Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Other Closet

As I sign into this blog every time I post a new entry, I type in the url..."thedarkestcloset". It got me to thinking about the title and why I selected it. It was over a year and a half ago that I began this blog and when I created it, I had no idea what it would hold or in all actuality, why I was evening writing it. When the box appeared asking for a title, I didn't sit and ponder for very long. The concept of "closet" popped into my mind and I simply went with it.

Over the past several weeks, I've been giving the word "closet" some thought and realized that it is a very apt title for this blog...and my life. It probably came to my mind while I was talking to my men's Bible study two weeks ago and I told them that when I think about my life five years ago and the following three years in prison, my natural self wants to put that memory in the deepest closet in the house, lock the door and then double padlock it and then cover that door with a six inch solid steel door so that no one (myself included) could ever get to it. But God has other plans for my life and my story, but that is for another time.

As I think about "closet" and my own life, a number of similarities have emerged for me. The first is that closets are often times hiding places. When we are children and we play "hide and seek", one of the common places that we like to hide in is the closet. We try to squish ourselves into the deepest recesses behind the long fur coat so we can't be seen.

That was my life. At every opportunity, I tried to hide. Often times it was in plain sight, but nonetheless, I was hiding. It might have been in a book or inside of a football uniform. At other times, it was behind a drunken haze. But in each case, I was hiding. I think in my own mind, if I didn't have to look at the real me...if I could hide it, then my demons weren't real. My sadness belonged to someone else.

Closets also bring to mind the concept of fantasy and make believe. One of my favorite movies is "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe". In the story, the children find an old wardrobe (a precursor to the closet) and it takes them to a different world...to Narnia. I remember the closet in my mom and dad's bedroom. Tucked away in the corner were my dad's Army uniforms. I remember as a young boy looking at them and putting on his jacket (I don't think he knew I was doing this). I would pretend to be a soldier...a hero of some type.

Five years ago, my life was full of fantasy. I was living a secret life where I was pretending to be someone I wasn't...and never could be. A young teenage boy. And in this fantasy life, I was creating fantasy relationships with other teenage boys. The fantasy would become so real at times that I would wake up in the middle of the night and realize that I was actually 48 years old and wish with all of my heart that I was actually that 14-15 year old boy. It wasn't that my life was bad and I needed to escape it...it was more that the fantasy was a life that I didn't get to have and that in some way I was trying to relive.

Closets are also dark places...and my life was so dark that it was nearly impossible for true light to penetrate it. It was full of deceit and lies...and immorality and lust. And because I knew that everything that I was doing was wrong, I tried with all my skills to keep them out of the light. And I was pretty successful for nearly three and a half years. But as God tells us in His Word, the light will always reveal what happens in the dark...and it definitely did in my life.

The last correlation that I made between my life and closets were the secrets. Because closets are small, closed spaces, they are an easy place for secrets. My dad hid some of his pornography in his closet. I'm not sure if it was there to keep it a secret from mom...or from us boys. My folks kept all of their private papers in their closet as well...including the papers that would reveal that my sister actually had a different father than my brothers and I did. I've heard stories where people will sneak into a closet at a party for a quick kiss...or more...because they don't want to be seen by their spouses.

For me, I think this last relationship is the most powerful. My life was so full of secrets! Some of them, I didn't even recognize for a long time. Things that happened to me as a boy that I was too ashamed (or afraid) to tell anyone. My feelings about trust that I simply didn't understand. My confusion over sexuality and my struggle with appropriate feelings of affection for other males. So many secrets that were so easy to keep hidden in my own little closet.

But through my writing, the closet is getting broken down. The door has been opened and taken off its hinges so that pure light can enter. It is still working to penetrate some of the deepest corners of my closet, but it is slowly getting there. And for me, the darkness is passing away to reveal a life of hope...and purpose...and truth.

Photos from Flickr

1 comment:

Deb Shucka said...

Great great metaphor and vivid writing. What about the other name, "The Other Closet"?

I love that the door is open now. I'm so proud of you for not giving in to the voice that invites you to lock it all away. Shame can only grow in darkness, and your willingness to live in the light keeps it away.