Magic Pills

I just read a blog post that has really got me thinking.  It started with a tweet on Twitter.  Anita1956 said, “Would I take the straight pill? Here’s my answer.” with a link to her blog http://tinyurl.com/aa78mp.  Here’s what she said:


The Straight Pill

Date March 13, 2009

If there was a pill that could make me straight

…..Straight in body

…..Straight in mind

…..Straight in heart

…....I would not take it.

If taking such a pill would restore all my lost friendships

…..And regain my parents pride

…..And give back my families respect

…..…..I would not take it.

If taking such a pill would return me to my former ministry

…..And the admiration of the congregation

…..And the loving welcome of the church

…..…..I would not take it.

If taking such a pill would replace the love I have for my wife with an equal love for a man

…..And we could legally marry

…..And we would be granted full rights under the law without fighting for them

…..…..I would not take it.

If taking such a pill would mean no one would reject me for being who I am

…..And for saying what I believe

…..And for standing boldly as one who follows Christ

…..…..I would not take it.

If taking such a pill could take the world back in time,

…..Before I came out of the closet,

…..Before I said I was gay

…..Before I knew I was gay

…..Before inequality touched me

…..Before hate revealed its ugliness to me

…..Before anyone rejected me

…..Before anything was lost to me

…..Before I ever questioned God’s love for me

…..…..I would not take it.

If taking that pill would make me straight

…..And famous

…..And wealthy

…..And talented

…..And adored

…..And beautiful

…..And thin

…....I would not take it.

…....I would not take it.

…....I. Would. Not. Take. It.

I would never take a pill that would make me straight because

…....I love being who I am

…....I love being whole and free

…….I love seeing the world from where I stand

…....I love knowing God from this place

…....I love feeling passion burning in me for equality

…....I love being part of a people who are courageous and relentless

…....I love being one in Spirit with every queer youth

…………..With every gay man and woman

……………With every bisexual man and woman

…………..With every transman and transwoman

……………With every ally and friend

……………With everyone who questions, doubts and searches

…….And I love being one in Spirit with you

……………Bound in hope, and faith, and love

……………Bound in God

If there was a pill I could take that would make you straight

………..And taking that pill would end all your confusion and anxiety

……….And remove your fear that God has rejected you

……………I would not take that pill even for you.

You are gay.

…..You are not wrong.

…..…..You are not sinful.

…..…..…..You are not evil or perverted.

…..…....…..You are not unworthy.

…..…..…..…..…..You are not a mistake.

…..…..…..…..…..…..You are not to be ashamed.

You are gay.

…..God loves you.

…..…..God holds you.

…..…..…..God stands with you.

…..…..…..…..God delights in you.

…..…..…..…..…..God calls you “My own.”

If there was a pill that could make me straight

…..And make you straight

…..And you

…..And you

…..And you

…....I would not take it.

…....I would not take it.

…....I. Would. Not. Take. It.

Before I even clicked the link to her blog I answered that question for myself.  “Yes!  I’d take that pill in a heartbeat!” Being gay is one of the biggest struggles I’ve ever dealt with in my life and most of the time I feel like if I could chose not to be gay, I would.

Growing up in a “Christian” home as a gay boy is an incredible challenge.  It is made abundantly clear to you from the beginning that homosexuality is wrong, that homosexuality is a perversion, and that homosexuals are damned for all eternity.  There is an incredible amount of fear that is driven into Christian children about hell and sin and damnation and we learn from a very young age that we want to do everything in our power to make sure we don’t go there.  This results in tremendous amounts of guilt and shame.

For me, the shame was too much to bear and I denied who I was for most of my life.  I chose to believe that I was not gay, that there were other, perfectly legitimate reasons why I was aroused by the images of the male models in the International Male and Undergear catalogues I subscribed to when I was a teenager.  I convinced myself that one day, when I met the woman God had in store for me, I would be physically attracted to her and I would feel normal and complete.

I finally began to admit to myself that I was gay and accept who I was about four years ago and I said it out loud for the first time when I told my therapist two years ago.  By this time, I had read the bible, The King James version, from cover to cover and learned that what I had been told my entire life was cut and dried, well, it really wasn’t.  I learned that there were a lot of discrepancies between the things I had been taught to believe and what I determined for myself in those pages.  I learned that while the Bible is an important resource that there is more research to be done and so I did.

