Tomorrow is my anniversary. Almost no one knows this. But it is. Tomorrow will be 32 years. 32 years ago I made a decision. I decided I’d change.
I was a coward.
I was a liar.
And I was a dick.
And on August 24, 1985 I knelt down underneath a crucifix and bent at my waist until my torso was parallel to the floor – and I vowed to reach my potential.
I’m not going to lie. It’s been a ball crusher. Do you know how difficult it is to shed all artifice and be truly authentic in every moment? I’ve forgotten the sensation of serenity. I feel the flush of shame climb my throat every day of my life.
I have a friend. Friend? That’s not truest. As close as a blood brother. A couple of years ago I said to him, “you know me better than anyone on earth.” And he replied, “I do.” I sat stunned. I knew that; I didn’t know he knew that. But he does. He knows the Roman Catholic me. Roman Catholicism is the essence of who I am. Every thought, every act, every deed. So, he knows my immortal soul. I don’t edit with him. Complete disclosure. Confession without the grace. I saw him today. Today I needed his perspective. Today I needed his wisdom.
Last night. Last night I held rehearsal. I live across the street from the rehearsal space. Less than a block. I decided to walk. By the time I crossed the street – not 50 feet from my door – I felt so tired I had to silence the shivers of my lungs and force myself to remain dry cheeked. I got to the building – and I stood next to the stone pillar near the door and I willed myself to stand erect. My phone trilled. An actor wondered where he should meet me. I looked up and he stood on the other side of the door. I didn’t have time to gather my strength; so I had to offer explanations.
That wasn’t the kind of authenticity I’d vowed.
Later while hearing my words from the mouths of the actors, I realized that I’ve shed all my securities. My privates are naked and without shield. All my privates: all my private thoughts, my private conversations, my private fears, my private hopes, my private failures, and my private sins. Exposed.
At one point in the rehearsal, I revealed something I felt to the cast and I cried. I cried. I don’t cry. But I couldn’t prevent the tears. These are good people, but I don’t know them. They must think I’m insane. I’ve kept the stress and the fears and the apprehensions all under wraps – and I couldn’t prevent the expulsion. I stood before the actors like a teenager in the midst of an erotic dream. I couldn’t prevent the ejaculation.
When I had my first ablation, I was surprised how vulnerable I felt on the table in the operating room. Uncovered except for a strategically placed sheet – I sprawled on a table as a catheter was snaked up my groin into my heart.
Last night I felt that raw.
After last year’s performance of my play, I stepped back and realized the play ended most of my friendships. My phone doesn’t ring like it did. I’m not included like I was. I’m not asked anymore. I asked my friend. My confident. He said my play was so emotionally raw that it made men uncomfortable. Like gluttony at a trough, it’s all too much. And so they ran. Away.
Am I hurt?
No. I’m humiliated.
And now I’m beginning the cycle again.
Now there’s less to lose. Now there’s less of me to whittle away.
I thought about gay men today. It must be so difficult to “come out.” It must be so difficult to expose something that they feared. Freeing? I guess. I don’t know. I’m not gay but I am envious. I envy the courage. I envy the comfort of emotional exhibition.
I have a plan. A schedule. The play: October 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14. On the 18th of October– the procedure. The epicardial ablation.
I’m devastated by my heart. I’m afraid.
I’m trying with all my strength to remain a man.
“Many people live 10 to 15 years!”
I’m trying to be more optimistic than that.