Sermon for Pentecost, Year B

It’s not often that a scripture hits me as hard as the Gospel did today. I actually shed a few tears as I was reading when I got to the part about “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” Because he’s right. I cannot bear anything right now that means Jesus is further away. I do not want Jesus to preach from the cloud. I want him HERE. I am in the place in my life where the Mediator, Advocate and Paraclete means so much to me that there is nothing more I want to do than touch the hem of his robe and be healed. To have Jesus turn around and say, “who touched me?” To be delivered from my distress, and there is a lot of it. In the past few years, I have lost a lot of friends, most notably my precious Argo and my precious Dana. They both carried me, sometimes kicking and screaming, into a new reality, one that I knew I needed but was reticent to give hope. They are my Holy Spirit Incarnate, which is a big phrase, but apt in this case.

I don’t normally do confessional sermons; they seem self-serving instead of serving God. But at the same time, the story of this Gospel and the scriptures set forth by the Lectionary are too personal. They got under my skin, the words tattooing themselves in the deep, dark recesses of my mind. There are just so many.

Why in the world would I say that Dana and Argo are my Holy Spirit Incarnate? Hear the words of Luke in the book of Acts:

When the day of Pentecost had come, the disciples were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

They were so disoriented that Peter had to stand up and tell everyone they weren’t drunk. It is in direct opposition to Jesus’ message, or at least, it is to me. Jesus is telling the Disciples that if they don’t let him go, they will never know the peace he has to offer. The peace? He is a member of the Trinity. Hearing about the Holy Spirit just does not compute.

Luke writes that the Holy Spirit is like the sound of “a violent wind.” Where could they possibly meet in th middle? They just don’t……….. unless?

Whoever said that the people didn’t NEED to be shaken out of their complacency? I once said of Jesus that he doesn’t so much comfort me in my distress, but distress me out of my comfort. Perhaps I was putting emphasis on the wrong entity? When Peter preaches, he quotes the prophet Joel:

In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams.
Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
and they shall prophesy.
And I will show portents in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist.
The sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.
Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

I know this is old language, but there is just so much here that is relevent to progressive Christianity. The first thing is that Joel is all-inclusive. Sons, daughters, slaves. It doesn’t matter. We are all going to be taken forcibly out of our comfort zones because what is right side up will be upside down and vice versa.

In my own story, Dana and Argo were my violent wind, taking me forcibly out of my comfort zone and forcing me to accept my own upside down and right side up. Dana and I were married for seven years. We got comfortable. We created our own family dysfunction and because it seemed normal, we stayed there. Lost in our own little world. The sun turned to darkness and the moon to blood when our dysfunction showed even to us when Argo came into our lives. She became a catalyst for both of us to look at ourselves and see the patterns we’d developed over time, both positive and negative. As time progressed, Dana became a mighty wind herself, because she could see the catalyst happening within me and shook me up as well. Both of them were justified in their anger at me. I said and did things that haunt me to this day, because a month ago I took their anger and let it motivate me. I took their Holy Spirit warnings and realized that their work wasn’t done. I had to believe them, I had to submit to them, I had to internally accept what I had done, and the violent wind I’d become in my own right. I also shook them up, in a way for which they did not ask.

Whether I motivated positive change or negative, I do not know. I am not entitled to their opinion unless they want to give it. However, I can accept that getting me out of their lives might have been the best thing for them. I can accept that my blood and fire was unwelcome. It is a situation we all face at different times in our lives….. whether we can own it or not.

The question now is whether we can recover from it, and if so, how in the hell do we do it?

By reaching out. By reaching up. By accepting the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. Most people think of that day as The Second Coming. I do not think that in the slightest. To me, the Lord’s great and glorious day is when we reach inside ourselves, own our sins unto other people, and ask the Paraclete to make us whole……

Do you see what I did there?
Do you see it?

There’s the meeting of one and another. The violence and the promise. The internal struggle and the need for comfort as we face it head on. Moses gave us the Caduceus, now used as the symbol for doctors the world over. It is no accident that hundreds of years later, Jesus was called The Great Physician. You go to a doctor when you need a cure. The Great Physician can heal your heart, but only if you make the commitment to ask. To keep asking. To see the violent, mighty wind coming and ask for help.

