[This page will be the beginning writing of my memoir. I realized I simply needed to just start writing it.]
The thing about writing a memoir where you are the bad guy is… you will probably not like the protagonist
Okay, wait. I have to stop because I have a problem with trying to come off, or sound, better than I am. I have always felt I was meant for big things and here I am, halfway through my life and have accomplished nothing I set out to do in my life. Either I have to start over, or change my goals to a more easily doable goal.
I seriously need to finish something that I start. I never wrote that novel. I never wrote an Academy Award winning song. I never obtained a degree in anything. I never met the love of my life. I never made it to Nirvana. (I definitely blame my neurosis.) I never saw the Aurora Borealis in person.
I realized most of my accomplishments are in the fact, “I never,” did something on my list of “things I want to do before I die.” Mostly, I never made enough money to retire comfortably and travel the world with the love of my life. I’m a bit of a loser, if I’m being honest.
The only positive is that I am not living on the streets, but that might be forthcoming if I continue on the path I am traveling. At the very least, I may live in squalor or a ghetto and then I’ll become OCD because I have a thing against ‘gross.’
And so, I decided to sit down and write the memoir about when my life either completely turned upside down, or simply went downhill, or became foreign and destitute, or…is actually the beginning to something much more wonderful than I could have ever imagined.
This life change all started because I began to think too much and want more than I’d been given. Like travelers heading across an unknown ocean to find riches, I embarked on this cruise and wonder if I’ll lose my life before I see the Promised Land. I became greedy for a better life. I wasn’t happy with my lot in life and kept wanting more…more happiness, more contentment, more love, more of God, more freedom, more truth, more honesty, more reality, more passion, more intensity, more desire, okay now I’m just sounding like a greedy little child. I wanted… “More” of what I felt I had less or none. Is that a bad thing?
Well, I suppose if there are casualties in the war for peace and freedom of the heart and mind, then it might be a path that should have been ignored and not taken. I am that casualty of this war within.
Taking this path cost me more than I expected, and so this is the story I’m about to tell: How my realization through hindsight ruined my very comfortable life, and destroyed my family. By the end, I simply hope it’s happy.
Chapter One – Yes…Why yes I am…
This was something I really should have figured out. I thought I just liked women a lot. It was a sisterhood thing. (I know there is a joke about traveling pants, but I can’t think of it at the moment.) But no, since I’ve come out of the closet I’m not sure why I waited so long to be honest with myself. It’s like night and day. I truly never enjoyed dating or kissing and being close to men, and I certainly never truly enjoyed being married to a man. I have, however, enjoyed every woman I have dated and have loved even the simple act of holding her hand, cuddling, and kissing her lips. Women make the hairs at the back of my neck stand on end and there has never been a man who has done this to me. I was never meant to be with a man and that is simply how it is in life. I’m wired to love women not men. To me, that’s my normal.
The shift to being gay from straight was also a shift from being a conservative fundamentalist “only-one-way-to-heaven” inerrant Bible Christian to a progressive Christian that sees God as bigger than the Bible. It doesn’t negate God, Creator, or Jesus in any way, but it changes my perspective of God’s relationship to humanity and desire for humanity. I love God. I’m not truly sure the Trinity is a man-made thing (since it is mentioned nowhere in the Bible) or a God thing, but I know God is Creator and is Spirit and Jesus Christ was one of many mouthpieces attesting to God’s message sent to us. It wasn’t that you finally get forgiveness, it’s that you have always been wonderfully made and forgiven, and deeply loved. God simply wants you to wake up to the fact God is God and real and you are you and just fine the way you are. You don’t have to work on changing the inherent blessing you are in this world and you don’t have to work on changing the inherent blessing others can be to you or anyone else.
Maybe… just butt out of other people’s business unless you have something to add or help with, but otherwise let them be who they are and then you figure out who you are. The summation: Love God. Love others. Know and love yourself. Butt out of everyone else’s life and live your own.
