How to Become Un-Broken

This is something that I’ve been thinking about lately. How to fix what’s already broken. I’m not talking about a vase or mirror. I’m talking about the human spirit. Now some would argue that a human’s spirit can’t be broken but when you’re at that low point it’s hard to see outside in.

Life is full of ups and downs. You get knocked down and you get back up. Each time you’re knocked down afterwards it becomes more difficult to get back up. It starts off as a pebble and before you know it you’ve got a gigantic boulder. A boulder so heavy that it feels impossible to get back up.

After my Mom died (almost four years ago) I was kicked to the ground. It was the first time in my life that I’ve gone so long before getting back up. Losing my Mom wasn’t the first time I was knocked to the ground but it was a KO punch that’s kept me at the bottom. Most of my life I’ve felt broken but I’ve always mended the wound. I guess I’ve only patched the break but this time there was no denying I felt broken.

For me, the key will be not expecting to be put back together the way before the event because that will only set myself up for failure. There are just some things in life that can’t be fixed like my Mother’s death and the whole that was punched through my heart. No amount of therapy and growth will ever completely fill that hole. It’s a gaping hole that I need to cope with. Like having diabetes I have to manage the symptoms.

So rather than trying to fix what’s broken I guess I just need to start building a new model of myself. Start from scratch and build the life I want to. That’s not easy as I’ve got a lot of digging to do. I’m at the point in my life where I don’t see a clear path to happiness and freedom. I have an idea of who I want to become and what I want to do but nothing confirmed. Like I know I want to do something artistically related where I can give back to others.

Today I was reminded (again) of my impact on this world. Often times I’ve wondered how in the world can I help other people when I feel so broken? I’ve since realized that there is no time but then to share yourself. We live in a world full of hurdles, mountains to climb. I know that I’m not the only person struggling in life. So I guess I just have to keep doing what I’m doing and have faith that things will work out for me.

Having faith hasn’t always been my strongest quality. I struggle with it daily. I’ve failed a lot of times and it’s never easy. I’m tired of being disappointed. I recently watched a video of Oprah (who I love) and in the video she talks about failure. She says, failure is just there to point you in a different direction. It really opened my eyes about the failures in my life. I’ve always been a strong believer in good things can come from bad things. That doesn’t make it easier but there is some relief to know that the disappointment and rejection will propel you towards what you deserve and need.

After I came back from my art show in NYC last August I expected my life to change but instead I came home to a lot of emptiness both physically (as I gave away something very deep and precious to me) and mentally. In many ways life became more complicated afterwards, not easier like I thought. Each hurdle I jump I ask myself when will life get any easier. In my mind the experience of creating the tree and traveling to NYC for the show would propel me towards a life where I created full time. When that didn’t happen (yet) it became a reminder of my failures. That’s the difficult part when you’ve failed a lot, is not allowing past failures to add to the weight. I’ve struggled with overcoming it and it’s not a skill that I’ve quite mastered but I’m not giving up.

Each failure will lead you closer to what you need. I have to remind myself of this. If I didn’t get something is that it wasn’t meant for me to go down that road. There is something better out there for me. That’s where having faith comes in handy. It’s facing failure and knowing that it’s only a detour to get you back on track. I also think it’s important to remember that no many times you fail there’s never a point where you stop succeeding. You just need to keep putting yourself out there. Wave your arms about like a crazy person if you need to. Scream to the universe that you’re ready for whatever is out there.

So I guess that’s where I’m at today. I don’t quite feel as broken as I use to be but I still don’t feel I’ve moved much ground. I’m still unsure and uneasy. I don’t know if I will ever be 100% again but I have to keep trying. I won’t lie I’m beat. I’m worn out. I might be moving slowly but I still am moving. Even if it’s a snail pace, as a dear friend once told me, you’re still in motion.

Some days are harder than the other but I refuse to give up. It’s just not who I am. I’m tired of the rejection but I won’t let that stop me from living my dream. I just hope it happens sooner than later. I deserve to be happy and whole again, as we all do.

