A couple of days later an editor from Penguin Random House contacted me via email to work on the final draft. She was in New York, I was in California. She’d give me some suggestions and I’d write them in until the project was done.
In September of 2000, at the age of twenty – eight, I made what I thought would be the most important commitment of my life. After years of courtship ( I needed to be sure it was true love), I decided I was finally ready to take the leap. I was entering Roman Catholic seminary. I was going to be a priest.
I met a man at the start of my second year. He was handsome and we had many things in common, including love and devotion for our overbearing Hispanic mothers who dreamed of being able to say they had priest for sons. Soon, we discovered something else we shared, and that we were both trying to escape: homosexuality…
The whole process was a fun little adventure that all started with a prayer: “I want to do something fun!”
I’m about three months into the blogging universe. It’s such a huge space with so much talent and creativity it’s hard to capture it all in one sitting…heck, I don’t think one could ever catch up. It’s like Netflix – the queue goes on forever!
As endless as the rabbit hole is, there are some ideas and blogs worth visiting on a regular basis. For the month of March our blog highlight focuses on Mental Health. Beauty Beyond Bones is an inspiration…not just because of the content but the organization and aesthetic of the blog itself is beyond.
Beauty Beyond Bones has taken her pain and published her own book: Bloom. An interactive journal of past experiences with anorexia. Even though I don’t personally know her, I love her for this. This is definitely someone who has taken her struggles and turned it into joy.
If you haven’t already, please take time to follow the links above to peruse a website that will not only inspire but motivate the reader to take charge of their own pain and experiences.
Week after week, as she nervously entered the room, Ginny would follow the same routine: a quick motion of hellos around the room with minimal eye contact; but with the intention of making a quick beeline towards the sofa. As she nestled into her own self-created womb, her confession would begin:
“Over the last twenty years, I’ve done everything I could for this marriage; I don’t think I can do much more.”
“I waited for him to be a better father to our kids.”
“Now that he’s sober, he’s dedicated his life to the program…when will it be time for me?”
“When is it going to be my turn?”
As I sat across the room, a breeze from her depleted soul wisped right past me. The air pocket of hope that stood the test of time, for better or worse, through thick and thin…was released and set free from pure exhaustion. All that was left was an emptiness that needed to be felt…and felt…and felt.
Although Ginny and I were two different people, we shared a connection. I remember what it’s like to hold onto something so tightly; unaware of an outside perspective. I’ve wrestled with the understanding that if I decided to stay in a situation, it was by choice and my responsibility to do the work. But I couldn’t expect the same in return from someone other than myself. I’ve sat with the frustration of knowing no matter what measures I took, I didn’t have the power to change an event or a person.
As I wait for the next step of inspiration, I’d like to set an intention for my blog: to make connections with those who’ve had to rise from the center of their own depleted soul.
“REMEMBER…WHEN YOU GET HOME FROM SCHOOL, WASH YOUR T-SHIRT AND SHORTS, PLACE THEM IMMEDIATELY INTO YOUR BACKPACK SO YOU DON’T FORGET THEM MONDAY MORNING!
As always, anyone who didn’t show up dressed for P.E ready to play received a full-on humiliation yell from Mr. Patron our 7th-grade P.E teacher.
Today was my turn. I forgot my clothes over the weekend and all morning my stomach twisted in knots knowing I’d have to face him later that day. I had two options: get to the locker room first and ask for loner clothes…or face humiliation in front of the other students while I received a tongue lashing. Anyone who feared Patron as much as I did made sure to get on his good side. It was the only choice available for not having shown enough responsibility.
“AT LEAST YOU WERE HERE FIRST!” Those were the only words I wanted to hear him say as he compared me to all the other students who had forgotten as well. Although dressing out meant I’d have to play some organized sport — which I hated — acceptance was the one thing I wanted the most.
Later that day, as the last few students meandered around the lunch counter, the first bell rang. I ran into the locker room as fast as I could. The smell of old plumbing and cologne filled the air as I made my way down the hall, past the lockers. I may have been overreacting but my desperation to please him was all that mattered. With no one else in sight, I could see the white fluorescent lights shining past the door of his office.
As I approached the last few steps, I could hear Mr. Patron clearing his throat along with some ruffle of activity. As I neared the door, I noticed his hands were clearing the wrinkles out from under his shirt, but I wasn’t prepared for what I saw next. Like my P.E clothes, Mr. Patron had forgotten to wear underwear that day…or maybe he just didn’t wear underwear. His shorts were down to his knees as he cleaned himself for the next class. He wasn’t doing anything inappropriate or questionable, I just walked in at the wrong time. He immediately began to yell at the top of his lungs, “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING IN HERE…GO WAIT ON YOUR NUMBER!”
I ran out as quickly as I came in…not only having been yelled at — which I was trying to avoid — but feeling worse than ever before.
When I stepped onto the parish hall that evening after the retreat on February 11, 1990, I didn’t know a prerequisite for sustaining a long-lasting relationship with the Lord would require sleeping with men. Throughout my teenage years I’d vacillate between church teaching and the growing feeling inside.
Steve, our youth coordinator was the first to greet everyone at the door. Steve was safe. He was squeaky clean. I would imagine his smile had its own soundtrack — nothing like a choir of angels — just the sound you’d hear when something is already so clean it makes a squeaking noise.
“I’m happy you decided to come back tonight Eddie.” His attention warmed the naive parts of me that were just starting to welcome in the devil. All I wanted to do was stand and admire him. Steve’s loving focus sent me back to a place that was becoming all too familiar. A place, that by the age of sixteen, would lead me to the confessional booth way too many times.
John had an intimidatingly spiritual presence about him; it was all-encompassing and without boundaries. He wielded it with no idea of his power. He was tall, well built without trying, and his young adult skin was as virginal as he was.
All the mother’s wanted him for their soon to be in season daughters. Young, eighteen-year-old girls who would be ripe for the picking. The same young girls who readied their clipboards and pens as they checked off the boxes which lead them to till death do us part.
I, on the other hand, was an awkward and lanky sixteen-year-old boy who resembled more of a budding baby giraffe rather than a young, tight-skinned masculine colt. Although my calf stage had long since passed, I stalled and held onto it for no other reason than that it was all I knew.