Let's just eliminate all the bullshit, shall we?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sobriety, Sanity, & Serenity

What a long, strange trip it's been.

A year ago today, I planned to end my life.

I was so completely exhausted from pain,
circumstances, despair, depression, and
hopelessness that I could not even imagine
a way out. I saw death as the only possible
release for my suffering.

Drugs, alcohol, materialism...all the things I
had used to dull and ignore my pain had ceased
being effective. I felt trapped and burned out.
I felt unloved, unlovable, and worthless.

And then someone showed me they cared,
by giving a little of their time and compassion.

Such a simple thing, the thought of our
being attentive to another human being's needs.
But what a difference it can make.

In my isolation and loneliness, I needed to
have a very real indicator of someone being
interested in whether I lived or died. Sadly,
I was at a place where self-care was no longer
in place.

Through the programs of Alcoholics Anonymous,
Al-Anon, and Narcotics Anonymous, I found
people who understood my issues, my pains,
my fears. I found some people willing to talk,
willing to listen, and who didn't judge.

There have been many conflicts in the last 365,
both in and out of my association with these
groups, but that very conflict often sparked the
changes I needed to go through to find my true
strength and true voice.

I have been growing and changing...rebirthing.
Sometimes messy, often loud, mostly painful.
But it was worthwhile to work my way through
the train wreck of my life and find that I can
be a part of the world.

To know that I am worthy and blessed.

To experience contentment and peace.

To know how to reasonably interact with
others without expecting or demanding.

To be accepting of where others are at,
and the choices they have made.

To put and keep the focus on me, and
(paradoxically) then having something to
offer others.

It isn't easy. Nothing worth doing ever is.
But being clean and sober has allowed me
to learn and discover and think and feel.
Frightening as it has been, I am grateful
for every moment. The 'good,' the 'bad,'
and the 'in between.'

It's all a tapestry. I'm not finished...hell,
I'm barely started. But after all these stops
and starts....I'm ready to move forward.

I'm grateful to the Universe--whatever
it wishes to be called--for providing the
people, places, circumstances, and tools
to bring me right where I need to be.

Thank you.

We are none of us alone.
Let me remember that anytime, anywhere....
I am responsible for my brothers and
sisters on this planet. I hope that I will
recognize and meet the need in others like
I was blessed with outreach.

The ability to take charge of our life
is within all of us. Take action...ask for
what you need. Leave yourself open to
the possibility that things can change.

"Though no one can go back and make
a brand new start, ANYONE can start from
now and make a brand new end."

There is hope.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Sometimes, we feel we know something so well, we
actually forget to take it into account! Familiarity
breeds oversight.

I am a selfish bastard. Not that most of us could
not utter this true-ism equally, but that is not the
focus. My focus--as a sick and selfish person--
has to be (ironically enough,) me. I can't worry about
the world when the problem I can change lies in me.

Selfishness in-and-of-itself is not a bad thing. In
fact, we would not be alive if not for selfishness;
survival instincts, competitiveness, self-interest
are all healthy skills that we either possess or
develop or manufacture in this lifetime. Or pay
the price.

But anything to the extreme is harmful, and
this is no exception.

I have avoided thinking of myself as selfish
because I was miserable and depressed; "How
could I be selfish if I have nothing to show for it?"
was my crazy lament.

But being obsessed to the point of distraction with
my own problems (both real and imagined,)
dramas, feelings, hurts, etc. is not less selfish
just because I am focused on negativity! I am
focused on--and bringing about--despair at the
expense of anyone else's feelings. I have been
oblivious to the reality that everyone has their own
fair share of difficulties. The world doesn't slow down
for them; why would it do so for me?

I could postulate that other people's illusions of health
and facades of happiness are so strong and convincing,
that there was no way for me to understand that they
were in pain, too.

I could whine on about how all my hardships
have jaded me, made me insensitive.

I could do a lot of things to deflect responsibility
and accountability. But for once, I won't.

