Monday, September 29, 2014

Essay Post...Who Am I?


Hello dear readers...no, the title does not mean we are playing a guessing game so you can stop panicking now.

I have not been around very much and I have to apologize for that. As many of you may already know, I have returned to college to polish my writing skills and to finish the degree I abandoned cold turkey in my twenties. Funny thing...turns out college is a lot of hard work! Who knew right? All kidding aside, even though I have not been writing here, I have been doing a ton of writing for class...some of which my husband thinks is suitable for mass consumption here. So, to make sure I stay out of the dog house with both you and my husband...here you go...

My professor has been giving us writing assignments meant to draw out our worldview. He is beginning with topics personal to us and is working outward to topics in which we may have less of a personal stake in, but in which we will have to form an opinion and craft an argument. This first essay was us, describing who we were in 800-1200 words(Doesn't this guy know I can't say anything in less than 10,000?!!). How do you boil down who you believe you are into such a small space?...Read on to find out...





Who Am I?

     Who Am I?…That is a question that many of us can spend a lifetime in answering. Indeed, what may have been true of me at 12, 20, or even 30 years old may be very different about me today. I tend to think of it as a puzzle that gets upended onto the table the day you are born. The first pieces we always go for are the corners, the edge pieces, the parts of things easily recognizable. Those pieces are easy to assemble and can give us a basic idea of the picture we are building, even though the rest of the image will take a lifetime to piece together…and sometimes the pieces won’t seem to fit.

My first piece was the understanding that I have always been a very shy person. I remember being five and hiding behind my mothers legs as she tried in vain to get me to say a polite hello to a stranger we had met and I just could not. That hardwired need to retreat continues today.  I would rather be home reading a book or playing a video game over spending time being with people. This fearful part of me made it very hard growing up. School in particular was a kind of hell. It seemed that other kids could sense my predisposition like a shark can smell blood in the water. I was bullied and harassed every day from fourth grade to high school. Those days broke down my sense of self to its bare bedrock. While I have learned to see those experiences as making me stronger, they still left their stamp on me. I fight with the legacy of looking at the world as an innately unsafe place because it was not for me for a very long time.



Among the pieces of puzzle I have connected are that I am a parent and Husband. It may seem odd to most to claim those as identity. After all, most people don’t run around making a big deal about those things. But turning over the scattered pieces of my puzzle yielded some that I didn’t expect to find. When I was about twelve, I remember having a very vivid dream of holding my newborn son. It’s a strange dream for someone as young as I was, but the feelings it invoked in me were so strong that they have stuck with me to this very day. Since that time I have always known that I wanted to be a father. But life had other plans for me first…

In my early twenties I learned to accept that I am gay. While this was a freeing discovery on the one hand, it also meant that I had to face a lot of loss. I had been taught all my life that gay relationships were all about sex and could never last. I struggled with the notion that I may be alone for most of my life…no marriage, no family…just a string of relationships that lasted only as long as the interest did. After fighting the awareness of being gay for so long, I had come to accept that part of myself as a given fact but I was not ready to let my dreams die so easily. If I had been lied to about who gay people were then perhaps everything else I imagined would be my fate was wrong as well.

That is why it is with wonder and gratitude that I look at my life today like a time traveler that has gone to some amazing and fantastical future. I did find a good man who I love and who loves me in return. We have lived 18 years together. We adopted two children who are the apple of my eye and whom I have been a stay at home parent to for most of these last years. An additional surprise gift was the ability to be legally married…even if it was a long fight to settle the issue in the courts. So here I am, married with kids when I thought I would have to let both of those dreams slide into darkness. They are both a precious gift and why I make them a part of who I am.

