Saturday, July 11, 2009

"As far as I'm concerned, it's all hot. Just because I'm not sticking it in there doesn't mean that I don't find it beautiful."

The title of this post is a quote from Adam Lambert in his infamous Rolling Stone article. I read that quote, and I thought it was the most awesome thing OMG EVER, so I wanted to use it somewhere, but the thought crossed my mind that if I did, some of my friends would be pissed off at me. I've been this way all my life, always finding friendships with people who don't respect me, or who put me down all the time, or who just basically treat me like garbage. I don't know why it is. Someone told me that as humans, "we accept the love we think we deserve," and I think that for me, there's a lot of truth in that. Maybe a part of me thinks that I deserve to have friends who cut me off in mid-sentence to mock what I'm saying, or to roll their eyes at me and tell me "that makes no sense" when I speak (even when what I said makes perfect sense, thanks) or who tell me that I look like shit and they don't want to be seen in public with me, or who wait for me to tell a story that I think i s so beautiful it brings tears to my eyes to tell it, and then when I'm done roll their eyes and say "that was stupid." I could go on and on. I seem to have a talent for picking relationships with people who don't respect me (and most of them wouldn't even recognize that they do this if I tried to talk to them about it...I know because I HAVE tried).

Part of being self-aware is realizing that I need to change some things, but the hard part is knowing that I have to work on ME, because I can't change anyone else. I have so many issues that I don't know where to start some days, but until I'm capable of seeing any good in myself, no one else is going to see any good in me, either. So onward I go.

I wrote this message for a friend, and I posted it on a message board awhile ago, but just to remind myself (and because maybe some of you might want to hear it, as well) I'm posting it here, too. I love you guys.

Someone posted this passage from the children's story "The Velveteen Rabbit" the other day, and I haven't read or thought about that story in years, but when I read these words again, they hit me so hard that I cried, because they describe me so well:

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very nappy. But these things don't matter at all. Because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

So I was thinking about this the other night, in the midst of about a week without sleep (and with very little's been a dark week) and these words came to mind, so I started praying them:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

Recently, I've started praying the serenity prayer at work. Like I said, I haven't slept in days, and I'm so stressed out and such that it seems that drinking and drugs and razor blades have never been as tempting to me as they are right now. I was thinking how weak I was that the temptation had never seemed to bother me this much in the past, and I'd never been overcome with it like I seem to be right now. Then last night it hit me...of COURSE it seems like the temptation is stronger now than it was before. Before, I always gave in. Now, I don't do those things anymore, so I know what it feels like to struggle against something that used to rule my life so strongly. It seems harder now because I'm fighting, and fighting is always harder than giving in.

I actually cried, I was so relieved to be able to see it that way. I have such a hard time seeing myself in a positive light and seeing myself as strong, because even typing those words seems alien to me. I'm not strong. I'm not anything good or noble or righteous, not the way I should be, because I'm surrounded by tangible reminders of every ugly failure I've ever had. But the thing is, these scars make me who I am. I shouldn't have made them, it was wrong, it was bad, blah blah blah, but even if it was wrong, they're here now, a part of me, and scarred skin may be ugly, but it's also stronger than regular skin, because something about the process of knitting itself back together makes it tougher than it was in the past. I may be ugly, but these marks show that I have lived, and that I'm still here to tell the tale.

So I thought about the things I can change, like my attitude, the things I can't change, like the nasty comments and opinions of others, and how the hardest thing for me has always been knowing the difference between the two, because I want so badly for other people to like me and see something good and worthy in me that I always think if I try hard enough, I will be good and be righteous and people will see that and finally, I will be good enough. It never works out that way, though, and because of this, every negative opinion hurts that much more because it reminds me again how I've failed and how I'll never be good enough. But there again, that's looking at things backwards...if nothing else, people's negative comments should remind me that no matter what I do, someone somewhere is going to disapprove, and I can't live for the opinions of others, I have to live for myself, because I'm the only one who has to be around myself 24/7 for the rest of my life. And as I was musing on the words of this prayer, I started praying it, over and over (I do that sometimes, pray the "Hail Mary" or the "Our Father" because those are the ones I can remember, and they help me focus on God and keep going) and I realized that "The Serenity Prayer" is probably the best thing I could pray to myself at work and throughout my life, when I'm surrounded by other people and their opinions, things I can't change, and motivated by the desire to be whole and accepted more than any other thing. If nothing else, God accepts me where I am, and I'm doing everything I can to put one foot in front of the other and keep going and survive, and I'm feeling every sling and arrow because I don't have drugs or alcohol or anything else to numb the pain like I had in the past. I'm realizing how much pain hurts when you have to actually FEEL your emotions. But this is good. It means I'm still alive, still becoming. All things new.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Coming Out

Someone asked me to post my "coming out" story here, since I keep going on and on about how mine is different. It is. I'm not like most people; I can't say "well I realized that I was attracted to people of the same sex at X age" because for me, things didn't work out like that. Someone asked me to write "What the letters GLBTACQI Mean to You" and this is what came out. I apologize if it's incoherent (and it's going to have more profanity than I typically use in this blog, because it's been the sort of week when I use profanity quite a bit).

