My roommate, who I won't identify by name, was generous enough to take a risk in me. Those of you who know me know that over the past few years I've done a good job at screwing my life up and to the point where it became unmanageable and I had to reach out to friends, family, my Quaker community and even professional help to get a grip and start recovering from the mess I had made.
The details aren't important here. It's not hard to figure out, but I'm not going to spell it out for anyone. We all have our hurts, habits and hang-ups over which we are powerless and which can lead to unmanageability.
It also doesn't do much good, at least at this point, to ponder my hurts, habits and hang-ups. Suffice it to say, I'm at a place in my life where I am giving in. I'm waving the white flag. I surrender.
Last year at this time I had a choice when I moved out of the house I bought with Russell in 2002. I could move in with someone I knew from my gym or I could move in with a friend I met in a support group and his wife. I stayed with them during the month of October. I really grew to like them. They offered me a sweet deal: a place to live at minimal cost with people who really cared for my well-being.
Oh, I made my usual round of phone calls. I called my ex, who knew me as well as anyone and asked him his opinion. I talked to my parents leaving out important information (like I was at that time struggling with my 3 H's). I talked to friends who were living lives of relative serenity after having dealt with their own crap. All of them said to me in one way or another that I knew the right answer (which was to move in with the couple in Ridgley's Delight). Those who knew what my struggles were thought that Reservoir Hill would not be conducive to the growth and change I needed.
I knew this to be the case, but I didn't want to be honest with myself. You see, I told myself that I could still engage in particular behaviors which wouldn't be a problem for many people, but for me would be a grey area. You know, I'm cold, it's winter, I'm lonely, I'm single, you're cute, come over.
That. But "that" has been a problem for me since I came out in 1990. That = casual encounters. I knew my future roomie wouldn't have a problem with it.
My childhood friend Emily P recently met up with me over coffee while I was home in Tennessee. I hadn't seen her since high school. She's married, has kids, but has her own story to tell. I was talking about hooking up and she told me that hooking up was like poking holes in the bottom of a cup. I keep trying to fill my life up with energy from The Source; but when I hook up, that energy just drains out of me. (Interestingly, Buddhist monks apparently believe that when one orgasms, they lose chi).
The entire year I lived in Reservoir Hill I engaged with people, places and things that had contributed to making my life a mess when I lived in my house in Seton Hill. In truth, I had only moved a mile away. I had moved from one gayborhood (predominantly white, increasingly straight, increasingly upscale), to another predominantly black gayborhood). I knew all year long that the decision to move there was the wrong one. I knew I wasn't quite ready to handle living with that much freedom. I needed more structure, more support. I needed to live with people who lived relatively "normal" lives; lives conducive to mental, spiritual and physical recuperation.
On my way home for Christmas, I was faced with an ultimatum. I don't like them, and tend to rebel against them. I bitched and moaned to anyone who would listen. The truth is, the person who gave me the ultimatum was in the right. However, the very people who pointed that out to me (all of whom knew the person in question) also reiterated their opinions that I would do better to live elsewhere.
I hate writing in code. This public blogging thing about that which is personal is tricky.
Anyway, the point is that this is about me and I don't want to point to anyone else's faults or shortcomings. 1) I don't want to air other people's dirty laundry on my blog. 2) I don't want to seem like I'm blaming them for my problems. 3) That I can't seem to behave in healthy ways while living there is reason enough to leave -- it doesn't matter if there are others.
While home in Tennessee I had to put Nadine down. Naddy was my 15.5 year old Doxie. Russell and I got her for Dean, his Doxie, in 2000 because Dean would yip all night when we put him in his kennel and we couldn't sleep. We wanted a companion for him. Those two bonded immediately. Well Dean got run over outside my parents' house the summer after Russ died. Naddy didn't handle that well at all, and so CW (my next boyfriend) and I got Clovis in 2007 for Naddy. They bonded quickly too. (OK, CW wasn't thrilled about the new purchase. I got Clovis. But Clovis and CW bonded quickly). Naddy had a brain tumor (cancerous probably), liver problems, glaucoma, dementia... she was fading fast. The vet in Bmore told me any time was ok to put her down. I got a second opinion while in Tennessee. The vet told me I had a few months max with her. I decided to put her down while I had mom and dad there with me. God it was rough.
