Obstacles The LGBTQ Community Must Jump

Recently George Takei commented on his facebook page about how many people on his page were sick of people talking about gay issues and it brought up something that I have been thinking of for the last few weeks.

Many on this page have commented that they are “sick” of people talking about gay issues, or simply “don’t care” if someone is gay and would rather they would kept it to themselves. I find this disheartening. There may come a day when we need not come out of the closet, and need not remind others of the terrible violence, inequity, and ostracism that LGBT people face daily simply because of who we are and who we love. But that day is not here, and more importantly will never get here, unless people continue to step forward and offer themselves as examples, often at great personal cost. I am called “faggot,” “degenerate,” “queer” and “homo” by misguided people every day of my life, even on my own page, but this does not discourage me. It only reminds me of how far we have to go. Once upon a time I was called a “Jap” and put into a prison for four years with my entire family, for no reason other than who we were and who we looked like. It is my life’s mission to fight against the dark forces of fear and intolerance that could ever lead again to such an injustice. Thank you for taking the time to listen. The next time you feel fatigue from hearing about LGBT issues, ask yourself this: Do we live yet in the kind of society where violence, hate and prejudice is not an issue? Until we do, be part of the solution, and stand always for justice and equality for all people.

As far as we have come, it is a realization that we have a lot further to go. I often wonder why do so many have such a problem with homosexuality? In the end I believe it is the unknown that scares people the most. We live in a world where we feel we must conform to something and for many that is religion. If we are told something, then it must be so. Passed down from one generation to the next.

I was watching The Golden Girls, my nightly tradition, and I was kind of taken aback by the fact that even Blanche didn’t quite understand what being gay meant. I mean dimwitted Rose is a given. Then I started to think what was being gay like before the Internet. I have to think that the Internet helped kick start the gay revolution. It is still hard for me to believe that people back then didn’t have any concept of homosexuality.

I think that is the main problem today. Those who spout off about gay people keeping quiet probably don’t even know anyone who is gay or if they do they are themselves are triggered to face the facts. Once you get to know someone who is gay with an open heart, how could you take away their love and happiness???

People get caught up in the argument that it is a choice. I often wonder how many would chose a life filled full of hate, discrimination and the potential for great harm. Even those who chose to live the straight life, usually end up so miserable they have no choice but to come out of the closet. People would much rather please their own beliefs even if it means making someone living a lie and when that happens it usually hurts everyone around them.

Being gay, you have to give up a lot. Not only do you have to live in fear of being discriminated against but it’s always in the back of your head what if the one time you show your true colors and someone goes ballistic on you. You see it on the news often enough to make you fear that outcome. When I go to a new area I find myself cringing and holding who I am in. Granted I am a big guy but if you have a group of people come at you, I don’t stand the chance. If you don’t think that is possible, look at the recent outbreak of hate crimes in New York City.

Thankfully nowadays many teenagers are coming out at an early age but even now they are faced with reticule and hate. Look at how many of these children are killing themselves. How many others face bullying on a daily basis even if it isn’t extreme. Words can do a lot of damage. They are like little stones, that do their damage one little crack at a time. If you throw enough of them, they will shatter your self esteem into a million pieces.

It is bad enough when we have to face this kind of hate from the world but another thing when it comes from within our own families. You don’t have to be told that you are going to hell that many times before it wears you down. You might can handle hatred from your peers and strangers, and even your own family but God is another story. If that is all you have ever known, how do you know there is anything else out there in this world.

I recently discovered how much I wanted a family of my own and what a great loss that I am almost 37 and am without a family of my own. For years I had convinced myself that I didn’t want or need children, figured it just wasn’t meant to be. I gave up on the idea, especially after I have struggled in finding a mate to settle down with. I have become accustomed to having things taken away from me and what it boils down to is love.

I grew up hiding who I was. People during my time weren’t out in High School and they certainly didn’t take their same sex to the prom. I didn’t get to do the whole dating thing, nor did I get to do the whole bringing my boyfriend home to meet my parents. Holding who you are in, is like keeping a fire within a confined area… all it does is damage. That flame is meant to shine.

Another thing that many try to take away from gay people is our spirituality. Whether you have any personal experience with spiritual abuse, all you have to do is watch the media to see the damage church going people cause. Sure not everyone is as extreme and hateful as the Westboro Church but it all causes harm. At least they are upfront and honest with their hate. So many others do it in silence or sit back and don’t do anything when they are faced with that same hate.

While 12 states plus Washington DC have legalized gay marriage, we still have 38 states to go. Plus with DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) so far in tact, without federal recognition we still will lose out on many rights. Not to mention that in many states gay people can be fired from their jobs and lose their housing all because of their sexual orientation.

With the hate crimes that have been committed recently in Columbus and New York City it also goes to show you how many have had their own security and well being put at risk. Imagine going through life having to watch your back and live in worry that someone might try something.

What it all boils down to is human rights and the lack thereof.

Many gay people lose their biological families for being gay. They are kicked out and treated less all due to the gender they love. To expect someone to change something that is so tied to who they are inside is like telling someone to change the color of their skin, it is impossible. Sure people can hide and repress the feelings but eventually it will come out… usually in an explosive way.

Look at how many teens kill themselves over being gay, as well how many homeless youth identify as LGBTQ. For many the discrimination and hate follows them all the way to home. Everyone has the human right to feel safe but often that is the first thing that gay people lose.

Some will try to say that being gay is abomination, a curse and a sin. While being gay doesn’t always make your life easy, I wouldn’t change it at all. Being gay is a gift from God and those who don’t see that are delusional! They don’t see the true meaning and message of this world. While many of us weren’t born into families that validate and accept us, I have learned that it doesn’t mean we can’t have the families we need. For many gay people they have had to go outside of their biological family for the support and love they need. Their friends have become their family and support system.

Some will try to take away things that aren’t theirs to take, like spirituality and God. These are things they don’t even have the power to take, yet that doesn’t stop them from trying. The key is for us all to stick together and stand up, as a solitude front. They might not listen to one voice or try to drown us out but when that voice gets amplified it will knock them to the ground.

The time has come for us to take back what is our for the keeping and that includes our safety, spirituality and families.

Death Becomes Us All

As much as we try to hide from it, death is inevitable. When you are younger it is easier to hide from it, especially if you haven’t ever had to face the death of a loved one. As you become older you are forced to face it when people you know start to die. Though regardless the number of deaths that have hit home it never makes it any easier to deal with.

I remember my first experience with death when my grandfather passed away in 1986. I was ten years old. I can remember his funeral very clearly. I can also remember watching everyone cry and wonder what it all meant. It was almost like I was watching a movie. I wasn’t particularly close with my grandfather and really didn’t understand what death meant at that early age.

It wasn’t until I was twenty that I experienced someone else dying. This time it was my Aunt Karen who had cancer. While we didn’t really get a chance to see each other that often, she was someone whenever I saw her I was happy. I can remember she had bright red hair and we always were able to joke with each other. It was also my first time dealing with Cancer. It didn’t take me very long to realize how horrible of a disease it was.

The last time I saw my Aunt alive was about a month before she passed away. It was very important for me to visit her before she passed. I knew I had to see her one last time. I wasn’t prepared to see her in the shape she was. Her skin was yellow and her stomach was severely bloated, even her hair had faded to a dull red. I could see that her life was being slowly drained out of her by the Cancer and chemotherapy. I remember bringing her white daisies. I was told regardless where the vase was put in her room, the blooms would grow towards her.

When it came time to say my goodbye at her showing it was extremely difficult to face her. I can remember my Mom having to walk with me up to her casket. I was so afraid. When I walked up to her sleeping so peaceful I envisioned her waking up. I am not sure if it was a hallucination or some spiritual connection but I really saw her getting up. All I know is that it severely spooked me.

Later that year her husband, my uncle, passed away… He also had cancer.

All these deaths were expected, as they were sick. It wasn’t like it was any easier but it at least prepared you for the idea. The next death I encountered was my Aunt Fran in 1999. I was in my early twenties by then. I can remember that day very clearly. My Mom and I were out shopping for Halloween decorations for our family party coming up. Our family tradition was to have a big Halloween party every year with a haunt as part of the festivities.

As we pulled up my father met us at the door and said that something had happened with my Aunt and that they rushed her to the hospital by ambulance. I don’t remember what happened next other than that my Aunt had passed away of an aneurism. There was nothing that they could have done, it was quick and sudden, and she was gone.

