With news of Congressman Anthony Weiner’s indiscretions the word “Hung” has frequently been heard. “Hung Over” too entered our conversations. Many asked if he was. “Hung Up” played a powerful role in reflections. “Hung Out to Dry” seems to be the consensus. Crowds of Congressmen and women, citizens from each political Party, and even those who claim no loyalties, say, The Representative must be renounced. Few wish to admit that Anthony Weiner is but you and me.
Supreme Court Justices, who served under Chief Jurist Brennan, perhaps, make three. Any of us might easily say, as the Justices did decades ago; on the subject of obscene or outrageous, “I Know It When I See It.” We each do. Still, the definitions vary.
While few of us are officially appointed to write “codes” of conduct, as the Supreme Court Justices are, we too avidly watch the actions of another and judge.
“That man is hung. He knows it and shows it.” Albeit, not to his friends. He hides. She is often hung over. Yet, she says nothing of her excessive drinking to her loved ones. She hides. I binge. I purge or did for twenty-five years and three months. I devoted sixteen hours a day to this truth. Food was my folly. Discuss my doings with others? I too hid.
We are each hung up. Whether others hang us out to dry or not, everyone has hanged him or herself. We punish ourselves for not being what we think is good enough, smart enough, successful enough, sensational enough, sexy or even sane. Rather than say we are preoccupied with our own self-perceived inadequacies, we act out. Some drink or do drugs in abundance. Countless persons jump from job-to-job or relationship-to-relationship. For most of the latter, this equates to hopping from bed-to-bed. Serial marriages are not uncommon. Multiple sex partners in a lifetime are even more common. Indeed, these are so prevalent people do not think to gossip about what so many of us, do daily. Even those intertwined in wedded bliss belie the notion of monogamy and few blink an eye.
While I indulged in more than my fair share of “intimate” escapades, my chosen weapon for self-destruction was food. No matter how much I ate, which was usually enough for perhaps, fifty persons in a single day, it did not fill me up. I hoped it would; however, food never satisfied my enormous appetite. I was forever hungry! I craved a connection, not to a person, place, or thing. I wanted to feel connected to me . . whatever that might have meant. I was unsure. I only knew that I did not trust that I could ever be what I imagined everyone else was.
Oddly, or unexpectedly enough, what saved me was what I feared the most. I told a very close friend. While I was nowhere near the end of my self-destructive path, I knew I had to reveal what I truly believed all would reject, my flaws, my foibles, in unadulterated honesty, me.
One day, while home, engaged in a conversation with a chum of near fifteen years, I took the plunge. “Cher,” I said with much hesitation “I need to tell you something.” Even now, years later, I remember the wave of anxiety that swept over me at the time. As close as I was to Cher, and by the way I still am, I was sure she would reject me. Nonetheless, I took a deep breath. I sat down on the stairs in my home. I needed to. I did not think my legs would support me if I stood.
I clutched the telephone, looked down, and began to speak. I do not remember a word I said. All I recall was how certain I was; Cher would lose all respect for me. She would be critical. She could never understand. In truth, nor could I. Again, I was wrong, thankfully.
All that I assumed Cher would think, say, do, and feel, she never did.
Cher was there for me, with me. I smile when I think of how much closer we have become. Before that conversation, Cher had expressed astonishment at the reality of our friendship: She and I were so tight, now more so.
But the depth and details of that story are ones for another day. In contrast, what I went through, or imagined I would, could not begin to compare with the agony Barry anticipated. His transgressions, oh my. Please ponder the tale.
A good friend, a successful man in his early sixties, Barry spent his entire adult life behind bars. He was imprisoned by his sense of self. In his pre-teen years, possibly as late as the age of sixteen, he had done a wrong. Barry molested his younger sister.
At the time, he was a good Catholic boy. He attended Catholic schools all his life. His family was active in their neighborhood Parish. Barry was not rebellious, or a rabble-rouser. He did not rant, rage; nor did he reject his teachings.
Barry grew up in a home where sex was never discussed. Demonstrative gestures were not placed on view. His parents were forever proper. Barry, in pre-puberty and his adolescent years was confused when he felt sexual feelings. He was certain these were sinful. Indeed, he believed his very essence was an error. Barry felt as though he was the scourge of the Earth, the devil incarnate. He wanted so much to understand, to speak with someone, any one, but whom.
Conversations on the subjects of sex nay sexuality were never heard in his home. The church offered no answers. Certainly, shamed by the sensations, he felt he could not discuss the topic with classmates. There was no one he trusted to chat with or to. Hence, Barry acted out. He acted on what overwhelmed him, raging hormones, inner conflicts, and his confusion. When his younger sister, Rena, was asleep, he entered her room and her body. Ultimately, the young man felt more miserable, less deserving of the life given to him than he had before he did such a dastardly deed.
The boyish-man, a mere innocent child, thought the girl would tell their parents. Barry imagined this would open the door to the conversations he craved. Rena never said a word about what occurred, not to her mother, her father, or her brother. Barry wondered; did she never know what he did? The wonder gnawed at him. Barry could not continue to do as he had done whether Rena was awake or not. He sealed his soul in silence, as he later learned Rena had.
