If you are expecting a warm, powerful, positive message then stop reading, because this blog is going to be brutally honest about HOW I FEEL!
First, this is not a pity post. This is not a post for attention. This is not a post for action. This is not a post for a text, a card, time, or any call action. Last Wednesday I attended Ash Wednesday mass at 7pm and when I walked into the church and I sat down, I immediately smelled strong odor of cigarette smoke mixed with an old spice after shave… I remember back to my days as a youngster and in the medicine cabinet my grandpa had that very smell and I would put it on from time to time.
That was the smell. Ominous. Strong. Real. Soon, the church started to fill up and these two elderly women sat down next to me. The one lady asked if I could move down a bit for her husband. I obliged. I moved down. The lady to my left despite me saying, “excuse me… hello” would not move down. First, I knew she heard me. Second, this is church where is your compassion and love? Throughout the mass I helped the lady to my left find the pages in the hymnal, helped her up and down, watched her closely as we walked up to get ashes and back. I picked up her cane when she tried to grab it. She didn’t ask, I just did it. During the Our Father, I had my hand extended and she grabbed it. Her hand was warm. Her grasp in her growing frail body was strong in holding my hand. She squeezed it and let it go. It was a stranger who offered to hold my hand. During the sign of peace I turned to her first and shook her hand. Her grasp was again strong. Our eyes made direct contact. She smiled. I saw tears in her eyes. I thought, why was she getting teary-eyed? Only two other people shook my hand. TWO! Surrounded by 15 within reach, only two so-called Christians in the house of GOD extended the sign of peace–the people in front and behind me–didn’t even recognize my existence. How Christian like they are…and I wondered why they wouldn’t shake my hand… What did I do, did I look unfriendly, or was it because of something else? Gay, didn’t fit the mold they have made? etc. It ruined my whole mass experience.
Church a place where people gather they say and where people put aside differences and showed similar respect for one another. Immediately it brought back my time in Perryville when at St. Vincent I would sing upstairs in the choir loft and because some “RICH” and “CERTAIN LAST NAME” people didn’t like me–they complained to the pastor and what do you know? I was asked not to come back. Or how they treated me at the Seminary Picnic when they pushed my grandpa out and told them I wasn’t allowed to be a part of the office because certain people didn’t like me.
I overcame that. But, it was that moment that I pulled away from church. I pulled away from me. Sadly. If you can’t go to a house of GOD and feel welcome and it becomes a political and heirarcal place based on your name, the amount of money you give, the family you come from, and most of all what people think about you.
Let that sink in. The Catholic Church wonders why numbers are falling? Maybe it is the political and ideological schematics that are presented in the house of God brought on by sinners alike. “Come to the Altar, they say…” I guess I am reading the wrong Bible, because in my Bible Jesus ate with the poor, the sick, the troubled, the sinners, the ones who were left out of the circle of friendships. He welcomed EVERYONE. Maybe my Bible is outdated and it has become more judgemental.
My battle with cancer is wearing me down.
Pain. After effects. Time. Test. Medications. At what point do you say, “Jesus, I am done”? Especially when people you thought were in your life for a reason spew the famous words, “If you need anything…” SPARE ME THOSE WORDS!
People who are deceitful, rude, disrespectful, and who pretend to be your friend are wearing me down. Sadly, people will do anything to tear another person down as long as it fits the agenda they hold. I have learned that people say a lot of things to others and make statements they never intend to uphold.
“If you need anything…” Such a farce of words that people say to another person. Family, friends, collegaues, acquaintances, etc. Sadly, 1 out of 30 may truly live up to those words. I watched a student a few weeks ago find some things out that destroyed her–yet, she found it in her heart to forgive and move on… For so many years, I have done that. I have given more than I received. and Received less than a “Thank You.”
Am I perfect? Oh hell no, I am perhaps one of the first to admit that I am the farthest thing from it, but I will tell you this, after all these years, I built the shell of a turtle around me. I allowed the hate, the disappointments, the words, the looks, and the false promises they spewed upon me to bounce off my shell like hail hitting on the roof of your car. If the hail hits just right or is big enough, and strong enough it will shatter and destroy things.
This is where I am. I am angry. I am hurt. I am sad. I am sick. I am losing my strength. I am losing hope and I sure the hell have lost the power to love and trust in anyone. I have become someone who just meanders through life. I pray everyday. I pray for one thing– TO TAKE AWAY ALL THE PAIN. Yet, it seems the pain gets stronger from false hopes, fake people, people who only rely on you when you need something, and a society who continues to act with disgrace to one another. When does it stop?
Besides the cancer that is slowly killing me and the medicine aimed to help me seems to be getting more and more problematic with the side affects grows the question of when is the time to stop the treatments, stop the medications, stop relying on medicine and science and allow GOD to do what he will with the situation. I am not hoping or praying for a miracle, but the one thing I asked for was to put real, authentic, dependable, and loyal people in my life. Sometimes, I think he has, but then things happen to make me realize that it is not true.
So-called friends who say, “If you need anything, let me know…” “Do you need anything?” or “I am sorry you are going through this and that… Thanks for your words, but after time and time again, the people who I call on for help or asks I am either given an excuse, a reason why they can’t, and/or just ignore me.
I get it. People have lives. People have responsibilities. People have free-will. People never really believe that someone on the off-chance may actually take them up on the offer of needing something. Saying you are sorry for what I am going through is nice, but sadly it doesn’t make the situation better. Walk in the shoes of someone with cancer. Be the one with cancer.
Here is the deal. I don’t need anything monetary from anyone. I don’t need cards. I don’t need gifts. I don’t need food. But, what I have always hoped for was a few friends who would just be there for me. People who would just know and do something… Call and invite me to do something. Practice what they say. Do what they offered. It does NOT exist and I look back at things I have done for others and find myself like Jesus did back in his days–he gave of himself and people still treated him bad. He gave his life for all, and yet people still don’t think that is enough.