I freely admit to the world that I have been
an insensitive, selfish asshole...and there is no
excuse for it.

(That being said, I will not continue to flog
myself endlessly for it. It is an admission of
guilt; not an acceptance of a badge of shame.
I want to understand this so I can move on
past it. As much as is humanly possible, I do
not want to ever again be responsible for
harming another person.)

Here's what I do understand about some
of the more questionable aspects of my

* I want what I want when I want it; then,
when I get it, I want to play games.

* Once I know someone has a vulnerability or
a weak spot, I seek to exploit it. Usually when
it is most effective.

* Instead of being real when I am scared and
in need, I lash out and posture, hurting the one(s)
who have actually endured getting close to me.

* I can play compassionate, but when the
opportunity comes to get 'revenge' for hurts I
have been caused, I take it.

* I just have to have everybody know how
insightful I am, how 'smart' I am, how bold I am;
never mind tact, kindness, or diplomacy.

* Feeling close to someone is the scariest thing
in the world for me. Starting to truly trust a person
sends me into Loony Tunes territory. Anger, jealousy,
distrust, bitterness and more stem from fear.

* When I have a problem in one area bothering me,
I tend to let it affect my emotions in other unrelated
areas. (Always in a bad way, naturally.)

* I build up and store my hurt, instead of coping all
along. This way, the fight that eventually breaks out
will be off the charts, instead of a small, healthy release.

* I can't solve my own problems, but all of yours
would go away in a heartbeat if you would just
follow my advice. You might as well take it; I'm not
using it!

* I'm so wrapped up in me, me, me and what I need/
am not getting/want/can't have....that I forget there
are other people in the world. I certainly forget that
they have needs and feelings, too.


The thing is, all of these things can be changed.
I am hopeful that this week's clarity will serve to
stick and motivate me to maintain a new attitude.
I am hopeful. I truly do not want to be the cause of
pain for another person in my life. If I can't help,
at least let me refrain from making things worse.

My view of how things 'should' be and what 'needs'
to happen is not necessarily right. There's room for
everyone's ideas at the table. I know this in my head,
but when ego takes over in the specifics of circumstances,
I lose track.

I am not the only one frustrated by finances, relationships,
job, love matters, self-worth, purpose, friends, emotions,
health, anniversaries, or other matters of head and heart.
I am not the center of THE Universe just because I am
the center of MY Universe.

I only hope that the impetus for my eye-opening isn't
too great a cost. I cannot undo my actions, but I pray that
some day I may make amends. Choosing to live differently
may be my only option. That starts today.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Census Sucks









Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day...another perspective

This week I met a lady who lost her 99 year-old mother just a week ago.
This woman was fairly peaceful about the death of her Mom since the 99
year-old had seen a long and productive life, and had actually been ready
to leave. But it was still a great blow, and she was saddened by being without
her mom. She was not looking forward to today, and being alone.

If the spirit moves you, and you have the time...
remember today that in addition to the women in our lives who have been
mothers and surrogate mothers and substitute moms (who are always deserving
of our respect and appreciation!) there are those among us who have lost that
primary person and are suffering a little more today.

A phone call, an e-mail, a visit to let those folks know they are in your heart
could be a wonderful thing......whether or not they want to discuss their Moms
or just chat.

Most people I know at this point have either lost a Mom (or both parents)... or they
are dealing with a sick mother. (Or are separated by emotional conflict.)
So try and see past your own situation...realize that there are others going through
trials also. Not everyone is spending the day with a beloved family member.
Not everyone is fortunate enough to still have a mom that is with them. (And the big,
happy, laughing group outings that we may witness may not be representative of
a truly loving family, either. But what if it is? Would we really deny others blessings and
happiness just because of our despair?)

If your mother is still alive, make the effort to reconcile. If you miss a departed mom,
think back on what was (hopefully) a blessing of her existence. And take a moment
to be considerate of others who are hurting today and don't have the strength to
look beyond. We are not in this alone.....

