Thursday, March 23, 2017

Unconditional Love #52essays2017 week 12

It was 15,000 years ago when Man domesticated dogs. The dogs have since then been bred and modified to best serve mans aesthetic pleasure or desire to have an unconditional companion. I think most experts say that most people fall into two categories, cat people vs dog people. I grew up with dogs through every single moment of my childhood. They were the fist loving interaction I had that encapsulated affection and the expression thereof. Despite my love for the canines there was always some trauma that left me bereft.

When I was a child we had Pebbles she was our Chihuahua that my uncle bought from a crack had for I believe $20 bucks. We also had a Doberman mix named Olly. I believe Olly found his way into something poisonous and died somewhere in my 4 years of age. Pebbles, however was the little ball of affection. Her small rounded head her large ears and her fearlessness of anything and anyone. She moved with us from Astoria, Queens as into our Brentwood, Long Island home.

In this time we had acquired an Alaskan Malamute we called "Lobo" on the account that he looked like a wolf. He was a crazy dog who hated being contained by fences and would often attempt scaling the fence and was successful a few times. He also tried to hump any living female dog he encountered whether they were in heat or not. We all loved Lobo, but one day upon coming home he was just gone. We couldn't tell if someone came in the yard while we were away and took him or if he successfully scaled the fence and ran away to some dog "haven" where he spent the rest of his days happy. (Once can still dream)

In the interim we had found a Doberman on our door step one day. She was affectionate and hungry. We just had lost Lobo and we still had left over dog food. We fed her and watered her and when no one claimed her we took her in and named her, "Dutchess." She became our new love and quickly fell into the family fold. She was very protective and intimidating and was a natural alarm system when visitors approached the house. She would lay down and place her head down when we had stopped to pray, which was often in a house of Jehovahs Witnesses. The only issue, we had to keep her away from Pebbles. Pebbles the first fierce Queen of the Sosa household was not to be usurped by a dog 5 times her size. No one ever told Pebbles she was a small little thing, she was grander and tougher than any Doberman that could ever enter her space.

One day I was super tired and I had went into my parents room to lay down for an afternoon nap. The room had been empty because usually we would place pebbles in there when we let Dutchess have roam of the house. After waking I got up and hazy from sleep I walked out my parents room and into the kitchen where my parents and some of my siblings were sitting chatting. Everything happened so fast, Dutchess hopped up form her bed in the kitchen ran towards me and it was too late before I looked down and saw pebbles was just stepping forward from between my legs. it was all to fast Pebbles let out a growl but Dutchess grabbed her with those Doberman jaws. The next few seconds I could only stare and hold my breath as I saw Pebbles play the part of a ragdoll in the throws of a death shake that large dogs and wolves only do to kill smaller pray and or render flesh from a fresh hunt. I don't remember how they got Pebbles out of Dutchess's mouth but I watched in further horror as pebbled tried to gain balance and walk but could not as it appeared Dutchess's front canines had impaled our precious Pebbles head and caused some major brain damage. We all were in tears and Pebbles took her last breaths in front of us and Dutchess went to lay back down as if her territory was now claimed. The raw survival and brutality of the animal world is always existent no matter how much we may intend to domesticate.
Dutchess had mated with another male Doberman and gave us a litter of 18 puppies. Who knew Dobermans came in so many colors. We had Black Dobermans, Red rust colored Dobermans, Blue silver Dobermans, and the rare Fawn Sandy colored Doberman. We sold all of these rare dogs and somewhere in the mix my mother and brother decided we should breed the dogs. Pick the best sire of the litter and find other Dobermans of various colors and create contracts with the owner of the Bitch and or Sires of the other Dobermans. From this point on we were used to having puppies in the home, seeing mothers through their pregnancies late at night or the resuscitation of puppies who may have been birthed in distress or who seemed unable to draw their first breath with ease. We learned to bottle up formula and bottle feed the runts of the litters or the puppies the mother rejected. We even had to aid a whole litter who suffered from respiratory problems due to a condition of the blood the mother Ruby, a red Doby from one of our litters had developed. It was the night we failed to save 6 remaining puppies and had to bury them in our back yard in the wee hours of the morning. I remember feeling so powerless at not being able to help these puppies after having successfully helping other litters into their new lives.

The Doberman breeding soon became too much. My mother was not in the spirit of continuing on this mission and my brother picked it up instead. He wound up finding a way to breed White Dobermans the rarest of them all. He also took up dog training and would train the dogs to react upon command. Often I would dress up in a padded suit and he would sick the dogs on me and would call them off in german commands. He extended his training to Rottweilers and German Shepherds which he would sell back to the Suffolk county police.

IN this time I was getting older and like most young teens I wanted something of my own. I wanted my own space, my own room, my own clothes, my own style, and my own pooch. It was at this time a woman we knew had found a mid size Staffordshire Terrier who was wandering the streets of Brentwood. The story was she may have escaped form some local resident who may or may not have fought dogs. The evidence was that her ears were chopped to the smallest nubs. This was explained to me a way for other dogs to not get to bite at those sensitive ear flaps if the dog fought. When I first laid eyes on this pitbull, she stole my heart. Its like we saw only each other in that small span of time we were introduced. She ran to me like she had always known me and I quickly through myself to her level and let her nuzzle close into me. Reassuring her that I was not dangerous and very much friendly. MY parents watched with smiles, but I saw that look on my mothers face that held suspicion about the breed of dog. At this point in the 90's Pits were only known for dog fighting and mauling people. I convinced my mother my responsibility factor and how much I would walk and feed this dog and they agreed as long as she got along with the dog we had at home, Apollo.

