Todays post is actually a letter to my husband who, when we were having a conversation about helping people and getting hurt for it, asked me to put my words into blog form because he felt he hears me better when I write then when I speak. That said, even though the nature of to days post will be very personal, that doesn't mean that it is...well...private. All of us, as human beings, are challenged to open our hearts at times and finding the balance between taking risks with our hearts or choosing to protect them instead. That said...even though this blog may be personal, it is also a very human experience and I invite your opinions on the matter. So without further ado...
Recently we had spoken about your feelings about opening up to people to help them only to be hurt in some way in return. I know that several things had contributed to the weight on your heart...On this day it happened to be the ongoing conversation over Jodie Foster and the question you asked the internet about when do we, as individual members of the gay community, have a responsibility to stand up for our own rights...whether we are celebrities or just everyday people. Sadly...it seems like there were a LOT of people who don't feel celebrities had any responsibility to use their voice or their power to help others...or even just themselves. As someone who has risked much to be out at work....to vocally stand up to coworkers who cheered the day after prop 8 passed...who has spent so much time and energy making YouTube videos and spent countless hours talking to people who just needed a shoulder to lean on until they could find their own courage to come out....this felt like a slap on the face. I know you felt like, if no one else felt any responsibility to stand up for gay rights or to help others...then why the hell should you? After all, it's not your job to save the world. But then...if we each feel that way, who will? It seemed like there was a larger proportion of people for whom it was someone else's job to stand up...just not theirs.
Even today, I know you are still getting angry hatemail. But I also know that this was just the tip of the iceberg We had also opened our home, our lives and our hearts to those who needed it only to have those things used and disrespected as if they were just expected and of no value. You had put your heart out to someone you trusted only to have that trust shattered completely as they were not what they seemed. That is a lot for anyone to bear...even when they have hearts as big as yours.
As you read comments from people that you liked and respected referring to you as "a bully" I could see the hurt in your eyes and it broke my heart too. I think that everyone expects you to be strong all the time. "There's good old Deputy Foxworthy, he got shoulders big enough to carry the world."...."He's got the courage to say what other people often fear to." But anyone seeing the pain in your eyes on that day would have known different. With so much pain and defeat in your voice you asked me,"why am I doing any of this if no one cares?"
I knew that much of this had stemmed from a beginning A friend you had completely opened up to only to discover that everything you knew about them was untrue. This hurt hasn't healed and left you questioning everyone who reaches out to you for help and wondering if they are for real...or just another internet con looking to yank someones chain. I know...because that person hurt me too...and because I have been there before, heart on the line, crying my eyes out on video...only to find out the whole thing had been a lie. I hated myself for letting my heart show and I felt like a dummy. But I think for you it was harder, not only because you were closer and had gone to such lengths to help this person...but also because you are someone who has really good instincts about people and those instincts have served you well over the years. But this time, no alarm bells went off to save you and so you rushed in heart first and ended up getting hurt. That hurt alone would be enough to anyone to be scared to risk again...but questioning the instincts that you have learned to protect yourself with over the years makes it hurt that much more.
As someone who loves you and knows you...I could see all that pain piled up and pouring out through your eyes. And as you asked me why you should keep helping others who don't seem to care and only take advantage of you...I could see all these things underneath. Under the words you spoke was also the question of, "how do I open my heart and not get hurt?"
The funny thing is I had just come back from getting my 40 year old physical and being seen by a doctor who had herself just been out sick with the flue. As I sat there, going over my laundry list of health questions I had about you, the kids, and myself...my doc seemed like she was doing her best to take it all in and be as compassionate as possible. I began to wonder if she ever got tired of being compassionate. I mean, here she was back to work after being sicker than a dog and having to see guys like me come in and out the door all day...people who were probably on a schedule, tired of waiting in that tiny room, and who all had a ton of worries for her to solve. Did she ever just get tired of it? Do we become just another job to her? Where did her compassion have it's limits? We have all been to doctors for whom this is the case...their demeanors are as cold as the stethoscope on your bare skin. If compassion had ever lived in them it had been beaten out a long time ago under the weight of so much human need. Everything about them says, "Take two aspirin and don't call me in the morning." Fortunately my Doc was not one of those and I went home that day completely physically healthy only to find you on emotional life support. And through it all were two questions that screamed to be answered:....With the risk of pain, rejection, and burnout..does love and compassion have limits beyond which we need to step back and take care of ourselves? And...when you have opened up your heart to others and been hurt...how do you keep loving and not close down?
