Deliberate Choice

I had a good text conversation this morning with an old friend. I haven’t talked to her in years like that. I wish I could say it was light banter, but we both had news to give the other. I started by telling her about my parents disowning me in early January. She was quick to understand, because her father disowned her on Christmas Eve last year. She is a transwoman with a lot of trauma from family and others in her past.

We were able to discuss the trauma of the experiences. I told her about my nightmares, and she told me that it reawakened her night terrors.

She said something about her family that struck me as a deep truth. I asked her permission to share it, and here it is:

I used to believe they were doing the best they could with the information they had but I no longer believe that. It is chosen ignorance, bigotry and hatred on their behalf.

I fully understand these two sentences. My parents deliberately chose to disown me. My father deliberately chose to threaten me as a vulnerable teenager. It is willful hatred on his part.

I still experience nightmares, but I’m grateful they are fewer now than in January and February.

I still experience waves of grief. I am glad to say they come further apart now.

My friend is coping as best she can. She also has a good support system. I am so grateful for the excellent people I have around me.

Today is one more day to choose joy. I’m going to play games online with some friends.

Feeling the Regrets

It’s been a bit since I last wrote. I’m working from home. My state has a stay-at-home order, so I’m not going out except to the grocery store or the pharmacy. I do go out for some exercise by speed walking a few days a week. That feels good. There are lots of people on the trail where I hardly ever see anyone. I suppose they’re all wanting some time outdoors, too.

I’m sure all this has something to do with these very strange times we’re all living through, but I’m really feeling a lot of regrets from some choices I made in the past. I’m feeling the weight of those choices. I have fantasies about how things might have been had I made other decisions.

I once met a man who was the hiring authority for a school district. I made a favorable impression on him, and I could have become a teacher. I chose not to.

I was good friends with a man who was in a relationship that ended. That man and I started spending a lot of time together, and I could have become his boyfriend. I don’t remember my reasoning at the time, but I can see now that pairing up with a man who’d just broken up with another man would not have been a wise move, but I still regret it right now.

I chose to leave disability and take the present job I have. I had good benefits, and I was building a solid, very small life. I am positive that had I continued on that path and in today’s political climate, I would have been kicked off disability. I would have lost all my benefits. In the small town I was living in, that would have been devastating.

I am a better man for having left disability. I have greater self-confidence, I am more self-assured, and I have much higher self-worth as a result of choosing to take this job and move to a larger city. Most importantly, I believe that I have recovered. I take medication for bipolar disorder, and I will continue to do so for the rest of my life, but that disorder has little effect on my day-to-day life now.

If you live on disability, do not let my circumstances make you feel anything negative about your circumstances. I have a very good friend who lives on disability, and he is doing very well that way. He needs that life. It allows him to live as symptom-free as possible. Working would devastate his equilibrium.

A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to date a man. I let him get away. I regret it.

As long-time readers know, I broke up with a man last year. I have very mixed feelings about that. My head knows it was definitely for the best. He was mean to me. I don’t want a reunion with him, but I still have regrets.

Before all this craziness in the world, I started seeing a new man that I’ve known socially for a few years. He’s a remarkably cheerful man, and he’s very intelligent, which I value highly. We’ve continued to communicate by text and occasional phone calls during this time of social distancing. Things are going well, but I can’t help but wish for face-to-face meetings. Nothing romantic has happened. It’s still too early, but I’m wishing for that. Missing it.

I will talk about all this with my therapist at my weekly appointment tomorrow. (The appointment is done remotely.) I will be fine. Writing in this blog is part of the way I process all these feelings. It’s a bit like writing in a journal. That’s a good exercise for people who are dealing with heavy things.

If you have recently tried meditation, I congratulate you. Keep trying. The most important thing to remember is that having thoughts during meditation is not a sign of failure. Thinking is exactly what our minds are supposed to do. Count your breaths. That’s a good way to concentrate on breathing as a beginner. Or do guided meditation like I still do. I still go to My Happy Place. You can create your own happy place. Meditation can be just about anything you want it to be.

Meditation: sit, relax, and breathe. Think about your breathing. When your mind wanders, gently return your thoughts to your breathing. Gently. When your mind wanders again, again gently return your thoughts to your breathing. Gently. A wandering mind is not a failure.

Wherever you are on the globe, I wish you all the best during this stressful time. Stay healthy.

Reason for Hope

I feel good even if it is Monday.

I got a letter from my dad last Friday that said I’ve dishonored the family name and I need to repent. When I read the letter, I felt nothing. I knew that was not really the best response. By that evening, I was angry, which seemed more appropriate. The next morning in meditation, the grief came. That also seemed like an appropriate response.

I’m happy to say it faded. I’m completely over it. I will take that letter with me to my next therapy appointment, and I won’t read future letters from him.

I had a second date with a man last night. We went out for coffee for our first date, and we’ve been regularly texting since. This one feels different. He feels different. He doesn’t feel like he needs any fixing. He feels whole. He’s whip smart and has a very singular sense of humor. We had a good conversation about many of his ways of looking at life.

