Verve – Heather

I have been reconstructing the found family I had built for myself, which I unceremoniously tore apart.  I began with Heather, by reconnecting with her in recent months.  I had met Heather through my first boyfriend, Ben; she is his ex-sister-in-law.  When I broke-up with Ben, and other boyfriends, Heather remained a constant.  Often, she was a great deal more pleasurable to be around than who I was dating.

Heather is a hardcore reader and deeply empathic.  She is the type of friend that is always needed – a person who completely accepts another person as they are.  She’s the rare person that shares what she has, and the even rarer person who gladly gives up what she must to improve another’s standing.  Heather allows people to drop their masks and be their authentic selves.  In the instance of me, I found a person who shared my proclivities and smart enough to grasp references &allusions without explanation.  Heather keeps friends to her detriment – even if the friendship is one-sided or toxic.

It has been just over seven years since Heather and I had seen each other.  The fault in our disconnection is with me.  It was a dark time, and could no longer deal with people around me, so I pushed every support away from myself.  I was convinced I had to do everything alone.  A family never does anything alone.

 

Path to Deeper Character

It’s been beyond joyous to redecorate – to create this new home a nest made of my life.  Having a residence free of memories and past lives means there is only me to defer to; the present is my only reality.  My history is riddled with opinions and directions of exboyfriends, family, and friends.

While I am thankful for the people I call friends and boyfriends and family, the route to meet them was not always preferable.  I had modelled my actions on the expectations of others, and strayed too far from what had been expected and planned by suburbia: a four-year degree followed by the appropriate entry-level job, then settle down.  For me it had been decided I was to be an English teacher.  I was foolish and left college for a boy.  I did some hardcore drugs and made reckless decisions because of boys; when weed was just find by me.  Eventually, I refocused on myself and returned to college through online courses.  I tried to be a teacher, but found working with people with developmental disabilities a better fit.  I thought I wanted to teach literature, but truly I wanted to teach literacy.

I don’t know if staying on path I would have been as happy, or if I’d have gotten to the same conclusions at an early point, but now my home reflects a better suited narrative, and a deeper character.

Verve (6/26-6/30)

Moving is a stressful time for anyone, especially nesters like myself.  I’ve been in the same apartment for seven years.  I am a person that enjoys having roots and growth.  The instability of my youth has deepened my desire to have a home, to abandon gypsy life.

The new apartment is in the same building but I’m moving without any assistance.  I have friends that say they will help, though so far, after the first day, they have not arrived to help; or had to cancel at the last minute to stay at work.  This is acceptable to me because I can move most of the small boxes and furniture on my own, but I do hope that friends are able to come through with their aide on the weekend, when I need to move the heavy furniture.

Friendships have always come difficultly for me.  I do not know why.  I have always envisioned myself as a nice person.  Conversely, I have been horrible I relationships.  My boyfriends were always good boyfriends, but they weren’t good boyfriends for me.  Being in relationships required greater socialization than I can handle in any given moment.  I would rather be home – writing, drawing, cooking – than to be out in the community.  My home is a cocoon to rest and recharge.  It is a place where I can fix-up and modify the next day’s necessary identity.  The nomadic and public life is draining, removing the necessary recuperation period.

Identity in Separate Baubles

Art by Sachin Teng
Art by Sachin Teng

Being homosexual has consistently been present in my life, beginning when I was 9 years old when AIDS entered my consciousness, putting a dark stigma became attached to being homosexual.  The original facts I had about homosexuality came to me through knowledge about AIDS, gleamed from the deaths of Anthony Perkins and Robert Reed, effectively connecting homosexuality with death, separation, and sensationalism.  With limited exposure to healthy examples of homosexuality I stumbled into a stagnate malleable inauthentic identity, designed for avoidance.