Much love, Robert

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Ingredients for "Real Men" part 2

The ability to see into the inner workings of the male
psyche and figure what makes it work is complicated.
Men don't like to talk about feelings, share their personal
problems, or show interest in other guys as a rule.

There is so much fear of being considered to be a
'lesser' man, which for all intents and purposes is the
same as to be perceived as homosexual...it is truly the
'worst' thing that can happen in most men's minds.
That's sad on so many levels.

One of the reasons guys talk so much shit is to cover up
true emotions. If you watch, playful derogatory talk is
almost a shorthand for affection. It's the male equivalent
of a supportive hand on the shoulder and an expression of
concern. It is far more comfortable than the real thing.

Some things like this I fully understand. I even understand
the whole homophobia thing, since I too participated in
cruelty against gay people when I was closeted and feared
anyone knowing. I am ashamed to say that I was so worried
about protecting myself from such prejudice that I engaged
in it myself. So I do understand how those who don't want to
be persecuted could be tempted to find a target.

But men generally fear any action, attribute, wording, look,
or fill-in-the-blank that will create a question of their 'real'

For my purposes I'll confine masculinity as to
the ideal of being tough, capable, powerful, and stoic. So any
showing of dependence, emotion, 'failure,' difficulties, shame,
being shown up, or lacking knowledge is trouble.

This breeds a common male bonding pattern that can be either
healthy or risky, depending on the healthiness of the people
involved; competitiveness.

Healthy competition between true friends can be a motivator
as both parties try and rival one another in accomplishments
and standing, both propping each other up and spurring on
simultaneously. But feeling the need to 'keep up with the Jones'
is a dangerous drive for many men.

Men are surprisingly like women in their desire and need to be
valued and noticed. We strive for attention and strokes, though
we would never admit it or outwardly show it. But men get their
validation and identity (for ill or good) through the envy, fear,
respect, love, and finances that are bestowed upon them. This is
how we tend to evaluate our worth and purpose. Take any of
these things away, and...

A man's reputation and name used to mean something. Still does
in some corners, for some folks. But men, with all the pressures
to perform and provide (usually for more than just themselves)
are also very capable of taking shortcuts to coming out on top, and
justifying the means with the end.

Since the idea of emotion, vulnerability, pain, etc are equated
with weakness, there is then the demand to keep such real
feelings under wraps. Since 'everybody else' id doing it, the next
guy mimics them to fit in and not wear his heart on his sleeve,
and the pattern continues.

If no one is willing to take down their mask, how do we know
what each other look like underneath? How will we know that
the fears and insecurities we suffer from--and think are so
unique or crazy--are actually common?

So many ills of this world could be alleviated by simple
improvements in communication.

Are we to learn how to act as men by osmosis?
Are we supposed to use the analytical method;
Observe, Discern, and then Implement...hoping we figured
correctly and can hash it out?

Whatever happened to mentors and community leaders?
To ask for help now seems the quickest way to be
ridiculed and flogged. And it's a tricky mess; some of us are
in a bad way, but a handout isn't the answer. I may not
make it without help, but I'm not sure I want to make it if
'help' is someone else doing it for me or swooping in to save
the day. People have to survive pride intact.

What's the parable about teaching a man to fish rather
than just giving it to him?

I have turned to many men to ask for help in getting
a perspective on this. Asked for time to talk and ask
questions and share ideas. Only rarely has the request been
met; typically it seems to be an unsettling request and they
stammer and make excuses, never looking at me the same

I do have 2 people I can occasionally get to share ideas or
exchange info with me, but the times they are up to doing it
are few and far between, and it happens according to their
emotional timing, generally not my need. It feels like "We've
met the unspoken quota until next time!" and there's a
threshold met.

It is better than nothing, but it's limited, confusing,
guarded, infrequent, and doesn't carry over into our other
dealings; like a secret pact that is ignored as soon as it is
through being discussed.

