Category Archives: Living in the present

I Fell into the Canal Yesterday

In these strange times of coronavirus and self isolation, the Government has authorized one solitary daily exercise for us all so long as social distancing measures of two metres  are maintained.

As I set off on my daily run, alone yesterday, I had not gone so far when I tripped and fell on the side of the road. I was able to save myself from harm by directing my fall onto the grass verge on the side of the road.

The fall affected my pace and my mindset and for a period unsettled my thinking as I was required by self to take more care of my physical well-being, when my intention during my run is primarily to nurture my emotional well-being.

The route back to my start point was a long run along the beautiful canal which is local to my home. It was difficult to maintain the required social distancing requirement, as set out by the Government due to the narrowness of the paths in part.

I was constantly pulling in to the left by the wall or to the right by the edge of the water to allow other walkers and cyclists and runners and dog-walkers to pass by.

As I approached the end of my run, I noticed a young couple walking ahead of me, orientated to the left by the wall. I instinctively pulled out to the right by the grass verge on the canal-side edge and as I drew close behind them, I suddenly lost my footing and I slipped and fell onto the stony path.

As I fell, I felt my legs swung under me to the right down the edge of the verge with a force and momentum that I could not stop, so that my legs, lead by my feet entered the water in a bizarre fashion that resulted in me landing upright, on my feet up to my knees in the canal.

The young couple were alarmed, and I was shocked to say the least and the young girl came over to pull me out, but I politely declined and I appealed to her to maintain the social distance between us, for her sake.

I could not find anything on the ground to hold onto, to pull myself out of the canal and I struggled to get a footing on the steep-ish bank.

The young man came over, alarmed at my predicament, but I again appealed to him to maintain the social distance between us, for his sake.

Eventually I hauled myself out and managed to upright myself on the path. Some kind people called out to check that  I was alright. I thanked them for their kindness and assured them that I was ok, despite feeling shaken and upset and cut on my knees and hands.

I squelched along the path, but I noticed that the young couple had pulled aside to wait for me to pass them. I started to run, my rhythm seriously dented, and as I passed the couple I waved happily, feeling anything but happy, to assure them that I was ok.

In these times of pandemic, I experienced genuine care and support from those around me. This of course fell completely apart when I arrived home and news of my misfortune hit the family whats-app group resulting a sense of hilarity and story-telling which lasted the whole day through.

Take care

William Defoe

 

 

An Earnest Question

This morning I asked my wife whether she remembered writing me a letter approximately 18 months ago in which she promised to love me again if only I would stop visiting places where homosexual men are known to gather.

At the time, I refused to do so, and I issued my own set of conditions if such a proposition was to be fulfilled.

In answer to my question, she acknowledged the letter and I asked her if she recalled the promises she had set out should her wishes be met.

I have met her conditions for the last eighteen months, but they have been the hardest months of my life. I am in constant anguish and my constant suffering feels like an illness  -not the fact of being gay, but the suppression of my identity and the requirement to live my life in a controlled manner.

My wife asked me an earnest question. How can I support you to be gay, How can I normalize it within our marriage?

My answer, please acknowledge it, don’t fear it, try to love me rather than attempt to control me.

Let me speak to those whom know my truth and  don’t feel fearful that here is something in those talks which are against you.

Laugh at me, laugh with me – point out the truth and hold me and show me that you are no longer afraid.

Draw me in to your circle of trust, nurse my wounds and I will repay you one hundredfold.

This earnest question feels like a turning point, not to a guaranteed life-long happiness, but to a moment of connection from which a clear choice has to be made by her in respect of whether she can drop her fear of me, and embrace my truth and become the soulmate for which I have longed for so long.

William Defoe

 

Longing to be Held

At the current time, I think we are all missing the occasional hug or kiss as we isolate ourselves to protect our families, our communities and our national health service.

I have longed to be held for many, many years and it just so happens that at this particular moment the need I have to be acknowledged is at its most acute.

I know that these feelings ebb and flow, but this current crisis of identity within my soul is severe because I have something to say to my wife and I cannot bring myself to say it.

The timing of my declaration does not feel right, and worse than that, my declaration requires from her a declaration in return, in which I am in no position to command of her.

I want to tell her that my need for the love and support of a man is enormous and yet, I can subjugate that need, even now at this darkest of hours, if she in return will promise to love and protect and acknowledge me for who I am.

I cannot thrive in an environment of emotional control which I have tried to do in recent months.

I need space and air and deep, deep understanding which allows my feelings for my own sex to be expressed in conversations and in silence which is mutual and clear between us.

I need to be able to cry, as does she, so that we can comfort and reassure each other that we are on this journey together and that we are fully invested in the needs of each other.

I have learned, rather late, that for this to be given any chance at all to work, we both need to act with integrity so that going forward all of it is open and true.

This means that in the harder moments, threats to leave her on my part, or threats to out me on hers, in the most damaging way imaginable are consigned to the past.

