Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Moment to Think

I can't ever seem to shake the feeling that I'm always late to the party.  Whenever I show up, it seems everyone has had their fun and on their way home.  This isn't fully literal in the sense that I'm going to a physical party, it's just a way for me to express how I feel about coming out so late in life.  Not just coming out to the world, but coming out to myself.  And not just with sexuality, but myself as a whole person and who I am and wish to be.  I've spent nearly four decades keeping myself locked away, isolated.  Most of my childhood was in a deeply religious rural environment where my only safety was in my room with the door locked, especially when my dad was home.  I grew up with very few friends whom I couldn't often see because we lived outside of town, but I would end up losing them every few years anyway as we kept moving to new towns.

I'm quite often left with bewilderment, anxiety, and an extreme sense of invisibility to the gay community at large.  I'm not accustomed to being flirted with, hit on, touched by others or to touch others, and I'm unsure of my place and boundaries in relationships with others.  All too often, my instincts have been maligned by my upbringing so I've been conditioned not to trust them.  And in my attempt to reconnect with my instincts, I often misinterpret and I end up being impulsive in ways that bring discomfort to others.   I sincerely hope that I've not offended anyone or made them uncomfortable with how I've behaved in their presence.  If so I'm very sorry.

I know for many out there, events like MAL, are a fun party like atmosphere to enjoy what we love, but for me it's still a nerve racking experience, filled with fear, anxiety, self doubt, and an overwhelming sense of feeling like an interloper.   But I would like to publicly thank Sir, Gunny for his more than generous efforts and more than generous time he took away from his own family and friends this weekend to help me keep those feelings subdued and show me what is possible. 

Going forward, I feel some slight hope that I might see a future in this, but too much is nagging at me to know for sure if I'm ever going to have much more than what I've already been given.  I don't mean to end on a low note, but I must be realistic with myself and honest with how I feel right now.   I'm sure things will change; they have to, for better or worse, but it's difficult for me to understand what lies ahead.  I have no context for this.


Friday, January 10, 2014

Is the break over?

After over 4 years and 4 Christmas holidays not setting foot in Utah, I went back to Utah to visit this year, and become reacquainted with family and the changes that have taken place with everyone and myself.  That being said, I ended up at Starbucks for at least one day.   I actually like Starbucks, I was just hoping for something of a local flavor.  Fat chance it seemed in the northern suburbs of Salt Lake City.  

Five days in to my trip I still hadn't had any alcohol since the plane ride.  The family party, which was normally on the day after Christmas, had been moved to the following Saturday because my sister's family were still getting over their illness.

I wanted to get some alcohol for the party but I had no idea where these Utah state controlled liquor stores were and I had no GPS.  I ended up calling a friend in New York who talked me through it over the phone only to arrive and find out it didn't open until 11am and I wasn't going to wait around all morning for it to open.  So, I sent a text to my brother-in-law to pick up some Jack Daniel's Honey Whiskey on his way in later that day.  I was hoping for the single serve bottles but found out you couldn't get them in Utah.  So we had a large bottle that he and I drank from.  The other half my dad decided he wanted it, much to my surprise. 

Early in the week my mom and I went driving around the valley looking for a new winter coat as I badly needed one.  We tried REI, Cabalas, A.A. Callister, and I ended up finding some nice winter riding boots.  I had my eye on them for years.  It's hard not to buy tall boots when they are right there in front of me, and they fit.  My mom offered to pay for them but I declined as they were an impulse purchase we were there to buy a coat and we should stick to the plan no matter how much it costs us in the end.  You might get the impressing that I like shopping.  Nope.  I don't.  But having my mom there assisting, made it easier.

But one thing led to another and I realized I couldn't wear my new boots around unless I had some new Levi's to tuck into them.  I packed light this year and only brought basic pants and shirts, nothing more different than what I would normally wear to work.  So we went to look for pants.  I was quite surprised that the 501 button fly ones fit me really damn well, despite my fat thighs and butt and huge belly hanging over my belt. They made my boots look damn good on me.  I wore my new jeans and boots pretty much the entire week. I even wore them home on the plane.

I had hoped that I might get to meet up with some of my furry acquaintances in Utah whom I had gotten to know over Google+.  But they were all too busy with family which is understandable this time of year.  But I did have a chance to meet up with my friend Jen whom I had gotten to know through her blog and the Facebook ex-Mormon groups.  She has horses!  And it turns out that impulse boot purchase paid off as I got to go riding.  Well sort of, the horses were not in the mood, so we relented and let them eat.  But we didn't get off.  We sat on them while they ate.  We showed them. 