My husband has also been the catalyst for change in me. He is a type A go-getter who has suffered some terrible events in his own life that he has never let bring him down. Simply traveling to other countries is an example of how he has helped me grow. When planning to go somewhere, my parents were warning me about how dangerous it was to travel as an American. He would simply frown and shake his head at that. We were going to go and that was that. So I held my breath, white knuckled a few plane rides…and ended up having the time of my life. That is typical of so many experiences I have had with him. He has helped me face the world dead on instead of shrinking from it. I am a stronger and more courageous person today for having that push. When anxiety or depression would have me retreat into myself, he simply does not let me get away with it. I have gone from I can’t, to let’s try…and sometimes, to let’s do this! I would never have found those pieces of the puzzle on my own.

Another piece of who I am may sound silly to some. I am a HUGE Star Wars fan. I surround every moment of my life with it, even if only by having the music in my mind or amusing myself by quoting lines from the movie. I understand that Star Wars itself is just a movie. If it had never existed, perhaps something else would have filled the space it occupies. However, I have come to see it as a way to stay a child at heart. A way to find humor, adventure, and a sense of wonder even in life’s smaller moments. My Grandmother would always say that you are only as old as you feel…so I intend to be a Toys R US kid for life and being a Star Wars geek is how I make that happen.

Who I am is a work in progress and this paper is way too short to speak of everything I consider a part of myself. Most days I still feel as if all I have assembled are the edge pieces of my puzzle and some of the bigger bits.  Sometimes I catch myself trying to hammer together two pieces that just don’t fit. At other times I suspect my kids may have stolen a few of the pieces and hidden them in the couch cushions just to drive me crazy…but I love a good puzzle, and so I keep turning over the pieces and looking for the small details that match up, filling in the parts that continue to reveal an even bigger picture. 

But enough about me, let's talk about you. How much of your personal puzzle do you have assembled? Do your kids hide the pieces just to drive you crazy? How the hell does anyone describe themselves in 800-1200 words?! Now it's your turn to tell me...

P.S....this got an "A"

Until next time dear readers...


10 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  2. This was touching, light but intimated depth and wonderful to read. Thank you for sharing! And best wishes going back to college. I am so happy you could finally marry. And that you two are raising children!!
    I worked with foster children for years. I also went back for my Masters at age 48 & feared I would be the oldest one in the program. The first time I went to the library I asked for the card catalog & received a blank look from the young student clerk. I wasn't the oldest & did well. I didn't start writing until 7 months ago at age 65. You have a wonderful voice and easy reading style. I hope to read more of your work!
    Bill

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  3. great paper - deserved an A. I've been on Blogger for years, why did I never see this? (cause I concentrated on book blogs, lol). came over from Facebook to read this - glad I did.

    I'm also an adult (way older than you) recovering from a very shy childhood. Being that shy is it's own special hell, and the fact that you've been able to blog, be so open on FB, and put together the YouTube channel with your husband/family (as well as the movie I still need to see) is just way more meaningful because you came from being such a shy child to an adult who is overcoming being shy, as well as all the other things you've come to know about yourself.

    Mad respect to you. :)

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  4. Thank you both for the very kind comments. They are much appreciated.
    Bryan

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  5. Bryan, I absolutely love this essay. Eloquent, fluid, and with a great metaphor.

    I just wanted to let you know that I too thought being gay meant not being able to have a family or be a father. You and Jay, through your youtube videos changed that for me.

    Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart!

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  6. What a beautiful essay, I love the metaphor you used of puzzle pieces! I know that I feel that way at times when I try to figure out who I am.
    I know that I have always been a shy person that did not like and still to some extent dose not like social situations were there will be lots of people that I don't know. I know something strange for someone that works retail and has to deal with the public on a daily basses. So I can so relate to that.
    I also know that I can relate to being surprised looking back on the amount of strength that I have had to push through many of the challenges that I have faced so fare in my life and to have come out a stronger person and to not have lost parts of me that make me who I am, but instead having gained.

    I love your blog and getting a window in to the things in your life that help shape you to be who you are and to get to see that passion that you have for life itself shine through! I really did enjoy this peace!

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