Oh Apollo.. Apollo was a fawn Doberman from the first litter Dutchess ever gave us. He became my fathers pride and joy, and my brothers as well. My brother had trained the dog exceptionally well. When we bought "pepper" my new pit bull baby home we introduced her to Apollo through a fence. They did not take to each other. Apollo puffed himself up, the ridge of his neck and back raised in threat and growls from somewhere deep in his throat. Pepper stayed put and remained alert her stance solid her stare firm. She did not back down at all but just stood her ground unafraid and willing to take what he was going to give. My brother having observed dogs in such close proximity having trained them he viewed himself as somewhat of an expert. He decided the fence allowed too much of a barrier and would not give them the actual opportunity to smell each other and interact. I thought it a horrible Idea and I was so scared to have lost this dog I already imagined spending so much time with. THe gate was opened leashes were placed on both dogs there circled each other and mock played and then the interaction of sizing one each other up because tails wagging and the two began to play fight. We all breathed out in relief.
Pepper became my best friend she cuddled me and would gentle take my hand into her mouth and place my hand in between both her paws and lick at my hand as if that was her way of holding me like perhaps she would with one of her puppies, if she were to ever have one. This dog was the sweetest dog I had ever encountered or had within our home she was docile and loving. She slept in the kitchen on her large dog pillow a few feet away from Apollo.

It all came to a head. My brother had bred Apollo with another Doberman bitch and the litter produced some beautiful fawn Dobermans. Two were left a runt we named Kojak and his brother I named Caramon. They sat I our kitchen in a large crate away from Apollo who was threatened by the two small but male pups. One day Apollo really feeling himself decided to urinate all over the cage and small puppies, a display of his dominance over his territory. Apollo was an asshole, it was plain and simple. He was like the Grumpy old man you knew lived with you but you put up with because the whole family accepted him. In my younger years Apollo once growled and cornered me to try an intimidate me. He was a 120 lbs Doberman, I decided my crazy out matched his and so I took the broom from the corner and lit that ass up. That was the first and last time Apollo tried it with me ever again. The air was off that day, there was tension in the air but I could not tell what it was or where it came from. One of the dogs had started to bark and it set Apollo off he ran towards the cage baring his teeth, to meet him was Pepper whose maternal instinct for the two puppies was in full effect. Apollo did not take kindly to her challenge and decided to attack her. This was my worst nightmare happening right in front of me. A large 120 lb Doberman and Pepper, a 75lb mid sized Pitbull fighting with all their gusto I had no other choice but to jumped in the middle trying to break this up. I grabbed them both by their collar trying to hold them apart, I paid for it with a thigh that was bit up in the confusion. I will not go into detail as even writing this causes me to tear up, but that day I was traumatized at the state of both dogs as they were finally successfully separated. They were torn and tattered, I was not given the time to really process what happened because I had a appointment that day to get my braces removed. It should have been a happy day for me. After the orthodontist office I got home only to find that Pepper was gone. I asked my parents where my dog was and they broke the news to me that they had dropped Pepper to the nearest pound. I remember time stopped and my heart just beat dully in my ears. I was in shock, my baby, my friend whom I spent nights and days cuddled with and shared in long talks as I walked her around the neighborhood.. she was gone and worse I had no say in it. I had no chance to say good bye. My last memory of her was her face bleeding and ripped open from a fight with a Doberman my parents decided to keep due to how long we already had him. The only expendable pooch was the newest one, mine. I cried and wailed and asked, "WHY??!!" in my best Nettie from color purple impression. I demanded answers I never got and I just eventually lost the will to ask any more questions.

Caramon was sold and Kojak, the runt of the litter was still around. Unfortunately he was about the dumbest dog I ever seen. He was the dog that you threw food too and he sniffed around like he just barely smelled it and couldn't find it, he would run into the wall unable to stop his momentum. I couldn't do him.. I opted to research Doberman rescue and get him in their care because I couldn't love him fresh off of losing my Pepper.

In a small window, another dog had made its presence in my life. Her name was Crystal, she was a brown and white spotted pit bull. I cannot remember where this dog even came from, and on a swift mission to come off of my loss of another pitbull I convinced my parents to allow me to keep her. Guilt, I played on their guilt. I told them about the hurt and loss I experienced with Pepper. Me and Crystal clicked like to long lost friends this was instant love. Crystal was way more energetic of a terrier than Pepper was. She was the runner and the chaser. She was my energetic baby. Here came the drama... New neighbors moved in. This was a black family who were cool but had the worst BEBE ass kids to grace this world. Those little bad ass children would torment my Crystal when she was left in the yard to run. They would throw water balloons at her or push sticks and toys through the fence taunting the poor pit until she chewed up all they placed through the fences holes. This caused her to develop a mistrust and negative disposition towards children and anyone black. When my parents decided to sell their house they suggested I find the dog a home. I cannot get into the specifics of this either but the dog wound up in my sisters care in an apartment in Manhattan.. from yard to confined elevator spaces... to this day my sister claims a woman took Crystal to a "farm" where there was plenty of room to run...
"the farm" yall, the "farm"..

Last but not least my last dog was a rust colored Dachshund named Teesa. She was a result of my Ex surprising me with a puppy. She was my little baby girl and I was gonna be the best parent to her... this resulted in me breaking up with my boyfriend of that time and having to find a place to live. Having a Dog was not making that process any easier and I made a tough decision to find her a home with someone else. I got her a home with a pet Psychic and Astrologer in Long Island, named Jane. She was mourning the loss of her Teacup Yorkie who dies after a ripe old age of 20 years. After two years she was looking for companionship and Teesa found a home with her. I visited the first 3 times as was prompted by Jane who encouraged me Teesa would always be my baby and a new home and owner did not change that. Teesa was renamed Lucy. This hurt me too much to see her and have to leave her, I think I felt how perhaps some parents feel when seeing their kids with a step parent. I couldn't handle the sadness and so I left Teesa in her new mothers hands and moved on with life. There is not a moment I do not see a Dachshund and get a little sad.

