Thursday, March 19, 2009

Perspective...


As I quickly approach three years of blogging, I wonder if I am so close to it that I cannot see the progress or growth that I have achieved in the last three years of being open and honest and dialoguing with myself about my attractions to men. I wonder why I am still here typing away.

When I began this blogging, I never anticipated that I would still be around three years later. And yet, to your detriment, I am still here hanging around and blogging.


I feel that I have grown in my acceptance of who I am deep inside myself and the self-loathing and self-hatred is almost completely gone. I have gone from struggling to accept my attractions to embracing them as a fundamental base of my core self. This path of self-acceptance has occurred mainly through my blogging and associations within this community.


I still have a long way to go. I still hide things from my wife. I still live in the closet. I still seek "crushes" and "bromances" as ways of coping with my cravings for male companionship. But even with these, I've come to conclude that they can be good and healthy and purposeful and rewarding and necessary. Yes, I'm still pathetically "lonely" as some have declared, but I'm not hating myself for it.


I no longer ask "why". But I still ask "what" I want and "how" I get what I want...


And I wonder - am I really progressing? I feel stagnating. Is there growth? Am I becoming a better person, father, husband? Am I still contributing to this community?


* I'm still living in the closet...


* I'm still hiding many things from my wife and family...


* I'm still hiding from my church family...


* I'm still coping verses thriving...


I wonder if I should read my blog from the beginning all the way through - like a novel of sorts - and stand back and see if there has been any growth or progress - and evaluate where I've been and where I'm going, for from here, it seems that I am stagnating and going nowhere and if I'm going nowhere, then I'm not progressing. Maybe it would be fun to realize that I have changed and grown and come to some sort of "thriving". But, frankly - the thought of reading it makes me shiver with fright. Maybe it would be too scary to read my blog and realize the stagnation and hopelessness of an unauthentic life partially lived. I never have gone back. I'm kind of afraid to do so... kind of like reading a pending train wreck! It would be like really looking at yourself in the mirror... not a pretty thought!




I've lost perspective. I need to stand back somehow to see the forest from the trees. How do I see myself as others see me from a distance? How do I gain that perspective?

What do you think? Is there any growth happening? Or am I pathetically lonely and eternally lost in the woods?... Is my train racing to the station, or did it already wreck and I'm seeing the world wiz by - giving me the allusion of thinking that I'm moving but instead I'm standing still while everyone is passing me by?






19 comments:

Philip said...

I can think of two measures of progress.

First, is that internal sense of peace and in that area you seem to have made a great deal of progress.

However, it sounds like you could make more progress in that area.

Second, is in the area of engagement. When extremely closeted, I lived in the past. When out and comfortable and at peace with myself, I spent more and more time in the present. I seem to focus on the present; never looking beyond what is happening in the here and now.

That tells me that I am not happy in the present.

That also tells me I am not fully engaged.

I have hit a plateau - no longer unhappy but not quite happy.

I don't know quite what is holding me down nor what to do about it without changing the status quo.

Maybe I am stuck and will just stay stuck as long as the status quo remains the same.

Maybe others are more fully engaged. If so, I would like to hear how they have done it.

Regards,
Philip

Ned said...

We live in a world of digital photography. We get used to immediately seeing our results. But Beck, you and I and a few others here are old enough to remember the magic of film and chemical development. The film is changed by exposure to light. A latent image is there on the film, but it can't be seen until it is developed and the unexposed silver is washed away. Could it be that we are blind to our progress--not because it isn't there--but because it is still developing?

Beck said...

PHILIP: "internal sense of peace" is something I am beginning to feel within myself regarding who I am. That is a measure of progress.

"engagement" is not so much. I am living more in the present, but I do dwell on the past. I hide myself from others, though I'm trying to be more open as I come to grasp the new-found peace inside. Fully engaged is not me yet... There is much to still improve.

NED: I know what you mean... it isn't instantaneous as a digital photo. It takes time to develop, but I feel like I'm slower than most and this development process is taking way too much time.

Kengo Biddles said...

Beck -- have the patience -- I mean, it took me 6 years to get to my fattest -- it's going to take time for me to slim down (although I've seen good results in the last two years). I'm much better than I was, but it's only been two years.

There's road left to travel. And as they've both said, you're making improvement.

Beck said...

KENGO: I appreciate the confirmation, but I'm really asking for the perspective of someone (like yourself) who has followed me for some time now as to whether they see me stagnating (as I feel), though some progress has been made, or whether there has developed a slow change for the better, or whether there has been a change for the worse.

This post is about my view being distorted because I'm too close to see my own face without seeing all the blemishes.

And, no, I'm not just begging for an atta-boy...

Kengo Biddles said...

I think you, like us all are having ups and downs. There are times when I make great progress, and then I feel like I've hit a major skid -- but it's not quite as bad as I think it is, when I really step back and look at it.

I think you're doing both. I think you're in a much healthier place as far as accepting your feelings goes -- I think that you're not in a healthier place with your marriage just yet, but I think you're working forward at some level.

J G-W said...

To be honest, yes, sometimes it seems like you're kinda stuck in the same place.

