Purgatory is only Temporary.

Today I spoke with a very close friend of mine, and we had a long talk about some of the issues we both face.  I am not ready to share with the world some of my deep, dark secrets, because I don’t feel comfortable revealing that side of myself just yet, but some of what we talked about was about relationships.  We talked about how work has had me traveling for months and how it has felt like the echoes of my last relationship have been heard loudly everywhere.

K said to me, “It’s like you were in Purgatory.”

And she was right.

 

Neil Gaiman says it best, “I think hell is something you carry with you.  Not somewhere you go.”  I have never had such a jarring emotional experience of that magnitude before in my life; maybe some people can brush this sort of thing off easily.  But for those unfortunate, overly-introspective types like myself, it’s not that easy.  I still, months later, ask myself what I could have done to have been enough.  I know, rationally, the answer to this question is simple: NOTHING.  People who want you to be part of your life make you a priority.  They don’t push you away, they don’t disrespect you by being dishonest and secretive.  It doesn’t make this any easier to swallow, and we still beat ourselves up because of their betrayal.  Even as time passes, in the words of the late Maya Angelou, “People will never forget how you made them feel.”

 

The pain is still there and I know it will be there for a long time to come, but I also know that Purgatory is only temporary, and now I am here in Hawaii to start a new life, and the ghost of the man from my past can not come to these shores to haunt me.  This is a place of healing, and I concentrate on trying to let go of the hell I have carried within me for so long.

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For anyone out there going through something similar…if you don’t think it will end…I understand.  It’s not over for me, but I can finally see the beginnings of the road to healing.  The pain lasts a long time, but we don’t have to be buried under it forever.  There are still beautiful things to be seen, and we can find an abundance of kindness and goodness in the people who continue to stand by us and support us.  Our worth is not defined by those who have treated us badly, or the poor relationships we once were part of.  

 

Our worth was and always will be determined by ourselves.

 

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It is Well with my Soul

I recently finished Dr. Terry Gordon’s book, No Storm Lasts Forever, a diary he kept throughout the first few months following a tragic accident that left his son Tyler paralyzed.  Dr. Gordon is one of those rare individuals who can draw insight and wisdom from life where many see nothing but random occurrence.  Although my storm is very different, and not in any way comparable to Dr. Gordon’s, it is still a loss, and it has caused me to experience the various stages of grief.  When we experience loss, it opens up a void within us that can become susceptible to negative thoughts and emotions.  I myself am a victim of this, and recently have been plagued with my own fears and self-doubts and questioning of my path entirely.  I do know that ultimately it all comes down to this: we must be the heroes of our own stories in order to save ourselves and come to peace.

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In 1873, a man named Horatio Spafford decided to send his wife and their four daughters on a trip to Europe.  They were to sail ahead of him, as he had to deal with the aftermath of real estate investments that had been destroyed in the Chicago fire of 1871.  Tragically, the ocean liner his wife and children were on collided with another vessel and sank.  His wife survived, and from England sent her husband a telegram that said, “Saved alone.”  Spafford then sailed to England to meet her, and as his vessel passed the place where his four daughters had passed, he penned the words:

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Loss is so painful to deal with; and as I journey through these days and weeks I can see that although I may be training my physical body to become strong, I have been neglecting my mind.  There is a psychological term called, “rumination,” in which we let our worries overcome us.  We must be strong and not let ourselves be sucked into the vacuum of despair.  In the words of Plato, “For a man to conquer himself is the first and noblest of all victories.”  We either come to terms with our respective lots or we are destroyed by our own sorrows and insecurities.  And in destroying ourselves, we destroy others along with us.  I wonder what sort of world this would be if every man was able to come to terms with his own demons.  I imagine there would be so much less suffering.

Finally, to close with some wise words from Rafiki:

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On Love

Beware, KP has an opinion post to follow…

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As always, I continue to be a terrible writer and not write as often as I should.  I’ve been doing a bit of traveling within the States, although work keeps me busy and I haven’t really had the time to take some new photos.  We went up to Biloxi two weekends ago and toured the Jefferson Davis home, Beauvoir, but the weather wasn’t good enough to walk around and take many pictures.  Today was Easter, and although I do not identify with any particular religious belief system, it is always a nice excuse to spend a few hours at brunch with friends.

