Exit Stage Left

The ideal family is an impossible fantasy made up of roles we’ve been delegated to play. A standard imposed upon us by a society bent on conformity.

You want to shove me into your little boxes with your cute little labels. Cut off the inconvenient parts of me, the ones that don’t fit your mold of what a perfect woman, daughter, wife should be. You want me to shut up about my feelings and quit having ‘those’ thoughts. You want a life uncomplicated by the dark blues and greys that pattern my soul and bleed onto yours.

I came to a crossroad. I’ve decided to stop trying to follow along a path that is not mine to walk. I’ve set the sadness down; it isn’t mine to carry. Fear and shame do not belong to me either; I release them.

I release

I release

I release

Llego El Momento

It dawned on me today that all my sisters, all four of them, knew what was going to happen but did not dare to tell me. They knew that my only brother would soon betray me and said nothing. They let down our sisterhood.

My whole life I’d based my identity around family. I loved each sibling and my mom and would have gladly sacrificed my life for them. It never occurred to me that they didn’t have the same devotion to me, the same loyalty and love. How foolish and naïve to have behaved so confidently, trusting that “Love never fails.” Looking back, that was just ‘black and white’ thinking left over from my years of being indoctrinated by Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The year before, my baby brother, youngest of six, was sitting on my couch trying not to cry as he told me about his breakup. I was feeling it with him because I understood all too well the pain of heartbreak. I put my arm around his shoulders, and I kissed the top of his head. We sat there quietly until the early morning hours staring at the empty wall above the fireplace. Once he was sober, he drove home.

Soon after that day his replies to my texts and phone calls started to slow down. When I’d ask my sisters if they’d heard from him, they said he was hanging with a new group of friends and that he’d also met a girl. No one volunteered any information other than saying they’d only met once or twice with his new set of friends. I knew my brother; he liked to go ‘total immersion’ into situations; he’d done it before, so I thought nothing more.

The word, ‘friends’ should have set off alarm bells though. I’ve been disfellowshipped so long out of the Jehovah’s Witness cult that I missed the association. In their Congregations, they refer to each other as Brother and Sister and collectively as, ‘the friends in the faith.’ Witnesses don’t date one on one and are only with the opposite sex in a group setting when they have the intention of marriage.

My mom and siblings had many opportunities to tell me there was a major situation brewing as the months went by.  The situation being *ME.* They knew the girl my brother was interested in came from a family active in the faith; I did not know. The last twenty years the practicing Jehovah’s Witnesses in my family should have been shunning me. Instead, they’d all been going on vacations with my wife and me. Having dinner at each other’s houses and behaving normally with each other.

I remember I was a little hurt my brother didn’t tell me personally he was getting married. I heard it from a nonwitness family friend. I was confused, but I was too happy at the news to give those feelings much thought. In my imagination, I was already planning a celebratory dinner as the world had never seen. I was running so far ahead of everyone I was already planning where I wanted to take their future children camping. I was elated. I felt my heart stretching in my chest as it filled up with so much love.

Finally returning my call, he’s asking to come over he is in the area. Thrilled I quickly hang up so I can run a brush thru my hair. I think he must be finally bringing over his fiancee so that we can meet her.

He walks in alone and looking somber. I feel disoriented when I notice he isn’t making eye contact with me but I shake it off it might be because I’m high. His weird vibe prompted me to ask if everyone is ok, is mom ok. He says, “Yes they are, but we need to talk.” Still not understanding but so relieved I try to be funny and say, “Darn right Son-shine, how come I have to hear from a stranger you are engaged? Where is she why didn’t you bring her over?”  As I give him a tight hug and a big kiss on his cheek and tell him, I love him.

“She’s one of Jehovah’s Witnesses too.” He states in a monotone.

Too? Stupidly I do not understand the connection to him or me because I’ve not had to think about it for decades.

“We can’t associate with you anymore. We won’t be able to talk to you unless you repent and come back. You know that.” He stands up to leave.

I get it. I sit down hard in my chair my body going cold and numb.

I reach out my hand to him and say “My brother, together we have infinite potential, don’t go, you are murdering my soul.”

“I know.” The last words I hear as he walks out my front door.

I have to learn to forgive myself for the things I did as a child under the influence of parents and religion. Blind obedience and mindlessness were taught as virtues that one should strive to master. I was so eager to please. I feel embarrassed thinking back to that child.

I’m trying to release guilt I have for the people I’ve hurt by holding them to a standard that is impossible to achieve.  I was ignorant of other ways of thinking I only knew black and white.

Punishment is not how forgiveness is earned.

Corazoncito

It happens in the early mornings drinking coffee in the gentle sun. Or when something beautiful happens, and I feel the need to share. I’ll pick up my cellphone then quickly set it back down, it hits me like a fist hard against my chest, my mother won’t answer my calls anymore.

She drifted away so slowly from me as the Jehovah’s Witnesses pressured her. Too busy to plan anything then missed calls and unanswered texts began the process of disengaging herself from me. I’d stop over, but no one ever seemed to be home. I never believed she’d genuinely shun me for being gay.

I tell myself, I’m an adult I’m not a baby that still needs her mommy. I don’t need silly Spanish lullabies or a hug as a safe harbor from a shitty world. I will create my own family circle where love isn’t conditional or something to be shamed over. Piece by piece I will remake my broken heart.

When my mother’s cruelest cut was to say, “you disgust me.” life would become a battle against my nature with scripture and spirit my sword and shield. God would be my coping skill.

Slaying my worldly thoughts and desires day after day. Self-inflicted cuts upon my own heart and soul were praised and honored. Flagellating my curiosity until I no longer questioned.

Lovesickness forcefully coming through my dreams into reality. My cry came unbidden, deep and guttural at what I’d discovered. Love more potent than fear of disappointing and causing shame. I committed to an authentic, truthful self.

Reborn, no longer shackled, no longer chained.

Reborn outside my mother’s womb, I am no longer her child.

I am no longer a child.

Happy Birthday

I grew up with the knowledge that one day god will destroy everyone I love. When I surrendered to the fact that I was gay, I accepted that I would not live forever, not in paradise, not in heaven. I’m 26 in ‘worldly’ years if I count that my birth was from the point I was honest with myself and walked out the door. Were I to die tomorrow, it would be without regret. I’ve not held back even when the terror of rejection gripped my heart at having fallen in love. I loved, fucked and laughed as my spirit directed. A dark abyss or a state of bliss, at least I lived honestly.