My longing to be held, is more than a need to be hugged, it is a need to be seen, to be understood, to be acknowledged and to be loved.

William Defoe

Be The Match

I have had a recent obsession with watching on YouTube emotional meet-ups between bone marrow and stem cell donors and the grateful recipients who are previously very sick children and adults who have been cured from blood cancers such as leukaemia and lymphoma.

Donors who gave a swab of saliva from their mouth, are called up often years later out of the blue, to be told they have the potential to save a life, often for people who live on the other side of the world.

The impact that this self-less giving has on the recipients and on their families is overwhelming and although life giving for the patient, it is also life enriching for the donor, who become connected by an incredible bond.

Under the rules of the process, they are not given information which would identify each other until at least one year after the procedure, and only then if both parties give their consent.

I think I am moved by the way in which the donor and recipient hold each other in a warm embrace which does not seem to end when they see each other for the first time.

I like the feeling I have when I see two people hold each other and when both are mutually committed to not being in a hurry to let go.

I give countless cursory hugs to family and friends, but it is a quick process which conveys to the person that they are cared for, and likewise I feel that too.

But to be held close, to be squeezed tight, to feel the weight of the other person so that their gratitude takes on a physical dimension to match their emotional weight is absolutely awesome to behold.

In those moments, being held by someone who shares your joy, or holds your pain, is to experience a feeling of rare gratitude that the deep well of suffering and endurance is measured by the body in terms of hope and love.

William Defoe

If you can, please sign up and “Be The Match” 

 

 

Safety versus Freedom

Benjamin Franklin once said “those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.” 

“Piece by piece individual freedoms are chipped away and replaced by false promises and agreements.”

I have lived my life trying to accommodate my innate truth as a gay man, within the confines of my marriage.

This approach has brought me many blessings, a lovely wife, three beautiful children and in my everyday act of embracing security, I have been able to be a father through the crucial years of their lives.

I have been able to experience their love and gratitude for the material benefits which  my work has been able to provide for them,  and through my kindness and love I have been able to provide for their stability and growth and create opportunities for them to thrive.

It is hard to regret my choice to stay in the marriage and do my best, but now in my mid-fifties living in an empty nest, the pull from within to be known for who I am is intense and overwhelming.

Only the greatest love and care at this difficult period of my life will enable me to continue to live my life in the walled-courtyard in which I live my life.

It is difficult to experience that love and care, when my truth continues to be hidden from those whom I need the most to support me, and those who do know my truth either want to contain it and keep it unexpressed, or who try to link my continued anguish to a resolution to be found in prayer and faith.

If my freedom ever does come, it will come at a heavy price because I so wanted to be able to love and cherish my wife, for the whole of my life and I had so much hoped that she would allow me to continue to love her, honour her and care for her until my last breath.

I fear that in losing her. I will lose my freedom to love whilst gaining my freedom to be.

To be or not to be?…………. that is the question. The answer I know not what.

William Defoe 

 

 

When a Choice Hurts

I live my life under a strong belief that I have made a choice in respect of how I live my life, and that the choice I have made is in the very best interests of my own current and longer-term happiness.

This is because, the alternative choice, which I have thus far rejected, would be to leave my marriage and live alone, in the vague expectation that I would find a sustainable relationship as a gay man…. eventually.

Both choices are appealing to me and in some respects the opportunity to fulfill my potential as the person I was born to be is a very appealing prospect.

The difficulty for me, is that I profoundly love my wife, I have an established life with her and with that, comes in-numerous comforts and benefits which I am not in a hurry to lose.

The choice I have made causes me pain. I suffer terribly with the frustration of feeling hidden from the world and despite a wide network of family and friends, I am invisible and isolated.

I have convinced myself that the other choice, which I have thus far rejected, despite its appeal, would leave me at risk of even deeper pain and injury and a sense of loss from which I fear I would not recover.

The worst emotional pain which I experience is when my wife and I are out of balance, when we are questioning each others motives and each others love and whether I am trusted to be a good and faithful husband.

These difficult periods make my choice to remain feel even harder to bear, because layered on top of the management of my complicated self, comes a sense that I am not valued and appreciated for the sacrifice I have chosen to make.

There is a stronger temptation in these moments to flip the coin and announce to her that I can no longer sustain my life within the marriage – the weight of it and the suffering have become to much to bear.

I have come to realise however, that these testing moments are an important indicator of the depths of my love for her. They show me the extraordinary lengths I have been prepared to go to, to keep us safe, in the full knowledge that these periods of unhappiness and uncertainty pass as quickly as they have arrived.

A much better approach to a change of choice, would be to arrive at such a moment when I am not in a cycle of pain and doubt, but when my mind is alert and calm and open to what truly is in the long-term interests of us both.

William Defoe

 

Forced to Dry

Yesterday morning, after alighting from my 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