Thursday, December 27, 2007

On Being a Gay Parent

In a local bookstore yesterday, I found a new book in the "gay and lesbian" section. It's entitled On Being a Gay Parent. Of course it even comes with a website.

I've only just begun it, but he wrote it for me! There are a number of books about becoming a parent if you are gay or lesbian. But this deals more with those of us who are parents already, before we come to grips with our being gay. AND, he talks about faith, about being a parent, a Christian, and gay. I'm excited to find it.

So far, I highly recommend it. And I'm sure I will when I'm done with it. You queer dads out there, check it out.

Difficult wonder

Christmas Day was "just fine." I went over to the big house, opened presents with my children and their mother (still my wife), then went out to a big Christmas buffet at a local hotel - a family tradition. It was all fine, really.

In the midst of it all, I was hit by a huge wave of that feeling that I've "made the worst mistake of my life, leaving this family." It happened at an odd time. My wife was commenting on the very fine wrapping job one of our daughters had done. "Your grandmother would be really proud of you." (My mother could be really creative with her present wrapping).

All of a sudden, I was overcome with emotion. Why am I doing this? What would my mother say? How can this be happening? I had to leave the room, using the excuse of getting some more coffee. It took me a minute to get myself together.

The dinner was wonderful. We shared stories about our crazy family (mainly my crazy family). We laughed. We ate (and ate). It was fine, really. Why am I doing this? What am I doing?

The feeling passed, though not right away. I know why am doing this and it is the right thing. But at this moment, all its difficulties and sadnesses are in my face.

We begin again. And again.

The World Begins Again

Christmas eve services at church were glorious. It's the churchy part of Christmas that saves me from the absolute blues. The sermon was OK, blessedly short. He even quoted from a song by the Goo Goo Dolls!

He said something about how Christmas is so busy and rushed and yet the birth of a child and growing up really take time. That God the creator of the universe would become one of us is wild enough, but that God would become human in the usually way, like we do, is even wilder yet. Birthing, growing up, facing the same stuff that we face, all along the way. God blesses who we are, what we are, how we are by becoming "us." Then we were urged to take it slowly, as God did, and does. It takes time to grow, to learn, to journey. All our expectations, fears, changes, wants, desires, needs -- all these things can't come to pass in a rush. It takes time. And new beginnings are everywhere.

He linked Christmas, the winter solstice, and New Year's: it conjures in us the feeling that at this season of the year, "tonight's the night the world begins again." Phillips Brooks's O little town of Bethlehem got quoted "O holy child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray; cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today." Let the child be born in you, again. Let it begin again.

Then he quoted from Better days, from the Goo Goo Dolls album of the same name from last year:

So take these words
And sing out loud
Cuz everyone is forgiven now
Tonight's the night the world begins again
Cuz tonight's the night the world begins again


It really spoke to me and where I am. Where am I? That's for another post. Patience. Letting it all grow slowly. Taking the journey one step at a time. Beginning again, and again, and again.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Slouching towards Bethlehem

Reflecting on the season and my mood was the intent of this post. I had written the line about "Christmas is usually depressing for me," and such. Remembering that the last two Christmases had been "better," I wrote the following:

As I reflect on what made those two Christmases different, I note that they were after I came out to myself. After finally accepting me, some of the cloud lifted. But I didn't see new clouds ahead. Now they're here.

Then I remembered: I've been blogging for over two years now. OMG! What was I thinking the last two years? Let's check it out!
12-09-05

Christmas has always been a time when I could never please anybody enough... It was never, ever enough. Are you getting depressed right now? Well, you should be. Because if you aren’t then I’ll have to be depressed all by myself, and , , , ,

Enough. This year has already started out differently. It is going to be a good year. I figure that nobody may like my decorating ideas, but I don’t give a shit. I am going to take some initiative and get some decorating done today!I figure I can let some gayness out. I know it’s good for this type of thing. I’m going to let it rip.

If only with myself (and you, my extended, electronic “family,”), coming out has given me a sense of peace about some things. I’m still f---ing scared as sh-- (I always cuss when I get anxious), but I’m going to let some of that queer eye come out, some of the gayness that leads me to love decorating things and celebrating.

Well, well, well. It's so inconvenient, yet refreshing, that I re-think what I already thunk before. No wonder that I'm a slow learner.

And from the next year:

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Holy Week at Christmas
Even though it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, I'm feeling more like Holy Week. This is
my last Christmas with my family. . . . . .

I am mourning the loss of my family and things the way they "have been." And yet, I do not fear the future as much as I might. Yes, there is fear there. There will be a lot of unknowns. But there is hope.

It is like living through Holy Week: the week before Easter Day. The week that leads up to Good Friday and being placed in the tomb. People think that Holy Week ends with Easter and resurrection. Actually, Holy Week simply ends with death and the tomb.

Yes, we "know" Easter will come. We believe that resurrection will happen. But first we must make last journeys, east last meals, and then die.Life as I have known it, the closet as I have furnished it is dying. While there is rejoicing in leaving the closet, there is fear of the unknown to come, and sadness of leaving the Known behind.

Mixed feelings. Sadness and Hope. Endings that await a new beginning.

So, I talked about how coming out helped me get with the season, and eased my depression. A year later, I looked ahead to the and loneliness of this year. Yet, I'd forgotten those things. Mourning the loss of the old, looking to form anew a troublous season.

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards
Bethlehem to be born


Wm. Butler Yeats

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

And it was good

I'm still reflecting on my New Warrior Training Adventure weekend.

Driving in the car with my 16 year old, last week, I received a call from one of my new brothers who'd experienced the week end with me. Then, I had to return a call to another brother.

I told my daughter whom I was calling, and she said, "Gee, Daddy, it's so weird, you have all these friends. [pause] Not that I'm complaining or anything, it's just so new."

It is a new thing for me to have more than acquaintances, and those usually connected with work. Last night, another brother, from 100 miles away, called to see how I was doing. He's half of a gay couple (together 14 years, and, IMHO, a pair of handsome bears, too). He and his partner were part of the weekend. What an experience to have together.

One of them had been in a situation quite similar to mine. We shared our similar pains and trials. They have offered their hospitality to me, as well.

Friends are something I've not had much of. I am so grateful for this shared experience that has forged some strong relationships.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Why was it so good?

I've been reflecting on why my New Warrior Training Adventure was such a powerful experience for me.
  • Affirming - that word is so often used with gayqueer folk, when we speak of an "open and affirming" congregation, one that accepts/welcomes us. Of course it also carries its traditional meaning of a positive assertion, to confirm. (Comes from Latin ad- + firmare "to make firm" - do with that what you will)! An affirmation is something that helps us to accept ourselves, to see us as worthy, to see ourselves positively.

  • I was affirmed as a gay man, accepted, seen positively by others, and by myself. The participants and staff were made up of gay and straight men. And I think that is what made it so affirming for me. I expect some acceptance from other gays, but fear I will lose all acceptance from straights. To be accepted as a man among men, (a man who happens to be gay), was wonderful for me

  • Encouraging - Part of the work for the weekend was to explore/discover my shadow side, that part of me that often lurks in the background, that I try to hide or run from, all that unconscious stuff within me that has great power. The Shadow is something we often want to "overcome" or ignore. But it holds great power and strength for us. We cannot run from our shadows - well, we can run, but cannot hide! It comes to bite us in the butt, coming out in our rages, fears, abuses, and negative ways. The journey is to understand and embrace the Shadow, to befriend it, even. Then we may begin to draw on its power and channel its energy.

Well, that's enough for now. More reflections, later. Shalom.

Monday, December 03, 2007

I am a warrior

My New Warrior Training Adventure weekend is over, but the journey has just begun. It was one of the most affirming, empowering, and encouraging experiences of my life.

Those attending were straight, gay, and bisexual (but mostly straight guys). Ages ranged from mid-twenties to mid-sixties. Mostly white, a few people of color were there, both as participants and staff. And, the staff was made up of straight and gay men.

