Category Archives: Integral Coaching

The Parts Which Are Hard To Reach

As I get older, I have noticed that my physical agility and suppleness has decreased, so that some parts of my own body are now out of my reach.

An itch in the centre of my back, which as a younger man I could reach by stretching my arm behind me from underneath or over my shoulder is now inaccessible for me.

There are unreachable parts of my understanding too in much the same way. I don’t seem to trust the natural instincts which I experience in contemplating my homosexuality.

I seem content to live permanently with the suffering caused by indecisiveness and suppression, rather than being brave enough to allow myself to succumb to my truth which would enable me to be in full connection with my identity.

If I pick up a stick I can reach the itch on my back, but I risk cutting the skin in the hope of resolving the discomfort.

There does not seem to be a metaphorical stick for the hard to reach parts of my mind, other than the love of those who know and acknoledge my truth, and are not frightened by it, and also the silence of my own thoughts which enable me to revel privately in those attractions I have , which are hidden from the world.

I have come to an understanding over the years, that however deep my pain, however strong my frustration, however tangible my fear, I can allow myself to be fully accessible, fully open, fully human, if only for those times when I am agile enough to be happy with who I am.

William Defoe

I Need Some Time Alone

In recent weeks, I have been focussed on meeting the needs of others, by giving my time generously to famly members who have needed my help.

I have been happy to be supportive and generous with my time and resources at their time of need.

This weekend, I celebrate my birthday, and although there has been a general willingness to please me, and to create a bit of fuss around me, what I sense I need right now, most of all, is to be left alone.

My head is swimming with its own struggles and the surface which I project outwardly, suppresses the inner turmoil and continuous struggle which I fight alone each and everyday of my life.

These feelings have been made worse in recent days by the resurfacing of issues of trust in my marriage. My wife saw something which gave her reason to doubt my integrity, which despite appearances is unjustified.

I feel an inward frustration at being watched, being guarded, being doubted, when what I need most of all is to be held and loved and respected.

It seems strange to me that more than any of the suspicions with which I am accused, it is my own fear that makes my intolerable life an acceptable choice.

In the quiet time to come which I crave so much, I need to think about a life free of the shackles of mistrust, free of the constant fear, free of the suppression of my truth, which will come at the price of family unhappiness and bitter disappointment which I can only hope will be short-lived.

William Defoe

The Call of a Blackbird

During the Covid lockdown in the UK, in which we have been contained in our family groups within our homes and our gardens, I have taken a keen interest in the various visits to our garden of the wild birds.

These are not as exotic as you might find in other countries, but the visit of the robin, the blue-tit, the house sparrow, the collared dove, the magpie and the blackbird have brought a thrill to my eyes and ears as I have watched them arrive, feed, sing their song and leave my garden.

I particulrly enjoy listening to the call of the lone blackbird as it whistles its tune into the open space from its perch on a rooftop nearby. It’s tail bobbing as it calls out its song.

I wonder at it’s, effort and revel in it’s beauty.

Is it calling for a mate, or to mark it’s territory, or to alert it’s own kind to its presence?

Is it responding to the call of it’s mate or neighbours, or simply wanting to be heard by its own kind?

This thought, forced within me a reflection on my own need to be seen and to be heard, and how incredibly difficult it can be at times to traverse the world, hidden , suppressed, contained because I have not been able to express myself fully as a gay man.

I think this kind of infringement is akin to putting the blackbird in a cage and putting that cage in a garden shed.

What a shame it would be to deny ourselves of the joy of hearing the blackbird sing freely, and in the same spirit of openess therefore, what a shame it is to deny ourselves the capacity to speak our truth.

William Defoe

Finding Courage in Endurance

I think that I have developed a deeper sense of how courageous I have been in the midst of a life lived in the shadows of my true identity.

I have endured in complete silence and without any support from any other living soul, my open life as a family man, a man of faith, a man of deep integrity and strong values.

For shame!

I have endured alone, my deep longings to be whole, my deep longings to be seen, my deep longings to be acknowledged in my truth as a gay man.

In these more recent years, I have been liberated from the silent grief of my heart by acknowledging my truth to a close knit circle, including my wife, my brother and my coach.

My coach, I reflect is saving my life by refusing to collude with me in the act of suppression, and willing me through my own endeavours into a space in which I can live and feel and be who I was born to be.

I sense in these most recent of days, my courage, rather than what I have percieved as weakness in living my life in the shadows. To attempt to hold on to the aspects of my life which I love and value is an act of courage, an act of self-giving, and an act of love.