I think people who take care of others...who truly care about others...have to find a way to answer this question for themselves. It seems like the work is never done and there will always be another person in the next waiting room that needs to be patched up...physically and emotionally...and no one else to do it. In the face of need, they act. It's not just a job to be done, but something that comes out of the heart. And so they reach into their hearts and give that person the very best of whats inside them...be it an ear for a person who just needs to feel not so alone, or advice to heal the hurts that life dishes out. To give that compassion, which is a type of love, your heart has to be open...and there's that pesky risk again.
On the one hand, I do not believe that love or compassion themselves have limits....but we fallible human beings do. We can have the broadest shoulders in the world but our strength is not inexhaustable. Even Doctors have to take a sick day and recharge their physical and emotional batteries from time to time so they can again face that endless line of people looking for their compassion as well as their expertise. And while I know this is not the same as what you are feeling, I'm only trying to say that no ones compassion is endless and that sometimes you have to take care of yourself so you can take care of others. Sometimes you need someone to take care of you too.
I remember the video I made for Danny Cacciamani. Someone sent me an email over YouTube about his brother Danny, who was supposed to have died of cancer. He wrote me a heartbreaking letter about Danny's and his last moments together that broke my heart into a million little pieces. Me being the softy that I am went on YouTube and read the letter choking up with my own tears. Well...it was pointed out to us later by a viewer that there was a high probability that this story was completely...and utterly....fake. I can not describe to you how stupid I felt. I felt like someone had seen my coming and was having a great laugh at my expense. I had put my heart out there in sadness for this young man and his brother only to learn that the only tragedy to be had was that people exist in this world who will take advantage of you in this way. I felt so exposed...not only as a soppy emotional mess...but a fool to boot. I learned fast to take the stories that people tell you on the internet with a grain of salt and to crosscheck everything. But it hurt and I was so embarrassed I didn't want to trust anyone else for a very long time.
After a lot of self reflection I had to ask myself just what I had done wrong. I blamed myself for having taken someone at face value and opening my heart to their story...false though it was. Even though I learned to check these stories out a little more carefully all I had really done was let my heart out to care for someone else and what was wrong with that?.....nothing. I had been betrayed by their dishonesty but so what? What had I lost?...nothing. All I had done was love and that was nothing to be ashamed of. And so...little by little...I got over feeling stupid, embarrassed and completely defenseless to those who would take advantage of my compassion. Because, I reasoned, I had not done anything wrong...and if I stopped trusting because one person lied, what happens to the others who aren't. Even though I felt hurt, I was actually ok, and it was time to open the doors and let people in again. That's how I handled broken trust...and maybe you will find a similar way...but I think you need to find the answer that works best for you. Not everyone does find the courage to let the doors of their heart open again. But I think you are stronger than that.
I guess thats the difference between love/compassion and our ability as human beings to express it. Love keeps being what it is and doing what it does best....loving. It acknowledges no hurt or loss..and forgives with time. I think it's because this is the nature of love that we heal at all because we human beings are not so limitless. When someone tears us up on the internet over an opinion and be called the names you were called, to want to throw it all away and never look back. I know I sometimes feel that way too.
the problem is, that's not who you are and you know it. There is a reason why you became a Deputy, a reason why you always wanted to be a dad, and a reason why you felt compelled to speak up through YouTube. Not because you are an activist at heart or because you can't keep you opinions to yourself(regardless of how I tease you). It's because you have a kind and loving heart that can't sit back. Because you love strong...just as you have loved me and the kids all these years. It is because of what I know to be in your heart that, even though you are feeling unappreciated and hurt by people you trusted, I believe you will grow past it. But you have to give yourself some compassion too and don't judge yourself for needing it. My only wish is that people could see that the people that take care of them...the ones that seem the strongest...sometimes need a shoulder to cry on too. That not everyone can be strong all the time..no matter how big their heart is. As angry as you may feel or as taken advantage of by some and lied to by others...since that day I saw you looking so defeated...I have continued to see you be there for others who needed a shoulder to cry on for awhile. Even though you are asking me why you should keep on giving, already your heart is doing what it does best....and that's a part of why we love you.
So, while love and compassion themselves may be limitless, we are not. We need the time to take care ourselves, to set good boundries, to remember that we have families that love us...and to remember why we do what we do.Pulling up the drawbridge to our hearts and hiding behind it's high walls may protect us from being hurt...but it also leaves us alone, and that is something you will never be.
I love you handsome,
And so I open it up to my reading audience. When is enough, enough for you? I had to piece together into a whole narrative, thoughts that before existed separately and never been put together. As a result, I think I rambled a little and repeated myself, and got a little preachy. I'm sorry...like I said, this was really personal and I wrote it this way because I was asked to put my thoughts on paper(so to speak). That said, when you are feeling like what you give to the world is taken for granted...or you have been hurt by someone you trusted, how have you found the ability to open up again and continue to let the best parts of yourself shine through?....have you? Now it's up to you....
Until next time dear readers.....