision. It seems like I am trying to regain some sort of a direction for my life again and I can’t seem to get it right. I have made peace with myself, with who I am but I have not yet made peace with my life. My path is so cloudy and unsure and I am used to making decisions and just going for it and being at peace with it. But now everything has changed. Every choice I make it seems leads me to even more unhappiness and dissatisfaction with my life.

It would seem that in order for me to unconditionally love myself I had to sacrifice my happiness. How bizarre! Shouldn’t loving yourself bring complete happiness?

I spent some time out on the “scene” this weekend. I was reminded again of how repulsive the gay lifestyle is to me –that I don’t want to live out my pornographic fantasies as my life. I don’t identify with the gay lifestyle. I identify with heterosexuals and the heterosexual lifestyle. My closest friends are all straight and many of them married. The gay lifestyle is nothing more than a fantasy for me that I live out on an occasional weekend and return to my heterosexual world with disgust for my fantasy. My fear is that because I no longer have a base from which to draw personal strength from (as the Church once provided for me), that I will eventually try to make my fantasy my reality and that I will be left without a real life –a life without meaningful relationships, family, and ultimately making a difference in this world. I’ve said it before; I was called and created to make a difference in this world –to really do something special, to become someone. But my fantasy has begun to dismantle my goals, hopes, and dreams into a life of vanity and self serving attitudes.