Dear Sherria

One year ago today you went home to be with God and it’s taken me this long to work up the nerve to write this letter to you. The last time we spoke was 2 months prior to you passing. The conversation was a petty argument that spiraled way out of control. I always felt you had such a strong attitude and I wasn’t willing to back down from making my point. Looking back and knowing what I know now, it’s painful to know that we didn’t reconcile before you took your last breath. It’s a regret I have to live with everyday.

So many people would say we were twins. I, on the other hand, would tell people we were oil and vinegar, we didn’t mix. We never saw things the same way but I think that’s what made the dynamic of our relationship so unique. Although we could never agree on anything and we bickered so much, I can never think of a time in my life that you spoke down to me. No matter how heated our arguments were, you never insulted me or called me out of my name. My entire life you always made me feel special. You encouraged me to be God-fearing and unafraid to use my gifts. For that I’ll always be grateful.

Selfishly, I cry when I think about all the moments in my life that you won’t be here for. My wedding day; my first child; my big break. You always made a big deal out of everything I accomplished and snapped a million annoying pictures of me. It’s hard to believe that I’ll never experience you doing that anymore.

Even though I acknowledged you as my older sister, I’m not sure I ever learned the importance of acknowledging as a woman. A woman who had her own dreams and goals. A woman who loved hard and would made mistakes. A woman who, unlike me, could forgive people time and time again and show them a love they probably didn’t deserve. As I typed your obituary, I truly realized your life was cut short before people, including myself, could really understand these things about you. You were not only a one in a million sister, but a one in a million woman, flaws and all.

At your funeral, the funeral home director asked me to help lower you into your casket. That was the scariest and loneliest moment of my entire life. The sight of your lifeless body slowly lowering and disappearing from sight is burned into my memory. The pain I felt watching this happen, is burned in my heart. Its a thought and a feeling that I have not been able to shake. Maybe that pain is my punishment. The consequence of not being a better brother to you. The consequence of holding a grudge a second too long. Whatever it is, it’s a weight that I will carry for the rest of my life.

I have no idea if I understand what it means to grieve or if I started the process. I do know that I am angry. I am angry that you’re gone. I’m angry that you left me way too soon. I’m angry that I didn’t treat you as well as you did me. I’m angry at what your death has done to our family. I’m angry I can’t call you for cooking advice anymore. I’m angry that I didn’t get to speak to you or hug you one last time before you left this earth. But, despite all that, I am happy that you are at rest. I’m happy that whatever pain you carried in your physical form, your spirit did not take with it. I pray every day that you’re resting easy and that you continue to watch over us sending us your love and forgiveness. I hope that until we meet again, each day apart gets a little easier. I hope that I make you proud.

Rest in Heavenly Paradise Big Sis!

Love,

Gary

image (3).jpeg

Drowned In My Insecurities

I am not bearded. I am not overtly sexual. I'm not up on the latest football stats. I am not what society considers masculine. For those reasons, I nearly drowned in my insecurities.  

Some have called me feminine. Some have referred to me as metrosexual. The vast majority have assumed I was homosexual. In efforts to mask how uncomfortable these things made me I loss myself. Loss myself in efforts of trying to disprove my outward lack of masculinity based on social norms. Masking who I truly was made me sink deeper and deeper into a pool of insecurities. 

Most of my life I found myself uneasy in large groups of men. I constantly felt I had to overcompensate in order to avoid them judging me. I wanted them to see me as much of a man as they saw themselves. I questioned what was it about me that made them question my masculinity and what actions do I take to fix it. Until the day I looked in the mirror and didn't even recognize myself. I had dug so deep to try and fix an issue that should have never existed that I was no longer living in truth. I was entirely too caught up in being what they expected of me. I lost my ability to be free and vulnerable. I loss Gary. 

