When I was a preacher, this last week used to be called Holy Week. It has been anything but that in some ways and sacred to me in others. I fought for my job by fighting the ghosts I have lived with, went prom suit shopping with my son, and stopped caring about some things I should not care about. There was also an easter egg. In all of this, there have been realizations and changes of focus.
It all started with the beginning of this week at the new job. It was made clear to me that if I did not get better at selling these walk in baths, I might be looking for a new job. Since I have left ministry, sales jobs is what I have been relegated to. I have tried to get into other things.
As a pastor you are an executive, marketer, payroll administrator, hr director, and much more. But try explaining that to people who look at a degree in the Bible like you graduated from Hogwarts. Additionally, there is no good answer to anyone as to why you are not a minister anymore. I could look at them and say the truth. My kid came out, my marriage fell apart, and my belief in god went bye bye. Tried that once. Did not work. So sales jobs and driving a taxi seems to be what I am qualified to do.
On Monday I went out to my appointment with nothing but dread and I bombed. I emailed my results and started to drive home. I get a call from my boss’ boss wanting to talk to me. He asked me some questions about the appointment and made some astute observations.
Then he starts asking some personal questions. Next thing you know I am talking about my divorce five years ago and my kid and a bunch of other things. He told me that I was defining myself by my failures and living in fear. He was right. Then he hit me with something else. “Look, man, if you are gonna fail, wouldn’t you rather fail on your terms? These people call us to see the product and we sent you in. Pat Mother F***ing Green. And you hold back and are less than fully you. If I fired you tonight, would you feel you did your best?”
“Then be you. Fail on your terms. All that sh*t you are hanging onto. All those mistakes. No one else cares. No one else gives a shi*t. Only you do. Stop caring. Get that sh*t off the table and go out on your terms.”
By the end of the conversation I am sitting in the parking lot of my condo on the verge of tears and trying to hold it back. He could tell. He told me to let it all go, get it all out, and come back swinging.
I have not written all this week, I have not posted much on social media, and I have not done much in the way of art. My fiancee’ has been in Florida all week helping her parents. So I have been focusing on work and killing the ghosts I live with and care about too much.
I have been present in the moment and that is all I can do. If I shower, all there is is the shower. If I shave, it is one blade stroke at a time. When I get in the car and drive to my appointments I am not attached to the results. I just brushed the dust off my old iPod and put together playlists of rock songs from my era. Bon Jovi, Phil Collins, Bruce Springsteen and others give me hard drums, solid bass, and screaming guitars. Every time fear crept in I told it to go take a flying leap and die. Murdering ghosts is hard work. Not caring about things that no one else cares about is harder than it sounds.
But I gave those people my best and my all. I was fully me. I failed on my terms by closing between 33% and 40% this week. I am still on the schedule. I weathered the storm. I have a shot at earning a living. And my entire view is changed. On Friday, the ghosts died. They will try to rise as ghosts do, but they will die again.
Saturday Shopping Spree For Prom and More
I had my son this weekend. After I was done with work on Friday we spent some time together. After he went to bed, I finally had my 11th hour framing for a gallery opening I have coming up. Saturday is the last day to turn in my framed art work. The first piece I had framed and matted in no time at all. The second one was larger. 16×20 print. I framed it at 1 am only to see that the print had become scratched somehow.
So Saturday was me making a mad dash to get a new print done without having to resort to a drug store CVS type photo processor so I can get my art dropped off. My son goes with me on a magical mystery tour of me getting a new print made, then we rushed to the gallery where I framed the large piece there on the spot. After that was done we had a late lunch and then I kept my promise to him. We went shopping.
The picture does not show the full outfit. The full outfit is what you see in the photo along with a black tie, silver tie clip, and a 2 tone jacket that has a rather 50’s retro look to it.
