As part of the Integral Coaching Therapy that I have undertaken since I began to accept my gay sexuality I was asked to read a short book by Parker J Palmer titled “Let Your Life Speak” – it had a very profound and emotional impact on me.
The book deals essentially with the authors search for “vocation” and how his neglect of addressing the needs of self lead in his life to very dark periods of depression and isolation from which he gradually emerges into a place of light.
My own experience of suffering has not resulted in the very severe depression which Parker J Palmer experienced but the idea of searching for self resonates deeply with me and my life has been blighted, until now, with feelings of anger, isolation, fear, self-loathing, inner conflict and resentment of those who love me and do not understand my pain.
At the start of this wonderful little book is the following poem by William Stafford
Some time when the river is ice ask me / mistakes I have made. Ask me whether / what I have done is my life. Others / have come in their slow way into / my thought, and some have tried to help/ or to hurt: ask me what difference / their strongest love or hate has made
I will listen to what you say. / You and I can turn and look / at the silent river and wait. We know / the current is there, hidden; and there / are comings and goings from miles away / that hold the stillness exactly before us. / What the river says, that is what I say.
The phrase itself “Let Your Life Speak” comes from an old Quaker saying which the author explains as “Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you”
As a young man, desperate to conform to the expectations I had of myself and of my family and faith community, I never really listened to what my head and heart were trying to tell me. I explain this now as having a lack of maturity, but I think I simply blocked out the truth of self because the truth about my gay sexuality was unpalatable and did not fit with what I was planning to do with my life – marriage/children/community service/faithful to my Catholic faith.
For many years, as my inner self fought desperately to reveal itself from the place I had suppressed it to, I experienced years of isolation and anger and a feeling of being trapped – to reveal the truth would hurt my wife and children and I did not want to lose them.
Those of you who have read earlier posts of mine will recall that in November 2012, after suffering deep pain and anxiety I decided I had to tell my wife of the inner turmoil I had suffered from. I feared her rejection, but I had come to the point where I had to “Let my Life Speak” whatever the consequences.
I found love and acceptance from my wife, but this was not guaranteed and I continue to experience periods of darkness and light as I struggle to understand the cause of my inability to recognise the truth of my feelings when I was young.
I marvel at our young people today, who are able to express their sexuality openly and without fear.
If you are suppressing your truth, find a quiet place to listen to what your life is telling you to do. Over a period of time, you will find a place of calm from which you will feel empowered to communicate your true self.
My next blog will be: The Seasons