Friday, June 23, 2006

Not like you. Not like me. And that's OK

I have long liked the movie Pleasantville, and only recently did I realize it’s all about coming out, in a way. Even though the movie may seem to focus on what would be considered a kind of racial stereotyping, it certainly fits for me in coming out.

I suppose one of the facts about being human is that we tend to like to be around others who are somewhat similar to ourselves. It’s the “people-like-us” syndrome. Keeping things nicely uniform, maintaining certain standards, upholding particular moral teachings. All these things are good. But they can have a dark side, like anything else.

I have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). I always have. That has been part of my hard battle with the “people-like-us” syndrome. The other part is the fact that I am queer. And, now that I see that it is a fact and not some defect or bad choice, it magnifies my anger with the “people-like-us” syndrome.

(Now that I am in my early stages of coming out, I must admit: all I really want to do is be with others who are like me. I want to be with lots of hairy men, rubbing fur together, dancing and getting really sweaty, and . . . . . Well, you get the picture.)

I see nothing wrong with wanting to be with people of similar taste, touch, smell, etc. But when we set up our likes and desires as the standard of behavior for everyone else, it becomes a choke-hold on others. A demand that you should “be like me.”

It may get to the point of becoming a mind set that says “if you aren’t acting like me, looking like me, behaving like me, thinking like me, voting like me. . . . . . then there is something wrong with you.

Another angle on the “people-like-us” syndrome is really more insidious: All you have to do is be-like-me. The answer to your problem (read: MY problem with you) is to be like me. Think, act, behave, love. . . . like me.

Back to my ADD: for decades I beat myself up; “why can’t I be like other folk. Why can’t I stick to what I’m doing, follow through on projects, remember to do things, or plan ahead. Why can’t I be like other people.” A lot of years, a lot of pain, a lot of self-loathing. Why can’t I? Because I am different. I am not like other people. My brain does not work that way.

Of course, the same self-loathing, the same kind of questions arose in my soul regarding my deep attraction to other males. “Why won’t this go away? Why can’t I stop these feelings? What am I doing wrong? Can’t I get it right? Why don’t I seem to be like everyone else?”

Over the years, I have been asked by others (particular my grandmothers, who whined me into submission), “Why can’t you be like other children.” And, over the years, as I tried to think in a straight line (no pun intended, but it’s a pretty good one), plan and work like everyone else, be a good straight (not queer) little boy, and big boy and young man.

Prayed over, exorcized, years of therapy, many years beseeching God to make me straight, convincing God that God got my imago Dei all wrong. Tears, fears, guilt, shame. You know.

One of my big beefs with the Church right now is this constant chant to “just be like us.” All you have to do is. . . . .
That’s all. Oh.

To accept that there is nothing wrong with me. To accept that this is me, and I like me. This feels victorious!

We all got issues. We all got problems. I’m not claiming perfection here. But in accepting myself and denying the demands of others to conform, I am able to accept others even more easily. And, it also allows me to focus on what real problems/issues I have.

Is it any reason I’ve always loved rainbows?

(Thanks to Kelly for the picture and challenge. The picture is posted above, as a separate post.)


john said...

I posted Kelly's pic. In a way it was a form of wanting to be with others just like me.
I have struggled, still struggle with my religious issues, of seeing brimstone and fire when I think of finally searching for a relationship. I still struggle with my inner feelings and what I feel I should be.
I still sometimes fall back on the prayer for God to make me normal.
But I do think of a time when someone told me that God made me the way that I am. For me to not acknowledge that would be to reject the gifts that He has given me, for me to say, 'what you've done is not good enough, so re-do it'.
I'm still struggling every day. But being around and having corresponded with some people from the blog world has made it better.

Gel said...

That's the thing that gets me. I've wondered for ages why I don't 'fit in' more, but heck, what can you do. The main thing though, is what you say about the fact you have more empathy and acceptance and understanding of the differences of others through your own experience - that's one of the best, most important attributes for a human being in this world today, yet not enough people realise and value this. It's also a very Christian attribute, lacking sadly in so many who hold themselves up as perfect mirrors of Christ, yet pass on anything but.

bear said...

hairy men, rubbing fur together...
woof! :)

I always hated the "be like me" mentality too, so much pressure to conform out there...and for what?! Be yourself and be happy! Happy Pride!

A Troll At Sea said...

O Bear of Mind:

There is a wonderful creature in George McDonald's "The Princess and Curdie", the more overtly Christian sequel to "The Princess and the Goblins", who is unspeakably ugly but beautiful within.