I am thankful to all the dogs I was able to have in my lifetime and the joy and affection they allowed me to experience but I cannot at this point think dogs and I just will not mix. I can have interaction with them by visiting friends with dogs. I can catch a brief glimpse of old nostalgia with mans best friend.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

To have and to Get #52essays week 11

I was always taught the differences on the need and wants by my father at an early age. He made a point to draw a full diagram an idea he got from a psychiatrist I had to see no a trial error by school mandate. Once he got a hold of this diagram he got creative and decided to damn near point out every single thing in the house and/or in my room that I had the "luxury" of utilizing in which were all privileges and wants. The needs were the main top necessities he was required by law to provide me with, which were a roof over my head, access to education, food, and general wealth by way of pediatrician. Looking back at his methods I appreciate the Petty he embodied by such displays, anything to drive the point home. And trust and believe me you are very tit for tat and petty-licious when you can claim Cancerian zodiac sign as your own.

The emphasis on bare necessities caused a shift in my desires to attain anything for myself that I would want to have. I convinced myself I did not require certain things and therefore did not need to get them. This had effected my wardrobe of all things in a particular way. I would never get more than a pair of jeans or shirt depending on the sale at the time and if I did I wore the hell out of those jeans and shirt until seems popped and worn holes formed from constant washing. I would never get more than one pair of sneakers but wear out the one pair very well until seems busted and tongues talked, before I even considered buying a new pair. It became a mantra, if I came upon something I wanted.

"Do I really need this"

The answer to follow would be, hell nah. Off I would go with no purchase made at all in my favor.

The above paired with low self image, even when I did have money I felt fear to purchase some things. I would be shamed to by certain food in public, things like chips, or candy, or Entenmanns cakes. I just convinced myself someone was watching me and judging me on how I eat which reflected my weight. When it came to clothes I had this love hate relationship with fashion. Nothing I liked would fit me. It was very clear in the world of fashion that I could only dress in limitation. There were no options for me so I avoided so many stores many of my friends shopped at.

It was not until recently when I my partner had encouraged me to go into Guess, a store I never would even dream of shopping in and who hardly ever had anything that fit me unless it was socks or a watch. I have recently changed by diet and incorporated some exercise into my life routine and as a result some weight loss has occurred. I saw this beautiful light gray jacket that could be my light-wear jacket for when it gets warmer. While my Boo was perusing the store giving me much time to kill, I braved the dressing room and mirror and tried on the jacket. IT FIT! It JUST fit, but it fit! I know a few more pounds off and I could rock this thing.

It was not until then a grand epiphany hit me.. I never bought anything I considered too stylish because I assumed it didn't fit someone like me. I was no the Ambercrombie and Fitch looking type, I was by no means fitting into Calvin Klein anything but I had set up a feeling and mindset of unworthiness around my fashion which on some level defined my look. How crazy is that?! The things we bring over from childhood and allow to stick in our brains.

I will be rocking some of these in the near future and feeling thick and cute. This is a necessity. My partner who is a professional shopper, encouraged me to not forget that we work hard and we bust our ass and there is nothing at all wrong with investing in ourselves and our desires. Look at his Guru ass! Appreciate him for it.

Well since then I have bought shoes I would never wear and I been trying on clothes with wild abandon and zero Fucks. I am challenging every thought about myself I can identify as untruth.

Until next time guys.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Parents process #52essays2017 week 10

I had always been a responsible child and form the age of 15 started working immediately in order to somewhat pay my own way. I would make $275 bi-weekly and I would offer my parents at least $100 of it. This was to curb the ultimate parents declarations of "You got money for that?" or "As long as I'm paying for you things I will get you whatever I see fit." This allowed me to buy my own clothes with my employee discount since I worked in retail. I was also driving as early as permit ready, and was trusted with the second car we owned, a white Ford Taurus.I would drive this car to work despite me having only a drivers permit. After being employed by the hospital shortly after, I was further independent with how used my money to support myself. . Once My parents left to their new home, and I stayed behind living with my aunt and family I was left the car under the condition that I pick up the insurance payment. I agreed and was able to keep the care to use and maintain at my own leisure at 18/19 years old.

During this time of figuring out myself,I had played moments of my coming out over and over. It fueled a deep seeded rage I had that I was so powerless and cared so much what my parents thought of me. It would be another two years of me only seeing my parents once a month as I would have them off an envelope full of money for Geico. It was short hellos, how are you's and swift goodbyes as we were genuinely comfortable around each other. Even at the time of writing this I cannot remember if it was my discomfort of their lack of acknowledgement over one of the most emotional wrecking experiences I had at their hands or that I interpreted their nonchalant behavior as a going through motions to patronize me. All I know is I dreaded going to see them and all because the interaction was so inorganic and felt like there was always a pink elephant in the room dancing point in a pink and black polka dot Tutu with a tiara made of marshmallows and rhinestones that we would never look at let alone talk about.

At the time I believe I was 20/21 yrs old and I was dating someone who told me I needed to see one of his favorite movies, Torch Song Trilogies. HONEY!!! I am an Old Gay at Heart and this movie blessed me to the core. The most poignant scene for me was the ending scene where Harvey Fierstein mourns the loss of his lover, Mathew Broderick. His mother played by Anne Bancroft was heading to her husbands grave to pay respects, and Harvey had it in his mind to also go and mourn his late lover by doing the jewish mourning prayers a wife honors her husbands memory with. She huffed and puffed and went back home to his house where she stayed as his guest. His mother not understanding or acknowledging her sons relationship as existent let alone something to mourn, turns on him and in turn he defends himself from her verbally as he justifies his relationship not just with his late lover but with himself and his mother. This was a moment where he confronts his Mother and best friend turned attacker when he exclaims to her the words that changed my life forever.