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Losing My Religion

I grew up in fire and brimstone. I was groomed to face life in fear. As an adult I have struggled to put out all those flames. While most I kept to a smolder I still fight against the few that are resistance. For so many years I’ve allowed them to ravage my soul. Those flames have left me with a blackened out forest.

Now it’s time to use those remaining flames to fuel me. I think the key to unlocking my happiness is to stop searching for answers from the outside world. I don’t need to find something, that I already have inside of me. I’m worthy of that love, as is everyone.

Things may seem bleak but they won’t stay that way. I guess sometimes in order to find yourself you need to get lost.

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.

“Our 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.”

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.

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.

What is love?

Tonight I started talking with a dear friend about love and my brain started to get into gear. I don’t always think about what is behind the many emotions I feel, love being one of them. I have lived my life with an open heart and that hasn’t always been met with appreciation. I feel first, think second… Usually my brain comes into play way after my heart has gotten involved… Then there has been times that I have ignored my brain and followed my heart, and that has lead me a stray.

I think the biggest thing I have learned about love and loss, is that you got to take the risk to get the reward.

So what is love?

My first thought was you can’t define love. It is just a force that just is. Like of like the universe. There is so much we can’t even see or feel. Love goes on and on…

I will be the first to admit that I have become very guarded with my heart these days. Some probably would call it being jaded. I try to put a more positive spin on it! 🙂 When I was young, like I am so old now, I was very naive about the world. When I graduated High School I had envisioned my life being a certain way. I am sure that is common. I never realized that with love came risk and with risk along came hurt and pain.

I had always known that I wanted to spend my life with one person, even before I realized I was gay. Well that certainly hasn’t worked out the way I expected. My first relationship was a love at first sight thing, well it might have been more of a lust thing but I was young. There was a huge spark between us, so much that when we first saw each other we both jumped. Well I mostly startled him while he was working as a night auditor at the hotel he worked at. He had his backed turned to me when I said hello. There was an instant spark and an instant boyfriend…

I feel for him quickly and deeply. Well two months later he dumped me in the most horrible way by telling me that he was never in love with me, nor was he attracted to me… and he had felt that from very early on. He also stated that he had been wanting to break up with me for weeks.

Honestly I thought this love was going to last forever. I believed in forever. After that night everything changed after my wings were clipped and I feel from the sky, crashing and burning… I had never been so devastated in my life. There was a hole in my chest and it ached deeply.

My views on true love were deeply impacted. Jump to fifteen years later I have come to realize as wonderful love at first sight feels it isn’t always meant to be, nor is the kind of love I want. True love like that is fine and dandy if both parties are okay with it but I have found that usually isn’t the case for me. Now I see true love like that for the movies, like a fairy tail. I know it exists but it sees too unreal and unobtainable.

I have learned that when you rush into love, that you don’t always get to see the whole picture and often times you miss out crucial pieces that could end up hurting you. Plus it is easy to mix lust and love together. When you rush there is a much higher level of risk. I no longer can take that big of a risk.

I am finally at a place in love when I want to take my time and experience all love has to offer. When you rush not only do miss red flags but you miss out the important beginning stages of love. Like the butterfly moments. The not knowings, as tough as they can be at times have their own wonderfulness as well.

The love I want and need is the love that grows over time. Love is very much like a tree, starting out in the purest form of a seed. With the right amount of rain, sunshine and weeding your love will only blossom in time. If you give it too much of one thing it will surely stunt the growth, or even kill it.

With love comes many different layers and types.

There is the general love of mankind. The way we think about the world around us. A sense of care towards those around us.