I honestly feel like I’m approaching this budding relationship in a different way. Regular readers know that I can rush things. I’m really not doing that with this man. At least, I’m not doing it and then acting on it. I have had some fantasies of being with him long term and what that might look like, but I’m not telling him about those fantasies. I’m allowing the fantasies to have their space, and then I let them fade. The result is that I’m allowing this relationship to develop organically.

I met him at a monthly gay professionals group that I’ve been going to for some years, so I’ve known this man for a while. That’s also a good thing. One of the points that makes me the most hopeful about this relationship is that he asked me for my number. That’s only the second time in my recent life that’s happened. It’s always me asking the other man for his number. This man asked for my number, and then he followed through and texted first.

So I survived an abusive letter from my dad, and I had a good second date. I have reason to feel good this morning.

The Plan

I had a session with my psychologist after work yesterday, and it was obviously timely. I needed it badly. Anyone who read yesterday’s post will understand I was not in a good mood.

He helped me formulate a simple plan to silence The Voice that I wrote about yesterday. It is very loud, and it lies to me telling me many evil things about me and my self-worth. The grand plan is to stop The Voice and tell it to “Shut the f*ck up!” in no uncertain terms.

The Voice was put inside my head by parents who don’t love me and by a society that really doesn’t give a rat’s ass about how I’m faring in life. It only rears its ugly head when I’m stressed or feeling low due to other matters. January was not a good month for me: my parents disowned me and a reorganization at work is causing me great pain. Those were tremendous stressors, and my grief in the face of the tumult was completely understandable. Yesterday, I experienced a renewed wave of the grief.

That wave has passed. I am confident The Plan will work.

I will continue to use my tools. I slept well last night, one of my tools. My meditation this morning was a good one. I had lots of interfering wandering thoughts, but I was able to get some good breathing in. My psychologist liked hearing that I’m using the medicine I get from my psychiatrist. He said to keep it up. My diet is the same healthy food that I’ve been eating for years.

And to top it off, I went for a brisk walk this morning before work. There it was. I had an extra thirty minutes this morning with nothing really that needed to be done, so I tied on my walking shoes and went out the door. I probably walked a mile and a half, and I went at a much slower pace than I’ve done in the past, but who gives a rip? I have my fingers crossed that I’ll keep up the exercise.

Tools: medication, meditation, therapy, diet, sleep, and exercise. These things keep me on an even keel. I’ve done them today. We’ll let tomorrow take care of itself.

Now, where is that elusive boyfriend?

The Voice

How do I write when the inside of my head is so dark? How do I tell readers that my head is screaming at me using awful words?

I have a lifetime of hearing disparaging things about homosexuals. I’ve heard it from family. I’ve heard it from people around me. I’ve heard it from people claiming to be my friends. I’ve heard it from authority figures, especially the ones claiming to talk for god. I have been demeaned and bullied as a child, an adolescent, and an adult.

I refuse to grow a “thick skin.” Being open and vulnerable requires more strength of character than having a thick skin ever will.

I have tried dating. He was abusive. And I want to text him right now.

Today, the voice is very loud. It’s unkind. It’s abusive language.

I have no defense.

I have therapy this afternoon. It couldn’t come at a better time.

Being Gentle

I woke up after sleeping seven and a half hours in a panic. I was suddenly awake and afraid. I wanted to stay in bed, but it was useless. I was unavoidably awake.

I struggled through my morning routine. I didn’t just sit and breathe for my morning meditation, but I reverted to guided visualization. I needed the steps of walking through the door into My Happy Place and the continued steps to the place of just breathing.

I reached out to the love that I feel when I get to the place of just breathing and felt it soothe me, but I was just not able to stay in that feeling.

There is so much tumult in my life right now.

I ended up having to stay home from work today. I took medicine for anxiety and went back to bed for another two hours.

I called my therapist and was able to see him this morning. That was helpful. I’m using the tools I have that I know have worked in the past: medication, meditation, therapy, etc, and I’m being gentle with myself.

One of the things I’ve learned about myself through 33 years of therapy is that I am not good at handling uncertainty. I have a lot of that in my life right now, so I’m going to be gentle with myself today.

I really wish I could cry. I can’t. Years of forced repression of my emotions and my homosexuality inhibits my ability to show distress.

At least for today, I don’t feel good. I know this will pass, but I’m feeling it today. I’m using the tools that I know work. I will be OK, but for today, I’m going to be gentle with myself and stay home and read.

Turning the Corner

I had a great therapy session yesterday, and I slept nine hours last night. I feel great!

I worked through some important points in therapy yesterday. I’ve been working through them for a long time, but the anger I had yesterday was the catalyst I needed to complete the work.

I have been obsessed with finding a boyfriend. To hell with that! I’m going to date and just leave it up to the Universe. I’m just going to have fun. The boyfriend will happen when it happens. I have released the obsession.

I am worried about the reorganization that is happening where I work. It’s causing me problems directly in the form of compensation. You know what? I’ll figure it out. I do not know what’s going to happen, but I’ve decided I can’t worry about it right now. Somehow it will work out.

I am fabulous! Fuck anybody who disagrees!