There is nothing more deafening than “SILENCE.” Knowing that one is the target of silence is MADDENING. Knowing that I am powerless over people, places and things is PRICELESS..
I have a choice today to either allow emotions to overtake me and I start building condos in my head BIG CONDOS in my head, or I can choose to feel my feelings and give them proper space to reside, I can articulate those feelings in a healthy manner and know when it is time to let them go.
Sometimes I don’t see the fine line that exists between proper maintanance and painful rumination. Over the last week I have been up the mountain of emotion and I have sat there and ruminated in my feelings and I have let them consume me.
Anger that is not dealt with appropriately can become seriously deadly if not dealt with with due process. I have a storehouse of anger inside of me and it has its place in my life because that anger, pointed in the right direction, is useful. Bad anger turned into healing anger works wonders for HIV people, that is a very valuable lesson. I work very hard at maintaining a calm cool exterior yet inside of me I have a churning maelstrom of emotions that run the gamut from happiness and joy to utter destructive anger.
People are responsible for this gamut of emotions because of what they have done to me. I am responsible for taking care of myself with proper care and love. I cannot breathe in the past, nor in the future. I can only breathe in the present moment. And so that is my task. To stay in the moment.
And for some that is a tall order. But it is a lesson that I work very hard at mainaining. It is really sad when people do not rise to the occasion because of their choices in this life. I don’t think they “GET” that their actions or choice of non-action are detrimental to those they know. People choose to do what they do – and it is not always about me – there is the solution.
I cannot expect people to rise to the occasion and be good people. All I can do is live my life accordingly with some dignity and grace and hope that what I do, others will do as well. I just know the painful lesson about expectations…
God giggles at me every time I place an expectation on another human being. I imagine he sits up there shaking his head knowing that I really know the deal and that I shouldn’t do this t0 myself. Yet, once again, I have done it to myself.
I know that some people in my life have no idea the amount of work I have done to build the life I have. Not only the physical building of my surrounding but also the emotional and mental building I have done in the past fifteen years. I don’t think you all realize just how much physical effort it takes to live inside a body that is HIV positive. I think many take their lives for granted never knowing what it feels like to work through fear and death. I don’t think you know what it feels like to work through abandonment by family and friends and fellows. I don’t think you all know what it feels like to feel corrosive anger and hatred for my fellow man and woman for the things they have done to me. I just don’t think you can fathom what corrosive anger is and how destructive it can be if it is not worked through with due diligence.
So you see now, with all that mental and emotional work that we do to survive, to find that very fine balance of emotional sobriety that takes every fiber of my being sometimes to maintain, that fragile life that I live can be disrupted so terribly by the appearance of some one from that past pain, it has taken the wind out of my sails. There is such a distance between the people of the past and the man I am today. It is very dangerous for those people to even dance that fine line between me and my friends. And I don’t think that people understand the seismic shift they create by taking that dalliance near us.
There is a lot of water run under the bridge and there is a lot of bad blood that still surges to the surface of my soul. There is still a lot of resentment that exists because of what some did or didn’t do when they should have done it. And I cannot fault anyone for inaction. Because that’s where they were in the grand scheme of things. But I could not stand there and wait for people to acclimate to something that clearly did not impact them the way it impacted me. Solid and decisive action had to be taken to save a life and that decisive action was taken to insure my survival. I don’t need to explain the life saving decisions that I once made to ensure my survival. Because you weren’t there and I was.
Decades of time have passed underneath the bridge of life. Decades that we cannot get back. People lived and died during those decades of time. I was witness to unspeakable horrors and unspeakable hatred and ignorance and I lived through it and it helped inform and produce the man I am today. I can name every name of each person who turned their backs on me. I can name every name of each person who did not act to be my friend or family member when it counted. I can name every name of each person who spurned me for one reason or another.
And I can name every name of every single person who stood with me during the storm, those angels of men and women who held my hand when it was the darkest time of my life. Where were you??? That is a rhetorical question. Or is it???