Then there is love you have for a child, in my case my two nieces and nephew. Prior to them being before I thought I knew what love was but I had only scratched upon the surface of what love was all about. I couldn’t imagine a world with out these three angels. For some 26 years I lived on this earth with out knowing that there were three little souls out there that would change my life forever. Love to a child is pure. They don’t know hate. They come to you with open arms. They are the true definition of unconditional love, well until they start to hit the teenager years then they aren’t as open with that love. 🙂

I think about that time and I didn’t have a clue of what love really was. The birth of my niece Paige in 2002 opened my world to something so pure and wonderful. I got just as much from them, if not more, than the love they got from me. During some of my darkest days they were my lighthouses beaconing me to shore from a very dark and dangerous sea.

After the death of my beautiful Mother I realized the depth of my love for her. There is something so pure about the love between a Mother and her child. It is a bond that no one can break, not even death. While the past three months have been very torturous I still feel my Mama’s love.

There is the love between two siblings. A sense of protection comes from that love. This kind of relationship is another bond that is unbreakable. A special connection between two souls that go through similar situations forever bonded together. I can remember from an early age feeling the need to always protect my sister, no matter what. I still find myself doing that. She will always be my baby sister.

My Mom, Sister and I were the three musketeers. During the tough times we formed this close bond out of protection, it is what kept us safe and sane. We didn’t have much but we had each other. That is love. As adults we may have traveled on our own journeys but that bond will always be there.

There is the kind of love where you imprint on the person. This can be both platonic and romantic. This an ultra special connection between souls. A depth that surpasses anything this world has to offer. Certain people I have felt from the start like I have known them before, like we have met in another lifetime. Though I don’t quite know what I believe in when it comes to all of that???

One thing that we talked about tonight was a level of love where you would go to the ends of the earth for… His response that he didn’t get statements like that because the earth is round… and I go, well that is the point. For someone I deeply loved I would go around and around and around and around and around the earth if it meant keeping the person I love safe. I would keep running around in circles forever if it meant my loved one was okay.

It is this idea that you would do anything to protect the person or persons you love, even if it meant you dying in the process. Where you put someone else’s life before your own.

I felt that way when I learned that my Mama was diagnosed with Cancer. My sister and I were willing to do whatever it took to take care of our Mother. Even if it meant driving all over the country to do so. I would have gone to Sweden if it meant healing her. Granted we didn’t get the results we had hoped for but she was cured of Cancer. It didn’t bring her down.

I have found this kind of love can be rather intimidating and down right scary to some people, especially if they have never really experienced it. The few guys I tried to offer that kind of love to felt they weren’t worthy of that level of love and ran far away from it. At the time I took it personal, like it was a reflection of who I was inside. I now realize it really had nothing to do with me.

Like I said before with love comes risk. Even the ones who love you are going to hurt you. We as humans are not perfect. We say things we don’t mean, we do things that we regret later and sometimes we push the ones we love because we know we can. Of all the hurt and pain I have endured from loving others, my Mama and Sister have always been there for me. That is what family is for. That is love, being able to look past the hurt and being there for the person you love.

I have also learned that sometimes you have to love certain people from afar, even family members. I have had to do this with my father. I would love to have a relationship with him but it would always be on his terms and there is too much risk for getting hurt for me to attempt to salvage a relationship with him. Some people are just too toxic, all they do is such the life-force out of you. I don’t believe in that whole philosophy of they are your parent and you have to respect them. You can respect them for giving you life but that is it. Respect is earned and it doesn’t mean you have to keep hurtful negative people in your life.

One thing I have learned about love is that we might not can chose the families we are born into but we can chose the families we grow into. Sometimes you have to love and respect yourself enough to know that you deserve better. Family isn’t always biological, it is what you make it. I haven’t always gotten the acceptance and love from parts of my extended biological family that I needed but have come to realize that I can get that from others. When I lived in Chicago in 2004 I learned this first hand. During my time in this wonderful city I meant so many caring people who saw me for who I was, many in which I am still friends with. These are bonds that even though we don’t always talk that when we do talk it is like we have been talking all these years.

