Thursday, December 15, 2016

The gift that keeps on giving

Show me the way to go home
Many challenges in life are self inflicted.
We often make bad decisions because we
are unwilling to face our personal reality.
Thus I've at least one excuse for the many
mistakes made along my way. Yet now as
Christmas nears, I can't help but think of
the best gift my Mother ever gave me. Yet
she was only able to do so because I was
ready to receive it. You see, the barriers
that challenge us in life are rarely put up
by others. Rather we ourselves imprison
our hearts with preconceived notions that
are often unconnected with those we love.
Boy & girls club
Thus it took me more than half of my life
to finally discover the real me. Growing
up in a VERY conservative world - I had
no idea why I liked boys versus girls. Yet
something deep within told me they were
the wrong choice. So I stayed as far away
from boys by hiding my natural inklings.
I surrounded myself with girls. We liked
the same things and along quite well. And
while I wasn't willing to accept the reason
for such subterfuge, keeping my distance
from boys like me kept me out of trouble.
While also prohibiting me from being me.
House call
In 7th grade bullies beat me up every day
after school. To avoid a bloody nose...
I hid in the public library until after dark.
Spending my afternoons in that sanctuary
nurtured my love of books and learning.
It exposed me to things I'd not seen prior.
Places I'd never been. Beauty I couldn't
have imagined was possible. All of that
knowledge fueled my desire to escape the
reality of my rather narrow minded world.
Afraid of being hurt, I was unwilling to
take a risk by deferring to my seemingly
unnatural inclinations. And so... I hid.
Good often comes out of bad.
Hence for over 30 years I did exactly as was
expected of me. I wasn't living a lie given
I had buried my gay tendencies deep within.
I forgot about them and focused on school,
career, and the accoutrements of success.
I fell in love with a lovely girl, got married,
and had four wonderful, precious children.
As I built an ever more successful career our
family lived in charming homes filled with
beautiful things. Some thought we had it all.
Yet our "perfect family" was slowly but surely
falling apart. The fantasy that I'd created to
escape from my reality was nearing it's end.
Damaged goods
The life I'd built was a fabrication at best.
No wonder it didn't work given nobody
was happy. After a period of intense grief
and loneliness, I transitioned into a time
of amazing self revelation. I discovered
who I was  meant to be and accepted all
that went with it. With such a revelation
came the risk of possibly losing all that
I loved. Could my children accept a gay
Dad? How might my "lifestyle" impact
their lives? Could my parents accept the
fact that their treasured "boy" liked boys?
Was my latent fulfillment worth the risk?
Christmas Eve 1994
That Christmas the kids and I drove up
to our second home in Michigan. Soon
thereafter my parents arrived. Over the
next days we all tried to act like nothing
had really changed. By Christmas eve
the tree was up. Presents were wrapped.
Large toys fully assembled. After some
eggnog we said goodnight. As I lay in
bed I heard a soft knock at my door. My
Mother came in and sat on the edge of
my bed. We chatted about a variety of
things and then finally, she paused and
said something that changed me forever.
And to all a good night
"You are the happiest you've been since
you were a little boy." In response I tried
to smile. "And I think I've finally figured
out why." In hindsight my jaw must have
dropped. "Either you're in love with dear
Candy (my friend's wife) or your friend
LARRY..." Shocked (and mortified) my
retort was "I doubt either option would
make YOU happy.With tears in her eyes
Ethel said "Whatever makes you happy is
OK with me". And with one statement my
beloved Mother erased a lifetime of fear
and confusion. Suddenly I was whole.