The beginning was at Kohl’s. This was where we got everything but the jacket. The first shirt he tried on turned out to be “athletic slim cut” which meant it had a lycra material in it that made it cling. The form fitting nature of the shirt revealed the breasts more obviously than either of us had seen in a long time. When he came out of the dressing room we realized we needed to get a standard cut dress shirt. But there was a problem.
An older white gentleman with a flannel shirt and a hard face noticed the clingy shirt. I have seen dressing room and public bathroom horror stories online, but never experienced one. There was something about the look on his face that had me know that he knew and he was very unhappy about the whole matter. My son was oblivious to it. I saw the man speaking to a clerk waving his arms and gesturing towards us. From where we were I could not hear what was being said, but I was getting scared. On Trans Day of Visibility the last thing I wanted was visibility ruining a good day for us. I did not want him to have another experience like we had at Buffalo Wild Wings almost 2 years ago.
I kept my focus and presence on my son and his delight while keeping one wary eye on the man keeping a wary eye on us. About this time I noticed a female employee from the store hovering near us. The same one he had spoken to.
We finally found a shirt that would have the right form and size and I walked him toward the dressing room. He went in. There are moms and wives outside the men’s dressing room waiting on their sons and husbands to come out in their new outfits. As soon as my son started to go in, I saw our hovering friend hover closer. He did not have clothes to try on. But he started to walk toward the dressing room. I saw hate on his face. I know I did. This was not going to happen. Not this day. His homecoming had once been ruined, this prom was not going to be associated with this guy. I stepped in front of him and we stood nose to nose.
“Can I help you?” I said through grit teeth. He stared at me.
“Are you going into the dressing room to try something on? I don’t see clothes for you.” He said nothing, but I saw fear. I was ending this quickly. “Walk away. You need to leave now.” He left.
A few moment later my son came out and we knew he had the right outfit as I took this picture. As you can see, he had some pre prom swagger. My son was happy and he had no idea what went down.
At the register, the cashier asked me if I had a Kohl’s Card. I said no. One of the moms who was there at the dressing room incident had a coupon on an app on her phone. She handed it to the cashier and it gave us 40% off the purchase. I got $10 in Kohl’s Cash with the purchase. So I gave it to the mom and she was so very happy with that. I told her I get all my clothes at thrift stores.
We were still short a jacket. So we went to Macy’s. We had the most amazing fashionista young clerk who helped us complete the outfit with a jacket that is beyond awesome and entered a special code in the register to give us an additional 20% off the sale price. The experience in Macy’s was so chill. It was pleasant and the staff was delightful. To be honest, I forgot what department stores are like. I know thrift stores and places like Five Below.
I had a choice. To hang on to the what almost happened or to hang on to his smile, his swagger, the mom with the coupon and the clerk with the fashion sense. He had a great day and prom was going to be amazing.
The Easter Egg
I woke up Easter morning. I had 3 loads of laundry to do and a bunch of cleaning. While my son slept I casually surfed social media and the next thing I knew I was having arguments going with progressive Christians who are defending Laura Ingraham for her apology which, in effect, shames Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg for not being as filled with grace and inclusivity as they are. This is showcased by saying that those of us who do not fully accept Ingraham “are now part of the problem, not the solution” and that we are vulgar and dehumanizing. Considering that Parkland massacre survivor David Hogg did not, that includes him.
Many of these kids are the same age as my son. 17 families have empty seats at their Easter supper and none of them are gonna resurrect from the dead. I was besides myself. The dryer that I had a load of clothes in did not work which now cost me another $1.25 and another hour. The dog ate my son’s breakfast sausage and has had to go to outside to do his business more times than I can ever remember him having to go. I am livid. Then comes the Easter egg.
Over 1200 miles away, my fiancee was making easter eggs with her nephews and she sends me a picture.
It is a decorative Easter egg she made that artistically says “I love you”.
Suddenly I could breathe again. The world got a little bit more in control and I stopped caring about things no one else cares about. I killed a few more ghosts. I also saw the other easter eggs hidden in the story of my week like a Spielberg movie with hidden messages and features.
