Tag Archives: Integral Coaching

Held Upright by Water

On my recent holiday, the water in the shower came out at such a speed and force that if I directed the jets to my chest, I experienced a sensation of being physically held upright by the water.

It was quite a surprising and a wonderful sensation of support, quite intimate as I stood still and upright in my naked and vulnerable state.

The pressure of the water, holding me up, seemed to give my mind some space to be with itself as my body experienced an exhilaration of the sheer volume and intensity of the torrent.

I have long understood that physical support, such as eye contact or a hug or a voice of clarity, have provided my mind with an opportunity to develop and deepen its capacity to think more rationally and calmly about the mental challenges I face living as a gay man in a heterosexual life.

So often, I have experienced feelings of isolation, frustration and emotional pain and distress, and at these times my mind has not had the capacity or strength to rescue me from the inner turmoil of my soul.

The inner critic has at these time acted like some kind of foe, rather than the gentle and loving and kind spirit which has held me by its own strength and resolve for all these years.

Turning off the water, whilst leaning in, I jerked forward and saved myself with my hand against the cubicle wall.

Saved from falling by the instruction from my brain, to my arm to hold me up as the outside support is cut off.

Knowing of course that I would not deliberately allow myself to fall, none of us would, but learning too that support is there in the wide world all the time as a continuous call to our existence, if only we can identify and utilize its all-giving power.

 William Defoe

Just Below The Surface

It has always been my intention to remain in my marriage despite knowing that I am gay, and telling my wife in 2012, after many years of holding it all to myself for many years.

Recently, I began to sense that my anguish in recent years has been connected to a fear of not being able to sustain my choice to be married, and a determination to really focus on what I risk losing should I walk away from it.

After a period of turmoil and confusion in 2018, when I tried to make social connections with the gay community, I lost my wife’s trust in me which has not been fully restored.

Occasionally, her feelings of anguish, at the consequences on her of my behaviour at that time, push through to the surface so that they are visible and raw. These times make me feel like I will never be able to re-wind the clock to a time when I enjoyed her respect for being gay and loving her, and her trust for being loyal to her.

In these summer weeks, I have experienced a period in which I felt that my efforts to repair the past have being fruitful. I felt a greater element of security and a reduced sense of anxiety around my fears that I risk losing something that I could never regain.

And then, the bubble burst at a rogue remark about me by a friend on a zoom call, during lock-down, opened up the fissure and all the recent good feeling seems to have ebbed away.

My wife has referred twice in recent days to how my actions have hurt her, and when I see that hurt, it seems to make all my attempts to repair and heal seem worthless.

Her commenting on my behaviour, unravels my own attempts to leave the past behind and it causes me intense emotional pain which feels like hopelessness and fatigue dragging me down and away from all my good intentions.

The reality of our situation is exposed for what it actually is, and that is all hovering just below the surface, like a thin crumbling crust on a festering pie.

William Defoe

 

 

Holding onto the Enormity of Being Me

A few weeks ago, near the start of the coronavirus lock down, here in the UK, I suffered some kind of mental trauma which resulted in me calling out for support, to those,whom I have in a small circle to help me.

In the depth of my feelings of isolation and despair and longing, I experienced a level of despair and real fear that I cannot ever recall experiencing in all the years I have held the truth of my gay sexuality alone.

In recent weeks, I have been generally calm and I have become very conscious of how I have managed to hold onto the enormity of being me, quite alone for this period of time.

I am not some kind of special case, but like others who are vulnerable and live a hidden life, the heavy load can feel overwhelming at times, and when it emerges into a space of anguish and fear, it touches on making life almost too hard to bear living.

Our complex minds are capable of so much, but I know that my own mind, depends on the rhythm of my physical body, to keep itself aligned and safe. When the two are out of sync, the body revolts and in my case, I suffer a rash or itchiness and fatigue which calls out for the soothing balm of pure water and oils to refresh and cleanse.

So it is no surprise that the mind too calls out for the soothing balm of sleep, of peace and beauty as seen in the natural world around us and in the elements, particularly its reaction to the warm sun on my skin.

I know that I am, like you, gifted and precious and that my life would ultimately be meaningless if I did not learn to love all aspects of holding onto the enormity of being me. 

William Defoe

Buttercrambe

Yesterday I had a drive out to the coast with my wife.

The sun was shining and the sky was blue and the fields were green, and the very trees begged to be noticed.

The quaint names of the villages as we drove through them provoked a deep awakening of summer glory, none more so than the name of Buttercrambe.

I exalt in the feeling deep in my soul, to recall the feelings of my childhood, when summer held for me a time of freedom,  a time of contentment, a time of happiness.