I had an incident that occurred just about two weeks ago that really got me thinking about love and forgiveness, and I think for my own cathartic reasons it needs to be shared.  I am specifically talking about the kind of romantic love in relationships in this entry.  I think we as a whole, both over-use and under-use the phrase, “I love you.”  We over-use it in the sense that it is said for the wrong reasons, whether that is manipulation for some shallow gain (sex, money, material items, etc), or we aren’t thinking about what it really means.  Maybe it’s because as a writer I’ve been cursed with constant introspection, but I can never understand why people can use a phrase of this gravity so carelessly.  When you say, “I love you” to somebody, what you are really saying is, “You are THE priority in my life.”  It is such a massive statement to make, which is why I fully believe it shouldn’t be said or used as carelessly as it is!  Love is ultimately about selflessness; anything other than such isn’t love, it’s lust or infatuation or whatever else.  But love is about someone else.

People often make mistakes, no one is perfect.  Through love, I believe forgiveness can heal wounds and relationships can grow strong, ONLY if both people are willing to put in the proper effort and believe their relationship is worth saving.

I’ve been thinking about this often as I observe others around me.  I see relationships I wish I can someday emulate with someone.  These relationships generally consist of two partners who enjoy spending much time together doing hobbies they both enjoy, such as traveling, cooking, exploring new restaurants, and the like.  They communicate well and are completely open with one another.  They fully respect and appreciate their partner and do not take them for granted.  I also see relationships I hope to never end up in; ones where people do not communicate, are not completely open, do not respect their partner and their partner’s feelings (think: “If he/she were witnessing my behavior/what I am saying to another person, would it hurt their feelings?”).  I see people in unhappy marriages because they rushed into something because “it was time to settle down,” or something of that nature.  I have never understood the concept of “settling” in love.  If it’s love, why should it be considered “settling”?  Love is a CHOICE!  Every day, it is a choice.

As for the phrase, “I love you,” being under-used, well, this one is pretty simple.  If it is love, then sing it strong and proud, because we are never guaranteed tomorrow!  And that goes for all types of love, not just romantic relationships.

I truly feel, deep within my heart, that to be better people we need to think about others.  I am in no way perfect, but I know that there are times when we really need to push our own desires aside and put our loved ones’ needs before our own.  Love really is about putting others before ourselves.

The Stranger’s Always You

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A few years ago I discovered John Cameron Mitchell’s movie adaptation of his stage play, Hedwig and the Angry Inch.  Actually, I first watched it after I had ended something that I now wouldn’t even say had any semblance of a relationship…but at the time I was hurt.  In the wake of everything that has happened recently, I have found myself suddenly turning back to this movie.  I have’t listened to the songs or watched it in about two years, but after watching it again only just recently, I realize how perfect a play and film Mitchell created.

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At first glance, the posters and trailer make one think of the flamboyant glam-rock film, The Rocky Horror Picture Show.  It certainly portrays a lead character who demands attention, but this film and its music are vastly different from Rocky Horror.  The central concepts center on identity, human complexity, love, and understanding what “wholeness” is.  Mitchell created a story based on a character who believes love from another will form the missing other half to the whole.  One of the songs, “Origin of Love,” is an illustration of this, pulling from Aristophanes speech in Plato’s Symposium explaining heterosexuals, homosexuals, and their longing to feel “whole.”  The story is that in ancient times human beings existed as three different types of creatures: male/male, female/female, and male/female.  Much like in other religions, notably Christianity and Judaism, humans made a costly mistake in trying to acquire too much knowledge (similar to Adam and Eve, the story of the Tower of Babylon, etc), and so Zeus sent thunderbolts to split the beings in two, causing them to then forever feel compelled to “find their missing other half.”