I'd guess there were some straight guys there who were probably homophobic as hell, but I encountered no disrespect or harassment of any sort. And, some straight guys appreciated the chance to talk openly with and learn from their gay brothers just what it's like for us. Where does one have the chance to ask and tell and learn like that?

The processing and integration of all that happened is ongoing. Thank you M., S., M., and D. for encouraging me to begin this journey.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Becoming a Warrior

Today I'm leaving for a New Warrior Training Adventure. It's a program of the ManKind Project. I am excited, and a bit nervous/apprehensive/anxious.

Several friends have recommended it to me, and they are people I really respect, whose judgment I trust. And, since I know little about the weekend, it will take a lot of trust. I can do that.

It's a weekend for men. All sorts of men. I have no idea if there will be any or many gay men there, but that's OK, as long as it is a safe place. I'm assured that it will be.


I'll let you know more on my return. Shalom & Cheers to all.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Ho Ho Ho (except in Australia)

I live in one of the major Christmas tree growing areas of the country. A tradition in our parish is to put up two really big trees in different (really big) rooms at church. Now, these are full, 12' to 14' trees! We travel up into the hills to a grower, select the trees, cut them and haul them back. With a lot of help (including me) we put them up. But we don't have any stands substantial enough for such trees as these, so we actually suspend them from the ceilings in the respective halls! This allows us to place large buckets of water underneath them to keep them fresh all through Advent.

It gets to be quite an engineering project involving steel cables, hooks in the rafters, pulleys, and two come-alongs. What an operation!

Many may say that we shouldn't be cutting live trees, but Christmas trees are a "crop" around here, plentiful and beautiful. And the scent is wondrous!

At home, in my new digs, I have opted for an artificial tree. For just $30 I was able to purchase a nice (used) one at the Habitat-for-Humanity thrift store. Even though live trees are much less expensive here than most places, I couldn't spring for it, don't have a stand, and am probably allergic to them anyway!

So, I need ideas for ornaments! UrSpo has suggested "pink flamingos and bright pink ribbons the colour of pepto bismol." What ideas do you have?

thankFULL

Thanksgiving visit with my father and stepmother was fun. My father is a bit curmudgeonly, but pleasant enough. My stepmother is great fun and a wonderful woman who prepared a fabulous meal.

There was some delightful irony in the other invited guests! I'm not out to my dad and stepmom, but I think she suspects. Nonetheless, they invited some neighbors from down the street, a lesbian couple! to share Thanksgiving dinner. They were great fun as well, and we had good food and lots of laughs. The older neighborhood where they live is a becoming a bit of a gayborhood! Fine by me.

I spent the night and went shopping with my stepmother on Friday, but NOT to the mall. She wanted to buy some things for me for my new digs. Very thoughtful! She's like that. Except for her taste in husbands, I can't fault her.

A random picture of some "art in the park."

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Surely, we begin again

Thanksgiving week. This will be the first of the "big" holidays since my wife and I separated, and it will be wierd. I'll see my girls for some of the time, but I won't be part of our decade-old family tradition of going away for Thanksgiving. I will really miss that but hope they won't miss me too much. I don't want it to be a downer for them. But, of course, I have no control over that.

I'll go visit my father and stepmother for turkey, and that will be a nice visit, if I don't stay too long. My stepmother is great! She is much closer to my age than to my father's (10 yrs. older than I, 20 yrs. younger than he). She's the best wife he's found yet (she's #3, but #2 didn't last long at all). She doesn't let him get away with any shenanigans. He starts his control stuff, and she lets him know right where to stop. Amazingly, he straightened right up! He is older now (84) and his health ain't what it used to be. And, my conversations with him won't have much depth to them. If he starts in on me about anything, I'll just cut if off and leave the room. All those years of therapy have counted for something!

Sexual Sobriety didn't last as long as I wanted. It got away from me this weekend. I got away from it, actually. And, I'm really feeling a sense of "hangover" from it. The powerful neuro-chemicals that surge through the brain have a profound effect. And, their absence can leave one feeling a bit strange.

But all is not lost. We begin again.
The picture is of my daughter and me looking into Bent Creek.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Still Hangin'

The struggle goes on. And so do I. It's lonely. I am sooooo horny, but refraining from anything, for a time. Not forever, but for today. Just for today. No promises for tomorrow. But today.

This is all very vexing and troubling. I so want to get things in my life in a good place so that I can be a healthy, happy, very gay man. I do not want to be enslaved by lust, but to give myself with passion and intimacy where it counts. I'm not ruling out anything at this point, except for acting out today.

I spent most of the weekend at a church-related meeting, a convention-like affair. So many woofy men! But I restrained myself, and am glad that I did.

And, on a lighter note. . . . here is a picture from my drive through the Great Smokey Mountains Nat'l Park.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Sex

Sex. Each of us must work out what works for him or her (I'm guessing my multitude of readers are him's, though). How to, when to, and with whom.

And, of course there is the old relationship debate: monogamous, open, play around, only togehter, only apart. I know that some may struggle with the whole issue of "if." "Should I have sex outside of marriage/commited relationship?

But queers are different. And we must develop new sets of moral behaviors and not simply apply those of the striaght world to our lives. That could be a rationalization, but I don't think it is, completely.

When all of this is in the abstract it is very interesting. But when it come to my very own self personally, I can but get into trouble. All too often, I have. My life is becoming unmanagible. I don't like being powerless, but I am. I can't stop.

Now, to many this may sound like a joke, or something of raunchy humor. But sex addiction is very real, very powerful, cunning, baffling.

This past summer, a friend and colleague of mine got arrested at the restroom in a public park in a nearby small town. He'd never come out to me, though I suspected (strongly). Actually, he'd not even really come out to himself. His arrest (yes, it was an entrapment) was part of that county's big summer-long "sting" operation. So, it was published on the front page of the newspaper. He has lost job, family, nearly everything. I've come so close.

I don't want my life to be made up of anonymous hook-ups or even one-night-stands. But there are times, when I get started cruising that I just cannot stop. Often, I take the initiative and push. Sometimes though, I am not looking and someone pushes to pick me up. And I can't say no.

I am not controlling it. The lust is controlling me. So, I'm back with my twelve-step group. I am powerless, and my life has become unmanageable. It sucks energy and life out of me. (That's not meant to be a pun).

I am sad and SOOOOO angry that this is where I am.

Peace

This is the retreat house to which I, well, retreated last week. Beautiful facility. Lovely setting. Very quiet.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 05, 2007

Yuk.

Greetings all. I have returned from my week away. But I knew when I left something wasn't quite right: a cold? or a sinus infection? I was a bit draggy the whole week, but OK. Now that I'm home, it's gone to full-blown bronchitis. Yuk. 24 hours on antibiotics will help.

So, I'll say more when I'm feeling up to it.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Away we go

All right. The last week was enough of a downer. Now it's time to pick up the mood a bit. It's gray and rainy outside, and that's absolutely wonderful! We, as most folk, are desperately in need of rain.

And, later this week, I'm off on holiday! Some time off, time away! Wish I could come visit friends in blog land, but I don't get to travel that far (unless some one in Memphis wants to host me for a night). I'm off to spend some time alone with myself to read and think and stuff. That may not sound like fun to many, but sounds great to me. I'll have to get some books to read, something fun. Any suggestions?

Then, I'm off to Memphis for a visit with my college daughter and see a play she's in. Then it will be back home, all the way across Tennessee and into NC.

I hope to rest and read and relax and have some fun. Cheers to all!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Better

Many thanks to you, dear readers, for kind comments and thoughts and prayers. I'll post more later. Maybe on a happier note.

The sermon at the funeral was good, I thought, and I got a copy. Interesting gospel lesson for a funeral, but since it was a suicide, it seemed to be "spot on." See what you think.

John 6:11-13, 16-21
Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, "Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost." So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets.
When evening came, Jesus' disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. But he said to them, "It is I; do not be afraid." Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going.