This was the first time I really felt a high level of grief and of course shock because it was so unexpected and sudden. This was the first time I realized how fragile life was and how there was no guarantee for tomorrow. It also hit close to home because if someone close to me could die, so could my own mother. At the time I couldn’t imagine what my cousin was going through losing her mother at such a young age, she was only 50. Of course now I know…

My Mom and Aunt were close so it was particularly hard on her. It was tough to see her in deep pain. I was pretty close to my Aunt and I can remember every time she called our house she was always giving me a hard time. After she died it dawned on me that she would never give me a hard time again, and that made me extremely sad.

My Aunt Fran was the first person close to me that had died and I felt the harsh sting of grief. After her death we didn’t have another Halloween party for many years. Her death changed the family and it was never the same.

Five years would go by without any more deaths. As I grew older I realized it was only a matter of time before another death would take another loved one away. The next death was my Grandfather from my father’s side. We weren’t as close to his side of the family as we were with Mom’s family. I can remember feeling a sense of loss of getting to chance to get to know him better and never getting a chance to do so. He was also really the only grandfather that I was somewhat close to. My other grandfather passed away so young, that I really don’t have too many memories of him. Plus he was very sick the last couple years of his life.

So I also grieved over the loss of my last grandfather. He was the closest to a positive father figure for me. I have fond memories of him and my grandmother taking me up to their cottage on Lake Manistee in Kalkaska. Every time I would see him he was always so warm and jolly. I couldn’t help but smile whenever I saw him.

The next death really brought into question my own mortality when my Cousin BJ passed away at the age of 23 in 2006. At the time I was living in Florida. Again I can remember that day very clearly. My Mom called me to tell me the news. When she said his name beeg (that was his nickname), I thought she said Paige. Which set me in a state of panic because she is my niece and was only four years old at the time. I will say that after that moment, how I looked at death completely changed.

I can remember feeling so helpless being so far away from my family and wanting to just be with them. It felt like I was a million miles away. I wasn’t able to get a flight back home until the next day. Living so far away you lost the luxury of rushing back home in an emergency.

This was the first time someone around my age had died. BJ was someone I grew up with and while as adults we weren’t very close, it was a tough loss to deal with. He was someone I shared a decent amount of time with between birthday parties, family vacations, holidays and various occasions. It was extremely sad and tragic how young he was. It was also tragic that he was just starting to get his life back together.

After his death I became to fear death more to the point where I would panic when my loved ones were sleeping. I can remember countless times checking to see that my Mom was still breathing or panicking when she was sleeping thinking she had died. My biggest fear in life was losing my Mom. I honestly felt like we were invisible. I can remember thinking that God wouldn’t take my Mom early because she was a good person and so were my sister and I. Boy was I wrong…

A few years ago I started to force myself to prepare for the loss of my Mom. I can remember out of the blue starting to think about it. Now I realize something or someone was preparing me for that dreaded, awful day. While I began to prepare mentally I still thought my Mom would live to an old age.

You know how they say that people usually die in threes? Well I believe that to be very true. I am not quite sure why but I have experienced it on numerous occasions. The last few years was a domino death effect.

By now you have probably come to the conclusion that Cancer runs in my family. A little over two years ago my Aunt Thelma was diagnosed with a brain tumor and about six months later she died. While we weren’t particularly close, as she lived in Kentucky, she was again someone I was very fond of. I was always happy whenever they would make a trip up. I wasn’t able to see her before she passed and that was tough to deal with. I regret not being able to say goodbye and see her one last time.

This was another occasion I experienced the grief of the children of a parent, pure desperation and grief… you could see it in their eyes.

During the funeral service the preacher talked about not being saved and never getting to see Thelma again or something like that. This completely triggered me and sent me into another state of panic, so much that I couldn’t drive home to Michigan. Being gay in a Southern Baptist family didn’t make me very popular. At an early age, my father brainwashed into me that I was going to hell for being gay. I grew up in the church and it was all fire and brimstone.

As an adult to cope with spiritual abuse I had two choices, live in fear for the rest of my life or put away my spirituality. I took the lessor of the two evils and buried my spirituality deep within me. I got to a point in my life where hearing the terms God or Jesus would give me panic attacks. So I tried to stay far away from anything related to religion, even my Mom’s side of the family.

Being there that day unearthed my fears of never seeing my loved ones again. While I no longer believed completely that was the truth there was still a part of me that held on to that untruth. So much that I still struggle with it. I connected God to pain, misery, judgment and damnation. I saw God as this angry Judge, Jury and Executioner.

Recently it dawned on me why I have struggled to get my creativity back and that’s due to me hiding my spirituality. For me, I can’t have one without the other. It has been a slow and daunting battle to get connected back to my inner spirituality. I know that it is there but I struggle reaching for it.

The next death was something I honestly didn’t think was ever going to happen because my grandmother (mom’s side. All her grandchildren called her Mom Mom.) was in her early 90’s. She was tough as steel and I thought she would out live us all. About two years ago she was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer. They removed the volleyball sized tumor but her body couldn’t take it and six months later she died.

Losing her was particularity tough for me for many different reasons. The first one that growing up we were close. She lived down the street from us and we saw her quite often. She didn’t drive so my Mom would usually be the one to drive her where ever she needed. Her and my Mom were very close. Losing her broke my Mom’s heart.

While I felt close to Mom-Mom growing up, that faded with adulthood. I held a grudge with how she treated me after I came out about being molested by the cousin she raised. She was someone who made it clear who were her favorites and who weren’t. After that it was clear that I was not her favorite.

When my parents split up my Mom and I had no place to go. So my grandmother let us stay with her but I was only allowed to stay for two months. Even though I had a job and was working on getting my own place, I had to go. She didn’t care that I had no place to go.

My hurt was too big for me to be around her, so I hide from her. Even when I found out that she had Cancer I didn’t come around that often. I emotionally couldn’t handle the pain. Part of it had to do with the fact that I avoided situations where I might possibly see my Cousin. Coming out about the abuse and being gay made me the black sheep of the family. Talking about the abuse was something our family didn’t do, they just swept it under the rug like it never happened. If you would only life up that rug you would see the countless skeletons that were buried deep underneath.

While I couldn’t be there for her during her illness, I was able to be there for her at the end… When it became apparent that she wouldn’t live longer than a few days I rushed to be with her. I put all my hard feelings aside and faced the chance of seeing some people I didn’t want to. At the time it was the toughest thing I had overcame, not only for having faced my fears but to see the process of someone dying. It was horrible to see a woman so full of life and spit fire, lay there motionless and pale… almost like a ghost… The only thing she could do was whimper. I knew that she wouldn’t make it til the morning. I honestly didn’t want to leave that night but due to the pressure of others I did… That night I couldn’t sleep… I had this vision of walking my grandmother into the light, where loved ones were waiting for her. I later found out that it was around the time she passed away. Soon after my Mom called me to tell me she had died. I rushed over to her house. Again I could feel the fog of grief and desperation.

Everyone was too grief stricken, so I went into action calling the funeral home and other family members who hadn’t heard the news. I even called the cousin who had bothered me, that was not an easy feat. When the funeral director came to pick up my grandmother it was important I stay inside, when everyone else couldn’t handle it emotionally. I didn’t want strangers handling her body without me watching. It was important that they took good care of her.

Again I experienced children grieving over the loss of their mother, now this time it was my own mother grieving over the loss of her own mother. I was amazed at her strength dealing with the pain. My grandmother was someone of great support for my Mom. They were very close and I wasn’t sure how she would handle her death. I don’t think she did either but I was able to see her inner strength come to shine. It was quite remarkable. I was reminded how strong of a lady my mother was.

Around the same time my grandmother passed, a dear old friend of mine passed away from Cancer. We had lost touch the last few years but he was someone I was always fond of. We became friends during a time in my life where I was in turmoil over the sexual abuse. His and his partners friendship meant the world to me. He was an old soul, very spiritual. He was also an amazing painter, painting these very spiritual life like pieces of art.

Every Christmas he would send me a home made Christmas¬† card. Even after I moved away he kept sending them. He had a very gentle, loving spirit. Whenever I was around him I could feel the warmth of his inner glow. I can remember the first time I met Stephan very clearly. He was a vegetarian and I told him I would try to eat his food. As much as I didn’t like vegetarian food it was important for me to try it, which was a huge feat for me as I am not really someone who tries new things…

He made me soy meatballs with vegetables. I ate the whole plate and politely turned down seconds. ūüôā From then on we became good friends. When I learned that he wasn’t doing very well, I was deeply saddened. I couldn’t imagine God taking away such a gentle spirit. This was the first time I had a friend who I was once close to pass away. I regret not being able to see him one last time or not being able to make it to his funeral.