After the storm comes the rainbow. What does that rainbow look like to you? In my own life, it is prayer. It is the constant joy of speaking out loud and believing that someone is listening whether they are or not. Believing in God is not a requirement for prayer. Believing in prayer is a way to channel your own distress into prosperity. The longer you pray, the more you listen to your self, your inner being, your godspace.

When I realized that I was a person even I didn’t like, submitting to the power of Jesus’ messages of hope, redemption, relief, and comfort gave me strength inside myself to take the violent, ugly changes in my life and walk away from them so that I could forgive myself and be the person I wanted to be. I did not want to participate in violence. I did not want to add to the mess I’d already created. I wanted to be whole.

When I touched the hem of Jesus’ robe metaphysically, my mental health changed. I started to feel a peace I hadn’t felt since childhood. An ever-present rage went out of me and I started to send both Dana and Argo constant prayers of safety, comfort, relief, atonement for the things I felt they’d done and wishing for their peace as well. Wishes became reality when I realized that I did not need their forgiveness, because it had come from sending the prayers themselves.

Christ gave me an invitation to peace once the violent mighty wind had passed and the raging storm became the calm he said he would give.

I ask that wherever you are in your journey, that you are given peace as well. That you are able to reach out in distress and metaphysically touch Jesus’ hem as well. Because he preaches from the cloud, he won’t have to ask who touched him.

He’ll just know.

Amen.

Not So Much

My skin is buzzing. My stomach is queasy. My mouth is dry, and I am having a bit of trouble breathing all the way down. It’s not a panic attack, just shock, and I know it will pass. I’m not sure that I want it to, though. I kind of need it. I need to sit in the pain of what just happened, because it is necessary for me to process before I can move on. That’s the thing about being a writer. Something can happen in a moment, but it could be months before we understand it….. because it’s not just understanding. It’s the full knowing of every side to the story- or the ones we’re able to tell, anyway. There is no way that we fit into another’s mind. There is no way that we can understand the depth of human emotion to the degree that we can just describe someone else’s feelings. All we can do is hope that by describing our own, we reach some kind of understanding with ourselves.

When it was good, it was very, very good. When it was bad, it was wicked.

I am speaking of my relationship with Dana, both the way we came together in fits of joy and laughter, and how we came apart after years of making each other miserable with our words. We both deflected the other’s pain so that nothing was ever owned, just thrown at the other. It was never either of our faults, because we both felt so put-upon. I felt as if every time Dana had a problem, she found a way to make it mine. It wasn’t that she was depressed and isolating; I was inattentive even before Argo walked into my life. The problem with that statement is that I spent every waking hour not at work with her, and she resented me working long hours because she did not have anything to keep her busy while I was gone. Therefore, she spent her days waiting on me, or so it seemed, so that when I walked in the door there was a burst of happiness and light that seemed dependent on me, rather than lighting her up from inside.

When Argo and I connected with such an explosion, she did not go out and make friends of her own. She sat and seethed that I had a friend and she didn’t. Argo was Dana’s excuse for not trying to connect with me, because in her mind, Argo would eventually submit to me and I would be out the door. Nothing was further from the truth. I begged, plead, cried with myself and God to take the feelings I had for her and return them to a normal state of friendship, the kind where I didn’t ache for her because in my marriage, I felt so lonely. Dana’s depression left me quite vulnerable to Argo’s attention, but there was no reason to act on my romantic feelings for two reasons. The first is that my fidelity with Dana was sacred. These were feelings I had to work through on my own in order to heal and move on. The second is that if Argo had been a lesbian, I would not have allowed myself the luxury of feeling “in love” feelings in the first place. I would have seen a threat for what it was, and disposed of it promptly. Because she was so wholly other, I rested in the fact that it wasn’t going anywhere, that it was just fun…. and it was, for about a month. After that, it was just me feeling butt-hurt all the time because both of the women in my life were unavailable to me in terms of contact comfort.

Had Argo been in physical proximity, I know for sure that she would have supplied the hugs and cheek kisses I needed to survive the lack from my wife. I didn’t need sex, I needed affection. Aaron made sure that I had plenty, hugging me and putting his arm around me when I thought I would fall apart with grief. I isolated more and more in my office the lonelier I got, because it was more comfortable to write to Argo than it was to look at the problems going on in my own house. As I have said, I was on the ground and in the air. I had to make a choice. I chose the ground because I COULD SEE IT.