A Sermon for Jack

Jesus feeds the multitudes. They eat. They are satisfied. But then things are a mess. Fragments, broken pieces everywhere.

We can relate to broken, can't we. Right now, we understand being fragmented. We can relate to "mess." All our questions that have no answers we can see. For us, it is a mess. But Jesus tells the disciples to gather up all the fragments, so that nothing may be lost. Nothing.

All our fragments. All our broken-ness is gathered up for God. Nothing is lost to God. Nothing.

The disciples travel on ahead, get in the boat, head on to the other side. Jesus waits and prays. In the midst of broken-ness and fragmentation, it is a good thing for us to wait, and to pray. To wait with Jesus while we mourn and with all that we don't understand, with all the unanswerable questions.

In the boat, a storm comes up. The wind is violent. The night is dark. What will they do? What can they do? All just might be lost.

Then, Jesus comes to them, walking on the water. The disciples are terrified. This is impossible. They weren't expecting this; they cannot believe Jesus would show up like this. It is against all their expectations. And yet, here he is. His there in the storm, the turmoil, the wind, and the darkness. And in that darkness, Jesus says, "It is I. Do not be afraid."

He does not give reproof or judgment. He does not scold or deride them. He tells them "Do not be afraid." Then, he gets into the boat with them. He willingly gets into the middle of their turmoil, their darkness, their fear. Jesus gets into the boat. And the storm ends. There is peace. And immediately, they arrive where they were going. They reach home, they are safe.

Perhaps they could have rowed through the storms themselves. But they did not know that.

Maybe Jack didn't, either.

But when Jesus comes to them, he does not judge or reprove or scold. He says "It is I. Do not be afraid." And the storm stops. And the boat reaches the shore. They are home. And the same is true for Jack.

Even though we do not understand. We believe that God does. After all, God collects all our fragments, all our broken-ness. Nothing is lost. Nothing.

We pray for God's grace to help us live with our questions.
We should take time, and wait, and pray with Jesus.
We should be disciples for one another and help gather in the fragments.
And always remember, in the midst of the worst storms, or the deepest darkness, Jesus comes to us and says, "It is I. Do not be afraid."

Farewell dear Jack. Fear not. Your storm is over. Your darkness is now filled with light.


You are safe.
And home.
Fear no more.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Out of the depths, I call unto thee

Death where is thy sting? It is here, very present and very real. A friend committed suicide last night and I am reeling. I can't say he was the closest of friends by any means, but I knew him and his family. I spent several hours last night with his parents, just holding them as they screamed and cried. It is unfair, unreal, unimaginable.

His name was Jack. Please pray that he will now find peace he could not seem to find in this life. Pray that he will know companionship and intimacy with God that he could not seem to find with others. He must have been in a deep blackness that seemed impenetrable. Now we will never know. I hate this.

I was at his wedding, the baptism of his child, the intervention that moved him to seek treatment for alcohol and drugs. Counseled with him and his wife in their separation. Those are all things that I sometimes do in connection with my job, but my commitment to them as a family is not just a "job" thing. It always goes deeper.

My best friend from college and graduate school did the same thing. I've written about him before. Suicide always hits me so close to home. And it hurts.

There are no answers. None. No explanations that are worth anything. This is as close to living with an open, painful wound as there is. It's the worst.

I have had my own very deep darkness over the years. I have contemplated "ending it all." Sometimes the pain seems so deep and prolonged. There is no light. No warmth. No one with whom you can keep company. Or so it seems.

But, from the death of my friend years ago, and now from Jack's death, I learn again that suicide is no answer. For my family, my children, my friends . . . I could never do so much to hurt them as this. Maybe his pain is over. Ours is just beginning.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Another National Coming Out Day

It's National Coming Out Day and I'm sitting in the doorway. I thought I might un-whine a bit by saying how grateful I am for all the progress I have made in the past year. But there is far to go. There is far I want to go.

Perhaps it is my personality. In Myers-Briggs terms, I'm very much an Extrovert. I like to talk about it (what ever "it" might be). So, to keep it so quiet is difficult for me to do. I'm very grateful for the friends I do have with whom I can share that part of my inner life, as well as the rest of me.

Last night, in dropping off my youngest at her mom's house, my wife said she knew what today was and she would be thinking about me. I had to hold back tears. She is a great woman, and I am grateful.

The weather has cooled and the sun is shining. I've got to get out for a walk today. My soul (and my fat body) need it. Something for me, today.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

An Attitude

This past week and week end I came down with it. Big. Bad. Ugly. The Flu. Everything hurt. My hair hurt. My skin hurt. High fever. Yuk. Very depressing.

So, in the midst of yuk, it is very easy to whine, which I did. Something helpful I've found for un-whining is gratitude.

I am grateful for
  • that I have had to courage and perseverance to begin the journey of coming out.


  • for my children, and their long-suffering, understanding mother.


  • for a place to live, a "place of my own."


  • for an understanding, supportive place of employment. Though I am not "out" at work, folk have worked with me on schedule, time-off, etc.


  • for my friends John and John. A couple who've been together about 30 years! They've been welcoming, supportive, playful, and let me do my laundry at their house.


  • for being able to live in a beautiful part of the world, the mountains of Western NC.


  • for faithful friends and supporters in my 12 step group.


  • for comments and emails and such left by many of you that have buoyed me through a lot of low points.


  • for God's grace, embracing me with Love my whole journey. Being gay is profoundly spiritual.


  • for my kind, understanding, and very straight "regional boss" who knows I'm gay and supports me.

Gratitude fights the spirits that pull us down into the pit. It opens up my heart and mind and takes me out of myself. An Attitude of Gratitude. It's a great way to un-whine!


Cheers for now.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Gayly Forward

October 11 is National Coming Out Day. The Human Rights Campaign has some good stuff for celebratin, including some YouTube opportunities. I watched some folks' "coming out" videos and laughed, and cried. Really cried.



How much longer I can stay in the closet one can only guess. Maybe I'm trying to create some situation in which I will really "out" myself. Not a good plan.

Feelings have continued to be very close to the surface. This week, however, the drama is not about longing for straight normalcy as it has been longing for complete out-ness.

WTF am I doing coming out at 51 years old? Better late than never?

Yes. dammit. Better late than never.

In so many ways, I do not have a clue what I am doing.

But that never stopped me before! gayly forward.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Caution: feelings ahead: abandon logic at this point

Today is a tough day.

It's still early, and I know I will "get over it," but it's one of those days when I think about being straight. Wishing, maybe, I were straight.

No, I do not believe I could do it. No, I'm not even going to try. Been there, done that, got the therapy bills to prove it. I know I can't do it. But sometimes . . . . . .

There many situations in life when we wish we could be someone else, I suppose. Someone rich or famous, or smarter or more beautiful. And my perspective on all this may be quite skewed. I have been (and still am) married; I am father to two wonderful children; I am in a profession and work with many folk who assume I am straight. That's what folk like me are, isn't it?

So, having had the "married-with-children" life for so long (21 years), I have that picture of the straight life. And part of me yearns for it. Just to be "normal", or typical, or mainstream. The struggle is still there, though I know the outcome (ha: there's a pun for you).

And then, there is the Church. Living life as a Christian is tough enough. But then dealing with "the Church" makes it all the tougher. I have this great fear (probably not unrealistic) that when my friends, etc., at Church discover - find out - get told I am gay, their entire opinion of me will change. As if everything has changed, when in fact I am the same me I have always been. Surely there will be some who won't be so shallow, but I have my doubts.

The Church (especially the Episcopal Church) is so distracted by this sexuality shit that it seems we get little else done. In the parish I attend, it's all pretty much ignored, but it does hang there, hovering over things, putting us on the defensive.

Of course, still leading a bit of the "double life," I place myself in the midst of confusion. For now, it is important. When I can come out all the way, perhaps it will be easier? The overt may be easier to deal with than the covert.

