My only child. I will never come to terms with it. My husband blames me like I had something to do with it. He insinuated that my mother’s over mothering is the reason why. She over mothered him? What the hell does that mean? He had always been a sensitive boy. He was never interested in sports, and he was always very gentle and kind. Instead of bonding with his father, he bonded with my mother. She understood him.
He felt safe with her. Not me, her. He was my child, but he felt more safe with her. She hugged him all the time, but I was never into that. Showing affection was never my thing, but I loved my child. He came out of me, how could I not love him? My husband used to bully him every chance he got, and I know it made his life miserable.
I named him Peter George James, after my great uncle. Peter was my father’s uncle. He was an artist who painted these phenomenal portraits, and one of them hung on the wall in our living room. I had seen many of his creations, but this one was my absolute favorite. I used to stare at it for hours as a little girl, because I was fascinated by the colorful detail and the serene images of the meadow.
Old Peter was our son’s favorite uncle. Whenever we visited my family’s property back south, young Peter became part of his shadow. It used to infuriate his father, because he couldn’t understand why his own son was so distant. “I don’t like him spending so much time with that guy. There’s something wrong with a man his age not having a woman,” he’d say.
I knew his insecurities about their friendship came from his inability to accept our son for who he was. It was the very reason why he and young Peter weren’t close. He wanted to see our son the way one wanted to see him instead of seeing him the way he was. That’s where so many parents failed. Children aren’t carbon copies of us, they are independent beings who grow into whomever they are meant to become.
As a mother, I did expect him to get married and have children. I wanted to be a grandmother. I planned on being a grandmother, but his plans and mine weren’t guaranteed to mesh together just because I wanted them to. His father didn’t get this. Most father’s didn’t get this. Their expectations of a son were convoluted fallacies, kept alive by testosterone infused locker room discussions, by narrow minded Neanderthals that equated manhood with vaginal conquests.
If I took away the homosexuality, he was everything I hoped my son would be. He was confident, intelligent, creative, ambitious, independent, and articulate. He never gave us any problem, but rather than seeing how blessed we were, all my husband could see was how different he was. His idiotic fear ruined the relationship between he and his son, and he was too mule-headed to see it.
The world is rich in diversity. There isn’t just one language there are many. Racial compositions of various colors are sprinkled throughout the globe, along with intellect, opinions, ideas, and beliefs. I might be an uneducated black woman from the south, but I never bought into the self-righteous way if thinking.
Even though sex was unspoken and treated like it was taboo, I knew in my heart that it was a natural part of life. People are engaging in and enjoying sex, so why are they indulging in it and treating it like it is this horrible sin? My son’s sexuality is only a small part of who he is. Of course I wanted him to be heterosexual, but he isn’t. I’d lose out if I closed him out of my life because he was gay .
“Mom, I’m leaving,” he said, standing between two, medium sized suitcases.
“Well, look at you. What am I going to do without you here? I don ‘t even know how I’m going to get used to you not being here. Why do you have to leave now? You’re only 19. That’s a big world out there, Peter,” she said, smiling like a mother about to lose her child.
“Mom, it’s time to go. Besides, I can’t stay. I cannot live with him,” he said, looking towards the direction of the house his father was in.
“You know he does love you, Peter. It’s just hard for him to accept you being a…”
“Being a what? A human being? Mom, you’ve made enough excuses for him. It is what it is. I don’t have to contend with a bigot day after day anymore. I’m an adult now. I have looked forward to this moment for a long time. My childhood has been hell living here. Do I love him? Yes. Do I have to spend my entire life living up to his expectations ? No.” he said, as he picked up the suitcases.
“I know. I know. I’m not sure if I protected you enough, son. There were times when I wanted to pack up and leave, but I was torn between my husband and my child,” she said, closing her eyes in sadness.
“You know, mom, I know you did what you had to do. I won’t lie and say that I didn’t feel alone, but I knew that my life was going to be okay. I had support outside of this house. When mamma passed away I wondered how I would survive, but she left me with a weapon I could use to survive. Love.” he said, as he walked towards her.
