“I wish we could start again as strangers…”

I have needed time. Time to digest what happened to me Thursday night.  Time to really let it sink in and take hold.  I knew, as soon as it happened, that I would never be the same. Here I sit as living proof that I was right.

Thursday night I attended the show A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer at Diversionary Theater here in San Diego, CA.  The production was a part of the annual V-Day celebration, held locally by InnerMission Productions ({www.innermissionproductions.org}).

A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer (M.M.R.P. from here on out) is part of a series of three different shows.  The main show is The Vagina Monologues, and the second in the series is The MENding Monologues. (Which I will be seeing tonight) Many people who I know and respect a great deal are involved with these shows. Including a reoccurring “character” in my blog – Mr. Kelso – who is not only in M.M.R.P., but is also in MENDing which he directed as well.

Thursday had already been somewhat unkind to me.  Yet another loss in the friend department due to misunderstanding. (Quick tangent: as I was driving around Thursday night looking for parking near the theater it occurred to me that one of my greatest talents is pissing women off.  I don’t take pride in this, and I never mean to do it.  That’s what makes it a gift, I guess. It just comes naturally, somehow.) Now, I find myself headed to the theater to watch a show I know full well is going to effect me emotionally. As I start my walk to the theater, I begin to psych myself out. I start to wonder who will be there, and will it be awkward. I start to wonder if I look good.  I start to over think just about everything.  So much, in fact, that I distinctly remember looking up and realizing; I was already close to the theater and I didn’t remember the walk there.

Fast forward; I am sitting in the theater watching a chorus of individuals pull together for a common cause. To stop violence against women all over the world.  Each piece incredibly powerful.  Each voice, raised in grief and frustration and love, felt as though it might have easily been heard around the world.  Ending in the passionate plea, “Please stop.”

By this point, I was a mess.  I had to force myself to breathe slowly to keep myself from blubbering like a fool. I may be sentimental, but I still want to appear a man. (grin) I had been so affected, so moved, so utterly destroyed that I could hardly find the words to tell people that they had done a good job.  In fact, I think those may have been the only words I was able to say. “Good job.” Yes, the show was powerful.  Yes, I had been moved.  But the straw that broke the cynics back just so happened to be the piece performed by my friend Mr. Kelso. The piece is titled Rescue, and written by Mark Matousek. It was a beautiful and painful piece, written from the point of view of a son/brother who had grown up in a home filled with women.  All of whom, in one way or another, had found themselves the victim of sexual and physical abuse. As my friend spoke each word, it was as if he was telling my life story without my permission. Each and every word “rang true and glowed like a burning coal” (Bob Dylan, Tangled Up In Blue). As the author spoke of each realization he experienced, I was actually experiencing it. Everything he spoke about, I was going through right then and there in a theater full of people. I thought about leaving.  Getting up and walking out.  This was far too vulnerable to allow myself to be now, and with this particular group.  I already have no idea what they think of me, but this would just send them running – for sure. Then, I experienced something that might be the saddest and most painful thing I have ever experienced.  I begin to doubt my tears.  I began to doubt the sincerity of my reaction and my emotional response. I began to feel manipulative.

I am going to interject here, because this is the very reason I needed time. I had no idea how to put what I am about to say into words. I still don’t.  I am just jumping in and hoping for the best. Even after the show, as I shared a few drinks with my friend Kelso and discussed the show – I told him none of this.  I didn’t know how to.  So, here it is…

With everything that has happened to me over the past few years. With everything that has happened to me over the past few months.  With everything that has happened to me over the past few weeks.  With everything that has happened to me over the past few days, I have discovered myself to be covered in walls surrounding walls over walls inside walls within walls. Each one built in response to an event so powerful it left me incomplete and confused instead of stronger and ready for the next. The most recent sting has me questioning my very honesty.  Even though I am speaking from my heart in trying to be sincere and honorable, being told by someone you love and respect that you are manipulative and false is a crushing blow. It raises more questions than answers, and infects the very way you experience every word you say.  Or, in my case, tear you cry.

Even though this powerful piece had me thinking about my mother, I heard my friends words calling me false and it robbed me of my purity instantaneously.  I went from feeling an overwhelming gratitude and sadness for my mom.  Wishing I had been a better, more appreciative son. Wanting to buy her flowers and cook her a nice meal.  Hug her til she yelled at me to stop (I do that to her.  It’s fun.).  I went from that, to wiping my eyes and trying to erase any trace that I had reacted emotionally because I didn’t want anyone to see.  If I show no emotion, I thought, then I cannot be accused of using it. If I feel nothing, there is nothing to use against me.  I am clean.

