Finding what you’re not looking for

I realized I was more depressed than I hoped to be during my morning prayer. I had awakened at 3:00 am realizing that another symptom of depression was rearing its ugly head. I hit on the idea of calling my brother Tom to see if he had time to listen and talk. Tom typically makes me crazy with his intellectual obfuscations, but at least he has some background in mental health and he wouldn’t freak out when I poured out my spoke to him.

He picked up the phone on the third ring. He was watching Elias play baseball and agreed to come by for coffee around 1:30. I felt relieved somewhat.  I forewent my usual prayers and sat down at the computer to do some work on the family genealogy.  I needed to find the book that was compiled by a distant relative in 1978 about the Conditt family and I was pouring through my file cabinet looking for the book. I’m more disorganized than I let on.  While searching through the folders, I came across a brown un-labeled folder. I pulled it out and was quietly astonished to find drafts of the writings that I thought I had thrown out and tossed or had had erased from the computer.  There were even articles I had submitted (and were published) in the late 80s in the local Catholic newspaper. The folder now sits on the lower shelf next to the computer. I need to calmly take time to go through its contents.

I was a prolific writer in those days, when I was pastoring for the church. I felt energized, powerful, useful. It gave me cachet to me  at least.  If I had ever questioned if I should be doing pastoral work, teaching, counseling, preaching, I felt I had slipped into a rhythm that was very satisfactory. But, that window of satisfaction was oh, so, brief.

I realized this morning, that despite the strengths and accomplishments of my parents, they had a real homophobia when it came to accepting me. It didn’t manifest itself as hatred, but rather basic fear. They didn’t know how to accept my homosexuality which they could see manifest in so many ways. Perhaps they were shepherding me to the priesthood as a way of parking me in a way of life that they thought would be a way of burying or disguising my homosexuality. As I explained to Tom, we all have our dark side moons. Looking at my grandparents, my parents overcame tremendous economic and psychic odds to achieve the economic and social gains that they did. But, they couldn’t quite get their heads around the gayness of their oldest son. That part of the instruction manual that came with parenting wasn’t ready yet.

They had trouble enough to accept my alcoholism.

They never did find out about my HIV status. Had that occurred ten years earlier, well, I suppose they would have had dealt with it but it would have been a real challenge.

I wonder if mom would have cried.

 

 

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