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?

6 comments:

A Troll At Sea said...

Toaster:

You got me to buy the Nimmons book, for which I ALMOST stopped reading you. You know, not really, but I thought Nimmons was full of [a] hot air, and [b] himself.

June 25, 2006:

On the one hand, there is the claim that there is no difference between us and those who gave us life. This is a claim whose possibility we owe entirely to Margaret Sanger, because before sterility became a prefered choice within marriage, it was perfectly clear that marriage entailed things that our unions cannot. But this claim is coupled with a curious, categorical decision NOT to pursue civil unions although a majority of Americans, including President Bush, is in favor of according gay couples civil rights by granting them, but to push for what Andrew Sullivan calls "the M word", which will involve us all in a fight to the death with an enemy we cannot hope to defeat because, limited as his numbers are, he has the vast majority of Americans on his side when it comes to what marriage is and means.

On the other, you have the insistence that mainstream American society is the oppressive force and that we are the liberated few that have to show them the way to their own liberation. David Nimmons, in his seemingly endless book The Soul Beneath The Skin goes to enormous lengths to document the differences between gay and straight men, to the enormous credit of the former, needless to say. But do we really want three-quarters of ALL marriages that survive five years to be open as our relationships are? Imagine for a moment that was the world you grew up in...

And the statistics he trots out with such assurance that we are creating new forms of male society seem to show nothing more than how in these aspects at least, gay men are more like women. However, sexual behavior is not one of them. There, it is quite clear that relationships between two men are free from a lot of whatever it is that women bring to an enduring relationship. To our credit? I ask you. Until we are willing to look at ALL the facts and not pick and choose to bolster our own arguments, we will be stuck in a dream world of our own making.

Yes, no one should sit still when someone else tries to use the name of God to declare him an outcast and a leper, but it would behoove us to remember that Christ healed the lepers and told the adulteress to "go and sin no more". If God is not a liberating force, he is not the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Jesus. But if liberation does not root in God, we have to ask ourselves what force it roots in.

Don't get me wrong [well, OK, so it's too late for that]. I want everyone to know that he is much a child of God as the next person on the planet, and I believe with every bone in my body that anyone who attempts to declare the opposite in the name of God is clearly speaking for Someone Else Indeed. Why won't people just read the gospels, for Christ's sake? It would be nice if they took them even a little bit seriously.

But all of us have fallen short of the glory of God. And that means that we have, as much as the ones we blame for our former condition. So here's what I'd like to see: Gay Humility, the sign of a community that admits its shortcomings and its temptations, that can stop insisting on its rights and spend some time reflecting on its responsibilities. Gay Meekness, so we can inherit the earth.

Gay Charity, not focused solely on its own circle, but admitting its place in the larger scheme of things. Gay Hope, for a world where we seek to come together rather than to Balkanize our society further. And Gay Faith, in the unforeseeable acts of a God who burns without consuming us, who brings water out of rocks in the desert, raises up our dead bones and clothes them in sinew, and promises the immanent descent of a city radiant with gemstones, with a garden blooming at its center. All for us.

Well, I can live in hope, can't I?

Hang in there, BT.
T@C

Jeremiah said...

What is there to being gay? At age 40 I realize now, that society has come a long way since I was a boy. I counsel my boys not to label themselves. Labels delineate and separate.

Self identity is more important that societal identity because society is apt to label anything that is "not the same." Thereby making it either Bad or wrong.

I don't know what all the fuss is about coming out. You're Gay, that's that we know it, you know it, who else does it matter?

You are going to harp on this until you are dead. Just be the best man you can be, be good, do good, be a good father and citizen to the world. The rest will come to pass as it needs to.

I don't see all the hullabaloo to identify and label that which you are? Who are you trying to convince, You or the World?

This isn't brain surgery. Go into the world and live a good life, WHO you are is more important that WHAT you are, for in the end, WHAT and WHO you are will be between YOU and GOD, and nobody else.

Paul Monette, Edmund White and many other great gay writers of the past, some long since dead will show you what being gay is, loving your fellow, helping others and that being Gay is NOT all about sex.

It was for me when I was 21 that changed when I turned 26 and was diagnosed with AIDS. Now I am 40, and I can tell you - I am more interested in the fact that you are a human being having a spiritual experience, rather than being a QUEER dancing in the streets and screwing anything that will allow you.

Oh, the drama. Live you life, to the best of your ability and forget about the rest. Go buy a copy of Under the Tuscan Sun and listen to the dialogue.

Go work on your house and forget about it. I used to sit in the garden and search for lady bugs and they would never come. Then I forgot about it one day and fell asleep in the grass, and when I woke up I was covered with Lady Bugs...

So go fix up your house and forget about it...

Drama killed the queen long ago. And you should know fare well, that in recovery, the longer we hold on to resentments, drama and pain, we will live in misery until we just "LET GO!!!"

Let Go my friend and learn to love yourself, because until you do, nothing will move forward. I know this from personal experience.

