Monthly Archives: September 2013

The Human Union.

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When I was out with Brenda this weekend, we were talking about human rights, equal marriage, and the current climate in the world. One of the people that I was speaking with commented that marriage should be for everyone, under God, with no restrictions. He called it a Human Union.

I have thought a lot about that since then, not equal marriage as much as the concept of human union. What does that mean to me? To me, it means the things that we do each day to not only connect with other people around us, but also to gain understanding about them and their life experiences. So, it isn’t enough for me to spend time with friends connecting, or seeing each other on Facebook. The newsfeed scroll, I have to say, is really not enough for me to feel connected to people in my life. I need more depth and involvement than that.

Simply connecting without any depth can be easier; when we are busy in our full lives and just have a moment to look at the tiny screen on our phones. But easier doesn’t always mean more meaningful or deep. I have a craving for more connection with people than that much of the time.

Yet, there are many ways every day that I separate myself from other people. Whether it is the moment that I am thinking of a friend and I don’t pick up the phone and call them. When I make up a full story of why someone hasn’t called me in awhile, and use that as a reason to not call them. When I judge others, by their appearance or actions, based on what I think is the right way to do things. Each action separates me from the people around me.

I continue to look at this in myself. That even in light of a law in a far away country, that openly discriminates and criminalizes those whom are gay, I can find within myself understanding of the fear that creates those kinds of policies. I can try to understand those that seem so far away from me in their beliefs, because otherwise I am separating myself from them as well.

For there to be a more perfect Human Union, we need to join, not just connect. We need to seek to see, and to understand. That is what binds us.

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I know that I don’t know.

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When I was doing my work in the coaching program with the Handel Group, I worked a lot on my character traits. Character traits are those parts of ourselves that we get from both of our parents, and that can show themselves in positive and not so positive ways. I had many traits that I worked on, and one of my biggest was being an arrogant know it all.

There were certain times when this was most apparent. At work, I would often put myself in the position of the expert and believe that the way that I did things was the best and only way to do it. I would also be that way in my personal relationships at times, and believe that I was the one that was doing the right thing in them, and the other person was to blame for any problems we were having. Yucky, but true.

Most recently in my life, my arrogant know it all trait has become most apparent in an area that I do have a lot of expertise in, that being, the needs and risk factors for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youths. Over the years of my adult life, besides my own personal development, I have done a lot of research and created and conducted many trainings on this topic. Coworkers often came to me for help in working with persons that were LGBT identified, and how to best help them. I was always willing to offer up my knowledge to others that needed it.

And, on top of offering my knowledge, I was certain of my role in being the expert in that area. I believed that I knew all that there was to know. And, of course, I was completely wrong in that regard. There was much more to know.

A year ago, I got the opportunity to be a trainer, here in Pennsylvania, that was developed to educate mental health professionals, and other human services and educational persons, on how to best identify and meet the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, intersex, and questioning persons. I knew that I wanted to be part of it. I knew that I would be a great addition to the training staff. Yet, I didn’t think there was much that I needed to learn.

What I have found out, several times in the last year, in this area and others in my life, is that I have so much to learn, so much that I don’t know yet. And, it used to create a feeling of insecurity in me to think that I didn’t actually know something. Now, I feel grateful for understanding that there is much in this world that I don’t know, which means, I have countless opportunities to keep learning. When I keep learning, I keep growing, stretching, evolving, and having fun.

I know today that I don’t know much. Yet I get to keep learning more every day.

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I Am Enough.

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Today, one of the people in my life let me know something that they wanted, something reasonable and honest. The request was made in a thoughtful way. Yet, between the time of the request and the end of my day, I decided that I needed to take it personally; that because this person made a request of me, that it made me not good enough.

Let me be clear: It was not about the messenger, or the message itself from that person. To myself, I am not good enough, if someone around me expresses a desire that they have. A request that they have of me. It means, to the deepest part of my self, that I am falling short and not doing everything that I should be doing to please another. I am not enough.

Of course, this is a complete and total lie. Evil, at that. It is the darkest part of me, the origins of which I have no idea. I was never given the message growing up from my parents that I was not enough; as a matter of fact, they made it clear to me that I could be or do anything in this life that I set my mind to. And, they also let me know that I should always expect the best from myself, because I was capable and I should want the best.

And, somewhere in between their words of encouragement and my own successes, I had this darkness that grew inside of me. The thing about the world that we live in, is that we can always find plenty of evidence to prove the lies that we believe about ourselves, or a new, more self loving theory to prove. So, I was always able to find evidence to prove to myself why I was not enough in one scenario or another. As a parent, family member, partner, or coworker.