By now death had become a familiar part of my life, though it never made it any easier. Especially for what would happen next. Around the time my grandmother passed away I started getting these thoughts of my own mother passing away. They would usually come to me out of the blue and were always quick thoughts. I forced myself to think about the idea, as scary as that was to prepare myself. Something told me it was something I need to do… I never thought that almost two years later my worst nightmare would come true.

I was in the middle of a nap before work when my sister woke me in a panic. She told me that Mom had been coughing up blood and we needed to take her to the emergency room. Obviously I wasn’t going into work. I can remember calling my boss and telling him that my Mom was coughing up blood and he was like we are really busy, do you think you could come in later? I am like HELL no, well I didn’t say that but I surely didn’t go in. I wanted to tell say something like are you crazy?

I will never look at an ER ever again the same. So much so that the last time I had to go to the emergency room I was horribly triggered by the privacy curtains. I was alone in the ER room and instantly I was transported to that scary day.

I wasn’t sure if my Mom would ever stop coughing up blood. I remember telling convincing myself that it was strawberry sauce, as I was very squeamish when it came to blood. I knew that it wasn’t normal for someone to cough up blood and I was obviously concerned. I just wanted the blood to stop and would have done anything to make it stop. I don’t think I had ever been so scared than I was that night. My mind raced to understand what was happening. If there was a normal amount of blood to cough up, this was abnormal. I felt so helpless.

That day our lives forever changed and things would never be the same…

After countless tests, scans and blood work the C word was mentioned. Especially after they compared a chest xray to one that was completed eight years ago that both showed an abnormality to her lower right lung. When it was confirmed that my Mom had Cancer my heart dropped to the ground. At the time we knew nothing about Carcinoid. I had never even heard of the term. When you think of Cancer the first thing you think of is misery and death. I forced to think about the death of my beautiful mother. It was a day I wasn’t prepared for.

She was diagnosed with Cancer in April of 2012 and by September of that year she was dead. Never in my scariest dream did I think this was to be so early. Granted my Mom wasn’t in the greatest health, as she would frequently get bronchitis and pneumonia but nothing would make us believe that this would happen.

Two years prior to her death, I started to get these premonitions of my Mom’s death. Losing her was my ultimate fear of all. Having those premonitions was very alarming but something told me to face them. Granted I had no clue that it would happen so soon. I now realize someone was trying to prepare me for her death. I honestly don’t know if I would be here today without having mentally prepared ahead of time.

When we drove our Mother down to Nashville, TN to have the tumor removed it never dawned on me that she could die. I am a major worry wart but even during her surgery I wasn’t freaking out. I was calm. Her surgery was a major success. Her doctor was able to remove the tumor and found that Cancer hadn’t spread to her lymph nodes like previously they had thought.

She was on the road to recovery. About a week after her surgery my Mom’s vitals started to deteriorate. They struggled to find a balance with her pain medicine that wouldn’t make her loopy but still managed the pain. She went from being out of it, to lethargic. She started to go into afib which they said was normal for a chest surgery. Her oxygen levels started to decrease as well. Something wasn’t right but my sister and I seemed to be the only ones to notice. By the fourth day of all of this, I noticed a strong odor and questioned the nurse about it… In which she said “oh, I didn’t notice it. She must have soiled herself.” She said that she would give her a bath, which three hours later she still hadn’t so my sister started to clean our Mom herself. That is when she noticed a brownish liquid coming out of her wound.

Finally they took notice. By the morning the xray showed that her lungs were filled full of infection and she would need to have another surgery to clean out her lungs. During the second surgery I was obviously more concerned but I still had confidence that she would make it through it.

Thankfully she made it through the second surgery but reality hit us all when the Doctor came out to tell us how serious her condition was. He stated that she wouldn’t have made it through the weekend without surgery. Of all the news prior, this hit me the hardest. This made me realize that Mom was not invincible and could die.

This time she was hooked up to a respirator and was sedated. Even though I was more concerned I didn’t doubt that she would recover.

Through the cultures they found they discovered that sometime that first week my Mom aspirated and became sepsis. The rest of her right lung was very damaged, and they found gangrenous tissue as well. Plus her left lung was now sick as well. They struggled to find the right setting on the respirator that my Mom tolerated. She didn’t seem to like that tube down her throat even when she was sedated. When they tried to turn off all the sedation, she went into a panic and her whole body began to convulse. Her legs and arms went crazy. My sister and I had to hold them down. It was a very scary moment for us.

They talked about putting in a tracheotomy, as they felt that my Mom would handle that better but the day they were to put it in she began to deteriorate again. She began to run a high temperature and her oxygen levels began to drop.

The next twenty one days was a constant roller coaster ride for my sister and I, as we watch our beautiful mother deteriorate as she so peacefully slept. During it all we never gave up hope, even when many doubted her stamina. Many of the Doctors told us there was little hope for recovery but that didn’t stand in our way of believing in the strongest woman we had ever known. We knew she would overcome it and in the end she did.

The day before her death, I awoke to a room full of doctors, nurses and staff surrounding her bed. It was like I was in the middle of a dream but yet I was awake. My Mother’s healthy lung had collapsed and they had to do an emergency procedure to install a chest tube. They were successful with the procedure and she started to improving slowly. Even then I still didn’t give up hope.

The next morning I again awoke to a room full of staff, this time her potassium had dropped to dangerous levels. I was told if they couldn’t get her levels to the normal range she would not make it. They advised me that they would put her on dialysis. I won’t lie I have never been more scared in my life. I prayed and prayed that she would make it.

Two hours into the dialysis, her potassium levels had increased but her other vitals had not and I was informed that she would not survive. I sat by her side and never gave up on her. Once the dialysis was done, she slowly began to drift away. Her heart rate slowed… lower and lower… I can remember this deep feeling of desperation and feeling out of control. I grabbed ahold of her and wept, as her heart began to give out. Five minutes seemed like an eternity and I just wanted relief. I went from disbelief to acceptance and told her it was okay for her to go home. They pulled her breathing tube out and not a gasp escaped from her lungs. Her body had gave out and it was time for her to return home. Finally her heart gave out it’s last beat and she had passed on.

I’ve never felt more alone than at that moment, as I stared at her worn out lifeless body covered in bruises and filled full of tubes. I finally realized how sick her and worn out her body was. She gave her all and fought fearlessly for twenty one days.

I had envisioned us living a life like Sophia and Dorothy from The Golden Girls. She was my everything but life had other plans. I know now that if she would have survived she wouldn’t have been the same lady as before and her quality of life was very important to her. As much as I miss her, I would not want her to suffer any more. She suffered enough on this earth. She is free from it all, including the Cancer.

Mama was always afraid of death. That was one of her struggles with having the surgery but she faced it like a warrior and didn’t let fear conquer her. I know that she went to heaven at peace.

It has only been recently that I have been able to use the terms death, die, etc. when it comes to my Mom. My mind knows she is gone but my heart still struggles to grasp it. The last nine months have been the hardest of my life and there have been times I wasn’t sure I would survive. There were even times I felt so desperate that I contemplated taking my own life.

This whole experience has also made me face my own mortality, including others close to me. When your Mother dies, anything is possible and you realize that nobody is invisible. The unknown becomes the scariest boogie man ever. I still struggle not knowing what I believe in when it comes to the afterlife. Now that I was forced to face death I have so many things that I think about, like what it is like to cross over? At times I struggle to grab hold of my own spirituality that I fear never seeing my Mother again.

I struggle with the concept that one minute a person is healthy and then the next they are not. Recently someone else I knew was diagnosed with Cancer in January and by May she had passed away. This experience has showed me how fragile life is and that there are no guarantees. I have struggled to get back on my feet and I feel like I am wasting valuable time. At times the grief is so crippling.

Any advice for those who also fear of losing a parent, is to force yourself to think about the day when they die and value the time you have with them. As hard as that may be, it will help you face that dreaded day.

In the end, we are all terminal. It is a wake up call to value even the littlest specks of life because eventually death becomes us all…

Where Is God At?

I have seen some posts in regards to people praying for the victims of the Oklahoma tornado’s and my first reaction was disgust but then I thought about that feeling they were having. It made me think about my own questioning in regards to the various bad things that have occurred in life. Like why do bad things happen to good people? Why doesn’t God intervene to protect his/her children?

If I really start to think about it, I can get really angry. There is a great injustice of living in a world where we are told there is this high power who created such wonderful things in seven days and then have that same power stay silent. I guess in a way it triggers my own insecurities about a father figure never being there for me, never protecting me that way I needed.

