10 March, 2012

We Are the Sum Total ...of What?

Are we are really only a sum total of everything we have experienced and have been taught? This came up during my ten-day Vipassana sit, of which 7 of the 11 hours a day were spent in a pagoda cell. My ways of dealing with life seem to be solely a product of what I have been taught combined with what I, as a gay child experienced. Not that I can’t unlearn some things, it just seems like the panic of having no where to go, and no one to turn to, even as a role model. Or even someone to explain to me why everyone is so hurtful. I was lucky enough to have some common sense and a few survival skills based mostly on the love that my Mom and I shared the first four years of my life, before my siblings came into being.

When the neighbor kid was playing with his friend, I did not join in, mainly because I knew love was never supposed to be an outcome. I felt this might be my reaction to any sexual affection, my intuition said stay away. The same when someone was interested in me in freshman year of college. Yet, in junior high and high school I had to mainly deflect the bullies and my parents crazy assumptions that two of the woman who were in my life were even remotely interesting. As a kid, I had firmly made a decision during a "birds and bees talk" that I was never going to have sex with a woman, for me it was un-natural. As a adolescent, one woman was an ugly bull dike that I worked with, and I had to be nice to her or she would kick my ass. Later, the other woman was an attractive and more affluent, yet lost in a sea of deadbeat straight men. The dike, I now feel ...served a purpose, she was physically uglier than I felt internally about myself at the time. When she threw a hammer at me over something dumb, and hit my arm…she was terminated from my life. It was time to move on, to where I met the other woman. Kinder and gentler, she knew deep down about me, but did not want to face it. I was more like a masculine mirror of her. Many years later, she was in town and I hope she did not agree to have lunch with the idea I might be a candidate for a relationship. When we parted it was for forever, and so I am beginning to think that she had other ideas. Did I have to play straight in order to survive. confusing others? It worked until my roommate in college ‘found’ magazines hidden under my mattress, in a planned attack to expose me among three friends studying in my room…my whole world was collapsing at the same moment some gay freak was stalking me. Embarrassed, I had to tell my R.A., and eventually my parents before someone else told them. Then I quit college and ran far away.

Running to a ski town, I landed with three other misfits, sadly all straight, I was no better off. But I held out for love, wanting my first relationship with a boy to be what I really needed and imagined. This intuition helped guide me into a few successful relationships, and kept me healthy. And my rejection by society as a kid, growing up helped form my phony elitism, where I set higher and higher standards. I went through this confusion and hurt from my childhood in my ten-day Vipassana, I cried for the kid who had nowhere to go…this cry came out in the form of anger. Anger that exhausted me the first day in appeared in my pagoda cell, to the point of folding over in a seated posture, snoring and fast asleep. It died down over three days, and worked itself out.

All this pain had wrapped my heart in "black tape", and it felt great to dissolve it. I never feared it, and actually looked forward to each sit, so when Metta came next it actually seemed like the perfect natural transition. I recalled the woman who helped to inspire me on this path, thanked her profusely. I was lucky enough to be able to say good-bye by email before she died, since I was far away at the time. She died happy, because she gave it all she got, natural love. This same natural love is my heart's true nature, and she knew this.


spldbch said...

Wow, this was a very thoughtful and moving post.

I don't think we are only the sum of our experiences, but I do think those experiences play a big role in shaping who we are.

Jeff Chandler said...

Hey there,
I just stumbled across your site and wanted to say how inspiring it is and I look forward to following you.
Shine on.

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