I finally figured out who I am… but, not completely. It was more like I found the right platform to dive off of into this life and now I’m figuring out the dynamics of proper diving and still haven’t taken that plunge to simply rest in the buoyancy of the water. My body is made with the right amount of salt and weight to float if I give in. The problem is: I, and most people, struggle and don’t just allow their selves to float. They don’t trust in how they are made and that if they simply lay back they would float.
When I was a little girl I used to talk to my make-believe friends, Jimmy and Inez. They lived in the bathroom. Upon further inspection of childhood fantasy I realized they lived in the one place I used to escape to not hear my father yelling or banging on things. In an impoverished two bedroom house outside Los Angeles, with four siblings, the only truly quiet place of solitude was the bathroom. Jimmy and Inez had a great sense of property value and location.
My dad is an alcoholic. He was a wife beater. He used to mess around, even being with another woman while my mom was in a hospital bed delivering their third child. But, he was also a human being with lots of problems. In hindsight, I would say narcissistic personality disorder and possibly sociopathy.
My mother was very young when she married him – age 14 – and she had her first child at 15 and then another at 16 (me) and then another at 18 and then another at 19, and then her final child at age 21. So, she was not in the best of health at a young age. She was married to an abusive drunk and raising five children basically alone. In that time period and my father’s Hispanic machismo meant that fathers went to the bar or worked, or hung out with friends, or anything other than spend time with the kids. The wife would take care of the children and keep them out of the dad’s hair.
I really never talked to my dad. The only time my dad spoke to me was when he was yelling at me or telling me to do something because there were five little kids running around the house and the last thing he wanted to do was listen to us all. “Shut up!” “Don’t you know anything?” “Shut the door!” “Stop being stupid!” And various other phrases that showed he knew nothing about any one of us or truly cared how our day was… well, actually he did also ask, “Anything new?” I’d answer, “Nothing,” mumbling slightly because I was scared of my father, and then he’d mutter, “Nothing…that’s all you ever say. That’s what an idiot would say.” And then he escaped to his bottle and I escaped to my room, to mull over being an idiot. I would tell myself I didn’t believe him, but underneath, the part that makes up esteem said that I was an idiot. And thus, I had low self esteem.
Now, I understand he was a man who had to earn all the money to feed a big family and his wife was stay at home with all of us kids. He had a lot of pressure to perform and so he relieved that pressure by drinking.
But, I also see my mother’s pressure of knowing her husband would come home and if things were not in order or children were not quiet she would feel the full brunt of his alcohol enraged anger on her face later in the evening.
Their bedroom wall would shudder like a small quake when I’d listen to her hit the closet after he punched her. It was a common occurrence. It was at this time I began to pray because something deep within me sensed there was a God who might listen to me.
My mother was also a bit abusive in her own way. She was a child, after all, when she married and started a family. This meant she would be forever stuck in this puberty-stricken mentality while raising us kids. We were “idiots,” “stupid,” “dummies,” and so on. But, she was also my all-in-all because we’d go out for little jaunts to the market or park and she did try very hard to make sure us kids were happy. She would take us to see our grandmother (our mom’s mom) and we’d all pile in the car and do things together.
My Gunga (what I called my grandmother) was always very good to us kids. She’d bake us treats and tell us stories of growing up in Arizona. We always felt warm and loved with my Gunga, a name she was forever given because my oldest sister couldn’t pronounce “grandma.”
Life, as a child of the 70s, was pretty chill in Southern California.
There was also the dark side of drugs and drug dealing, but I won’t go into that in this story. I never partook of drugs, alcohol or anything. Mostly, I had this yearning to be “something” and a writer and I didn’t want anything to hamper my brain growth and sharpness. My younger siblings did abuse drugs, and it affected our whole household in a bad way. My mother was emotionally removed because she was a woman living in an abusive marriage with five kids and more than she could handle. She was suffering PTSD and all kinds of depression and was just kind of there to feed us, but that was it. I realized I was pretty much on my own in my teens.
I was converted by age 16 to Christianity when I befriended a young Baptist church-attending girl. This was the biggest turning point in my young life and it promised me escape: escape from crazy drug dealers; escape from my dad; escape from my mom; escape from a life I was distancing myself more and more from.