Of course I am no longer a child and have learned in life that it is only I who can protect myself and I think that is the tragic flaw of religion… is that it passes the buck to some external force, when all along the power has been within in us. This beautiful and wonderful force isn’t outside of ourselves, it is deep within. I also feel that is why the world is in such a discord. You have those who have a lack of regard for anything beautiful, loving and full of life. People who have turned off their own inner humanity and have learned the only way they will get anything is by force. Then you have those individuals who are so out of control they use this idea to keep their fears at bay and in order to keep them safe they feel the need to save everyone around them…

As a gay man I have been severely turned off by religion for many different reasons and by doing so I also turned off my own inner spirituality. That is the true loss of it all and those who feel the need to preach their message and save the world. They cause such harm that they scare away those that need the light the most.

When tragedy happens it is natural for people to come together and pray… I also think it is natural for others to feel anger too. I am not discounting prayer at all and I believe in the power of the energy behind it but I also think it takes more than prayer, it takes action. It is sad that it takes tragedies like Oklahoma for people to come together. What about all the other days in between? Have we lost our sense of humanity. People need help every single day of the year but how often do people go without?

Help isn’t something that has to be grand. It can be as simple as smiling at a stranger or calling a friend to see how they are. Help could also be picking up a piece of trash on the street or reaching out to someone who is struggling. For me that is God in action. If you think about Jesus, what was he all about? His message was service and taking care of others. I look at many aspects of this world and I don’t see him in peoples actions, though I hear his name spoken quite often.

We live in a fast paced world these days, where many people don’t want to be troubled. They don’t have the time or the energy. So many people just hide behind the crowd. Look how many people look at the homeless and I am not talking about the people on the street corners asking for money. People either don’t want to get involved or they just don’t care or they are waiting for the person to ask for help. Well sometimes the person isn’t strong enough to ask for help.

Today I watched this video of a courageous young man by the name of Zach. At the age of 14 he found out a he had a rare form of Cancer. He didn’t let the news that he had terminal Cancer stop him from living a full life. Honestly I think he lived more in the three years, that most people do in their whole life. You didn’t have to know Zach to know he was filled with the essence of God. He glowed with so much love, life and spirit. His mission in life was to just make people happy, to make them feel loved. In a short period time he touched so many people, it transcended the globe.

Today he passed away. Zach is an example of what life is really about, love and happiness. His love was infectious and even Cancer couldn’t kill that. Though I don’t think the news of him having Cancer and that he would die really changed who he was, other than that he probably embraced it more. I will admit I wish I was more like Zach, so unafraid of living. I mean we all are terminal, we all will eventually die but even I get bogged down with life. We lose our will to fight and become zombies looking for our next feed.

I have been on both ends of the spectrum when it comes to God. I have doubted and questioned him/her/it… I have felt the grace of God as well, usually when I have met someone else. Many are taught to question God is unholy and not natural but I don’t believe that to be true. I think it is our duty to question anything that doesn’t seem right and outside of the message of love.

There is so much that I don’t know and I don’t begin to act like I know anything, especially when it comes to this universe. I don’t know why Tornadoes happen or why people are taken before their prime. Why do humans hurt children and why do they get Cancer? Is this world a test or a punishment. These are all things that I have thought about during my time on this planet.

The only thing I am confident about is love. This world can never have too much love and care. I see what the absence of it does. It causes war, murder and hate. Will you be the person who reaches down to help someone up or will be the type of person who just walks right by… or even worse keeps them from getting up.

As someone who has a big heart living in this world can really cut you up, if you aren’t careful. It is so easy to put a big wall around your heart and become jaded. I have been there and done that. I wasn’t getting hurt but I was just as miserable as before. I see the world and believe we are constantly at War. I look at the world and see so many wounded people, not wounded by guns or bombs but by hate, words and judgment.

Words can cause just as much damage as any gun, knife or bomb, especially if it’s constantly repeated to you. Just look at the various social media outlets, advertising and news organizations. Just look at the CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch’s attitudes towards overweight people. Think of the damage that those words do to children that hear them. In a sense corporations are telling the world that if you don’t fit in that image, you have no worth. This is just one example and these kinds of things happen because we allow them to. It all trickles down and effects everybody, especially our children who are our future.

In the CEO’s message could love be found anywhere? Other than the love of the all mighty dollar and that is what it comes down to. The value of the dollar has been put above humanity. Just look at our health care system. Those that need help are often turned away or go broke in order to heal. Where is the love in that?

Then you have those who believe in various causes like global warming, abortion rights and many different worthy causes. They post their causes all over Facebook, they exercise their right to vote and might attend a rally but where are these people in the day to day living of life and those who are in need. My point is that so often people get behind a cause and it is the people affected by those causes who lose out.

Like for example when I tried to kill myself, sure there were people who got involved that day out of concern but where were they before and after? After I got out of the hospital I didn’t hear from many people, especially my family. I don’t say this to make anyone feel bad, I am just using this as an example. I am thankful that I am strong enough now to fight and am working on recovering but so many people don’t have that luxury… So many people are successful in killing themselves. People don’t get involved because either they don’t know how, they don’t want to upset you, they don’t have the time or they just don’t care. So many people fall through the cracks.

I guess I am angry… I have been very angry at God for a while now… and I guess in a sense angry with the humans of this world that sit by and do nothing!!! Wow, I guess this post and this idea has uncovered some hidden hurt I have been feeling. I know in the end it will be me that saves me but every one needs support and love… There are so many people who are like myself who have been kicked down and don’t feel they can get back up. They feel unworthy of any kind of love from God, the world and even themselves. They have lost their will to fight. The longer you are down in that horrible place, the harder it is to get back up… Many just give up and stay in that position or take their own lives.

In the end, I can see why people lose their faith and even become atheists. There was a time that I was close to atheism. While I am still figuring things out for myself and working on releasing my own inner spirituality, I know one thing is for sure. That I am going to continue to embrace love and reach out to those in need.

The World is Your Oyster!!!

So in therapy yesterday I had the realization that I am capable of doing anything I want, as in my dreams are a reality. This was a monumental moment for me, as previously my dreams were clouded over by extreme doubt. Anything is possible.

Without dreams your world becomes a very dismal place. Dreams are aspirations, where you want to go.

In the world we live in it is very easy to have your dreams turns into nightmares. If you listen and believe the naysayers you will always live your life in their shadows.

‚ÄúOur deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you¬†not¬†to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.‚ÄĚ

Marianne Williamson

So shine brightly, even if everyone around you is trying to turn off your light. The harder they try to pull you down, the brighter you need to shine your light. Everyone has that light, some just chose to not use it.

I have been thinking deeply about that, those who choose to let their light shine in a positive matter versus those who hide their light and try to drag others down. Prior to my Mama dying I was the person in the middle, hiding in the shadows. I let other people extinguish my light. I felt broken and useless.

Now I realize I was only scared, hiding from the light. The light will protect me and the darkness only hurts me. Seeing my Mama battle her illness and the bravery she had facing her death, gives me courage to come out of darkness. I want to live my life in honor of her. I want to make her proud.

Last Sunday I watched the Super Bowl. I usually only watch it for the commercials but this time I actually watched the game. When I heard the San Francisco 49ers¬†cornerback Chris Culliver say that no gay person would be welcome on his team, I instantly wanted the Ravens to win. He went on to make other homophobic comments. Previously some of the players of the 49ers made a “It Get’s Better” video in regards to anti-bullying. Now two of the players who are in the video¬†linebacker Ahmad Brooks and nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga have denied making the video. Then when they were showed the video with them in it they said¬†they didn’t realize the aim of the production was to fight the bullying of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender teens.

This is a perfect example of someone not being lead by their light rather by their fears and hate. Anybody who is in the public eye has a great opportunity to make a difference, especially with children. Those like Culliver are only wasting their opportunities.

Thankfully there are those unlike Culliver who stand up to injustice and embrace their light with courage. Linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens Brendon Ayanbadejo is a prime example of someone embracing their light by coming out in support of equality. For someone in the sports world to stand up to the rampant homophobia and fear that exists is a true act of bravery.

Brendon has vowed to use the Super Bowl as a platform for marriage equality and anti-bullying, saying¬†“This isn’t a fight for gay rights, this is a fight for human rights.” Now this a true champ in my eyes.

After winning the Super Bowl XLVII he was interviewed in a video produced for The Respect for Marriage Coalition, where he spoke out in defense of  lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.