Those days seem very distant from my soul, and the simple pleasures of being a young boy seemed to be expressed in Buttercrambe, recalled in Buttercrambe and longed for in Buttercrambe.

I struggle to find a balance in my soul for an awakening of what it is like to be me, and the drive through Buttercrambe seemed to push me on, not just to the glory of the coast, but to a space to think, a space to rest, a space to watch and listen to the deep longings of my soul for peace.

At the coast, I gloried in the sunshine on my skin, rubbing in the oils to protect and nurture it from the burning rays which caressed my aging body and the grey hairs on my head.

I want so much to find within me the healing which would come from being able to be happy, like a young boy, like Buttercrambe, like the feeling I get from the sun on my skin.

I live a complicated life, at worst indecisive, at best courageous, loyal and true to those whom I love before all else, and at a great personal cost.

Perhaps, I hear them say, more often than I like to hear, that my reward will be in heaven – well maybe, but oh what I would give to be happy , just like you know… just like still wondering… just like I felt as I left Buttercrambe behind.

William Defoe

Uncut Hair

In recent years, I have visited a local salon on a four-weekly basis to keep my hair cut short.

In these times of lock-down I have not had an opportunity to have it cut, and it has grown to such an extent that the top of my head looks healthy with a wavy head of hair which is dark grey on the top of my head and light grey around the edges and at the back.

My wife made me laugh when she said it looked great, and that she actually preferred the longer style on me, however, she also told me that I looked like a badger!.

I have made it my mission to leave my hair uncut until the salon opens. I have overcome the temptation to acquire a set of clippers and cut it myself, so that my hair will be a physical representation of the restriction under which we are living in the days of the coronavirus.

To select a longer style, in stark contrast to my preference, is a challenging discipline to endure. To choose a longer style, in direct conflict to my preference for much shorter hair is an opportunity to harness my capacity to be different in the world.

To display a thick and colourful grey head of hair opens up an opportunity for me to be expansive, to tolerate the intolerable, to embrace the opposing ideals and ideas which are constantly raging within my soul.

Choices are difficult, because they inevitably forgo the alternative, and my choice to be married whilst innately being gay is a constant challenge which has seemed to get heavier with increasing age.

Exercises which help me to grow my mind and my spirit, help me to see the good I am trying to do, despite my own difficulties which causes me great suffering, I am able to see the wider intention to keep the promise which I made to my wife all those years ago.

Displaying one way, and longing for another has been the undulating rhythm of my life and now my uncut hair has for me become a physical representation of all that I have tried to be.

William Defoe

 

Union Jack

To mark the 75th anniversary of V.E. Day (Victory In Europe) which was celebrated in the UK on Friday 8th May 2020, I attached a new and vivid Union Jack flag to the front of my stone built barbecue in my garden.

It is held down by stones and in the unseasonably warm weather which we had over this Bank Holiday weekend, it stayed fixed in place as a mark of patriotism and gratitude to the men and women who died in World War 2 and to those who served and lived throughout those dark years which I was not born into.

Today, the weather is cooler and I noticed a light and blustery breeze lifting the flag and wafting it up into the air, occasionally landing back straight where I had placed it, but oft times pushing it back to land on the grill of the barbecue.

It seems to me that the flag needed a weight to hold it down, but perhaps it is best left to flutter and feel the force of the elements and be free to display its sharp and vivid colours of red, white and blue.

The fluttering flag in the breeze and the freedom which it signifies, from tyranny yes, but I am thinking more about the freedom to be blown about in the tumultuous air, made me ponder on my emotional life, which in any case I often do.

I seem to strive for a state of mind and a resolve which is fixed, and I feel disappointed when periods of calm seem to come to an end as abruptly as they started. Once again I am in a vortex of inner strife and fear which renders me with feelings of hurt, feelings of fear and a sense of failure for being so changeable in my mood.

Perhaps the flag, which I contemplated weighting down to suppress its glorious freedom, is a similar response to my emotional journey.

I think to myself, as I write to you in this post, that “Is it so bad after all to be carried into the air by the elements, to be flipped and turned and dropped back to the original starting point, only to be carried high on another wave of the breeze a few moments later?

To weigh myself down, to avoid the range of feelings and the sense of hopelessness in my feelings of anxiousness and occasional despair are parts of me which are as valid and true as those feelings I have when I am calm and content.

A drug might suppress them, or a permanent change in the direction of my life might have an impact to suppress the longings of my heart, but to numb the pain would be to deny myself the capacity to connect with the very essence of being me, and being me is the best I can ever hope to be.

