Lessons in Reverse

I’m extremely tired but I made the commitment, to myself more than anything else, to write on this blog every day for the entire year I am 40 and if I don’t write the very first day it doesn’t give me much of a head start. So here I am…3:34 am, having just finished the movie Red State while munching on an enormous bag of Swedish Fish and tolerated the 100 degree heat seeping in through the walls of our house. I’m 40…and a day.

Turning 40 wasn’t nearly as strange as yesterday. Yesterday was the last day of my 30’s and I realized this about half way through my work day. I was sitting at my desk, talking to a prospective client on the phone and I thought, “holy shit…this is the last day you’ll ever be in your 30’s!”. Blindsided.

But I’m over that now. Funny how things we find so profound or important quickly pass. Now my only real concern is finding my way up the stairs to the cool of the sheets and the wind from the fan. Today has been a mundane day. I was supposed to be in Vegas for my birthday but we decided to cancel the trip and take it later in the year when we had more spending money. If you’ve kept up with my reading you already know that I was pretty undecided about what to do for my birthday, so let me fill you in on what happened.

I woke up at about 11 and rolled around in bed reading all of my Facebook birthday wishes from friends and strangers. Then, while Alex went shopping for my birthday presents, I went to get coffee. I came home, made my daily YouTube video that will accompany these posts and waited for Alex. Minutes later he came home and we opened my presents. After a brief fight, which had nothing to do with the presents, we went to the pool, only to be met by several small children and an unbelievable, summer storm. I thought I might like to do a little shopping but instead we napped…for several hours. This was no ordinary nap, but instead the kind of sleep you wake from several times and try to fall asleep quickly to return to your dream because it is so good. When we woke up it was almost 8:30. We dressed quickly and went to Cheesecake Factory. After devouring a cheeseburger we walked outside to be met another couple who are quite good friends. We sat in front of Starbucks for hours shooting the shit and by the time it was midnight, I was exhausted and ready to go home…only to get my second wind. Alex was more than willing to watch a movie since it was my birthday. I chose Red State over Play Misty for Me and enjoyed every minute of it. I took the dogs out and they are now asleep next to Alex which is exactly where I’ll be the moment after I post this post, which by now probably seems to have absolutely no point.

It has a very, very important point…and lesson.

I was bored today. Like I was really, really bored. I was really happy to be able to spend an entire day with my husband, something we rarely get to do anymore, but still…I was bored. Not sad bored…happy bored. But bored nonetheless. And do you know who’s fault that is? Mine. That’s right. I didn’t plan a damn thing for my birthday because I wanted to play it simple and not plan anything…and that’s exactly what I got…simple and unplanned. I imagine if I had gone to Vegas or planned a big party or dinner, then that is exactly what I would have done.

The point I learned, as I was constantly reminded by Alex that this was how I wanted to spend my birthday, was that we dictate the outcome of our own lives…most of the time. If we want to sit around and be lonely and bored, we can make that happen. If we want to be happy and entertained, we can make that happen too! Its all up to us. If we want to be actors, we can audition for a play, or even direct and star in our own plan and show it in a public park or our own living rooms. If we want to write a book we just need to sit down at the computer or open a pad and start writing. I really don’t care what anyone has to say because the naysayers will challenge this but it really is that easy.

Period.

And you better get this quick before you spend the rest of your life bored, lonely and bitter. Trust me…it sucks…and we’re on borrowed time as it is.

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Change…

My mother died four years ago at the age of 64. I was the sole heir of her fortune, which if you follow my writing, you know by now is the sum of over forty years of journals, pictures and an entire completed book entitled, Dear Mick; or Waiting on a Friend(Thoughts on Life and Love). The book is told through letters she wrote to Mick Jagger through the years. Upon finding the journals, I was completely overwhelmed, especially since in the last year I have found many secrets of her life begging the question, how well do we really know even our closest friends and family members? A simple Post-it note dated August 16th, 1996 explains the purpose of her journals.

“Peter, I take for granted sometimes that I can pick up a telephone and call you anytime I want. I hate calling people long distance because it validates the space in between. As for calling you, if its when you’re gone and I leave you a long message, especially if it pertains to a beautiful snow or old movie, you get very angry. I think of things to tell you every day, but afraid I will cause anger and combustion of the answering machine. Therefore, my journals. Allow them someday to serve as a telephone call. Not long distance though, because as my son, you will forever be in my heart every second of whatever we find defines eternity. Mamamutra!”

