Friday, May 10, 2019

Vanilla

Oh how I loathe being mediocre. When I take a step back and look at myself, every aspect of my life is very vanilla. I'm a very, very basic, simple person. I don't enjoy going to the movies or getting into a TV series. I pretty much watch the same movies and TV shows over and over and over again. I don't read, or if I do it's usually restricted to 1-2 authors. I don't enjoy mingling or going to social events and hobknobbing w/ others. We usually eat at the same places and do the same things at home and have the same blahzay daily routines. My looks and body are mediocre. My talents are average. I don't excel at any 1 thing or stand above the crowd in any way. My job is thankless and I feel easily expendable. I settled w/ a college degree that I have no idea why I studied for in the first place. I'm spineless and milque-toasty when it comes to confrontation or when taking control of my life. I'm 'luke-warm' in a lot of areas in regard to living the gospel. My intelligence and smarts are middle of the road. I'm a pretty selfish friend, neighbor and human being in a lot of respects. I have no desire or passion for any one career. I just can't seem to figure out what the hell I want to do w/ my life (at 40!) There's nothing in the medical field or high profile, salaried jobs that have ever appealed to me. I think I would be happy and content w/ just being a Yellowstone Park Ranger or Secretary. But how does one support a family of 6 on the salary of careers such as that? Sigh.

Can you see now? Vanilla all over the place.
Blah. Sub par. Mediocre. Boring. Run of the mill. Plain. Average. Dull. Ordinary.

It's actually frightening, and unless I quickly change my thought pattern, those thoughts can lead me down a thorny road of depression and sadness and anger. My wife has to remind me of the following words pretty regularly: "Comparison is the thief of joy." There never was a truer statement! When I think about my blessings and how 'good' my life is, then I'm pretty content and glad I live a simpleton's life. But it's easy to slip out of gear and start whining and boo-hoo'ing about my lot, especially when I compare myself to others and the reality of the fact that "we only go through this life one time, make it count", it makes me squirm w/ unrest and dissatisfaction and disgust.

I can attribute a lot of my mediocrity and feelings of loss and separation from myself to my sex addiction and living for years lost in a fog. I completely lost touch w/ myself and who I am, what I want to do when I grow up, what brings me excitement and passion, etc. There are only a few things in this world that really get my gears grinding and ignite a fire inside of me and some of them aren't very kosher (sex, sex jokes, inappropriate memes and GIFs, horror movies, etc).Seriously, I'm a forever 14-year-old-minded immature boy who still snickers when 'vagina' or 'cock' is shared in public and get off on anything naughty or tasteless or off color is shared. And some other interests I have are just sadly pathetic for a 40 year old man: Golden Girls, flowers and gardening, bubble baths, and planning for a hike or soak in some hot springs.

Last night my wife and I went to dinner at an old friends' NEW house. They gave us a tour of their wow-y home and yard and pointed out various features and design elements. Of course he's successful in sales (silver platter) and they've been touched w/ the magic wand of success, wealth, and class. Everything's coming up roses for them (outwardly). I walked away feeling pretty grim, realizing that I will never have that! I will never have a beautiful, custom-built home w/ all the trimmings and trappings exactly as I want them in this lifetime. While my home is considered beautiful to many, it's not MY home. I didn't build it. It doesn't have a lot of the things I or my wife would want in our home. So, unless I fall into a diamond mine, I need to be content and realize that's how it is. I obviously don't hate my mediocre life enough to do anything about it, otherwise I would have. So shut the hell up and quit my bitching! But oh, those hopeless feelings of being trapped and settling and mediocrity bug me so! I will never be a leader or executive or anyone rich or famous. I'll never do anything capacious or worthwhile enough to make my star shine bright. I'll never have the custom home or the lust-worthy body or the popular children or the high status in church or in government. I'm destined to be dull and forever fly under the radar throughout life. The fact is unless I really push myself and make myself uncomfortable and turn my world upside down, then nothing will ever change. I'll continue living flat and boring, moseying my way through life forever feeling sub-par, basic, mediocre and vanilla.