All the reading in the world will NEVER prepare you for real world living in the gay realm. You just have to get out there and LIVE.

You cannot learn to swim by reading a book, you MUST get out in the water and work on your technique, skills and stroke.

Remember there are those of us who know where you are and can save you a lot of grief, if you apply simple principles of Easy does it and Let Go and Let God.

Don't be so hard on yourself. You were straight for all those years, in essence, you used for so many years, you're not going to get clean and sober over night. LIFE is a lifetime process, and even now 20 years later being a gay man I am still learning how to be a good man in recovery.

I don't know it all, but I know a lot of what you are going through.

Get out, Live your life, you will have what you need on a need to know basis, that's how God works. Stop trying to intellectualize coming out, it is like puberty. You find your gonads and you find your self and you explore.

It is very simple. Build your house, the rest will come in good time. Build the life you want and then forget about it. What you desire will come as God sees you are ready to move forward.

You cannot rush coming out, at 40 I am still coming out into the world. In 88 days I graduate university at age 40, I am 5 years sober and I've been married for almost three years now, that took a lifetime. So you're not gonna get off that easy by reading some damned books...

Live Live Live, life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving...

You have all you need so sit back and relax. You don't ned to cram all that is gay into your head all at once. Learning about being gay and coming out is like a fine banquet. You sit down at the table of life and you sample the cuisine. You savor every bite, you enjoy every dish as it goes, your banquet has just started, do you want to rush through like in a buffet line, or do you want to savor the experience?

This is your life, spending it burying you nose in every gay book you can find will stunt your growth, get out into the world and live, feel, fuck and fraternize. Let the world show you what is in store, stop reading all those books and get out of the house and step out of that shell and for God sakes Live... You are wasting valuable time trying to intellectualizing what you don't know, but you do know, you've tasted of the fruit of the vine.

So now do it in moderation.

Walk gently through the forest making yourself acquainted with the flora and fauna. Study your surroundings and learn from them. That is the only way you will ever REALLY learn about living as a gay man. Don't hide behind books, philosophers and SHRINKS!!!

I wish I was there with you, because you can't pay for advice like some of us can give you, because it is lived experience.

Get out and live, you are wasting valuable time. We aren't going to live forever, so don't you want to see the world before you die?

Worrying is like sitting in a rocking chair, you are moving but you are not getting anywhere...

T.P.J.

Michael said...

I don't have any affirmation books to suggest. You might want to consider subscribing (free) to Hazelden's "Today's Gift" service. Go to http://www.hazelden.org/web/public/todaysgift.page and check out the information. You will get a brief daily reflection in your morning emails, usually generic enough to be applicable to whatever addictive substance or process one is dealing with. Guaranteed to be short and digestible. They are all quotes from some of their publications, too, so if you see one that sounds promising, you will have a title to look for in your local bookshop or Amazon.

You might also put together an affirmation file for yourself. Tuck in the supportive notes you get from friends, parishioners, family. [You have been keeping them, haven't you? If not, start now. Print out the most encouraging comments that people send to this blog and include those.] Then take it out every day or so and flip through it. The kind words there are not generic at all but are actual words about you. Sometimes when we read things in books, we discount it and say, "Well, maybe most people, but not me..." When it was written about you, to you by someone who actually knows you or has experienced your good qualities, then you may take it more seriously.

As for what has been most helpful in accepting being gay, the single most useful thing was sitting down for fifteen minutes and thanking God for all the ways that being gay is a blessing in my life. You may want to do that more than once. You may also want to tell God why it is a burden, but don't stop with dumping the garbage. Think about and thank God for concrete blessings connected with being gay. I found it transformational.

Ur-spo said...

while you are reading all the serious stuff, read some of the works by Joel Perry.
A sense of humor and a laugh is indicated here. He is a funny writer, a Christian, and not ashamed of who he is.
"That's why they are in cages, people" is a good starter.

BentonQuest said...

I would always recommend "Stranger at the Gate" by Mel White. Another book, this one of daily reflections is "The Word Is Out" by Chris Glaser. Another book by Chris Glaser is "Coming Out to God."

And I do agree with Ur-Spo, we all need a little humor in our lives: So I would recommend "The Homo Handbook" by Judy Carter

A Troll At Sea said...

Toaster:

Here's something else from last spring...

A VERY LONG WAY TO SAY THREE WORDS
[to get the three words, read down the capitalized first letters of each line. It's a Troll thing.]

The slave of duty sits at home, receiving;
His friends are few, but drift in one by one
And share their lives of witness and believing:
No simple task, no easy race to run.
Know what you are, but never stop at knowing
Your kind, for you are more than what you’ve been;
Our kind is what we’re called to leave, and going
Up toward the light makes clear what we have seen.
The difficult, the all-important issue
Has more to do with WHO we’re called to be,
Or rather: what, of all this wind and tissue,
May promise to bear fruit for all to see.
A chance to meet and speak may mean confessing;
Some risk, it’s true, but what abundant blessing!