Following up on a previous post (this one), I live by a number of rules that guide everything I do, and I’d like to share them with you in this likely incoherent, rambling post today:
- Love Everyone. The innocent, the guilty, the adored, the despised. Love everyone, and recognize their humanity. You do not have to agree with their words or actions, but you are to love them.
- Respect The Whole of Each Person. The body, mind, spirit of a person (here, spirit refers to emotional well-being) is sacred. You are never to intrude upon, or violate that nature. Do not harm it, do not move upon it without consent, do not act against it with hate, greed, or lust.
- With respect to rule #2, you are to always protect the weak, powerless, and disadvantaged against those who would exploit them, even if it means risking your life in the process.
- Give of what you have to those in greatest need.
- Your word is your bond. Though being human means failing at times, do all that is within your power to keep your word. It is a most valuable possession.
There are more, of course, but this is who I am, and this is how I try to live. There are many times when I am cynical. I suffer from anxiety, which feeds into self-loathing, paranoia, and depression. I try to combat these things, often by searching for things that bring cheer.
Some of you know I like a show called My Little Pony. Those of you who know me well, understand that I find it a joyful, happy fantasy world free of cynicism, and filled with adorable animated ponies. Of course, as an adult male, I have received flak for this, but what do you expect in a culture that pushes a toxic masculinity which forces men to deny they cry watching movies, laugh at the antics of their cat, don’t enjoy sports like other men might, or who like to cook, sew, knit, write poetry, daydream about clouds and flowers, or who like candy colored ponies doing silly things?
For liking these things, my very motivations are put into question. I can’t enjoy these things, so there must be some kind of nefarious reason behind it. All I’ve ever tried to do is defend the innocent, to protect them every way I know how, even being a watchdog at times from those who seek to exploit them, but that gets questioned, too.
Do you know what it’s like to do something good, and to be questioned for it? “Why would you do that?”, “what’s in it for you?” “You must have done something really bad and are trying to make up for it.” It never occurs to some of these people that my intentions are pure, that my drive and motivation is simply to do right by others, to be there when no one else will, to help them, to support them, to lift them from whatever pit they’ve found themselves in. I wish to instill in them the belief that human beings can be good, can do good things just for the sake of doing them.
I will say, honestly of course, that I would hope someone would do the same for me in return. That if I ever find myself in a pit where no one will come near me, where I am being treated as a leper, that someone will step forward, take my hand, and lead me back into the light of day. Do those humans still exist? I say surely they do, because I exist, and I do not believe I’m the only one, not by far.
Do you know what my greatest fear is? I will share it with you (if I haven’t before): My greatest fear is that I will one day find that no one will love me, that all of my love will be rejected, and I will be cast out as a pariah. It is, deep down, my greatest fear, greater than any phobia, than any situation that may cause even my death. My greatest fear is not just to be hated, worse, it is that I would be unloved.
I see how people treat those they believe are lesser than they are, and I’ve witnessed the cruelty bestowed upon those labeled as inferior and unfit for civilized society.
I have had so many conflicting emotions lately, so much anxiety. I strive to do the right thing, and then I fear whether or not it was truly the right thing to do. I go by my internal compass, but even an internal compass can be waylaid by outside interference. You can have all the self-confidence in the world, and still fear a society that rejects what you do as somehow wrong or, worse, doesn’t believe you regardless of how loudly you speak the truth.
Are you getting a good grip on how my psyche seems to regard itself? While I am a part of this world, there are often times where I feel I don’t belong, that I am an odd duck, a black sheep, a square peg. Oh, I see all kinds of memes on Facebook about people saying they’re weird, but I’ve actually been called weird in the truest sense of the word, and I’ve been at the receiving end of contempt for it, much to my befuddlement.
As a child, I was considered weird because I wanted to read all of the time, because I wanted to know the correct answers to questions, because I liked talking to people, hugging people, asking them questions about themselves. When I grew old enough to where it was no longer cute to just hug people and ask interesting questions (that shit stops being okay around 8 or 9 for boys, I think, at least according to the environment I grew up in), I started realizing I was not a proper fit.
