Friday, November 12, 2010
TABLE FOR ONE
I'd like to start off this entry by thanking my fans, friends and family for not allowing me to swim in the middle of the ocean without a life jacket. You wouldn't let me get away with expressing my anger and frustrations without having the final say. I was reminded that there is still plenty of love, compassion and support out there, even when I temporarily lose hope- for which I am truly grateful.
For the past few weeks on numerous occasions I was reminded of some of the harsh realities I face. The specifics don't matter. What matters is that by more than one individual I was put into a corner regarding my HIV status, made to feel worthless and to blame. As if something was wrong with me or that I wasn't good enough. Even in a liberal city like New York I have found people here to be uneducated and lack support. If that weren't enough I was reminded on how we as a gay community are cruel and discriminative towards each other- just for the temporary satisfaction to feel better about ourselves. If you're living as a gay man the chances are you were never accepted by anyone as an equal- in high school, in the workplace, or wherever you may roam. You're more like a side show to the outside world, weak enough to be picked on without consequence. In turn, we hurt each other within our own community.
If your not lifting weights eight days a week, or a Glee fan, or HIV negative, your chances of acceptance in our own community are dire. It doesn't work in our favor to be honest with people. Guys would rather not know your status and pretend it's not there. If we don't talk about HIV then it won't be under the sheets. I know I was once a guy that thought that way.
These past few weeks we all, including myself, have reached out to teenagers all over the world with our message that it gets better. Does it? It may get better, sure, but the pain and the hurt doesn't get any easier- unless you’re either an Adonis or a Broadway fan. When does it get better for someone like me who are neither of those things? When does it get better for someone like me who goes out to dinner by himself? When does it get better for someone like me who has a phone that never rings? When does it get better for someone like me who is never approached and stands alone at the bars? When does it get better for someone like me who throws their medications against the wall in disgust? When does it get better for someone like me who is tired of hearing the silence?
We've all heard this phrase, in many forms, by loved ones when we are down: "You're okay. There are so many people out there in worse situations that yours." I have two problems with this. First, we are asked to dwell on other people's pain and suffering so we can feel better. Where's the humanity in that? Secondly, we are asked to never put ourselves first, that we should ignore what our soul is feeling. As long as the Earth's heart is beating there will always be pain and suffering. When is it okay to take care of yours without being made to feel like you have nothing to complain about?
I am no stranger to depression. When I am down like this I bring myself back to my childhood, where most of my free time away from homework was spent alone in my bedroom with my Legos. Indeed, Legos was my saving grace, but I refuse to let myself go back there. I had a period of weakness, sure. And I let the world know about it. I guess it was a cry for help.
However, I am slowly relapsing now and coming back to my old self again- the man who fell in love with himself, even with HIV running in his blood-the man who put others ahead of himself- the man who never ignored the people around him by chatting on his cell phone-the man who asks, "How are you doing?" and actually mean it.
Thank you all, one last time, for letting me feel life's sadness for a quick moment and knowing that at the end of the day it all will be okay. If there is any advice I can give this week it would be this: put down your cell phones. Sign off of Facebook and Twitter. Take a night off from work. Call an old friend, check up on those around you. A simple "Hello" and "How have you been?" vocally, as opposed to a text message, can make all the difference. It did for me, today.
To everyone that I am blessed to know in this world, thank you for letting me be me.
Specifically, thank you to my sister, Katie, who I wasn't ignoring, but I couldn't let hear the ugliness I was experiencing. Thank you to an old friend, Bridget, who reminded me that words speak so loud for themselves and I'll never forget the letter you wrote me. Finally, thank you to Theresa, a coworker and friend of mine who understands hardships, but still found the time to hold me when I needed it. There are so many people to thank, so for the sake of sounding less like an Oscar acceptance speech I collectively say, Thank You, everyone.
Tomorrow is going to be a good day- my writing class- the first step towards enjoying the pleasures surrounding me, once again.