I 'get' that most people don't like talking directly about
emotions, life, and other intense topics. I don't understand it,
but I have figured it out. And we wonder why folks sit and
fume and bottle up their craziness until it ends up exploding
from the pressure of not being relieved.

I wish I could count one person that I could call to share
honestly with who would not react by excusing themselves from
the call, judging me, laughing at me, interrupting me, or
avoiding me after the revelation.

Maybe I ask too much. Overly demanding and having unrealistic
expectations are 2 of my issues, to be sure. Others say these
are matters for a spiritual/personal pursuit. But after 25 years
of searching and attempting everything under the sun, I don't
feel any closer to an answer of any kind.

Maybe that's an answer of its own.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Ingredients of a "Real Man"

Most people feel like they are the only ones not in on the joke,
from what I read and hear. Most folks feel like their insides
just don't match up to other people's outsides.

But if everyone feels this way, shouldn't we all feel secure in
knowing that everyone is insecure? Would that it were that

I've been thinking lately how disconnected I feel from not just
life in general (at times,) but from other men in particular.
If you don't have a role model, there are some things you can't
learn from a book.

Now, there are all different kinds of people that you can be, and
I am working on being understanding--or at least accepting--of
all those types that differ from me. (Or from which I differ,
depending on your P.O.V., I guess!)

Right there is a stigma...the stereotype there is a singular type
of ideal of appropriate masculine behavior, and anyone that
deviates from it is 'less than.' Even in the age of Metrosexuality,
these old school notions of what makes a 'Real Man' hold fast.

I didn't have an appropriate acting father growing up; he was a
raging, inconsistent, cruel, crazy person. (I have learned that he,
too, was simply doing the best he knew how--scary as that seems--
since he had no guides, either. But that's a longtime journey to let
go of blame. I bring it up here only for a point of reference for my

I also didn't have many or any friends throughout childhood to
help learn social skills. That has remained the case throughout my
life, but I feel there's significance to those early lessons learned.

I have often thought that the perfect mentor or friend would be
a guy (my age or older) who could help crack the code....to expose
me to the secrets I have missed out on. Explain to me how you act
in certain situations, and so on. Now, I'm not talking about altering
personality or interests....simply learning basic life skills.

But as I plod along, I am slowly recognizing that maybe we're all just
sort of playing it by ear. Acting like we know what we're doing and
making it look really good. The problem is, I am not adept at faking it,
pretending, lying, manipulating, bluffing, or the rest. I have definitely
participated in all these things, but I'm no good at it. And I don't want
to be.

I have embarked on a mission to make Truth my goal and my essence.
Truth, whether pleasant for me or not. Truth also at the expense of
others' comfort levels (although tact is sometimes required for the
message to be better received.)

There have been attempts to bring men together, sure. Some more
formal attempts such as Promise Keepers or other religious focuses
have the same xenophobic zeal that the KKK or Republican Party
do, for my tastes. Any time you start assuming your own sovereignty
based on your affiliation or beliefs, it's a scary thing.

(Same is true of any organized format--lodge members, fraternity
brothers, etc); it all starts to degenerate into group think and peer
pressure. Individuality is lost in the fervent push to be 'same.'
Pretty much everything starts to become exclusionary and static as
a central focus becomes apparent.

Other common bonding tools for men (hunting, fishing, working out)
don't appeal to me since I have no interest in those matters to begin
with. I'm not mechanically inclined, don't have an interest in sports,
no longer drink and carouse, and don't know cars.

(I should point out that none of these things are strictly a result
of my sexuality. Plenty of gay guys are 'typical' dudes with all the
football parties, car talk, etc., while many heterosexual guys are
into arts and film, are intellectual, etc. People are a s diversified as
we can imagine.)

I had some luck with learning about men in self-help groups and
recovery groups, but it is very slow going, and spread out so that the
idea of progress seems doomed. If there were a more intensified or
regular occurrence of such things, maybe....

to be continued.....