I am a monster. My name is Zack or, at least, that is one of the names my mother initially wanted to call me before deciding on my current name. I live in a state of the USA where I can be fired for what I am so I will not even hint at my first name. I was raised Catholic. I still abide by the morality of much of it and I still sometimes pray for intercession of Saints, but I feel I have no right to call myself Catholic any longer.
When I was six years old my father kicked out his last jig at the end of a rope. It was his only way to escape a medical illness that he was certain would leave our family in debt. Or perhaps that is just what I want to believe. Corpses share little. I was raised to take on the role of dad for my mom and sister, having pressure put on me to be the “man of the house” as it were. I think I came to resent the pressure and I came to grow angry at being stripped of my childhood. I am a romantic and came to feel that, perhaps a helper could aid me in carrying the burdens of my life.
As I got older, I hurt many women trying to find one to ease the weary loneliness. I violated boundaries, harassed, and was consistently ignorant to the nonverbal cues, making many feel uncomfortable and never able to find one I could connect to. Always, my mind blocked me from taking anything very far along before I hurt them somehow.
When I was twenty six years old I fell ill with the same congenital defect that had likely driven my father and his father to death. I was spared by fate as I was born in a time when there was a treatment for the defect. I spent the better half of my twenties recovering from years of wasting away prior to the right diagnosis. I prayed novenas to Saints and even had my own sort of supernatural experience that removed my doubts of an afterlife. My faith grew. During that time of painful recovery I met a man who I wrote with online. Both being amateur authors, we checked each other’s work and even co-wrote stories together. He lived half a country away.
His name was Winter (an assumed name, not his real one). I am quiet, stoic, more a listener than a talker, and quite large. You would never know my orientation if I didn’t tell you. He, on the other hand, was into improvisational theatre, flamboyant, effeminate in manner, and was very talkative. To others, he even seemed a bit vain. As we grew to get to know each other and I saw past that shield of vanity to the real him. I fell in love with him. The girliness, the flamboyance, bad habits, and the good all became endearing to me. And he fell in love with me as well.
Unlike most here I never really even considered men before this. I didn’t grow up dreaming of cuddling up to Prince Charming. This was a complete change. So long, I had been certain I was living with a death sentence like my patriarchs before me yet, now with this new lease on life this occurred.
A year or so ago, he had a bad bike accident that left him scarred. I should have seen it. I should have seen the impact that losing his beauty would have on him. He reverted back to the shy, quiet, gentle hearted high school boy who was invisible to all of his peers, unseen for so long he came to feel he had no value. He withdrew from his theatre troupe, drank more, didn’t want to talk as much, and I found myself checking, daily, to see if he had written for months at a time, worried he was going to kill himself. The last time we talked he had been drinking. He said he loved me and couldn’t stand to let me see the real him. I haven’t heard from him in months. Nearly a year now.
When I approached the kinsmen of my faith on the subject I was met with their infuriating thankfulness to God for the situation. They were certain that this was a blessing as my love for him would lead me down the road to ruin had I pursued it. They were happy that this wonderful guy had been so devastated and that I was now condemned to worry about him. This man who helped brighten my darkest hours was called a curse and something I was better off without. I lashed out at them. I know it was wrong of me, of course. I know they care and that they are worried about me. Maybe they are right but I broke away from the Church of my birth and the spirituality I had been raised with to seek out something else.
I searched for knowledge that would either prove my old Faith in error or convince me this love was evil and convict my conscience.
I had my life saved by the intercession of saints and my sanity saved by the intercession of this effeminate man I had fallen and yet remain deeply in love with. Is this love disordered? I am left tilting at windmills, desperately seeking the answers to questions of what is true and what isn’t. To fall fully away from the Church would betray the faith that saved my life yet to turn my back on my homosexual brethren who I have come to love and ache to protect and to call our love – my love – disordered or intrinsic evil would betray my conscience in such a way that I could not live with that either.
I cannot repent of that which I am or that which I feel and if he came back into my life, I would surely want to spend the rest of it with him on that road to perdition, hand in hand. I sought apologetics and theology, the wisdom of many faiths both Protestant and Jewish, Monotheistic and Polytheistic, in the hopes that I would gain a better understanding. Surely, my Faith and my Church will shine through this all, I thought, and surely I will find my way out of this confusion. Instead, my faith in the traditions has wavered. In my seeking for knowledge to assuage my confusion I have become steeped in corrosive knowledge, Apocrypha, and heresies that have turned my mind from trusting the Magisterium.
The sexual morality of the Church is Law. I cannot call the Church my home yet still want to be with this man. I will not take the Eucharist again until this gets resolved. Many good men died to preserve that rite and I won’t dishonor them by partaking in it while in a state they would have considered mortal sin, even if my faith in transubstantiation has wavered.
When speaking of my changing theological views to my mother I caused her distress and alarm. I am schismatic and I am uncertain what is right or what is wrong in terms of tradition and dogma. All I trust now is my conscience. I am certain there is something more than this life because of my experience near death’s door, but I am not sure who holds the truth of it any longer.
To protect my mother and those like her from walking the road to damnation with me, should I be wrong, I have accepted latae sententiae for my heresies and schisms. Perhaps if I had never began my search for answers I could have argued invincible ignorance on the subject, but that possibility is gone now. If my destiny is to languish in eternal torment then I will not risk taking others with me by sharing the knowledge that ate the foundation of my faith and left me floating in limbo. This path I walk alone.
Have I gambled away my soul in my pursuit of knowledge to assuage my fears? Is this what it is to be lost? To have a heart hardened to the truth?