I’ve been mulling over this all day. Though I had a good weekend working on my truck recently, I also had an eye-opener to the thoughts and thought circles on my mom’s side. Particularly, with her and friends (?) that she had kept for a while. My own brother expressed his concerns to me about how mom had been acting lately. I know I am at risk of her (and everyone else involved) reading this, and facing a form of exile as a result, but if it goes unsaid, it’s going to fester and a good friend of mine reminded me of the medicine I had once given her: “There are two people you need to think of first: you and yourself.”
So, mom and anyone else contained in here, I love you dearly. But I feel as if I needed to process my thoughts after hearing both sides, seeing everything from the impartial perspective I was brought up to hold onto so I could see everything clearly. And tonight, I am calling it like I see it. If you remember how you raised me, you’ll understand. I am afraid of this being the beginning of worlds being torn apart, mine included. So each word I type… is probably the heaviest I will have ever typed to this point.
Part I: Matthew 7:15
There is a person that has been around my mother, brother and I since the days when we had first moved to Chino, and as time grew on, became an advisor on the workings of God. She helped ensure prayers were done correctly, that verses were quoted in the bible, certain ointments were used… she was quite versed in the way of these things, and helped with prayer in the physical form, pressing a hand to your chest when praying about an ailment in your lungs, for example. She has been helpful to us all, but as I started branching out a bit and seeing how my ancestors also did things, it helped me gain a more independent perspective on the entire thing. I had discussed my gained perspectives with my brother, and how I felt that through a lot of our bloodline– how I felt that the christian/catholic deity religion was only half of our heritage. I had felt that our ancestors on my dad’s side had looked to gods and goddesses that were responsible for war, knowledge, fertility, chaos and love, and many more than to name here. I felt as home with that as I did with Christianity, at first.
This particular phrase that our adviser had stated to me, and the way she said it, caught me so off-guard… and it rubbed against me the wrong way so much, that my first defensive instinct was to laugh as if it was nothing and appease. But it too grew within me:
“And you’re not a vikiiiing.” It had that draw out at the end, like children would do. “You’re not a spacemaaan.” It felt exactly like that. And my defense came up. She continued on with it, stating that any whisper in my mind of being a viking was, more or less, the devil’s work.
It’s actions like this that had incensed me over the years… irritated and even angered me about Christianity. Who the fuck are you to say who I am or am not? Are you telling me I have to refuse my heritage, where my family came from and how they worked? By no means am I trying to be a viking or something even close to it. But I do acknowledge it. How dare you come up and just say it like that, like I am some child whose parent has to tell them they’re not a boogey man, robot or superman when their imagination runs wild.
There was a part of it where she had my brother stand behind me, and she was excited for him to catch me when I would fall back while she was doing a prayer. And my eyes were closed during the prayer, as I wanted everything she was talking about to come to fruition. Prayers over my back problems. Prayers over my wishes to get to Europe. Prayers over my continued stability at work. But I remained standing. After five minutes or so, she told me that I didn’t have to keep standing. I could fall back, and how awesome of a feeling it was. Well, I agreed. Trust is great to have, and that initial moment of weightlessness as you do so is fun. And it is exhilarating. So I did, a few times. We repeated this with my brother, and I remember looking up at her as I was catching him.
She had excitement on her face. But I had seen this excitement before. It wasn’t because she was helping. It was because she was controlling this situation to such an extent… that together with the viking thing, I was even more put-off. Again. I was trying to give Christianity in this form a second chance, but it was becoming so hard. She also let us blow a horn that was for a call to the heavens. It looked like a viking’s horn. And I called into it successfully the second go-round I tried, as I hadn’t before. Gabriel had a horn. But a twisted bullhorn? I wasn’t so sure. I’d leave that open to interpretation. But using that horn… it was not calling to the heavens. It was calling to the past.
What did me in the most, and what made me wonder why my mother had removed herself from this person’s life, was to come. She (advisor) basically stated that tomorrow, we would be told that everything spoken of tonight was “bullshit.” Her choice of word, not mine. I could almost point the finger out as it being because she knew we would see mother tomorrow. Funny, that. I never heard it. I never saw mom the following, either. And I didn’t start thinking on this until today.
It is easy to say something is in league with evil, when it doesn’t jive with what you think, feel or believe. I hope my brother isn’t as wrapped up in this as my mother and I were.
Part II: Deuteronomy 5:7
While my mom was still with her ex boyfriend, we were going out to get something to eat. I had become slightly more open and telling of my exploration towards the Norse paganism that inhabited large parts of Europe. As we were driving up to a restaurant, just getting out to the dirt road, she asked me, “Are you good with God?” I replied, “Yeah. I’ve been in constant communication with him.” And that was (and is) the truth. But it wasn’t to say that I wasn’t investigating other things too. Most of my friends and my family know that I love the woods. I love being in them, camping in them, enjoying them. A lot of my ancestors on my dad’s side lived that way. Of course it’s going to call to me. And of course my ancestry is going to call to me, like it did to them. But I didn’t want to tell her that I was investigating it, because it would either a) break her heart, or b) make her concerned. And there wasn’t any reason for it. There really wasn’t.