“You adored her. She adored you too. I often wondered why you were so drawn to her and not me. I used to get so jealous of the relationship she had with you, but deep in my heart I knew why. She sheltered you, and made you feel safe. She hugged you and listened when I didn’t. The strange part about it all is that I’m not sure if I’d do it any different,” she told him.
The years had raced by with quickly. Her little one had become a man, and his childhood could have been better had she been to him what her mother had been. Peter was her only child, so why couldn’t she give him the unconditional love that he deserve? Had she failed him as a mother? She stood there looking at a stranger who had come out of her womb, clueless to what he was feeling. How did she allow that to happen?
“Well look here, you’re leaving. What took you so long? I’ve been waiting for this day ever since I found out you weren’t a man,” his father said, slurring from the alcohol he had been consuming all afternoon.
Peter released his grip on the two suitcases, and they fell to the floor. The one to his right teetered and fell on it’s side. The moment of truth had finally arrived. He was ready for it too. He had been ready since the sixth grade. In his heart was the resentment he had carried inside him over the years. He wasn’t a frightened little boy any longer, he was a man who had survived. His father no longer had the leverage of him being a minor anymore, so he was eager to see what he would use.
“I was wondering if you would have the gaul to show your face. I’m happy to see you didn’t disappoint me,” Peter smirked.
“You always did know what to say, sissy! Where did I go wrong? Did that nut I shot get deterred somehow? How in the hell did I wind up with you?” he asked, shaking his head in disgust.
“How did you wind up with me?” Peter scoffed. “You got it twisted, man. Your immaturity is amazing. You wound up with me because God made a mistake! He mistook you as someone capable of being his own man. I’m sure he’s scratching his head right about now! You have got to be one of the biggest mistakes he has ever made. You are such a coward,” Peter said, folding his arms defiantly.
“A mistake! You make laugh. The only mistake here is a son who was given to me mistakenly. You just don’t know how many sleepless nights I’ve had since you arrived. I told your mother there had to have been a mix up at the hospital. You couldn’t be my son! You are the agony of life, wrapped in a tortilla of truth without the ingredients.”
“The air you waste everyday has got to be a sin! You stand there, staggering in judgement of me like you don’t even know me.”
“Know you? What’s there to know? You are a flaw to my life. You were a disappointment I couldn’t correct. I was stuck with you. I didn’t have choice.”
“You did have a choice, and you made it. Every time you belittled me, you made your choice. The unprovoked verbal assaults in the morning, before I left for school, many days, assures me that you did have a choice.”
“What the hell are talking about? Those morning prep talks were intended to toughen you up. I got sick of you coming home in tears after some bully had teased you. I was trying to show you how to be a man.”
“Toughen me up? What the hell were you thinking? What kind of father demeans his own child? I was only 8 years old when you started that shit! Getting it at school was bad enough, but coming home to it was even worse. I wanted to kill myself so many times to escape the hell I was in. No child should ever have to endure the shit I went through!”
Peter’s face revealed years of anger that had been building over the years. I never felt so ashamed. I was his mother. I was supposed to be the one he turned to. I had abandoned him when he needed me most. I allowed his father to shred his spirit like a lion ripping meat from prey. His years of torment were magnified by my cowardice. I stood by and watched my husband berate him every day, and I did nothing. How did he make it this far?
“Boy, I did you a big favor. I prepared you for what you’ll be facing when you walk out that door. Life is cruel, and if you aren’t strong you won’t survive. You may think I was hard on you, but what I did was nothing compared to what you’re going to face as a homosexual. People despise your kind. You are a defect in the eyes of the world. I was trying to scare you into being right.”
“Scare me into being right? Your ignorance never ceases to amaze me. How do you scare someone in to being right when they aren’t wrong?Why is it so hard for people to believe that being gay isn’t a choice?”
“It is a choice. How in the hell can you stand there and tell me that a man and a man are supposed to be together. The good Lord didn’t design it that way. Eve was made from one of Adam’s ribs. What part of that did you miss?”
“The part that said God needed help judging people. Every time somebody starts quoting passages from the Bible I cringe. People are always picking out certain parts of it to justify their bigotries. Isn’t there a passage in it that says judge not least you be judged?”