I have spent the last year consolidating these journals with hundreds of scraps of paper littering her basement with jotted little notes such as “The spirit of man is cruel if he forgets the wonder of being a child and experiencing Santa Claus for the first time.” I will never know what occasions inspired her to write some of these notes or thoughts, but hopefully, by weaving together the journals and thoughts together into a book, readers will be able to learn a secret she unearthed only at the very end through her own writings. “The human experience, especially woman’s, is lonely and alone, independent from others needs but undefinable and definitely unexplainable to any man. But of course, as they are quick to tell you, their experience is independent from definition too. Probably true, but I still think Eve made a grave mistake for the rest of us. Then why do we need people? Ahh…because the memories are ten times worth the experience itself.”

I have retitled her book Press Conference; Thoughts on Life and Love, a reference to my mother’s years in therapy, which in person she advocated but in her journals secretly unveiled, “Therapy is a waste of my time. No real life questions are answered. It is all just a press conference of my actions.” In the next few weeks, as I finalize construction of the book, I will be posting segments for my readers to enjoy. By spending hours upon hours, sitting in my dark basement late at night, reading these journals, I have learned a very important lesson. Maybe the most important lesson…Life is but a mystery. And we are on borrowed time as it is…

Change

To My Only True Love…

The apartments on Fall Creek and the near 52nd
where we came and went on weekends
are the same.

The old, drab rooms in yours are still there,
perhaps occupied by other lovers now
and someone sits on my old balcony
with champagne and Robert Frost

The rooms and balconies are still the same
but we have changed.

No more the winning smiles,
Your happy whistling as you exit from a small, blue car
with a bottle of Scotch in your hand
and a hope for an evening in your heart.

The hasty song or listening,
The happy stare of love,
The young heart leaping in the dark room.

And no more the wild young man
who talked too quickly and too loud
of love and life,
ideals he wished to give away.

Seldom the morning sun catches you
lying in bed late anymore.
Seldom the birds in Holcomb Gardens
or any grass
see you stretched out upon the grass.

I pace unfamiliar streets now
attempting new solutions to old problems
and the answers seldom come.

But there was a time in the Fall and Winter
of the year when our problems seemed small,
money and things were nothing
and wine, poems, nights together
and the streets in Indianapolis
were our whole world.

Sometimes I’m sorry for feelings once known,
it doesn’t justify the years you spend remembering.
I was always shy about you loving me.

But I am happy still
that even for a moment
you were thrilled in my direction
and dreamed of my in the daytime.

For maybe six months of love
is worth the lifetime you spend looking.

And White Castles.
And wine in vistas in Brown County.
And knowing you love me.
Is enough.

Barbara Joan Sconce

Barefoot Dancing…

Sometimes we find the push we need in the strangest places. Yesterday, while on Facebook, I read a poem that my dear friend Erin, who I’ve known for over 20 years, posted, stating that it had been one of her favorite poems and that her mother had it above her desk since she was a child. I read the poem, surprised that I had never seen it before, and realized instantly that the words of it’s song resonated in my heart and pulled me back from the daily troubles and life lessons that had been overwhelming my mind recently. I printed off the poem, making two copies. One to hang of the fridge and the other one to hand above my desk in my office, next to my picture of a remote beach in Antigua.

And today, as I stood in my office, checking off all of the things I had to get done on my list, my eyes grazed over that poem and old Nadine, the poet, spoke to me as if she were standing in that room. Suddenly, I realized that my mother, old friends even old teachers and childhood pets were dancing around me in my mind, reminding me how truly short life is and how I take even the smallest things for granted.

I opened the door and stepped out into the garden behind my office and stopped and stared up at the most amazing azure sky I had seen in a long time. And then I realized that maybe I just hadn’t been looking. I kicked off my shoes and walked into the grass surrounded with yellow and orange flowers…and I danced. Maybe because the images of all of those people from my past haunted me and reminded me that one day I would be gone too! Or maybe because of the poem. Or maybe because summer will be over soon, and then another fall and another winter and time is passing much too quickly for me to grasp on to it’s withered hands.

So I danced. And I smiled. And I imagined the poet, old Nadine Stair, whispering into my ear the words of her poem, almost as if they were commands. And now I whisper them to you! Listen carefully, and head their words, because we’re on borrowed time as it is…

IF I HAD MY LIFE TO LIVE OVER

I’d dare to make more mistakes next time.
I’d relax, I would limber up.
I would be sillier than I have been this trip.
I would take fewer things seriously.
I would take more chances.