I'm so glad we sat there.  The smell, the touch, the movements, of these animals allowed me to dissipate my anxiety.  The anxiety that hit me when I pulled into her driveway.  It's hard for me to meet people I already know in person.  And this one hit me particularly hard and quickly.  In the 90 minute drive it took me to get to her house, I was feeling calm and joyful to be going.  But upon approaching the house and pulling into the driveway, it hit me hard.  I couldn't get out of the car.  All I could do was send a text and let her know I was here.  I'm sure she realized that without the text  but I sent it anyway.  Thankfully she had gotten past her anxiety of meeting me and came out to the car to get me.  And that is what I needed.  I think I had become consumed with the fear of rejection, and when she didn't reject me, I started to feel ok again.  Still, the anxiety still took time to dissipate, and I still found myself pulling back a bit, not really relaxing and letting myself be all there. 

My family hasn't been all that troublesome in my life since coming out.  They may be Mormon, but they take the religion on their own terms, which is what I wish the rest of the Utah Mormons would do.  I even found myself in a conversion with my dad and later with my brother-in-law about BDSM.  I had a brief moment when I felt awkward when my dad asked about MAL and what I did there.  But as with my mom, the conversation was challenging but never got awkward.  The conversation was friendly as I talked about what it meant to me and many people and that for many, its therapy.  Just like my mom, he gets it but doesn't get it at the same time.  Just like how I get why they remain Mormons but I don't get it at the same time.  And just like that, the conversation quickly moves to politics as we commiserate on the pathetic state of Teabagging Republican dumbasses or the embarrassment that is the Utah Governor and the stream of Attorney Generals.  There was little to no mention from anyone about the gay marriage drama happening at the time.  The few mentions were from a random nephew or my dad reading to us joke making fun of the Governor about in City Weekly.  

 Times have changed.  I would never have had the freedom to be who I am twenty years ago.  So it's good to know just how far, not only I've come along, but the rest of my family as well. And in many ways, they had passed me.  I hadn't been aware of it because I had moved out 20 years ago.

My main reasons for avoiding them was their general emotional dysfunction, co-dependency and the triggers from them and of being in Utah.  I needed the space to find and break those triggers.   And now gauging my experience over the week, it seems that many of those triggers have gone, mostly within the last year.   

But, I'm still not so sure that I'll ever move back there.  My last day there I spent the day with my brother-in-law.  We went to one of the local micro breweries in Layton and attempted to order some tasters for the beers they severed.  I sat in stunned silenced as the waiter tells me that I'm restricted to only two 4 oz tasters and then 1 beer per hour after that.  Only two tasters?  One beer per hour?  I wonder if Utah will ever legalize adulthood. 


Saturday, September 28, 2013

God Damn It

Q: So, do you think God created us or did we create God?

A: We created the god who created us.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Moving Along

It does go without saying that it has been a while since I've written anything on this blog.  My last post doesn't count because I was reposting something I originally wrote for Facebook.  But, it was something that should have been posted here.

Things in life have a way of changing.  I haven't been all that busy, but I have been remarkably lost in activities of distraction, which fed my writer's block.   Not that my writer's block was a problem per say, but that I was allowing my distractions to take over, not letting myself mediate on anything long enough to develop something to write about.  In essence, I've been coasting and not doing much with myself.  Letting my job any my living situation be an excuse for not participating in life, depressed mostly.  It's been like that pretty much since July.

The beginning of 2012 right up through June was intense and left me somewhat numb.  Aside from a few outings such as Dragon*Con, hurricane Sandy, which I chose to spend with a friend in North Carolina instead of suffering through the intense anxiety I went through with hurricane Irene the previous year, and a Christmas holiday in Seattle with some friends, I basically coasted on that numbness.   But all during that time, I noticed that I have been markedly feeling and thinking differently about things.  And I've been feeling the need to get back to writing as the dawning of this new year has given me a sense of allowance for renewal and awakening.

It's been a few weeks since MAL 2013 and yet I still find that I'm decompressing.  It was, as always, a remarkable experience for me as all socially intensive situations are.  And with that I've been able to measure how far I've come in the last few years as well and get a sense for how far I still have to go.  And the results are, I've come along way, and I've got a long way to go.  And with that, I would like to put this out there as a way to say thank you to the universe and the people involved, even though I've already thanked them in person.  