I researched on-line the question of whether homosexuality is an immorality, whether it’s a sin and what it means to be gay and a Christian.  When it all started, I went in search of something definitive that would tell me what I was already sure must be true:  That Homosexuality is, in fact, an irrefutable sin.  What I found instead, was a whole lot of the same rhetoric, the same answers and explanations about why homosexuality is wrong, with all of the same holes that I had yet to explain away.  The same holes that made me question the accuracy, the validity of what I’d been taught.  These holes left me with questions and doubts.  The explanations didn’t sit well with me.  They didn’t feel… They didn’t feel true.  I believe that we all, each of us, possess a spirit that is to some extent or other, in tune with the Holy Spirit.  I started to realize that the reason these explanations didn’t feel or seem right to me is because my spirit knew they weren’t.  My spirit was hungry for the truth.

So I dug deeper and I found several resources with more information.  I found resources that did a better job of explaining what the various Biblical references which are used against us might have really meant.  I found scholarly authors who had a deeper understanding of what the times and the languages were like, and how the Bible might have been translated incorrectly over the generations and centuries that have passed.  And I found a reminder that the God I love and serve is a loving God who wants the best for me, who wants me to be happy.  I finally came to accept that the thoughts and feelings and urges that I was stifling for so many years, close to 30 of them, were normal and natural and a part of me, who I am, the way God made me.

I didn’t take this information lightly, and I didn’t set out to find justification for me to behave in a way that was not morally right.  Honestly, I set out to prove, once and for all, that what I was taught my whole life was absolute fact and that I had to continue to suffer until God saw fit change me and make me “normal”.  I resisted the things that I read that told me that I was OK as a gay man.  I resisted the urge to rejoice at the affirmations that I found because surely, as my mother would have told me were she involved, I was “possessed of the Devil”, I was “being deceived.”  Surely it wasn’t possible that I could, in fact, be gay and be acceptable in God’s sight.  But the evidence mounted, the case was made over and over again… and my spirit?  My spirit was at peace.  I stopped hurting.  I started healing.  I told my four closest friends.

I still struggle with the internalized homophobia that I was raised in.  I still struggle with accepting myself, but now, it’s because I’m programmed this way, not because I really believe that there’s anything wrong with whom I am.  I have to believe that as time moves on, I’ll struggle less and less and be more and more content in my life.

What I really struggle with, though, is the shame.  Not shame because I think there’s something wrong, but shame because I’m so sure everyone else will.  I get anxious when I write something like this because I’m sure that someone will read this and tell me that I can’t be both gay and a Christian.  (Of course I can.)  I’m afraid someone will read this and begin to scrutinize me and my behavior in a different way now that they know I call myself a Christian.  (I’m not living my life for those people, but no one likes to be judged.)  The truth is I hold myself up to the measure my mother has set out for me and I know I fail miserably.  Most days I’m OK with that.  I know I will never measure up to her expectations and I know that most of her expectations are unreasonably high anyway, but part of my internal programming is to see her expectations as those of all Christians and I assume I’ll be judged and condemned by all of them for one reason or another once they learn that I call myself one of them.  (I don’t really call myself one of them and I suspect that will make for another lengthy blog post in the future, but the terminology is the same even if the intent is different.)

The shame that I struggle with has crippled me with regard to coming out to my family.  Not a single member of my family knows that I’m gay while I have to believe some of them may suspect.  It is with this knowledge that as I bring this post nearer to its conclusion and prepare to press that “publish” button I am shaking and feeling genuine anxiety about putting this information out there for the world to see.  You see, my Twitter account updates my Facebook status.  My brother is my only immediate family member who is on Facebook.  I post links to my new blog posts on Twitter which means they’ll show up on Facebook as well.  It is not a stretch to think that my brother will actually see this post and because I am such a coward, this is how he’s going to learn the truth.  Will he say anything to me?  I don’t know.  Will he tell other members of my family?  He might.  Am I disappointed in myself that I can’t just say it to them?  Of course I am.

So if such a pill existed that could make me straight, would I take it?  I’m afraid that is not as simple a question as I first thought it was.  I’d be inclined to take it.  I’d never have to worry about telling my family the truth.  I’d never have to worry about facing the internalized doubts and fears that persist.  I’d never have to worry about having to tell people in my daily life.  And I’d never have to worry about trying to learn how to date as a gay man, or find someone that I could happily spend the rest of my life with.  Life would certainly be easier if I were straight.