Waiter! Would you please bring me another bowl of vanilla ice cream please?!


Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Teenage PTSD

This afternoon I decided to walk down memory lane and began surfing Facebook profiles of some of my old Jr. High and High School classmates. No, I'm not Facebook friends w/ any of them and don't care to be any day soon. I just surfed through some of their public (nauseating) photos and comments and who they've remained friends with from our school days. I don't know why I did b/c it has left me feeling really, really low. It just helped prove once again that I still have a lot of hurt and resentment and anger and sadness toward these people. Complete and total PTSD! Even looking at pictures of some of those that I had good relationships and even friendships with, but who I've since fallen out of touch with, left me feeling really melancholy. If only these people knew what a negative affect their actions and words have had on me and my life! All of these years later and I still feel like a malnourished and frightened puppy dog who has been beaten and abandoned. It's like I'm 14 all over again!

To see these people in their glory, with family and kids and friends, makes me gag. Now I know nothing is perfect and the magic lens of social media makes everything look fabulous. But it's more about wondering how differently things would have been for me had I not been so rejected and ostracized. How would it have been to have been popular and loved and liked? How would it have been to have made wonderful, fun, joyous memories in Jr. High and High School and to look back on those years with fondness and longing? How would it be to anticipate reunions and reconnecting w/ old classmates instead of feeling like my guts are turning inside out and having feelings of sadness and anxiety and tumult? How would it be to have had my life given to me on a silver platter and fed w/ a silver spoon like some of my school mates (apparently) have? Some people just have it all, don't they? That's something God and I are going to have a very long talk about when I get to the other side.

On one hand I guess I can say I'm very grateful for the shit I went through. It has made me compassionate and strong and has brought beautiful broken people into my life through my associations in addiction recovery groups and same sex attraction support groups. It has humbled me and made me appreciate family and loyal friends and simplicity. But on the other side it crushed my self esteem and confidence and caused me a lot of pain and fear of social situations. I have had a helluva time figuring myself out b/c of my being lost in the fog of addictions I sought refuge in for 25 years. It's like I'm still scrambling through life trying to find myself; something that should have been done 2 decades ago! Ugh. And yet I see all of those assholes that I went to school with who are all established and successful and have money and beautiful families and homes and friends and lives and confidence. Gosh, how would it be!?

Nevertheless, I'm grateful to be where I'm at today and to be WHO I am. I'm thankful for my sweet, ramshackle little family and my faithful wife. I'm thankful for my current friends and relationships and associations. I'm grateful for my authenticity and vulnerability and testimony. And I'm especially grateful to have nothing to do w/ the people that were so terribly prevalent in my life when I was a teenager. Let them have their success and their (supposed) fabulous friends and money and looks and gaggy sweet little families. Let them have their magic and their fond memories of adolescence and high school and friendly associations. Let them have all of this and I guess their cake too! Maybe someday I'll be able to finally let some of that trauma and teenage PTSD go and look at these people w/ no hurt or disgust or pain and close that book. Maybe someday.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Bullying

It's been a while since I posted anything. I thought I'd take a few minutes today to write about a few of the most traumatic times in my life when I was bullied. Mind you, these are only a few drops in the bucket, but for whatever reason these are the ones that left the biggest impression on me and ones I will never, ever forget. They still haunt me.

The very first traumatic incident I remember happened in 7th grade during Mrs. Terry's Pre-Algebra class. I hadn't gone through puberty yet and had no hair on my legs at the time. This particular day I was wearing shorts and a girl (A.B.) noticed I didn't have hair on my legs and proceeded to tell (yell) to the entire class that I shaved my legs. Suddenly it was all over the school. That was one of the first incidences and really the beginning of it all. The rumor was so bad that when it came time for yearbook signings at the end of the year, my yearbook was passed around and fell into the wrong hands and that particular rumor (I shave my legs) was written over and over and over again. I have never shown my kids my yearbooks b/c of all the terrible things that were written about me even though I've tried to white or scribble them out.

