I Can’t Be That Way

At last there is anger.
After 2 years,
I finally can face,
And deal with,
What happened
In 2010.

When I was throw away.
By people I once trusted.
Because I was different.
Because I changed.
Because I didn’t do things
Their way.

I used to say,
“No one’s to blame.”
I don’t say that
Anymore.

Someone I believed was my friend
Became ill.
Cancer.
And I did something
No one there,
Not even her,
Could live with,
Or forgive.

I cared.

I told my job responsibilities
To stuff it.
I picked up pen and paper.
And I wrote.
I lost sleep at night.
Because I cared
For her.

And in the end,
Despite the simple truth
That I never failed,
Not even once,
To do the work
I was tasked to do.

I was removed.
Unloaded.
Purged.
Gotten rid of.

I was told about the anger
Those people expressed
About the words I wrote
In those days.
When I was betrayed.
By a world
I’ll never understand.
A world
I don’t want to understand.
A world
Of gray.
Of ice.
Of stone.

Not even one of them
Understood
All the things I did.
All the things I said.

To me, it was as if
The only thing they cared about
Was the work itself.
And the paycheck they collected
Every 14 days.
If someone became injured.
Someone became sick.
Someone died in an accident.

Who cared?
Every last person
In that awful place
Would have shown up
The next day.
And done their job.
And maybe sang that song.
“Another one bites the dust.”

But there’s more.
So much more.
To the anger I am feeling
On this day.

Did you know
I went to a church
On the first Sunday in May
Of 2011?
I did.
A brand new church.
A place I’d never been.

I was willing
To try to make
A new start again.

In November of 2011,
I walked away.
I left.
Without a single word.
Because I had to.
I had no choice.
If I’d stayed,
I’d have faced
The same gray
Ice and stone
That filled the place
Where I once worked.

I left an old friend
I’d crossed paths with
In that church,
On my friends list
On Facebook.

But I warned her.
I did.
That I’d never be the way
She wanted me to be.
That I’d always do and say
Things that flew in the face
Of her beliefs
And ways.

And I told her
In the end.
She’d walk away.
Like almost everyone
I’ve ever known.

It took a few months.
But she did.
Because she couldn’t accept
How I am.
What I believe.
How I live.

I remember all the times
Someone said to me,
In a shocked,
Or outraged voice.

“But, you can’t live that way!”
“But, you can’t be that way!”

It took me 53 years.
But at last I understand
Why I keep encountering
Those words.

It’s not that I can’t bet the way
I am.
Not that I can’t live the way
I do.
It’s not that I am broken.
Or confused.
Or emotionally
Or mentally ill.

It’s not that at all.
And it never was.

It’s that I don’t see,
Don’t feel,
And just don’t know,
The social code they live by.

I live the way my mind,
My heart,
My soul,
Tell me to live.

And my mind,
My heart,
My soul
Tell me to this day
That everything I did
In 2010,
When someone I called friend
Was ill,
And fighting to survive,
Was absolutely right.

I did what I believed
Back then.
And I’d do it all again
Today.

And I don’t care
That there are people in this world
That are afraid of me.
Because I do things
Differently
From them.

I’ve learned
In the past two years.
I have to be
What my mind,
My heart,
My soul,
Would have me be.

There’s one more thing
I’ll say right now.
About a picture
On Facebook
A week or two ago.

That picture caused me anger.
It struck at my very heart
And soul.
It described
So very accurately
What I saw.
What I learned.
Two years ago.

That picture spoke of friends.
How we’d root for them.
How we’d hug them.
Eat lunch with them.
Do anything we could
To take care of them.

Until…

Taking care of them
Put any risk at all
On our own lives,
Our own jobs,
Our families and friends.

Until…

Caring became
Inconvenient.
And could cause us
Any pain at all.

I bit my tongue.
I took a walk.
I took pictures of flowers.
I spoke to my Doctor
About the words I’d read.

And I told my doctor
They were wrong.
Those words,
To me,
Described
Everything that’s wrong today
In the world
Of stone,
And ice,
And gray.

My doctor knows.
My family too.
I can’t live like that.

I can’t be that way.

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3 thoughts on “I Can’t Be That Way

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