“Being the first pioneer publicly accepting same-sex marriage in the three major sports was difficult at first but the more people scrutinized me and ridiculed me, the stronger I became for the issue,” Ayanbadejo told Simmons, who has also¬†been praised by a number of advocacy groups¬†for his own defense of LGBT rights. “It was like lifting weights; the resistance made me stronger, stand taller and speak louder for LGBT rights!”

Brendon urges others, “Join me and the majority of Americans who support marriage equality — it’s the right thing to do.”
Think about how much good he is doing for the gay community but it goes much further than that. His light will travel to many unexpected places, touching those who so desperately need to hear his message. Ayanbadejo’s message isn’t just for gay people but everyone as his message of acceptance is universal. Plus the courage he exhibits by standing up and doing the right thing, even when it brings him heat, is another way that he is making a difference.
Just like in¬†Marianne Williamson’s quote The Deepest Fear, “as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
So I am making a conscious effort to embrace my light fully, even if that means taking heat for it. There are so many people out in this world trapped in the darkness and need that light to help them out of the dark. I am no longer that scared little boy, stuck in the bedroom where the bad things happened. I am a strong, loving adult with the skills to rescue myself when need be. I must constantly remind myself of that.
You are worthy. You are beautiful. You are capable of greatness. You deserve so much in your life. You are lovable. You matter. There are people out there who embrace all of that and more. Those who share their light with others. Not everyone in this world are leeches. If you find yourself surrounded by them venture outside your world. Trust me it isn’t an easy task when you are consumed by darkness but the more you try the better it will get. At first the light will be frightening but the more you embrace the light the more comfort it will give you.
As a good friend of mine pointed out it isn’t about perfection but¬†persistence. Keep at it. If you fall down, get back up and keep getting up even if it takes you a while. Healing is about the journey, not the destination. Keep moving forward even if it is one small step at a time. Taking a step backwards is not the end of the world, just take another step forward. Falling down doesn’t mean defeat, use it to fuel your flame to power you.
Embracing yourself for who you are and the light you possess takes practice, especially if you have hid it for most of your life.¬†I remind myself that I may not be there yet, but I am closer than I was yesterday… We will get there… Together!!!
The world is our oyster, now it is the time to go out and get it!!!

No Wonder So Many People are Turned off to God!!!

So the whole receipt situation has really got me pretty riled up. I am sure most of you have have seen the picture of the receipt floating around the internet where a Pastor from Atlanta wrote on her bill at Applebee’s, “I give God 10% why do you get 18?” She then crossed out the 18% tip calculated already on the bill. When the Pastor found out that the picture had gone viral on the internet she called Applebee’s to complain saying that her reputation had been ruined and wanted the server responsible fired.

The Pastor got her way and the server who took the picture was fired… After the news that the employee was fired the story went even more viral with many people threatening to boycott Applebee’s. I think many people are angry for a couple different reasons. One of them being the general lack of regards for those who work in the service industry. Many people don’t realize or don’t care that workers make considerably less than minimum wage. Then there is this idea that being a server is easy. If you have ever worked as a server you know how untrue this is. Being a server is tough. You are constantly on your feet moving a million miles a minute while often having to deal with difficult customers. Then there is the times you get stiffed on a tip or left very little.

Secondly people are upset over the whole using God to justify your bad behavior. How often do you see this? If you are gay and live in a religious family you see it fairly often. Look how the gay community is treated all because God says it to be so. Does God really say that behavior is acceptable? I mean where in the bible does it say that it is okay to pay someone less than they are worth.

Sure this is situation isn’t as extreme as some people who are religious but it is just another case where people put God in a very negative light. A friend of mine told me to try not to stereotype pastors because of this situation and my thought was it is hard to not do so when so many you¬†encounter¬†are just like this. I mean look at the Catholic church and how they treat homosexuality. Plus you still have the¬†sexual¬†abuse scandal. Even look at the Boy Scouts of America. I am sure their reasons for not allowing gay people into their organization is fueled by their religious views. They also have had their own sexual abuse cover up scandal.

So with all this information how can you expect people to come flocking to church when the message you send the world is the opposite of love and acceptance??? I mean come on now, no wonder so many people don’t believe in God. Even in Texas a¬†legislator¬†is trying to pass a law that makes ever Senior¬†recite¬†that they believe in God before they are allowed to graduate High School. When people are forced to believe something, many will run for the hills.

Personally I still struggle with my¬†spirituality. I hear these kind of messages and I instantly cringe and pull away. For years I stopped believing in God. The idea of burning in hell for being gay (something I couldn’t change) was just too much to handle, so it was easier to come up with an alternative where there wasn’t a God. There was also a time where whenever I heard someone say God or Jesus I would start to have a panic attack. I know I am not alone.

Honestly it is rather sad and such a loss that so many people are told they are not worthy of our higher power’s love. That to me is the greatest abomination. These people who use God to spread their hatred, discrimination and disgust towards others are really doing a huge injustice to the world. They are so caught up in their own beliefs they don’t realize what they are doing. They feel the only way they will ever feel safe is if they convince the world of their beliefs. They are so lost, that they don’t see that they are the ones who need to be saved.

While I still struggle with my beliefs and my spirituality, these are some things I have come to realize. God is love. God doesn’t care what you call him/her. Yes, I don’t believe God is a gender, or at the very least God is both¬†essences. Church is not required to get into heaven, nor is reading the bible. Church can be helpful for community and fellowship. ¬†Even¬†Atheists¬†believe in love. Love is universal. God is not just some exterior force, it is deep within us… Everyone is worthy of that love. Being of God is being humble, living a life of love and service and not forcing your views down other peoples throats. It is how you treat people into this world that will have more of an impact than the amount of days you go to church, the number of prayers you say and the times you have read the bible. I am not say that it isn’t helpful for some, it’s just that it is not everyone’s way.

Living a life in fear, is no way to live in this world. Fear breeds hatred.

I do believe not everyone in the faith world is like this pastor and others but that is why we need others to stand up for what is right. That is why I created this blog to show others that their is another way, that you don’t have to accept what others have told you about God. For me the message behind God is love. Even when I thought I didn’t believe I still was spreading the message of love. That is the one thing that will unite us all. Personally I am not religious, I don’t go to church and I don’t read the bible. I am deeply spiritual. I am still learning to unearth my spirituality. I struggle daily, though not as much as before. When the these voices are loud and repeated enough it is very easy to get them into your head. They eventually will seep into your belief systems as well. So it takes a good amount of time to heal but I know that I am worth it.

You are too, we all are. So if you are like me and have been at the hand of someone religious spreading their hate please know that you are not alone. Discover what works for you. Take the time to build your spiritual foundation. As you start to sweep away other peoples cobwebs and dust, you will start to see your own spirit sparkle again. You were meant to shine brightly. If your life is filled with those religious types who spread fear and hate, look elsewhere for your guidance. Your world goes much farther than the confines they try to keep you in. There is a world out there with those you believe in love and acceptance, who aren’t¬†controlled¬†by the terms they use to label it.

If you see someone struggling with finding guidance, reach out to them as a fellow human being. Honestly you can do more good in the world by living your life as an example. My beliefs are if you truly are in the¬†essence¬†of God, anyone will be able to feel it. You don’t even have to bring God, religion or¬†spirituality¬†up. For me it is being a good person, spreading love and helping those around me. That to me was the message Jesus was trying to share with the world. Rather than learn from his example, many have turned his legacy into the opposite. They lost the true meaning and have become the people who crucified him on the cross. All because of indifference, fear and intolerance. When it comes down to it they killed him because of his beliefs and the love he had for God and mankind. Isn’t that the same thing many do to the gay community? Sure they don’t nail us up on the cross but they might as well with the harm their hatred causes.

The world could use a lot more love, care and light. Sadly many people don’t believe they are worthy of that. They have been scared away by damaging, fearful messages. I will say it again it doesn’t matter what you believe in when it comes to spirituality, god and religion, if you believe in love, kindness and taking care of others… we are all the same. Even if you don’t believe in God, you have a place in this world. Love is universal. Love is the key and the lock, and it is deep within us.

The Vicious Cycle of Projecting, Personalizing and Internalizing

Are you someone who personalizes everything? If so, you probably can probably attest¬†to how much head and heart ache this causes you. As someone that does this constantly I have worked hard to overcome this challenge. The stronger I am at fighting off the personalizations the less affected I am by another person’s words, feels and actions.¬†

Now that I am aware I do this constantly I am more equipped to stop taking things personal. This can be really tough when you are dealing with conflict, especially when it is someone close to you. I have found it is sometimes easier to practice your coping skills on people you don’t know. Like for example, when you go to a store and are treated poorly by a sales clerk. When this happens to me I would instantly let it affect me. I usually would be rude right back and then let it bother me for the rest of the day. Now matter how happy I was prior to meeting that person it would kill my mood.