The bullying didn't just happen at school. A lot of my really traumatic, terrifying incidents happened on the bus. I was still in Jr. High and 2 High School guys (D.S. and J.S.), who would sit in the very back of the bus, would threaten me every morning and night on the way to/from school and relentlessly call me (yell) "faggot" and "fem" and more in front of all of the other bus riders. One day (May 17) just as we were pulling up to my house I yelled something back at them (thinking I would be quickly getting off the bus and be safely in my own house). But no. One of the guys (J.S.) ran up the aisle toward me and grabbed me by my throat and lifted me into the air off of my feet, just like something the Terminator would do. He got in my face and told me to never smart off to him again. When he put me back down on my feet the bus driver quietly asked me if I was ok and, holding back tears and shock and fear, I just nodded and quickly got off the bus as fast as I could and ran into my house. That happened on my mom's birthday. I will never forget it. There's a lot of PTSD from that particular experience for some reason. I never told anyone what had happened and the bus driver never did anything about it either. Absolutely nothing. The bullying and insults continued indefinitely.

During 8th and 9th grade, the bullying and insults were so bad that I actually volunteered to work in the lunch room cafeteria washing dishes every day in order to save myself 50 minutes of relentless bullying and mockery by my school mates.

Another experience on the bus that stands out is the trimester in Jr. High when we'd have to ride from the Jr. High to the Bowling Alley for P.E. Some classmates (J.G., R.C., E.S.) would sit in the back of the bus and constantly call me faggot, cock sucker, fairy, fem, etc. etc. etc. during the bus ride. I sat alone and didn't stand up for myself and neither did anyone else. I just took it, day after day after day, and stuffed it down inside; all of the shame, fear, sadness, disgust, loneliness.,.. all of it.

When I was a sophomore in High School, I returned to my locker one day between classes and saw that someone had scratched "GAY FAG" into my locker. I took all my books out of the locker and never went back again.

Another time when I was a sophomore, I went to a victory dance at the school. I went to use the restroom and unfortunately happened to be in there when a bunch of older bullies came in. One guy walked up to me, got in my face and while pointing at his crotch yelled, "Do you want it, faggot? Huh? Do you want it?" All of the other guys snickered and laughed and I quietly walked out. Why oh why didn't I absolutely come unglued on him and fight back right then and there!?

Here are a couple of other incidents that stand out:

One morning during an early morning Driver's Ed class, the subject of weight and fatness came up and one girl piped up and said, (in front of the whole class), "You mean fat like him?" (referencing me) and everyone laughed. Um, ouch.

Another day, I think in 9th grade, I raised my hand to answer a question, and a trashy girl (L.S.) in the back of the class yelled (I'm not kidding...YELLED): "Put your hand down, faggot!" right in the middle of the class! Did I or the teacher say or do anything about it? Nope.

And all throughout my Jr. High and High School years, a few guys (J.B. in particular) would talk to me or reference me in front of the class or in the hallways or wherever we were by talking with lisps or with really femmy tones in their voices.

My Jr. High and High School years are absolutely chock full of icky, sad stories of being horrendously bullied. Many of them I have blocked out, but some, like those I've written about, I think about a lot and carry with me. I didn't have any friends or older siblings to stick up for me. Since I had no friends and no self esteem or self worth I didn't have the confidence to say something or fight back or stand up for myself at the time. The teachers did nothing. The bus drivers did nothing. I never told my parents what was going on at school. IDK why I didn't tell them; perhaps I was too ashamed and embarrassed that I was being taunted and teased for being a gay, faggot, cocksucker. I hid all of it. I swallowed each and ever negative thing that was said about me. I never cried. I never fought back. I didn't give anyone the satisfaction that they were getting to me. Day after day I took it all and stuffed it down inside. Meanwhile I was compulsively masturbating and messing around sexually with my male cousin and slowly planting the seeds of my sex addiction. I guess that was my way of self comforting and self soothing myself b/c I was hurting so badly and was so lonely and afraid and dying emotionally. The fact that I didn't commit suicide is truly a miracle!

