Long Lost Letter

I wrote this letter 7 months ago and had forgotten it existed until now. I’m sharing it because there’s a lot in here that I don’t know if I’ve ever shared. Those that know me will likely know who this was written to but the name has been redacted anyway.


I don’t know if this is something I’ll ever shake completely.









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Home is Where You Should Fit in Your Skin


I grew up in a family that grew into Jesus
At around the same time I did.
In a lot of ways, they are probably
The strongest Christians I know
Though we all have our faults
And we would be the first to admit that
Our faults:
They’re the things that make us human
And show our real skin
We are the church not in the
Formed from a mold off the assembly line
Kind of way

Our convictions were not mass-produced
You can see it in the way the don’t fit
Quite friendly into the seats
In the church I was baptized in
That I baptized my brother in
That my sister was baptized in

And we’ve seen this response
From people before
In other buildings, in other
Worship centers
With coffee cups and
The same unbearable
Contemporary music that all sounds the same

Words cannot describe how much
I want to punch David Crowder in the throat.

The Bible tells us
The church was built on outcasts
And every day, normal people
So, maybe if my experiences
Had been a little difference I might be willing
To cut some people a little slack

Believe me
We’ve all tried to show some grace
To the people who have said mean,
Offensive, bigoted things
Behind the back and to the face
And my parents come to me
For words of wisdom on how to handle
Not feeling comfortable in their own skin
In the place where all should be welcome
And we are all gracious around sin

God, damn those people
Who make my mother feel small,
My father apathetic,
You didn’t make them this way
So what gives your followers
The right to do it?

You, in your wisdom have adjusted me
With a very high-strung sense of right or wrong
Think trip-wire, or claymore mine
Add to the tension,
Hope you live to regret it
And I can’t be kind anymore.

I refuse to swallow one more bitter pill
In the attitude of “truth with love”
Because that is a set of bald tires
With a nail in the wall
It’s easier to overwhelm and sabotage
Then listen to anything at all
That might mean you’re espousing hate
And you’ve put my family deeply centered in the crosshair

Church, I have grown tired of your abuse
You’re a whore, I know this
And I’m supposed to love you
Which is hard
For someone who has never really
Understood love fully
And lost the only person who could really
Explain it in a way that made sense

You wonder why I’m angry.
Call it hate, call it intolerance,
I don’t really give a flying fuck anymore.
Thought I lacked a filter?
Well, the censors are out
Of the office for a while until my nerves settle

“Oh, but we need unity in the church,”
Then start being more like real Jesus
And less like the one you get from talking heads
Because blessed are those who
Don’t put people’a lives on chopping blocks
For gender, race, socioeconomic status,
RELIGION,
WHY DO YOU HATE PEOPLE
OF DIFFERENT FAITHS?
IS IT BECAUSE THEY’RE MORE FAITHFUL THAN YOU?

You are your brother’s keeper
That’s what I believe and that’s
What drives me every day
While others declare war on culture
They haven’t even taken the time to understand

My parents are braver and bigger than I
At least they’re willing to go back
Because I’m the one who reaps the whirlwind
On purpose; I stand for them of my own accord.
I haven’t been with you, church,
Longer than I can remember
But there’s no baby with that bath water

My struggle is in finding the answer to the question:
Is it possible to ever go home again

On the Church


Today I grieve beyond measure as I see the horrors unfold within my country. I have been asking myself, “Have I been asleep this whole time? Am I only now awakening to the evil and hate people are willing to inflict on others in the name of an assumed superiority based on race, religion, sexual orientation, and gender? I thought myself fairly well-educated about the hatred people were capable of but I look at the reported acts of violence, the racial slurs, and the rhetoric being spewed forth by people who are supposed to be the salt and light, the hands and feet of their savior and I am appalled, distraught, and dismayed at the reports of their actions.

To the church: you have made it very hard for me to love you. You have proliferated so much of what is now a national phenomenon of hate, discrimination, and contention that I have been content to stay in my apartment and just ponder how anyone who believes the Bible, the teachings of Jesus and the Saints, can be capable of ripping off a Muslim woman’s hajib and telling her to put it around her neck and hang her with it or leaving a note for someone in the LGBTQ community that they’re going to burn in hell. The spirit of God is not in you. Don’t hide behind God as justifications for your actions or your hate.

It’s hard to know where to belong now. I have felt a great alienation from the church because of the unfortunate ties to conservatism which, to me, is a tradition that needs to be broken and fast. Conservatism in a lot of respects is regressive to the message of Christ because, in my experience, it drives people to policy and platforms that serve individualistic purposes. I die a little inside every time I hear someone say, “Why should I have to pay for X with my tax money.” To me that is tantamount to Cain asking, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” In case you weren’t aware, I’m a registered Independent, Progressive Liberal with bent towards Socialism. I know absolutely no one in the church who would agree with my stances and that’s fine. This has also made me a target for the contingent of conservatives in my home church on more than one occasion and I do not take my stances on anything with a grain of salt or without thorough research.

It’s heartbreaking to love someone who can’t accept you for who you are. It’s impossible when it’s somewhere you should belong.