But not really... It's more like the kinda stuck I experience when my computer is processing data. I'm just staring at the computer screen, watching the cursor blink, and it doesn't look like it's doing anything, but it's doing a lot -- processing more data than I could process on my own in a lifetime.

That's my impression of your blog... It's a kind of data processing. That's where I see the progress.

I'm not sure this is necessarily a linear point A to point B kind of thing we're talking about here...

Philip said...

I remember talking to a 70-something year old man that had just come out.

He had this tremendous urge to tell everyone he was gay and had just told his doctor that morning.

His wife was telling him to shut up. So were his kids.

He told me he had known since he was a teenager but had told no one until just a few weeks before.

He asked me if his wife was right that he was crazy because he couldn't stop talking about it.

I told him that it was perfectly normal. That it didn't matter if a person was 20 or 70 when they came out because there are just some stages that can't be skipped; that just about everyone has to go through.

I told him that his wife and kids had all affirmed their sexuality in their teens and had grown up learning to be themselves. But he instead had hide his sexuality and grown up hiding who he was and pretending to be someone he was not.

I told him that after all those years of NOT learning who he was that it would take more than just a couple of weeks to learn all those things.

And I told him that all those years of hiding and pretending to be someone else had wounded him and it would take more than a couple of weeks to undo the hurt and start to heal.

Then he wanted to know how long it would take.

I told him that I didn't know because I had been out for over twenty years and was still learning about myself, undoing hurt and healing but the majority of that learning, undoing and healing had taken place in the first few years.

I told him that based on my experience with my gay friends that he would probably get over the urge to scream it from the rooftops after a few months and that it would probably take from one to three years before things calm down enough so he could direct his attention to other things.

The poor man looked relieved but said he couldn't believe that it would take so long.

And this from a man that had spent 50 some odd years in the closet.

I should have told him impatience was normal, too.

Regards,
Philip

Bravone said...

Beck, If the blessing, strength, friendship, and wisdom you have shared with so many could be measured by the inch and every time you have touched someone's heart be stacked one upon the other, your "tower of influence" would be taller than the leaning tower of Pisa. Standing on the top of your tower, your perspective would surely change. You would see that that a large part of your growth can be seen in the influence you have been in the lives of others.

Ti voglio un sacco di bene.
Bravone.

Beck said...

KENGO said: "...it's not quite as bad as I think it is, when I really step back and look at it."

That's the kind of PERSPECTIVE I'm trying to gain from this. Can I stand back far enough for the view without falling off the cliff?

JGW said: "It's a kind of data processing. That's where I see the progress."

The wheels are turning and the circuits are connecting, but I don't feel the engines engaging.

"...I'm not sure this is necessarily a linear point A to point B kind of thing we're talking about here..."

But I want it to be. I want to connect the dots and look back and see the finished product. The impatience is aggravating.

Beck said...

PHILIP: If the point of your story was to give me understanding that there are others worse off than me, then you succeeded...

If the point of your story was to help me to realize that it is never too late and it doesn't matter when we face our realities and embrace who we are, then you succeeded...

If the point of your story was to emphasize that we all have to go through it at some point, then you succeeded...

If the point of your story was to help me to realize I need more patience and that these things take time and there is no shortcut, then you succeeded...

If the point of your story was to reiterate that it's normal to feel like I'm going crazy, then you succeeded...

Beck said...

BRAVONE: Nice analogy and I appreciate your perspective on my perspective.

Have you ever climbed the Leaning Tower of Pisa? It's the weirdest sensation. The staircase is a seemingly neverending spiral where sometimes you go with the flow of gravity and feel like you are tipping over and other times you are fighting against gravity and each step takes extra effort, all because your relative universe is not square and plumb.

When you get to the top, you are rewarded by the breathtaking view of the city below and the mountains beyond and the sea to the west horizon. But you still feel unstable and a bit unsure of your footings on the slippery sloping marble and you have to grasp onto the iron railing to stabilize your equilibrium.

So maybe the point is that the journey is worth it, even if it feels constantly unstable, and still unstable at the top, even when the view is opened up.

But, as nice as your words are in trying to help me to see the good in all this, I don't feel that what I'm doing is helping anyone else and especially isn't helping myself. I'm still spinning and dizzy on the spiral staircase that seems neverending.

Okay... now I'm getting nauseous. This analogy is being taken too far out of context. I need to find me an air hole and get me some fresh air...

Un abbraccio.

Wyatt said...

BECK!!!!

Remember me? Ha! Here I am almost three years later and yeah I can definitely see that you're the same in some ways but different in others. You're doing what you feel like you need to do at the present, and that's all that matters. I don't know exactly what you've been through cause I've taken a little break, but it's sad to me that you're still in this state of uncertainty. I guess only you can weigh the benefits. Either way, you're happy, and that's all that matters.

I do love you, and miss our interactions. I'm here for ya' man, just now I'm using my real name. LOL!

Philip said...

Beck,

I'm going to try to explain what my point was in my previous post.

Unfortunately, it probably won't be until the end of this post that my point becomes clear to me and by then I'll be too tired to rewrite my post to start off with whatever that point is.