"Look ma IM gay. I don't know why I don't think anyone does. That's what I know, I know as far back as I could remember back before I knew it was different or even wrong... I know you rather I was straight. IM not! Would you also rather I lied to you? My friend Ed, he would never dream of telling his parents. Instead he cut his parents out of his life, and his parents wondered why. Why is my child so distant? Is that what you rather? You want to be part of my life I'm not editing out the things you don't like. .. Theres one more thing you better understand. I have taught myself to sew, cook, fix plumbing, build furniture and even pat myself on the back when necessary. All so I don't have to ask anyone for anything. There is nothing I need from anyone except for love and respect. And anyone that can't give me those two things has no place in my life. You're my mother I love you, I do.. but if you cant respect me you have no business being here."

BABY!!!!! I am still HOLY GHOST BUCKING in my living room as I write this. A ball of emotion as this brilliant dialogue did what art is supposed to do. It stirred and built up such an emotion in me that I was invigorated to do or say something to shift my situation. I could not know what the shift would do or the outcome it would inspire but I knew I had to say something to the dreadful silence of the unsaid. I was carrying too much anger, and shame that I desperately tried to block out with some of the good things in life I had found about myself.

I was in a show at the time, Seussical the musical and I was headed to rehearsal and took advantage of the long travel time to call my mother and have a real conversation. I felt all the emotion in my voice as I asked my mother if she thought our interaction for the last few years was authentic and or normal. She tried to feign ignorance but I would not stand for it. This was going to be a real conversation no masks, no faking of the funk. I for once stood in my power and reminded her (much like Harvey in his EPIC Dialogue) that I was happy and experiencing many things in my life that I would love to share with my parents and loved one and I also been through hell in many other areas of my life that I would never be able to share with them and it hurt me to the deepest parts of myself. I told her I refused to edit my life for anyone and that all I needed was love and respect which all I ever offered them in my existence. I reminded her that what her and my father did was atrocious and there were may other things said and did that I hated and would never agree with, however I found the ability to love them beyond that and embrace who they are and at this point in my life I needed them to do the same. If they could not then there was no need to further talk or interact and I could simply mail them any further payments. This broke her open and she shed tears and apologized and I received her pain. I was open and cracked myself the emotions pouring out of me and leaving a void of which I took whatever my mother in her mutual vulnerable state was willing to share.

She explained to me since holding me in her arms as a child she felt the overwhelming love only a mother could feel. I was the only product of her happy marriage with my father and her regret was not being able to give him even more children after myself. She reminded me how happy my father was to have a son, because his brothers all had daughters and the Sosa name was left with m to pass on. She further explained that throughout the yeas of supporting me best they could as a youth they could not help but envision my graduations, my courting of a nice young lady, my marriage and then the gift of grandchildren and hopefully the little black baby my mother always told me she hoped and expected me to give her. She told me there were many times when she knew I was different than she cared to admit and how I would help pick out her outfits and my exceptional taste in doing so, or how sometimes if men came around that even she found attractive how I would become nervous and bewildered ot how they say in the south, "Caught the vapors." She explained to me that to find out I was any other way than what was planned for me or expected of me it was like a death or sever transition that was just too much too soon. It left her feeling angry at herself. Did she do something wrong? Was there something she did that made me this way? Would I end up being the lonely gay man she always encountered in her life, devoid of a loving partner or sick with some chronic and fatal disease?

As my mother began to speak to me I also remembered a quick and important conversation I had with my father who at one point before I came out, which was spurred by his inability to see me as anything else other than a child. He told me to be patient with him and my mother as they only knew me for the last 17 or so years as their child. I was dependent on them for everything adhering to all their rules and structure and that for me to just one day be grown enough to think and do for myself was not something that just automatically uploaded into their psyche. They needed time ot process this and then act accordingly.

It was then I realized this whole experience while mostly centered on me was not entirely about me. This was a part of the coming out I would never fully understand or empathize with as I was not a parent. I did not know this particular loss or process and only knew my own in relation to the event. It was then something softened in my heart for my parents, this was the vulnerability that led to honest conversation that I needed. I needed to know they felt something during this process and that it was as monumental as what I felt I endured.
Compassion took over and from that moment on me and my mother as well as my father started mending our relationship to the fine place it is.

Below is the clip and the conversation really picks up @ 2 mins and 16 secs in.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Gods Silence #52essays2017 week 9

It was right after I came out to my parents. I have to say my parents because other than my sister my parents were deathly afraid of anyone finding out the shameful secret. I did share this information to the very few I could express myself freely with. Luckily I had select friends whose parents and them kept me loved and supported through these times. Its not that I could not process what they were doing as kind and/or necessary but the desire for me to have that from my own parents trumped any appreciation I could revel in.

This was the worst time for me and God, who in the Fuck was this God?! Terrible one! Killer of first borns! Plague bringer! Was it him who printed out my AOL conversation? The same God who when I lost my retainer for 3 days checking every pocket and drawer searching for in despair because my parents threatened for every day I could not produce the retainer I would be punished, only to find it in the pocket of the pants I had checked several times before? The God who made me this way?

This was the renewal of deep seeded depression and old insecurities that already infected me. It was some time later my mother told me she would find me as a young child in my room by myself or when I was alone and thought no one looking, crying and staring off into the distance. She would ask me what was wrong and I would respond with, "You don't understand. There is nothing you can do." When she would press me I would withdraw further into myself for days on end. I had to be reminded of this as somewhere and somehow I blocked this all out of my mind. I can only imagine that I knew I was different and I also knew it could not come to light without me feeling the scathing consequences. Seems I was right.