On the other hand, maybe taking that pill would be like turning my back on everything that I learned in this process; that God did not make a mistake when he made me; that I am gay because that is how God intended it; that there is nothing wrong with me just because I’m gay; and that God loves me every bit as much today as he did the day I invited him into my heart as my personal Lord and Savior and the only thing that has really changed is, now, I know the truth.

If there was a pill that I could take that would make me straight, would I take it?  I’m sad to say that it would be a tough decision to make, but in the end, No, I would not take it.


———————————————————————————————

My special thanks to Anita, author of the blog that started this, first for writing the post to begin with and second, for granting me her blessing to re-post it here for all to see.

Everything Ends Eventually

radioactive-happiness-face

It was my plan to write today about happiness.  How sometimes, happiness is a choice and one that can be very hard to make and how frustrating it is to have to make that choice over and over again.  That was my plan.

I just got some news that upset that plan and, of course, me.

I’ve written in the past about my dear friend, who for these purposes I call “Eve”.  I met Eve when I worked in retail 12 years ago.  I liked her and enjoyed our friendship but some things happened along the way that for a time we weren’t as close as we once had been.  When I moved to California, I assumed I’d never see her again, indeed, I never thought I’d speak to her gain.  I don’t think I realized then, that her grandparents live in the bay area and she has a long-standing tradition to come to the bay area to visit her grandparents the week of Thanksgiving and when the time came for her to come visit the first year I was here, she contacted me and invited me to come hang out.

I was really glad she did, and with the trappings of our previous work relationship, and with all the rumor and hushed conversations of others out of the way we had the opportunity to really grow in our friendship and our love for each other.

Earlier today, I logged on to Facebook (evil site that it is) and found that I had been “tagged” in a note by Eve.  I looked at it to find that it was one of those “25 random things about me” lists.  (Random thing about me #1:  I’ve been dreading being asked to complete one of those!)  As I read her list, I noticed that number 15 said this, “My mother and I have an amazing relationship, I die a little inside knowing I have less than 12 months to spend with her before she moves to the west coast.

“Awesome” I thought, “Now maybe she’ll make more trips out here and I’ll get to spend more time with her.”

Eve told me years ago that her mother was planning to retire to the Bay Area so she could be close to her parents.  I always secretly hoped that Eve would move with them, or shortly after them, and we could be close again.  A few years ago Eve’s mother took a huge hit when the stock market faltered and she lost a significant amount of money.  Apparently, that’s when they decided to move west, but some place a little less expensive.  So today, I asked Eve about this:

Self:  So I didn’t realize your parents were going to move here so soon. Where are they going to live?

Eve:  In Portland, OR or Vancouver, WA.

Self:  Oh. I thought they were moving here.

Eve:  No.  And, my Grandparents are even moving up to Portland or Vancouver, too.  So this Thanksgiving will be the last time I head out that way

Self: Oh, no.

Eve: Yup.  So I’ll get to see you in Feb and in Nov and that’s that for awhile

Self: Well, you’ve just totally bummed my day!

brokenheartThis is tragic!  My heart is absolutely breaking!  I don’t know what my life would have been like without her in it.  I don’t know if she had any real impact on my existence, other than to have been the one person I knew I could come out to and know there’d be no negative repercussions.  But I know that these brief, and few and far between, visits that we’ve shared over the last 11 years have meant the world to me, and they’ve been the life’s blood of our friendship.

I feel like our relationship is ending.  Is that silly?  I mean, in this day and age with Instant Messengers, and Facebook and iPhones with text messaging, is that silly?  The problem is, I’m doing what I always do.  I’m thinking about this a few steps ahead.  Yes, I’ll see her, however briefly, when she comes out to visit next month, and I’ll see her again very briefly in November.  The visits will be fun, but they’ll go much too fast, and there will be a cloud over them.  And in November, when she walks me to my car (if she walks me to my car) and hugs me and says good-bye.  It will be for the last time.

I haven’t been to Tulsa in five years.  My sister and her family have moved to New York.  I’ve lost touch with all of my other friends besides Eve.  I love Scornful Mother, but I can’t stand to be around her for long.  Going back to Tulsa, really isn’t in the cards.