My years in Chicago were two of the best and worst years of my life. It meant coming to terms with the sexual and spiritual abuse. I embodied what I talked about in a previous post about vulnerability, that it can be the birthplace of both negative and bad. Opening up my closet and letting other’s skeletons out meant being hospitalized a few times.

During difficult times it is natural to connect with others who are going through similar feelings, emotions and pain. I was blessed to be in a city that had a gay mental health ward to their mental hospital. As frightening of a time that was being there and all the feelings that surfaced, I am forever changed for the souls I met during the three weeks there. I will always remember the special bond we all shared, as well as the struggles as well.

A part of love comes loss. Another thing I have learned about life is that not everyone we encounter is meant to walk the same path forever. Sometimes we are only meant to cross paths briefly, like ships in the night. Early on I became very disenchanted by this, especially if the bond the great. I finally was able to realize that we each have our own journey, to keep someone on your path only takes away from theirs. Sometimes you just have to let someone go and hope that one day you will see each other again.

My therapist during my time in Chicago was one example. I saw my therapist for about a year and a half. I strongly feel that she was brought into my life. It was apart of the plan. I can remember going to meet her not for individual therapy but because she ran a men’s group for sexual abuse survivors. Instantly upon meeting her I knew that it was meant for me to see her for therapy. I didn’t end up joining the men’s group until six months later.

She showed me so much love and kindness during a time where I struggled the most. I not only saw her as my therapist but as a mentor. She opened my eyes and my heart in regards to my spirituality, my heart and so much more…

I got scared I ran from her, all my friends, my great job and the wonderful life I had built. All because I didn’t think I deserved all of the wonderfulness and happiness. I didn’t realize until it was too late that I was self destructing. Granted my leaving her was of my own doing, I have felt so much regret in leaving that bond we shared.

Thankfully it was meant for our paths to cross again. About four years ago her and her family moved to a city about an hour away from where my sister lives. At the time I lived in Ohio and I found it ironic that she would move to an area that I grew up in. I had dreamed of being able to rekindle the bond that we once had shared, though I never thought it would be over the death of my beautiful Mother.

Again I am deeply blessed and grateful that God has brought her back into my life. She has brought so much comfort and help during a great time of need. She has reminded me that we are worthy of second chances.

The one thing that I have learned about the death of my Mom… (I try to not say lost or lose because I am trying to retrain my way of thinking) Is that when a person dies that they truly never leave us, especially if that bond is deep and strong. They are always with us, even after death. Both inside our hearts and spiritually all around us. The same can be said for those who go their separate ways not by any wrong doing but by individuals going on different paths. Regardless where they travel and the new paths they take they will always remain deep within our paths. Realizing that we don’t need the person to hold our hand for them to be right beside us is a huge gift.

I am trying to remember this with my beautiful Mama, just is tough. I still want to be able to hold her hand again.

I think true love is when another soul is able to look past all your baggage, skin, pain, thoughts and emotions, and into your heart. They see you for who you are, not for who the world might see you as. Sometimes they see more in you, that you see in yourself. That is love. That is unconditional. In the world we live in this is rare. When you find someone who is able to do this hold them closely in your heart. They are truly a gift, a blessing from up above.

It is so easy to get all your connectors filled full of junk. Sometimes it your own junk, while other times it is other peoples trash. If you don’t learn to pick up the trash you can very easy turn into a gigantic landfill. What once was a endless beautiful nature preserve is now a place for piles and piles of endless trash. The world is filled full of jagged edges that if you aren’t careful will cut you open, leaving you exposed. Often it is an event that happens at an early age. Many times we can’t help but get hurt. It is the whole bad things happen to good people scenario. I don’t understand why it happens, it just does. Like why do children get sick and die? Make no sense to me.