This led me to late night conversations with God. I hated him for all I was and all he allowed me to go through, and yet I had no choice but to turn to him in my times of need as was inculcated for me to do. I now can imagine the odd and damaging dynamic where the abused have to rely on their abuser for something due to circumstance and life positioning. In the contemplation of this relationship between me and God it was apparent that I was in an abusive relationship. He was emotionally unavailable and never answered when I requested of him his Divine aid. Surely he read my heart and new my desire. Countless nights haunted with insomnia, my ears wet from tears who ran their course as I laid looking at my ceiling. My eyes puffy and red spent from crying, my nose raw from blowing, my throat dry from incessant pleading for God to make me straight. To make me normal. What response did I get? Nothing. Silence, bleak and daunting met me these evening reminding me of my loneliness.

One night in one of my most earnest tear shed request from God, the Silence thundered and resounded. Stillness was present, this state of in between in which all things stopped. Time was not a factor. MY past and future did not exist I was left with me and only me in the present moment. In this moment I heard a voice, it was feminine. Deep with wisdom and yet light enough to ease my fears enough for me to listen. The voice spoke into my mind, rivaling the silence just moments before.
"God cannot and will not answer you. You ask what God cannot nor would not give. You ask him to make you normal and you make you different than how you are. God already declared all that was made, 'Good'. He has no answer for you and yet that is the answer. Gods silence is your answer."

This thought rocked me to my very core. I had been imploring God for something I could never have. I was left feeling like the kid who kept asking the parent for something that the Parent made it apparently clear the child could not have nor would they provide. Yet I expected a different answer, some how I wanted mountains to move, thunder in the clouds with loud voices and doves, I wanted cherubims with flaming wings and swords to reveal a different truth. That something was wrong with how I was and needed to be made differently. I believed this lie, all this time I had hung on the word of what others told me or showed me I was. I believed I was shameful, disgusting, unworthy of anything worthwhile.

God did not have a hand in my anything, or did he... Was the printing of my online conversations a push in the direction of me coming out? Something I would have avoided and continuously endeavored to live a double life in fear of being found out?

Was this the voice of God I heard moments before, this beautiful female voice? Was God a She?

It would not be until years later I understood the importance of Stillness and listening when in that space. What I did learn from that day forward was that shame was not something I was willing to carry. Not over my orientation which I could not change if I wanted to. Which I couldn't choose if I had tried. I was to start living in the notion and wonder of being me. Not that I knew who I was but By Golly I was going to find out without fear of anyone trying to dictate how I should feel or be in this life.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Coming Out #52essays2017 week 8

Realizing at a young age I liked other boys was weird. It was weird because while I knew what I was feeling felt natural and so strong, I also knew I could not share it or talk about it to anyone. Interestingly enough I had people around me who made fun of anything that was not Masculine enough to be defined through the lens of a societal norm as well as harsh criticism. Throughout the years I fantasized about if my first kiss would be with another boy, although the opportunity arose I was petrified by the sheer actuality of it and instead kissed my good friend sister instead. I had crushes on boys I may have went to school with but I knew all I could ever do was give them dap in passing and prove my "masculinity" to them by being able to walk the walk and talk the talk to whatever extent would leave me passing for acceptable.

Funny enough it was a young girl I befriended and her sister who gave me my first exploratory experiences and journey into sexuality and mutual pleasure. However, as mentioned in a prior essay the intimate reaction while beautiful and honorable left me empty and devoid of any connection. I was fully engaging in sexual relations with whomever I could and it only fed a desire in me to want more and more. This turned into anonymous encounters with random boys my age group or men who exceeded that age range. This anonymous world allowed sex to occur whenever how ever but little else. I didn't realize at the time I was using this momentary mutual desire to feel validated as a sexual being. Just the idea that someone picked me, or wanted me and enough to allow me to interact and participate with them. It sounds odd but it was the one moment where I did not bare the weight of feeling like the odd man out. The outsider looking at everyone else having what I felt I never could or would.It wasn't until my late teens that I was given the opportunity to meet other gay boys and men whom I could interact with on a sexual and friendly manner.

