A setting sun
Strum wise guitar
Don’t look back
You won’t get far
A light in the window
Homeward bound amen
Pretty life for a picture
The stars rise again
Three little words
A man pays his debts
Love keeps you honest
A setting sun
Strum wise guitar
Don’t look back
You won’t get far
A light in the window
Homeward bound amen
Pretty life for a picture
The stars rise again
Three little words
A man pays his debts
Love keeps you honest
My parent’s divorce was tumultuous. Marked by anger and fueled by passion, they fought constantly. Roger, my birth father, and my mother Pamela were kids when they got married and had me. My conception and their union was their unconscious way of solving the problems that existed in their relationship. I don’t remember every fight or even how long the divorce took, but I recall the feeling of unease and uncertainty I felt. As adults, we think children are oblivious to the grownup problems that we play out in front of them. But that is not true; children are highly observant and intuitive. However, despite this, most kids do not realize what it is they are experiencing; the details of the fight, who said what, all of that is over their head.
What does translate for the child is the feeling of the situation. Safe versus unsafe, love versus anger, sadness versus happiness, these are the things children interpret at a very young age. The big fight that I remember the most took place when I was around two years old. It was winter, and the snow fell like an avalanche from the heavens. We lived in a small duplex in Eagle River Alaska. The place had course and dark short fibered carpet, the wood paneling on the walls had a golden urine tint to it, and the lights were always dim which left a depression in the air. It was not a cheery space, nor was it a happy home.
I was sitting on the living room floor staring in bewilderment at my mom and dad standing in the kitchen screaming at each other. Their voices, their words, they all just fused together in one loud, angry cacophony. I felt stuck and helpless. The image that sticks in my head the most is that of my mother pinned against the fridge while she tried to hit my dad. He grasped her wrists tight and slammed her against it to keep her from attacking him. My mother was fierce in her anger and my father steadfast and stubborn with his. Thunderous booms sounded as their fists made contact. I didn’t know what to do, or what was happening, but I was sad, so I started to cry. Something any child would do, something my parents were doing right in front of me through hostile screams and physical assaults.
But my crying was too much for my dad, he stopped fighting with my mother and got right up in my face and as loud as he possibly could, and with all the anger built up in his body from the fight with my mom, he screamed at me, “STOP CRYING!” He then dragged my mother into the bedroom, slamming the door shut and leaving me all alone to cry by myself as I listened to the thuds and wails of the two of them torturing one another in the other room. This fight was not the first time or the last time I would hear these words come out of one of my parent’s mouths.
My emotions just made my dad uncomfortable because he had been taught that men do not show their pain or feelings. At some point, I learned to stop crying around him. For my mother, who was hyper-emotional and overly caring, my tears caused her a great sense of guilt. She could not see me cry if it was something she could not fix for me. It caused her too much pain to not be able to relieve her child’s emotional burden. Either way, I was taught at a young age that crying was not okay at all around my dad, but okay in some superficial situations around my mother. She could handle a broken-hearted little me; she was accepting if I cried from a scraped knee or a sad movie. However, the thick emotional pain trauma from the fighting of theirs that I witnessed, the shame I felt around my sexual confusion at such a young age, the bullying that was happening to me by my peers where all things that made me cry and that she could not fix and therefore could not handle.
I remember many times in my life that deserved a therapeutic cry. My stepfather’s death was particularly heart-breaking for all of us, but the tears just would not flow for me. Of course, I was sad, mad, confused, and I wanted to cry; I needed to release the pain I felt but had no release. I can recount many other times that I wanted to cry, but could not. It was not until the second rehab I went to that my very insightful therapist pointed out to me the correlation between this memory of my parents fighting and the words “stop crying” that I had heard so many times. I explained to her that I wanted to cry about certain things, but that once the swell of emotion would start, and I would be on the brink of tears all at once it would end without a single drop of salty water from my sad eyes.
I thought about and processed what my therapist had said; it felt so right. She had pinpointed my inability to cry; traced it back to my early childhood, but I still had no solution to my crying problem. On my next phone break, we got thirty minutes a day if we behaved, I called my mom and spoke to her about my therapy session. She broke down crying, of course. She apologized for stifling my tears so many times when I needed to express my internal suffering externally. This conversation was healing and did open up an emotional barrier that had built up by the words “stop crying. ” All though, it was not until a recent trip to Mexico where I did toad DMT with a Shamen that I was finally able to demolish the emotional barricade that had been holding back years of tears for me. But that’s a story for another time.