Now I try hard to kill them with kindness. Not only does it help with my mood but who knows it might have made them perk up or at the very least bug the heck out of them! ūüôā

For me, I have learned when I give back to them what was given to me it changes my mood and I struggle with letting it go. When I don’t personalize someones bad mood and say to myself that is their behavior, it really helps to put up this barrier between me and their negativity.¬†¬†

This example is kind of like taking baby steps. The more you practice this, the better you will get. Before you know it you will be able to take even bigger steps. When you encounter someone like this, think of a metaphorical stop sign and put it up right away. 

In therapy I have questioned why I personalize things in the degree I do. Personally I believe it started with the sexual abuse. At a very early age I tried to cope and rationalize the bad things that were happening to me. I couldn’t come up with a logical¬†explanation¬†why something bad would happen to me, so I therefor concluded it was my fault. As a child I wasn’t aware that sometimes bad things happen to good people, for no apparent reason. When you are a child you view things with a pure filter. You don’t realize that there are real monsters out in this world. What is even more damaging is that you don’t realize that the ones who are suppose to protect and love you, sometimes are the ones who are the monsters.¬†

As you grow older you carry that into your adulthood. Personalizing becomes apart of your belief system. These monsters do a great job of masking their hurt. They project their bad deeds onto their victim. They give portray this false image of being the good guy to the rest of the world. When that is all you know and are surrounded by it is very easy to believe that is all that is out there in the world. Everything is turned upside down. 

When personalizing turns into internalization, the stronger the hold it has on you. Even when you meet a nice person (especially if they try to help you) in the world if you believe you are a bad person, you most likely will feel¬†you don’t deserve it and run away.¬†

You can run and even hide but it will always find you. 

You start to believe that the world is out to get you. You question why someone is being nice to someone is bad. You second guess their motives and think they will eventually hurt you. I think for me I used it as a way to protect myself. Those who deeply hurt me weren’t always mean to me, usually at first they were very nice. So how could I trust anyone that was nice to me? How could I know they wouldn’t cut me to the core?¬†

I have started to learn that I am no longer that boy. I am no longer stuck in that bad situation. I am now an adult and can save myself. All those years I dreamed of someone coming to rescue us but no one ever came. Most of my adult life I still have waited. 

I am not weak. I am strong. 

When someone hurts me, it will not kill me. Most of the time their actions have nothing to do with me. Rather than look inward, I look at the person. I am working on taking that mirror and turn it back at them. I won’t allow their issue to absorb me and take me over.¬†

Often times it really is the whole¬†scenario¬†of it’s not you, it’s me… Especially if you know you haven’t done anything wrong. When someone says or does something to you, usually it has nothing to do with you. Stop the projection right in it’s track, by doing so you will stop the¬†personalization¬†and ultimately the¬†internalization.

Whether that interaction is big or small, it still is the same… If you could look into the person’s world you would see all their issues pilled up in their mailbox. This is especially tough to do when the person adamantly¬†try’s to pass their issues off onto you but you have the power to send their issue back, return to sender.¬†

I’m Not my Father

So someone close to me brought up this idea. Something I have been fighting with most of my adult life. This fear that I am just like my father. Being the son of your father it is natural to be compared to him but imagine what it is like when your father isn’t something you want to be.

I guess it is this idea if you are your father’s son, then you are¬†bound¬†to be just like him. I guess that is the fear of mine.

My father and I, have never really had a good relationship. It has always been strained and always on his terms.

Anger is the one trait that has always scared me. I haven’t ever quite known how to handle it appropriately. Even feeling anger makes me feel like I am just like my father. So I tend to avoid it. The few times that I have expressed anger is when I have been pushed and it always makes me feeling less. I think the key for me is realizing it isn’t anger that is unhealthy, it is what you do with it that can be.

I guess I got into this attitude that you can’t make anyone angry because you don’t know what they will do. I saw what happens when you made my father very angry and it wasn’t a pretty sight. When someone has a temper you learn to walk on egg shells and I guess I have done that most of my life with everyone, even myself.

I will admit this isn’t an easy subject for me to talk about. As I type this, I can feel myself starting to feel awful. It isn’t easy to admit to the world that I have a father that has always put his needs above everyone else. Even though I learned very quickly who my father was, I still wish he would change and love me the way I need.

All this time I took his inability to love me personal, as a¬†reflection¬†of who I was. That just is not the case. I have to remind myself that I am my own person. I may come from his DNA but I am not like him. I also have my beautiful Mother’s DNA flowing threw my veins.

The fact that I am aware of all of this shows that I am not like my father. I am so much more than the image my father created of me.

My father is not the only person whose image I have taken on. I have done the same with many other people in my life who hurt me, especially my abuser. For someone that causes harm it is much easier to pass your feelings onto your victim, than it is to feel them yourself.

Though I am working on loving myself inside and out, there have been times in my life that I felt like I was a monster. Granted I didn’t have any reason to believe in that, I still did. Those who¬†manipulate¬†and use others that is how they keep those they harm. For me it is like a form of brainwashing. People like my father feel the only way they can keep love is by making a person feel less or with fear. If all your life you have been told your a weed, how are you to know that you are a beautiful flower? Especially when he keeps the sun and other flowers away from you.

People are like mirrors and it was when I saw my reflection in another flower’s eyes that I realized I was not a weed but a beautiful flower!!!

My father knew if my sister, mom and I realized we were flowers we would never stay in his garden. So in order to prevent us from leaving, he made us believe we were weeds. After he took everything he needed from my Mom, he thew her out… abandon her and moved on to the next family… After that my Mama was not the same. I will never forget what he did to my Mama…

I have learned that he is too toxic to keep in my garden. I am worth more than that. It is perfectly alright to love a person from a far, especially if keeping that person in your life does more harm than good. Just because we are born into a relationship it doesn’t mean that we have to keep ourselves in that said relationship. For me it has become part of my self care.

Negativity is a form of Cancer and sometimes the only solution is to cut it out.

The biggest difference between me and my father is love. He lives his life centered around hate, weakness and fear. I live mine centered around love, strength and courage. Also the difference is in how I treat other people. Awareness is also a trait my father does not have. I know I am not perfect and I will admit my insecurities and flaws, and am working on overcoming them.

Love is what¬†separates¬†my father and I. I feel that I am worthy of love and work hard to return it to the world. I care about the world around me and am working on becoming more grounded and whole. These are concepts my father just can’t grasp…

While I may have a few of his traits, that doesn’t mean I am my father. I am my own person. A person with a heart of gold, that tries to not hurt anyone.

Awareness is the Key

So I really didn’t set any resolutions and I usually don’t. It is not like I don’t have anything that I would like to change. It’s just I have a history of when I fail at a resolution feeling pretty bad about myself. So I have learned to not set myself up for failure.

I can see why people do set resolutions being that it is a new year… A new year to a new me. I do like the idea behind it. I certainly was ready to start a new year, after the year I had. Though no amount of time would make me forget what I went through.

One of the last conversations I had with my Mother was her making me promise to work on my weight. I sometimes wonder if she didn’t know she was going to die. I don’t even like to think about that.

So I am attempting becoming more healthy in my life. I don’t like to use that naughty word… DIET!!! Something about that word leaves a very bad taste in my mouth. It feels so constricting, hard to stomach.

My recent discovery of how I view my body (dirty) has helped me with my choices when it comes to eating. One of my main food crutches is Pepsi. There is something about the sweetness that really gets me going. When I consistently drink it daily it does a number on my body, both with the weight I gain and my mobility with my knees and legs. When you drink at least a two liter of Pepsi a day, it is easy to start packing on the pounds. The last year I started to have issues with my knees. It got to the point where I struggled with walking and getting around. Recently I discovered when I stop drinking Pepsi my leg issues seem to disappear. My therapist pointed out that the sugar was probably aggravating my joints. I had never knew that was possible.

It has been over a week since I drank Pepsi¬†consistently. I won’t lie it has been very tough to give up. There have been moments that I really craved the taste but I would think about the paint that was associated with it and it stopped me from buying a Pepsi. One of my weaknesses with Pepsi is whenever I eat pizza, they go hand to hand. I can’t remember the last time I had pizza without Pepsi. Well last Friday night I stopped at Little¬†Caesars¬†to buy a baby pan pizza. Wouldn’t you know that they had a cooler stacked full of yummy Pepsi. It was like I was being tested by the Pepsi God’s… My first thought was to buy a two liter but that is usually how it starts. I will get one two liter, then another… Before you know it I am back to drinking Pepsi. So I thought well I will get a 20 oz. of Pepsi… but I didn’t think that was big enough to¬†quench¬†my thirst. There was a Speedway gas station next door and I said to myself, I can get a one liter there.