I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers.
I would eat more ice cream and less beans.
I would perhaps have more actual troubles,
but I’d have fewer imaginary ones.

You see, I’m one of those people who live
sensibly and sanely hour after hour,
day after day.

Oh, I’ve had my moments,
And if I had it to do over again,
I’d have more of them.
In fact, I’d try to have nothing else.
Just moments, one after another,
instead of living so many years ahead of each day.

I’ve been one of those people who never goes anywhere
without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat
and a parachute.
If I had to do it again, I would travel lighter than I have.

If I had my life to live over,
I would start barefoot earlier in the spring
and stay that way later in the fall.
I would go to more dances.
I would ride more merry-go-rounds.
I would pick more daisies.

Nadine Stair,
85 years old.

I Have Gotten So Fat!

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First of all…I don’t care how offensive my reader’s may feel the picture is, it represents how I feel tonight. All of my life I have struggled with my weight. The summer before my senior year in high school, I began eating carrots and celery every day and shed pounds quickly. In my twenties I began running, up to five miles a day while lifting weights several days a week. After one relationship ended, a friend commented to me that he worried I had transferred my substance addiction for eating correctly and working out…to the extreme. In my last relationship, much of our social life centered around eating out, eating in, eating, eating, eating. We loved to eat. In fact, on our last day together, he commented to me that maybe we were just two food addicts that fell in love with each other and with eating. There may be some truth to that, but I think it was so much more. Even though at the time that relationship ended, I was topping 240-250 and fitting into size 42 jeans.

NOW, my fiance is a 25 year old, Venezuelan with a great dancer’s body who comments daily about how he feels he has gotten fat.(Which incidentally has taught me that body dysmorphic disorder is alive and well, because he looks amazing to me, but I know deep down, he truly struggles with his weight.) So maybe, people fall in love with me and deal with my craziness through eating. I don’t know, but it needs to stop. I refuse to ever again feel comfortable only in a pair of 42 jeans. In the last year and a half, I have gained 25 pounds. 25 POUNDS!!! I can hardly believe I’m admitting to it, but the pictures of me recently tell the truth. I suffer from epilepsy and years ago my doctor wanted to change my medication because he was concerned about my rapid weight gain and possibility for diabetes. I was completely resistant to changing medications because I felt good on the medication I was taking and, well, because I had been at my lowest weight ever when I was on the medication. The reality is, I have never looked better than I did a year ago, so I have no excuse. My goal weight is not extraordinary or unreachable. I know what to do. An old friend I used to work with often told me, “eat less, move more”. Of course she was right, but also, the perfect weight. It’s always frustrating to hear someone who has never struggled with eating disorders tell you how to maintain or lose weight. Of course it’s simple. Some of the most difficult things I have ever done were the most simple.

It’s all about a lifestyle change. But you see…that’s hard. Because I’m an emotional and memory eater. I eat things which remind me of my childhood. Pumpkin pie and candy apples around Halloween. Ahhh…and of course those little snickers, thick chili and apple cider. In the summer, cheeseburgers, slushies and late night drive through food. I eat food that reminds me of my mom. Hell, even on Griffin’s last day, I bought him Frosty Paws and chicken from Long John Silver’s because it reminded me of when he was a little pup! I’m sick! HELP!!! The food train must stop here.

Two nights ago, I had my moment of clarity. Alex and I were on our way to the movies. I stopped and got three bags of candy. He, of course, wanted nothing. We then went and ate dinner at Applebees. (Cheapest meal with had in a long time, by the way, and they have weight watchers meals on their menu). Afterwards I asked if he was going to get popcorn at the movie, to which he replied, “No, I’ll probably just get a large bottle of water.” Hmmm…”Well, I’m getting popcorn.” I said, “Because tomorrow…”And he cut me off…

“The real diet begins?” And I walked in silence behind him into the movie theater. In that second, I realized how many times I had said those same words. To Alex. To all of my past boyfriends. To my mom, my dad, my cousin, to friends, to everyone I knew. “Tomorrow, the real diet begins!” What crap! And then tonight, two days after the real diet didn’t begin, I was standing in line at the grocery store, two combination Totino’s pizza’s, a bag of ruffled potato chips and sour cream and onion dip in my cart, when I saw this amazing couple in front of me. As my hand dropped to conceal my belly, I watched as they joked and laughed, unloading their cart of juices, raw vegetables, protein bars and chicken. They looked tan and fit. They looked healthy. They looked happy. And I realized. I want that!

