Thursday, April 26, 2012

"It Gets Better"

We grew up in government housing, though I still have a very small understanding of what that means. We always had food to eat, yet we often went without the things money could buy. My parents were given six children together, and at times our home felt like Grand Central Station. In a household of eight, it can be rather easy to be forgotten. As sand falls between floor boards, so does a child fall into reclusiveness. Yet, for me, if I ever happen to fall behind, I was blessed with a personal guardian from God. His face was a reflection of mine, and there between the floor boards, I never failed to feel his hand grasp mine. We were not friends. We were not lovers. We were not siblings. We were twins, and we shared emotions. 
Poverty can be a dangerous space to grow into a mature adult, and often children are more apt to garner hopelessness, mostly in the space meant for friendship and companionship. I cannot possibly begin to express how thankful I am to have had such a guardian on this battlefield for social survival. Having a twin is having an upper hand in life. I did not learn life lessons alone, it was not always my own actions that taught me. He was my cushion for constant, reckless crashes. All of our pain was dealt with together, all our smiles learned from one another. We are similar in genetics, identical in spirit.
Beyond being twins, David and I were distinct reds in the Mississippi shades of grey school system. As we developed, so did our free thinking minds. I admit that it was easier to go against the grain with David at my side, without a doubt, criticism became more manageable. Yet, the more one ignored the vicious taunts of our peers, the heavier their words would become. Although we were active at a young age, David and I were certainly not athletic and never were we interested in football, the heart of every southern school. More often than not, I was a pariah. Outcasted purposely, and reminded daily. Others began to question our sexuality before we were even aware of the concept. 
"Fag", "Faggot", "Queer", "Gaywad". All of these words painted my childhood, all of them defined me against my will. I protested, daily and from roof tops. I prayed that my God would paint truths in the sky, but he never would. Frequently, I felt the hot rush of angry tears take over my face. I tried to change me, my clothes, my voice, my mannerisms. Sexuality was a sea and I was choking on its reality, a reality handed to me by my peers. For the longest, I assumed that David and I were waging this label war together; we were not. Unbeknownst to me, David had accepted his name tag.
David had his first liberating experience in high school, forming a relationship with a fellow Mississippi fugitive. Though his encounters with this individual were secret, David's happiness was sudden and apparent even to the blind. He smiled when there was not a given reason, he smiled just to smile and this gave me worry. Twins were supposed to know the completeness of one another, and I was outraged by my lack of insight. I began my search for the root of his joy. Scouring his room, ripping open journals, my search was long and fruitless.  Then one day I saw it for myself. It played out in front of me like a Broadway show, a smile exchange. It was small and happened with in a blink of an eye, yet I was there for it and I now knew. 
Regretfully, I was very critical of David. Once the person he could divulge himself to, a safe haven for his true feelings, I now presented only coldness and harsh, disapproving glances.
He did not consider my feelings on the matter, did not once ask for my approval. David would go on many dates; he would continue to search for my foundation. Too slowly, I began to love past my fears of a hateful society.  It would not be until I was in college, nearly 75 miles displaced, that I would reestablish my incessant support for him and all that he endeavored. A great dreadfulness fills me when I think back on those days and I long for forgiveness, not just from David, but from myself. 
David grew beyond standards and boundaries. He managed a good paying job and is putting himself through nursing school. Barely a shadow of the boy that used to hold my hand under the floor boards, even though I know he would still if I needed it. In my absence, or more appropriately, in his found freedom, David met and fell in love with a wonderful, kind man. Grant Young was a member of the Justice League, as drawn through David's words about him. In person, he was meek and mild. Seeing them together, you may never realize the pain it took to buy their freedom. 
                In their midtown Memphis apartment, there is little trace of angry words said with no known purpose. It is an odd, yet perfect feeling to not have to look around your shoulder. The soft sounds of police sirens are no longer heard from his window. There is an overall feeling of love and acceptance that hangs in the air like the fragrance of some past meal. Laughs seem to flow like the Mississippi, perpetual and with no end in sight. All over the walls you can find pictures of a journey together. A twentieth birthday, a first year anniversary, an engagement, and one set by the door in a purple t-shirt, aptly labeled "It Gets Better."