Then something just clicked. I remembered I had some diet soda in my car. So I resisted all my urges and had diet soda with my pizza in the first time in years. It felt like a victory, even though I thought Pepsi would have tasted so much better! ūüôā

As much as I love the taste of Pepsi it isn’t worth or equal to the pain and lack of mobility that Pepsi causes. So Pepsi and I must go our¬†separate¬†ways. Now I am not going to say I won’t ever have one again because that just sets me up to fail. If I tell myself I can’t have something, I will always do it. Plus this way if I do have a Pepsi I won’t have all the guilt for failing my commandment.

Awareness is monumental for me. Sure there is a lot more I could be doing but having the awareness is one big step forward for me.

Years ago I went to this meditation group where the mediator talked about awareness. She basically said that those who are at the awareness step need to give themselves a lot more credit. That being aware is a huge level of progress and so much further ahead than not being aware. When you are aware you can begin to change and grow. It is at awareness where real change begins. Sure you could be further ahead by taking action but you will get there. Take baby steps. Allow yourself to breath.

The process of awareness is very much like throwing pebbles into a pond, the ripples of which will radiate out positively, far and wide. Your awareness of something will radiate energy throughout your body.

I¬†certainty¬†have had my exposure with awareness but this is the first time that I have really went deep into my issues. I think my biggest struggle with losing the weight is I wasn’t identifying the real problem. I was treating the effect, not the problem. Being able to realize that I view my body as dirty has been¬†revolutionary¬†in making healthy choices.

Being healthy I am finding is rather intimidating. Becoming healthy is going to be a lifestyle change for me. As¬†panicky¬†as it makes me feel, I must do this!!! The consequences if I don’t are severe. Seeing my Mom in the hospital like she was, with the COPD from smoking, seriously has put a few things in my life in perspective. I know if I don’t make different choices I am bound to have a¬†similar¬†situation with diabetes, etc.

So I am not calling it a diet but I am starting to count my calories. Thankfully there is this very easy to use calorie counter app on my phone. I can even scan the item and it will do all the work for me. With my weight I get close to 2500 calories a day, which isn’t bad at all. For me it is about taking baby steps. The bigger step I take, the more likely I will fall. So slow and steady wins the race. I am done with jumping!!!

Being an emotional eater is tough. So to change my habits at a time where I desperately need to eat my feelings away is very challenging. I keep trying to think about the consequences of a choice. Though there are times when my need to bury my feelings are so extreme that I barely can see or feel the consequence attached to the action!

I have ate so unhealthy for so many years that it has become a way of life for me. If it is healthy chances are I will not eat it, for example vegetables. The only vegetables that I will eat are green beans and sweet potatoes. I also like corn and potatoes but I know those are fake veggies! When ever I tell people my list of vegetables that I eat they always say well what about _______? Then I say what about ONLY do you not understand! ūüôā and NO, I do not like salads!

So that limits me on my choices and I am not quite at the point of my life where I can eat foods that I don’t like… I get that as well, why don’t you try them… For me it is working on the things I can like cutting out regular soda. Sure I know that diet soda isn’t good for me either but for the amount of regular soda I drink this is a better¬†alternative. Eventually I will work on cutting out diet soda but there is a time and place for that. I am also working on including water into my diet. Lately I have been drinking these¬†vitamin¬†enhanced water beverages¬†that¬†my sister got, they are pretty good! The moral of the story is do what works for you. Set reasonable and small goals. I have to get healthier in layers or it will never stick.

Hopefully one day I can learn the art of moderation and will power but until then I will work on this.

Whenever I start to count my calories I am surprised with the amount of calories that are in some items. Eating out is at a minimum 1k calories, especially at fast food. Did you know that Kraft Macaroni & Cheese is 1200 calories, if you eat the whole box. KMC is one of my favorite meals. I like quick and easy, and it is just the right amount of cheese for me! Who knew that a bowl full of cheesey goodness was so many calories??? Eating a whole bowl is almost half of my allowed calories for the day.

Vegetables aren’t my only demon when it comes to my eating habits, as you can see by my mac and cheese choice… Pizza, fried food, bacon… OH MY!!! Pizza is my one downfall. I could live on pizza. Again it is about moderation. When I was at Little¬†Caesars¬†the other night I thought about getting a whole pizza but then I thought about all that leftover pizza. That was just too much temptation so I got a baby pan instead. When a slice of pepperoni pizza is around 300 calories a slice, having left overs is probably not a great choice for me right now.

I am trying to eat more healthy even though I still eat unhealthy things like french fries. I took a trip to the local grocery store to try to get some healthy food. I even pushed my cart into vegetable section. Granted I didn’t buy anything but still I looked… I need to incorporate fruit into my diet. I really like fruit but I tend to forget to eat it or it goes bad before I get to it. I love grapes.

The issue I currently have is with my depression. There are times I don’t feel like cooking an elaborate meal. I also forget to eat sometimes. The other day I had forgotten to eat. I found myself starving and over an hour away from home. Finding a place to get a bite to eat that was somewhat healthy became somewhat of a problem. I drove around and around… Eventually I caved and ate at¬†McDonald’s¬†.. Which is probably the worst place I could have chosen. I ended up getting a grilled chicken sandwich with a medium fry and a diet coke. I only ate half of my fry, talk about self control! Though I did have a cherry pie at 250 calories! ūüôā Even though I was well under my calorie limit for the day, I noticed feeling guilty for eating there. Mainly because when I eat fast food it takes away a big chunk of my calories and limits what I can eat for the rest of the day.

One thing I have learned about calorie counting is taking steps to make it easier for me to eat better. Like for example when I get grapes I try to bag them in serving sizes. By doing this it helps me when I am feeling down and don’t want to prepare something. This way I have something ready when I am hungry. I did the same thing with the chicken breasts I got this week. I also am trying to keep around snacks that are healthy, that I like. I notice if I don’t have anything available that is healthier I will break down and eat something unhealthy. So having healthy snacks around are going to be important for me.

Another goal of mine is to start becoming more active. I bowled two games last week and it about killed me. When it gets warmer out, I hope to start walking. Again I have to take baby steps. I have started to park further back when I go to stores. Anything will help, that is how I look at it. I am learning to push myself. I wanted to quit after the first game but I bowled another one. One of the things I use to love to do is going out dancing. There is no way I could dance in the shape I am in now but I will one day be able to.

Not only am I tackling becoming more physically healthy but I am also working on the emotional side to it as well. I am working hard to take better care of myself from the inside to out. I can’t wait for anyone to come rescue me. I have to do it!!!

I don’t have the¬†luxury¬†to wait anymore. The time is now to take better care of myself. Loving myself inside and out. I deserve it!!! I wouldn’t tolerate someone treating someone I loved this way, so why do I tolerate treating myself this way??? This may be new territory for me but it will keep at it until it sticks!

One breath will turn into a lifetime filled full of happiness, laughter and fulfillment. I guess it is all about balance. I am learning to build a strong foundation, one brick at a time. Turning my house into a home, inside my secret garden. A sanctuary that no one will be able to knock down.

Awareness is the seed (key) planted in my secret garden.

I am ugly…

That is what I said to myself when I looked into the mirror tonight.

Ugly. Hideous. Fat.

These are all words that are running through my mind right now.

Unlovable. Worthless. Unwanted.

These are meanings behind those words.

I looked into the mirror and I was disgusted at what I saw. It is a feeling that I don’t care for. It doesn’t make me feel so hot.

I don’t always see ugly,¬†hideous¬†or fat when I look in the mirror but when I do it makes me shiver.

Part of the way I feel about myself is my recent weight gain. I think about having sex with another guy and my first thought is no one will want to touch me. You would think that would be motivation enough to go on a diet but it isn’t.

This has came up in therapy. I wonder if I use my weight as layer of protection. The heavier I am, the less likely it is I will be with someone… making it very unlikely I will ever get hurt.

I also realize that the way I feel about myself isn’t just about the weight.

I personalize everything.

I login to various gay social sites and I am faced with all these guys with muscles, who look nothing like me. Even the ones that say they are just looking friendship don’t even respond back. I obviously am not attractive enough to be their friend. See that is where the personalization gets me in trouble¬†every time!!!