“Don’t you dare twist the words. I refuse to accept how you’re living. Do you know how difficult life has been for your mother and me? Folks have been gossiping behind our backs, whispering how shameful it is for us to have gay child living under our roof. But you never considered that did you? You are fowl. A disgrace!”
“That has always been your problem. You care too much about what people say. You live your life trying to please other people. You don’t have the guts to go against the grain. You were supposed to love me unconditionally. I am your son, for Christ sake! Instead of making excuses for me, you should have been defending me. I didn’t have anyone except my grandmother. When she died I had nobody!”
“I wanted a son, not a faggot! The day you confessed to being one is the day I stopped caring. I despise you. As far as I’m concerned, you’re dead! You leaving is the best news I have heard in a while. Now your mother and I can have normal lives without being talked about. We deserve to be happy. The day you were born is when our lives became a living hell.”
“Hell began the day I was born. I’m a good human being. I never gave you any problems. I was an excellent student with a 4.0 GPA, and I qualified for scholarships at both Yale and Harvard. I have a bright future ahead of me in spite of your efforts to break me.”
. “Your remarkable intellect was something that I have always been proud of. That part of your character is amazing. That brilliant mind of yours will take you far in life, but you are going to ruin your future being gay. How far are you going to be able to go being a homosexual?”
“My mind isn’t a separate part of me. You cannot love that part and not me. You either love all of me, or none of me. I’m a total package father.”
“You will never be the total package,” he told him, with venom in his tone.
I tried to say something to let him know that my feelings were not the same as his father’s, but I couldn’t speak. In his eyes I saw the weight of despair. Time gives him now what he has longed for. Freedom. Years of silence took from me that which I cannot get back. I can only watch from this near distance as the child I bore steps away from me and moves towards what awaits him. His destiny.
As I stand silently watching the final moments of life with my son, I am transported back in time. He is standing in front of the bathroom mirror brushing his teeth. He was getting ready for school. He was just 12 years old. His father had chastised him for not standing up to Chris Hamilton, a neighborhood boy. Chris was big for his age, and Peter had been the target for his teasing. Peter had to pass by his house every morning on the way to school, and he dreaded it.
“Peter, are you okay?” I ask him knowing he wasn’t.
“I’ll be fine, mother,” he said.
I knew he was lying. I wasn’t quite sure why back then. I’m sure it had a lot to do with his inability to trust me. Even though I was his mother we weren’t close. I wasn’t an affectionate person. I never cared much for hugging, and Peter was the absolute opposite. That’s why he bonded with my mother because she gave him everything I could not. Perhaps if I tried a little harder I could have shown him more affection, but it just wasn’t me. I was just as hard as my husband in many ways. I didn’t agree with everything he did, but I could understand why he wanted to make our son a little bit more aggressive. He was way too timid.
“Peter, you know your father loves you, don’t you?” I asked, not knowing what to say.
“I suppose so.” was his response.
“You have got to start standing up for yourself. A boy like Chris will not stop until you make him stop. Why are you letting him punk you? You have to show him that you’re not afraid of him. You aren’t scared of him, are you?” I asked, knowing he was.
“I don’t like fighting,” is what he told me.
“Well you had better learn to start fighting. There will be times when you have to defend yourself. This boy is going to continue doing what he does because he knows he can. The only way to put an end to it is by letting him see that you don’t fear him,” I told him.
Without saying another word, he placed his toothbrush back in the holder beside the rest, wiped his face with a wash cloth, and he exited the bathroom. The cold way I treated him didn’t happen that one time, it was a routine occurrence. It was how I dealt with him all the time. I didn’t know how to be sensitive. I wasn’t equipped to show emotions, nor was I capable of being warm and motherly. I wasn’t like my mother. All the shit my father put her through wasn’t enough to stop all the sweetness. I swore I would never replicate her qualities.
So, I watch my only son prepare to leave and walk out my life. I am filled with guilt and some regret. If I could go back in time, would I change the way I handled things? Would I try harder to give him what he needed? Was I supposed to alter my personality to meet his needs? Is that even possible? Where is the line drawn as a parent? Are we to push aside our desires and align ourselves with those of our children? How much of ourselves do we have to sacrifice for them?