Indeed, the “girl” did not speak of the events for eons. The five or more times Barry penetrated her being became his secret. That is, until Rena was in her late fifties. Barry’s sister, silent, as he was for all those decades spoke up.
While neither expressed the pain in words before, it was now obvious. Each experienced their hurts in great depth. Throughout the course of their lives, the two had dived deeper into all that distracted them.
Barry and Rena excelled in school. The pair showed, or pretended to show the world and themselves that they were good, or at least good enough. On the surface the brother and sister soared. Parents, whose mere disapproval could do more damage, for all those years, never knew. Nor would anyone else.
Others opinion of us can cut to the core. Our opinions of ourselves cut deeper. Wounds, while not visible, scar a soul. Rena and Barry surmised they could sear the lesion. Still, blood was spilled in the form of tears and fears. Facades were erected in hopes that these would serve to protect fragile hearts.
The brother and sister built prominent, professional résumés. In their chosen careers, the siblings achieved great success. Both married, grew their families, formed fine images. Yet, neither felt whole. The two hid . . . from others and themselves.
Food became their friends, more so than mates. All that mattered was the need to hide. Silence and secrets sealed their fate. At home, at work, with family, and the few friends each had, neither was happy. Rena and Barry were as they are, or would be until the day the dam broke.
When Rena opened up, she instantly blamed Barry for her plight. Likely she had for all those years. Rena did not know that Barry too placed the onus on himself. He took full responsibility and does.
Today, just as I had done earlier, as Anthony Weiner did days ago, Barry works to share what he created, a casket for himself. More significantly, he has risen from the dead. Barry opened the door and invited his sister in. He asked for a conversation. Rena said no. In actuality, she wrote this in a mail. Rena wants no contact. She does not wish to discuss what was or is with anyone. While she has made some changes in her life… by all appearances, her circumstances remain the same.
However, Barry, while devastated at first, slowly found himself. Barry said to me, someone he thought of as his one close friend, that he had been haunted by this incident forever. He recalled and reflected on the similarities of our experiences. I too hid my self-destructive behavior for a very long time. Granted, I chose to speak of it before my recklessness became known. Still, once the secret was out in the open I was freed.
Barry remembered how my life changed, or my sense of self did, once Cher knew me at my worse. He wanted that strength for himself. Barry began to look at every aspect of his life. He mused as his favorite musician had; If you are not busy being born, you are busy dying.” Bobby D and Barry. Indeed. Barry chose to get busy, to thrive rather than merely survive.
Little by little he sought solace in other than food [What only Barry knew of in the past was also revealed and rejected. The sort of sex, which might be defined as debauched, was left behind. Drink to drunkenness was another habit forfeited.] All was replaced with revelation. First Barry needed to introduce himself to himself. The wounded wonder for the being he was had been so severely depressed, Barry had blindly walked through his life. He was uncertain; who might Barry be.
The process was and is painstakingly measured. Each step was evaluated. Barry stumbled. He fell. Then, as a Phoenix, he rose again. Today, the more Barry tells the tale the more empowered he feels. He had never realized the power to punish was his alone. Only he could hurt himself as he had.
Just as I discovered when I shared my truth with Cher, Barry exclaims, the people who love and like you for who you are, as you are, are those well-aware of your every flaw, foible, and failure. Indeed, that is the reason others appreciate you as they do. You are you; he is he. I am me. As silly as it seems, we each are or have been self-destructive at times.
Still, as individuals we are unique. That is truly special. Our experiences teach us, and those we touch. Were any of us to ever admit to ourselves that the strong are vulnerable, were we to value that vulnerability, perchance none of us would engage as we do, in lurid behaviors.
Insecure? Nay few show it aloud. Yet, each of us is. “Regrettable” actions? Guilty as charged. Congressman Anthony Weiner owned his. The Representative has availed himself of an opportunity to learn, grow, and glow greater. He has found, just as Barry and I did, the persons’, who had cared for him most, still do. Might you? Might you see yourself in another human, one who was self-destructive and has decided to walk the road to recovery? Will you?
References. Realities. Resources . . .
- Movie Day at the Supreme Court or “I Know It When I See It”: A History of the Definition of Obscenity.“By Judith A. Silver. FindLaw. 2003.
- Anthony Weiner’s Perfect Plot for a ‘Hangover’-style Movie. By James Hirsen .
- Jacobellis v. Ohio, 378 U.S. 184 (1964) United States Supreme Court.
- The TV Column: Jon Stewart pulls a deft reversal with cutting Weiner satire. By Lisa de Moraes. The Washington Post. June 9, 2011
- Anorexia. Bulimia. By Betsy L. Angert. BeThink
- Five Reasons Weiner Might Survive – and Five He Might Not, By Michael Shear. The New York Times. June 7, 2011
- Full Text: Anthony Weiner’s Sexting Apology. International Business Times. June 7, 2011