The smoke and cologne at mass the other night was my grandpa– I know because I could see him. There was another lady present too, but she was not for me–but, I tried to tell the person she was there for and the response was, “Oh it must have been people sitting around me…” The lady to the left felt her husband and I could tell, because an elderly man was next to her. It wasn’t my hand she was holding at that moment, it wasn’t my face she was looking at when she shook my hand. I know this. Not a doubt in my mind.
So here is the thing. I don’t need anything. I don’t want anything. I don’t want your time. I don’t want your handouts. I don’t want the farce words of “THANK YOU” ETC. I don’t want friends. I don’t want people who think I am a charity case or by helping me will get them into heaven. I don’t need it. I don’t want it. I recognize people are not real. People are not true. People are not dependable. People are self-centered, self-righteous, and even more concerned with who/what/when they can move up the ladder to heaven.
Why should I try so hard to make people like me? Why should I give my all in hopes of getting a fraction in return? Why should I go to mass and surround myself with people who are just there to check off a box on the weekly checklist?
I have always felt like a head member on the island of misfits. I realize why kids who are bullied kill themselves. Pain is real. I was made fun of most of my life, joked around with, called faggot, queer, de-pants by people in school, brutalized beyond words by threats, threatened to be beat up. Chased down. I recall hiding out in the library in school–a man who was made fun of–treated equally the same way running the library was my saving grace. A teacher who allowed me to hide out in her classroom before school and during lunches–many times I would only have a bag of chips so I could hide out, instead of having food thrown in my face, being pushed around, called names beyond names, having a neighborhood friend who would ignore me and treat me like I wasn’t a person at school, but would come home to the neighborhood and act like we were best friends. People would come into Rozier’s and ask for help, only to bully me and threaten me. I hung out with cops to negate any violence… Yet, even there I was bullied by some of the officers (some are still there, some aren’t). A catholic priest who made me feel uncomfortable as a youth because of things he said to me and how he touched me by rubbing my shoulders… Watching my grandpa be treated like trash, people used him for what they want, yet he always gave. I didn’t have it the best growing up, but I never showed the pain I held inside.
I get it now. Each of us are alone in this world. Friends will disappoint. Family will abandon you. People will continue to shoot you down, belittle you because you are not like them. I guess that is why I always fought for the underdog and hoped they would achieve great success. I guess in the end that is why I gave more than I received to people. In a hope that they would have it a little better than I have.
Don’t get me wrong, I have been successful. Two bachelor’s degrees, two master’s degrees, and soon a PhD, I have been educationally blessed. I have talents that I foster. I have gifts that are bestowed upon me. I was created this way by design, not by society. God didn’t make a mistake on me. Yes, I am gay. Yes, I have cancer. Yes, I have a loving mother who I would never trade for anything. Yes, I have successes that some will never have. I am blessed at the end of the day. I get that. However, I am a human being with emotions and feelings.
When you feel abandoned by your own sibling after you did everything in your power to make sure that she was taken care of–now I don’t even get a simple call or request to do something. When I reach out to her all I get is that I am disrupting her life. TWO years I allowed her and Kloe to live with me–free of charge. Free everything. ALL I hoped for in return was time. Yet, I realize that I am not worthy of that time. It breaks my heart.
Friends who I have helped over and over–given them more than I gave myself. Putting others before me in hopes for a simple return of time and true friendship. I get the fact that people live far away and time isn’t always an option, but that is not the case for all. Or when you call someone to vent and share your thoughts and they make you feel stupid or wrong for saying something–how is that welcoming to want to talk again–yet when they call I listen to them vent and vent. I don’t dismiss them. I don’t ignore them. I am there for them.
I see the snide looks I get from some people who I know. The nasty words behind my back. The shallowness they hold. Please to those who are doing this, I know what you are doing and if it makes you feel better then so be it–You will have to answer to a higher power. “Whatsoever you do to the least of my people, you do unto me…” Remember those words. REMEMBER THEM!
People overlook me. Maybe it is because I am put together. I carry myself as everything is alright. Let me be honest, I am not alright. I am sad and alone. I am fighting a fight to beat cancer, to be the smiling person, a positive person, and a person who despite what people say, I am a good person. I am a good person who has given more than I have ever received. Yet, I still give? Why? I am not sure anymore.
Everyday I put my all into my work and I feel that no matter what it is never good enough for them because I am not faculty. To most they treat me like I am a peddler on the street who has a deathly disease. I realize that despite the day I walk across the stage to get my PhD, I will still be lesser than they are–but these so-called Christians will find that one day when they meet God at the pearly gates that a degree doesn’t matter–it is how you valued people who are loyal, hardworking, and true.
So, friends I don’t need anything more from you. I don’t need a text, I don’t need your friendship. If you are doing it to make yourself feel better then please pick someone else–I am fine being me. I am fine being alone. I am fine fighting this battle by myself.
The lady at mass who freely gave me her hand and held it tight–you made me feel wanted. You made me feel like I mattered. I never got your name, but your smile, your warmth is why I am who I am. I recognize that not everyone will like me, but, in the end we are all the same. I encourage you to listen to the song, “Don’t laugh at me…” Think about it.
Next time you judge someone, think about the internal battles they are going through. Don’t go to church to check a box. Go because you want to feel GOD touch your heart. For me, I will be fine. I always am. I am not sure where I get the strength to carry on, but I do.
While I thought long and hard about what to give up for Lent… I have decided that I am not giving up soda, sweets, cursing, and chips, because they don’t let me down and they don’t judge me.
This year I am giving up PEOPLE and this is the truth about how I feel!
This is me.