My truth finds its expression in no longer being fearful of being found out, my courage finds its expression in accepting and welcoming all of me in my own moments of reverie about the mystery of my humanity.

I am very much loved and respected by those who share my life, be it in fulness or in the shadows of my branches.

The fruit I bear, the fruit I share and the fruit which falls unseen to the ground under the weight of its density and the weakness of the stem, is calling out to all who see me, to look, to notice and to acknowledge the courage I have shown in endurance throughout my life.

William Defoe

When Earth Comes Into A Close Orbit With Mars

I have been fascinated by the recent landing of the NASA probe Perserverance on to the planet Mars.

It is a technological marvel, a substantial event in the history of humankind.

I have read how the planning for these launches and landings take place years in advance and are timed to coincide with the closer orbit of Mars to Earth to save travel time between the planets.

In recent weeks, for what has been a sustained period, I have felt that I have been in a closer orbit with my wife. It is as if we have become more aligned after a much longer sustained period of distance and suspicion and doubt.

I have felt seen by her, and she has felt safer in my love and companionship and it has felt genuine.

This morning as we went about our separate routines in the kitchen before breakfast, the song “Have I told you lately” sung by Van Morrison was played on the radio.

“Have I told you lately that I love you – Have I told you there’s no one else above you – You fill my heart with gladness – Take away all my sadness – Ease my troubles, that’s what you do

I stopped her from her busyness and I stuck my head into her shoulder and we swayed whilst these lyrics washed over us both.

We were close together in the orbit of these words.

In truth, it is not possible to take away all my sadness, it is inherent within me and there are feelings of hurt and disappointment and frustration and fear that I don’t expect will ever go away.

But I have felt supported in the closer orbit of Mars to Earth.

I have felt my troubles eased by feelings of being loved and appreciated and I think my wife will have felt eased by the spontoneity of my holding on to her, so that, with me she felt into these lyrics and experienced in her heart my gratitude for keeping faith with her gay husband.

William Defoe

A Softening of Intensity

In recent months, I have felt strongly the intensity of my emotions. These feelings have been compounded by the social isolation of the Covid lockdown; the cold weather; the dark evenings and my long working hours at home alone.

Layered on top of all this bleakness, has been an overwhelming period of anguish over the dilemma of my trapped self in a life that cannot find sufficient space to articulate my truth of being a gay man in a heterosexual marriage.

This week, I sensed a shift in the intensity of my emotions, as if the strength in the anguish has started to soften, started to melt, started to release me from the prison of self-pity.

The better weather, the lighter evenings, the easing of lock-down, being physically and sexually active and having an exchange of feelings with my boss about the stress I have been under at work have all helped, but more importantly I have enjoyed a period of connection with my wife.

Despite our difficulties, I do have the capacity to make her laugh, sometimes uncontrollably. I like it when she laughs. it makes our joint suffering over our dilemma seem somehow manageable and gives me hope for our future that I often seem to lack.

She was talking about her need to buy some summer clothes. I said that I was not in need of anything particularly, but if I was a woman I would make sure that I dressed to impress. She ponders on me as a woman and she has to admit I’d have made a good one. We giggle and I feel safe, I feel less frightened and my burden is eased.

We talk in the car, as we drive to see some friends two hours away about sexuality. She wonders if I am bi-sexual, but I am emphatic that I am gay. I tell her that my primary and only attraction is to men, not women. Her features darken for a moment at the intensity of my truth. Does this mean I am not attracted to her, she asks. Again I tell her that I am only attracted to men, but I love her.

These interactions are a liberation from the intensity, because they allow me to convey who I am to perhaps the most important person in the world.

I have tried so hard to keep my life with her in our marriage intact and it has been, and still will be a very very difficult journey, eased by our ability to be honest with each other, eased by our ability to comfort each other, and eased by our ability to laugh and love.

William Defoe

Overwrought

I have honed some skills in recent years which I am drawing on a lot at this time of crisis of heart, to sustain and support my emotional life.

I am overwrought, and this feeling of anxiousness is compounded by each receptor in my brain which cannot cope with what seems to be a wave of uncertainty, unwelcome news and ongoing alertness to suffering.

Be still, be quiet, listen, listen and listen …. but don’t react, let it weave in and out of consciousness so that its potency is disarmed by being noticed, being heard, being acknowledged.

I have been courageous this week, in facing into the headwind of emotions which in recent weeks have overwhelmed me. I have been taking delight in flowers, and in trees and in birds and in the warmer air which caresses my face and ruffles my hair.

