There are days from my memory,
like one in particular,
which took place in a small upstate church.
I was alone, the room was empty
and the wind outside was whistling
like a phantom in the middle of February.
It was cold as ever and I was alone as ever.
Outside, the sky was clear blue
and the sun was bright but not warm.
The temperature was below the teens
and the cold wind
seeped through the cracks of the building.
It was quiet . . .
All I could hear were my thoughts
and the ringing in my ears
due to the absence of sound.
This was like looking in the mirror.
I sat for a while in the back pew,
considering the life I’d lived
and the loss that I’d just received.
I was thinking about the way life is,
void of course or void of anything fair
I was thinking about how fairness
is not synonymous with life or that life
is neither fair or unfair
but just eventual and inevitable –
always moving; even if we need a break
or a minute to catch our breath –
the world just never stops.
There had always been an odds
between me and the forced beliefs of God
or the organized divisions
which seem to believe
they have a say in how God works
or who God chooses to save and yet,
there I was grieving a loss and wondering
Why me? Why not somebody else?
There are times when I have found myself
stuck or drowning in the wake of an aftermath;
in which case, I swore the feelings I had
would last forever.
There are times when I believed
my feelings were everything;
they meant everything
and rationalized everything I did
There have been times when I was sick.
Or, there were times when I was sick and tired
of feeling sick and tired or better yet,
I was sick of feeling anything or everything
and in my frustration, I swear, if I could only scream loud enough –
I would have.
But at the same time, after the screaming,
after the yelling and fighting
and after the breakage from the tantrums, after the binges
after the self-destructive remedies; all that’s left
is the cleanup
and the fact that nothing was accomplished,
except for an increase in damage.
There are times when the world makes no sense.
There are times when the toughest thing to do
is get out of bed in the morning.
There are times when the anxiety is high.
And there’s something in the mail – always coming
what I mean is
it feels like bad news is on the way, all the time
and somewhere out there, like a sneaky thief;
the news is going to hit. Any minute now
the impending doom is about to show itself.
And just like that . . . the shame takes hold
There are times when I was at the bottom,
looking up, hopeless and lost
and wondering is anything even possible?
Is it possible to climb out of the depths
or out of the darkness
or out from beneath the rubble of a self-induced aftermath?
Of what if this was not self-induced?
What if this is just part of life (at times)
and in the moments of unfortunate change,
what do we do now?
I have been privy to change
and privy to personal awakenings in which,
I mean that I have come to an awareness; and,
I’ve watched others come to epiphanies of their own.
And out comes the question: Now what?
What the hell do I do now?
There was a young man in a high school classroom.
He approached me after an event
in which I was selected to teach about my story.
“How come no one ever told me the truth about this?”
He told me
it would have been easier
if someone was honest about this
instead of telling him
what he was “supposed” to think or feel.
By the way, no one is supposed to be miserable
This was a discussion on personal destruction.
This was years after my last trip
into one of the sick brownstones
to trade currency for poison,
which came in the version of a tiny white flakes,
chipped from the rocks into a deadly powder.
Moreover, this was years after
my last personal stay of execution
and after a moment where a decision was made:
Live or Die.
I chose one.
But fate chose another
which is why I am still here.
I exposed the details of my life
in an honest nature
and rather than brag about the criminal aspect
or preach about the details of excessive drug use;
as if this was cool; as if it was hip to be a gangster
as if to satisfy a young imagination
with the mental masturbation
like a low-grade porn on how to be a bad ass:
rather than any of that –
I talked about the feelings.
I discussed the feelings of being utterly powerless,
of not having any sense of self,
of wearing a mask because God forbid,
someone knows I’m only human
God forbid, someone can see me
or they can see my faults or flaws
or the cracks in my facade.
God forbid someone knew the truth
which is that I was afraid, uncomfortable,
or awkward at best and all the while,
I was only pretending to be unaffected but
I was literally impacted by everyone
“And it’s not that I wanted to die as much
as I wanted everything to stop.”
“It’s not that I wanted to be dead
as much as I wanted all of the feelings to go away.”
“It’s not that I wanted to end my life
as much as I wanted to end the ideas
and the pain
and the thoughts that wouldn’t go away.”
And of course,
there was always someone around looking to tell me,
“You shouldn’t think like that.” Or
“You shouldn’t feel that way”
Oh, really? as if this were a choice . . . but no.
This was not a choice. This was chemistry.
This was the pit of an emotional quicksand
and without a lifeline of some sort,
I swore that I was drowning.
This young man
who never dared to tell anyone anything
or talk about himself approached me.
Humble as ever. Quietly.
Watering eyes in deep, dark tanned skin,
in a world where his religion
brought on an abundance of shame
because to him, in his culture,
his ideas of self were that he was shameful.
I explained – no.
You’re not shameful at all.
You’re just human . . .
This was a brave young man.
Braver than me.
Braver than you.
He was the bravest.
He is exactly the way I want to be – just like him.
How come no one ever told me this before . . .
I don’t know, kid.
Maybe people want to make this stuff go away.
Maybe they want this to go away so badly;
they’ll just deny it
or sweep it under the rug
and pretend that it’s not there.
But this does not save lives or time.
At least, not as far as I can see.
Now we come up with a plan, son.
I don’t know where to start either
But at least we don’t have to start it alone.
deal . . .
By the way:
This young man
was one of the most impressive people
I have ever met in my life.
He exposed his truths to me, a stranger,
just so he could feel better
or so he could face himself in the mirror. . . .
You know, come to think of it –
that time I was in the church all by myself;
I felt this eerie presence, which was uncomfortable,
yet powerful and
shameful as well as unrelenting.
I say this because I was alone.
And in the face of my truth with no way to deny anything,
I had nowhere to turn and nowhere to hide.
All I had were my truths
All I had was my guilt.
And guilt’s a bitch!
Trust me on this one.