Ultimately, I’m only a very small part of Eve’s life and I don’t fit into the rest of it.  I’ve met her boyfriend twice, but I don’t know him, I’m not completely comfortable with him and I don’t think he’s completely comfortable with me.  I’ve never met his two children but I know they’re troublesome and I don’t really feel like I should be involved in that.  And despite the way I speak of Eve, we don’t really have the kind of deep connection where I would be welcome and convenient as a part of her every day life, however briefly.  Therefore, going to Tulsa, with the purpose of visiting her doesn’t seem likely.  And even if I did, I couldn’t get away with being there and not seeing/visiting/staying with my mother.

So, I’m doing what I alwasy do.  I’m thinking about this a few steps ahead and what I see happening is, our interaction will dwindle.  Eve is never on Instant Messenger any more.  Occasionally, I talk to her via the chat function of Facebook, but it’s not very convenient and it’s very infrequent.  We exchange one line comments and topics on Facebook but it’s all very superficial.  We don’t spend much time on the telephone.  And text messeging is no way to carry on a conversation.  Soon it’ll be nothing but comments on each other’s Facebook activity.  I don’t imagine I’ll ever see her again.

funny-pictures-sad-cat-blackandwhiteIt is at a moment like this, when I’m faced with difficulties and sad things that are not within my control, which really aren’t about me, that I remember just how much of an effort it is, how much hard work it takes to be happy and at this moment, I can’t put forth the effort it requires.

Seven Days? Really? Only Seven Days?

I can hardly believe it’s been only seven days.  Only seven days since one of the greatest history making moments in my life time, the election of our first “black” President.  I have to use the quotes.  It’s not that I don’t see the historic value of what happened.  It’s just that, to me, Barack Obama isn’t a “black” President.

Really, Barack Obama is 50% African, and 50% American.  (Hmmm.  I never thought of that before this moment.  I guess I can safely call him an “African American” without having the terminology grate against me.  I have a hard time calling black people “African American” because the vast majority of them have never set foot in Africa and neither have several generations of their ancestors.  And because the “politically correct” terminology changes from one day to the next and I don’t see how “black” can be offensive unless you’re just looking for an excuse to be offended.)  But from the moment the results were in and he was our new president I couldn’t help feeling like all the hoopla was a little bit of a farce.  This man is not “black

A day or two after the election, I saw something on the TV.  A handful of gang banging, pants sagging, puffy coat wearing, bandanna displaying, gold tooth flashing hoodlum type young black males, showing their exuberant enthusiasm that finally, “we will be represented.”  And all I could think was, “He doesn’t represent YOU!”  Barack Obama is an educated, well spoken, contemplative, sophisticated, only HALF Black man.  Something those boys on my TV screen will never have the capacity to understand.

I don’t mean to belittle his heritage.  That’s not my point at all.  But the reality is, stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason.  They’re usually based in some amount of reality.  And the reality is that Barack Obama is not a “stereotypical black man”.  I hope you don’t think that makes me racist, because it doesn’t.  But if you come away from this with the idea in your head that it does, well…  I think that’s something I can live with.

There’s no end in sight to the overblown propagandization of the monumental accomplishment that is the election of our first Black President and I am sincerely glad to have been a part of that accomplishment.  I really do see the greatness of that accomplishment and certainly would rather have it this way versus the alternative.  I am not sorry that Barack Obama is going to be our next President.  But by the same token, I am not a disciple of the Obama movement.  Certainly there were better options out there.  I still, to this day believe that Hillary was the right person for the job.  That she should have been our 44th President and that if a woman was going to hold that office in the next two decades it would be she.

I’m constantly reminded of the Saturday Night Live sketch from earlier this season with “Sarah Palin”, played by Tina Fey, and “Hillary Clinton”, played by a quite pregnant Amy Poehler.  The ladies were delivering a joint press conference (the “I can see Russia from my house.” sketch).  “Sarah” made a comment about knowing that “Hillary” agrees that it’s time for a woman in the White House, to which “Hillary” lost all composure and said, “Noooooo.  I didn’t want a woman in the White House!  I wanted ME in the White House.”  It was of course an extremely humorous moment but it also spoke volumes, in my opinion, to the status of this nation!  Are we ready for a woman in the White House?  I don’t know.  I’d like to think so, but I’m just not sure.  Were we ready for Hillary Clinton in the White House and more specifically in the Oval Office?  I say, without a doubt, yes.  Then again, the facts don’t seem to support my assertion so perhaps I’m wrong.  I know I was ready, but I may be alone.