She is given the gift of exposing the soul of whoever takes her hand, and Curdie, her friend and protector, sees in astonishment that the people he has to get by to reach the king are exposed as a snake, an ox, a vulture...

Some ugly creatures are actually on their way UP to being human but have hands that look exactly like those who are busy descending to the level of beasts.

I think it was CS Lewis who says that God judges not for what we are but for where we have managed to come from where we started out. I'll hold on to that.

Hang in there.
And remember that ADD runs in families and is treatable. Info on request.

The TRoll

Ur-spo said...

I stumbled onto your blog and I like what I see so far; keep up the work!
I too have ADHD, but soon learned that being a square peg in a round hole society has its perks. Now I wouldn't trade it for anything.

MEK the Bear said...

Christ said, love yourself as your neighbor. Everyone, despite differences of opinion, idiosyncracies, desires, tastes, race, religion, sexuality, etc. etc., should be loved and embraced by the rest of huaminity.

I might disagree with you on things, but I'm still going to love you for who you are. The drag queen might not be my thing but I still love them. The straight homophobic right winger, while morally bankrupt in my eyes, deserves pity and an open heart, not the same hate he spews back at us.

I think the rainbow flag should be not just the flag of queer folk, but the flag of humanity, embrace and celebrate the differences in everyone! That's my two cents.

nonsequitur said...

Hey man,

Your posting topics are spot-on, poignant, and heart-felt as usual. I am glad to see that you are starting to figure out a lot of the building blocks for a healthy personna as a homosexual. I don't have it all figured out yet either, but like you... I am on a journey... trying and having a small measure of progress every day: baby steps. :)

As a fellow "ADD" case, I wanted to give you a little advice on dealing with it... err at least let you know what has worked for me. Like you, I was one of those troublesome children who always flitted from task to object to task to distraction after distraction.... never able to focus for very long, no matter how hard I tried. My parents refused to acknowledge that there was such a thing as "ADD"... which turned out to be both a blessing and a curse. ADD in itself is a fickle condition... also both a blessing and a curse. (It helps to see it for it's advantages as well). By their refusal to acknowledge it as a condition, I often wonder if I was cheated out of proper treatment at a key age. Yet, like you, I was also forced to rely on my own resources and willpower to deal with it the best I could at the time.

As an adult who has come to realize within the last few years that my attention issues actually have a name... I've done a lot of research on the affliction as well as the medications that they use for it... and have decided not to take any of them. The potential long-term side effects are not worth it. Instead, this is what I do to cope with it.... lecithin caplets, ginseng, gingko biloba, proper diet, & exercise. Yoga & stretching also seems to help.

Keep in mind that most ADD meds are varying forms of methamphetamine... stimulants. So is caffeine, and caffeine is not harmful if the dosage is kept within proper guidelines. I've found that several cups of green tea and/or yerba maté, sipped slowly throughout the day works very well (without exceeding one's recommended daily intake of caffeine). You even get a nice dose of antioxidants with it :). If you're someone who does not like green tea much... mixing it with lemonade takes out the characteristic bitter edge and makes it taste quite good. :) Dark tea, caffeinated soda, or coffee would also work well if taken in small bits throughout the day, but they aren't as good for you.

Sorry for the long ramble, I just figured that this information could be of some use to you. :)

Ernesto Raul said...

I just stumbled unto your blog, and I like the way you write. I'm particularly intrigued as to how the situation is going with your wife. Keep blogging. Ernesto.

Joel said...


From your post, Not like you. Not like me. And that's OK

I found your blog from ur-spo.

I agree with you.
My 2 LTRs were different then me. Even what I figured to be my type.

I like a guy who's himself. We teach and learn so much from each other.

And the physical, if I like a guy, I'll take what he is. warts and all.

Really like your blog.
Like Ernesto.
How is this going with the family?

Remember to have fun!?


Lemuel said...

I found your blog through a posting of a blog that I found...etc. Does not matter, I am glad that I found it! :)

I share many of your interests. Among them, I am an older (read: geezer) guy who is not out and who would call himself Christian, but would not align himself with the current so-called folks who are in the news. I am a member of a "main stream" Protestant denomination, but actually attend worship at a church of another main stream body. Both might be seen as more liberal than others, although my parents were very conservative and pietistic.

Sadly, the church of my membership, while priding itself on pluralism and diversity, demands the kind of uniformity that you describe here.

And I struggled for years with wanting to be like everyone else and with the question why I was not. I think it was when I finally understood Grace that I freely accepted myself as I am and accept others for what they are.

Thank you for this beautiful post (and for the others as well).