Feeling Nothing to Avoid Feeling Anything

At the end of the beautiful film “Call Me By Your Name” directed by Luca Guadagnino, Elio’s* father, Professor Perlman* tries to comfort his broken hearted son over the loss of his first love, Oliver*.

He tells him that right now there is sorrow, but try to blend it with the joy that you have known.

This acceptance of light and dark, joy and sorrow is an important part of developing into who we are meant to be.

To suppress those parts of ourselves which we fear, or which we do not understand, is to deny ourselves the opportunity to grow, and growing can be painful, yes physically, but also emotionally as we rough up hard against our unspoken truths and the disappointments and failures which we experience along the way.

But Professor Perlman says to Elio, so often people try to feel nothing to avoid feeling anything and that leaves us bankrupt by the age of thirty.

We are born, he says, with one heart and one body, and it is for us to decide how best to use these to fulfill the best of our potential.

In the years of my marriage when I alone grappled with the enormity of the fact that I was gay (before eventually telling my wife), I quietly, and some might say, heroically or foolishly tried to honour my commitments and fulfill my responsibilities to by wife and children whom I love.

This act of commitment, this act of love, this act of suppression, this act of folly, this act of bravery has taken its toll on my heart, body and soul. There is a deep part of me that feels bankrupt.

And now, being more fully acquainted and in love with my truth, I feel so bitterly the hurt and the pain not only on myself but also on what my attempt to hide has had on those whom I love.

But then I think, this pain has to be welcomed, it has to be blended with the joy of what I have achieved and perhaps the harder part, the joy and pain of what I still might achieve, whether I go forward gay, but actively straight, or actively gay.

It is my heart, it is my body and it is my soul, and I am now firmly resolved for the time still to come not to feel nothing to avoid feel anything.

My next blog will be: Life on the Brink

William Defoe




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