It was not until I had to come out to my parents that my world turned upside down. This was the day of AOL chatrooms where one could get a CD of free hours and trial time periods where on could interact with others all over the web with like interests. I had entered these gay chat room and flirted with men some of which were twice my age. We exchanged quips, laughs, and most of all sexual innuendo filled conversation that one could obligingly call "flirting." To this very day I cannot tell you how this happened, but the why was a apparent. I had had a half online half phone discussion with a 41 year old man who lived in Florida. He saw a pic of me and thought I was actually good looking, some thing I was not used to from random encounters where I felt any man would look at you a particular kind of way if horned up enough. We had proceeded to talk about our interests in music, and performing arts, for literature, and of course sex. A long detailed online conversation about how well we both enjoyed oral sex both giving and receiving. Well this exact conversation for some strange reason wound up printing out on the printer without my knowledge.
Not too far in the future, perhaps later that week I came home from high school and my father was in the kitchen. As I walked by he spoke at me, "Go upstairs to your room. You and I have to speak." I got nervous thinking perhaps I forgot to do some chore in the house he must have repeatedly asked me to perform. When my father came up the stairs and entered my room, he tossed a folded bunch of papers on the bed that separated us on either side of the small room. When I grabbed the paper and opened it up seeing my screen name and the other gentleman, I broke into a sweat. My stomach turned in nauseum, and I slowly looked up. My father was so upset but worse, the disappointment dripped from him in tandem with his sweat. He reminded me he was a man of the God and how I was raised. He explained that God, him and my mother did not raise no faggot and that I was no longer welcomed under his roof. I felt bereft and abandoned just then, where could I go? Would I have to ask around if anyone would take me in? If my own parents did not want me for being gay and I was their own child who else would even want me. My father in his anger when he found the letter, had called my sister who was living some distance away explained to her the circumstance by which I had to leave his house. This felt like a further betrayal, while I loved my sister dearly by way of nostalgic memories and general principle of family relation, we were not close by any means. Separated by several years and her moving out early from our house, I was Ashamed yet another party new my business and secret. My sister came and spoke to my parents and they directed her upstairs to my room to brief me on my departure to go live with her. I in no way was packing any bags I was too in shock at the reality that my parents kicked me out of my home. The only volumes across her visage. She said few words but they impacted me greatly, "How ya holding up?" I broke. I crumbled and I cried my greatest and deepest tears. Of all the things to come out of her mouth I didn't expect such sympathy and consideration for me and my feelings at this moment. She consoled me and told me what she would moments after leaving my room repeat verbatim to my parents.
"David, I love you. You are my little brother and I will always love you and support you. Nothing is wrong with you. Sure I can take you from here and put you in a school district somewhere else. The issue is... this is where you life is. This is your home and no one is going anywhere if I can help it." What magic words she used in reciting this to my parents I will never know but they worked. My father came up and told me he talked to my sister and decided it was not the best move but he did tell me that I had to talk to the Elders (leaders of the congregation) and tell them about the life I had been living.
Feeling choice-less and powerless I reluctantly agreed and the next time I went to church I looked around and realized this may be the last time I see these people under the pretenses that I was normal and accepted amongst them. I had to look around and see the face of my peers, some of which were school mates, adults who knew me since I was six years old and elders who led the congregation that I had respected and loved on some level. Post the service I was taken to the back by my parents and told to explain to the elders what I was and for how long. I was mortified I did not know where to start. Was this like confession of the Catholics? Was I supposed to tell them all the sexual acts had performed on both women and men alike? Was I just to tell them I was gay, as if that was the end all be all? I honestly do not remember exactly what I said or how I communicated the point across that me and men was what it was, and I could not repent about it because it was above me. This was not a choice but a natural inclination, an instinct that was with me from the beginning. The Elders did as I suspected they would they took to the bible to tell me how wrong I was in this area of my life, but I had access to the same scriptures and rebutted their admonishments with a few key scriptures I thought that explained love supersedes the trivial nonsense of who one actually loves or is attracted to in a consensual manner. I was made aware that I was to not speak to the rest of the congregation and I was to be announced as someone who was stripped of any titles I earned as an active member in the congregation and while many would not be made privy to the nature of my separation they would still know I was marked as "inapproachable" and "unrepentful." This was a sock and shock to my whole system. I had been actively attending this church with these people since I was 6, in ten years of building relationships and in some cases spiritually going through the motions I was being dismissed in mere minutes.
Later my mother bothered and hurt by all this recent news, lashed out in the worst possible way. Before I can tell you what she said or did I would have to first explain why it would hurt so much when she she did.
Me and my mother were like best friends. At birth after 36 hours of labor I had went into distress and died for a short amount of time and was resuscitated shortly afterwards. A Preemie by three weeks I was born small, nail-less and put into an incubator. My mother had formed a bond with me like no other. Some of my constant childhood memories is us at home as we played Crazy eights, Rummy 500, Gold Fish and War with decks of cards on our free time. My mother was good to come with a pen and pad and play Hanged man with me. We spent so much time watching shows on tv and movies and laughing about so much. I was the youngest I was home more than my siblings who were always out and about in the world being teenagers. Being the youngest I had to also learn how to cook at a young age. My mother a type 2 insulin dependent Diabetic would often get low blood sugar in which her behavior would change drastically and verge on violent, scary, or faintish in which a coma was not entirely out of the picture. I was trained at a young age to find something highly dissolvable like a mint or candy, or even juice which would spike her blood sugar much faster than most other things. Another sure fire thing to do was to get her to eat, which also helped to raise sugar. Worst case scenarios there was a special syringe in the refrigerator I was to use in the event she fainted and or became unconscious. I also new how to draw insulin into a syringe if need be and remove any free air before injecting as well as extracting blood from her fingertips to place on strips and run through her glucometer. This was all by 9-10 years of age I learned this. Many times I cooked my mother some eggs and toast or some rice and pan fried pork chops and I coerced her into sipping milk with sugar stirred in or juice if we had any.
So imagine my dismay and hurt when one day coming in from home, I walked into a silent kitchen. I greeted my mother kissed her cheek, of which she looked straight ahead and did not acknowledge my presence let alone return any affection. I figured she was still upset at what happened at me coming out. I chose to ignore and keep on moving, perhaps retreat to my room and avoid seeing my parents so miserable. As I walked out of the kitchen to leave what I heard stopped me in my tracks.

"You disgust me. Everything about you disgusts me. I cant even look at you without seeing a dick in your mouth and a cock in your ass. I wish you would have stayed dead when you were born. You are a waste of an investment f 17 years of my life. You think I didn't know you were bring a faggot in my own house. I found the sex toy in your draw. I knew you've been using them on yourself. Your fucking disgusting!"

I didn't feel the sadness I was my mothers child as feisty as they come and I had a retort on my lips as I released the following, "No mom you disgust me. You are nothing but a little girl afraid of life. Such an adult and you cant handle that I like boys, or as you know men. I must have gotten it form somewhere, probably you. I guess what really is sad about you is that you never loved me, you pretended for 17 years to give a shit about me and now you realized that was all based on one thing. Who you wanted me ot be and not who I actually am. SO the only one here disgusting is you."

