I ran across a photo of you….

I use this blog for several purposes. One reason is to discuss atheism and secularism in our world today. I haven’t posted on this topic in a while and I apologize, I’ve been distracted by my second reason for this blog. The second reason is to tell my story of leaving a fundamentalist environment and use it to encourage others and create awareness for the abuse that abounds in these cultures. However the final reason I have this blog is much more personal and that is to use my writing as a therapy to deal with some of the loss and trauma I’ve faced along my journey. These posts, while published, are never advertised and I never direct anyone to read them. Honestly I’m surprised I publish them at all rather than saving them in my drafts which is much more like me. I guess putting them out there is part of the healing process. For the longest time I couldn’t even talk about my upbringing, and then labeling it for what it was became yet another obstacle to overcome. Today I can be candid about the abuse and experiences I both suffered and witnessed. I do a lot of work on myself and continue to get a little better each day. In fact most of the time, even when discussing the past, I am detached from those feelings and memories. But occasionally I do find myself caught off guard and shaken by emotions I had almost forgotten. Tonight I had one of those moments and this post will be an example of the third reason why I write. A brief but private insight into the process of letting go and moving on.

Tonight I saw a picture of you. I could say I stumbled across it in an old box of tucked away memories; but truthfully I hunted the picture down online after seeing your name tagged in a post. I didn’t expect the rush of feeling. The slightest moment of elation followed by incredible sadness and loss. A familiar face that once brought me such joy and peace and love. The memories of laughing uncontrollably over a stupid joke, or talking after a long day, or crying on your shoulder when my friend died all flooded and overwhelmed me so powerfully. The day that I asked you to understand that I was still the same person even though I was telling you I was gay and the blow to my chest when you said flat out “I’m sorry but I can’t understand, I’ll never understand.”

And it’s not necessarily your fault that I can’t trust people and haven’t had a deep friendship with anyone since leaving, but goddamn I wonder how much of an impact it had on me. You were one of many friends that fell along the way but your falling out hurt more than most. The walls are so high and so thick and the constant affirmation of others seems to do nothing to break them down. In the past I would drink to forget they were there, standing so formidable and seemingly impenetrable. And I have to admit I thought about it for a moment tonight, not wanting to trudge through the feelings I’ve had to relive in the last 2 years of sobriety. But I am not shrinking in shame and guilt anymore because while I have been wrong for many things, you were wrong to leave me. See what I’ve found in sobriety is the phrase “To thine own self be true” which consists of a lot of personal inventory and gut wrenching self honesty. But it also reminds me to stand firm in the truth of the little that I do know and today I KNOW that who I am is not wrong, or disgusting or sinful. I do know that I loved you and you were my friend and I would have wanted to be there for you if things were different.

Instead of running from my emotions or drowning them in liquor I am picking up the sledgehammer and wailing on this wall yet again. Believing that some day I will trust and love and give as freely as I once did. And believing that I will find those who are true to me for who I am and not an idea of what I should be. But most importantly, I’m going to leave my heart open for you, and hope that maybe when the brick and mortar are cleared away that perhaps I can find you on the other side. Until then my friend,

-H

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