Category Archives: Living in the present

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

The Smile Behind The Mask

This morning, whilst out for my run, I noticed an elderly woman sat alone in a bus shelter, waiting for a bus (I guess!).

She caught my eye and she smiled at me. I reacted with a broad smile, called out hello and waved my hand above my head.

Fortunately, my running pace is quite moderate, so I had time to see her face light up and smile at me from behind her mask. My reaction had thrilled her, and I could see that it had caused her a moment of joy at the unexpected warmth of our momentary connection.

As I ran on, I reflected on our little encounter. It touched my heart and I wondered why. I think her smile behind the mask, which I could not see, was obvious to me in her bright shining eyes. It was a magical moment, a moment of joy, a moment of respect, a moment of connection.

The physical mask which we are all currently wearing will hopefully become an unnecessary appendage very soon, but the mask I wear has the feel and appearance of permanence about it in my life thus far.

I wear a mask every day of my life to suppresses my truth, to suppress my capacity to convey myself in the world with honesty about the reality of my gay sexuality.

When the masks come off, we will once again see the smile around the mouth and cheeks and its impact will be restored to a full expression of the joy this facial response to happiness conveys.

The mask I wear slips only with the few people who know the truth of the dilemma I experience in my life each day.

For those, who see behind the mask I wear, I owe the deepest gratitude, the type of gratitude which conveys the joy which the little elderly lady conveyed to me in her smile, because in the connection between us, we were united in truth.

William Defoe

A Leak of Water

In the early hours of Saturday morning, I woke up to the sound of fast running water and splashing.

My head was sleepy, and I arose from my bed feeling disorinentated and confused.

I stood at the top of the stairs and listened, discounting reasonable explanaions for the fast flowing gush of water eminating from below; it was not the washing machine, nor was it the dishwasher, it did not sound like rain.

I went downstairs and opened the door to the downstairs closet. I was greeted by a rush of water and the floor was flooded. I cried out for help and I was quickly joined by my wife.

A cable to a tap which had been tightened earlier in the week, had caused a breach in the connecting pipework which had suddenly given way.

I turned off the water supply, and we mopped up the water which had collected on a tiled floor.

The water, had seeped under the wall of the little closet into our living space and soddened wet through a carpet in a circular formation across a wide area of the floor.

I scrubbed on my hands and knees with numerous towels to soak up the excess water, before retiring back to bed with plans to make arrangements for a repair in the morning.

The incident was unsettling and at some level upsetting, but the damage could have been far worse, if I had not woken unexpectedly in the middle of the night, or if we had been away from home when the leak had occurred.

The aftermath on my emotional state, was one of reflection as I tried to think how the leakage of water under the wall onto the carpet was akin to the aftermath of one of my many crises. These crises seem to come and go with such frequency, but each time, they take time to “dry out” much like the damp carpet after each emotional episode.

My emotional state, is flimsy, and at times, unmanaged, and lacks reslience, which despite my efforts, I cannot seem to build and sustain.

I am flooded with a feeling of being overwhelmed, trapped, immovable, as if the water has seeped into my brain and left it there to float in a state of dizziness and uncertainty and anxiety until the levels gradually subside and withdraw.

This leak of water, showed to me in a metaphorical sense, that I need to try again to build in some control to my emotions, not to suppress them but to steer them to channels of positivity and constructivity and contentment, rather than being vulnerable to the sogginess, and dampness and quelchiness of a flood.

William Defoe

Daffodil Head

The daffodil bulbs which I planted in neat little patches around my garden last autumn, are beginning to bloom.

Their little heads are a joy to behold in the prevailing melancholy of my heart.

Something deep within me is stirred by them all, their little heads of yellow, so delicate, so intricate, so utterly charming and beautiful.

One of the little daffodil heads draws my particular attention and illicits from me a deep heartfelt respect and longing which I find hard to contain in my fragile heart.

It is perfectly formed, its yellow is the brightest yellow, and its head is connected to its slender green stem robustly and as proud as all of the other daffodils in the garden.

I am drawn to it, because its head, unlike the others is on the ground. Its lovely little head is touching the soil which is nourishing it, but this daffodil is not destined to stand tall and flourish as do all of its brothers.

I inwardly grieve for its loss, despite its beauty, this daffodil head will never stand tall because the stem which sustains it, has not the capacity to lift it from the soil, because this stem is broken, but not severed.

I look again, and I see that despite its predicament, this daffodil is radiating its beauty and stands out from all the others because its line of sight to my eye is lower than all of its sisters.

Your life, dear daffodil, has touched me.

Your pain and disappointment mirror that of my own life. I too am a thing of beauty whose head has not been able to rise and stand tall with its peers.

Despite this, dear daffodil, we radiate beauty, we are formed by perfection into perfection until ultimately we decline and return to the soil from which we sprung after those few flowering days of our lives.

Dear daffodil, I tenderly kiss your head of beauty, I call to you, through my tears, that you have been seen and loved.

I thank you for sharing your beauty despite the ordeal of being grown on a broken stem; despite the ordeal of your head touching the soil; despite the ordeal, I imagine, of knowing full well that you were not destined to thrive in the fulness of your truth.

William Defoe

Odd Sock

In recent days, there has been an odd sock in the front of the drawer which holds my socks.

My sock drawer is situtated in a cabinet, which holds my underwear above it and a tin box and cotton square hankerchieves below it.

Today, home alone recovering from illness, I felt well enough to change the bedsheets and whilst doing so, I notice in the corner of my eye a pile of ironed clothes ready to be placed in the closets which adorn the room to hold them.

I find, that the pile is not organised, as it might have been if I had been ironing (a task incidentally which I never do, but I imagine that is how it would be if I was to do so!).

The ironing had been done in a random order, socks, underwear, socks, nightwear, jeans, shirt, socks, blouse, jeans, shirt, socks, underwear, etc etc.

I sort through the load, bringing my organisational skills to a serious disorder of the clothes.

I arrange bespoke piles on the clean bedding of socks for her, underwear for me, blouse for her, shirt for me, jeans… jeans again both mine, a little damp, so I hang them over the radiator to air them off.

Phew, I have avoided putting, at a later time, a dry toned, hairy leg, some might call it beautiful, into a damp denim tube. I am satisfied that order is being restored.

I keep going through the pile, I find an odd sock,and looking around on the bed I see nothing with which it can be paired, its’s purpose is suspended in perilous animation.

I suddenly recall the odd sock in my sock drawer, is it a match I wonder? or is it a duplication of a potentially worthless item?. Phew, again!, it is a match. I join them together and place them in my pile of socks.

I have finished sorting, so I quickly open drawers and drop my things into their correct place, and slide doors open to find the hangers, do the hanging and slide them closed.

The socks which have been separated have been reunited and are lost in and amongst the other garments with the same purpose into my middle drawer.

Somehow, coming off my feet a few days ago, they were separated in the process of washing and drying them. Their usefulness held by a thread, held by a willingness to give some time to the hope that they would eventually find each other, without any attempt to actually go look and support their cause.

Their finding of each other, is as random as the the act of losing each other, unplanned, unintended, unlucky.

Their reunicifaction secures for them a purpose and a future, a life of service, a life of care, a life for me in the service of my feet, a life for me in the service of my conflicted heart.

William Defoe