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 

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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

 

 

It Was My Time To Speak

To say that 2018 has been a difficult year for me and my wife would not be understating the intense drama which has played out between us over the last few months.

My determination to socialise my gay sexuality by visiting places where gay men and women meet has had a devastating effect on my wife whom I love.

Whilst on holiday at the end of August, I tried to use poetry and writing to broaden my wife’s understanding of the  methods I was using to explore and experience my truth whilst being faithful sexually to the vows I had made to her over thirty years ago.

My efforts to explain in aesthetic terms resulted in a deep confusion and frustration in my wife, who wanted direct answers to direct questions which I was not prepared to give her at that time.

It might seem strange, but despite feeling that my place in the marriage was untenable, I was fighting my own wave of counter-intuition by resolving within me that it would be foolish to leave my marriage.

One evening, I followed my wife to our room where she had gone to change for the evening and I discovered her almost slumped on the balcony in much distress. I sat in the apartment on the bed listening to her cry, and I resolved the it was my time to speak.

I went out to her and put my arm around her and words started to come out of my mouth with such clarity and honesty that I was surprised myself at my capacity to find the words I spoke to her.

For ten minutes I articulated my feelings for my own sex, their origins in my life as a boy of no more than twelve years old, and how I had lived my life, unacknowledged, hidden from my truth, hidden from meaningful acknowledgement of who I am from those whom I need to love me.

This life, suppressed has devastated my emotional life and frustrated my physical and sexual life to a point now which is untenable.

Despite these feelings, I want to remain in the marriage, but for that to happen I told her I need her to love me, to hold me, to understand and acknowledge my deep inner conflict and pain.

I was able to tell her in those few minutes that I had indeed being visiting gay bars in recent months and that in the main, I had stood at the bar alone, but importantly I had been seen by direct eye contact with other gay men and I felt seen and true in those places in a way that had alluded me all my life.

After speaking, we washed and dressed and left our apartment hand in hand to enjoy our evening meal and a few drinks and the busy bustling atmosphere of the Greek resort.

I had spoken at last, and my wife had heard me.

My next blog will be: An Exchange of Letters

William Defoe

The Woman in a Dress of The Wind

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending a traditional Greek Dancing Night whilst on holiday on the beautiful Greek Island of Zakynthos.

In advance of the professional dancers coming out and enthralling the audience with their wonderful strength and talent and passion, my eye was drawn to a woman who was dancing in a most beautiful dress which seemed to me to contain the wind.

Its long length of golden fabric, which was cut straight, almost in the style of a loose fitting night shirt came to rest above her ankles.

Her feet moved perfectly in step with the group that she appeared to be leading, her face alight with the delight of moving, with the delight of the music and the song, with the delight of being in this, her present moment.

The light breeze found access to her dress, from the cut of it’s low back and it seemed to swoon in the pleasure of adorning this beautiful woman, and yet I don’t think she herself was aware of how lovely she looked, as I sat and watched her from my seat with a deep admiration and respect.

For me, this woman of middle-age, beautiful, assured, happy in the moment exuded outwardly what it means to be alive and to be alert to being joyful.

Even the elements which consumed her dress wanted to have some part in her delight.

I, sat in my seat, carrying my emotional wound, which responds to joy and sadness as if they were the same thing,  was mesmerized and profoundly grateful to this woman with the wind in her dress because her movement and her beauty and her joy warmed my heart and soothed my hidden hurting depths.

My next blog will be: It Was My Time To Speak

William Defoe