Tag Archives: Integral Coaching

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

 

 

Advertisements

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

Evening Stroll

At the very start of the coaching experience, which I began with a very wonderful human being at the start of 2013, I was directed by her to the story of The Ugly Duckling, by Danish author, Hans Christian Andersen.

The obvious purpose of her direction for me to this work of literary art, was the need to find within me, the exiled parts of myself which I could not love.

Last night, after eating my evening meal in the garden (a rare occurrence for people who live in the North of England), I had a sudden urge to go for a walk.

My wife joined, me as we set off along the local canal which was simply beautiful in the evening sunshine, and the scene spoke to my heart of what an English summer means to me.

The water lilies, and the grass peeping through the water, the canal sides stocked with moored barges, and foliage of green and summer flowers of blue and yellows and pinks and mauve were a scene of exquisite beauty which warmed my heart.

I felt alive, and even hopeful which in a strange way illuminated the deep sadness with which I have been imbued for some considerable time.

Oh joy, to see on our way back, two of the Queen’s swans (Her Majesty owns them all!) dappling on the water, and settled in the midst of them, four adult size cygnets, fluffy grey – four ugly ducklings, which in a very short time will emerge into brilliant white feathers of snowy white down.

These cygnets, called to me of the start of my journey to know and love self, and for a time that belief seemed to take a hold of me, until sometime last year, the strain of having to manage my identify privately and suppressed began once more to overwhelm me.

My evening stroll stirred my heart and it reminded me that I must learn once more to love myself, to recognise the glorious and exciting transition which will surely come to me, if I can find the capacity and the courage to be who I was born to be.

William Defoe

Problems of the Heart

Last week, following my morning run, I suffered a severe episode of heart palpitations and dizziness.

After abandoning my run for the third time in recent weeks, following the same problem, I got changed and went to my desk to start my day of work.

This time, I continued to feel unwell and being brought to the attention of a colleague, I was “removed” and taken by ambulance to hospital where I underwent tests on my heart for a few days.

The problems of my heart, which have hitherto being emotional, have now taken on an aspect of physicality, namely an atrial tachycardia which is an arrhythmia  – an irregular heartbeat with a rapid beat.

These problems of my heart can be managed by medication, but the underlying strain under which I live my emotional life are less easily resolved.

Those who have witnessed the events of my life over the last few days have been quick to diagnose for me an over burdened heart deriving from the pressure of work and family responsibilities.

I have not corrected their error, perhaps my workload has played a part, but for me the truth is crystal clear, my heart is torn, my heart is longing for truth, my heart is full and now the time has come for me to find rest.

I am acutely aware that the underlying strain on my heart, is the continued suppression of my identity, and yet to succumb to the demands of my heart, would I fear, create within my life a fissure, from which my heart would be at an even greater risk.

Time, I think for me to learn to manage my intense feelings by directing my energies and passions into something creative or academic whilst finding time each day to be at rest, to be still, to be at peace.

William Defoe

 

 

A Green Light at the End of a Promontory

A green light at the end of a promontory on the Costa Del Sol drew in my eye and my interest.

Alone it stood in the darkness and from where I was seated it appeared to be floating above the ocean.

As I walked nearer to the edge of a rocky jetty, I noticed that the green light was fixed to a tall pole at the end of a rocky sea-break on the entrance to the harbour in Fuengirola.

A warning or a guide, perhaps both, a light to bear the watercraft safely to sea and back again to the marina.

Where are the green lights in my life which keep me from the rocky shores of disillusionment and fear?

I am guided by the deep waters of my expansive mind…….like the sea oft times turbulent and at risk of being overcome by the swell of my longings and emotions for what I cannot have.

My green light is situated on its own promontory, but it has become a beacon to illuminate my understanding and my intellect, rather than a  light casting a shadow across my mind which stops me from exploring and reveling in the deepest longings of soul.

I am safe in the presence of my green light, even when my mind is a haze and I cannot see the pole on which it sits.

I sense the pole, I sense the rocks, I can contemplate the widen open spaces of the open-sea and take refuge in the safety of my harbour which will never be prevailed upon to let me down.

William Defoe 

Being Spiritual

Earlier today, I endured a sermon from a priest which articulated why, in his opinion, the spiritual sections of bookstores made him feel angry.

The books in this section, had in the main nothing to do with being spiritual but rather more to do with a modern pre-occupation with self, more narcissism than God.

I understand his frustration and I agree with him, that for believers in God, a key element of prayer and reflection surely must be to sense that we are in the presence of God.

I am a deep believer in God, a practising cradle to grave (I anticipate the latter) Roman Catholic.

I however, have gained enormously from the spiritualism of self.

I have done all I can, to consciously  keep God out of it as I have tried to re-integrate the exiled parts of myself which as far as my experience can tell, my church had no wish to acknowledge.

I believe that I have been made in the image and likeness of Christ. 

My experience has been than some parts of me, are not an acceptable image and likeness of Christ and so I undertook to suppress my obvious homosexuality to ensure my survival in the family and community to which I belong.

I have come to realise that this intention to suppress my truth was my own doing and that to those people in my family and community to whom I have told my truth (including several priests) I have been  received with warmth and love.

The books on my bookshelf of the non-God spiritual kind have saved me from the inner pain of rejection, guilt and deep conflict.

These books have calmed my inward storm.

They have helped me to present to the world as one no longer angry and resentful, but happily comfortable in the knowledge that my sexuality is an integral part of me.

And therefore an integral part of my own display on this earth of my being as an image and likeness of Christ.

Deo Gratias!

William Defoe