So as you might have heard my last surgery was a bust, and with it came a very heavy pain and despair that caused a deep black wellness of depression that I am just now beginning to escape. I have been fighting a silent war in myself for years now, barely breathing to anyone the existence to which I have been plagued and harassed for awhile now. I know the exact date that it all began and I thought that this last surgery was the answer and key to my recovery. But as with all things, reality sometimes is bitterly different from what we hope or dream to be real. In 2005 when they first put in the colostomy that I have been stuck with I clung to the faint hope that one day I would be able to once again find myself a normal whole person. But alas on June 18th, 2012 that hope was dashed to yet another bitter and frightening reality, the shards of hope crushed and the splinters sliced deep into my soul the truth that I could never face. I knew back in 2007, when I had gone to New York to meet with Dr. Wong in a last ditch attempt to find someone who might be able to reconstruct and rebuild my catastrophically damaged colon. He told me then that I should go home and have a permanent colostomy performed, and for hours I sat in my hotel room with my mother and Joe and cried. I knew then beyond a shadow of a doubt that my life as a gay man was at an end, that I was damaged, but I clung to the faint hope that was extended when I came home to Atlanta and had the surgery preformed when my surgeon told me that he would try again and he promised once again that I would make a full recovery. I chided myself and hid myself in a drug infested stupor for years trying without success to accept the limitation that my frail and failing body had forced upon me. I thought in the back of my mind that if I could at least keep my pain and denial steeped in drugs and sex and parties as well as surrounding myself with other unwanted damaged individuals I could come to accept myself, the scars, and changes that had been wrought on my body.
Maybe, I knew I was deluding myself, and I knew that by doing so I was only hurting myself and those around me that loved me and cared. I thought that as long as I avoided confronting my fears, and could play and pretend to have fun I would eventually come to believe it. Here, I sit 7 years later and the truth has finally been brought home to me and the truth that I had so long sought to hide from myself is now something I can afford to ignore anymore. I have been damaged for so long, and have hurt so many people along the way, I sacrificed all the things that I held dear just to seek a solution to an issue that could never have had a different outcome. I count myself as a smart intelligent person, one who has a great big loving heart, but through my own despair and pain, I couldn't or wouldn't see the damage I was doing to my life and those of others. I do not enjoy that fact that I am know to many as meth head, and addict or sex fiend or many other things that I have heard described of me. Knowing I was living a lie and hiding myself in a place where I thought that my differences wouldn't matter, but the truth of the matter is it always mattered, mattered more than I cared to admit. It is now time for me to bear the demon that has been plaguing me, to reveal its nature and my humiliation and the horror that has held me captive and allowed me to wallow in self pity and self deception for years.
I cannot say that even now as I am writing this that I feel any differently today than I did yesterday or even 5 years ago. I still feel this way and probably will til the day that I die, but the difference today is this. I am going to survive this, I will figure away around this and I will no longer cling to it, I will no longer use it as a crutch and I will not let it defeat me. This is going to be a long battle probably longer and harder than the one I have been fighting for the past 20 years against cancer. This is a mental battle, and being a person of intellect, I am sure that I will find a way to either accept what has become a fact and since hope has been extinguished beyond rekindling, or deal with it as a day to day demon to overcome. I am not sure how you feel about yourself, but I can tell you that I don't feel anything about myself other than disgust and disappointment. I am disappointed that my body is failing and disgust at the thought I will now and forever more be different and apart from everyone else. I know their are others out there like me, people who have had the same kind of surgery and they have gone on to have families and a normal sort of life. However, I am not sure how they got there and I am not sure how they found someone that could or would accept them for the person they were.
I guess my fear is this, the thing that makes me different, the feelings I have toward others is still the same, however the part that makes it true and complete is the act of sex, and that is something I can no longer do. I am broken beyond repair, and all I have ever dreamed of was becoming normal again, a strange twist of events brought me to where I am today, I have come a long road, but I realized that I have so much further yet to go. See in the gay community perfection is what is desired and pretty much required, if you are different you are not accepted and finding someone to spend your life with is hard by that much more still. I was in most senses of the word an attractive man my entire life, and through my teens and twenties, never lacked my share of partners. But when they cut me and removed parts of my colon, I knew then that I would be forever marred and that it would become harder and harder for me to find someone to accept me for me and what I have become. So as I said I turned to drug use. I found that early on after the first surgery I could have sex still with the aid of drugs, because the constriction of the fused pieces of colon would still stretch and the pain would be less and I could still do what needed to be done, but as the years went on I learned ways of hiding the colostomy bags, though I also learned I needed to tell others about them even if they never saw them. But as the years went by something started to happen that I didn't know would, the radiation damage caused by my treatments continued and the tissue that once stretched started to calcify and become hard as bone and wouldn't stretch any longer. Even with drugs, sex became harder and harder to accomplish and then became impossible. I would still do the drugs and try, but to no real avail.