The show ended, and as I went to each person I knew to let them know I had enjoyed myself, I found I couldn’t speak.  When I tried to, my throat would begin to close up and I could feel the tears ready to just flow.  (Another interjection, if I may… I think, as I look back, I may have needed to cry.  Needed that release. There was more behind what I was experiencing than what I had just seen and experienced.  It was a multitude of colors pouring from an lanced and swollen wound.) As I  hugged the director, I wanted to say so many things.  “Thank you.  That was amazing and beautiful.  You should be proud of what you have done with this show.  You are truly an amazing woman, and I feel changed because of what I experienced here.”  What came out was, “Excellent job” or something to that effect.

Is it possible my friend is right?  Is it possible I am so incredibly false and manipulative that I don’t even know it? I honestly set out to do good, to be a force for love in the world. To help, in my own small way, make the world better.  One person at a time, beginning with me. But, it would seem I am actually a villain.  A dark shadow dressed up in lights to appear bright. A twisted flickering bulb in need of being replaced.

There in lies the deepest injury I cannot seem to heal. The evil beast-creature I see when I look in the mirror.  The horrible demonic game master who destroys where he attempts to build or nourish. I cannot help but think, though; Lenny never meant to kill the mouse, he just didn’t realize he was petting it too hard.

How can I help this world, or make a difference in the changing of horrible events, when I cannot even trust my own emotions? How can I “stop the violence” when I question my own motives for wanting to do so? I feel like a bad guy, trying to be a good guy, destined to be a bad guy. A sentiment that has been reinforced time and time again, even up to and including that very day.

Prime example; this blog.  I started it trying to write about how the show had effected me, and how amazing and powerful it was.  Yet, here I am talking about myself again, and me me me.

I feel like I have lost the ability to understand.  Then again, as David Lo Pan said, “You were not put on this world to get it.”

(deep sigh) I’m gonna stop now.

A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer is taken from a book by the same title.  I would recommend finding it and reading it and sharing it with others.  It is incredibly powerful, and will change you at your core.

Please visit ({www.innermissionproductions.org}) for information to find out how you can help the cause, and to buy tickets for the remaining shows.

I know I probably sound like a hypocrite for what I am about to say, but with the way I feel I wish to help if I can…

Please, be kind to yourself.

Love, m


About "Mike"

"We only become what we are by the radical and deep-seated refusal of that which others have made of us." - Jean-Paul Sartre "Change and growth take place when a person has risked himself and dares to become involved with experimenting with his own life." - Herbert Otto "Heed the still small voice that so seldom leads us wrong, and never into folly." - Marquise du Deffand "Your real influence is measured by your treatment of yourself." - A. Bronson Alcott "Energy and persistence conquer all things." - Benjamin Franklin "If we all did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves." - Thomas Edison "A man who finds no satisfaction in himself will seek for it in vain elsewhere." - La Rochefoucauld
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3 Responses to “I wish we could start again as strangers…”

  1. Kelso says:

    Thank you for being there. And thank you for your honesty.

    I’ll see you in a couple of hours, my friend. (Thank you for coming to MENding tonight, also.) I look forward to chatting more about this now that you’ve had time to digest.


  2. chriss r jones says:

    Mike, Do not over think it. Like all of mankind you are doing the best you can–learning from your mistakes, trying not to repeat them. You cannot control the reactions of others, only your own. Be your own best friend and be kind to yourself. I,m praying for you.


  3. Sis says:

    I think you are much too hard on yourself.

    I couldn’t help but think of an episode of Friends. It’s the one where Phoebe tries to find a good deed that she doesn’t do “selfishly” – because all of the good deeds that you do make YOU feel good for doing them. So, do we stop doing the good deed because we selfishly like to feel good? Do we stop being loving and kind to people because we selfishly want to see them smile and feel all warm and squishy because we brought out that smile?
    Do you stop showing your emotion – your amazing gift of empathy – because someone may find themselves “manipulated” by your feelings and your expression of them?
    Do you close yourself off from those who love you and feel that it is a gift to know you because one person didn’t appreicate what you had to offer?

    I think your ability to show emotion, to FEEL emotion, is a gift from God. I think your ability to love and the depth of that love is nothing to be ashamed of.

    You spoke wise words when you said that the tears you fought at the show had a lot to do with other events that you were still dealing with. I understand not wanting to give in to them there – sometime showing that much emotion is a private matter. But it hurts me to hear that you question the honesty of your feelings and your truth.

    I love you. I feel like I wanted to say more but my brother-in-law got here and I’m distracted.

    You write very well, my friend. I think this may be one of my favorite posts of yours. It flows really well and I like your little interjections. =)

    I appreciate your honesty and I hope you continue to break down your walls and allow those who are worthy to climb over them.

    I appreciate you.
    Loving you always,
    Your lil’ sis


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