What happened in my young teen years was I became a devout Christian, conservative and Republican, voting in my first presidential election in 1980 for the man I thought understood God’s calling for America, Ronald Reagan. He was articulate and a showman and told us the United States of America was a beacon on a hill to the lost world. Well, it sounded so nice to a young easily influenced woman that wanted to believe she was special. I threw myself into this system of belief because I was part of something bigger than everything else, but also, my Christian conversion was very real and it was a true change in my heart. I began to search for God from that point on with utter faith and desire, and that search is why I am here now, but I’ll delve into that a bit later in this story.
I knew salvation and the only way to heaven and I was ready to tell the world. I felt very superior, despite me at this age telling you up and down that I was simply doing God’s work. No, as I look back in hindsight I felt superior to those who did not give their lives to the cross of Christ. They were all lost and needing saving and I was just the person to tell them how. So, I became a missionary and would cold turkey witness on college campuses, overseas, anywhere there were people that should be converted. I was on a mission and I was zealous to save the world! (Cue: evil laughter.)
Back to now:
I realized life isn’t black and white. You can’t say you are a beacon on a hill standing at a podium when the reality is that you are merely one of many beacons. Our country wasn’t founded on only being bright and shining lights, but on mass genocide of millions of Native Americans, the backs of millions of slaves from various ethnicities, unpaid workers, and even children. Yes, we set out to be free from persecution, but we also wanted to find our gold and millions on a foreign shore and human life paid the cost. There is a saying, “with every positive there is an equal negative.” This Pollyanna view that we are special is a lie to make us all feel superior and better than others. The moment we realize we are merely “different” and no one less and no one better then we can move forward realistically. We can be inclusive, rather than exclusive.
I still believed in unrealistic things as a young adult. Our country, along with me, was basically going through another phase of growing up. We are only 200 years old and we have a lot of growing up to do.
On a side note: Does anyone else consider the fact if Canada and the USA were in a movie called, “The Big Lebowski” they would be The Dude and we’d be David Huddleston, grasping for a young hot chick while in a wheelchair and thinking we are better than The Dude, despite him only needing a White Russian to tide him over in life, plus the added bonus of getting banged by Julianne Moore?
(The thing about dreams: they are not reality.)
There are voices in our heads. There is a voice in my head. The reasonability of that voice is based on fact and belief. What are the facts at hand, and how much of those facts will I believe and consider to progress further in my life?
So, let’s start Chapter Two:
Chapter Two – I Don’t Know Where to Begin
I think starting a chapter is always the hardest. Starting a chapter in a life is nearly impossible. What’s worse? It is if you finish your life and look back at all the chapters you wish you could have had more time to rewrite and edit properly. Why doesn’t God give us galleys before they are published? Is that why many love the idea of reincarnation? It’s a chance to get it right the next time with all the writing experience you’ve garnered after writing the book several times?
I’m not really sure if any of that matters. Where are you now? …In this present moment in time? What do you know and then what do you do with that knowledge?
I love how Buddhism is a practice of “being in the moment.” I love when I have those Zen moments. With total clarity I perform a task, it is done, finished, and I look back relieved and quite proud in the finished product. This is being in the moment, in the present, in the moment of Zen.
When I was a child of maybe six-years-old, I feared for my mother’s life and made this pact with myself that I would be a superhero and keep her safe. Well, the reality was that when my dad began to beat my mom I cowered in fear, hiding in the closet and listening, telling myself I would be brave enough to call the police if it got too bad. At that moment I had overwhelming clarity that I wasn’t alone in that closet. It was my first true spiritual experience, and I really can’t explain why I felt secure in the fact God was here and worth finding out about.
I never considered the thought of, “Well, if God is real why doesn’t he save my mom?” No, because if humans needed saving for every time another human did something evil then would we still be humans living our lives freely? It’s a conundrum really. It’s like if you watch a movie with a superhero: Superman saves Lois Lane time and again and those in his vicinity, but what about the person mugged on the street in Istanbul or a person who fell off a boat in the Atlantic? Obviously, Superman could not possibly be everywhere and why would we expect him to? If the world was all perfect and wonderful would it still be this world?