3 people got something that they not only wanted, but they needed. I helped these three people lengthen their independence in their home and increase their safety. This happened on my terms and I was wholly me.
I was fully present with my son this weekend while still being his father and protector from what could have been an ugly mess. These people who would shame children who survived a massacre, victim blame unarmed black people gunned down by cops, and a great many other things who claim I am the problem need only look in a mirror to see the actual problem.
Those who make fun of me and are sarcastic about gender matters who claim to be liberal have never experienced what my son and I have trying to order wings, go to homecoming, or simply buy clothes. They have never had to watch their child stand alone looking so small in a large courtroom and stand up for himself to get his chosen name recognized legally in a county that does not approve all requests such as my son’s. They have no clue and in their ignorance they can, and do, tease. These people have their own ghosts to deal with and I do not need them in my life.
My son is amazing. I am loved so much that someone 1200 miles away will make me an egg. My child has shown himself to be an AP honor student with proven leadership skills paving the way for others like him. I raised him. He did the heavy lifting, but I never left his side. My fiancee is brave and strong and has overcome so much. And these two amazing people know about my mistakes, and they love me.
I am not my mistakes. I am loved as I am. If they do not care, neither do I.
The Missing Egg
There was one special feature that almost got lost this week, but I noticed it. Not once, but twice, I have seen parental readers of TransParent Expedition tell new and struggling parents of gender fluid or transgender youth suggest the TransParenting 101 series as a resource to help them.
Above everything I have written in this column, those make a difference. They do not get as many clicks. They are not about current events. But they make the most difference. So that will be the focus. We will soon be moving into TransParenting 201, because it is now time to talk about medical stuff and legal stuff. It matters and it makes a difference. So that is where I will focus my energies.
I started this column just over a year ago to help my son, his peers, and other parents. TransParenting will be the core of that.
We’ll talk about other matters as well, the stories give context to the necessity. But the core is making a difference for kids and parents.
The Greater Life Change
The lessons learned from this last week are too numerous to mention. But here are the highlights of what has and will continue to change.
- The ghosts will be killed one by one.
- Guilt of my past is stuff no one cares about other than me, so I am done caring about it.
- I am wholly me. If I succeed or fail in this life, it will be on my terms.
- There are people who don’t get my fear or anger. They do not understand or want to understand what my son and countless others like him go through every day. They are not my audience.
- The religious who use a warped definition of grace and inclusion at the expense of victims are not my problem or concern. I have removed most of the Progressive and Emergent Christians I know/ knew from my social media.
- My son is going to have a great life.
- The love of my life and I will have a great life and we will enjoy it.
- Those who have helped me get this far will be appreciated, recognized, and in some way repaid. I would not be here if not for the love and support of many. That has helped me be a better father, a better partner, and a better man. Thank you on behalf of all that I hold dear.
- Those who would use religion or a warped definition of feminism or reason are what they are. TERFs, victim blamers, racists, and sexists have no place in my life. I am done negotiating with them.
- Not everyone is gonna like everything I have to say. So what?
- The fighter is back and he is loved and that changes everything.
The page is turned to a new chapter and it will be the best one yet.
A Special Note to My Patreons
This last month I have not given you the content I wanted to and promised you. I am so very sorry. There has been a lot going on and my focus needed to be on this new job, some things my fiancee has been going through, my son, and other personal family matters.
Your support helps me in ways that I cannot begin to tell you. $5 here, $3 there. It all adds up.
I hope for your forgiveness and continued support. Fiscally I need it now more than ever.
If you are not a Patreon and you would like to help make this blog and this life possible, I would be humbled and moved by your presence. April will be a new page for many things and an exciting time to tell a friend and make a difference.
For more information and to be a Patreon, please visit my patreon:
Patreon Page: https://www.patreon.com/patlgreen
If you would like to make a one time donation, please visit my pay pal. If you include your address in the message I would be happy to send you a print of one of my original art works as a thank you.