So now, at almost 40, these experiences still affect me in a negative way and when I am an 80 year old man, they'll still haunt and affect me. That's why bullying is so awful! At the most crucial, pivotal, impressionable time of our lives when we are growing and changing the very most and our hormones are raging and we are coming into our own and learning who we are, if we have constant negative messages coming at us, that is what we tend to take on and believe about ourselves. How many negative affirmations can one receive before they begin to believe it? No matter how many positive affirmations one might receive, if there's a negative one said, that is the one that will be remembered. So imagine that negativity happening 100's of times a day for years!

I allowed those people to get the upper hand and dictate a lot of the bad things I have done and the poor choices I have made and the negative way I feel about myself for so many years. They took my confidence and self esteem and completely shredded it. They stole days and years that should be full of happy memories and that I should look back fondly on. I was robbed of my teens, my 20s and most of my 30s b/c of what they put me through.

Nevertheless, I'm smarter than that now. I can no longer blame my bad choices or decisions on what happened to me when I was young or what I was put through. I can't go through my life blaming others for the bad things I do or my dissatisfaction with my own life. I have chosen to grow from those experiences and am in charge of my own future and happiness. It sucks that I was treated the way I was and had such horrible things happen to me. But it is what it is. I can either break free and move past it, or keep living that nightmare over and over again. I'm choosing to move on!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Longest 6 Months of My Life

A reader friend reminded me I hadn't written or checked in on my blog for a while, so here goes...

I'm doing ok; not super fantastic and not down in the dumps. Just ok. Summer has come and gone and I enjoyed it as much as I could have. Now it's time to start preparing for fall (cozy!) and the winter ahead. However, instead of packing on weight for my winter hibernation I'm hoping to get a grip w/ my sweets and carb binges and lose a few before the holidays. Oy vey. If it's not one thing it's another. A long time ago I wrote about addictions, vices, habits, etc. are like fire dancers. No matter how hard I try to juggle them all, I inevitably always let one fall to the ground. But do I throw the rest on the ground and walk away? No, I pick it up and try and keep juggling.

One big thing that happened was I met w/ my Bishop and Stake President in early July and all of us including my wife wrote letters to the First Presidency as part of my application to have my temple, priesthood, sealing, etc. blessings restored. I waited for 7-8 weeks and then finally got an answer; though it wasn't what I wanted. But I knew that was going to be what it was. I've let myself slip a little too much in order to be completely 100% crystal clear ready for those blessings to be restored to me. I knew deep inside the Lord knew that I wasn't quite ready for all of that yet. And it's ok! Though I've been refined in lots of ways, I still need some more refining. A little more finish needs to be added.

Needless to say I was at peace w/ the answer. And my wife was too. Yes, we're frustrated and sad and irritated, but I have no one to be upset or angry with but myself. I'm the one who makes the choice in the end to get a little too comfy and close to other men, or view porn, or masturbate. I'm the one who chooses to live my life the way I do and give in to my comfortable vices. I know what I need to do in order to finish this race the right way.

3 things need to change in order for me to achieve my goal of having my temple blessings restored:

1- My relationship w/ my guy needs to be cooled waaaaaay down;

2- No more porn;

3- No more jerking off (sigh).

My wife, Bishop, Stake Pres and myself all sat down together 2 weeks ago and discussed the letter and my game plan for going forward. The letter said I could resubmit my application in 6 months time and to get my porn vices in check. Spot on. The Lord knows just where I need to be refined. Even before our meeting, I knew what I needed to do. I told everyone right there I will NOT look at porn and I will NOT masturbate for 6 months in order to get my blessings restored. We're talking mid to late February. I told them it's so easy to set that goal, but come 4 or 5 days or 3 weeks down the road and I have a slow day at work or a trigger or a magnificent boner that just won't go away and screams for attention, it's going to be HELL!