I must have shocked the shit out of her because I did not feel the lethal tug from behind I would have expected for opening my mouth and talking back to my mother in such a manner. In fact I walked away and up to my room without any attack from behind signaling that I had crossed some line that did not fly in any Puerto Rican household. Everything became a blur after that, I remember something in me opening up and cracking straight down the middle. I was left open and exposed, and yet while tears flowed continuously I can honestly say I felt nothing. This was a numbness I never experienced in my life. Was this a natural chemical defense of endorphin that coursed through my body to avoid pain? I knew I was hurting and what was said devastated me, how could it not? And yet it was emptiness, as if my body reacted to what sadness would do to it but I was not there in the moment.

A day or two later as I read a book up in my room I heard wailing, such a grief stricken painful cry that I thought surely someone was dying. MY mother weak dragged herself on her stomach hands and knees up the stairs. her tears leaving a streak of regret on each step as she slowly made her way up. She apologized and asked forgiveness and In all the words she needed to get off her chest I could not hear any of them. I went through the motions yet again, got up and hugged her, consoled her through touch and silencing her mourning. Yet I felt nothing, I looked down at a stranger. I might have well been consoling anyone who fell and hurt their knee. I was left devoid of emotions, but I had a void the likes of which needed filling. That's in itself is a whole other essay.

Monday, February 20, 2017

The seen and felt #52essays2017 week 7

There are those moments where you find a mentor. You find a person to take you by the hand expecting nothing but your success. They see something in you that you did not see yourself and try to influence and shape you into the greatness they see while giving you room to be uniquely you. This was my friends mother. She decided to share with me her experience of seeing the unseen and dealing with them at a young age. Her experience started at three where spirits would enter her body and either she would take on a new persona, speak of things she couldn't possible know at her age or had yet to learn, or in some cases rolled across the floor as something stronger than her wrestled with trying to take over her person. She explained to me that as a little girl growing up in PR this was not so uncommon and she was placed on the path of keeping a mesa blanca (white table) which was a sacred space one set up in their home much like an altar. This was a space that was kept clean, and filled with key things that keep the spiritual energies flowing, and constant. There is a representation of the elements present and the table served as a plac of not only communication but trabajando la obra de dios (working the works of God).

The first reading I got was from my friends mom and sister who both told me of spirit guides they saw walking with me. They explained to me I was not alone and that at birth we were signed entities that work on the non physical plane in order to help us over come the trials of life and in essence by elevating us they elevate their stature and vibration/energy in that realm. This was a total foreign concept for me. All I knew was the vengeful Jehovah, taker out of first borns, bringer of plagues, God of the Israelites... then in contrast the very cool calm and collect Jesus who did major PR work for the prior God of the bible and his reputation. I knew from prior teachings there is only God and the Devil anything that wasn't what was considered God through the lens of the "organization" of Jehovahs witnesses then it was demonic. I had called on this God my whole life and felt very little of this loving and or protective presence that was described in scripture.
However, this new information had me reeling with the possibilities of perhaps I had been asking for the wrong help from the wrong source. I was calling to management in hopes they send someone down form headquarters meanwhile I had a whole league of co workers waiting for me to ask their help.

I was set on a road of development, where I started learning to do dedicative work at my altar. Learning to give energy in up-keeping and maintaining the altar, changing the waters in my glass(es) and burning of the incense or candles. This was more about keeping ourselves clean and maintained to be tapped into spirit, the altar was reflective of ourselves. Then came the prayer, yes the words had meaning as they were repeated over and over but the other thing they did was become a repetitive mantra or chant of sorts which allows one to zone out and quiet the mind so that one could truly hear. This was my biggest challenge and put me in a constant fear of not being heard yet again when I called out for assistance of a divine nature. There were times I would pray so long and so hard I would fall asleep at my altar. I would get frustrated because I was so impatient with the process, I felt all my altar maintenance and hard praying something should have happened. I don't know what I expected but part of it was some grand revelation, some parting of the clouds and some ray of light that speaks to me and validates my great job. Perhaps some spirit to appear in the friendliest of manners and letting me know all was not in vain and from now on we were gonna be best buddies. Nothing of the sort happened.

In the tradition we would have things called Misas, which could be likened to seances where spirit communication was sought out and where mediumship was developed. All present were encouraged to open up, quiet their minds stay in the present moment. Close their eyes and see, be still and listen. In these moments spirit would communicate with us. I attendee one of these almost every weekend for a year. I would see mediums give messages from the beyond, from dead relatives or interpreting messages from other spirit guides to those who needed to hear those exact messages. I felt so useless in these gatherings as I could in no way participate and just sat there enraptured by the information present but also wishing to participate in some way actively.
One day out of the blue it happened, I started having dreams with an old woman who seemed familiar although I never met her. Her name was confirmed as a family member of mine who I have not met and when I saw a picture of this deceased relative I was able to confirm this was the woman I had been dreaming with. Spirit guides started showing themselves to me and I was finally communicating with these entities. The next misa I attended I was able to pick up on information I was shown in my head in the form of flash images and strong impressions and I was able to speak up and give these messages to those in need.

For once I was not the odd man out, I was a part of something that was interactive and could be felt. This was so different than the monumental silence I had always experienced, this was tangible and could actually be felt.

This was the liberation I was looking for, being able to feel when I communed with the Divine. Being able to see and tap into that divine source. Being able to advise and minister to those who needed it.
This was what spurred religion, this connection made people seek out ways that could connect others to this great source. I also realized this was not a reliable way of approaching spirit, since everyone journey and connection to source is different and requires its own space and time to process and establish their connection.