I chose Dana. I will always choose Dana. However, that did not mean that as her depression worsened and she began exhibing behaviors that I could not tolerate that I did not choose to disappear into the cloud again. My heart began to walk outside my body where Argo was concerned, because wherever she was, I wanted to be with her. I did not picture hot and heavy. I pictured the love we had on the ground growing over time, slowly, because I knew that it would take time for me to get over her in a way that my love feelings didn’t feel like small internal attacks. I was beating myself up, handily. I’d feel rejected by Dana and take my sadness to Argo who would put a Band-Aid on me and kiss it and make it better. Those Band-Aids became liferafts of an enormous proportion, and I could not hide my feelings any longer….. but not with her. She knew it from the start. I wasn’t shy, ever, about telling her, because here was my fear. My fear is that we’d meet and she wouldn’t know how I felt about her and there would be some sort of awkward moment where a touch creates a reaction and I wanted her to be sensitive to it. To know that she needed to treat me every bit as carefully as she would a man interested in her affections, because I didn’t want those memories burned into my brain. By then, it wouldn’t have taken much to absolutely undo me. Punch me on the shoulder if you want, but don’t ever let your fingertips brush the back of my neck, capiche?

It seemed like a fair warning.

Over time, though, even that wasn’t enough. I cut off all contact several times, gutting her emotionally because she didn’t want to lose me as much as I didn’t want to lose her…. but she understood my reasons for it. I wanted more than she could give, and I still valued her as a friend, but I just could not even keep it together. I cried and moped every time we fought, sometimes for days, and Dana was on the receiving end of all of it, as was Aaron. They both stood by me because they knew how hard I was struggling to bring my attention back to Dana and our relationship, and it worked. We sat around the living room and talked incessantly about anything and everything. Argo faded to the back of my mind…………. and then I thought it was okay to start working on rebuilding friendship, and within 48 hours, I knew I was wrong.

48 hours to undo everything I’d been working on for weeks and weeks of self-reflection, self-abuse by deprivation from contact with other people, just isolating as far as I could get because I didn’t want anyone to know my pain. It was humiliating. Falling for straight girls was such a middle school thing to do. It doesn’t happen to adult women, right? Adult women have the capacity to see that people are wired the way they were wired, right?

The problem is that I saw it entirely too well. I knew that it was hopeless, but so was my relationship with Dana at that point. She’d begun hiding things because she was scared of my reaction. Big things. I cannot elaborate further, but it caused waves of nausea in me that I didn’t know how to handle. My reaction was to run away, safe in Argo, or so I thought.

We had an agreement at first that I could say anything I wanted. She did not tell me when that agreement changed, and she started seeing my words not as useless rumination but out and out threat. She cut me to the bone when I found out that she wasn’t playing anymore, I’d lost my safe space, and don’t contact her ever again. She told me to stop ruminating, but I couldn’t hear it. I needed my safe space more than air. I needed someone to listen to my struggle, to listen to my heartache, to listen to the feelings I shouldn’t have told anyone but God.

But now they’re all there…. all out in the open. All there for her to digest, dissect, castigate.

I never felt like a threat. I felt like I was in my small place, in the fetal position, hoping the anger would stop long enough so that she could hear me without judgment again. But we were way too far gone for that, and I should have known it. I ignored all the signs, big ones, because I thought our relationship was invincible. As it turns out, not so much. Her judgment was swift, to the point that I almost didn’t move to DC at all because I didn’t know what would be waiting for me when I got here. What originally felt like a triumphal homecoming turned into slinking off with my tail between my legs. I cried all the way to the airport, and my dad said, “you know, Leslie…. you don’t have to do this. Do you want to call it off?” I said, “no, because then I’d just be letting Argo scare me. This move was never about her, and staying home just says to the world that it was.” I got to Maryland and threw myself into my own health and wellness, just like I’d planned all along. It was then that I allowed myself to get angry. It takes two to tango, and even though I had to own my half in what went down, she didn’t own hers. She just walked away and let me sit in my wrongness so that I’d know how ashamed I should be. It worked. I’ve been crawling on my belly with God since I got here, asking forgiveness for my sins so that even if God doesn’t exist, the peace of Assurance would still take my heart and help me to feel whole again.