So…My destination is to be those fools in the grocery store, only better. And I realized how right Alex was and that sometimes you just need to hear the right thing at the right time. I want Alex to find me sexy, hot, youthful and happy. I want him to be that way too! I want to be that! Don’t we all? It’s not only about appearance, trust me. It’s about standing in the closet with nothing comfortable to wear and almost wanting to skip a night out, or a business meeting, because nothing feels comfortable or looks right. It’s about feeling like a failure because you can’t lose those last five pounds, or those first 60. It’s about, as Oprah said, having accomplished everything you wanted in your life and being successful, and not being able to enjoy it in the body you have. I don’t want to look like the woman in the picture. But that’s how I feel. Full! Still stuffing crap in my mouth.

As a therapist it would be easy to diagnose, rip apart and analyze my deep rooted issues which push me to eat or feel insecure with my body image, and trust me, I will be doing that as well, because that is a vital part of the two-stemmed problem. If I don’t stop what has helped continue this growing urge, it will happen again and again as it has before. And healing is part of me feeling better as well. And I know, for me, food is comfort eating!

So, there is no time like the present. In all honesty, now that this post is completed, I wrote this because I wanted some accountability and I knew writing it on here would bring me some attention, wanted or otherwise, it is needed. I will be back to where I want to be, only better, after my voyage…what will your voyage be? Start desiring and living the best life you possibly can because, as you know…we’re on borrowed time as it is!

Teal Street Memories…

sign
The day my mother died, I remember wanting to call only one person. Krissa. I’m not sure why or what I thought I might tell her, being that it had been so long since I had spoken to her, but some part of my being needed to reach out to the one person who truly understood my soul. I remembered three years before, when my mother’s best friend Diane died from cancer, my mother looked at me across her living room, tears pouring from her eyes, and said, “there’s no one left that understands me anymore.” And that is how I’ve always felt about Krissa.

Krissa and I met when I was 20, out at a bar in downtown Indianapolis. Because she got into a fight with her friend that brought her to the bar, she came home with me and spent the night. We stayed up late, drinking and listening to music and were instant best friends. Soul siblings! (For years we would tell people that we were brother and sister and we were related to John Gotti.) The next day, I took her to her car, an old white supra that barely started and she drove off to work, swearing to call me at the end of her work day.

The end of her work day ended almost an hour later, when the family she was a nanny, fired her, telling her it didn’t appear her heart was in the job anymore. And so began our journey together. For the next year, Krissa and I lived in a one bedroom apartment, sharing a bed, sharing our jokes, our tears, our stories, our lives…best friends bound by our souls. Even after I became involved with my first real boyfriend, the three of us moved into a two bedroom apartment on Teal Street and even though I was in a relationship, it was Krissa and I who would go to the library, stay up late and watch movies and run to the gas station for chips and salsa and orange slice candy…”you have to have something salty with something sweet.” She would say, and thus defined our friendship.

Krissa and I partied together, and she was there when I got sober. To this day, she is the only one who I know of who stood up to my father, yet he slammed the phone down on her when she demanded that he bring me cigarettes to treatment. Awww…well, she meant well. And she stayed loyal to my sobriety and always respected it as well…

She was and will always be…my dearest friend, even though not many people understood our friendship. And that doesn’t really matter, because it’s ours and no one else needs to understand it. But today, on a day when I’ve been listening to old music and thinking a lot about the past, I received an email from her out of the blue. “tell me the name of the weird vampire chick we used to know way back when-the one who called 911 on us at Scandia.(oh God, memories)” And that’s what we have, wonderful memories and maybe some not so wonderful ones too…but she will be forever, tightened around my heart, even though miles and oceans separate us now.

Last summer, an old friend of mine and I were talking about Krissa and he asked where she was and I said I thought she was in Berlin but I hadn’t talked to her in awhile. We started laughing about some of the trouble the two of us had gotten into and what a good friend she had been to me. We talked about how she had made decisions on her own and hadn’t allowed society, her family or her friends dictate what was or wasn’t important to her. “She lived a life. She definitely has lived a life.” He said, a we both laughed, thinking of what a wonderfully, kindred spirit she is. And I think, I’m just so much luckier for having had her in my life.

