Thursday, February 12, 2009

Wide Open: Why I Expose Myself

This is who and what I am, naked on the stage
Doing the best I can, to grow a little
Thrust out in the world, driven by my rage
Every time I turn, I see and feel others pain

I Am, DuWayne Brayton & Alec Steele 1993

The very first secular song I ever wrote, set the stage for who I shaped out to be. Over the years, the notion of exposure, standing naked has woven itself throughout my music, poetry and prose. As have the concepts of anger and pain, almost exclusively the pain of others. Which really gives lie to my openness, because from early on my path has been largely defined, guided by my pain.

I suspect that this focus on the pain of others, was a coping mechanism that allowed me to ignore my own, even convince myself that it didn't exist. Too, I suspect that it was founded in the idea that focusing on my own pain is selfish, contrary to my internalized interpretation of the biblical principal of selflessness. I have always had a pathological concern for others, often to my detriment. But it has also fueled my openness about who I am - good and bad.

Because, as I mentioned, I am angry - quite often really fucking pissed. And ultimately, the target of my rage isn't small minded bigotry. It isn't assholes who think that for whatever reason, they're more important than everyone else and therefor above petty notions such as courtesy. It's not even psychotic fucknuts who get off on damaging their fellow humans. Honestly, I feel sad for people like that, though not a little angry at particular instances in which they express their pathos.

I rage at the inhumanity of human nature. I rage at it more, because being human, I fall prey to it myself at times. I am open, because I want to be accountable for who and what I am.

I am also open because one of the most profoundly formative experiences, was being cast out of what was supposed to be a safe, loving family. For years after, I lived on the outside, the fringes - the very periphery of society. And I never got back - may never really have been there. It's ok though, because I love the company. I adore my fellow outcasts and even better, they have loved me and accepted me for who and what I am - no strings attached, no expectations or molds to conform to. Queers and trannies, addicts and others who are broken wide open, just like me. We prop each other up and hold each other together.

The vulnerable.

I'm open, because I am and always have been, sick and fucking tired of the weakminded, weakspirited, who feel the need to prop themselves up by preying on the vulnerable. Even as I hurt for them, and hurt for them I do, as I hurt for anyone weaker than myself - I also feel the need to fight them. Because while I am vulnerable, there's vulnerable and there's vulnerable. I open myself up and make myself more vulnerable - I do it every day in a variety of contexts. And I goddamn well fucking dare weakspirited, pathetic fucking fools to prey on me. Because while I am vulnerable, I am anything but weak. Prey on me and I will break you, teach you what it is to be vulnerable and to make it infinitely worse, I will love you.

I'm open, because I love more than any others, the lost, broken vulnerable. Don't get me wrong, I'm alone. No matter how open I am, no one really knows me - least of all me (and there are those who know me better than me). But I am loved. I am accepted. I have family everyfuckingwhere I go. And I want others to know that no matter how alone they are, no matter how broken, no matter how vulnerable - they are not alone and that there is a great deal of strength in being broken and vulnerable.

I'm open because I'm a narcissistic exhibitionist. I'm a little boy seeking the approval of the adults around me, sadly discovering that most adults are just pretending.

But mostly I am open, because in my openness I discover who and what I am. And I am open because it helps me hide from the pain that largely defines me.

So here I am and here I will be, naked before you...


JLK said...

Beautiful post, DuWayne.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me... Why are you wearing pants?

DuWayne Brayton said...

Me? I'm the only one who took them off.

Juniper Shoemaker said...

I've never been big on being vulnerable, but I've valued what vulnerability empowers people to do. So I've had to force myself to learn.

Here in the blogosphere, though, my learning still largely entails writing precise stories about stuff I don't want to face and publishing them. Whereas maybe you are only talking about harder-core forms of exposure . . . :)

DuWayne Brayton said...

Only at the coffee shop.... Though I may be wearing pants now. Or maybe I'm not.

Seriously though, I think that by becoming vulnerable, accepting our vulnerability and embracing it, we become fucking super-heroes. By exposing our weaknesses, our ugliness and profound beauty, we encourage and empower others - even as we empower ourselves.

When I would step out onto the stage, (figuratively) naked and vulnerable before the crowds, my band developed a cult following in East Lansing. This in spite of me being an arrogant, often insufferable son of a bitch. Why? Because we were all broken and my openness about it drew people in.

I garner occasional derision, but it is nothing compared to the love. And I get a lot of that. I have a great many friends who genuinely love me and they far outweigh the bullshit.

Now, if only I could quit hiding from my pain.... I really could be a fucking super-hero.