In the month since, I have sent Argo some of my prayers, because just like God, I don’t know if there’s someone on the receiving end of them, but I hope so. I do not want anything so much as I want peace. The fear of enmity is overwhelming, because when the fight left me and I could see reality for what it was, I came back into myself and realized that even if there was no answer, there might be peace from sending.

I have done the same with Dana, and she is just as angry. She has a right to be, and she has the right to tell me that too much has happened between us to ever work on our relationship again. But that doesn’t ease the shock in which I am just bathed. I held on to too much hope, thinking that our relationship was invincible.

As it turns out, not so much.

She just told me about an hour ago that this month has been better for her than the last several years. I feel the same way. This past month has been more peaceful than I’ve been the entire time we lived in Houston, and my entire meltdown in Portland.

So why would I want to get back together? To prove that all of the enormous emotional work that I’ve been doing has a point. That I am capable now as a wife because of all I’ve been through in terms of self-discovery. That I understand how the relationship with Argo undid us because of my past history, and how that cannot affect me in the same way because I don’t pay attention to my bruises. I pay attention to my invitations. I concentrate on the ways there are to say yes to life, and not the ways my mind has tricked me into saying no. I feel that there is more redemption in resurrection than there is in moving on, but I care about Dana’s feelings and ultimately, it doesn’t matter what I want. I have put my needs above hers since she stopped taking care of herself because I went into survival mode. I had to be strong for both of us, and in the end, I couldn’t do it.

I begged and pleaded with Dana’s parents to help me, and it took me losing my mind with rage in front of them before they really heard what I was saying to them. I didn’t want it to come to that, but it did. I congratulated myself too much for standing up and protecting her, and not the emotional damage I inflicted. But what do you do when you go to your wife’s mother pleading for help, and she says that she cannot give any more than she’s already giving and perhaps Dana should find a new mother figure?

What would you have done in that moment? I tried to be the valiant husband-type that protected her wife from all enemies, foreign and domestic.

As it turns out, not so much.

The Dime Bag

I bought the first book with my Christmas Amazon money from last year, so like the old saying goes, “the first one’s free.” I have sent two tweets today about the second book, “Dragonfly in Amber.” Here they are:

Tweet One:

Tweet Two:

It’s like having a dealer in your living room. It’s a good thing it’s books. There are worse things on which I could spend money, I am sure. But at the same time, I was going to be PRINCIPLED, DAMNIT.

And now I’m not.

The Things I Dinna Ken

I’ve finished Outlander, and thinking about moving on to the next book in the series….. but not yet. I need time to breathe. The reading was heavy, and the emotional response even more so. Throughout the entire novel, I saw myself as Claire, the young battlefield nurse that in ancient Scotland is elevated to a physician. She waffles between love for Frank and love for Jamie, but also, how that love defines her, as well.

It weighs on her, thinking that she has betrayed one husband for another, much like I have told you that I did (“they both needed me. They both wanted me. Which one was more important? The gay one or the straight one?”). Radiohead’s Karma Police is playing in my ear as I write this. I didn’t know that they never should have been competing for the same space. How could I know that? Knowing appropriate boundaries with love is a future that didn’t happen. I was wrested away from it before I even knew the definitions of “friend” and “lover,” making them one and the same in my mind for far longer than anyone (especially me) should have had to tolerate.

If there is any justice in the world, it’s that the friends Diane has done this to in ADDITION to me also read this web site, I’m sure with pain and baited breath. You see, because I know them. I have worn their scars on my skin. I have seen the effects of her disaster, and the ripples it has caused in my own pond. I am not close to them now, but I was then. I have seen more than one woman lose her shit over the manipulations Diane has thrown in her direction.

Why I thought I could rise above it is beyond me. The way out was not above, but through. I had to feel an enormous amount of pain at the destruction I’d caused before I could finally say, “enough.” I will paraphrase Elizabeth Gilbert, that she doesn’t know of any story of self-redemption that doesn’t start with someone getting tired of their own bullshit. And readers, I am exhausted.

In the past, I haven’t made new friends so much as seduced them into it. Because what could I possibly have to offer anyone but, well? You get the picture. I played with darkness until I realized it was leaving me nothing but a bunch of friends who alternately walked off in disgust or used me until I had no more to give, regardless of what they asked.