And hearing from her today has made me want to reach back into my back pocket a little bit and remember some of the people who have been so vital to my own growth. My dear friend Clara, for whom I wouldn’t be sober today if it hadn’t been for her. My friend Peggy who told me, when I was in the heat of my addiction, that the only way she could help me and be my friend, was by not being my friend. (This, important piece of wisdom I have shared with hundreds upon hundreds of people in treatment, therapy and recovery through the years. It is, by far, the number one thing that changed my outlook on my addiction, even is she doesn’t know it.) My adopted aunts, Vicki and Susie who gave me wondrous childhoods filled with politics, Pi Phi stories and pieces of Mockingbird summers. And to my cousin Caroline and my Aunt Kathy, who, well…have been my only family. A family so rich, that when I looked at my aunt, wearing her sunglasses as she walked behind my mother’s coffin into the church, took my hand and said, “come on, it’s time.” And they have all been there for me, and all share small hallways in the hotel of my heart.

And maybe, just maybe, all of us, should make such a list, although I’m sure I’m leaving many out…and remember, that it’s really the people, who save our souls and walk the walk, side by side…each step of the way…and really, really remember…because…

We’re on borrowed time as it is!

Kitchen Magnets…

Matthew Shepard head shot
I have a magnet on my refrigerator that was left behind by my mother. It is the only one of her magnets that I haven’t taken down. It simply states, “I support the Matthew Shepard Foundation.” It took a long time to get up there and hopefully, it will never come down.
I came out to my parents when I was 18, in 1990. At that time, gay men and lesbians were still hiding, they weren’t seen on television and in movies and they definitely weren’t made judges, like Ellen Degeneres, on American Idol. If we were seen in movies, we were cast as AIDS patients or effeminate guys prancing around. While those stereotypes might have been true of some, they weren’t true of everyone. My dad and stepmother were easy to come out to, being that my father is a surgeon, a man of medicine, who believed that sexual orientation was decided at birth. I thought my mother would be just as easy to comfort, but that wasn’t the case.
Some background on my mother is important. She was extremely liberal, always voted Democrat, and believed in the underdog. She lived in Chicago during the late sixties and worked at Northwestern Library and as a teacher at an orthodox Hebrew school. At that school, she was the only gentile employee and most of her students were first generation immigrants to the United States, whose parents still had concentration camp numbers imprinted on their arms. My mother and my aunt both went to inner city schools and graduated from Broad Ripple High School in Indianapolis. My mother would tell stories about spending her summers at the Rivera Country Club and remembered different bathrooms and water fountains for “white” and “colored” people. She would become extremely outraged by any mistreatment of humanity, yet she struggled with my being gay. “I’m just really worried about you Peter.” She said. “Don’t worry mom, I’m not stupid, I’ll be safe.” I replied, meaning practicing safer sex practices. To this day, I remember her sitting back in her chair, smirking, as if I could not grasp her simple meaning. “I’m not worried about you getting sick.” She said, “I’m worried about how society will treat you.” And there began our journey together.
For several years afterward, she would introduce my boyfriends as “friends” to people she knew, and even to some of her closest, “Christian” friends, she struggled when they asked her if I had a girlfriend or why I wasn’t married. Until, October 7th, 1998. I remember sitting at home that night and my mom calling me. “Are you watching this on the news?” she said. Of course I wasn’t. I rarely watched the news, unlike she and my father, who had always been news junkies and were always up to the minute on world events. “No, what’s going on mom.” She began sobbing on the other end of the phone. “There’s this boy from the University of Wyoming who was beaten and left for dead out in the middle of nowhere because he was gay. It’s just so horrible.” She was inconsolable. Finally after several minutes, she got off of the phone and told me she would call me the next day. Which she did, before my alarm even went off. “Ok, I’ve been on the phone with the hospital all night trying to contact his mother.” I had no idea what she was talking about, as my mind had drifted away from any misery in the night. “What the hell are you talking about?” I said. “Matthew Shepard.” She replied, “That boy from Wyoming. He’s at the hospital in Colorado and they’re not sure he will make it. I’ve been trying to contact his mother to let her know how bad I feel for her and how I relate, but they won’t put me through.” The hilarious point, if there is any, of this statement is that my mother always felt entitled to be part of any event. If there was a car accident, she would pull over and ask the police if they needed help. If a national official was in trouble, she would attempt to write a letter or educate others. Yet at times, she didn’t know when to pull back.