I’ve tried. I’ve tried so hard not to give up on the church but recent events have seriously made me rethink my stance on this. Is this the straw that broke thee camel’s back? I don’t know yet. I need more time to think. For every act of hatred, for every bit of invective released from the mouths and hearts of people who call themselves followers of Christ, my willingness to engage and be part of the body corporate becomes less and less. We all know the church is a whore but now she has turned to a whore who sold herself for the lowest bid and the highest risk: hate. The church has become a pack of murderers in their hearts and I don’t know what to do despite not wanting to just stand back and watch the whole show as our country is setting itself up to burn.

My shoulders are heavy with sorrow. I am all raw, exposed nerve and I’m doing my best to find a way to heal this. It’s not supposed to be like this.

It’s not supposed to be like this.

Willing Occupant of a Deadfall

cave

“Whatever you do, don’t hide away in your room. You will just continue to sink.”

Sound advice after I broke the news. I actually thought I had escaped the darkness that has been known to pervade my consciousness, to pull me down rung by rung until I feel I cannot climb back up out of the shadows and into the light again. And how I sank. For someone who has struggled his whole life to understand what it meant to actually love and be loved, who refused to use the the three word phrase for years, I surely felt that I had those feelings emanating from the pores in my skin. That is, until the floor was cut out from under me.

Your fingertips ripped holes
in my ventricles
And the fire in my chest
was over run by water
and extinguished
with the hiss of an inhale
that accompanies unexpected pain
air passing backwards between the teeth
And the umbra ran tendrils
from my heart to my head
and rooted me to the ground
I was infected.

I did my best to outrun it and it worked for a while. I spent a lot of time with friends. In fact, one asked me to come over and hang out for the first time in months the day after it all happened. I wasn’t dark then. I was still denying the fact that it hurt and it hurt like white hot steel between my shoulder blades, scraping bone with every simple movement. But eventually, the night caught up with me and I sank.

You don’t know what it’s like to mourn the loss of someone still living.
You don’t know what it’s like when a part of you dies
because you gave it to someone else
and they squandered it
stepped on it
My heart carved up by the heel of a stiletto shoe
Don’t worry about me
you never did

Nothing mattered. I slept until it was time to go to work when I did go to work. Most days I was able to muster up the energy to drag myself from my cave in the basement and get dressed enough to get to work. I tried to inundate my brain with as much senseless media as possible as a means to forget but nothing happened. And so I sank. The ceiling fan is a welcome distraction when it’s spinning and I’ve lost the motivation to do anything on my days off. I wrote to exorcise the ghosts. I fictionalized portions so it would seem less real and I realized I was only feeding the beast by reliving everything I thought I had gotten over.

I couldn’t write anymore. That’s how down I was. And when I did it was a subject I was so sick of that I couldn’t bring myself to finish it. Every line about someone I don’t want to write about anymore.

And it didn’t help to stumble upon pictures of you and him. Just when I thought I had gotten over it, there you were. And my heart would stop beating all over again.

From here to asystole.

The Fire

He threw his phone to his right and onto his bed with his thumb and forefinger, putting it into a flat spin. His eyes were closed as he bowed his head and ran his left hand through his hair and let his right follow suit. He let them both stop at the base of his skull and clinch his hair tight as he pulled it. He couldn’t believe her. He couldn’t believe she would do this to him after everything he did for her, all the good times and wonderful memories they had together. He could feel the heat of sickening saline streak down his cheek as his arms began to shake from the tension, his grip sending earthquakes up his arms and into his shoulders. His nostrils flared as he tried to control the intake of oxygen into his lungs, but knowing that his respiration rate was increasing with every second along with his heart beat.

She had conjured the ghost of his greater fears and let him go.

The best she could do was a text message. But it didn’t matter. The reaction was the same as he saw her face painted as a portrait in his head on a wall where she had sat for over a year. He tried to keep his grip on her but the picture was slowly taken off its hook and washed down river with the tears he was trying (and failing) to hold back. He remembered every other time this had happened. He remembered what it was like to be replaced, to be put on the podium as second place while someone else held the trophy, his arm around the girl and then both of them disappearing in a cloud of smoke. He felt like he would forever receive the consolation prize.

He started to fume. Smoke started unfurling from his eyes and nostrils. He kept his eyes shut.

She said she knew abandonment. What did she really know? He was never the guy to one-up another person but he always remembered a story his father told him and it sounded like silence, an empty palm and pockets full of nothing. The man who was part in his creation packed his bags and never came back which left only the question, “why?” and therapy bills. She couldn’t match that and could never understand why, when he smelled the signs he panicked and actually blamed him for it despite his best efforts to explain. But all she did was blame him. It was his fault. All his fault and this new guy was going to be the answer to all her problems and they could still be friends…

There were women who wrote a similar story with him with subtle variations and it only served to hone his senses to a finer point. So, his gut saw this coming before he did but the message didn’t make it to his brain before she cut the ties and he was left trying not to rip his hair out from the roots while violent sobs rattled him rating unknown levels on the Richter scale. There was a time when he just let it go and hit his knees, wailing and feeling so pathetic in the process because he thought he was stronger than this, so much stronger than this. But, obviously, there were still things that had the ability to revert him back 12 years old when this wound was first fresh. He pounded his fists into the ground to put the pain somewhere else besides inside where it smoldered.