Argo is the first friend I’ve ever had that instead of walking away, she whipped my ass. I couldn’t sit for weeks (this is just a metaphor, thankfully). Even while she was doing it, I didn’t think it was undeserved. I was just too proud. I came back at her, claws extended, when what I should have done was thank her for saving me. I looked at everything in a different light after that. Tendrils of new life began to extend from me in a way that I’d never experienced, as if some of my dead places resurrected themselves at her words. I began to see what she meant with her clean, white, pure love, and realized it had always been inside me. I’d just never used it.

But the thing about friendship that broke with Argo is equality. She’s had more time on this planet than I have, and she pulled rank in a big way……. when in friendship, you whip each other‘s asses when necessary. She could not submit to me anymore. She could not listen and hear that I might have a point. Whatever I thought was wrong, sick, and in no way indicative of the friendship where I constantly heard, “you’re right! I never thought of that.” You cannot get a person to hear you when they are convinced that you are wrong before you speak.

I think of it this way. Therapists who work with couples in large age-gap relationships solve this problem by getting the older partner to lay in the younger one’s lap…. to be comforted, parented by them in order to create equality. I don’t know how that extrapolates into friendship, but I do know that the analogy is apt….. maybe not in terms of age, but definitely in terms of balance of power. And, of course, my 25 years with Diane in the same trap convinced me that even when Argo did lay her head in my lap, I wasn’t worthy of it. I remember thinking every time she messaged me out of the blue that it was weird, against the natural order of things. Why would someone seek me out? Why would anyone value my words?

I was such a fool, because she was acting like a true friend, and I dinna ken.

The Forward

Today I walked the mile and a half to 7-11 and McDonald’s, in that order. I needed to get more snacks, because I don’t tend to eat meals, especially when I’m engrossed in a book (Outlander, Book I). I got yogurt pretzels, banana chips, gummy cola bottles, sour Skittles, sour gummy worms, and debated on buying, like, six more things. Sour Skittles have become a sickness since Prianka and Elena had them at their wedding. I called Prianka today and told her I was almost ready for an intervention.

I don’t normally read fiction. It took me the longest time to get into Outlander because, like I said previously, the story didn’t grab me at first……. and because every time I read someone else’s fiction, I tend to “lose my voice.” I don’t ever want to sound like the last writer I read. It is most noticeable when I am reading David Sedaris. I don’t plagiarize. It’s just style. I want you to know me for me, not someone who’s taking a style and trying to make my words fit into it. I think of it like copying Old Masters. I’d rather invent something than learn by rote, if that makes any sense at all.

I went through a very long Barbara Kingsolver phase, and I am just now recovering from two decades of Wally Lamb, because “She’s Come Undone” is kind of about me. It’s not, really, but I did get interviewed by Olivia, the executive producer of The Oprah Winfrey Show, for 45 minutes as I explained to them why I would be perfect for that month’s Book Club show, a follow-up to the essay I’d written. I wish I could tell you what the essay was about- hell, I wish I could remember the book’s plot. I just remember thinking that for a man, Wally Lamb did a bang-up job writing for women.

It’s not the words that stayed with me. It was their order. If I start to sound like Diana Gabaldon, please stop me. It means the pod people have come to get me and I am stuck in the way she writes and not the way I do.

But I digress.

I got my junk food and then went to get more junk food- a burger and fries from Mickey D’s, the magnum opus of junk food, in fact. By that time, I was stuffed and in no mood to walk back home. I, of course, requested Uber. Rudrick came to pick me up in less than five minutes.

College kid who loves sports. Nigerian. I asked him what sport he liked, knowing the answer before he said it…… soccer….. of course. I told him he looked like a forward. He did- long, lean, fit. When he said he was, I said, “because you’re a forward, does that mean you’re kind of a jerk?” He laughed so hard he nearly ran off the road. He said, “no- it means I am smarter. I am the one that has to get the ball in the net.” I said, “THAT IS SUCH A FORWARD THING TO SAY. You know your wingbacks and your fullbacks have to get the ball TO YOU first….” He laughed again. It’s true. Forwards are akin to sopranos, trumpet players, and Terrell Owens.

I got to blush for a second in 18-year-old love, because my first girlfriend was goalkeeper and she taught me how to flip everyone on the team shit. It has paid off handsomely, I want you to know. It felt great to laugh, because before I decided to venture out, I hadn’t left the house in two days. Too consumed with learning everything I can about Linux and Lollybroch, in that order.