It is equally hard, if not harder to believe that it’s been only one week since the devastating news that indeed, I have been stripped of a right that, honestly, up until earlier this year, I never thought I’d see in my lifetime.  The right to fall in love with the man of my dreams and fulfill that dream by marrying him, just like my sister was able to do with the man of her dreams.  Just like Unsvelt Girl Who Runs and TV Addicted Mom, and just like the vast majority of the rest of the world.

I still find the irony of the situation equal parts amazing and disgusting!  It seems as though Proposition 8 was approved, at least in part, because of the record number of Black voters that turned out for this election.  Let’s face it.  There’s a decent chance that Barack Obama would not have been elected if not for the record number of Black voters that turned out to vote in this election and yet, based on the polling data, these are the same voters that voted in favor of Proposition 8.  The reason given?  That they didn’t see the correlation between the discrimination that they face periodically and that their ancestors faced on a daily basis, and the discrimination that is now to be heaped upon me and thousands like me.

If you’ve read this blog much in the past you probably know that I am an “average white boy.”  (Although Green M&M says, “If you got a drop, your black, honey.”  Which I guess probably means that I, the original average white boy, am also black.  I got a little bit of everything in me going way back!  At one of her sisters parties a long time ago, I was referred to buy a drunk back guy as a “light skinded brother” so who knows.)  They don’t come much more average than I.  The thing that makes me not average, not part of the majority?  The thing that makes me a part of the minority set?  The fact that I’m gay.  Currently, gay individuals are still a minority.  We probably always will be.  But because this percentage of Black voters who were part of the exit polls couldn’t see how I was being discriminated against in the same way that they are, or that their parents or grandparents were, they voted to take away my rights and put me in that minority position.

There’s a youtube video from Kieth Olbermann:

that has made the rounds on the internet today, that I must say I’m quite impressed with.  But one of the things that struck me the most was this.  In his commentary, Olbermann says, that forty odd years ago Mr. and Mrs. Obama would not have been allowed to marry in 16 of the states of this great nation of which their son would grow up to hold the highest office.  Roughly a third of the country, just 40 years ago.  And the body they have to thank for that freedom is the California Supreme court and yet, seven days ago that same race of people made a major contribution toward stealing away those same rights from the likes of me.

It was not my intention for this post to be yet another political rant, for in truth I am a political know nothing. I’m just amazed to find that it has been ONLY seven days since this historic, but nonetheless tragic day took place.  It feels like an eternity to me.  I’ve been through so much in the seven days since.  And yet, really, I haven’t been through anything.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008, was a rough day for me already.  I was late for work, as usual, having overslept, as usual, and barely arriving at work in time for my 9:30 Tuesday Morning Torture Session, otherwise known as my departments staff meeting, as usual.  It wouldn’t be so bad by itself, it’s just that we have been having literally the same meeting for the last six years.  The agenda never changes.  Douche Bag is just as flippant and ignorant and oblivious as ever.  Country Dumbkin is just as late as ever, and just as disruptive as ever.  The agenda doesn’t change, and Unsvelt Girl who Runs (who at the rate she’s going will need a new moniker soon) and I continue to stare at the table and wait for the agonizing hour to end.  It always ruins our days and makes us want to jab our eyes out with our pens.

Deb, my therapist, had advised me, via voice mail, that there is a poling place near her office, and that I may need to allow myself a little extra travel and parking time (there is only street parking near her office) before our appointment.  So I had to leave work early to fight the traffic and the parking problems.  I am a Permanent Absentee Voter so I didn’t have to worry about fighting the lines at the polls, thank God!

I wish I could point out some particularly offensive events of that day.  I’m sure their were some, it’s just that there’s nothing out of the ordinary about it so I don’t remember anything in particular.

I went to my weekly therapy appointment where I asked what I felt was a simple question, “What good does it do me to know why I feel the way I do if it doesn’t make it stop happening?”  I didn’t like her answer, or anything else, much, about our visit.  I realize that happens sometimes and I’m not contemplating ending our relationship.  I’m just really tired of this stage of things and I’m ready to move on and I feel like I don’t know how to do that.  And sometimes I feel like she holds the key and just isn’t sharing.