As I grew up I struggled with the idea that there was something false and untrue about my place in the world.  In reaction, I created a false self that wasn’t defective or flawed.  I diluted or ignored parts of myself that I thought would alienate me from those around me.  When a false-self was created I ceased to be an authentic human being.  The psychologist, the late Alice Miller calls this “soul-murder” – shame that leads to believing that I was a failure. Self-contempt, isolation, and a strong sense that I was untrustworthy accompanied each other until I believed I was a failure. Shame became my core identity, shutting me down to human relationships, living in hopelessness, and locked in a set of very unhealthy beliefs. Continue reading “Identity in Separate Baubles”

Verve (January 2017)

Growing up I longed for a surprise party that was like what was seen on movies, where a home would be filled of people that wished to be there.  That dream has never come true, even in grade-school when it was mandatory to report to a classmate’s birthday.  I never enjoyed the idea of celebrating my birthday; I do enjoy getting older though.  What I feared was not getting older, but that no one would ever come to a birthday party for me.  My sister was unable to make time to celebrate my birthday, and since family waited for each other to acknowledge milestones, birthdays adhered to my sister’s schedule; my sixteenth birthday was two months late because my sister couldn’t be bothered to take time off from work.  Eventually, I stopped sending invitations out at all, choosing to ignore the celebration and take enjoyment only from cards – and then settle for Facebook birthday posts.

My birthday was where I learned to exist within the cracks, as typically during the school year it fell in the middle of Winter Recess.  Later, this became the excuse for why no one needed to hold a celebration for me.  I wanted to avoid any fuss that would draw attention from friends because if they were paying attention to me, I believed they’d peak beneath my mask and judge me inappropriate – or worse, inadequate.  Around friends, I remained shy as if they were strangers because facades kept everyone at an arm’s length.  It was simpler to cover my self-consciousness and inferiority beneath masks, that were fashioned for inclusion by adopting specific friend-interests, and sub-cultures, and abandoning my own.

Researching the Part

At SUNY @ Purchase, I freely made my homosexuality explicit and explore relationship dynamics.  I was no virgin before or during college, but a relationship continued to elude me.  I wasn’t laser focused on acquiring a boyfriend because the class load made it quickly clear that was not going to happen.  I was a child compared to my classmates who all seemed much worldlier than I.  Their world seemed so much bigger than the one I came from, filled with parties and adventures that I had only see in movies and television.  I desperately wanted to be like them, sophisticated, well-read, and so comfortable in their uniqueness that they could sell themselves.  This was something I couldn’t be, but I could pull forth a façade.

Hours were spent in the college’s library developing my cool gay cabinet, identity, and vocabulary; I read cultural writers to know what to think, and studied the writers and artists to know what to get away with.  I formed a cabinet of (famous or not; perfect or not; real or fictional) people of characteristics to emulate, to develop a crisper identity and world-view.  The cabinet that was selected had no root in the people and interests of my own, but in the interests of the people I wanted to impress; Kafka, architecture, Feminism, playwriting, and psychology.  I could converse deeply about their interests, and engrain myself into their graces.  They revealed themselves, exposing their interests and desires, while I continued behind a mask that reflected them back.  Everyone enjoys seeing themselves in others because it knocks down walls of isolationism, in favor attachment.

Squad Goals

The Golden Girls as Sailor Scouts by Abraham Perez
The Golden Girls as Sailor Scouts by Abraham Perez

Sailor Moon and The Golden Girls created the blueprint of what friendship looked like, and then Tales of the City expanded friendship by introducing the concept of the found family.

Sailor Moon and the Sailor Scouts were similar in nature and temperament, supporting one another while forming deep bonds.  While every character was an individual, their personality traits overlapped with each embodying a type of girl.  For youthful elementary and pre-teens, the Sailor Scouts modelled the necessary conflict resolution skills needed to be an individual within a group.

The Golden Girls kept their cast much smaller than Sailor Moon, focusing on four women and not nine characters, which allowed Golden Girls to present more complex characters.  Dorothy, Rose, Blanche, and Sophia, were women who each embodied character traits with less overlapping.  Unlike the school-aged Sailor Scouts, except for one (and later the Sailor Soldiers), attended the same school, The Golden Girls were brought together by circumstance and experiences to form friendship.

Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City exemplified the concept of the “chosen family,” the supportive people in a life that actively assume the ideal family role.  The novel, and the series that came after, was the first time that friends were not similar, but radically different from each other.  They showed that sharing experiences create a united humanity.