I don't know. It's a tough day. I have hope that it will get better. I have hope. I do.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

new tears


What is happening to me? Maybe it's drugs (or lack thereof). Maybe it's life. Maybe it's freedom, or living in the Truth.

Living out of the house and venturing out of the closet, I have felt almost euphoric at times, barely able to grasp the wholeness of all this "new life." Was there ever a time in my life when I have felt this way? Ever?
  • The old demons have subsided (and new ones arise. Or are they even older ones?)
  • The shame and guilt: largely gone. But loneliness has crept in.
  • The anxiety of lying to myself: dissolved. But fears and trepidations about "starting" a new life are lurking.Energy and focus to do my job are there in better measure; but distractions still annoy.

My depression has eased so much that I have been able to go off my anti-depressant medication. And I'm feeling great. But now something odd has been happening: tears.

I think it is an adjustment time, but the slightest things can set me off. A song, something I read. Anything that has to do with being lost, then found. Bound, then free.
I read some coming out stories on the Human Rights Campaign website. I cried. And, from one of *Christopher's websites, a service for "Binding & Loosing". This moved me deeply.
. . . . . in the Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be loosed from the
manifold voices that bind your heart from praising freely, be freed from the
foul demons that accuse your very life and cause you to doubt God’s friendship,
for they are bound forever this day that you might walk in the newness of
unending life, for you are washed by Living Water and by the Blood of the Lamb.
So many are bound by the words of others while the Word of God will liberate and release. And I know that simply printing these words that carry a very religious tone will put-off (or piss-off) some folk, just because of the toxic religion with which they have been abused. Dear friends, believe me: the toxicity lies with them, not with God, however you understand God.
Later. Cheers to one and all.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Home again

It was a long trip to Memphis and back, but daughter is settled back in school. Now we just wait for the first crisis. She will survive, she will do well. But after all, she is majoring in drama. Runs in the family, I guess.

It was miserably hot, even by Memphis standards, in the 100's. But all got done, moved in, purchased, etc. She had commitments on campus on Sunday afternoon and evening, so I went out on my own and found the Pumping Station. Folk were very friendly, funny, welcoming, and frisky, too. Didn't get into any "trouble", but enjoyed visiting with folk.

I made the long trek back on Tuesday morning, leaving at 6.30 (and it was already about 80 degrees).

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Laudate Domino

Tomorrow, I am off to Memphis, returning the eldest offspring to college. The youngest offspring shall be accompanying me while their mom takes the eldest. With the separation, it works best for us to go separately. BUT with all my daughter's stuff, we'll need two cars, anyway.

Mom and youngest leave on Sunday. College daughter will be busy most of Sunday, then I will help her with things on Monday, before returning east. What should I do in Memphis on Sunday evening, any suggestions?

Oh, this is the view from my back deck. I do live in the most beautiful part of the world.

I am feeling really good, right now. I know assuredly there will be some more downs, but I am rejoicing in the now.

More new digs

The new digs had been bought by someonedoing a "flip-this-house" project. So, there is new carpet (beige, of course), new paint (check the red kitchen), and all new appliances. Woo.











And, there is a garage! Note the nifty keeno car. (not new).















And, there is a great (and private) back deck that looks into the woods.














And then, there is a new resident!

New Digs



Here is a picutre of my new digs.


It's quite nice. I live in the most beautiful area I can imagine.









And here is an inside shot. Notice the lovely furniture.

More later.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Movin' on up

For the last 6 weeks I have been "house sitting" for some friends. That was a gracious thing, allowing me to move out on my own with few extra expenses. And, it is a very nice home. But living in someone else's space, with their furniture, family pictures, etc., is a little weird. I can do it, but another gracious possibility has come my way: a condo to rent for next-to-nothing.

So, I have made the leap! I am in a space of my own. If I can, I'll post some pictures. There is little or no furniture, and the air conditioner is not functioning up to par. But I can begin to think about "making it my own." My girls came over yesterday afternoon and gave me great ideas for decorating. (Actually, they gave me specific instructions). It will take time to develop.

Still, I feel sadness from time to time. And, there is the guilt, and the added guilt about not feeling "guilty enough." But I am going to enjoy it. My guilt-about-guilt will do no one any good. Leave it be.

Onward, upward, progress. I'm having some fun!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Construction Ahead

I have not disappeared. In fact, I am very much here in the flesh! (In the flesh, indeed).

The adjustment to "single" life has been difficult. No wild parties or bar hopping evenings. Some loneliness, sadness, mourning. And, some great time to myself, too. All rolled up together.

Prayers go out to Bigg, struggling with cancer and undergoing chemo. It's so unfair!

I am buoyed by my Internet friends and new acquaintances here in town. I have been blessed with a place to stay, for now. More blessings are on the horizon for a more permanent residence. I am overwhelmed. Really.

Tonight, I have my girls for dinner. We are still working out details fo sharing time with children. The youngest just had her 16th birthday. the oldest has her 19th in just a few days. They've been great.

Still some very rough places. But the beat goes on! More later.

Shalom & Cheers, "Joe."

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Paying backward

When I was in high school, I took a bad fall, head-first. I extended my arms to break the fall. It all happened in a flash. No broken bones, but I did jam both arms. Painful.

To ease the pain and give them a rest, the doctor ordered i keep my lower arms at right angles to the upper part. And physical therapy was prescribed. Not too difficult. Through this mending time, I was to do exercises to gently stretch my arms back out. It hurt, I mean really hurt. Sent home with exercises to do "on my own", I knew I'd get over it.

Avoiding the more intense pain by neglecting my exercises, I have paid a price. Now, about 35 years later, my arms will not straighten out. The lower arms have lost a little bit of the range-of-motion.

When I carry something quite heavy (like a suitcase) that wants to pull my arm to full extension, it causes pain. It cannot be fixed. it cannot be corrected.

Short-term pain, even though much more intense, is, in the long run, worth the price.
Otherwise, the pain is dribbled out over years and years.

The pain now (though more for others than for me) will be worth it. The slow death of depression, repression, suppression has found its Calvary. Death, where is thy sting?

Sometimes death is very, very slow. Glacial, even. At last, resurrection.





This will be my one-hundred-and-twelfth post. Give or take. I began in November 2005, twenty long months ago. Eventful year, eh?

Friends have once again lent us their condo at Hilton Head Island, SC for a beach break. My girls are here with me for several days; their my mom comes down this weekend as I depart.

This is a completely new and different kind of way to do vacation, the parent switch-off routine. The girls (now nearly 16 and 19) are adjusting (with some difficulty). It is all so different for them and so un-imagined, they are reeling. They will adjust, accept, adapt.

Monday, July 09, 2007

A Gay Bar

Wife and I met today with our therapist. He commended us on what a fabulous job we have done in preparing for the separation. It has been two weeks today that I have been out of the house. And, I'm feeling a bit guilty about feeling so good.

Yes, I am so sad and ache for my family and the difficulties they are having. Yes, there is sometimes some deep loneliness and bewilderment on my part. Basically, however, I am feeling great.

Mainly it is the incredible weight that has lifted. Out to myself. Out to my wife. Out to a very few friends. Made some new friends. Now, out of the house. On my own. The nearly constant anxiety surrounding the waiting (and indeed, surrounding the relationship) has begun to be sloughed off or washed away.

OK, I've been to a gay bar in our local small city. (All right, it's Asheville). And, I had a great time. I don't feel some sense of desperation to pick somebody up (indeed, did not want to, didn't try). But just being around a bunch of gay men, getting some hugs, having some beers. Of course I was a bit shy and hung back. But I can be a really bold one, sometimes.

There was one exceptionally handsome bear that I kept staring at. he stared back, a bit. So, as he waited at the bar, I went up to him and said, "Look, I don't mean to stare, but I'm just out of the closet and can count on one hand the times I've been to a gay bar. And, you are so good to look at, I just couldn't help myself. I'm just enjoying."

We exchanged names and talked. That was all. That was really all I wanted. I guess it could have been a good pickup line (or a really bad one), I'm clueless. But it was the truth.

