Category Archives: Living in the present

Forced to Dry

Yesterday morning, after alighting from a bed I looked out of the window and noticed a soggy glove on the road at the side of my wife’s car.

The previous evening she had given me a lift to a local beer festival and as we arrived I decided to relieve myself of the burden of carrying my coat, scarf and gloves for the duration of the long evening ahead of me, so I quickly took them off and placed them on the front passenger seat of her car.

My wife, had picked these items up as she arrived home after dropping me off, but she had not noticed that my gloves were loosely placed on top of the coat and so one of them had dropped into the foot-well of her car, and the other onto the roadside exposed all night to the inclement rain.

I retrieved the glove and rung it through in the sink and then placed it onto the radiator where it was forced to dry over the next few hours.

This morning, on taking it from its very warm and cosy spot, I placed the fluffy, supple warm glove onto my hand and all its dampness and sogginess and smelliness had been dissipated from its apparel.

If only our lives could be thus cured of the sogginess, longings and confusion which are thrown up by our hearts and minds.

It made me think of the people who turn to rehabilitation centres to dry-out a drug or alcohol problem – or to a christian or other religious retreat centres where matters of the soul are explored under spiritual guidance in periods of reflection, silence, solitude and prayer – or to specialist centres for restoration from severe mental or physical trauma when strenuous efforts are made to bring us back to health and happiness.

My life is punctuated with periods of intense mental pain caused by the isolation and frustration of choosing to be faithful to my marriage whilst often feeling conflicted over my gay sexuality which is hidden and isolated from those whom I love.

There are small oases in my life where I can go and dry out my suffering and soothe my anxieties  – for example when I speak to my coach or visit her – or speak with my brother who is supportive and sympathetic to my ongoing struggle.

These interventions give me a respite from the damp and soggy harshness of my own mental anguish, and the practices and the intellectual guidance I derive from books and blogs on living in the present and living a holistic life of many parts are accessible to me more fully when I am calm thanks to them.

William Defoe 

The Weight of Life

At the present time, the weight of life is heavy upon my mind.

The stars seem to be aligned to make my life have all the symptoms of being unbearable to manage.

I am out of balance and the practices which sustain me are not currently established in my life’s routine.

It is not a good time to make choices or decisions which would seem to me to be a gateway to liberation from these feelings of being completely overwhelmed.

It is a time to be alert to the opportunities to thrive. To reconnect with those experiences which bring joy into my life. It is a time to focus my thoughts away from self onto those on whom my life has meaning, in the context of their life, and in doing so to feel positive about the contribution I make in a broad range of situations.

I am often healed by the words and actions of others, particularly the writings of Justin Wise in his blog “On Living and Working” which constantly calls on me to segregate the aspects of my life into meaningful pockets of acceptance and understanding and in so doing, contextualizes these feelings I hold of  washed out days, into parts or elements on which to focus, explore and manage.

At this time, I just crave to be seen, to be understood and to be held by someone who can appreciate the depths of my constant struggle to be calm.

I have achieved and accomplished a great deal (in a provincial and local sense of my life) rather than in the public sphere, and now I need to be able to articulate my inner beauty and my true self in a way which does not suppress and isolate my intellect but rather illuminates and projects it as a force for good.

I am sure that over time, and with the right mindset to the difficulties which I carry with me each day, the weight of my life will transform from being a heavy burden to something more akin to an aluminium or titanium frame  – light  – yes, but strong too!

William Defoe


A Loss of Trust

Two years ago, after a period of unhappiness in my marriage, I made a decision to socialise my sexuality by visiting bars frequented by gay men.

I had endured many years of suffering the isolation and the guilt and shame which I had previously associated with being married and gay, and I had felt that I needed to connect with people who would understand me for who I am.

At the end of a 6 month period of visiting these bars occasionally, predominantly as an observer and largely ignored, my wife insisted that I stop these visits or she would leave me and our 32 year marriage.

By this time, I had arrived at a conclusion that despite all our difficulties, and all my frustrations and isolation, I loved my wife and I did not want my marriage to end.

My wife, however had lost trust in me and so I volunteered to send her a video message from work each evening to prove to her that I was at work and that I was setting off to come home to her.

At the same time, my wife has tracked my movements (subversively) through monitoring the google maps app on my phone.

At first, these controls on my freedom to move freely about my business felt justified, after the break down in trust and the emotional distress I had caused to her by visiting these bars.

However, in recent months, the control has felt like an assault on my health and well-being. I have no intention of re-visiting those bars, but I need to be trusted now not to do so.

The calls and the tracking give my wife the assurance she requires, but she has no concept that 18 months on, these tools are having the effect on me of something akin to covert abuse.

I want to be able to move on, as she does from the past, but these measures, imposed upon me mean that I am condemned to be the criminal and she the probation officer for the foreseeable future.

My worry has become that this approach to maintaining our safety in the marriage is unsustainable because whereas it gives my wife some assurance of my movements, it signifies an ongoing loss of trust which despite all my efforts to alleviate, are not being recognised and accepted as permanent.

All I can do, is wait for a moment to raise with her my hope that she will drop the surveillance and trust in our love, and for me the greatest signal of our healing would be for us to talk to her about how it feels to be gay whilst loving and respecting her as deeply as I do.

William Defoe

Winter Sleep

This morning, I emerged feeling heavy in the head after a long winters sleep.

My long awakening from this long sleep, was troubled by visions of snakes hanging down from the mechanical door-closer in some gents toilets, I know not where.