See Gary is the type of man that respects women, loves hard, knows how to express himself, cares about his appearance, loves R&B music (including Beyoncé) and is a man by how he behaves and treats others, not by the stardards of a hyper-masculine society. When I looked in the mirror that day, I couldn't see any of that. I prayed hard to get back to me and see myself in the greatness that God created me in. I prayed to be released of the insecurities I allowed other people to drown me in. Although it's hard and I still deal with the uncomfort of people's opinions at times, I'm so much better. Living in truth is an incomparable freedom that worked and prayed to gain. So by your standards I may not be masculine, but I am a man and I'm most certainly proud to be Gary Thomas! 

 

I Love Her, But She Belongs to Him

            Love is not an area of which I have the best of luck. I hate to admit that I’m in love with the idea of love, but unsure if it suits me. I’ve always found it easier to attach myself to school, work, purpose, or anything that allowed me to be great in life. However, as you learned from my first blog “I Think I Found My Wife”, I am in love. I love her, but she belongs to him.

            As profound and passionate as most people believe love is, being in love with a woman that lives with and belongs to another man is by far the most uncanny feeling any man can have. It’s similar to dreaming of falling off a rooftop, and even though the edge is only an inch away from you to grab, you can’t reach it. You just suspend in the air in the same place, but you feel like your body is rushing to the ground.

            Reader, are you asking yourself is this mutual? Does she love me too? Well she says she does. At times I feel she’s being truthful.  Other times I feel like it’s a lie that I have conceived in my own head and I’m just misunderstanding the words she’s saying to me because I want to believe my own feelings. At times I think that we are really meant for each other and that she is just in a situation and I have to be patient. We all know that’s a bunch of fairytale bullshit that I must have let linger in my mind from watching too many romantic comedies.

            This type of love is wrong. Communicating with her is wrong. Allowing myself to continue to be hurt by broken thoughts and emotions is wrong.  But for the time being, I’m following the old cliché, if it’s wrong, I don’t want to be right. I’m going to hold onto this until it means nothing to me anymore. This could just be karma paying me back for all the things I did in college (that’s a blog and story for another day LOL). Don’t follow my example though, do the right thing. Remember, we accept the love we think we deserve. 

God Told Me to Move, I Moved

           I’m not a pastor, and certainly not the most spirited. I have lived and am still living in worldly ways. I can admit that I am flawed and at times do things that are not of a righteous man. I am human. However, when people ask me about my move to LA and why I am so happy, I can give nothing but glory to God. It was His plan, His doing, His desire.  When God told me to move, I moved!

           As most know, I lived in Las Vegas for 2 years prior to moving to Los Angeles. In my case, calling it Sin City is a deep understatement. When I say I lived the Vegas life, I LIVED THE VEGAS LIFE.  I had good times, bad times, and the worse times. I was a socialite like no other and I enjoyed it. I enjoyed it but I was not fulfilled by it. It is a temporary thrill that has no real life changing purpose, at least not in my case.

            Las Vegas has a way of making you feel high as the clouds, and as low as the dirt. I had come to a point where I hit the dirt and was burying myself deeper. I hated my job, I had tons of issues on my shoulders, and I needed more. I turned to the only one I knew who could answer me when I said: “What is my purpose? Please help me find it”.

            One night I was at a friends’ house, waiting for her to get dressed so we could hit those Vegas streets. I was watching an E! special on NeNe Leakes. In the special NeNe goes into detail of how she knew she was a star and knew that things would take off for her one day, despite her trials and tribulations. At that very moment, I heard a voice say, “You are a star. You are not meant to be ordinary. Move to LA”. I could not believe what I was hearing or thinking. Move to LA?? No way man!

            The thought of this voice telling me to move had me so unsettled. I could no longer focus at work. I no longer had a desire to be in Las Vegas anymore, something was pulling on me. I asked God to give me a clear cut, definite sign if this was the move I was supposed to make. Let me tell you, God slapped me dead in the face with a sign that I could not avoid even I tried. The sign made me fall to my knees in tears, thanking and praising Him for the new life I was embarking on. Although I had no real plan, or even a place to live when I drove into LA, I trusted Him, and I’m happier than I could ever be!