William Defoe

 

 

Normality in the Midst of Turmoil

It is strange to me how sometimes there are moments of normality in the midst of turmoil.

Days will be spent in periods of silence following an explosion between us of anger and frustration.

We will avoid physical or sexual contact between us and yet, share information calmly about the lives of family members as they emerge on social media.

These moments are interspersed with occasional hand-holding or an act of generosity or kindness.

It is as if neither of us really wants to ultimately make a decision to end our marriage.

It is clear to me that the social distancing and isolation has thrown into sharp relief the ongoing power struggle between us which is destructive and painful and profoundly damaging to our health and well-being.

Both of us have been unwell, and feel unwell and know that this battle to control or to resist being controlled is wearing out our hearts.

If only the normal moments in the midst if this turmoil could be sustained.

If only we could declare our love for each other once again.

If only we could learn to forgive each other.

If only the trust could be restored once  more.

These longings occasionally win through into periods of normality, but for these to be sustained, we both of us will need to reach back into our stored treasures of intimacy and life, if we are ever going to feel safe and secure and loved by each other again.

William Defoe 

Easter On-line

I have been accessing the Easter services on-line this year.

The technology is amazing and the effort which priests have placed into their preparation for a voice-less response to their words has been fascinating to see.

I have felt at times, as if I have been going through the motions of it – sitting through the services so that I can say to myself that I have done so, but lacking inwardly the feelings of faith and experience which I would normally expect to feel at his time of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection.

My wife told me that the local bishop had asked the on-line faithful, to stand, kneel and sit at the appropriate times, to join in the responses – I just said to her that I would not do that.

Last night, as I watched the Easter Vigil with my arm around my wife, who sat with me, I felt stirred inside to join in the sung responses, and I connected with something deep in my own history when I heard my voice fluently, and quite beautifully (if i may say so) singing the Latin responses.

I felt connected back to my childhood as a young choir boy when boys rehearsed mid-week and attended in significant numbers the Sunday services.

I am a legacy to that time, my voice has maintained its rich quality, albeit as a tenor, rather than a soprano I hasten to add.

The feeling of connection was a passing moment, but it was enough to stir something deep inside me of the importance I place in all this religion stuff, which surprises me when I think about how overwhelmed I am by the inner turmoil and conflict which I suffer daily.

My faith is not a comfort to me, forgive me if this offends you, but it is integral to me, it cannot be separated or abandoned, and I think I understand now that regardless of my future path, this aspect of me will continue to prevail.

Easter blessings to you all, regardless of faith or none, we all belong to one human family in our diverse and different forms.

William Defoe

 

I’ve Peaked

Late in 2018, I missed out on the job I wanted due to some sloppy delivery, in some aspects of my interview.

It was an internal process and so I went out of my way to hide the hurt and to protect those whom needed my assurance that there was no hard feelings.

I think I carry a wound, as we all do, when we miss out on our ambitions, particularly when it would seem that I missed an open goal – it was mine for the taking and I fluffed it.

In the intervening period, I have worked hard to support the person who came into the organisation to be my manager.  She is good, I have no qualms at all with her professional qualities and her fears that I would be difficult evaporated immediately which she has kindly acknowledged.

Yesterday on the bank holiday, I worked for a few hours in the morning and I decided I would do so again on Monday. An opportunity to get things straight in my head without any interruptions whilst my team are on leave.

There is nothing unique in this approach, with someone holding the responsibilities I do and the generous salary and benefits which comes with it.

However, as I left my office, to go downstairs to join my wife for the late starting bank holiday weekend, my head warm with the mental exertion of the issues I had resolved, I was met with an onslaught of anger and frustration at my lack of commitment to her needs.

Jobs need doing in the house which have not been done, the lock-down is driving her crazy and I am not around to support her.

In her view, I am a failure because I need to work when others do not, I am not appreciated, I would be replaced in a flash if I died of coronavirus, and I am scared of my boss – and to boot all this has happened to me before remember!.

I held my head in my hands, to stop it falling off my neck, and I went into the garden to jet-wash the patio. The physicality of the action, and the warm outdoor air soothed my anguish and the repetitive strokes calmed my blood – (my response was my coaching in action).

When I got to bed last night, I felt unwell, my heart racing and my mind in turmoil as I tried to grapple with the question of whether I have a future in my marriage.

I know in professional terms, my career has peaked, I am unlikely to progress further, not because of my abilities, but because of the emotional wounds which I carry on top of the weight of the suppression of my gay truth.

I’ve peaked, but I do not have to slide, I’ve peaked and from this high place I should take the benefits from the visible horizon and pick out a path which will bring me peace.

William Defoe 

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