My sex-addict compulsions seem to have lessened tremendously. I don't want to take any chances. I am beginning to feel so much more comfortable with myself.

"To be born again is not to become someone else; it is to become fully yourself."

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Still standing

Hello, all.

I am out of the house, but not exactly out of the closet.
This past weekends was one of the most painful I have ever had to endure. Much anger, much sadness.
My wife and kids are sad and angry. Very angry with me. That's appropriate, too. The graceful thing is they love me to where they will tell me their anger. And, we know we love one another such that we will work through it.
Love and prayers from all have helped. I look forward with joy to real hugs one day.

Shalom. Joe.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

High Anxiety

This is a tough week for me. We are going to tell our children this weekend that "dad is moving out." This is really scary. I don’t know how my children will react. Oh, I know they’ll get over it eventually. Maybe they’ll come to see how it’s "for the best." Still, it is an intense situation that ups the anxiety level.

There are a couple of friends I might get together with, but I know I’m just wanting to act out. I really want to medicate the feelings. Addiction lives!
Sunday or Monday, I move out of the house where my wife and children live. I'll be "on my own." That has some great appeal to it, but I'm scared as hell. There will be some relief, some more time on my own without feeling like I'm "being watched." But what will I do with all this freedom? Will it just become an occasion to act out, to behave like the addict I am, to engage in all sorts of activities that will only bring me down further?
I've got a lot of confusion about what comes next, too. I work for a religious non-profit. The Big Boss tells me I need to make sure I am "continuing to be a wholesome example" while I am separated. If my gayness gets out, I could be in a heap of trouble. I could lose my job. So what do I do? Just ignore it? Do I have to concern myself with even "being seen" with some one or ones?
The fear of being outed is greater now. In the past, I could have probably gotten away with denying anything. I'm a good enough liar that if accused of something, I could turn it around and blame the accuser. I'm a fine, upstanding man of integrity, right?
Well, that is exactly what I want to be, what I desire deeply. So, if accused now, I would admit it. I am gay. No denying it now. But that confession could end it all, bring me and my whole family down.
The "acting out", the misbehaving, the descent into addiction, I see how that it dangerous and potentially "fatal." But must I keep my distance from anyone gay? from any gay support group or activity? Is it just from sexual activity that I must refrain? Or is any "sighting" or association with gaydom a potential risk for me? God, it is all so unfair. This too, is injustice. But I knew the job wouldn't be easy.
Coming out takes longer than I hoped. I've waited this long. God, help me surrender my impatience.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Metaphors and Thresholds

Before I was born, my mother had some kind of "brain episode" which left her paralyzed on her left side for a period of several weeks. The diagnostic tools of the mid-fifties could not determine the cause, but she made a full recovery. A result of this episode was weakness in the muscles on her left side. So at my birth, I got stuck. The obstetrician had to reach in, hook his fingers under my arms and pull me out.

This story about my birth has been a metaphor for me. But I've always seen it as a negative one: When I get stuck in a tight spot, I'm always waiting for someone else to pull me out. Making big changes is too difficult for me. The change has to come from outside, pulling me along.

But now my thinking has changed. Call it a revelation, or an epiphany. Crossing thresholds is always difficult and always involves many folk. It is a community activity, of a sort. I have to push, but it is not about my efforts alone. Others must push and pull to get the job done.

We think we know everything about the universe. Before birth, it is all warm and watery and dark. Sounds are muffled. But then the space gets very tight, then tighter still. Our world, as we have known it, ends. We are squeezed into a very tight place, all the water goes away. Suddenly it becomes very cold and noisy and bright. We must start breathing, crying, moving. New sensations. A wild new world, completely different and scary.

Birthing is like that. We come to know all about this new universe, and then things get very tight. Things change again. And again. And again.

Still, with the crossing of every new threshold, it takes the help of others to bring us through.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Tension

Tension at home is beginning to grow thicker as we move towards the date at the end of the month for telling the children and my moving out. Am I ready for this? Well, I think most of the "plans" are in place. My wife is getting more and more anxious. When she gets anxious it comes out as anger and increased desire for control. Have I done this? or that? and don't we have to think about the other thing, too?

I'm not a great one for planning ahead but know that it is very wise to do so. But can everything be planned and scripted? I think not. Still, it may be best to try, to ease her mind and to help me not open my only only for exchanging my feet (and I have very big feet).

I am most afraid of leaving only to descend into my addiction: sex. Sure, we all want it, but when it becomes something that begins controlling your every waking moment, it's addiction, and it kills.

I can't squeeze work in between fantasies and pornography. I can't work out time with my children amongst hooking up with guys. I can't exist with this addiction to lust constantly trying to take over my brain. It kills.

This is my greatest fear. That I never really get a life, or learn about true intimacy. Sorry for the whiny post, but that's where I am this minute. Feels like I'm running from myself. Running from intimacy. Running.

Serenity to accept, courage to change, wisdom to know. Please.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A good wife.

This transition, leaving, changing stuff is hard under any circumstances. Sometimes I think it would be easier if my wife and I hated one another. But we don't. I need to sing her praises some.

She has been very, very angry at times, and with good cause. But she has never been vindictive or out to get me. She has some strong control needs (shall we say), but she has never tried to stop me. She has always wanted me to be a part of arrangements for separation, etc. By many standards, one might expect her not to want to speak to me or see me or do anything with me. But she has not pushed me away. At least, not much. She has been the soul of discretion, understanding, and patient. She is a good woman.

She knows that I love her and am not doing this because of "her". Truly, she is loving me enough to let me go. She wants me to be happy. And I certainly want that for her.

How are my feelings for her different now? I'm not sure how to answer that. I still love her, in much the way I think I always have. That seem a little sick to me. Have I never loved her "enough" or "the right way?" What do I know about relationships? Much of my life has been spent avoiding them, I think. I've always run from them. Always I've kept myself in check, never getting too close..... to any one!

Ugh. I've started talking about me, again. Whatever the limitations of my understanding of love, whatever shortcomings I have in regards to relationships, I know it may be no more than seeing through a mirror, dimly. But I love her and am so grateful for her love for me, loving enough to let go.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Promised Land - Land of Promise

Thanks to those who commented on my last post. Many helpful and supportive things were said, and I am very grateful. This weird electronic world is something that has kept me going. I don't feel so alone. Posts and emails and even calls are wonderful but can't fully substitute for actual person to person, face to face contact. A good, long bear hug would be sooooo nice. Just some cuddling. One of these days, soon.


Aside from too dry, the weather here is absolutely wonderful. Not too hot, not too humid. I got out for a walk this week, which was sorely needed. Getting out in the woods and playing in a creek are things that soothe my soul.

In our part of the Appalachian mountain chain, one of the taller peaks is Mt. Pisgah, at almost 6,000 ft. I know that's not tall by Western standards, but for us it certainly stands out. The name comes from the Biblical mountain from which Moses saw the promised land. Many other mountains and hills bear the name, along with many congregations. It is a name that signifies moving into a place of promise. Moses, however, did not cross over into the Promised Land. That was left for Joshua.


Since I can see Mt. Pisgah, I reckon that I must be in the Promised Land. Though it the journey is difficult at times, I look to the Promise. As you've heard it said, God did not promise to make it a painless journey; God's promise is that we will never have to be alone. God is with us.


With that in mind (and heart), I am looking forward to feeling more and more in the land of Promise, the life of Promise. Thomas Merton said something like this: "To be born again does not mean becoming some one else; it means becoming yourself."


My search for self is a becoming. Many of you have graciously helped me remember that. Thanks.

(That really is a picture of our Mt. Pisgah. My 50th birthday present was a ballon ride! So, I even snapped this picture my self.)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Quo vadis?

My time off just hasn't worked at all. Every place I tried to go for retreating was unavailable for one reason or another. Bummer. And so, the weekend was real downer. I did pull a muscle in my back and took some muscle relaxers. That, combined with depression, caused me to sleep most of the weekend. Today is better.

