Category Archives: Living in the present

The Pain I Nurture

The pain I nurture lies within me on the surface of my heart.

I know this pain and it knows me.

This pain is me – this pain is my experience – this pain is my deepest expression of self.

I have worked out ways to rid myself of this pain, and all of these methods hold for me a  validity and a truth.

I have decided to carry my pain, and to endure its seething hold on me, because at this time in my life, all of the alternatives speak to me of the potential for an even heavier load to bear.

I am grateful for my pain, because it is borne and lives within me as result of my experience for things which I now deny myself.

I know that overtime my pain will ebb and flow, and I know too, that my choices around it have the capacity to change too.

My pain resides within my heart, but it does not own my soul – no – I own my pain,

it lives because I give it life;

it speaks because I give it a voice;

it is heard because I listen to it, and

I feel it, because I give it space in my thinking mind.

The pain I nurture is within, I care for it, because it cares for me.

I have made a friend of my pain, because I know that deep within the longings of my soul, this pain occupies the space which reminds me of

what it is to live;

what it is to love, and

what it is to hope.

William Defoe

 

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Jigsaw

Throughout the long, dark winter evenings, my wife and I have been sat side by side placing pieces in numerous jigsaw puzzles.

It has felt at times, quite frustrating and tiresome when periods of time seem to lapse without any visible progress to the emerging picture.

The jigsaw evenings, side by side, have been an important step in reconnecting with each other after a very difficult few months.

It seems to me that the act of building something together, into something beautiful and fulfilling is not really in the jigsaw, but rather it is in our relationship, which has been wounded and in desperate need of healing.

The very act of sitting side by side, bumping into each other as we stretch to place a piece of the puzzle, and the occasional kiss or holding of hands has been the greater achievement in rebuilding the broken pieces of our hearts.

Unlike the jigsaw puzzles, which will ultimately broken down and placed back in shattered pieces into their boxes, I hope with all my heart, that what we have been able to re-build between us, will be a visible sign of beauty and sustained for our time together which is still to come.

William Defoe

 

Different Language – Same Laugh

On  a visit to Spain last month I noticed how, despite not understanding the language of its people, I understood its laughter.

I became increasingly fascinated with observing the laughter of others, and although I myself have a great capacity to create and enjoy laughter, I reflected inwardly, in my quiet moments, how laughter has been absent from my life in recent months, particularly at home.

On this winter holiday in the pleasant sunshine, I was able to re-connect myself to humour and I seemed to effortlessly make my wife laugh to the point on one evening, as we walked back to our apartment, she begged me to stop or she said she would have an accident.

Laughter is the tonic which dispels the need for drugs.

It is the vehicle in which truth is carried to the other openly and honestly, but it is only effective if the recipient is not defensive and is receptive to its message.

It seems to me that these months at home without laughter have been a time of defensiveness and of barriers, which the February Spanish sunshine was able to melt and once again open our hearts to honesty and truth.

William Defoe 

This Right Now

Earlier today a woman named Kane Tanaka, aged 116 years and 66 days was officially recognised as the oldest living person in the world.

She seemed to be very excited and genuinely surprised and honoured by the recognition given to her by the Guinness World Record.

Asked what part of her life she’d enjoyed most, she replied “This right now”

Her response surprised me and connected me to something I seem to have lost a sense of within me recently, which is to enjoy the moment.

The celebratory moments in life can be sparse and fleeting, and although Kane Tanaka-san was enjoying a celebratory moment, her response did not seem to me to be about the event marking her distinguished age, but rather a philosophy which had contributed to her longevity.

I have experienced deep periods of unhappiness and frustration during my life and although in recent years I have experienced a greater understanding and openness with self, I still seem to live significant periods of my life waiting for tomorrow.

I know that this attitude to my life is destructive and in a sense it is wasteful. It is an approach to life which is denying it’s craving need to just be, to just be who I am in the moment, no matter how good or how bad I feel.

My way of being, my way of not being present, is fueling within me a sense of guilt and hopelessness because I know deep down to my core that I am capable of being so much more.

Kane Tanaka-san spoke to me today in her brief response in Japan and I heard her, I heard her loud and clearly in my heart, here in England – domo arigatou gozaimasu.