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Religion of the Insecure

Yesterday I had a can of flavorless chicken soup and four stale peanut butter crackers to eat. I was not busy, and it was not easy. When I got done with my day, my head was pounding and my hands were aching, I have come accustom to the feeling of hunger over the years. The feeling I have not embraced, however, is that pitiful hateful feeling I get directly after I eat. This will usually occur after a "good day" where I have eaten healthily all day(or the smallest amount I could.) On many "good days" I spend the day unhappy, telling myself constantly and irrationally what happens to food after you consume it. At the end of "good days" I am normally emotionally unstable. I most commonly end up at Wendy's on West Jackson. Here, I can be seen eating and normally crying in my car. I have sat there on many nights, staring out at a starless, night sky, wondering why I have zero self-control.
Food runs my life. I spend more time looking at my waist in the mirror than I do looking at my face. Having the knowledge of the notion of a healthy body image, I have tried, desperately, to love what I see in the mirror. Countless hours have been spent staring and hoping at a never changing reflection. Frequently, I am caught in a restroom pinching the sides of my body in confusion and pure hate. I remember the first time I saw myself as fat. I was a senior in high school, and in the bathroom where the guys in choir sometimes practiced. Though I had recently lost over a hundred pounds, I caught my profile in the mirror and started sobbing. I had been overweight and unhealthy for awhile, but at the time I did not hate myself. Vanity had crept in me and I had a pulse in my body towards perfection. I retreated to a stall and told myself I could not leave, fearful that someone might realize that I was fat again. I spent an hour in that stall, and that moment has stayed with me since.
I am aware of the struggle, and I write this to free me. Fully aware that I am not the only one who is waging this war, I write to encourage. Often when people speak about their distaste for their body, I consider them selfish or perhaps vain. Then I reread my previous two paragraphs and how often I use "I". My obsession with my body is an obsession with me. I have given into conceit. The battle is hard because I fight alone. Perhaps if we, the insecure, would start thinking outwardly, instead of constantly inwardly, we would be more equipped against the enemy, us.
This body is the only one I have. When I speak ill of my body, I encourage others to do the same. If I don't respect me, how can I expect others to. These feelings will surely not leave me, yet I feel that with honesty comes healing. I serve myself so many lies, and have become my own barrier in life. Let brutal honesty be a sledgehammer.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Or Are We Painting in the Water

Time was a vapor on the hill
We were deaf, so we stood still
Was it day or was it dusk
We can't linger, but we must
And the wind blew through her hair

We are lost, yet I am found
Lost all will to look around
Transfixed by her solid eyes
A painful yearning makes me cry
And how the wind blew through her hair

Is it true that you will stay
Lost all need to run away
Or are we painting in the water
You are here, but then you saunter
All I see is golden hair

Monday, April 2, 2012

Be Kind.

Yesterday I got some pretty disheartening news about a friend of mine. Said news required, in my mind, that I make the hour drive from school to home. From the moment the phone rang I had begun to pray to God. It took me only minutes to get into my car and I prayed the entire time. With great effort, I futilely attempted to remember a helpful scripture from the Bible, or an encouraging message from a pulpit. All that came to me, however, was It is Well With My Soul. Having sung the song many times, the words poured out of me with ease. Yet, no matter how many times they had been sung to me, or in me, the words held their meaning for the very first time. The seemingly unfeasible idea of acceptance had become a cooling sensation in my chest, and fierce, bottled up tears had begun to stream down my face. I had no idea what the future held, but I could accept it in advance. My vision began to blur, and the whole outside world seem to fade. It was just me, my tears, my peace. The moment, though, was quickly interrupted. Despairing blue lights appeared in my back window and my heart erupted in my chest. Not thinking of road regulations, and just simply not thinking, I slammed on my breaks and pulled over to the left. My window was already rolled down, and I had been driving in my sort of silence. My face still covered in tears, was most obviously red with distress as the Highway Patrol man leapt from his vehicle and ran towards my window. With no time to spare, the tall, muscular, and terrifyingly young patrol man started to yell at the top of his lungs. Never in my life have I heard such socially unaccepted words used with such hatred, pure, unadulterated hatred. I had pulled over to the left, instead of to the right. This "jack-ass move" nearly "cost us both our lives!!" After repeatedly asking me how I could be so stupid, he let me know that all he wanted was for me to move in the other lane so he could "get to where he was going." At first glance, one might actually begin to think that such a spectacle was being displayed just for my benefit. I really do not think I am that special, or that evil. While he was still yelling, I realized he was angry, beyond that, he was furious, but it wasn't at me. Something, or someone, had gotten to this poor man before I did. No matter how I was feeling about my own life, I simply could not ignore this man's emotions. I had problems, he had problems. As I stared into his viscous eyes, it dawned on me that we were the same. Pain is met and dealt with in a multitude of different ways and fashions, how we deal with that pain correlates to how we treat and coexist with the others around us. We can relay one of two things: cruelty or kindness. Kindness is a solid stone used to fortify a structured, stable life. Cruelty is a sledge hammer that is highly powered, and has no chance of making improvement to anything. The Officer chose to configure his hurt into oppression. If he continues to turn pain into anger, his life could take many detrimental turns. Thanks to God, I have consciously decided not to do the same. You really never know what events are taking place in one life, be kind.