My moods seem really up and down. The antidepressant isn't working so well? or is there more going on? Who knows? At least today is a good day, in most ways.

Planning for the separation is so sad and depressing in and of itself, let alone the unknown of what comes next. Today was spent in not-so-useful activities that lead me to wonder more and more who I want to be, or maybe, who I am.

All these years I have tried to be straight, there was no conscious effort "not to be gay." I thought I wasn't really gay, and I have gone along being (what I have presumed is) me. I am aware of some urges (sex with men), and behaviors (too much leering) that I felt I should not be engaging in. But I don't think I've tried to put on a more "masculine" front than I already have (assuming I have one).
I know all the sexual fantasies and porn stories, etc. are about fantasy. Though in a heated moment I may imagine myself in the midst of such (as the short strokes take hold), I don't actually want to be like that. Do I?

I'll never have the six-pack abs (we must settle for a keg). I'll never be a Jack Radcliffe or such. But whom will I be? Who am I now?

I want to sit and think about this one a while. Suggestions or ways you have worked through this are welcome.

Hope to be back soon with The Answer to it all. Then, I'll go on Oprah and hawk my book.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Time off

I'm taking a few days off and hoping to spend some of it on retreat. The praying kind. Some time to read, maybe write, pray, sleep. Whatever. Of course, it's the "whatever" that both worries me and excites me.

The weather here in the moutains is so wonderful, I can't imagine living anywhere else. The prospect of that is more than a little disconcerting, yet I know that I well may have to re-locate because of job stuff if I want to come very far out of the closet. Oh, what a wonderful thought!
Many have written about the death of Jerry Falwell. I don't really believe in "hell" as he would have preached, so I'd better be prepared to meet him in the next life. I do believe in a merciful and just God. So, I can only hope Mr. Falwell is dwelling in paradise with lots of queer, black, hispanic, democratic, liberal, left wing saints and angels. I'll bet he will be surprized!
Addendum: I've read that Falwell had already planned for a transition of power in his "empire:" to his sons. Now that fits with "American values," eh? What a sad, controlling gesture.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Up or Down ?

The pain of others at the expense of "what I want" is about the hardest thing for me to bear. In a few weeks we will tell our children that Daddy is moving out. And then it happens. No words about why dad is moving out, not just yet. But in time. It is all becoming very real and very close to happening. My feelings are so very mixed up that I've felt paralyzed at times. Just making day-to-day decisions seems impossible. But, we soldier on.

My head acknowledges that I have a right to "what I want," and that this is not about some whim of desire but something at the core of my being. When you've been a co-dependent caretaker as long as I have, it's hard to make a switch and admit my needs.

For some bizarre, guilt-ridden reason, I don't like to admit it there is an up side to my moving out: greater freedom for me. Freedom to do what? That is the question for me.

God, I hope I am doing the right thing.

Because of my job, I still must remain largely in the closet. Though I might have the chance to build some (discreet) friendships, I must be very circumspect. To be outed would be disastrous

And in other news . . . .
My PA piercing is healing quite well. I have to say I'm enjoying it. Just knowing it's there is a boost, a reminder that I am (in process, at least, of) coming out. Now I'm anxious to gauge up a bit, but I want to make sure there has been plenty of healing. Right now, I've got a captive bead ring in. I want to get a circular barbell and maybe a bent barbell, too. Any ideas?

In the midst of a lot of sadness, there is still much for which to be grateful. If only I could remember that. . . . . .

Monday, April 30, 2007

Never Flagging

Up and down and up and down. Things move on. Today is a good day. I am grateful. I have found some folk for whom I can house sit for the summer (actually, through November - they summer in New England). So, that really relieves some of the financial pressures of moving out.

Thanks for supportive comments about my PA. It is doing well. It is for me an important "ritual" action, claiming my own body, claiming my gayness. Even though I have my days still of wishing it would all go away, things do get better.

I was encouraged to find the illustration of a certain flag flying with the Episcopal Church flag. Ye Ha!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

I can't believe it, but I did

A gentle reader urged me (kindly but firmly) to "get over it." Well, that's easier said than done, but his point was good. I think I tend to blog when I'm really down. But there are some "up" times, too. There are a lot of ways in which I amaze myself in that I'm able to keep going as well as I am. ADD can have its gifts. So easily distractable, whenever I am down, it's not long before I'm distracted and off in another world. So, the journey continues.

We ADD types can be subject to impulsive actions. I am sure that adds into my addiction stuff. But there is one thing I have wanted to do for a decade but haven't. So, with calm centeredness and deliberate intent, I did it this week. I got a piercing.

I'm surprised I didn't chicken out; amazed I did not flinch; in complete wonderment at my determination and calmness. And I cannot tell you how excited I am about it. Much research, reading, questioning has gone into this. I may live to regret it, but it can always be fixed. Unlike a tattoo (one day) this is not exactly permanent.

With what I do every day, with children at home, etc., I have thought is wise not to get a piercing that is easily seen. Even my nipples might well show to family, and they'd freak out! So, this had to be done discreetly and where it will be seen by few, but known by me.

Why on earth do such a think? Hard to explain, I suppose, beyond "I just wanted to." For me it does provide a way of making a statement, albeit a concealed one. But I know it's there!

And now, you well may think I'm nuts. It didn't hurt nearly so much as I feared. And, it's healing quickly. I got a PA. Can you believe that?

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Alleluia





Happy, joyous, freeing Easter to one and all. Alleluia, He is Risen! The Lord is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

Personally, I'm not feeling much sense of resurrection. Actually, I am in the very pit of depression. Today, I slept much of the day, just a sign as to how little energy I'm feeling. And yet, I know that I'll make it, this will pass, Christ is risen for us continually.

Here is a prayer from the Human Rights Campaign's website, "Out in Scripture"


Great Resurrecting God,
may we see in the real lives
of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people
the truth of your resurrection power and possibility.
May we roll back every stone
that continues to entomb any part of your creation.
May we invite you to re-create each one of us
until resurrection and liberation prevail for all. Amen.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

What's important? I am.

I'm back from our mission trip and had a great time. Sure, it was hard work, but that never hurts. To see some of the devastation that remains along the coast and to speak with those who survived it was quite a moving experience. It certainly gives perspectives to all the stuff we worry about every day. Is it really that important?

One thing happened that really stirred me up. One of the director-type persons who runs the program of which we were a part seemed to me obviously gay. Tall, thin, a little bit effeminate. Some stereotypical "gay traits." Of course, I could be wrong, I had little or no contact with him. And I do not mean to cast aspersions on any one. But this is the point: In a discussion of how the program was run, some other volunteers wanted to make suggestions on how it might run better. They said, "We could talk to XXXX (a woman director-type), but I don't think she would do anything." I suggested they talk to the other director-type, the (possibly) gay man. These very straight guys simply rolled their eyes and said, "Oh." It seemed obvious to me that they thought him of no consequence because he was queer.

Of course I could be wrong about all that, but the incident drove home to me how I may well be completely dismissed by many straights simply because I'm gay. Well, duh! I suppose I've known this in my head, but this hit me at a deeper level. The reality of the cost of coming out hit home, and it hit hard.

Oh my God. What am I in for? This and some other things have sent me into a real funk. It feels like I'm jumping into a black hole. I know this is largely about the real injustices of life, but now it is becoming personal. It's me who will be the recipient of this. No longer abstract, this is real. What am I in for?

And, the realities of separation from my wife is looming large. I'm scared. I know I will make it through, but the feelings are close to the surface.

With all of these feelings and my reflecting on "what's important," I have to say that this issue is important to me. I am important, I have much to offer, and I refused to be dismissed. What will be, will be. The losses will be mine, but the losses of those who may dismiss me will be even greater.

Cheers, Joe.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Working it In & Out

Today is our last full day at our work week on the Gulf Coast. It has been a good week. The work is sometimes frustrating -- you don't get to see a job all the way through. One sows, another reaps, one begins, and others will finish. But that's the nature of the work.