For the last few years, when I have heard this dark, evil voice, this pack of lies, I have gotten stronger at battling the lies and replacing it with a new agreement; a truth that I want to live with, that is self loving. That I AM enough. That I am of full worth and perfection, precisely as I am and where I am in this world. Yet, the lie can still creep in, sometimes when I least expect it, and it can be so easy to believe it once again.

I know I am stronger than the lie. I know that the truth that I would rather believe is the real one. The one that will celebrate me for who I am today. The one that reminds me of my unique nature and the beauty that I show to the world. This morning, I believed I was not enough.

Tonight, I KNOW that I am Enough.

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Whatever you Do, Tell the Truth about It.

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So, last night we went out for a beautiful, delicious, romantic dinner. We went to a local restaurant that we had been to before, the atmosphere is amazing, and the food delicious. We both were looking forward to our evening all day, and we were not to be disappointed.

Our friend works there, and she was our server for the evening. She had been aware, since Brenda and I have been together, that I was sober, that I didn’t drink at all. So, last night, it was my next opportunity to tell the truth about making a different choice in my life. As Brenda told her that I would be ordering wine, I knew this was yet another opportunity to stand in the truth.

I was nervous. I felt self conscious about how I was changing my mind. How it would appear to others. Yet, I felt no guilt. I felt no shame. I just felt nervous.

And, I was telling the truth.

I drank a glass of wine, for the first time in more than three years. It wasn’t earth shaking; it felt normal, easy, and comfortable. It was a great moment to share with my love, and a moment for me to participate in. I paired the aroma with our food; I swirled it in the glass. I savored it.

This morning, I felt peaceful. I felt whole. I didn’t feel anything residual at all, like guilt, or remorse. I felt complete freedom. It felt like the only choice that I had made last evening was the equivalent of whether or not I wanted to order dessert. It was that simple.

I am finding out clearly that courage is not defined as fearlessness. I still have fear, Brenda has fear, others that I encounter may have fears about me living in truth. I can be afraid, and still be full of courage, and love, and peace about experiencing my life, and doing so in balance.

I have lived my life in the extremes for much of it, being either dramatically overwhelmed or ecstatically happy. It feels like contentment now, being in my life from moment to moment, and yet detached at the same time. Detached from the judgments and head trips that I have wanted to do about it in the past. Just being in it, and loving myself throughout it.

Whatever you Do, Tell the Truth about It. That is what sets us free.

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Red, Red Wine.

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I have discovered yet again this week, that my transparency and honesty, with myself and with others, keeps setting me free. Although I write this post with some fear in my heart of how I will look, I know that only in writing this will I bring myself true freedom.

I have spent much of the last three years of my life in 12 step rooms, listening and talking about addiction, sobriety, and recovery. I have used the steps in my life. I have made amends and stayed in the day, and lived a happier, healthier life. I am completely grateful and inspired by that.

In addition to the help and support I have found in 12 step programs, I have also secured my own beliefs of what it means for me to believe in a Higher Power, and what I feel the true nature of addiction is. FOR ME, no one else. I have never believed that addiction, or for my purposes, alcoholism, is a disease, or a flaw in my brain. I have believed that alcohol has been a substance that I used in ways in my life that were not useful or healthy.

In the last month, I have actively set myself free from the fear that I have been consumed with at times. That fear has been about what role alcohol has played in my life. In the past, I have used booze, any kind really, as a means with which to check out. Whether it was to check out of a social situation out of nerves; a way to not have to deal with the problems in my life; or simply because I felt entitled to get drunk. All of these have been ways in the past to not deal.

I am different today. I am able to look at my life, openly even in fear, and deal with what is ahead. Sometimes, I don’t want to look at a difficult situation. When that happens, I put it to the side for awhile. I no longer have to check out from being connected with the world. I get to choose.

I always did get to choose, actually. It just felt easier to blame it on the world for much of my life, so that I wouldn’t have to take accountability for my actions. So I wouldn’t have to own that it is, and has always been, up to me to make the choice about whether to pick up a drink, or a second or third, or not to pick one up at all. The final telling point for me three years ago was me driving after drinking, and at the time, I blamed that on the drink, not on my own choice to pick it up or not. Fascinating revelations and work.

Today, I get to think about having a great glass of red wine with a good meal. I get to think about whether that occurs to me, today or ten years from now. Today, I am not afraid anymore of one glass leading to three. Today, I remember that I ALWAYS have been able to choose. Today, I am remembering balance.

The biggest lesson for me, in leaving abstinence behind, and choosing balance instead, is that I always get to enjoy the beauty of life, whatever that looks like. I don’t have to indulge, or hide, or mask my real feelings with substances, food or spending. I get to balance it all, and choose a behavior without guilt or without hiding.

I am afraid, and not, all at the same time. Like all of us, right? We are all human, and figuring it out as we go along. And getting wiser and more peaceful along the way. Today, I give myself permission to be, in balance and peace, and to embrace what choices I have to be in the world.

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