Five days later, Matthew Shepard died. My mother was silent for almost two days and then asked me to come over to her condo because she needed to talk to me. When I got to her house, she had made a pot of coffee and we sat down in the living room. “What is it?” I asked, not sure what the seriousness of the occasion would entail. “I want to know.” She said. “I want to know what it’s been like for you. Matthew Shepard died from hate and I want to know what it’s been like for you through the years because honestly, I wouldn’t even know you were gay if you hadn’t told me.”(and to this, I still give a little chuckle.)But I told her anyway…
phelps-followers
I told her how in elementary school and junior high, kids would make fun of me for my lack of athletic ability. They would also point to the “homogenized milk” cartons at lunch, and laugh at me, saying I was like the milk. They would lisp, they would push, they would attack. And it didn’t get any better in high school. Every day, I dreaded going to school because I was afraid of what someone would write on my locker, spray on my car, or say as I walked through the hallways. I would constantly be called a faggot, pushed into lockers and made fun of by the kids around me. And worse still, even my friends wouldn’t stand up for me. When graduation closed in on me, I was afraid to walk across the stage because of my fear that someone might call me names as I walked across the stage and my parents would be privy to the private pain I wore every day.
A strange side note to this story is that I had one such nemesis in high school named Matt. Although he wasn’t aware of this, for years after high school, the things that he and his friends said and did to me lingered, making me shy in social situations and ashamed of being gay. Finally, my determination to challenge ignorance such as theirs helped me to become the strong, proud person I am today, capable of having healthy relationships and friendships. The strange part is that he befriended me on Facebook less than a year ago. He is now aware of how I felt in high school, has taken responsibility and I now consider him a friend. We all grow up. We all deserve a second chance. Even me. But high school was hell. And I have to believe in some way it contributed to my extreme substance abuse because as long as I was wasted, I didn’t really care what people said to or about me. But my mother did.
And she couldn’t contain her hurt that day we had our talk. She wanted to personally call the parents of every “child” that had been mean to me and make them aware of how their children had treated me. But I was almost thirty at that point, and life had moved on, and there wasn’t really any point anyway. But for her, things changed. She no longer called my boyfriends “friends”. In fact, my ex-boyfriend Shawn became a permanent part of our family and was probably one of the people closest to her in her life. She was not ashamed or protective of me anymore, and felt that it should be the other persons shame or burden to carry if they couldn’t handle the fact that her son was gay. When she died, I received a letter from the Matthew Shepard Foundation regarding my mother and found countless letters she had written Judy Shepard, Matthews mother, rough drafted in her many notebooks about how society was a cruel frontier and how mothers were the captains of their children’s ships. One of our closest friends, MaryAnn, contributed to this foundation, because she knew how much my mother cared about it’s cause and how her endearing love for me was also in her love for me as her gay son. And then the fight continued…or so I thought.
Because I met Alex. And he changed my perspective on everything. He wasn’t quite as out with his family as I had been, being that he is much younger and that culturally and religiously his mother is not necessarily at the same point my mother was by the time she was fifty. But I believe that will come with time. Because love endures and love translates what we do not understand, but feels it’s intensity nonetheless. And I love his mother because she has amazing energy and has allowed me to become part of their family. And Alex has challenged me on words like “fag” and “faggot”. He believes that these “words” only carry as much weight as we give them. And on a few occasions when someone has called him one of these names, he responds with something like, “thank you for noticing.” And maybe that’s the way to go about it. Because this Saturday, we’ll be heading to our engagement party that his coworkers are throwing us. And tonight we took his teenage brother to see a movie. And yesterday we went grocery shopping and took our new pups all over town. Because we’re just like everyone else and we don’t need to be separate. It’s important to bring the awareness to the gay community, but maybe it’s more important for us to lessen the tension, just a little bit. Why take ourselves so damn seriously.
But it does remind me of how we treat each other. And how words have lasting impressions like a burn from a curling iron on your forehead. Or how love is not pain, but endurance, compassion and understanding. Love does not hurt. And everyone deserves the chance to grow up. Everyone. But Matthew Shepard wasn’t given that chance. So for that reason, I think today I’ll forgive everyone that gave me a hard time in high school, and especially Matt, because he’s pretty cool these days and if we ever got together I think enough time has gone by that we might be able to be pretty good friends. But most importantly, because people are dying everyday, and quite frankly, it’s easier to love than to hate. And the saddest part of this story to me, is that my mother never got to meet Alex. And he was never able to meet her. And we just don’t know when are chances run will run out…because, we’re on borrowed time as it is…