I am not sure if you can understand my pain, the tumidity of I have been feeling and hiding within myself, but I will try to expound a bit further and lay it out a bit better that you might understand. I think that by doing so I am helping myself in ways greater than you can imagine. I find that placing my words and thoughts on paper and on the net for all to see, is sort of cathartic and a way of achieving a balance within myself. I am not sure if it will be a lasting balance, but maybe from it's landing I might be able find a way to deal with my demon and possibly finally defeat it once and for all.
See as I have been sitting here trying to recover from my failed surgery, I have been thinking deeply about what it all means and how frustrating it is to realize that my dream of being whole and human again is finally and utterly destroyed. You see, I was told that if I were to have to undergo one more surgery it would kill me, and there is no way to reverse what was done so long ago. As I thought I was healing and recovering all these years, the radiation has been hard at work destroying what living tissue I have left. That my dream of re-connection and the removal of the stricture, can never come to pass because the scar tissue and adhesions are so dense that it is even now impossible to get close to the connections sites where the small intestines have been looped. That the remaining bits of the colon and small intestines are so damaged that they disintegrate at the slightest touch. Which would seem to also indicate that even if I were connected, sex of that capacity would still be beyond me. The scars and damage done on the outside of my body though cloaked and hidden by clothing are quickly revealed once the clothes are removed. Even with being able to hide the one that I had originally in 2005 using an ace bandage as I once did is still possible, the new stoma, is 3 to 4 inches higher than the first and is impossible to hide, what are my choices? I have figured out a way to disguise even that one, but knowing that sexual pursuits can only go so far, and that might leave a partner wanting something more is beyond my fixing. So, with dawning renewal the monster that I have become is now a permanent thing and one that I don't think another person will be 100 percent able to accept. I have dated several people since I had the first surgery and found a type of companionship that I can live with but now only time will tell if that will be enough for another person.
Can you see where my despair and frustrations arise from? Maybe they are not as clear to you as they are to me, but understand this I have what looks like a road map from my breast bone down to my groin and multiple other scars around my stomach and abdomen. Then there are the bags attached to stomas so I can use the restroom. It is easy enough to explain the cancer, it is easy enough to demonstrate my affection and caring for others, but the problem lies in what can I possibly offer someone that wants to have a sexual relationship? The truth is I am not sure. I have a couple of people that I am close too and at one point or another had a sexual relationship with them, I have one in particular that wants to be with me and help me deal with this and has shown that he cares. But I know he is a sexual person and someone who I cannot fulfill his ideal form of a partner. But who knows, I know my limitations and I am willing to work out a compromise of sorts. We will have to see what develops as time evolves.
When I opened my eyes this morning I was determined to fight through the depression that has been keeping me in its grips, as I write this I am more and more determined now more then ever that I will not let this keep me down, I may have to change my definition of relationship and may even have to change my own idea of what being gay is about. I surround myself with work and I have become active in my community trying to lend my experiences and expertise where it can be best utilized. I have started talking to groups about terminal illnesses, positive attitudes and how there is still life after these things and how we can each over come them. This helps almost as much as my writing. Imagine if you will what more I can possibly offer if I can once and for all unslave myself from this retched demon that has been haunting me and taunting me for years. If I too can find a place of balance; how much more can my life be but a shining example of what can be and will be once a terrible tragedy has befallen someone. I have never considered myself as someone who others would look up too or find strength from but as I live and breathe that is exactly what has happened.
I have had so many people tell me how they admire the strength I show and how do I keep such positive outlooks on all things, and here is the unvarnished truth, I don't, I cannot always keep the gloom and despair away, however, I do not give in and will not give up, when I know that there is something out there that yet needs to be done. I find my strength from within, I keep my faith and beliefs strong, and I find myself good and honest work that I can force my time too. I fight my inner demons in the night, in the darkness of my home and at light I face the day and go forth with a mask of serenity and joy. I am not still deluding myself as you might think, I have begun to realize that if I act a certain way, I begin to feel that way. By making myself feel needed and wanted and a part of something larger than myself is how I keep the demon at bay. I do realize that one day I will have to deal with this oh so personal thing on a personal level, and when I find the person to do it with I am sure you will all be there with me and be aware of my plight. But for now it is enough that I have exposed and confessed and laid bare the hold this demon has upon me. Since, I have done so with alacrity and charm, I hope that God will give me the grace and stamina it will take to finally slay and discard this foul thing that clings to me.
I hope now as you have read this you can understand, that I am no more immortal or superhuman than any of you. I have played the cards I have been dealt and as you can tell I have handled my hand poorly. But, I once told you what defines a man is the character and grace in which they handle those things that come at them. It is not if you fall, but how well you rise again once you have fallen. Courage is not the absence of fear my friends, it is the fighting through the fear and facing that which is inevitable. No matter your battle, no matter your own demon, I hope you can take strength from this and rise within yourself to confound the depression and leave it behind, and stride toward the light with confidence and dignity.
As always my hopes and dreams are with you. I ask once again that as we start this new month of July that you take the time and join my blog, I value your thoughts, insights and opinions. You will find that I am not one that dismisses anything arbitrarily, and that I think and explore through all things. I have so much to say and hope that you will continue to join me as we march forward together in this life. Keep me in your thoughts and know that you are in mine.
My thanks for staying with me and being patient as I recover from this last surgery.