Did I tell my Bishop or Stake President just how close my guy and I have become? No. But I know the Lord knows my heart and what he and I have done and where I'm currently at and where I'm headed. Course correction! My guy and I have talked in length about the absolute boundaries we must adhere to and we WILL adhere to them. Otherwise, I'm afraid we'll need to cut each other loose, which neither of us want to do or really need to do. We can control ourselves and keep our little factories in our shorts. Good hell, we're grown men w/ strong testimonies and fighting spirits. We can do this! No, we haven't had sex, if you were wondering. Well, not "technically", but can I say I've kept my covenant of having no sexual relations outside my marriage? No I can't, and it's bullshit! It's bullshit that I let my defenses down and allowed myself to get as close and lusty as I have, especially in regards to where I've been and how far I've come. But no matter! He and I are putting that shit behind us (as hard as it is!) and moving onward and upward. I will not let my SSA-lust dictate the course of my life or my future. I would rather die than give up the good fight. So just know even though I screw up now and again, I'm still fighting like a lion (or bear) ;)

Sometimes in the afternoons I'll look at some porn and jerk off to give myself a little pick me up. It's not exactly the worst thing I could do, I know, but it damages my spirit and makes me feel like poo and distances me from Heavenly Father and Christ and all things warm and light and righteous. It needs to stop. And it has. And it will.

The jerking off part is going to be the biggest challenge for me in this whole deal. Is it really realistic for me to say I won't play tug-of-war with my best friend for 6 months??!! That's a long-ass time! And no, no, no... I do NOT believe it's THAT big of a deal in the end (masturbation). We all do it. We all struggle with it, or have at one time or another. Most men living on the earth today and those men who have lived on the earth since the dawn of time have played w/ themselves. It's our (men's) lot in life. Granted, it needs to be controlled and for most of us it takes our entire lives to learn to master our natural man lusts and tendencies and pleasures. Our drive for sex is our God-given and born instinct and God knows how much I love it. A little too much. Obviously. But do I love slapping the ham more than I love having my wife and children sealed to me for eternity? Do I love choking my chicken more than having the Priesthood and giving blessing to those in need, especially to my children and wife? Do I love spanking the monkey more than worthily and purely serving in the temple and having ALL the blessings Heavenly Father desires for me (that I had at one time!)? That remains to be seen. I'm in to my no porn, no masturbation, and no playtime w/ my friends commitment only a little over a week and that bastard Satan is throwing every single firey dart he can at me. Grrrrr.

Anyhow, that's where I'm at. Basically I have my goal in mind and know what I need to do or not do. I know the Lord and others beyond the veil are on my side as is my family and friends. But to completely give up something on the alter that is absolutely woven in to the very fabric of my life and I love so very much is tough as nails. So if you wonder what I'm doing or where I'm at these next 6 months, I'll be here, just sitting on my hands or slapping my thighs with a ruler.


Monday, July 23, 2018

Iced Tea, Mormon Culture, and the Color Gray

Doesn't the guilt and confusion that comes w/ the territory of being a Mormon sometimes really weigh you down? It does me! A lot! And by weigh down I mean depress and confuse and cause mighty anxiety. There is so much gray area and opportunity for personal interpretation and interpolation. If there's been no official clarification or declaration on things, then what is one to do? Listen to the Spirit? That's great for people who can access spiritual promptings as easy as tuning into a radio station. But for me it's difficult to get an answer or have a surety that the answer that comes is from the Spirit. Maybe it's coming from another Spirit that's fooling me or maybe it's coming from my own effed up brain w/o any supernatural interference whatsoever!