A Suicide Note…

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Dear Suicide…I have a dear, dear friend, maybe a better friend than you can ask for at times, that was greatly affected by you, and didn’t even ask for you to be in her life. I have a dear friend, whose mother was taken by you, without questions answered, without any sign of your coming, without any ability to meet you at the door and escort you far, far away. My dear friend, Lis Crosby, is only 23, and because of you, she will never see her mother’s hair all turn white. She will never be able to hand over one of her children to it’s grandmother. She doesn’t understand you and neither do I. Why would you do such a thing. Because of you, there is so much that her mother will miss out on in Lis’ life and the life of her brother Jonathan. But why am I telling you this. You already know this by now as you take an adult life almost every 16 minutes in the United States and attempt to take one every minute. You are tricky and deceiving because you offer solutions with no reasonable answers. You are real. You are scary. And you are lurking in every corner. Not only have I lost my dear friend Lis’ mother, Nancy, but also several friends, and parents of friends. Not long ago, you met the father of a friend of mine. You hide in the minds of our children, our elderly and those in between. I am thankful I have never wanted to taste of your breath, but I can’t say so much for many, many people I have met. The only solution to getting rid of you is through education, and awareness and talking, comforting and compassion. So watch out. Because…we’re on a mission.
Nancy Crosby was born on December 7, 1963. She died on September 30th, 2006. I remember that day almost too well. I had just left work and got a call from my friend Tonya. “Uh honey.” I could tell she was crying on the other end of the phone. “They just found Lis’ mom.” And from there on, everything is a blur. I remember pulling up to her Granny’s house and seeing all of the cars, all of the people in AA surrounding Lis, only twenty at the time, and already, several years sober, comforting her as she and her brother screamed up into the trees. Why? Why? I had never experienced so much pain, angst and anger all mixed into one strange concoction. After talking to Lis, or talking at her in her fog and haze of confusion, Tonya and I went to her mother’s house to get Nancy’s dog Serenity. When we walked into the house, I was somewhat eerie, being that Nancy had only been found hours before, but somehow, the house was comforting. I didn’t experience any fear as I walked through the house and we got Serenity and put her in the car. Through those next several days, I saw a young girl shattered by the loss of her mom.
A year and a half later, Lis got to do the same for me. She was by my side the entire time my mother was sick, and eventually died from a rare disease. We laughed together, we cried together. And a 21 year old, LADY, walked me through how to deal with a funeral. Our mothers are even buried only five feet from each other. And we find comfort in that. What we don’t find comfort in is how both of their deaths could have been prevented. In the case of my mother, she had a rare disease that went undiagnosed for far too long, and probably could have prevented her death. And for Nancy? Well, much the same can be said for her disease. Because suicide and depression are diseases in this country that go far to unnoticed and dealt with appropriately.
This Saturday will mark the 2nd anniversary of Team Nancy marching in the Out of the Darkness Community Walk for suicide prevention. All money raised will go to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Lis and her brother Jonathan will both be marching again, as will many people in more than 200 communities across the United States. I know many people read my blog who care alot about mental health and addiction issues. Please donate to help their cause as it is vital that more attention is brought to depression and suicide so it can be brought out of the darkness and into the light. On the main page of my blog, I have linked The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Team Nancy for donations and more information about the walk in Indianapolis this Saturday, September 12th, 2009, and Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender issues related to suicide.
The information is astonishing. And as I walk past my mother’s grave and visit Nancy, telling her every time, that I’m watching over Lis and taking care of her the best I can, I know somewhere she’s watching. But I have to believe that things got just too painful for her. Life became too overwhelming and somehow she ran out of options. But I don’t believe she would trade it all in if she had known other options. She was one damn fighter, we just didn’t know how to help her into the ring.
I remember when my mother got sick and we didn’t know what disease her symptoms were indicating, I asked her why she wasn’t fighting harder. “If I knew what I was fighting, I could fight.” And much can be said for depression and suicide as well. So reach out, learn and contribute. In these trying times, we should cherish the ones around us more and hug often and remember…we’re on borrowed time as it is!