Crying is healthy. Emotions are safe to feel. Feelings are not facts, but they surely need acknowledgment. We are too shut off from our emotions, and yet we let them run our lives blindly. If instead of stuffing your pain down inside, you accepted it and allowed yourself to feel it, the healing that would occur for you would be truly transformational. The pain body, both your own and the collective generational and global human pain body, feeds off of suffering and bottled up emotions. Placing shame on them, and not allowing yourself to cry and express them is what causes so much unresolved pain and ultimately disease in our bodies. Do me, yourself, and the world a huge favor, have a good fucking cry.
Shatters of His light
Don’t fret God
I see you
What is time really
But our toy
Push and pull
Hands grasp joy
Now is my moment
Peace is mine
Get up man
Time to shine
The radiant star
Guides my way
Love is mine
Lead my way
Points so sharp
It turns stale
Her pride and joy
A little boy lost
What the hell
Top the world
To die again
What went wrong
Dead from the start
Will always fail
High in clouds
Show me how
Now its my turn
Dare me baby
Fuck this feels good
Now let me die
Broken to pieces
So much pain
Dare not say
A hearts memory
Did we lie
Stars in eyes
We did die
An eye for an eye
Life’s big joke
It can’t be
My heart broke
Beads of sweat rolled down my small back, the sun’s flare was hot, but there was a fresh wind coming off the mountains. Summer in Alaska was nothing if not spectacular. After months of massive snow, followed by slush and silt, combined with the everlasting winter shadow, we welcomed the return of summer’s glory by being outside as much as possible. My cousin Sherri and I frequently bounced and bolted around her front and back yards playing childish games of joy.
But this one particular summer day was a significant milestone in my journey through life, especially for a five-year-old. My mother was at work and my aunt Gayle was watching us. Or maybe it was my uncle, Paul. Either way, at some point we were told to come inside.
“Sherri, Cameron, get in the house.” either aunt Gayle or uncle Paul said.
Our eyes widened, our hearts skipped a beat as our two little minds began to wonder what was happening.
“Could it be candy?” I said eagerly.
” A puppy!?”
“Sherri you have Muffy.”
We went inside with jubilance, waiting for our big surprise. It was bigger than anything we could have imagined. Huge! Aunt Gayle, or uncle Paul, had to run a quick errand. I wish I could say I remembered where, but I am sure it was important. However, their reason was nothing compared to our bliss. To be left alone with the responsibility to watch yourself, was something I remember longing after. Sherri was the most confident it would go well, she was six and rather tough for a little kid and entirely pragmatic. I was not so sure, despite my natural excitement, that we would be able to handle ourselves. Would we be safe? What if I burnt my hand on the stove again? What if someone killed us?! These sort of thoughts often ran through my creative little head.
“Stay inside and keep the doors locked, don’t answer for anyone but Pam or me.”
We nodded earnestly and shooed her or him out the door. We looked at each other; there were so many possibilities to explore.
“What do you want to play?”
“I know a secret,” Sherri smirked.
She walked across the living room to the couch. It had a velvety consistency, which I have always hated. I remember it being this mustard gold color that sheened in the light of the sun’s beams. Perhaps there were big flowers, possibly patterns of magnolias, splattered across it. But who knows, that’s just what I remember.
Sherri lifted up the middle cushion and taped underneath was a big fucking bag of weed. My brow furrowed and my stomach was a giant knot, but Sherri just smiled. Drugs were bad. That’s what mom told me. And though I did not know what pot was or looked like, I knew what was in that bag was for adults only. She lowered the cushion back down, hiding the pot once again.
“You smoke it, I’ve sneaked up on dad doing it.”
The idea seemed bizarre to me. But I followed as Sherri led me into the back sunroom, slash office space, that was attached to her parent’s bedroom. The room felt like an Easy Bake Oven. Sherri pushed a rolling chair to the closet and got up on it; she reached up onto the top shelf, stretching her arm as long as was necessary, and pulled down a little tiki-man bubbler. There was something inside, just some old bowl burned and ashy, but Sherri lit it and tried to hit it. Barely any smoke came out. Then she passed it to me. I hardly sucked, if at all. I don’t remember any smoke coming out.