Consider the Word of Wisdom for example. There is so much gray here and people LOVE to glean what they'd like and then tout their interpolation of such things as 'scripture' and God's stance on the matter as revealed through them. Aren't we supposed to take the black and white face value wording of what is prescribed in D&C 89 and then do or do not according to what is written using interpolation by our own dictates with a little peppering of what past apostles and prophets have said about such matters here and there? That's super great and all, but what about those blasted gray areas!? What about those things the prophets and apostles have been silent about or have never given us some clarification and direction of (not just WofW related)!? Then what do we do? Consider the whole cola drinks hullabaloo! WTF was that all about and where did it originally come from!? How about eating meat and the Keto/Atkins meat and fat craze going on w/ no regard to what it says in the WofW. Yet no official doctrine or stance has been mentioned about those gluttonous meat lovers. It's funny what some justify to be ok or not ok in regards to living the gospel and look down their noses at other people who are living the gospel according to their own dictates and consciences. Seems sticky.

According to my own dictates, the Word of Wisdom was designed to keep us free from addiction, poverty, abuse, poor health, selfishness, wastefulness and wantonness. Per my understanding of the WofW, alcohol in any form when taken internally (wine, beer, liquor) = bad news as well as tobacco in any form when taken internally (smoke, chew) = bad news. Am I correct here? Killing animals for sport = not good nor is eating too much meat. Am I correct? Grains, oatmeal, herbs, fruits, etc, when used properly, are good, right? Even barley drinks, when not fermented to become alcoholic, are ok, right? So what about tea and coffee? The original WofW says hot drinks are not good and apostles and prophets have since said hot drinks = tea and coffee. Does that mean cold tea and coffee are bad as well? But the WofW says "hot drinks" and the prophets and apostles didn't say anything about iced tea or coffee.

I'm wondering, what is it about tea and coffee that are bad and why has God 'told us' to stay away from them? B/c they are typically served hot? Is is their addictive tendency? And/or is it b/c of their chemical make up and affect on the body? All of those items may be the reason, but I believe the heat of the drink in and of itself is where the commandment originally sprang from. Served piping hot, tea and coffee are not good for the body, but I do NOT believe that drinking boiling hot water whether in hot chocolate or sugary Tang or any other form is good either! Yet, most self-righteous Mormons are totally ok w/ them and other such drinks b/c they aren't spelled out in black and white or fall under the 'tea and coffee' revelatory verbiage. Can you see how that's totally effed up or am I just picking hairs and looking for a way to justify my sinful behaviors?

I believe (interpolate) it's more than just the tea and coffee thing as Mormon culture has come to group think. I believe all hot drinks come to play here. That's the whole hot drinks ball of wax, folks. To be frank, I drink yerba máte every morning and I know in the back of my mind I am not keeping the Lord's Word of Wisdom as prescribed b/c, A) máte is a form of tea; B) I drink it boiling hot and that CAN'T be good on my mouth, tongue, throat or gut; and C) I need my máte every morning, not as a caffeine thing, but more of a routine and comfort thing to start my day and get my guts moving. That is what the Spirit says to ME. I am dependent on my máte every morning just as much as I am dependent on my Diet Cokes throughout the day. Again, I don't drink Diet Coke a caffeine thing, but as a comfort and contentment thing. In a nutshell, I would be really, REALLY shaken if either my máte or Diet Cokes were suddenly taken away from me. So what makes me any better than the guy who comes home and drinks a beer or two a night? Or why is the person who doesn't drink any form of tea or coffee and strictly eats meat at every meal better and more holy than I am?

And guess what else? Sometimes I drink iced tea and I don't really feel bad about it. Am I justifying my behaviors and picking and choosing what I will/will not do or obey? When and if I'm ever able to go back to the temple, will I feel ok entering the house of the Lord knowing that the Lord knows I drink máte every morning, Diet Coke every night, and that I eat meat at some point every day and every once in a while I may order an iced tea w/ my BBQ rib basket? Should I pass on taking the sacrament this next Sunday? I'm not being facetious here (ok, maybe a little). But can you see how weird and difficult it all it?