So, I knew I was going to come back to Reservoir Hill to a situation where I felt I had worn my welcome and where I felt triggered. I also knew that Clovis would be alone all day long when I went back to work. Typically, the weeks before and after a vacation are tricky for me as well. So, I contacted my friends in Ridgley's Delight, and asked if Clovis and I could stay with them for at least a week when I came back. They said "of course."
The first day back in Baltimore I spent in Res Hill. It was a tough. No structure. Emotional hangover from my trip home. Sexual frustration from a few weeks of nothing. My mind was racing. Clovis was depressed. He was looking around for Naddy. He didn't know what to do with himself. He became increasingly sullen.
The second day back I went to a committee meeting where we are planning for Congressman Cummings to come speak at Homewood Friends (oh yeah, I'm back worshipping there -- that's another blog though). Meeting for worship was inspiring. Gaming with Donny, David and the boys was fun. I took Clovis to Donny's and he was glad for it. It would have been Russell's 38th birthday. Russell was on my mind. I knew I had to get to Ridgley's Delight and fast.
When I arrived, I was greeted with smiles, dogs barking and sniffing. Clovis made himself right at home. He knew this place well.
I crept into bed, said a prayer of thanks, and cuddled with Clovis all night long. My boy.
This morning I woke up and knew what I needed to do and decided to go with my gut.It's time to do what I knew I should have done a year ago. To move in with people who care for me, who will, without becoming guardians or babysitters, will model healthy living and be as supportive as I let them. They have fast become my family away from home this past year. If I can't live with my family in Tennessee, why not live with my surrogate family in Baltimore?
Still, I had to mull it over with some colleagues.
They confirmed I was making a good decision, and some offered some ideas on how to make the transition smoother.
So I still have to tell my current roomie/landlord that I'll be moving out. I'll tell him this week at some point. I plan on being out by the end of February, but I'm going to start moving things over here as soon as there is room to do so. I'd like to go ahead and get my bedroom set up so I'm not living out of a suitcase.
They say if we don't put getting well first, that we will lose all that we hold dear. I believe that, but I tend to resist. But why resist? I've known for a long time that this is what I've needed to do, but somehow it required this weird chain of events to come to this place. But what I think really helped to push me in this direction was the love I felt when I went home to Tennessee juxtaposed with the loss of my dog and the discomfort around living in Reservoir Hill.
Ben Pink Dandelion in his book Introduction to Quakerism, outlines the Quaker spiritual conversion process: (1.) A powerful in-breaking of God, (2.) A sense of conviction of sin (3.) A choice, repentance (4.) Being born again into perfection or a measure of perfection (5.) The convinced gathering together; gathered in a net and (6.) Calling the world towards a new mode of religious experience.
The Light has constantly made itself present in my life. I've had a few charismatic experiences of God and many occasions where I recognized the Light moving, guiding and instructing me. I've long since been convicted of my how I've been missing the mark and how I'm spiritually disconnected from myself, from my fellows and from my higher power; I 've known this my whole life. The problem is that this was made worse by the shame and guilt I felt for being gay; and the message I heard from most low-church Protestants that I was inherently bad/sinful and that I was unworthy of salvation but God would do it anyway if only I confessed my faith in Jesus. That created such baggage and confusion that I've only just begun to break free. So I'm at the point of making a choice. I'm choosing to give up complete freedom (I can't have 'dates' over) and to have more accountability. I'm choosing to engage with people and to become a part of a surrogate family. This means intimacy. Feelings. But this is repentance, no? Repentance isn't just saying "I'm sorry God." William Penn writes:
"First, repentance from dead works to serve the living God, which comprehends three operations. First, a sight of sin. Secondly, a sense and godly sorrow for it. Thirdly, an amendment for the time to come. This was the repentance they [Quakers] preached and pressed, and a natural result from the principle they turned all people unto. For of light came sight; and of sight came sense and sorrow; and of sense and sorrow came amendment of life. "
I have an opportunity to make things right in my life, to amend it. This takes humility as well, and I've been told by not going at this alone, and not assuming I know the answers, by asking for and accepting help, I'm practicing humility. So this move is an ACTION I'm taking with the hope and faith that I'm doing what I need to do. This gut feeling isn't really just gut, I feel like it's the Light moving me to do it.
However, I'm notorious for making decisions, starting strong and fizzling out. So, perhaps blogging about it will help. Unless that fizzles too. Feel free to comment. Prayers and energy my way are most welcome.
Time to take Clovis to bed.
Peace and Light,