I tried and tried for years to be a proper fit. I tried to like sports, I tried to get into roughhousing, and being loud and obnoxious, and it did not last. I went right back to quiet, reserved, bookworm John. Quiet? Reserved? Yep. Between 9 and 14, I spoke very rarely. Before that age, I was the intellectually curious hugger who wanted to make other kids happy. After that, I became more comfortable talking, and expressing interest in participation with others in my school courses. This, of course, cemented my weirdness, as I seemed to have a vested interest in learning, to the exclusion of most other activities teens my age were engaged in.
When I had my school pictures in elementary school, I remember my 6th grade year that, while every other boy chose a football, basketball, or volleyball, I chose a stuffed racoon from the “girls” pile. I received a ridiculous amount of shit for this (not from my parents, btw) from some family and a lot of fellow students, as it was seen as effeminate. According to a lot of people, I was totally gay, and this was back in the late 1980s/early 1990s, when that was far from being a compliment, or even just an acceptable orientation.
I have forged my own path of self-discovery. Unfortunately, it seems to continually put me at odds with much of society around the time I discover it. Some people may feel I do it on purpose, to be seen as special. I’ve had that thrown at me a time or twelve. It isn’t true, but then how do you change the preconceived notions of those who simply aren’t going to care what you think because you’re different, undesirable, not one of them?
So it is easy to see why my greatest fear is wholesale rejection. Do you know what it feels like to want to hug someone you’ve never met but is obviously in pain? Yet you don’t because even asking might get you labeled as a pervert?
Do you know what it feels like to be self-conscious because you can’t buy a group of kids ice cream, or sit and laugh with a bunch of teens in the park because you must be doing something nefarious?
Can you imagine what it feels like to have conversations with women, to be a feminist, to stand up in solidarity with your sisters, and be told there’s something wrong with you? That you’re a traitor to your sex?
What went wrong? Is it really me? Is there something wrong with me that I reach out to others without provocation? That I work to rectify a wrong without any motivation other than “this must be addressed,” as if that isn’t enough? That I use what few resources I have (my time and my access to a computer) to protect the innocent, or to bring comfort to those in need whenever possible? That I do this without expectation of a reward?
Believe me, there is no reward worth the constant pain, the torment of being outside of what is considered normal, of what is considered acceptable. Maybe I was born in the wrong country? Maybe there is nothing left here for my heart to latch onto?
No, that last line can’t be completely true, if only because I am here for several people. I am here for my mother, who needs me now more than ever. I am here because I have friends who need me, and who come to me for comfort. I am here because I have a niece and nephew whom I love dearly, and would give my life to protect. I am here because there are friends and family who know they can count on me to do my best for them.
There must be other reasons why I am here, but I can honestly say none of them require reward or compensation. How does one compensate a mind, a heart, a body that has been exhausted, and used up? No amount of money, fame, or accolades would do.
Love, though, love is a different story. I do seek love, and I seek to be loved, but not as any kind of payment. Love as a payment just seems wrong to me. Love should be freely given from the heart, and should be received by the heart as freely as it was given. No strings. No provisos, no addendums.
If I’ve learned anything over the past few weeks of constant anxiety attacks, schisms within my own mind, and the ever-present nervous breakdown I must be experiencing from seeing all of these events taking place around me, it is this: I am an insecure human being, and that may be my greatest flaw.
There are many times when I believe I am unworthy of love, that if people were able to see into my heart of hearts, there would be something there that made them scared, or angry, or something, and that I would be rejected, and that my greatest fear would come true. Maybe it’s the paranoia, maybe it’s the self-loathing, because I am aware that all humans have thoughts and feelings they feel others would hate, deride, or mock them for having. It’s a part of the human condition.
For what it’s worth, I would not hate you for whatever thoughts or feelings you have deep down, even if you think all the world would do so. You may not believe me, as I would not believe it from others telling me the same, but it is true. I cannot convince you, I know, but it is true.
If you’ve read this far, thank you. All I really want to say now is that I love you, and if you haven’t read this far, I still love you, even if you don’t know it. The words I speak do not come cheap, they drain me. So do not think I say them as some kind of trite farewell, or as some kind of fleeting Hallmark moment. These words labor to come forward, especially in light of recent events.
Every time I say it, one more tiny thread of my soul, one more mote of my heart, breaks away from me, and attaches itself to your own. If faith moves mountains, then surely love can do likewise in the hearts of people, one grain of sand at a time.
I love you.