She went on to talk about how I had been the youth minister of the church, and how she had come in just to one service, to see me lead an entire congregation through a Sunday service while the pastor was gone. No one else of my age had done that, and no one else would as it turns out. Not from what I’ve heard. And I did it well, and I felt great doing so. I was helping people understand, I was making them agree, and I was ensuring that they understood that there were many ways to communicate the message of God through means other than standing on a street corner and preaching through a megaphone. I had a standing ovation when the entire service was done. And I left feeling like I had been an instrument that day.
And I was.
Someone had spoken through me. But it wasn’t for some years that I’d realize that someone also spoke through me when I did plays. Someone spoke through me when I sang music, because I wrote narratives. Someone spoke through me when I told jokes. It wasn’t to say that that day I hadn’t serviced God, because I had. And it felt great. People had told me they thought that I had found my calling. Well, people told me I needed to become a professional actor, and that I my band should go far.
But there enlies the issue. I am a performer. I do well with it. But I wasn’t completely satisfied, and I learned more of why when I started seeing people outside of church. How so many of those people were just Sunday warrriors, and were any other jackass you could meet on the street six other days of the week. In fact, the model christian is my own mother. I can say that firmly, because she will stand with what she believes, does so all days of the week, and doesn’t force it down your throat otherwise.
But I wasn’t satisfied. The more I explored (especially after high school), the more I found fulfillment in other callings. The movie “13th Warrior” began to resonate more like a seed that had been planted early on. And I felt conflict, I felt sick because I was not supposed to have any other gods before God. How was I supposed to acknowledge this ancestry and what they had worshipped? Gods in any culture are key to survival, and I cannot look away from the fact that the Norse gods helped a good part of my family survive.
As always, there’s a justification when it comes to the Christian religion, and I had to make one. I was acknowledging both sides of my family. I know who to pray to, and when. I know because it feels right. But, where did that, and other things that I had found and loved (such as the kinkier side of things) leave me with my family?
Part III: Phillipians 2: 15
I had told my dad once in a conversation that I was the “black sheep” of the family. He seemed somewhat surprised to hear me say that, but I felt it true. Of the things I was into, I know my mother had caught wind of through watching me from myspace during the earlier years of my out-on-my-own adult life, and my brother knew of it too. I’ve likely reaffirmed some of it on this site. My brother (and ironically the advisor from earlier– unsure if there was connection, I won’t assume) had brought forth concern that my mother paid much more attention to him than I. If that had been the case, I hadn’t noticed. I told him that it might feel like that, because he did, after all, just get back from war, and she had only so much time to spend with him before he went back out to base. Of course she was going to show amazing amounts of love. She had talked to me about the nights where she lay awake because her gut was in a bad place. Something that my family had was that good emotional connectivity. When something was wrong, she’d know about it for sure, and she would check with me to ensure everything was okay, which would leave one choice left.
He noted how she had more pictures of him than of me. I didn’t have many pictures to offer her to begin with. I know she’d fish through Facebook to see about good, printable ones of me. It was found in the comments, and it put a bit of a smile on my face. I am sure that it was also a hint of, “GET SOME PICTURES OF YOURSELF, DOOFUS!” I will work on that. But, my brother expressed these concerns, and I had earlier in life, as siblings do. But I never confronted her on where she sat with how I lived my life, mostly because it didn’t affect her, and she would prefer not to hear anyway.
I have always been the more recessed person in my immediate family. It takes a lot for me to open up to anyone, and I am learning how to do so properly now. Was I concerned at some point in my life about how she loved me in comparison to my brother? Yeah. Will I later? Always a possibility. But I don’t believe in love in equal amounts; it’s a bunch of bullshit. I believe in love’s existence, and that you give as much as possible to each. It won’t be limited by how much you can give, but rather, how much they’re willing to receive. I don’t intend for this to sound bad, but for me, I know it’s there. That’s all I need. It’s probably the same reason why I never asked for presents. I just know when love is there.
But it gave way to the thought, eventually. If not her, what of her friends, and family friends, and family? Did they harbor secret conversations about, “Did you see what he just posted?” “Aren’t you concerned for what he might be doing?” And the ever-lingering question of, “Why didn’t he turn out like Nick?” I don’t know if these conversations have been held. And quite frankly, I don’t give a damn. I am who I am.
Epilogue: Mark 12:31
Accept me. I won’t come around pushing my way of life, my beliefs or my thoughts down your throat. If there is a conversation about how I think, feel or believe, it will be civilized, open and without a measuring tool to see whose thought is greater. Love me for who I am, not who you want me to be. But I will hold this standard to anyone out there, and my friends and family know it. What will happen if you don’t like who I am, and try to change me?
Well, in the famous words of my mother, “They can go fuck themselves.”