If you are someone who is heart centered it is very easy to have the love you possess change. Even after years after you have been cut, you walk around life with this giant wound. You learn that you aren’t worthy of the same love you give to others. You begin to give love to everyone but yourself. It starts out small and snowballs out of control. Usually it isn’t until you are in desperate search for your nature preserve and all you can see trash. You dig and remove the trash but you never seem to find the bottom. Plus people keep throwing their trash at you because you have made it clear that you are just one big ole trash can.

I have always been great at dispensing the medicine but often find it difficult to take my own advice. I have found in order to heal I must look deep within to feel and eventually see all the beauty I have inside. Plus I need to pick apart my landfill to see what baggage was mine and the trash that belongs to others. Learning to not personalize things instantly disintegrated a lot of the trash pilled upon me. After all of that I still had a lot of my own trash to sift through and throw away. Healing is another process that has a lot of layers and depths. Healing is just like a onion, you have to peel away the layers and eventually you will get to the core.

While I still have some more layers to work through I am closer than ever to my core. Now comes the real work and progress. Loving yourself I think is the one of the most parts to love. If you don’t take care of yourself eventually it will catch up to you and you will no longer before to care for anyone else. This happened to me. My friend said that maybe that was the only true love… loving yourself and I think he is on to something.

I will admit I struggle with loving myself, it is a daily battle. My depression certainly hinders me with everything. If you have lived most of your life not loving yourself it has a way of affecting everything from your health, how you interact with other people and the choices you make. Through the years of hurt I have become very much like a hermit, so afraid to get hurt that I have hid from the world. My solitude became my prison. I was miserable and very unhappy. Just like in the movie The Village no amount of protection from the outside world can prevent hurt from happening. It will always find a way in. As in the case of the death of my mother. In the end, my protection ended up doing the opposite and kept me from everything good and deserved.

Hurt is inevitable. As is death. “A Life Lived in Fear is a Life HalfLived

Love changes everything. It imprints us, planting millions of seeds deep within us. As they blossom and we grow, we are able to share that love with others. When someone has a deep impact on us we change for the good. I am who I am today because of my Mama and the love she gave me. I wouldn’t be the same person today without her.

As much as I am frightened in getting hurt again romantically I know that I must put myself out there in order to grow. The key for me is loving myself enough to protect myself. Allow myself to enjoy the moment and not rush the experience. As with healing this works for love as well… As my therapist says, you can’t attach a cocoon to a stick and whip it around, expecting the butterfly to come flying out… All that will do will harm the life growing inside the cocoon. Again it is not allowing the vulnerability of the moment to swallow you whole, remembering that it is that fearful place where happiness, joy and love blossoms from.

Having fears is natural. Keeping them bottled up is not. Nor is allowing that fear control you. Talking about it is key for me. When you face your fears you take away their power. Learning to build up your toolbox with coping skills is also very important. As well a not listening to the negative voices in your head and replacing them with positive messages of love, encouragement and acceptance.

Love is universal. Love is eternal. Love has no barrier or walls.

We are all worthy and deserving of love. You don’t have to believe in God to know what love is because love is universal. While two people who speak different languages might not can understand the word love, no words are needed when a hug or an act of love will do. While we might argue and disagree with each others religious and spiritual beliefs the one thing that remains constant is love. For me that is truly what God is, love…

Love many different things to many different people. It is a parent taking care of their child when they are sick. It is a man buying a homeless man a pair of boots in the winter. Love is pitching in and helping out your neighbor in a time of need. Love means calling making sure someone got home safe after a long trip. You don’t have to know a person to love them, nor do you need to say a word. Though hearing I love you is three of the most enjoyable and meaningful words ever spoken.

Love is defending the person you care about and standing by their side through the good times and the bad. Love is saying I’m sorry when you know you have done something wrong or hurtful. Love is giving enough to others but always making sure you have something left for yourself. Love is in the giggle of a child. Love is the thought that counts, the effort behind the act and not the act itself.

Love is not proud, nor is it selfish. Love is free, flowing like a river touching everything in its path.