The whole online gay lifestyle is very disheartening at times. It is very much like a meat market especially the sites that allow nudity in your pictures. I mean I am gay but it doesn’t mean I want to stare at penis all the time. Then you have the headless horsemen gay guys. Then on top of all of that you have porno ads all over. Am I the only one that gets turned off by all of this?

I mean is that all there is to life, sex??? I don’t think so…

When you are fat, you become this joke. Often times you are the one starting the joke. I guess it is easier to laugh off the reality then face the truth. Growing up your told your too fat, you need to lose weight. The kids stare and call you names.

Just look at our culture and how we treat a person’s size. All you have to do is turn on the television and see all the weight loss ads. Look at me all skinny and fabulous, you can do it too!!! I am not saying that being healthy is a bad thing but at what cost??? Just look at all the photoshopping that is done to pictures on magazines.

It is all this comparing that does harm.

Even in the bear community lately I have felt out of place. On the bear sites I rarely get a response back from someone not my size. When that happens the wheels of¬†personalizing¬†start to turn. Some will argue that these sites are just for one thing online, hooking up… but I have to believe that I am not the only one out there looking for meaningful connections???

Recently I have heard from gay guys, who are not fat, have the same problem as I do… as in they never hear back from people. So what in the world is going on??? Has the invention of the iPhone and Android made it too easy? I mean it certainly has made it easier to find people, right down to their location. More options means more choices. Is it the whole grass is greener on the other side¬†scenario? I mean you can always find someone hotter, just an icon over…

Being a gay sexual abuse survivor is very tough. You are constantly bombarded by superficiality. Profiles that say no fatties or hwp only. I connected how others think about my body to my self worth. I need to sever those ties because they are harmful to me. I have connected my dating struggles with being overweight… which really means I am ugly… unwanted… unlovable… ¬†alone… forever…

There is apart of being a survivor of sexual abuse is that I have felt that was my¬†purpose¬†to give others pleasure. When someone takes something that isn’t yours, and then as an adult you have relationships that mirror that, you become an object.

I think in many ways I eat away my feelings because it is a way for me to protect myself. I know that it is all connected to the abuse. Often times it feels like a part of me is still trapped in that bedroom. I wish it were as easy as turning off a switch.

I guess the difference is that I am now aware of these ugly feelings and I am working on overcoming them. I have to remind myself that I am not my feelings. Loneliness is a tough feeling for me and often the beginning of my downward spirals. I really need to be aware of these feelings and be careful when I start to feel lonely.

I started to write about lonely and I started to think about it more. There is general loneliness where you miss being around people. Then there is the loneliness you feel because you miss having someone special in your life. I also think I kid myself that when I look online I am not trying to find a potential mate, even when I say I am just looking for friends… Maybe that is what so many guys who say they are looking for friends are doing??? Years ago, before I realized that my weight was a big issue for me, I noticed it was difficult to be friends with other guys who were big like myself. I finally realized that they were mirrors. I have since realized when it comes to friendship it is most healthy when I am not attracted to the person because sex for me complicates things.

Why do I feel I need someone in my life to be happy?

When I get really lonely I start looking online for ways to soothe my feelings. Here is how the cycle goes.

I get lonely -> look for platonic connection -> romantic connection -> sexual connection = feeling horrible, ugly, etc

Regardless if I am successful in finding someone to have sex with me I end up feeling horrible because in one situation I become an object and another no one wants me. There was a time where I was very promiscuous and did this all the time. I am thankful I have moved forward. Though I find myself trying to go backwards.

Tonight a word came to mind when I thought about having sex and my body… pure… I guess I have always saw my body as dirty. That started early on when I tried to wash away the filth from the sexual abuse.

Wow, it just dawned on me how I looked at my body. Talk about light bulbs exploding!!!

Lately I have been feeling particularly lonely with all the feelings of loss. Tonight I had a chance to hookup and I stopped myself. I realized I deserved and wanted more! Afterwards is when pure came to mind. This idea that my body is a temple. I need to start treating it like so.

I have to start looking at my body like a secret garden. Sure I have a lot of weeding to do but the walls are still strong, I just have to keep the door locked. I have planted a seed and soon life will blossom filling my garden full of beautiful flowers. I just need to be more cautious who I let inside my garden because many will try to trample or steal my flowers.

Even thought it has been close to 10 months since I’ve had sex, partly by choice, I still feel inside that my body belongs to others. I think the key to my recovery is letting that go. Just because someone took something that wasn’t theirs when I was a child, it doesn’t mean they still have it. It was and will always be mine.

It is time for me to start thinking about what I do to my body. Is what I am doing to it going to help or hurt me? As for gratuitous sex it usually means something harmful because it is too deeply connected to the sexual trauma.

So from now on I am going to start treating my body like a temple, especially when it comes to sex. I am worth more than a one night stand. The benefits don’t out way the consequences. I must burn that ideology into my brain.

I am reclaiming my body and my self worth. For too long the door to my secret garden was¬†unhinged, stolen long ago… I have since put up a heavy duty bullet proof door with a combination lock that only I have the code for. Now I will control who I let in to see my garden, everyone else will have to look at my beauty from a far… Just because I let someone in it doesn’t mean they have full access to my garden, or control. If they begin to abuse their¬†privileges¬†I have the right to banish them.

I hold the key and lock. No one else does…

 

My impact on the world…

So the last four months have probably been the most difficult in my life. I had to face something I didn’t want to ever want to. The death of my Mama set me into a very deep depression. Losing her has shook me to my core and I have started to question everything in my life.

Depression is very crippling. It is this thick dark cloud that surrounds everything in your life. It is a type of poison that seeps deep into your consciousness. Add a traumatic event to the mix and it amplifies the pain infinitely.

My inner demons tell me things like I am not worth it, unlovable because if someone treated me poorly it must have been for a reason.

Not everyone in this world believes in the power of love. Some have lost sight of it, while others do whatever they can to protect hate. This world we live in is very much a battleground. We are in a war but with unconventional weapons. Weapons that cut deeper than any sword and pierce faster than any gun. All it takes is just a few letters. Words.

When you stand up for others, you are bound to get injured. People will go to great lengths to protect their security, especially when someone comes into their world trying to change.

I have questioned my¬†purpose¬†in life. I have wondered why people haven’t liked me for no apparent reason. For the longest time I took it personal and then I internalized it. Until recently when I discovered that the reasons behind not liking me had nothing to do with me. It was all to do with who they were and the fears/insecurities¬†they lived in.

When you stand up against hate and injustice, especially with those inflicting or covering it up, it is natural for it to cause conflict. People have conformed and gotten comfortable in the injustice. The injustice has became a way of life. It has became the norm. Anyone that tries to chip away at the injustice is seen as an outsider. They project their hate, intolerance and bad deeds on others. That is how they sleep at night.

My Mama was my biggest champion. She was the one person I could go to and know I would receive love. Her death has made me feel like I am dangling in outer space with no net. Without her physical presence it has made this earth a lot more frightening.

Having a big heart and knowing what to keep for yourself has always been a struggle for me. I have always been able to stand up for others and the injustices they have endured but when it comes to me I have always struggled.

When my Mama died, I questioned whether I wanted to be on this planet.

You give your love to others and when you hit enough brick walls you begin to wonder why?

Love should be available to all, yet some feel that it is only for the few.

I have internalized others hate for too long, allowed it to cripple me. Others fears, intolerance and hate was never mine to keep.

Today I was reminded of the deep impact I have on this world by a friend I went to school with. I am still taken back with the kind words he said about me. To have someone recognize and validate who I am and the love/care I give really impacted me deeply. To know that I inspired someone else to stand up for others was huge.

I feel like I am closer to venturing out into the world and allowing my heart and light to shine. A part of me thought that in order to help other people, that I needed to be “cured” myself but today I realized that they go hand in hand. I realized this by watching a movie on The Disney Channel called “Radio Rebel”. This movie had a great message of standing up for what is right and being who you truly are. The story revolved around this shy, insecure teenager that uses this an internet radio show to inspire others and in the process it allows her to embrace who she really is… Her rebel personality merged with her reality and it allowed her to embrace who she really was.

That is what I want to do is embrace who I really am, while inspiring others to do the same. I have realized that when I am able to embrace who I really am, that it allows others the opportunity do so as well.

I just need to find a venue to share my story. I have been thinking about doing a weekly podcast. I have to have faith that God will lead me where I need to go.

Love is the key. It is who I am. I have a message that others need to hear. I believe that is my purpose. It will be how I honor my beautiful Mother and the gift she gave me.