Suddenly Sherri looked me dead square in the eyes. Our two pairs widened as she stared into my soul.
“Don’t tell anyone this, not even your mom. Promise?”
I promised. Sherri climbed back up the precarious perch she managed to stabilize with one hand while putting the tiki-man back up on the shelf with the other. But then, we heard a knock on the front door; in a flash, we were back in the living room being good little children. It was my mom there to pick me up. I was always excited to see her, but this time was especially comforting.
“How’s my little man?”
“Good,” she didn’t believe me, I could tell.
“Sherri, give us a second sweety, go play in your room.”
Sherri gave me the look of death while she did as she was told. My mother pressed slightly, and I exploded with information. I possibly cried, but I definitely broke my promise to Sherri never to tell anyone. A fact she still gives me shit for, and one that we laugh about, to this day.
This memory was my first encounter with a drug; I have had many more since this experience. My life has gone up and down and sometimes zig-zags in patterns of addiction. Whether this moment has been significant in my life’s drug use, or lack of use sometimes, I may never know or fully understand. But I trust I remember it for a very purposeful reason.
ATTENTION: No memories were harmed in the writing of this post, and hopefully no feelings either. All points of view are that of the writer’s, so they are as accurate as possible, which is very accurate. Lol.
My entire life have been told I was gay. “Oh, Cameron’s a special little boy.” “He is too soft.” “Why does he play with dolls?” “You act like a girl.” You’re gay Cameron, faggot!” These words embedded themselves in my psyche at a young age. The second memory I want to share with you is when I was two years old and going to a very religious preschool.
It was show-and-tell day and I was so excited to bring in my new favorite toys. My father spent every other weekend with me, and for lack of knowing what to do, he would take me to Chucky Cheeses. I loved it! The flashing lights and the clink-clank of the games, the whooping and whirling of sounds from bright colored electronic boxes, the sweet and salty smell of cheap pizza, and the laughter of my fellow kids brought so much joy to my young heart that it made me happy to be with my dad. Which was a rare occasion to say the least. He liked giving me wet willies, yuck!
But Chucky Cheeses was our place, a spot in the world that allowed us to be the typical father and son. Well, at least until it came time for me to cash in my tickets and claim my prizes. I knew it the moment I saw them, these little plastic toy unicorns with colored manes and tails. I picked out the green and purple ones. My father was hardly amused as he had pushed me to get the little foam football, thoughts of bonding over sports flooded his head as I handed over my tickets and got my new prized possessions. I’ll say this about my father, he may not have liked how I was, but he always loved me despite my softer tendencies.
So there I was, show and tell day at school and I was bursting with jubilation to share my unicorns with the class! I patiently waited for my turn, smiling as the other kids shared their prized toys; all the while believing I had the best things to show and everyone would think so too. Finally, my turn to share came, and I jumped up and pulled the unicorns out of my pockets. I told them about how my dad and I had gone to Chucky Cheeses and how I had got the unicorns with all the tickets I had won.
The reviews were mixed. Of course, the girls oohed and awed over them, while most of the boys seemed indifferent to my little treasures. I was shocked that not everyone thought my unicorns were the most significant thing they had ever seen. But shock turned to confusion and shame quickly when my teacher yanked them out of my hands and pulled me into the office. She sat me down, placing my unicorns on her desk, she called my father. “Yes, Mr. Denny? Hi, this is Mrs. (whatever her stupid name was), Cameron’s teacher, and I am calling about your son and his show-and-tell items he brought in today. Yes, those unicorns. Mr. Denny, I’m afraid you must come pick up your son. We can no longer have him attend our school. Well, he is going to be gay, and we cannot have him infect the other children with his gayness.”
I don’t know what my father said on his end, but I know I felt so much shame. I didn’t know that’s what I was feeling then, of course, I just felt sick and wrong, like I was evil. I waited in the office with the office lady as I called her, my precious unicorns in plain sight and just out of reach. The office lady would check and then to make sure the evil gay little boy hadn’t started a big homosexual fire in their holy church, grimacing as she looked at me. I just wanted to go home. My mom had custody of me, so she came and picked me up.