This world we live in certainly could use a whole lot more love. It is how we treat each other. Words can sting and words can hurt. Bones can break and eventually heal but words are silent killers getting deep underneath the skin. Their wounds are silent and unseen. They linger like a disease slowly infecting everything…

But we all can make a difference. A smile is can do a world of good. Life is so short before we know it’s over. In this fast paced world it is so easy to take for-granted the love and relationships we share. Reach out to others, they might not have the strength to ask for help. Say to others what you feel, you will regret it when they are gone. For being only three words saying I love you isn’t always as easy as it should be.

Tell people in your life that you love them, often. Hugg them frequently. Make an effort to see the people you love especially if you haven’t seen them in a while, even if you don’t feel like it because you will regret it when they are gone. Forgive yourself, life isn’t perfect but love is.

Be gentle to yourself. Do nice things for yourself. Take a bubble bath. Go for a walk. Watch your favorite funny feel good movie. Laugh. Cry. Be silly. Go out into the rain without an umbrella and dance in all the mud puddles. Embrace your inner child be kind to him and her. Buy a helium balloon and suck in the air. Dance in your living room, dance in public. Dance like you don’t care.

Let go of what others think of you. Go to see a movie by yourself. Do what you love, even if people think you are crazy. Make funny faces in the mirror. Talk to yourself, who cares if strangers think you are crazy. If you could see into their worlds you could see how crazy they really are! 🙂 When traveling long distances make an effort to enjoy the ride, stop and have lunch at the local restaurant. Not only will you have a good home cooked meal but you will have a memory that will last a lifetime.

Plant a garden, even if you don’t like veggies. Sleep in. Post funny pictures to your facebook  because you never know whose day you might brighten up. My Mom use to love looking at the funny pictures that were posted to her wall. Volunteer in a children’s hospital. You will not only learn how resilient children are but you will realize your problems aren’t as bad. Write a hand written letter to an old friend or even a new friend. Buy lunch for someone homeless.

Dress up for Halloween. Bring a friend some soup when they are sick or even NyQuil. Everyone loves NyQuil right? 🙂 Rather than buying a gift for someone take the money and make them something. Glitter goes with everything. Using the excuse that you aren’t creative or crafty isn’t valid because that doesn’t stop a child, nor should it you! 🙂

Wake up early and cook a big breakfast for everyone in your family. During the various seasons and holidays you can cut out designs using cookie cutters to make special pancakes. I learned the hard way to cook the pancake first then cut out the design. Learn from my mistake. 🙂

Get on the ground with the children in your life. Let them climb over you like a jungle gym. Let them dress you up, put make up on you and brush your hair. Build a fort out of blankets and chairs. Put on a puppet show. Go outside with them. Push them on the swing set. Take them to the park. Make a gigantic wave storm in the pool with them. Take them to the beach and go into the water with them, even if it is cold! 🙂 Dance with them. Hugg them often. Tell them they are beautiful often. Make funny faces with them. Let them help you bake. My niece love to stir and pour in the ingredients. Cherish every moment you have with them because they grow up very fast.

Go for your dreams. If you have lost them, go searching for them again. Put out a search party if you have to. They are important and are of value to you. A life without dreams makes for a very dreary unhappy place. Keep reaching for them. Never give up. Follow your heart. Trust your instincts.

Keep moving forward. It is never too late. If you get knocked down, get back up. There is never a point in your life where you can’t try again, and start a new. Just because you have passed up opportunity it doesn’t mean there aren’t others out there waiting for you. You are worthy.

These are all reminders to myself as well…

Love doesn’t end when a person dies, it goes on and on. Death will never be able to touch true love. Love is pure light and stronger than anything seen and unseen there ever was and is…

With love anything is possible. I am possible because the people who love me.

Love will always overcome and conquer hate and fear. They don’t stand a chance because you can’t hide in the light.

Love is pure. Love is all around us.

I am who I am today because of love. It is who I am through and through.

My Mama gave me her heart, in order for me to give it to the world and that is what I will continue to do…