It's embarrassing to admit that I walk into these social situations with a tremendous amount of anxiety that paralyzes me and overwhelms my senses.  I'm quite often frozen, inhibited and shut off during these moments.  The social anxiety is often all consuming and takes away my ability to be engaging and cheerful.  It's all driven by my fear of judgment, rejection, and dismissal, for being imperfect and lacking in knowledge and experience, and unworthy of love.  And for the most part, I think I hide it pretty wall, except from the most astute observers.  But in the end, I just end up angry at myself for putting myself in social situations that creates more anxiety. I literally shut down emotionally from that anxiety leaving me in a state of mind that I was afraid of being in in the first place.    Last year at MAL that's pretty much how it went.  Even though I left there a changed person with some new found awareness about what it meant to be authentic, I was still stuck in not accepting that I deserved a place there.

This year at MAL, I had a very different type of experience that gave me some new and profound perspectives.  I learned some amazing things about myself and what it means to be a person of love, worth and value which is allowing me to feel much more gratitude than I ever have before.  I'm feeling a shift in my outlook and in my inward look, that is permissive of myself to be myself, whatever state that may look like, in whatever amount of stress I might be under, in whatever might be holding me back from expressing my wants and desires.

I'm allowing myself to be OK with the person I become when I don't know what to say, the person I become when I feel vulnerable and scared or when I'm calm and funny.  I'm allowing that person that I am at that time, and not judging him with expectations of what he should be doing or could be doing. I'm allowing myself to be what I am and only what I am in the moment and state that I am, which is now.

I can't say that I did all this on my own. Sure, it took a large amount of self awareness and willingness and book knowledge, but it took some education and wisdom that many wonderful friends have been able to give me, and some select moments of trust with some other friends at MAL as they literally, and figuratively, held my leash through the process without judgment, criticism and rejection, giving me the permission I needed to be who I am during all those states.  The simple act of going through the motions of all these states, practicing within a safe environment, which I have all the book knowledge of but I don't have the actual practical experience, in order to start that process of deprogramming decades of self doubt and self hatred.

What happened was a profound healing experience that lifted me to a higher plane of self love.

Sometimes, it really does take someone to help.  To literally be there with me and give me the permission, safety, and respect that I need for that healing experience to happen.  I've always been taught I can only do it on my own.  But I know now that's not true and in some cases, not possible.  I'm now more willing to not only ask for that help, but more importantly, allow myself to receive that help when it is offered.

But most importantly, I've learned that I can trust again.

Thank you all.  I hope that I can carry this with me as long as possible.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

My New New Year

I originally posted this on Facebook on December 21, 2012. 

Happy Winter Solstice everyone.

Today marks the dawning of a new year.  For me, it's a time to reevaluate what is important to me and work toward better awareness and alignment of what I believe vs. what I truly value.
Each day is a step in a direction.  Not necessarily forward, but a step nonetheless.  And when each step is taken, it is unknown the direction I have taken until well after the footprint has settled.

Looking back, it has been an excruciatingly difficult year.  I've had many profound experiences which have permanently and profoundly changed me.  For the good or bad?  That's not a judgment that can be made with much clarity anymore, nor could it be.  When such things happen, they challenge and change beliefs and perspectives.  What once had been called good is now called bad, and what had been called bad is now called good.  Each item settling into a place where it best belongs.  And in the end, the labels of good and bad fade into meaninglessness until it all just exists as experience.  What I take from it is a new or expanded awareness.  And not to be too ironic in my dismissal of the labels of good and bad, awareness is a good thing. 

I may be remiss in not sharing the deeper parts of my life with people but, somewhere along the way, I had found that such openness wasn't always welcome.  So, out of a sense of self protection, I keep things to myself for the most part.  However, this is changing. To what extent, I can't say.  Future awareness might further level my caution.  Wait and see.  I'm just going to take it one day at a time. 

This year I look forward with anticipation, wonder, and unfortunately, a great deal of anxiety, to what is coming.  But with that, I'm working to not look forward so much that I miss what I'm doing right now.  One day at a time, one hour at a time, one minute at a time, one second at a time.

At the risk of sounding saccharine, I want to thank the many people in my life who have, over the past year, made a difference to me in profound and long lasting ways.  Some of you may not even realize it as we have never met in person, but your presence here and the things you've shared with me publicly and in private messages have meant a great deal to me.  Don't take my silence as lack of gratitude.  It's there; I just don't always express it. 

Winter of 2012 Assateague Island, VA

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