Remember when I said it was violent and rape-y? Well, one of the male characters was just raped and it was even harder for me than the women, because male on male rape is generally about humiliating your enemy, especially in that time and place. You don’t just hurt them. You destroy them from the inside out.

Unfortunately for me, it reminded me of all the times Argo and I went at each other’s throats, and how many times we emotionally destroyed each other from the inside out. My mind went to the terrible things I said…. and not so much the ones she did, because it hurt so much more to know that I hurt her than it did to know she hurt me just as much. I’m supposed to be the one filled with the light of Christ, and I emotionally bombed her into next week. It doesn’t matter that it felt justified at the time. In no universe do I ever want to lose my temper like that again.

Way to use that light, Leslie. We’re all so proud.

Why did those feelings come up for me right then? Because the character talked about how there’s a still small space that you only show to people you love, and that place was destroyed in him. DAMNIT if that wasn’t a mirror image of some of the things we’ve said to each other. I crumpled, sick to my stomach and wishing for peace. It won’t come easily, because I of ALL people know how much words can hurt.

For me, being the forward who gets the ball in the net is learning to control my tongue even as my temper flares. Because that’s a damn goal.

The Writer at Work

11196337_10206994916735619_1548384793979297535_nMy dad took this picture of me when he came to visit a few weeks ago. I am sitting on my beloved porch with my laptop and a cup of tea, as I do every morning… or at least, every morning since I’ve been here.

It’s been a month already. The time has flown by, because I have kept myself moving. I do my best thinking while mobile, so I often type to my heart’s content and then gather my things to take off for the city. They are, in no particular order of importance:

  • my laptop
  • my phone
  • my keyboard
  • my mouse
  • my Kindle
  • charging cables for my iPhone and Kindle
  • my wallet, complete with Metro SmartCard
  • my glasses case
  • my keys

If I lose my backpack, my entire life goes with it. I guard it judiciously, because even though there is nothing in there that can’t be replaced, it’s my stuff. I am used to my keyboard; my fingers fly across the keys as if only gravity could stop them, and doesn’t.

I thought you might want a picture of where I live and where I do my best writing, because it means something to have a setting. There’s a bird feeder behind me, and birds constantly talk throughout the day. I have learned to tune them out………… sort of.

Leslie, Argo, Aaron, and Linux

I spent yesterday by the phone, waiting for instructions on what to do next re: my possible job opportunity. No one called, but I used the time wisely. I spent it reading Outlander (Book I) and watching the training videos available on the LinuxJobber web site. Since I ordered their book, I have access to a wealth of information. It is not lost on me that whether I get the job with them or not, I have upped my education level considerably just in the time I’ve been watching. I now know how to put together a LAMP server (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and either Perl or Python). I also know how to create a server Kickstarter file… basically, the best analogy for that is a Cascading Style Sheet. If you’re familiar with creating web sites, a CSS is where you put all the information regarding formatting. For instance, if you just code each page individually, you’ll have to update them individually every time you want to change a paragraph margin or a font family. With a CSS, you can change those things on every page at once.

You can extrapolate (EXTRAPOLATE! EXTRAPOLATE!) that into a Kickstarter file. You put everything you need into it in terms of server settings, so that if you have 15 servers to set up, one file can be pushed across all of them. It saves a considerable amount of time, as you can imagine. So, regardless of whether I am qualified to take this job, I am getting more comfortable with applying for more. This is seriously the best present I could have bought for myself, and you gave it to me. I bought the books and web site access with the money I’ve earned from this blog.

I am using that money to further myself, both career-wise and as a person. Your money goes toward visions for myself that take money to realize. I cannot ask you to provide money for St. James… not yet. I want to get the 501c3 in place before you do that so it’s a tax write-off, just like every other religious organization/church/charity. Far be it from me to scare you away from donating if you don’t care about the tax write-off, but I do want to operate within the constraints of the law- better for me, and better for you.

