Monday, June 13, 2011

What Are You Saying?

I had my first gay encounter in late 1973 and didn't get honest with myself and my family until my divorce ten years later. During that time, I was greatly conflicted, confused, and guilt-ridden. Time and again I would "repent" and promise myself that I would never again seek out men for sex. I repeatedly did so, over and over again in a cycle of lust, gay sex, remorse, repentance, quiet, and the eventual resurgence of irresistible lust for men.

It took some three or four years of counseling to "come clean." Most of that time I told my therapists (there were three different ones but that is another story) that I wanted to be hetero, save my marriage, do what was "right." Yet over and over again, when he asked me if I had been cruising adult bookstores for sex, I answered "Yes."

Finally, Dr. John, my therapist at the time, told me how he analyzed patients. "When a client," he said, "says one thing and does another, I always listen to what he does." It was that night that I was hit in the gut with the truth, the lights went on, and I had no choice but to accept myself as who I was, a gay man. That night the lies stopped, the hypocrisy and denial ended, and I began to build a new life, a life that was the real me, my authentic self.

Needless to say, my life was changed forever. I would also point out that the lightening bolt was only the first of many things that happened. Becoming truthful is a long, arduous and very painful process. It involved essentially changing every facet of my life: my relationship to my wife, my children, my family and friends; my job; my home-life and where I lived; my self-image; my lifestyle; and every aspect of my social life. The old Joe died that night and had to take years to be reborn as the man I was meant to be.

I can hardly be telling this story for sympathy. The final result has brought me happiness, contentment, self-confidence, and a large loving family. And I think it's safe to say that my children, who with their mother bore most of the pain, have forgiven me, accept me, and love me. Their mom is happily married as well.
Dr. John's lesson wasn't new. My mom taught me the cliché, "Actions speak louder than words," long before I left home at age 17. They were true every time she said them and they are still true today. Unfortunately they didn't register in my brain until I was 36 years old.

I bring this subject up now because I find myself in a kinky subculture filled with words without actions. Promises (weak ones to be sure) to call me or come for a visit go unfulfilled. We decry leaders with our words and give them no advice, no encouragement, and little assistance. We say we want education while we prefer to attend parties. We share fantasies ad nauseam and do little to find ways to make them actual.

OK. Let me be clear: The generalities in the above paragraph are just that – generalities. I can give you numerous exceptions to my bitches. Exceptions, though, are just that, i.e., "a case that does not conform to a rule or generalization."

So ask yourself the important question: "What do my actions say?" It is only then that you will find the way to live fully, honestly, and clearly.

What might your actions say? Most anything, that's for sure, but  you might want to look at these possibilities:
  • Honestly, the time's not right. Get to it later.
  • You just don't want to do it. Check your reasons for thinking you do want it as they might not be really good reasons. You may only think you do in order to avoid some conflict or to please someone else.
  • It's just not that important to you, so give it up.
  • You need help doing it. Ask for help.
  • You aren't being honest about your priorities. Make a list and prioritize it so you can do what is important and let the less important things go away for another day.
  • You are afraid of the consequences of doing what you are saying you want to do. Explore your fear and the reasons you have it. Can you overcome it? If not, admit the truth and move on to something less threatening. 
You see, we really do need to act honestly if we are going to have a healthy community, a healthy life, and healthy relationships. For yourself and for everyone else, please do so. We all have a lot to gain.

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