I think the real answer isn’t having your God or superhero stepping in to save every bad thing, but people to start changing one at a time. It’s in that change that salvation of this world begins.
And so, that’s when I realized my writing could be life-changing and life-saving. If just one person reads and understands they are a light in darkness and all they have to do is switch on that light inside, would they do it?
Would you do it?
This could mean many things depending on who is progressing and who is moving forward. My life has been defined by a spiritual progress. I went from small child dependant on an omniscient God, to a child who hated God, and then to a child who questioned God, and then to a totally accepting adult with a dogmatic and unbendable belief system (falsely called faith), and up to now where I am a progressive follower of wherever God takes me and shows me truth through the lens of love.
Now, that last part in my journey may seem too hokey and rose-colored glasses, but I know that I see clearer looking toward the light when I keep my shades on. I don’t want to be blinded by the light.
God, the Great Creator, the one inside and outside and within and without, is defined by humans throughout time. The forward progression of our thoughts on God is decided by culture and time period.
God is viewed through the lens of how we view our world. God becomes defined by those who speak the loudest about God. Thus, we can have some real asshole beliefs about God, when in reality we are simply viewing God through a pile of whatever came out of the wrong end of a donkey.
If you are raised sitting around a campfire and listening to the Shaman share his view of God, then you will probably believe God to be whatever this Shaman said. If you are raised in an organized religion you will probably believe whatever said religion and preacher up front tells you of God.
Rarely, do we step out and progress further in our God definition than what we’ve been taught. We get secure and find comfort in having a fully explained God, neatly placed in the box of our religion and upbringing.
But then, there are those who step out of the box, leave the cave, leave the building, leave the doctrines of tradition, and the authority who states, “that’s just how it’s always been,” and start to search for God outside the box.
This was me when I not only came out of the closet, but also came out of my little spiritual box.
This can be called, “Forward Progress.” In a culture it brings about new religions and new governments and new laws, and revolutions; but, on a personal level as one human being, it can bring about all types of life changes and life directional shifts and upheavals, or a revolution of thought. This is a new chapter in a life.
It brings about change – either for good or for bad. But then, good or bad is decided by whom?
Who decides what is best for you? God? Whose god? Questioning outside the box leads you to even more questions. You realize the world is one infinite question after another, and you either keep pondering or jump back into the box, or find another neatly put together box and jump in that one. (I think that’s why you’ll find many diehard Catholics become Mormons or a Protestant going to Catholicism. You see a lot of box jumpers.)
Who IS GOD, then becomes, and became, my question. When we begin to ask who we are to God, we then need to ask who is God to us. Who is God to…me?
In this day and age, early 21st century, if the world is progressing forward then we are at a time when wars, hate, lines drawn, societies building walls, humans developing anti-equality laws, relationships, and cultures have to say, “We learned from the past, and now move forward to a more enlightened future.”
Do we progress forward? Do we make good changes or bad changes?
I believe as I earlier stated about how an individual jumps back in the box or chooses a different box, rather than exploring a more enlightened path, our countries and societies do the same thing. It’s why we have Neo-cons in the United States and why we have new abusive and violent laws against gays in other countries like Russia and Uganda. We step forward in kindness and then step backward into hate.
When I earlier stated that I began to see the world through a love colored lens I realized I could not step backward into hate or jump from one box to another. I was finally free from that box and was ready to explore the world in a loving and caring way. If I’m being loving and caring then I won’t be judgmental and hate-driven. I can’t tell you for a fact, dogmatically that this religion is better than this other religion, but I can, for a fact, say that God is real to me and people are here to stay and so I either get along with them or live in a box.
Let’s look at the God picture for a second: I have to ask, “Is God good for us or bad?” Who defines good and bad? Is God good or bad? Perhaps that’s the first question we should ask. If God is infallible and constant, infinite and timeless, creator of all, then what does that have to do with good or bad? It just “IS.” So then do we really care if God is good or bad?
This creation has good and bad things – evil things at times when you consider cruelty and inhumane actions. Is this how we find God – through humanity? …The predator/prey example? Destructive forces of nature in constant turmoil and constant climactic change?