            If you wonder where my happiness lies, it’s in faith and in purpose. It feels amazing to be here and having opportunities I never dreamed I would have, had I not been obedient. So many of us get a word from God on what we should do in life, and we question it or ignore it. I am proof, that listening is the best decision. Everyday has not been perfect, but the good out ways the bad by far and I have grown into an even stronger, wiser man. 

He Doesn't Exist

I’ve never been much of a family person. Family is just as deceptive as anyone else, but their deceit just happens to hit closer to home due to blood relation. I’ve built stronger and greater relationships with people that don’t share the same bloodline with me, but showed a level of love and appreciation much greater than I ever expected. With this in mind and how I naturally operate, it’s easy for people to think I’m an only child. The truth is I’m not.  I have three amazing sisters, to whom I did not appreciate the women they are until I became an adult. I also have a brother, however in my world, he doesn’t exist.

In college, I probably thought I was much more tough than I really was. So of course the day my mom calls me and tells me how her son had choice words for her and that he refused to let her see her grandchildren while she was visiting in Florida (for those of you who don’t know my family is from Cleveland, OH) I felt the need to stand up for her, and let him know that he was in the wrong. Naturally, this conversation did not go well.

I can imagine that no older brother wants his younger brother trying to “check” him, but what happened went far beyond this disdain. Amongst threatening to come to Michigan and kill me, he also said “you think you somebody cause you finally got some pussy” as well as “you’re a little faggot”.  Now of course I’m giving you all a short version of the conversation, but this rant went on for at least an hour.

The tears just rolled over my cheeks as I listened. The tears weren’t a source of hurt or pain. Although I was disgusted, I released him out of my heart right then and there. From that day forth he became apart of a list of people I felt nothing for. His entire existence erased from my mind and body. I don’t have a prayer or an inkling of remorse for him.

Now that he has been release from prison after some recent trouble he got in, the entire family acts as if everything is hunky dory. He has crossed basically everyone he has blood relation to, but unlike them I don’t have any forgiveness for him.  My heart is not that soft, and you only get once to threaten my life.  As a man of God, I know I’m supposed to have a heart for forgiveness, but my flesh has already decided and this blog was the last Band-Aid in the healing, or lack thereof, related to this man.  As far as I’m concerned, I’m my mothers’ only son and my sisters’ only brother. 

I Wished I Had A Gun

           I promise, I’m not a violent person. I don’t have anger or self-control issues at all. I’d like to think I have an amazing handle over my emotions and when I feel rage or the burning desire to get mad or lash out, I stop myself and most often take time to pray it off or remove myself from the situation. This particular day that approach was hard. This particular day I didn’t feel in control. This particular day I wanted to reciprocate the hurt and disgust. This particular day, I wished I had a gun.

            It was my last year of college. I lived off campus at the time, but only across the street, so 90% of the time I walked over to campus to get where I needed to go. I was walking through a parking lot just outside of the first year experience dorms. I don’t really remember where I was going, but at the time, getting to my destination was so vital in order to think of something other than my experience walking through this parking lot. 

            I was minding my own business when a car sped past me. The sight of the forest green Dodge Intrepid is forever burned in my mind and the sound of the voices screaming “FAGGOT”, I can never forget. Not to mention, the tone of the passengers saying “Go back, go back” encouraging the driver to circle around me again to further their taunting and laughing, rings in my ears like it happened yesterday.

            I didn’t know these people. I didn’t understand why fellow students of the university who I had never in my life met felt the need to yell obscenities at me. All I felt was the desire to destroy them. I wanted to encompass the same amount of hate for strangers, as they had for me. Whatever they saw in me caused them so much disgust to the point of wanting to verbally abuse me, and I wanted just a taste of that emotion with a weapon in hand so I could retaliate, but that’s just not how God wanted it to be.