“Peter, I wish I could have been more supportive of you. We are so different from each other. Maybe, now that you’re older, we can be better friends. I know I failed you in many ways. It’s because I never understood you. Our differences were extreme,” I told him.
“Our differences are a blessing. That’s how we learn from each other, but there has to be a willingness to want to understand. My childhood was horrible. I’m going to try and make sure that my adult life erases some of the disturbing images embedded into my brain. Leaving today is a new beginning for me. One day I’ll find a way to forgive you both. One day.” he told us, as he picked up his suitcases and walked out of our lives.
(Ten Years Later)
I am 28 years old now. It has been 10 years since I’ve seen my parents. Since then I had graduated from college with top honors, and had landed a job at a Fortune 500 company. My occupational obligations required me to travel 50% of the time.
During my third year there, I had saved up enough money to purchase a nice, quaint, three-bedroom home. It’s wasn’t elaborate, but it was a steal at 135,000. My real estate broker worked a pretty good deal. I got a 20 year mortgage with no surprises, and the best part of all, it was mine.
Out of the clear blue I received a call from my mother. She called to inform me that my father was terminally ill. She wanted me to come home. She said he was asking for me. I can’t imagine what he wanted. He made it pretty clear when I left that he only loved my intellect and nothing else. Now he was requesting to see me. For what? What could he possibly have to say? Didn’t he say it all then ? I don ‘t know if I even want to see him. My life has been fine without them. Both of them.
About a year ago, I ended a three-year relationship with this talented architect. We met during a holiday office gathering, and our company was bidding on a multi-million dollar project with his firm. We were expanding and had already purchased property in a downtown location near the waterfront. I was very excited because I had been tapped to lead the expansion project.
All the big wigs were there, and the lavash, catered event was an elegant affair. The women were dressed in expensive evening gowns, and the men sported tailored tuxedos. I was making my rounds greeting and introducing myself to potential clients when I spotted Lace Dexter near the champagne fountain. I was instantly captured by his classy manner, and charismatic allure.
I was slightly intimidated by him, so I ditched the thought of approaching him and introducing myself. I couldn’t stop sneaking glances at him, and he caught me during one of them. He smiled to let me know he saw me stealing peeks. My embarrassment was real and my feet felt like they were cemented to the ground. I couldn’t move.
I decided to move in the opposite direction away from him to gain some composure. Once I started to mingle again, I was able to locate my confidence again. I was chatting with the mayor and his wife when I felt a gentle tap on the shoulder. I excused myself from the conversation, and when I turned around there he was.
“I am Lance Dexter, and you are,” he said, with a flirtatious grin, extending his arm.
I extended mine and we shook hands. “It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance, my name is Peter James.”
That was how it all began. We dated for several months and he was an absolute joy. He introduced me to theater, took me on camping trips, and even splurged on a two week European vacation. We made love for the first time in Paris, and it was a beautiful exchange of passion. He was tender, attentive, and extremely patient. I adored him.
But all fairy tales come to an end. The demise of the relationship began when he started disappearing unexpectedly for days at a time. The first few times it was easy to forgive him, but when it started to become a pattern, I couldn’t ignore the signs. He was either seeing someone else, or losing interest in me. Whichever of the two, I decided it was time to confront him. The promise I made when I left home was one I intended to keep. Nobody was going to mistreat me again. Nobody.
Before I got the chance to confront him, the painful truth revealed itself one evening while I was entertaining two potential clients. We were being served the entrees we ordered when I spotted him at a nearby table, skinning and grinning with his ex-boyfriend, Seth Adams. Pain shot through my heart like a jagged arrow. One of the clients noticed the disturbed look on my face and asked if I was okay. I said I was fine, just a little fatigued. I lied. I never mixed personal with business.
I managed to stay professional the remaining part of supper, but it was tough. When the heart breaks, nothing can ease the ache except time. You experience every emotion known to mankind during the early stages; Shock, anger, rage, sadness, and denial just to name a few. The crime he committed was murder in the first degree. The unsuspecting victim was love. My love. I would never look at him the same.