Well, there is no good answer to give us any real definition. We could stand our ground on one definition, but then what source do we go to in finding solidity to this conclusion? If we are progressing forward then we don’t stop on a definition. We don’t get comfy despite the little box we found that has a really soft blanket inside. There is NO SUCH BOX THAT HAS EVERY ANSWER INSIDE.
And, if we stop then how do we explain the progression of history on humankind and creatures alike? We don’t still live in caves and even if you don’t believe in macro-evolution you do realize there has been myriad micro-evolutionary changes in our world proven scientifically.
Forward progress is real and a must, for cultures, societies, and for us as individuals.
Our culture has constantly changed. Our technology has constantly changed. Our communities and political systems and those lines of power have constantly changed. Life and livelihood keeps progressing and moving forward. Movements have come and gone. New religions and ideologies sprout up and then die out.
Our view of God, in those same transient ways, also change.
And then there is me. I have read the Bible for over 30 years over and over again. I saw the words one way 30 years ago, and then another way 20 years ago, and even differently 10 years ago, and now everything is so different in how I perceive the wording. Did the writing change? No. (I read the same version.)
I ended up progressing and moving forward. I stopped listening to what others told me. I got quiet and began to listen to that small inner voice. I say God spoke to my heart. I opened my eyes. I finally listened.
I know when I look at other human beings that God is not them. God is outside humankind, and yet within us each, but only when we notice it inside. God is outside a book of words. God is outside every individual and yet dwells with each one of us. Some seek and some don’t care. It’s not a contest.
Inspiration is fully given to anyone – any old Joe or Joanne on the street. I see a smiling clerk at the store who tells me to have a good day from the very core of her soul and mean it, and I am blessed by God because of her being inspired to share this joy inside. We are ALL able to be inspired by God and have an inspired word at any given moment.
To say that your religious box, neatly put together centuries ago, by those who decided and spoke the loudest is the only box to use is a lie. “This is our unchanging box.” Others come along and look in the box and don’t touch the contents and keep passing it along completely intact.
I came from a Christian fundamental; grace alone, infallible Bible-only, inerrant truth, type of box of religion. This was the only box I dared to look inside. One day God told me, “STOP.” Stop and look up. Go outside that box. And this began my forward progress.
Boxes are fine for a time, but they eventually fall apart like all things made of cardboard. Getting a bigger and better and shinier box to place all those little things inside doesn’t change the fact you cannot progress inside a box.
God will not ever, nor will God ever, stay in a box created and manufactured by human beings. When you realize this it’s the first step in truly knowing God. Not that you ever truly will, but you are on the journey finally.
It’s like children and their toy boxes. Eventually, they move away from that small group of toys and go off to college and see the world (unless, you happen to be a character in Toy Story).
I like Jesus and the idea of Jesus. There are so many schools of thought as to whether he existed or not. I don’t think I really care one way or the other. I like the message of Jesus: “Love God and love others.” “Know who you are.” “Seek God and you shall find God.” “Care and be generous.” “Don’t judge.” “Be true to yourself.” “Be a light in a dark world.” “Always help when able.” I mean, these are things that we should do as human beings and in this way we are God on earth.
Love: Could you imagine (like the song by John Lennon) if we were all guided by love that there would be no more wars, no more boundaries, no more hate, and no more laws. Equality would never be questioned because it would be a given. Judgment is unnecessary because grace and mercy would abound. There would be no prisons. No poverty because everyone would help out another. Peace. There would be peace for once.
This was the message of Jesus, but we always draw lines and we always place our boxes there on the front line. We so love our boxes. I know this will never happen because humans will always behave as humans. There will be no heeding this message of Jesus.
But, I ask YOU – the person reading this – to leave your box. YOU start the forward progression because if only one person starts, and then another starts, soon we will have a world of people progressing in this path of peace. God isn’t in any box – God transcends boxes.
Peace be with you.
And thus begins another chapter…
Chapter Three – Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is… in South Africa?
I’d guess it was in 2003 that I began to get hooked on the internet. [to be continued…]