Monday, February 13, 2017

From Looking to Seeing #52essays2017 week 6

A few years into the mix of me having freedom living virtually on my own and studying bits and pieces of various traditions, spiritual practices and religions I started to feel the loosening of the chains that bound me to old God concepts and ideas. I had been working in the hospital with my cousin and we became even closer than any two siblings could get. While practicing Wicca with her and being turned on to the connection of elements and spirit to energy work, I still was not completely taken with the wiccan practice. I was grateful to it, I sensed its power and or energy as a practice which was in stark contrast to the Kingdom Hall in which I felt was devoid of all energy, spiritual or otherwise. I just did not find the connecting feeling in which one feels so overwhelmingly drawn to a practice that they can claim their own.

In the course of me working at the hospital I befriended a young lady a few years older then me but in my age group none the less. We talked for two minutes in person and were instantly drawn to each other. Two peas in a pod, this was a best friend from another lifetime that I found again. Of this I was so sure. We began to spend lunches together as my shifts fluctuated between night times I spent more with my cousin and day times I was able to spend with my new friend. One particular day when we were sitting and having lunch we were discussing spirituality and the many religions and practices that exist. She was scared or mistrusting of my cousins Wiccan practice, the notion of her being a witch made my new friend automatically think of "dark" magic or devil worship. I took the opportunity to educate her that it was not that at all, and that the connection to the earth and sky around us was inherent and natural and there was no devil in the wiccan belief. She began to tell me of al the spirits she had encountered in her life and how they were dealt with either by herself or her family. This was like a missing key to my secrets, I too had obviously had so may experiences but never was able to 'deal' with them per se more than I was at their mercy. After discussing with her my perceptions and experiences with the unseen, she grew interested and asks me, " Have you ever heard of Santeria?"
I clutched my invisible pearls and gawked at her... did she just...? The first things that flew out of my mouth was the old rhetoric. "Bitch I don't worship the damn Devil. I don't kill chickens and goats and shit! Oh hell nah!"
She laughed but she took the time, as I did previously, to educate me a bit on what the Orisa were and that is was much more than I was thinking and or allowing it to be. She invited me to her mothers at that time 32nd anniversary of when she got initiated to the Lucumi (afro Cuban Orisa worship) deity, Yemaya. I was hesitant beyond belief but I decided to take her up on her offer.
About a week from the time she asked me I arrived at a ranch house in the wyndanch/Wheatley heights section of Long Island. I entered a house with Salsa , reggaeton, and hip hop playing and smelled the familiar smells of sofrito and Puerto Rican cuisine. This was not spooky at all so far and I definitely did not hear the sounds of chickens clucking or winnies of any goats. I was introduced to my friends mother, her aunts and her cousins and brother. I was taken in like family right away to this endearing family. we moved the festivities downstairs and I was in awe as I took in the beautiful display in front of me. It was a large blue and white Chinese ceramic jar standing regally in the middle of a space that contained fresh colorful fruit, fragrant flower. The walls were draped with cloth that were various shades of blue and I was overcome with an emotion I could not explain. I was in awe and reverence but could not put a finger on why or what exactly, I just knew this was Hollow ground. It was explained to me that this was a day in honor of Yemaya and her pact with my friends mother who initiated into her priesthood. The woman began to speak about her honor and thanks to yemaya and the room became deathly quiet, and something in the atmosphere changed. My arm hair raised, the hair on the back of my neck stood on end and goosebumps traveled from the nape of my neck,down my arms and through my torso. Just then my friends mother shakes as if touched by electricity and she almost falls over. She was aught and held up by family what she said next was, "Yemaya madre del mundo (Mother of the world)will be respected and will show the extent of her power in a big way this year, that we may pay attention and respect the water that covers the earth." Everyone nodded but the energy still permeated the room and everyone could still feel it. At one point my friend brought me over to her aunt and mother and asked, "what orisa do you think he would be initiated to?" The two women looked at each other looked back at me and said, "Oshun." I had no idea who that was or why they smiled with knowing eyes but I just nodded and smiled myself. By the end of that short time spent with the mother and family I felt that whatever preconceived notions I had of Santeria were wrong. Having felt supernatural energies that did not feel so nice, this was the complete opposite. This was the current of energy that most sought out to feel when interacting with the divine.
I befriended the mother and she began to open my eyes to a new world. She introduced me to espiritismo, this was a practice that developed on the islands to various degrees but most associated with Cuba and in this case Puerto Rico. This was a blend of practices loosely based on Catholicism, indigenous Arawak and imported captured African beliefs. Allen Kardec a scientist turned believer had interviewed mediums who were trance possessed and collected and documented all that the spirits had shared with him. Some of these teachings permeated the island and developed methods to communicate and deal with spirits, but the culture of the island severely influenced the spiritual movement and practice and this was something that was practiced to this very day. What I was being taught was that not only was I able to commune with any spirits that came my way, I was also able to protect myself from anything I did not want to deal with, and I was able to identify what and who the spirits were. Another saving grace was I had my own spirit guides and protectors I could work with closely and call upon to help me in any instance naturally and supernaturally.

This rocked my entire world. I felt cheated I some way and betrayed that this info was somewhere out there and I had gone through so much fear in my life when I could have easily dealt with this early if someone was willing to help me develop spiritually to work and deal with spirit.

I finally felt empowered and able to deal with things that may or may not have come my way. I was instructed on how to set up a personal altar, how to clean and prepare my space and how to sit still in the sacred space I create and commune or do dedication work for to and for my spirit guides. My eyes were open I was finally able to see and through the connections being made I was able to feel a deep connection the likes I did not feel in any previous practice. It was wonderful not feeling blind or ignorant to things.