As a man who loves his wife and children and has a testimony of the true gospel of Christ and wants to serve God but who also deals with same sex attraction and lust issues, I've had an excruciatingly difficult time knowing and deciding for myself (whether by the Spirit, another Spirit, or my own brain) what is ok and what is not ok in regards to living my life w/ these attractions and keeping the balance in these gay areas of my life. I pray for Heavenly Father to help me know what to do/do not but I struggle knowing if I'm in the clear w/ these things or justifying my behaviors. When do I need to go in and spill my guts to a priesthood authority about what I've done and what should I just keep to myself and work out in my own way knowing that God knows all and he knows my struggles and knows my heart's desire? There are some things a straight man in priesthood leadership in the church will never know or understand! They see things as black and white face value according to what is written in the church handbook and that is that! No interpolation or interpretation or divine revelation through apostles/prophets there. Especially when it comes to all things gay aside from just keeping our pants zipped up.

Being Mormons, we are sometimes raised in environments of a lot of guilt and shame surrounding basic principles of humanity and earth life experiences! We have been given some basic scripture and doctrine and interpretation and interpolation on these things: sexuality, masturbation, Word of Wisdom issues, expectations, chastity, pride, 'perfectness', fulfilling responsibilities, duties, obligations, callings, assignments, etc. etc. etc. in connection w/ church membership and feeling like we're "OK" as faithful and worthy Latter-Day Saints and that we're going to make it. But where is God and the Spirit in all of this? How do I truly know if I'm doing ok? When I feel poopy about something I've done or not doing is that coming from the Spirit or someone else? Are these feelings something that was instilled in me since my childhood or adolescence and part of Mormon culture or group think? Am I dreaming it all up in my own brain? Is Satan implanting these thoughts and feelings in me disguised as an angel of light? Am I doomed to forever wander and wonder if I'm going to make it and my Heavenly Father is happy w/ me and my progress and where I'm at currently at despite my horrendous load and when compared to where I've been and what I've done?

Sigh. Guilt, shame, sin, worthiness, justification, vindication....it's most definitely a difficult journey to navigate and make sense of in this life. Sometimes I feel like I'm going out of my mind! But one thing's for sure: some things in the world and especially in the gospel are inherently and truly wrong and right, black and white. But some things are just gray, and to make matters worse there's a helluva lot of shades of gray!



Thursday, May 31, 2018

Misty Water-Colored Memories


It's been a rather nostalgic and melancholy day for me today. Perhaps it's the weather. It's been an awfully rainy spring in Idaho and for someone whose moods are really affected by the weather, it's not very bueno. Rainy days = despondency. On days like today but during autumn, I look forward to porcupine meatballs for dinner or caramel corn with a horror movie and it makes me feel cozy and desirous to tuck down in a hot bubble bath or in my electric blanket. But more often than not days like today make me feel wistful and blue.

Today I've been thinking a lot about the people who have come and gone from my life. Just like the old adage says: "Some people stay for a reason, season, or a lifetime." Thanks (but no thanks) to the electronic age we live in, it's easy to search for old friends and acquaintances via Facebook and take a quick glimpse into their world anonymously w/o having to actually connect w/ them again. As a former sex addict, I've had unusually more people come and go from my life in addition to just regular contacts I've met via work, school, neighborhoods, church, etc. It's sad to surf through these profiles of old ghosts from my past and trigger bad feelings and along with heavy waves of embarrassment or shame or jealousy or hurt which pang my heart and soul. I've hurt a lot of people; and a lot of people have hurt me. Some of these people probably don't even know I remember them or things we did and shared together or that I still think of them and am curious enough about them that I've looked them up.  But there they are...in living (still) color! Would they feel flattered? Nervous? Pompous? Sad? I wonder if I'm remembered or thought about fondly or painfully by these people or if even at all? Do I bring up feelings of resentment or rejection or hurt or jealousy in them as some do me?

Memories...ick. Ghosts from my past...ick. People, places, mistakes, experiences...ick. Sometimes it all makes me feel like I'm talking a bath in dirty water to even think of them. But all of these people and memories and experiences, good and bad, past and present have helped shape me into the man I am today. Some people I miss and wish I still had contact with or even some kind of a relationship. With others I'm glad to have them long gone! Hasta luego! Some I'm supremely jealous of. Others I'm appalled at. And still others I wish would just blink out of existence and out of my memories altogether. 