All the various and sundry folk we've met has provided a beautiful glimpse of the Body at work, an example of what it takes to get the job done. As in life, all the many parts, colors, textures, and threads are needed to come together for the whole.

But, I could use a really good bear hug right now, from a bear. Though I see the importance of the great diversity of folk in the world, right now, I've got a yearning to be with some more members of the Family. As I try to sort out what it is to be me (a gay man, a Christian, etc.) I am beginning to feel the burn of being seen as strange/different/unacceptable. More later.

Shalom & Cheers, Joe.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Camp Coast Care

This week, I'm at Camp Coast Care in Long Beach, Mississippi, with a small work team from church. Since this camp is an Episcopal - Lutheran cooperative venture, we're celebrating the end of the work day with beer and laughter. It's a great atmosphere, lots of friendly folk, and not-too-rugged conditions.

This week there are volunteers from Colorado, Illinois, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Vermont, and South Carolina. All sorts and conditions of folk.

Yesterday I learned about hanging drywall. One of the volunteers (who'd had years of experience with Habitat for Humanity) was an excellent teacher. I felt a real sense of accomplishment in the learning and the doing. Today was painting (there were enough volunteers at the drywall house) - a bit less fulfilling for me.

Tomorrow, it may be going back to the painting house to finish what was started, or off somewhere else. Where the need is, I'm willing to go. I wish I had some skill they were really dying for, but so far I'll have to settled for lending a hand wherever. And, I suppose I'm cool with that.

More later. Cheers, Joe.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

On the Road for Relief - hurricane relief, that is.

This week, I am with a group from my parish at a work camp in Mississippi. Somewhere near Long Beach, we arrived tonight and will be working all week long. I'll try to stay in touch and posts as I can.

This is an uptown work camp. Housed in a gym, with cots, etc., they just got wireless access. Glad I brought my laptop!

Many thanks to all who've read and made comments. I think it will be good to be away from home. Some distance between my wife and me is not a bad thing for both of us, right now.

It's hot. I'm tired. I'm sooooo....... in the closet this week with a group from Church. Alas.

Cheers to all.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

What's helped you?

In the midst of all the twelve step work, which seems to go slowly, I've been reading some about being gay and being Christian. I need some positive, affirming stuff to lift the burden of shame.

Shame for the acting out, the addiction, the pain I've caused through that is one thing. But no longer do I want to feel shame for being gay. Sure, I'm sad this didn't "all work out" years ago, but this is where we are. Life on Life's terms, not mine.

So, as I've mentioned, I've been reading Gifted by Otherness by Wm. Countryman and M.R. Ritley. Also, I read Soul Beneath the Skin, by David Nimmons.

In dealing with being gay and a sex addict, Cruise Control by Robert Weiss has helped sort through some things.

Any "affirmation books" -- you know, the little ones with daily readings? Something short and easy to digest.

When it comes to coming out and discovering what it means to be gay, I know it is more than just sex, for goodness sake. But when it comes to the sex part, I'm not interested in books. I am awaiting a time when I can experience some intensive on-the-job-training (LOL) So, I'll let y'all know when to keep your calendars open!

  • For others out there, what's been helpful for you in accepting yourself as gay, and in working toward wholeness?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Telling Shame

This evening, in a counseling session with my wife, we talked more about how to tell our children that their parents are separating, and that their father is gay. We did not come up with a plan. It did not go well.

Details are unimportant here, but I left feeling a deep, very intense feeling of shame. I have ruined the lives of so many folk, now and in the future. I wish this would all go away.

I am way past wanting to "do myself in." This whole coming-out process has convinced me more than ever how much I want to live. But there are times (like now) I would like simply to disappear, leave the scene of the crime, vanish into never land. Just leave them all be. And leave me be, too.

And, of course, when one is living in addiction, all it takes is a little bit of shame to set things off. Oh, how I want to go and find some bear to @$*)$&%($)) with. But, that course of action only starts the cycle over, feeling more shame, spiraling downward. Maybe one day, I will be able to @$*)$&%($)). But not because I'm trying to drug the shame and make the feelings go away. Maybe when it's just me, these things won't be "so bad." But not today.
Perhaps some sense of shame will never go away. Perhaps life will just go from bad to worse to worser. But at least I have been a little honest with myself and a few others. I am gay.
I am so very sad that I didn't figure this all out a long time ago. Yes, sometimes, I wish it would go away, if only I knew how I could change into somebody else. But then, I wouldn't be me. And, even though "being me" right now doesn't seem so great, it's the only life I've got. And I want to live it. And I want the pain to ease.
I know there are some resources on-line for "telling your children." Any suggestions are welcome.

Today. Just for today. One day at a time.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Glaciers - Moving

I didn't realize how long it had been since my last post. Sorry about that.

Glaciers move slowly but inexorably. As they creep along, as the ice melts, crevasses form: those cracks that may be hidden from view but then slowly develop into chasms. And they are cold.

That's is what it feels like at home. Though my wife and I get along quite well, always have, I feel a slowly growing, cold rift beginning. I suppose it's only natural, all things considered. This summer is the time when we will separate. When both children are home from school and will have one another for some support, we will tell them. They will want to know why we hadn't let them in on it sooner, but there is no need to burden them with it now. One in college, one in high school, they don't need any more distractions than they already have.

Will we tell them everything? Exactly why Daddy is leaving? I think so, but that will be difficult, because they have to keep it quiet. The coming out can't happen out loud. It must be kept in check so as not to endanger my job.

Mixed feelings: excitement, dread, coming relief, approaching disaster, new community, utter isolation. Such is life.

Working with a 12 step group has been life-giving. The concept of "one day at a time" is coming into focus and into practice. Surrendering not just the addiction stuff, but many other areas of life is helping. I have always wanted God to "take it away." Now I think I understand that it is less about God taking something away as it is my handing it over. Subtle difference but with big effect.

But I am not just recovering, I am coming out, also. Two things that can seem conflictual. Part of me says "quite acting out" while the other keeps asking, "but what does it mean to be gay." Much to learn.

I've been reading Gifted by Otherness by Wm. Countryman and M.R. Ritley. Written by two Christian theologians (and Episcopalians), it is not a difficult read. It helps me find some framework, something to hang all this on, something to help me see I am not alone.

I must get back to work. Thanks to all who read, comment, and offer themselves through this blogosphere.

Shalom & Cheers, Joe.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Withdrawal

Slowly but surely, I am "working the program" in my 12 step journey with sexual addiction. Slowly being the operative word.

Surely it is a difficult road for straight men, but I know this one gay boy is having a very difficult time. Since time immemorial, masturbation has been "close at hand," (no laughing please, well, don't laugh too much.) And when that evolved to hook-ups with men, it was down hill from there.

I have been off the drug for almost two weeks now. Not since I was in the hospital in 1972 have I gone that long. Never. Always, it's right there, easy to use, free for the taking. And I am feeling it. Withdrawal.

And with no more drug, the emotions have run the gamut. Anger, sadness, fear, and more fear. Resentments of all sorts. I've always "managed" my feelings rather closely. They aren't permitted to get out of hand. If they do, that's when I get out my hand. Nuff said?

There is a part of this that seems so unreal. I'm not a sex addict, just a gay man getting it where he can, trying to get over years of frustration; trying to find solace in this closet I've kept myself in . . . . . . right? Now, I'm wending my way out of this closet. All those woofy men around (and, God, there are some very woofy men around!). Is all the looking and leering something I have to give up, too? Not yet, I hope. I was just getting used to looking without all the shame and guilt from years of peaking through the cracks in the door.

One day, I will drink it all in, and act it all out, and play around with whatever takes my fancy (or other parts). But not today. Not today. Just for today, I will surrender it, because I really can't do it on my own. Really.

Surrender is such a slippery thing (no puns, please). It is something I must decide to do, yet is not something I can just will. With so much of my life out-of-control, there is much yet to surrender.