Yeah, so when I was younger, I realized that I never fit in and never belonged anywhere, and I blame my mom for a lot of that, because she never let me go to school or get out of the house and socialize and be around other people and learn their language. So anyway, I felt like an outcast, and when I was fast becoming a rabid reader in my pre-teens, I read every book I could possibly find about gay people. I figured I wasn't one of them (since, you know, I didn't want to have sex with women, but then I didn't even know how women HAD sex, and I didn't want to have sex with anyone, even though sex dominated my thoughts as a kid, it was a skewed view of sex as pain and degradation, so even though I felt like it was a part of me, I didn't want any part of it) but anyway, yes, I figured I wasn't gay, but I figured that everyone hated gay people and everyone hated me, too, so we had something in common, so I should read about them. So I did. that's when I discovered Harvey Milk, and how he was the first openly gay person elected to US public office (other gay people had come out and told people they were gay after they'd been elected, but Harvey Milk was elected when everyone knew he was gay, meaning he didn't hide it but he told everyone about it because he was loud and mouthy but most people seemed to like him anyway). I read about him, and I read his speeches, and I became obsessed with him ("yes you did," said Lillian's friends list, "and we're all still paying for that, so many years later") because he talked about hope like it was a real, tangible thing that could keep people going when they had nothing else, and I had nothing else (I wasn't even allowed to leave the house) so long before I discovered Jesus, I discovered Harvey Milk, and I tried to have hope that someday, I would be able to break free from my prison (because that's what my home life was) and live. It took me years, but I managed to do just that, and forgive me a moment of blasphemy, but I'd have done well to hang on more to the message I got from Harvey Milk than most of the messages I got from church, because churches fucked me over and fucked me up royally for years. But anyway, gay people were always important in my life, so it bothered me somewhere deep down knowing that I was supposed to believe that they were going to hell (well, if they had sex and were happy, they were going to hell...if they stayed celibate and beat themselves up over every homosexual thought, they could stand a chance of being righteous one day maybe if God chose to love them more than they deserved or something).

In college I really desperately wanted to go to the gay group on campus, but I was too afraid to go...I went to a few meetings, but I was so messed up that it didn't have much of an effect. The only thing that wore down the stupid walls I had built in my head was years and years of being around gay people (because I stand by this: I always did love them and never thought they should have to change, even when I tried to change myself in later years, even when I beat myself up for my sinful thoughts, even when I hated myself, I never hated them, and I hated myself for not being able to think what they did was sick and wrong like I was supposed to fucked up is THAT?) And after years of being around gay people (and probably convincing every single person in my church that I was gay because I look back on my pictures from back then and I dressed like the biggest fucking dyke I've ever seen...but that was more to cover my body and not ever cause a man to look at me and think about sex, because that was a sin and that would send me to hell...just ask my church...) one day, after I'd walked away from the church and started kind of seeing this guy, I was watching an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer that I'd seen a million times before, when suddenly it hit me that I had a crush on one of the girls in the episode. Just like that. It never occurred to me before, but I think that's because I spent so much time in a screwed-up mindset about sex that I never thought there was anything positive about sex...I thought about it all the time, and I had graphic pictures in my head that nothing could erase, but I knew next to nothing about what sex really was and what it really could be...does that make sense? I saw that I had a guy who found me attractive, and suddenly I stopped thinking I was ugly and sinful and evil, and I stopped seeing my sexuality as something ugly and evil, too. So it wasn't until I had a guy who was sexually attracted to me, a guy I liked who was nice to me, that I could begin to see anything positive about sex, and it was then that I was able to open up to my crushy-gushy feelings about another girl (yes, I'm saying that it wasn't until I was in a sexual relationship with a guy that I was able to see sex with a girl as a good thing, yes, I know how stupid that sounds, this is why I've never said it before, no, I don't know why I'm saying it now...wait, yes I do...blame Dani).

So anyway, after this guy broke up with me, I got my first crush on a girl who I knew in real life, and then I had my first relationship with a girl, and even though it was messed up, I wouldn't trade it for anything, because it made me realize that there was always something missing when I had sex with a guy (I liked looking at him, I still like looking at guys and especially at naked guys but when it comes to actually having sex, I most certainly enjoy having sex with women more). So that's when I finally realized that I don't just empathize with the letters on that alphabet soup list, I'm ONE OF THEM.

That's the long answer to the question, of course. The short answer is that "GLBTACQI" means to me that we have WAY TOO MANY letters in our acronym.