Whilst on holiday last week, I re-read the masterpiece, which is Louis de Bernieres’ “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin”.
The book is a detailed depiction of the experience of Greece during the Italian occupation of the country in the Second World War but also much more of the historical, mythological and contemporary experience of this beautiful nation and its people.
I was drawn to the character of Carlo Piero Guercio, an Italian soldier with whom I felt the deepest of sympathy and empathy because he was a man conflicted heavily in respect of the suppressed truth of his sexual nature – he is l’omosessuale.
It is rare for me, indeed I can think of no better example, than of this characters account, for me to find written words which describe so fully my experience and conflict, despite recognising that I live in a country which is now very open and accepting of homosexuality.
The character is writing down his feelings in respect of himself and those whom he loves, but cannot touch, in letters which are to be found only after his death.
I write this blog, in some respects in the hope that those who know and love me, will have some means of discovering more fully who I was in life, how I had suffered but much more importantly, how I had learned how to thrive after telling the truth of my feelings to my wife and then, with her generous blessing, experiencing the deepest and most caring and fulfilling and life enhancing support of my coach.
L’omosessuale explains how until his death “I have been condemned to wear a mask decreed by his misfortune”
Despite having revealed my truth to some of those closest to me, for many years before that time my experience is explained here exactly how it was, and also how it is, because I still fear the consequences to my place in the world if my truth was more widely known.
L’omosessuale says “I have been reduced to eternal and infinite silence”
It is difficult to be fully present in the world, despite my recent best efforts to be so, when something so fundamental to the emotional and physiological make-up of my reality is hidden.
L’omosessuale tells us that “I have not even told the chaplain in confession, I know in advance that I will be told that it is a perversion, an abomination in the sight of God, that I must marry and lead the life of a normal man”
My experience was clouded in my youth by a lack of maturity and understanding as to my feelings for men.
I had a girlfriend as a teenager and I loved her and I wanted children.
It was only later, after marriage and children, that I began to unfold the layers of complexity which I carried in my soul and the guilt and the fear were palpable for a large swathe of my adult life.
In discussions I have had with priests, I have experienced their general compassion and care, I do not blame the church or its teachings for my experience, I account for my own unhappiness in relation to my attitude and towards my faith and to my low self esteem which prevented me from explaining my confusion to my family.
L’omosessuale says “I would say to the priest that God made me as I am, that I had no choice, that He must have made me like this for a purpose….”
I wish I had read and understood these words many years ago. When I first read the book eleven years ago, I do not recall these words having comforted me in the way they do now.
I do not feel abandoned nor condemned by God, a loving God, for being who I am.
If you live in a state of conflict in your own life, I appeal to you to open your eyes to your truth, accept it, love it, share it, be with it and know, that you are a unique and precious presence in the world and in the eyes of God.
My next blog will be: Above the Clouds