Anything that comes through the web site now is continuing education for me- any kind of tuition, book, entrance fee, etc. If you make a donation, I want to do something extraordinary with it so that you see the changes in me and how much those donations improve my quality of life… mostly emotionally, because every time I see “Paypal” in my inbox, I know that my words have meant something to someone. I have made someone’s life better by displaying what it means to be a human. I am so flawed, and I show it. I am so perfect, and I show it. Those two things are not mutually exclusive. Every human has the capability for the disaster and the divine….. the holy and the moly, if you will.

If the donations get large enough, so with the education. I will go back to school and finish my degree in Political Science so that I can move on to graduate school. I want to go to seminary, and as fast as possible, because I know what I can do with such a degree. I will move mountains. Easily. If you think I am kidding, please know that I am every bit as capable as the ministers who have come before me, both in my family and among my friends. I am the Type A who was convinced at a very early age that her opinions didn’t matter.

Now, that is not a problem.

I believe in myself more than I ever have before, because my core was changed to accommodate it. The change did not happen overnight. I dragged myself kicking and screaming into wholeness, as you’ll read about extensively if you are just now getting on board and going back and reading my archives. Speaking of which, I know some of you are, and it pleases me to no end. Yesterday, because I tagged Outlander on WordPress, Facebook, and Twitter, I gained about 100 visitors, as opposed to views. The difference is that viewers read one entry. Visitors read many. So thank you, Outlander fans, for reading the thing that brought you here and continuing to read as if I am interesting. :P

I wrote the other day about trying to create a True North out of a compass that had been rubbed by a magnet too many times. It is interesting how I have latched onto the moral code presented in Outlander, because in some sense, I understand it. The part that had me on the ground yesterday afternoon was Jamie having to whip Claire so that she would remember the punishment and not endanger the men again, and doing it within earshot of them all so that they would remember her punishment, too.

In so many ways, I do that to myself on this web site. I put my sins and my punishments in print not because I need you to see them (I do, to hold me accountable), but because I need that remembrance more than you ever will.

Do you think it is comfortable for me to go back and reread the things I have experienced since this web site started? Do you think it is easy?

It is not.

I showed my abused nature, my willingness to submit to hospitalization for it, my openness in admitting that my relationship broke with Dana because of my own inattention to her as it passed plainly to someone else…………… attention that was wanted and unwanted all at the same time. It would have been fine if I had not crossed the line from love to “in love,” but that was not something I could easily control. I was abused, and because of it, emotions only went forward. There was nothing in me that could say “abort” or “back off.” It was a watershed moment in realizing that I was not in love with a person, just an idea. It is something that should have appeared to me as it was happening, and it did.

However, being the jackass that I am, I ignored it and kept on walking in the darkness, because I was going to win one way or another. I do not mean that I would have been successful in making Argo feel everything I did. That’s just bullshit and I know it. You can’t make anyone feel anything at any time. I just thought that the easier way was across the river rather than backing off and finding a bridge. It got a lot worse before it got better, and I own that the reason it did was because I could not find a way to separate out how I felt about her from the way she felt about me.

I cannot speak to how she feels now; then, it was intense. It was deeper than any relationship I’d ever had in my life. I wanted more than she could give because I’d been wired to think that way from an early age. It made her react sharply- pull away because she could see the dog I was walking and didn’t want to follow. I reacted…………………… poorly. I knew I was wrong; there was something in me that had broken long before she walked into my life, and it wasn’t going to get better with a snap of her fingers. I had to learn how to have friends, real ones, before I could become worthy of the kind of love she wanted to give me.

That moment did not come with Argo, and might not ever, but at the same time, her lessons in love were not lost.

The time and date will not come to me, but I remember sitting in Aaron’s arms, squalling my eyeballs out and telling him that because of him, I had learned how to treat my friends. That his love sustained me in all the right ways, because it taught me how deep friendship could be without ever crossing any romantic lines. That, in some sense, his love healed me from it…. “it” being shorthand for the mark that Diane left on me that says romantic love and friendship are the same thing. I cannot think back to that moment without tears streaming down my face, because I realized that it never would have happened if Argo hadn’t loved me first.

I am comforted by the fact that it’s not like this situation has never happened to anyone before. Plenty of people fall in love where it cannot be reciprocated, same gender or opposite. It just so happened that the way I felt about Argo was so easy, so unencumbered, that it didn’t feel like a sin right up until it was. It was all fun and games until I shot my eye out, kid.

And on that note, I need to get back to Outlander. According to my Kindle, I still have six hours left.