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In Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Hansel is a young man living in Communist East Berlin who falls in love with an American solider.  In order to marry the soldier and leave the country, Hansel must get a sex-change operation to fool doctors that he is actually a woman.  Note: he did not previously feel like a woman trapped in a man’s body.  The operation is botched, and what remains is something in-between male and female.  After moving to the United States, the solider leaves Hansel–now Hedwig, using his mother’s name–for another man.  Alone and devastated, Hedwig picks herself up and begins odd-jobs and writing music, sometimes performing with local military wives.  She meets Tommy Speck, a quiet, very Christian young man, and the two begin writing music together and falling in love.  Hedwig teaches Tommy about rock music and gives him the name, Tommy Gnosis (Gnosis being the Greek word for “knowledge”).  Tommy ends up rejecting Hedwig for her physical deformity from the operation and runs off with Hedwig’s music and claims it as his own, rising to stardom.  Hedwig now has her own band, and is in the middle of a lawsuit to reclaim what is rightfully hers.  She is caught between her desire to be with Tommy, who she believes is her other half, and wanting to destroy him if she cannot be with him.  Ultimately, she receives justice and the fame and recognition deserved for her music.  In the end, she comes to realize there is no “other half,” and that “wholeness” comes from within.  Tommy and Hedwig part ways, and Hedwig leaves behind all the wigs, costumes, and makeup, and comes to terms with who he is.  My favorite song, Wicked Little Town, sung by Tommy to Hedwig as a form of apology in the end, probably boasts some of the most powerful lyrics in the entire show:

Forgive me for I did not know
’cause I was just a boy
And you were so much more

Than any god could ever plan
More than a woman or a man
And now I understand
How much I took from you
That when everything starts breaking down
You take the pieces off the ground
And show this wicked town
Something beautiful and new

You think that luck has left you there
But maybe there’s nothing
Up in the sky but air

And there’s no mystical design
No cosmic lover preassigned
There’s nothing you can find
That cannot be found
’cause, with all the changes you’ve been through
It seems the stranger’s always you

The line “You were so much more than any god could ever plan, more than a woman or a man,” really drives home the theme of human complexity.  Ultimately, we are not “destined” to be with anyone; we are whole as we are and life unfolds based on the consequences of our choices and actions.  Love comes not from the need to feel “complete,” but by feeling complete as we are.  None of the characters in the show can be easily defined, which makes them so much more human and real.  Not male, not female, not gay, not straight, but human.  This film is definitely highly unusual and non-traditional, but it has one of the best story-lines I have ever seen and the music is wonderful.  John Cameron Mitchell really drives it home with this one.  I highly recommend for anyone who likes off-beat films with a sense of humor and a good message.

Only Human

It has been quite some time, and much has changed.

My job is transferring me to Hawaii, and I have a few months of training along the way.  It’s going to be a coast-to-coast adventure in America, starting from beautiful Northern Washington and ending up in Florida.  I will look out on to the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans before June arrives.

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Although 2014 brings many promises of new beginnings, it unfortunately began on a very sad note for me.  My relationship ended in a very painful manner, and I never imagined I’d be writing an entry like this, but heartbreak feels like the equivalent of being sick with some kind of total body illness, it really does.  Regardless of whether it is you or the other person who ends it (for me, I was the one who ended it), it is horrible.  Ultimately for me, it came down to what I felt was settling in the relationship and accepting behavior that was very much not okay.  It still seeps deep into the core and unfortunately only the passage of time will heal what has been damaged.

It really made me start to think about how different people perceived love; or rather, what they thought was love.  The same man who said “I love you,” to my face was, behind my back, telling someone else how he wished he “could hold her all night.”  For any couple in a healthy monogamous relationship, this is not acceptable.  For people in polyamorous or open relationships, I can not speak, but I would assume that in those relationships, in order for them to be healthy, all parties must agree to whatever stipulations (and I would imagine there would be a good deal of communication involved).  I really do believe that for different people, different types of relationships work.  However, it is WRONG for one person to be covert and hide something from the other person when they are under the impression no such thing is going on.  That is cheating, in one of its many forms.

It saddens me to know that, at the end of my relationship, instead of being sincerely sorry for doing something that was wrong and hurt me a good deal, the man I was with was angry because he felt I had invaded his privacy and did not trust him; however, it was his behavior that prevented me from fully being able to do so.  The spectrum of human behavior is fascinating and terrifying all at once; whereas some of us are staunchly opposed to the idea of such behavior in relationships, others have no qualms engaging in it.  On some level these individuals must have issues with commitment and cannot enter the relationship both feet fully in.  Nevertheless, it does not take away from the hurt we feel when we cross paths with someone of that nature.

I think of Mary Oliver’s quote:

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