            I have only ever spoken of this occurrence once to a very close friend, 5 years after it happened. Even in writing this blog, as much as I feel a certain level of release and possibly a form of salvation for some reader, my heart is racing and my hands are shaking. This situation took a huge toll on my self-confidence and ultimately damaged a major part of my identity. I never felt lower and the only way I even had a chance of building myself back up was burying this memory in the back of my head. If it wasn’t for God confirming that my identity was a divine creation and that in order to reach my purpose I couldn’t let others definition of masculinity deter me, I’d still be living in a character crisis space.  Admittedly, the man I am today still feels a certain level of hurt behind this, but the strength I gained from this is so much more powerful. I will never let another person’s false degradation of me be in control ever again in my life. 

I Think I Found My Wife

He who finds a wife finds a good thing. Such a coveted statement that as men begin reaching a certain age of maturity, they take more and more seriously. Personally, it never meant much to me. In fact, for a majority of my life I was clueless of whether I even wanted to get married. Then the stone of matrimony knocked me over the head and I thought to myself, I think I found my wife.

            Emotionally I’ve always been a fairly disconnected person. I was not good at expressing love for others, like I am today. It’s just something about her, something about the way she moves, speaks, and overall operates that captures all that means “in love” for me.

The beginning. All love affairs start somewhere, but this one didn’t start when we met, or the first time we went on a date.  It was the fall of 2012, I was out of college and had been living in Las Vegas for a few months, but at this particular time I was back in the mid-west visiting my college. After a night of partying with my college homies, I found myself in her bed the next morning. Now before you all jump to conclusions, nothing happened until that morning. In fact, after the initial penetration, I stopped. My flesh wanted so much more but something was not right. Something in our spirits seemed uneasy, like the timing was completely off. I remember that ecstatic feeling and although I am definitely a different man today than I was then, I still have burning curiosity of what it could have or should have been like had we saw things through until the end. But I digress…

The following month she came to visit me in Vegas. I hadn’t had too many visitors at this point, so her stepping up to be one of my first within the first few months of me moving there, was nothing short of impressive. The visit was far from perfect, as we had many ups and downs, but there was perfection in her. I remember vividly one day during her stay in which we spent the whole day together. I couldn’t stop watching her. Her curves and how she was moving and speaking elated me. It was intimacy, I hadn’t experienced before. I recall watching her walk out the door, down the hall, and to my car. I didn’t miss one step she took. I’m pretty sure I was sold at this point.

The spark! Every love affair, or at least the ones I see in romantic comedies, has a spark moment. One night in her Vegas stay I got us on the list at a hot nightclub. We drank, we danced, we kissed, and we genuinely had an amazing time. It’s not often you can find a woman you are attracted to and can have fun with. My want for her, turned into a need, which turned into love in the coming months after this.

So what went wrong? There was definitely fault on both ends in the grand scheme of this story, but ultimately missing the boat of opportunity falls in my lane. I was far too busy trying to “get it” in terms of career and finance to notice true love was looking me dead in my eyes. I showed her no real appreciation, and as I expressed before my emotional disconnection was the burden that kept me from stepping up. By the time I told her how I felt, she was already back to working things out with her ex. At that time I think they had a 4-year history together. Her ability to fight for what and whom she loves is one of her greatest assets, but because it’s not me, I hate it. (LOL)

From that point on it has been a downward spiral. A never-ending dissension of trying! Trying to prove I was the better choice, trying to understand this mutual love we have for each other, and of course, at times, trying to get over her. We still communicate to this day, probably more than we really should. After every conversation or interaction on social media, I question whether I’m putting myself in a position to continuously be hurt. The majority of the time I answer myself with “I don’t really care”. I guess that’s the effect love has on you when you think you’ve found your rib.