I put a great deal of importance on the notion of family. In the absence of such nuclear and biological persons, I had to find and create my own. You don’t get to choose your family in life, you are stuck with what you get in whatever incarnation it comes. Sometimes you hit the motherlode, and sometimes you come up short. In the world of Gay men and HIV, when the world turned on us and on each other, we got to choose who we would take into the fight with us. For better or for worse, those were the choices we made. Because that is what we had to do to survive. This, they say, is water under the bridge. Yes it is. But you never forget who turned their backs on you, ever…
You never forget that with the distance of time that the wounds of life still exist, even if years have passed and those wounds have healed over, all it takes is some dynamic storm to come along that throws the fine balance of a life we live into chaos. People with AIDS never forget. We might not seem like we remember at times, because to remember is to relive the pain over and over and what kind of life would that be, if we lived to relive every pain we were ever visited with? The work of survival takes a lifetime. And it wasn’t and isn’t easy work. I think the rest of the world takes for granted just how fine a dance we do to maintain a calm resolution to go on with our lives, because that is what we have to do to get on with life.
I just don’t think you realize the amount of anger that exisits on any given day that has to be disposed of properly. It is like spent nuclear fuel that needs to be taken and stored at a secure site where it won’t harm anyone else. It is very important that we do this work daily. To maintain emotional sobriety we must rid ourselves of this corrosive anger, hatred and resentments.
I thought that it was time to communicate this message to you, because underneath my calm exterior seethes a man in conflict. And I have to make heads or tails of that conflict and then I have to sort it out properly. And to do that I need to keep a safe distance from people, places and things that trigger this kind of cathartic emotional upheaval.
People from the past that come back into my life need to state their purpose and give me a solid plan of what they plan to do with me and for me. Access to the inner circle is restricted. And for good reason. I don’t need to be saved and I surely don’t need to meet Jesus. And I know that I am powerless over you and others and that takes me off the hook for being responsible for your actions or your inaction. I warn you not to play with my emotions, even if you don’t think you are playing with my emotions, there are some who’s by their very existence in my social planetary system, have already shifted the planets circling around me. I know you are out there, And I know that you know that you are out there, just beyond my reach. And though I have attempted now 4 times to get your attention, You have chosen to feed me SILENCE, and that is unacceptible. So you have one of two choices. 1. You can choose to stay out there on the periphery and stay there silent, or 2. You can make yourself known and state your desires. Either way I am going on with my life.
I cannot grant you space in my brain. And I cannot grant you access to my emotional sobriety. I know better. I can’t offer you anything that I don’t have in my body. What I can offer you is what I have learned over the last fifteen years. Forgiveness is something we learn to do, lest unforgiveness takes us down the road to hell. If you are seeking forgiveness, you need to ask for it.
Only God forgives unconditionally. I need to see your soul and know that you seek my forgiveness for what you have done and what you have not done. I can say the words “I forgive you” but not without some reservation. I am a human being and what was done was done. And quite possible through no fault of our own. But you who I am addressing now, made a choice. You made a choice and you stuck to that choice and in the end it was me that was left out in the cold. I had to go on with my life without you. And there you are just outside in the neutral zone, I know you are there, and you know you are there. There are no coincidences.
As Christian’s we are told to forgive seventy times seven… So in order to be a good Christian I must forgive everyone of their sins. Like God. Yet, I know, I am not God. Forgiveness is something I struggle with daily when constant reminders pop up when they do, and usually they are unannounced and they catch me off guard.
I must literally say the prayers over each and every person I feel this corrosive anger and hatred towards. And over time, I have abated this anger. I have let go. But the past is not very far away, emotionally. It is still there. Just beneath the surface and with every day that passes, I must maintain my emotional sobriety and so you see just what kind of work that takes.
Never should you take for granted the lives people with AIDS live. Never should you ever second guess our wisdom. And never should you ever treat us with anything but respect, dignity and grace.
We have earned every breath we breathe and every day that we live, through blood, sweat and tears. It is because of those people who wrankled us so badly that we survived because we had to deal with what you did to us. And I survived…
Thanks be to God…