It has been a long road finding myself, and the journey not completed yet. This blog chronicles aspects of that journey, what I have learned, and things I am still grappling with today. I don’t propose to have answers to life for others, only things that make sense to me and have given my life purpose. If you find anything I write offensive, I am sorry for it not meant to offend.
A major theme in my life has been feeling different from others in a myriad of ways and those differences causing me to hide aspects of myself for fear of being rejected. I was a sick child and had open heart surgery at age six in 1960. In those early years, I lived much of my life in my imagination and thus often played alone, occasionally with one other child, but seldom with groups of children. I never thought much of this, for it felt natural. However, developing my imagination and playing alone was the beginning of my life long journey as an introvert, which continues to this day and weaves its way through every aspect of my being.
As a preteen, I discovered the marvelous feeling of being naked. I believe it may have begun by sleeping naked, which my mother found offensive. However, her offense did not stop the practice. Soon I expanded to taking solo trips into the foothills to explore being naked in the sandy crags of the arid hills above my home. I knew that this was “wrong,” but at the same time it was exciting and freeing for me. It became my first internalized secret about myself.
At about the same time I discovered masturbation. The first explorations were extraordinarily awkward, and orgasms were almost a mistake rather than planned. I quickly fell in love with the tension of my sexual drive but again never shared this with anyone. It became another one of my secrets. As I grow older, I find it odd that human beings hide aspects of themselves that are actually almost universally practiced. Why wouldn’t a person with a healthy sexual drive at least occasionally masturbate? It is practical and pleasurable.
Even as a young child, I had a keen interest in sexuality and sensuality, but my early understanding of female anatomy was nonexistent. In my preteen years, I had no idea what female genitalia looked like, and I was extremely curious. One day, I found a manila envelope full of magazines stuffed in the trash can at my home. I still do not know whose stash they had been, but they quickly became my treasure. The magazines where of nudists and I was excited to finally see a woman naked. However, I became dismayed when I found that someone had carefully scribbled over the area I so wanted to explore. I went as far as getting an eraser to try to remove the markings to allow me to see what was being hidden. At that point, I had no idea about pubic hair and thus created holes in the pictures in the search for new knowledge. It was some years after that incident before I got the chance to gain first-hand experience with female genitals.
Romance and attraction also blossomed early for me, and I became attracted to girls far before I ever discovered sexuality. I first had feelings for a girl in Kindergarten and repeatedly was attracted to girls throughout grammar school. These childhood attractions were a tad more than passing friendship and actually contained vague romantic twinges. They were fervent territory for my imagination, and I believe a place where I developed my love for feminity. At the same time, I seldom felt connected to the world of boys. My heart surgery kept me from playing “rough sports” as a child, though I often fought with my older brother. Here again, I was a bit of a loner, until I found performance. Singing and being in the theatre was the first place I felt a small sense of belonging.
I have few memories of my earliest days of performing. However, once I found a picture of myself in a cowboy outfit and my mother regaled me with the story of me singing “I Want To Be a Cowboy for Jesus” at a revival meeting. I do recall that the only part of going to church I enjoyed was singing. Performing became a place where I received attention and they were the only moments I felt as though I might be acceptable, or even more. Church and performance are two diverse aspects of my story. I tried wholeheartedly to belong within the structure of conservative religion but it always felt wrong to me. I would repent, pray and try to be a “good Christian” according to the church’s rules and precepts, just to feel again and again that I did not belong there. Performing was a place I could belong but it had built-in impermanence. When you are cast in a show you belong until the show is over, then it is time to move on to the next one. The gaps in between became my nemesis.
Back on the romantic front, my first real girlfriend was in my freshman year of High School. She and I were both quite shy and awkward. However, I will never forget how I asked her for our first kiss and how exciting that kiss was. Along with the growth of my romanticism was a growing feeling that I wanted to never offend anyone, especially women. That fear of offensive was a two edge sword leading me to be considerate but a bane when it came to being assertive and asking for what I wanted and needed.
And thus my journey of remembrance and exploration begins. Is it self indulgent, yes, of course, it is. If that bothers you, please go elsewhere. I write to understand this lifetime and I hope, in my musing, to possibly help others to better understand and accept their own differences. Please feel free to leave me messages about your experiences. Thank you!