A man sat elsewhere, looking into a glass case which I could not see, counting snakes, and all the while not realising the ones he missed as he repeatedly counted, more frantically each time, were suspended above my head at a door I dare not open.

Deep, deep sleeping mindfulness, punctuated by irrational fear in a state of bodily suspension, whilst I was in the process of emerging from my long winter sleep.

My dream does not help me to resolve my unsettled mind, my waking troubles are quite clear in my head, I am no longer terrorized by them, they are understood and they are raw and complex, but they are not a nightmare.

My journey to know self, has released my waking space, to a clarity of thinking and an acceptance for how things are, because I have made choices which make my life as it is, I have made choices to carry the troubles and the yearnings which I hold.

My awakening from a terrible dream, unsettles my wakened thoughts, ruffles my mind, and stirs my longings, but the clearness of my choices tell me to be calm for a moment, to be still, and dream in the wakening shadows for the life that can not be.

William Defoe

Gazing at a Crucifix

In every Roman Catholic church I have ever visited, there is a crucifix fixed to the wall behind the altar, above the tabernacle.

In my own local church, the crucifix behind the altar is magnificent, and it is among the loveliest I have ever seen, with a substantial figure of Christ on which to fix my eyes.

Once each week, I am situated in my church in full view of this crucifix.

I derive great comfort, when for long periods of time, I gaze at the crucifix and think mostly of my own emotional suffering which I have carried with me in virtual solitude for many years.

Although the crucifix portrays intense suffering, we are taught to consider as Christians that Christ’s passion and death is a precursor to the joy of His resurrection.

My thoughts are calm, and I hold in clear view of the cross my quiet grief for the intense struggle which has punctuated long periods of my life.

I do not ask for anything, I do not complain, I just experience the profound joy of being able to focus on my inner sadness, without experiencing any guilt or hope.

My capacity to do this has come through the love and support and guidance which has been a feature of my experience of being coached for the last seven years.

I have been fortunate to have experienced a wider acceptance of my previously suppressed homosexual identity and those whom I have brought into my confidence have assured me of their love and support.

However, to be able to feel the weight of my inner pain, in the solitude of my own heart has had a profound effect on my growing knowledge of what my suffering actually is, and to experience it is an integral part of who I am.

William Defoe



A Light Behind The Door

Last week on my vacation, the wardrobe was in  fact a little room which was illuminated by a light on the opening of the door.

On closing the door, the light was extinguished and my clothes resided in space and darkness.

I am fascinated by the concept of a trigger to illuminate a space which has been covered in darkness, and for me the gentle opening of a door and the illumination of my hanging shirts and trousers and my racked footwear seems to be a metaphor for my soul.

Where are the times and events when my soul is illuminated and feels less burdened?

Certainly, the calls and visits to my coach are significant because these important interactions, illuminate those dark spaces which struggle to find an outward facing voice, a kind and gentle ear for my inner life, which exists in the silence and oft times turbulence of my own heart,

I have been illuminated by  times of joy when running; singing and painting watercolours, and it is in these practices that a trigger can be switched which for a few moments unburdens the weight of my unrequited  desires and longings.

It is a sad reality that my life is not illuminated in the presence of my loving family who despite their obvious love and care for me, I have kept at a distance from the true anguish of my soul.

In their presence my shirts, pants and shoes hang on my body in darkness and my soul is illuminated in private in the space around my heart.

I am making heroic efforts to protect them; to maintain the status quo; to avoid causing them hurt and experiencing their deeper love or their disappointment.

I am trying to resist my need to be an individual by submitting myself to community and faith.

This is like living the reality of my holiday wardrobe – once the door is closed the light in my own soul is diminished but the light outside in the world continues to shine and illuminates everything it sees which is not hidden.

What would it be like, I muse, to leave open the wardrobe door and let the light in?

William Defoe

Sometimes I Feel Overwhelmed

I have returned from a week’s holiday at the coast.

I have been unsettled, most noticeably in my struggle to wake up from protracted dreams which disturb by inner soul.

I have invested some of my spare time, whilst sat on the beach in reading substantial sections of Francis Weller – The Wild Edge of Sorrow and Pope Francis – Happiness In This Life and to relax I have read the wonderfully funny and stoic David Sedaris – Calypso – I’m a fan.

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the demands I place on myself to live a good life.

I hover precariously over feelings of having lived a disastrous life (which I haven’t), and feelings of utter despair over feelings I hold so strongly for a life that I am actively choosing not to have.

My choice of reads (Weller/Francis), were good choices and spoke to me in different ways of routes to ways of living which have the potential to make me happy.

For Weller, it is to embrace grief (a concept I am familiar with through my coaching experience) and for Francis it is to submit to Christ, to search for Him, to trust in Him to let go of all the false idols which seek to deflect my potential to do good.

Weller has reminded me of the importance of establishing and maintaining daily rituals/practices – to run; to read; to sing; to dance; to walk; to paint; to be silent.

Francis has reminded me of the importance of community and the good we feel when we reach out and help others – to visit the sick; to pray for the world; to nurture and prioritise time with our families.

I am in a time of deep crisis, I am sinking under the weight of wanting to do the right thing but not having around me the support I need. I am tired. I am scared. I am unwell.

I often feel that I have lacked courage because I am not living the life that I was born to live as a gay man.

I tell my self that I am courageous for standing by my wife whom has been my companion for 37 years of my life, she who has given me our three children – I don’t want to lose her, it can not be.

So, I try once more to live my life through practices and rituals, to find time each day to be alone, to pray, to listen to the needs of my soul and to love, yes love with all my heart the parts of me which feel they have not been heard.

William Defoe