After therapy I came home and turned on the TV.  I honestly felt like I already knew the outcome.  There was virtually know way Obama was not going to win and when I got home and turned on the tube it was already 207 electoral votes for Obama to 134 electoral votes for McCain and we were only minutes away from the West Coast Polls closing.  I was disappointed to find that no one was talking about Prop 8 yet.  I knew the out come of this one too.  I was just praying that, there but for the grace of God, I would be wrong.  And then the reports started coming in.  And Prop 8 was passing and I could feel my future slipping away.

But more than losing my future, I could feel my present slipping away.  I could feel all the confidence and certainty I had built up over the last two years dwindling.  I was being told by 52% of the voters of California that it was not OK for me to be the person I was born to be.  The person that God has made me.

A snippet of a song keeps going through my head, and while it doesn’t completely fit, the chorus and the sentiment of the singers does.  It’s from a scene in Rent when Maureen and Joanne are breaking up at their engagement party:

Take me for what I am
Who I was meant to be
And if you give a damn
Take me baby, or leave me.

So often I feel this way and want to scream this to so many people, especially in my family, but after last Tuesday, I felt like 52% of the state of California was saying back to me, “Yeah, thanks.  Given the option?  I think I’ll leave.”

I stayed home from work on Wednesday.  I did it in part because I stayed up way to late watching the returns and just hoping that by some miracle the numbers would turn around and we’d begin to see the “No”s climb before ultimately defeating the measure.  That, as you know, did not happen.  So I stayed home because I was up until the middle of the night praying for a miracle.  I also stayed home because I was, honestly and truly pouting.  I may be 33 yeas old, but I couldn’t help myself.  I stayed home to pout because I just couldn’t face anyone.  I couldn’t bare to pretend that I was fine and that all the shit that would absolutely be dished out on me at work didn’t matter.  I was hurt and depressed and I had to stay home and pout and cry and rage and generally be a sore loser.  Even now, as I think about it, I’m angry and I have tears that well up behind my eyes just begging to come out.  Because I feel impotent to make a change.  Unable to get through to anyone, and a thousand times less sure of myself and my orientation than I was on Monday, November 3, 2008.

The rest of the work week was pretty average except I couldn’t get over my hurt and anger, perhaps I still haven’t.  And then Friday.

On Friday, while I was “working” (which probably amounted to writing my all about Eve post, Vengeful Mother popped up on my computer screen, via Instant Message and said, “Why don’t you come home for Thanksgiving.”  I was completely on the spot, caught off guard and utterly speechless.  I have no desire to go to VM‘s house or spend any one on one time with her ever again.  I love her but I can’t tolerate being with her and I’m just not ready, not strong enough, to stand on my own while being around her and experiencing the vitriol and judgement that she spews.  I had to say no, but how?  So I told her as little of the truth as I had to, in order to put it to an end.  “I can’t.  I don’t really have the money, other people in my office already have the time off, and I have a prior existing engagement.”  Fortunately, it was over at that.

But Friday was just a long, hard day and it culminated in my shameful humiliation on Craigslist and my disgust with myself on Saturday.  What I haven’t previously stated is that I was up until nearly 4:00 in the morning pursuing my demise and I had to get up on Saturday morning to go and spend the day with Green M&M to whom I would be loathe to say anything about my Craigslist extravaganza.

Yesterday, already feeling like I’d lived a lifetime (albeit a bad one) in the seven days past, I was on Facebook and saw something that I think is telling, and that upsets me.  Not long after I made the, in my opinion, monumental error of setting up a Facebook profile I located an old high school friend of mine who I haven’t seen since the summer after graduation and have had very limited interaction with.  I made the effort to reconnect with her this time around and have been feeling guilty because I have been procrastinating answering her “How have you been.  Hope everything is good.” e-mail because I don’t know what to tell her.  I don’t know how honest to be with her.  And then today I saw this, “RNJ is really tired of seeing the commercial advertising the TLC show on the so-called ‘pregnant man.’  That’s not a man, it’s a woman dressed up as a man. Nasty.”  That makes it seem pretty clear to me that I can’t talk to her about what’s real about me.  And I can’t help feeling just a little more rejected by the world around me.

Seven Days?  Really?  It’s only been seven days?