So bear with me...

When you drive a car, you don't have to think about what you are doing. You just get in the car and drive.

But how did get to where you didn't even have to think about what you were doing - you just did it.

I think people learn how to be themselves the same way they learn how to drive.

At first it is complicated and doesn't make sense and you apply the brakes too hard and hit the gas pedal when you meant to hit the brakes -but- eventually it all starts to have a rhythm and reason of it's own and what was foreign before becomes natural and takes less and less concentration until finally you just drive.

But that doesn't happen overnight. It takes time.

Fortunately, this process of learning how to be ourselves is something everyone goes through so it's been blended into the fabric of society.

It is such a given that many of us don't realize how society prepares us for learning to be ourselves.

Unfortunately, what is blended into society is for heterosexuals only.

So, when it comes to gay/bi folks learning who we are, we often get derailed.

So, going back to my driving metaphor, instead of learning how to drive, the car is left in the garage.

So, it should be no surprise that when a gay/bi person finally is ready to learn that he can't just get in the car and drive.

Being an adult, even a mature adult, doesn't make a difference. He still has to learn.

Unfortunately, unlike for heterosexuals, there are a whole lot of obstacles (real and perceived) that may keep the gay/bi person from learning.

We don't have the role models, the every day examples to go by so most of us have to figure it out on our own and usually that is a prolonged process unless we are lucky enough to learn from others that have come out before us.

But when we get answers from folks that are further along, oftentimes the typical reaction is "What do you mean I have to come out more than I already am."

In other words, it was such a big deal for me to get the car out of the garage, can't I just learn how to drive by going up and down the block - do I really have to go into traffic?

Yeah, you really do have to go into traffic.

Otherwise, you don't get the full driving experience.

And eventually most beginners get that.

So here is my point...at first driving up and down the block is thrilling but eventually it's not enough and you are ready to go into traffic and it is perfectly normal to be scared.

Hope my driving methapor is not too idiotic.

Regards,
Philip

Bravone said...

Becco,

I wondered what you would think of my use of "the leaning tower of Pisa." I used it intentionally, not just because we are italiani, but because it IS leaning (imperfect) and yet also revered, respected, beloved, and offers a great view.

Beck said...

WYATT: What a fantastic surprise! I can't tell you how much I've missed you and seeing your comments here has made my heart jump!

I panned through your photo essay of your journey and I note the phases of your life you've been through in the last three years. You are like a bullet train speeding into your future!

This is exactly what I'm talking about. I'm standing still and you're a blur of vibration...

Please don't make yourself so scarce.

Beck said...

PHILIP: Great analogy! This makes sense. I am in the car. I've backed out of the driveway, even taking it around the block, but I'm not ready for real traffic and yet without the traffic, very little of nothing is learned. What good is driving up and down the driveway?

BRAVONE said: "...it IS leaning (imperfect) and yet also revered, respected, beloved, and offers a great view." I like your analogy, too. But, still don't know whether I'm the tower itself or the journey within the tower... I like them both.

Thanks.

Philip said...

Beck,

I guess I didn't make my point clear.

The way I see it...you are ready but are too scared.

I don't mean that as a criticism...most everyone in your shoes would be scared.

It is the fear of the unknown that keeps the person from venturing out so they can learn more.

To make further progress, the person has to face that fear.

The advice I give to someone fearful to venture out is to mitigate that fear.

Some of the fear is real and some is unfounded.

In my case, most of the fear was unfounded.

But there is no way of knowing for sure what to expect ahead of time.

So how does one mitigate the fear?

The first step is admitting you don't know what you don't know.

This will make things more difficult at first.

For instance, it is easier to say that your family will reject you and that's why you stay closeted then then say you are closeted because you FEAR that your family will reject you.

Why?

Because the first option gives you a pass for staying in the closet by blaming your circumstances on something outside your control.

While the second option challenges you to consider the possibility that your circumstances might be due in part to you holding yourself back; that the reality might actually be different from your fear.

The second step is to realize the role you play in keeping you in the closet.

The closet is society's way of making people invisible.

This is important to society because an invisible person has no voice.

But no one can keep you in the closet without your consent.

So the role you play in the closet is that its' your FEAR that keeps you imprisoned, your FEAR that makes you a Warden, as well as a prisoner.

Now you cannot control how others react to you but you can control the fear that keeps you in the closet.

You can take steps to lessen that fear until it is decreased enough so you can move forward.

The next step is take small baby steps if the large steps are too overwhelming.

And if you do all the above and still it is too overwhelming then the next step is to have faith that everything will be all right.

Regards,
Philip

Beck said...

PHILIP: Yes, the bottom line is fear. I am afraid to pull out of the driveway for fear of the unknown. I do conjur up plenty of scenarios of how I will lose my family, my career, my religion, my entire world.

I could tear down the street and face the traffic, but I could also endanger my life and those of my loved ones and innocent strangers along the way.

I have made decisions that keep me from heading out into the traffic.

Yes, faith is where it ends. Faith in myself and these decisions, AND faith to face my fears - AND - faith in conjunction with with baby steps...