what we love is what we hope is who we are

abstract image of two intense green and blue orbs against a bright orange background
lightly edited photograph of my bathroom window

For most of my life, I felt disconnected and adrift. My childhood was marked by abuse and neglect. I never felt like I belonged to my birth family. The thing I remember most about being young is the longing I felt, though I knew not for what. I carried a dark secret into my forties, until it almost crushed me under its weight. I was a walking black hole of confusion and beaucoup disarray.

The one thing, and I mean the one and only thing, my mother ever did for me was to introduce me to therapy. This is not exaggeration. She was a stranger to me until the end of her life. But therapy is ultimately what saved me. Years of it. I was lucky to have found some amazing therapists who became my collective mentors. The primary function they served for me was that they listened. That they accepted me. That they saw me. Sure, I received a lot of great advice, but in other ways, they provided me a modicum of the parenting I didn't receive as a child.

what we love is but
a reflection of what
we hope to be

what we hope to be is but
a reflection of what
once we were

when we are brought
into this world
we are more

than we will ever be
until the return
to love at the end

the love that is
the only thing
that matters

everything betwixt
and between
is a shadow

destined to fade
into the

When, in therapy, I started to remember, when I began to approach my inner earth, my core of loss and pain, I was then introduced to the organization, to the people, to the comrades, that would enable my recovery and my return. That would introduce me to my tribe: The Club That Nobody Wants to Belong To.

I was terrified as my first Weekend of Recovery approached. I frame it that way, because I felt then, and feel now, that it was they who found me, not I who found them. Showing up to that weekend was the hardest thing I've ever done. And I will never forget it. I will never forget them. My fellow male survivors.

I waited as long as I could before entering the room. I was prepared for it. The people who ran things knew what they were doing. I felt safe. But still, I trembled, I hesitated, and I was afraid. I felt like I was walking back into a life that I had long ago abandoned. That I was about to be re-introduced to someone I had long ago forsaken, forgotten.

The image is burned and seared. Into my brain. I treasure it. I will never let it go. I was the last man to enter the room. I opened the door and entered. I looked and I saw... a circle of chairs occupied by men who were not like me. I looked and I saw... men who were just like me. It was the first time in my life that I thought the words, "I am not alone."

who we love is but
a reflection of who
we hope to be

who we hope to be is but
a reflection of who
once we were

we are not alone
i am not alone
you are not alone