My sponsor tells me that it all sounds like a normal progression. What most people experience in their early stages of withdrawal. I've not often thought of myself as "normal," so guess that's comforting to know.

Onward, upward, but at least not downward.

Shalom & Cheers, Joe.

PS, I hope this comes up with a picture in it. Thanks to Picasa.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Mine, not yours.

I received this comment on a previous post and wanted to share it and respond to it. I would ask its author but have no way to contact him.

Joe - you seem to be linking this 'obsession' with sex, with being gay. Believe me, its not about being gay so much as about being male. There are plenty of hetero men out there doing the same. It's just with gay men, you get two men who want the same. Don't make this part of your reconciliation with being gay. Sexual behaviour is just that, and its only, I think, easier to find an outlet as a gay man than as a hetero man, since the girls don't seem to be quite so inclined (ok, I know, some girls are), but treat it as a 'sexual problem' not a 'gay' problem, or you just add to your woes. that's what I think anyway.


I appreciate the author's concern and care. It would be easy to mix up the gay stuff and the addiction stuff. In fact they are closely intertwined, but not inextricably so. Part of this journey into recovery is about separating them.

I know heteros do the same thing. Most of the folk in the 12 step group are straight. And, some of the straight men have acted out with other men - we know where it's easy to find. No commitment, no name, sometimes no face, just a hole in the wall.

My struggle with being gay is still there, but it's not about the addiction. I know that I am gay, and I am even coming around to being grateful for it. Yes, sometimes I wish I were straight, but then I wouldn't be me. And, my "wishing" is mainly about my family, my wife and children. God knows I don't want to hurt them in any way. But sometimes the truth is painful. Living monger with the Lie would be much worse. The truth is the only thing that will set us free.

Thanks, L, I hear your comments as supportive, and I appreciate them.

And another thing . . . . .
My addictive behavior is mine. I know now that is what it's been. This is about me. This is NOT intended as commentary, judgment, or ridicule of any one else or any body's behavior.

Is it OK to hookup with some hot guy now and then? to have a "fling", to have an orgy? I don't know. It all sounds hot to me, and I hope one of these days . . . . .
But my acting out has been obsessive. It takes over my life. It takes me out of reality and into a kind of trance state. And, I want more. And more. The trance state sneaks in, it keeps me from doing my job, I think about it, obsess about it. Then the Internet porn search starts. Meanwhile, hours -hours - have gone by and there I am, building up, edging, backing off, continuing the search, the high, waiting for the climax.

It has begun to control me. That's the problem. I'm not judging those activities. I think they can be OK, sometimes. But for me, it's gotten out of hand. (no puns, please).

Today has been a difficult one for lots of reasons. My wife and I have been talking more and more about details of separating this summer. It is so painful. One day at a time.

Shalom to all, Joe.

PS: I still can't add pictures, so you all will have to do with my pitiful writing. J.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Progress, Not Perfection

I've started attending a 12 step meeting for sex addicts. The more I hear from others, the more I know I'm in the right place. Surrender is difficult. Not sure I can do that, really. But I'm OK in the higher power department. That part is not a stretch for me.

For so long, I've thought I could handle this, I could manage it. But I can't. And that is a foundation of the twelve steps. Knowing you cannot. But that doesn't mean it can't happen. It's about relying on God to make changes in me, to transform me, little by little.

Of course, one would think I'd already tried that, and I suppose I have. I've prayed for years about it, and nothing seemed to happen. But I'm not sure if I really wanted it to happen. Or, I expected magic. OK God, wave the wand and let's get this over with.

Miracles do happen, but I don't think miracles and magic are anywhere close to one another. God makes things happen, but what we really want is magic.

I just can't find my wand. (No, not that one!)

Cheers, Joe.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Came to believe

Being gay means a great deal more than just "sex with men." But we know that is part of it. For me (and, I suppose, for many), that was where our journeys started. I can't say I recall ever understanding that I had an "attraction to men." Since men aren't wired to have sexual attraction to other men, then I couldn't, right? Ha! Who knew? Not me.

But, from about the 4th grade on, I learned something that would ease the pain. All those years of compulsive masturbation. The drug that helped me sleep. And then, orgasm, ejaculation. OMG. What was that? Surely the lining of my kidneys were coming out! Ha.

I didn't know about straight sex till I was a little older. I just masturbated. A lot. Then, discovering some other men, masturbating in a restroom at the mall, I was overjoyed. I wasn't the only one! Then they came out of the stalls. The wanted to see mine. My what? Then . . . well . . . . they had their way with me. I didn't know men did that sort of thing with each other. OMG. This can't be happening. Oh, but the feeling. The drug. Even stronger than before. And they wanted me. Me.

But, with no way to process this information (even though I was sixteen at the time), I slumped into depression. And there was always masturbation.

Being a large, older-looking teenager, I discovered book stores. Of the adult variety. And glory holes. Then rest stops and, in grad school in the big city, sex clubs.

I knew something was amiss. But still, I would never have said I was "gay." Any time I engaged in such activity, there was an almost trance-like state that came over me. It was the drug my body produced, the neuro-chemical reaction. O god, what a high! I was lost in bliss, and completely without the help of any outside drugs. Just the ones I made myself. (Except for nicotine, which I learned to ingest at an early age, too).

And, after that voluptuous high, the fall was all the greater. The guilt, the shame, the humiliation. The unbelievable incongruity of this nice, caring, prayerful, good Christian boy with this dark, sensuous, pornographic demon who possessed him from time to time.

Over all the years, all the prayers, therapy, etc., it still didn't occur to me that I was, in fact, gay. Is this what it meant to be gay, what kind of a life was that? I didn't want to be gay (still don't, sometimes). I just want to be the nice, caring, prayerful, good Christian boy who's normal, with the nice, normal family.

So, marriage, children, stable job, very active in the church. It didn't go away. I was just running away from relationship. It was a problem with intimacy. It's just an activity to which I have habituated myself. Addiction, maybe. Oh, and then the Internet came along. OMG! All that stuff online. The drug I can produce myself, and no need to leave home, even. Well, every once in a while, on the road by myself, the trance sets in. I go looking, and well-trained to finding it.

Hours spent looking. Lies to cover up "why I'm so late." Excuses. Guilt. Shame.

It's all in my head, right? With courage, I can work through this, right? Guess again.

So, I finally come to terms with it in my 49th year. And now, I must come to terms with more than just being gay.

Even though I have broached the subject with myself before, once again I have come to the point of understanding that I am an addict. Oh, yes, I am gay. This is not another ploy to fool myself in that regard. But now I have come to see that gay is not something I chose, nor is it just all that filthy, dangerous, anonymous, sex; in rest rooms, and bushes, and parks, and bookstores.

My deeper self does want relationship, intimacy, companionship, and sex. Being gay is more than what I knew. And still, I hear the call and have the desire to be Christian. But wait, look! There are myriads of other gay Christians out there! I am not alone! Though difficult, the journey is one toward the desires of my heart, not just the wantonness of my gonads.

But addiction is there. I have come to believe that. I've seen how my behaviors, past and more present that I want to admit, are not about being gay. they are about lust, the drug, the high, the all-too-temporary release.

I have come to believe that I am out of control. Oh, not all the time. I can control this, manage this, keep a handle on this, put a lid on this. Then, the trance starts, the buzz, the chemicals that surge through my mind and body as I begin the search. I start looking for it. Wanting it to such a degree that judgment is suspended. There is nothing else. Fear of disease, arrest, humiliation, disaster, all melt into the back ground. I am an addict. And I want my drug.

Insane. Out-of-control. Putting myself, my family, my career, everything at risk. Serious risk. This is the dark, incongruous side of this nice, Christian boy. And still it lurks in me.

So, near the bottom of the pit, I must do something. But I can't control it. But I have come to believe that there is One who can restore me to sanity. The journey takes another very unexpected turn.

Shalom & Cheers, Joe.