And then his eyes caught fire and flames shot from his brain and through his muscles. Where there was smoke there was now fire licking the air around him like hands slapping faces and everything around him, for a moment, burned.

He picked up a baseball bat he kept for protection and swung it through the screen of his TV. He ravaged the walls and windows, giving no regard to his own possessions or his security deposit. He just wanted it all to burn. He spat lighter fluid and gasoline on the walls, coating everything that reminded him of her. Then he swept everything that she ever gave him and poured lighter fluid from his tear ducts into a box. With the tip of his finger, he ignited the contents of the box and watched pictures and jewelry and shirts turn brown and then blacken. He hurled her, burning in effigy in the form of now worthless shit in a box, towards the wall and watched it ignite with the sound of a roaring devil’s howl and the flames rolled like great, glowing tidal waves spreading to every surface. Smoke roiled and rolled across the ceiling as the heat intensified.

He felt nothing but this rage rattling his rib cage and spine. A crook of a sick smile eased its way up his face as he created his new world, one of fire and flame. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

“Just like us,” he said to himself.

Suddenly, the fire blew out like it would with a breath at the wick of a candle and the smoke disappeared. Reality set back in and he was alone with his sadness and rage once again. He had nowhere to put it and no one to confide in now since she had become his whole world. The one mistake he knew he had made in that moment because he was now all by himself. He let his hands finally drop from his hair and land at his sides as his head remained pointed down. He breathed in deep once and then wondered what he was going to do with himself now that she was gone.

Was he going to be alright?

The Letter

It was yet another late night as he arrived home from his place of employment. He pulled into the first parking stall he could find in his apartment complex, gathered his things, and headed for the entrance to his apartment. His mind was numb from the long shift and, feeling overworked, he somehow made it inside, grabbed his mail and entered his apartment without giving it a single thought. Had he thought about it he probably wouldn’t have remembered the journey there. At least he felt like things were getting back to normal.

He set his things down in their proper places and begin shuffling through the small stack of envelopes he pulled from his mailbox just inside the entrance of his apartment building. Credit card offers, bills and ads, detritus created for the short attention span impulsiveness most people can’t control. He tore them up one by one and tossed them in the garbage.

Then he reached the bottom of the stack.

He didn’t recognize the return address but the handwriting on the envelope as well as the postmark told him exactly who and where it had come from. Memories of grade school flashed in his mind when he was required to get cards for everyone in his class for Valentine’s Day. There was always the simple To: and From: lines. He knew this was no Valentine but he knew instantly what he was looking at.

To: Him
From: Her

He held the envelope with both hands and just stared at it for a moment. He felt as if the entirety of the past month and a half had come erupting out of his chest. His began to breathe heavy and much more rapidly as the fuel from that emotional fire began to take the wind from the bellows of his diaphragm. Letter in hand, he ran outside and into the sidewalk and stopped. He bent over with his hands on his knees and tried to control the panic rising like a dark phoenix from the ashes of his recent heartbreak.

After a few moments his breathing slowed and he was able to think a little more clearly. He stayed bent over for a moment and closed his eyes.He hung his head and swallowed a few deep breaths. When his heart rate stopped firing like an automatic weapon he stood straight up again, slowly. He looked at the letter again and considered his options.

Did he want to deal with something like this so soon? Clearly, he hadn’t come as far along as he thought in healing the wounds she inflicted otherwise he wouldn’t have had to make the mad dash outside to calm his panicking nerves. He looked around to find he was alone which was typical at this time of night.

He produced a lighter from his pocket, an old relic from an old habit which he no longer indulged. He glanced from the lighter to the letter, back and forth again and again trying to decide if this was what he wanted. He ran his thumb down the lighter and struck a flame. He stared into it for a moment as if it might, perhaps, contain some sort of truth. There is nothing so purifying as the flame, he thought. As his thumb began to burn from the heat he remembered his pain and held the flame up to the envelope. He let the flame lick one end of it and held it upright so the flames would climb faster and reduce this mystery to ashes.

He felt a burning sensation in his thumb that he couldn’t ignore.

He dropped the lighter and looked in his other hand to find the envelope was still intact. He stuck his thumb in his mouth to try and ease the sting of the burn while he stared at the envelope again. He didn’t know what to do. There was a conflict arising in his head as to what he should do. Certainly, there was a purpose to the letter but did he want to know? It was times like these he wish he wasn’t alone, that there was someone who could tell him what would be best.

After a moment, his curiosity got the best of him and he opened the envelope. He pulled out its contents and began to read. He stood outside his apartment building and, under the halo of the light above the entrance, he read a letter she had written to him. After he had finished reading he considered picking up the lighter.

He eventually did pick it back up but he shoved it in his pocket and went back inside. He tossed the letter on top of his bookshelf and went to bed. Before falling asleep he pondered his situation and what he should do. Then he fell asleep, the letter as far away from him as possible.