After speaking with my mother, the last person I wanted to talk to was Lance Dexter. When I answered the phone and heard that velvet voice, it resurrected feelings I thought had died. It had been one year to the day when I ended the relationship.
“Happy anniversary, Peter,” he seductively cooed.
“I don’t celebrate betrayal,” I said, unmoved by the smoothness of his tone.
“When are you going to forgive me? Don’t you know you are the only man I have ever given my heart to?”
“What do you want, Lance?” I asked, without an inflection of color.
“I want you, man. My life hasn’t been the same without you. I wish I could take back that indiscretion, but I can’t. It was the worst mistake I have ever made. I’m only half a man without you. You are my soul, Peter,” he said, practically begging.
“I could never trust you the way I once did, Lance. You cheated on me and then you lied . Without trust we have nothing,” I replied, rich in strength, but weak in memories.
“We were so good together. There was magic in our chemistry. How could one misjudgment kill everything? No relationship is perfect, and those meant to be can withstand anything. The trials and tribulations are what make it strong. We were real, Pete. Don’t let that be the reason you throw us away forever,” he replied.
“Why, Lance? Why did you step out on me? Why wasn’t I enough? Didn’t I satisfy you?” I asked, still curious to know.
“It was never you, baby. You did everything right,” he confessed.
“Then why? You shared your body with another man. The thought of you laying with someone else made me blind with jealousy. Your body being touched by another man. Your lips being kissed by another man. Your heat exposed to another man. I was so angry with you,” I asked, as old feelings bloomed like spring flowers.
“Peter, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. When I see the future, I don’t see it without you in it. You are my world. I want to spend my life with you, grow old with you,” he sobbed.
Why was all of this happening now? I can’t lie and say that I didn’t miss him, but what guarantee did I have? He cheated once already, so what would stop him from doing it again? He sounded so convincing, but was he capable of staying true to his word?He said it wasn’t me, that it was him, but I didn’t know what that meant. If we were so good together, why did temptation have the power to lure him away? I didn’t know if I wanted to put my heart back on the line again, but what if was right?
“Lance, I can’t make you any promises, but I’ll go out on a date with you. We’ll see how that goes.” I told, somewhat relieved.
“Thank you Pete, you’ll see. I’m going to win your heart again,”he said, in a convincing tone.
“Lance, this is only a date. Don’t put too much into it. I want to take it slow. I don’t want to jump off into anything too fast. If we are truly meant to be, then it will happen,” I told him, reinforcing the rules.
(One Month Later)
“So, are you going to go see him?” Lance asked, sleepy-eyed, lying beside me.
“I don’t know. When I left, I swore I would never return. My father used to make me feel so worthless. I used sit in my room and dream about the day I would be old enough to leave. If I didn’t have a vivid imagination, I don’t know how I would’ve survived.”
“But you’re an adult now, Pete. That little boy made it through, and he’s a successful professional now. He never broke you, baby. That’s how strong you are. You need to let him see that. You need to let him see that, in spite of everything he did to you, you grew into a strong, beautiful, confident man. My man,” he said, wrapping his arms and legs around me.
After that first date, we had several others. It didn’t take long for me to cave in. Life is all about taking chances, and I didn’t want to miss my opportunity for lifelong bliss. I let him move in despite my fears. He showed me with actions and not just words. When we made love it was intense, real, and perfect. Every time he entered me he would give me his soul willingly. The deepness wasn’t in the thrust, it was in the spiritual connection we formed during our intimate moments.
“Will you come with me,” I asked, hoping he’d say yes.
“I’m your man, aren’t I?” was his quick, sincere, response.
I giggled. “Yes, you are.”
“Then where else would I be?” he said, with a sexy whisper.
The days leading up to the trip had me nervous. Partly because I didn’t know what to expect. The heated discussion we had prior to my leaving gave me the impression that we were done. He made it pretty clear that he wanted no parts of me nor my life. After all I he put me through, I was fine with that. He was my father because it took his sperm to get me here, but outside of that there was nothing else.