So, that's where my mind has been at today. Despite me being content w/ where I'm at and the choices I've made to fight for what I want and who I want to be, I still struggle w/ negative feelings of hurt and isolation and jealousy in regards to my past and the people who haunt it. To those I've perhaps unintentionally hurt: I apologize and ask for your forgiveness. To those I've intentionally hurt: perhaps you deserved it and/or perhaps I was just stupid. To those who unintentionally hurt me: I'm trying to understand and make peace with it as best I can, so I forgive you. To those who intentionally hurt me: screw you! And to those who continue to frost me by being gorgeous, healthy, popular, successful, and "happy" and who have snubbed me time after time in the past, I say poo on you! I don't need you or want you to share in my life.

"The Path of Life" - Amanda Carrington     

People come and people go;
Some pass by, some touch your soul.
Some teach you lessons good and bad;
Some make you smile, some make you sad.

Some will stay and never leave.
Some will go for those we grieve.
Some will give us memories dear.
Some will fill our dreams with fear.

All these people play a role;
They'll break you down or make you whole.
From kids at school till late in life,
These people fill our days and nights.

Life's ever changing kaleidascope;
Names and faces, love and hope;
People came from far and wide,
Individually walking by our side.

To those who played a role in mine
I thank you for your precious time.
May your life's journey be complete
With positive people still to meet.


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

New Warrior Training Adventure

I recently returned from staffing another Mankind Project’s ‘New Warrior Training Adventure’ (NWTA) in the wild wilderness of Wyoming. It was my second such staffing and, as I knew before I left, it didn’t disappoint! I came away feeling refreshed, empowered, energized, focused and determined. I am so thankful for this organization and how much it has helped me find the gold inside myself that I couldn’t see or recognize before. Years upon years of loneliness and isolation and addiction and shame had completed dulled my spirit and almost caused me to snuff out the flame altogether. But a series of random events and people over the past few years have caused me to finally start taking action on improving myself and coming to terms w/ who I am and, (stealing a line from “Clueless” here), do a makeover on my soul. The NWTA has been one of those events that has helped me reclaim myself, my integrity, and my manhood.
I had lunch w/ a friend today and our conversation made me reflect back over the past few years and how much progress I have made in so many areas of my life. Yes, I’m still into guys and yes, I'm still in love w/ my penis. That will never change. But what has changed is my acceptance of these things and my sexuality and awareness and self worth as a man, even a bi, Mormon, married man, which was kind of stolen from me by the assholes I went to school with and then later, addiction and my feelings of self loathing and shame.
Even though I still struggle w/ occasional feelings of inadequacy and intimidation when I compare myself to other men, I feel much more confident and self assured and brave. I recognize when I'm having those negative and shaming thoughts and feelings of myself and I confront them head on! I am able to stand strong in the company of other ‘masculine’ men and not feel like a fairy or faggot or fear an imagined or real judgment they may have of me. I no longer fear being vulnerable in the company of others or fear what others may think, say, or do. As you, reader, are aware, I’ve lived a pretty scary and hard secret life. I was drowning in that darkness of shame and fear for years. But now, I don’t feel those icky feeling as much anymore. I’m one of those people, who for whatever reason, needed to taste the bitter in order to know the sweet and to experience darkness in order to recognize the light and where it comes from.
The Mankind Project as well as other good friends, groups, experiences, and organizations has helped me see other men and the masculine in a healthy new light and be secure in my own masculinity. It has helped me recognize my strengths and abilities and to also see where I may fall short and need some additional work. It has connected me w/ other men who have a completely different and elevated view of masculinity and manhood which is far greater and deeper than any our current messed-up misogynistic toxic American male culture does. These men help me live the best version of myself. They have helped me find and recognize the gold within and challenge me to continue to step into my fears and be a true man. That's a wonderful feeling!