I have been running, and allowing the phyisical effort to take hold of the weight of my heart and to give it reassurance that it is being cared for.

I can’t be happy, unless I resolve to be so. This resolution is not a magic wand, it does not wave away the pain and anguish of my conflicted soul, but it helps channel my emotional life into a path of hope, a path of decisiveness, a path of construction.

I don’t seem to be able to pray. I’m not sure I ever could. And despite being a man of faith, I have felt absent from feeling comfort from spirtitual thoughts, but I have perservered with being content to be distant from feeling the love of God, and I have attributed the kindness of others as coming from Him in an indirect route.

I have been overwrought, but I have turned in to face the storm , I have turned in to listen to the call of my heart and find some place to be calm.

William Defoe

I’ve Become Attached to Things

I am in the midst of being very unhappy, so much so, that everything rationale in my mind is screaming at me to make a break with my marriage.

I can’t.

I am held together by a set of values and beliefs which are so incredibly strong that despite all the silence, all the longings, all the thinking, I continue to endure and perservere in the long-held hope that one day I will find peace.

I’ve become attached to things, the granite kitchen worktop, the electric garage door, the indian sandstone patio – I rage inside at the foolishness of my obsession with being comfortable, and my obsession with the fear of losing a hold on all the things which my hard work has purchased in recent years.

It’s ridiculous!

I am prioritising the dead stones over the living flesh off my constricted heart, which beats out of rhythm under the immense strain of it all.

I’ve become attached to things, I’ve become attached to the comforts I have secured in the material life which I have amassed in recent years. I’ve become attached to a way of life which is utterly incompatible with who I am.

But….I love my wife and so I should at least find the courage to tell her that I am dying on the inside, whilst the stones which surround us, shine and glisten with each wipe of the cloth or the fall of rain.

William Defoe

If I Could Still Kiss My Feet

I am sure there was a time when I was able to reach down and grab my ankle and put my baby feet into my mouth.

Sadly, I have no recollection of that act of discovery, but I have witnessed the same act of suppleness countless times in babies over the years.

This morning, as I was drying my body from my head to my toes after emerging from the shower, I became conscious of the presence of my feet.

The drying process, starting at my head, with the towel working down my body, always down across my back, under my arms and across my abdomen, reaching over the flesh filled bottom, and lifting my left leg before my right, momentarily onto the bathside, rolling the towel down my thighs, over my knees to the calves and finally to my feet.

My feet, so far away from it all, the last part of me to be caressed in the enveloping towel, not now as dry as it was when it was at my head only a few moments ago.

My feet, carrying the weight of me, carrying the burden of my body, but also my tormented heart and exploding mind. What to do?, what to do?, what to do?

So many questions, but my feet, go about their function to take me where I need to go, despite that my mind may be in anguish and turmoil.

Good, loyal feet, you carry my heart, you support my flesh and bones, you overcome the struggles of my mind, the worries, the fear and anxiety.

How I so wished today, that with my baby reach, I could have reached down and pulled you to my lips, to kiss and caress you once again as I used to do at the start of my life.

William Defoe

Exploring Integrity

I am in the midst of difficulty. I usually am, however, the difference is that now I have this counter-balance on the pendulum of my life, which is a desire to act with integrity.

I have rebelled, and will continue to do so, of being controlled by my wife in respect of my gay sexuality, but what I will do, is tell her the truth.

I wanted to tell her yesterday about the difficulty which I am currently experiencing, and how I am watching gay romantic films to connect to my sexuality.

These types of dsclosures, are not asking for permission, they are keeping her informed, and providing me with a sense of integrity so that I am not burying deeper into my psyche, a deeper pit of isolation than that which I already experience each day.

This disclosure caused her pain because it opened up a discussion about past hurts, which for her are difficult to overcome, but neverthless she acknowledged my honesty and candour.

I explained to her, that her choice to stay with me is not without its emotional cost to her, just like my choice to stay is not without its emotional cost to me. She is not a victim, she is an active participant in a choice to live her life with a gay man, a gay man who struggles every day to manage his feelings and longings.

After our talk, and her tears, and my comforting arm around her, we went on a long walk in the spring sunshine. Each in our own thoughts about the nature of our difficult life, our choices made and our choices still to be made in the future.

In exploring integrity, we experienced a connection, a deeper understanding of the dilemma which we are trying to resolve. For me, as I walked along, I did not feel guilty for speaking, I felt liberated from the shackles of silence, the shackles of fear, and the shackles of isolation by explaining to her my truth.

William Defoe