William Defoe

 

Know That You Are Loved

In preparation for Christmas, and as a practising and believing catholic, I attended confession.

It is a space in which I can bring the issues which have bothered my conscience before a listening priest.

A word people don’t like to use anymore is “sin” – to acknowledge that our actions or words or absence have hurt ourselves or someone else.

This sacrament, is for me, a place in which I can try to draw a line under the past or acknowledge failings which perhaps are ongoing, but which are somehow lightened by a sense that I have been forgiven and that it is ok to fail and to try again.

At my last confession, I told my own priest that I was gay.

This felt right. I was not sorry for being gay (I am not sorry for being gay!), but I was sorry for the impact my recent actions have had on my wife, and I am resolved in that moment and beyond to bring these activities to an end.

I was surprised when my priest asked me to stand up, and as I did so he gave me a hug and said to me “know that you are loved”

It was the most perfect of actions because it summed up for me the reason why I hurt myself and others.

I am at my most destructive when I do not feel loved.

In the intervening weeks, my resolve has strengthened to maintain my marriage, and my wife and I have been making significant efforts to make each other feel loved.

When I feel loved, I feel safe.

When I feel safe, I feel calm.

When I feel calm, I don’t feel the inner pain so intensely.

When I feel less pain, I am less destructive.

When I am less destructive, it is because I  know that I am loved.

My next blog will be: Remain vs Leave

William Defoe

 

 

 

No, That’s Not The Answer

A few years ago, I recall overhearing my brother, who thought he was unobserved saying “no, that’s not the answer” over and over as he grappled with an issue unresolved in his heart.

I have experienced similar struggles during this tumultuous year, when I have tried to socialise my gay sexuality whilst hoping to remain married.

There has come a point now, where I feel compelled to make a choice about the kind of future I want to live, and as I have struggled to make that choice, I too have cried out in lamentation, “no, that’s not the answer”

Ultimately, I have now firmly resolved to stay married, and with this choice comes responsibilities to love and protect my wife whom I love very dearly.

This means that I have to experience a period of withdrawal and pain as I re calibrate my life to my chosen path.

I have also a sense, that my future path is not completely in my hands. My wife has her choice to make too, and she too has to overcome a period of pain and vulnerability which my actions in recent months have brought upon her.

With hope, for both of us, for a happier future, based on a settled desire to accompany each other through the remaining years of our lives, I pray that each of us will be able to feel in our hearts, as the pain subsides, that we have found the right answer at last.

My next blog will be: Know That You are Loved

William Defoe

An Exchange of Letters

A few weeks ago, I received a hand written letter from my wife.

In her written words, she tried to convey to me the feelings of her heart, and how my recent actions in absenting myself to visit gay bars was affecting her mental state.

Her appeal, read to me like an accusation and a command, and so I responded by writing a letter of my own to her.

In my response, I articulated that my behaviour in recent weeks in seeking to connect with the gay community was in response to my need to be seen as a gay man and secondly, in response to the poor communication in our marriage which had lead me to take drastic measures to cope with the inner pain and fear, from which I suffer constantly.

It seems to me that the exchange of letters between us was a desperate attempt to connect with each other, because our conversational capacity had become fraught with fierce rhetoric and deafening silence.

After the exchange of letters, nothing outwardly changed, I continued on my chosen path to connect with self, and my wife continued to fear the worse for our marriage.

After a while, I noticed small pockets of change, as if my written words had provoked a response from my wife which indicated in her manner towards me, a willingness to see my need.

A touch here, and a kindness there, unexpected, surprising, made me question my own response to her needs.

Further dialogue and an intense situation, lead me to commit to the marriage once again and to stop my visits to the gay community.

This has given us some much needed space to see if we have what it takes to love and support each other in these truly difficult circumstances.

I suffer badly from the withdrawal effects from curtailing my opportunity to be in the company of men like me, but I have put the marriage first, perhaps for the last time because for both of us, there can be no going back to the recent past, only forward to a better and more sustainable way of living.

My next blog will be: “No, That’s Not the Answer!”

William Defoe