When we got to the car my mom gave me my unicorns, she held her fury at the school back, showing me her unconditional love and support for who I was. I cried, I didn’t understand what I had done wrong. But I knew I was terrible and wrong because of it. My dad was not happy that my mom was raising a gay son. As if she had any control over my sexuality or that a little two-year-old boy could even comprehend being gay. There I was two years old and labeled gay. A label that caused my father to take my mother to court to get full custody of me. It was a label that was forced on me for the rest of my young life into adulthood.
My mother ultimately remained my primary parent and caregiver. But the seeds had been planted, and I now doubted who I was. I even told my mom that I felt like a girl inside. But did I? Could I even begin to understand what any of that meant at two years old? I couldn’t even read yet or say the world “spahyetti”, yet I was already gay. But I liked girls and had so many crushes growing up. However, because of my soft nature, I was defined by most kids and adults as being gay. If people tell you something about yourself long enough, and you don’t have the strength of character and sense of self to claim your real truth, then the realities of others eventually become your identity. At least that’s what happened to me.
Labels are stupid. Sure, they serve some purpose, but to label someone as something based on your opinion of their sexuality is beyond disgusting and unfair. It’s almost criminal because you are robbing them of the right to decide who they are. I spent nearly half my life fighting internally with my supposed gayness and honest attraction for men. The older I got, the stronger my attraction for men became and the more I was called gay. So I took that label on, made it my own, and believed the words of others because I didn’t know myself well enough to say, “No! I’m not gay, I don’t know what I am, and I refuse to label my sexuality!” That would have been a profound statement from a little boy and even a teenager.
At 31 I have come out of the gay closet and realized I like women and men. But it goes beyond that; I am attracted to people that are beautiful inside and out. Call it fluid, call it pansexual, go ahead label me. But I won’t wear your labels any longer. The only label I will ever wear is “me.”
My childhood was not perfect; I see that now as an adult looking back on my life. Even with its imperfections, it was so special and filled with love. There is nothing in the world that I would trade for my childhood experience. The blog you are reading is the story of my childhood. It will be an ongoing collection of short stories about the memories I have from my childhood. I will tell you an honest and deeply personal story; I will do my best to be as accurate as possible when it comes to the words and actions of the people in my life. Welcome to my childhood!
My earliest memory is of the home we lived in when I was two months old and living in Anchorage Alaska.
“Cameron Thomas Denny you’re my bright and shiny penny, and I love you.”
My mother was singing softly to me those words, as she would do the rest of my life. Nestled into her bosom, centered in the safety of a mothers love I become conscious of the connection we shared. It is a connection that has never wavered. The smell of freshly baked banana nut bread embraced every corner of the house. To this day when that smell enters my nostrils a deep and powerful sense of safety and home engulfs my body.
I remember eating hardboiled eggs that day too. A flash of a memory of something that seems absurd for only being two months old, but I remember it. But why do I remember these things? What about these moments made them so profound that they have stuck with me for thirty-one years of life, and after all the drugs too.
The one glimpse into the meaning behind this memory is that it foreshadowed my whole life so far. While my mother nurtured me, sang to me about my value, and made impactful sense memories for me to have years to come, my father inflated his new yellow river raft in the living room. The action of this was of course, not some horrible offense, he was excited about his new toy. He always got new toys. He did love me; he does love me.
And yet, this dynamic continued to play out all through my childhood. My mother gave herself endlessly to me, while my father doubted he knew how to raise me, how to connect with me. He would hold me, and I would cry and cry. He told my mom he thought I hated him. She would reassure him babies do not hate, they only love, but insecurities from his past and relationship with his father got in the way. The behavior he manifested was of course not his fault, not entirely anyway.
Despite this rift and polarized relationship modalities with my parents, they still established a foundation for me that ultimately led me to a profound future through a blessed life. In fact, at some point my father stepped aside and allowed David, my stepdad, to represent “dad” to me in totality. I hadn’t realized until just now writing this what a poignant sacrifice my birth father made for me. David was such a pivotal part of my development into the man I am today. I must call and thank my father for his sacrifice. He deserves to know, I mean I exist because of him.