There was this one time when he grabbed me around the throat so tight, until I thought he was going to kill me. I was so scared. He had this crazed demonic look in his eyes that resembled a picture of the devil I had seen. He went off on me that time for not signing up for the football team. We had gone back and forth for about five minutes, and when I said “No, damn it,” it sent him to a terrifying rage. I was 15 at the time.
Then there was the time he went off about my decision to be a Varsity Cheerleader. He hit the roof when he saw the blue and gold uniform I brought home. At first he didn’t know what it was, but once he found out his temper exploded and he started spouting off a string of curse words. He then started picking and up hurling random household objects against the wall. The following day he called the school and gave the principal and earful. Needless to say, I never got the chance to join the squad. I was devastated.
My first sexual experience occurred at 13. Me and this neighbor kid used to wrestle in the backyard. We had already compared penises numerous times before. One day during our frolic we both sprung erections. He asked me if I wanted to do it. I had no clue about what he was asking me, so I asked him what it was. He said the pussy. The pussy? Once he told me, I looked around to see if anybody was around. When I saw that coast was clear, I agreed to participate. We used to do it often after that.
Childhood held too many bad memories–memories I didn’t want to remember. Going back was frightening to me, but I had to face this fear. With Lance by my side, I had an extra shot of courage. I needed all the support I could get. What could this man possibly want? Was he I’ll and trying to make amends? A lot of people who raised hell all of there lives usually did this to make peace before they took their last breath. I hoped this wasn’t the case. Why wait until you’re dying? Why not try to do the right thing when you’re strong and healthy, when it would really matter?
When the plane landed I started having second thoughts. Why was it necessary for me to do this when I had already made peace. I didn’t want to see him. I hate what he did to me. I was too small to protect myself. He used to creep into my room in the wee hours of the morning and wake me from a sound sleep to tell me he wished I was dead. He threatened to kill me repeatedly. He would break up my toys and leave them in the center of my bed so I could find them.
No child deserves to be tormented. I used to tell my grandmother what he’d do. She warned him that if he didn’t stop, she would report him to CPA. He stopped immediately. I was safe for awhile, until she passed a year later. When he started back, it was worse. He wanted me to pay for snitching him out. I was 16 then.
When we reached that house every horrid scene flashed through my mind in rapid concession. Seeing it again after all these years triggered something inside me and suddenly it felt like a bad idea. I told Lance I wanted to leave immediately, but he told me that I had to face my fear. He told me that I would never truly be free until I did. He told me that I wasn’t that little boy anymore. He kept reiterating that my father couldn’t harm me anymore.
I wanted to believe him, but I was trapped in the past . All I could see was the darkness, and it was smothering me. I found it hard to breath and I gasped for air in a panic. I didn’t know if I was imagining it or if it was real. Lance gave me this look of worry, and pulled me into his strong embrace.
“I’m here, baby. You don’t have to be afraid,” he said, in a calm, reassuring tone.
Just as I pulled myself together, my mother appeared in the doorway. She looked older than the last time I saw her, but she still had a youthful glow. My memories jerked back and forth as I started reminiscing about situations and instances. Pain echoed and bounced back piercing parts of me near and deep. The lacerations were so precise until I became numb and ignorant even though what I felt was from what I experienced.
“Are you ready to face your past,” Lance asked, searching my face like it was the final piece to a puzzle.
“I already lived it. Why must I revisit it? This dwelling represents childhood oppression for me. It raped my innocence with adult reality. Hatred. Fear. Resentment. Guilt. Shame. How come I have to retrace these steps?”
“It will set you free,” Lance said, peering into his soul through his eyes.
“I’m already free,” Peter told him, with a forlorn glaze fixated on his face.
“You won’t have true freedom if you don’t finish this chapter in your life. You left things unfinished when you left. You still have one more task to complete,” he said, tightening the grip he had on his hand.
Peter turned towards the entry of the walkway and took two steps forward.
....An Author G D Grace novel, coming in the Spring of 2013
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Author G. D. Grace reserves all rights and reproduction without written permission is not permitted. If found, legal action will be taken against the person(s) or company(s) that have cut or pasted (Plagiarized) any portion of this written document. Author, G. D. Grace; Published © 2011 December