Sunday, October 12, 2014

Getting Engaged in Life

I keep hearing that I am not engaged or not engaged enough.

I hear that at work and at home and I know it is true.

But I have reached my limit of engagement.

You see there is this life that keeps calling me that I am not leading and that life would pull me away from the life I have.

I don't have to explain it to you.  You know what I am getting at.

But it's been clear for a long time now that I am as engaged in the life I lead as I can be and when I try to get more engaged - I just can't.

My psyche or intuition or being or whatever it is refuses to get any more engaged.

My pysche demands balance.  Balance in all areas of my life.  It won't allow me to be happy as long as I am ignoring one big area of my life.

I have tried to fight my psyche many times but I know from experience my psyche will outlast my will to overcome it.

Now the fight is mostly out of me and I will go one or two rounds with my psyche and give up in defeat. 

I know I am hurting my chances in the the life I chose but getting more engaged in the life I chose puts more distance between me and the life that keeps calling and my psyche refuses to let that happen and punishes me.

So my not being engaged is not a dismissal of the life I chose but rather a way of mitigating conflict that my psyche stirs inside me.

My disengagement is about making the perception of balance where there is none.  Of letting go of the everyday stress and not adequately dealing with the everyday problems in order to trick my psyche into staying quiet.

My disengagement is about fooling my psyche into believing that I am really not distancing myself from the life that keeps calling me - I am just holding myself back - I am on pause.

As long as I trick my psyche to think I am only on pause, my psyche stays quiet and I can continue in the life I chose albeit not very effectively.

I guess I have found one of my limits.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Living A More Authentic Life

About three years ago I realized my eating habits and lack of exercise had not only made me unhealthy but was also threatening to shorten my life.

At the time I was 56 or 57 years old, taking six to eight different medications for diabetes and high cholesterol, using a c-pap at night because I had sleep apnea, was almost 100 pounds heavier than I had been in my 40's, couldn't walk up a flight of stairs without wheezing, my left leg was numb and I had lost most of the hair on my legs due to circulation problems.

Now I was being told that I also had high blood pressure.

Having three health issues - diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure - made me realize for the first time that I might not live as long as my Dad who lived to be 94.

My father had had all the same health issues but not until much, much later in life.

Whereas, being unhealthy had been the price I had been willing to pay to stay monogamous to my wife, I had not bargained on my actions shortening my life.

But first let me backtrack a minute.

One of the stupidest things I have ever done in my life was to decide to gain weight in order to make myself unattractive.  The thinking was that staying monogamous/gay-celibate was so difficult that I had to do something drastic to keep from acting on my gay feelings -and- the only thing I could think of was to make myself so unappealing that I would be rejected if I were to try to act on my gay feelings.

I gained about 60 pounds in a couple of months before I found myself sufficiently repugnant but I then had trouble putting on the brakes and gained another 40 pounds before my weight stabilized.

I felt so awful about myself  I didn't even venture the thought that another man might find me  attractive.   Mission accomplished.

Still I was surprised my wife said almost nothing about my sudden dramatic weight gain.

Fast forward several years.  I have arrived at a fork in the road - it's no longer about staying monogamous/gay-celibate - it's about shortening or prolonging my life.

I decide to prolong my life and deal with the monogamy/gay-celibacy issue some other way.

I struggle at first but then I am given the best advice I have ever been given.  Someone tells me not to worry about losing weight but instead to focus on getting healthy.

So I turn to the Internet to find out what I need to do to get healthy and amazingly it turns out there is a tremendous lot that a person can do to get healthier (if they are still not seriously sick) and most of those things are fairly easy to do.

And just about everything I did to get healthy helped me to lose weight - but in a smart way.

So it took several months but after several months I was 85 pounds lighter, in good physical shape and continuing to get in better and better shape, totally off my meds, no longer suffering from sleep apnea, the leg numbness almost gone and the hair grew back on my legs.

But I want to reiterate - it took me several months -   I never dieted and I tried not to lose more than 1 or 2 pounds a week.

Actually, the hardest part about getting healthier was NOT losing too much weight too quickly. 

Fortunately, my genetics are such that I didn't end up with stretch marks or loose skin like so many people, especially older people, that lose a great deal of weight -but- I think it helped that I did try to lose the weight slowly enough that I gave my body time to recover.

So I am in great shape now.  In fact, I am in better shape now at 60 then when I was in my 40's. 

Having dealt with my physical health issues, I am now turning my attention to my emotional health issues.

And I find myself floundering with my emotional health issues just like I found myself floundering with my physical health issues at first.

But I know this - I need to live a more authentic life - regardless, of what I end up doing the result must be a more authentic life if I ever want to become more emotionally healthy.

I will be blogging on "Living a More Authentic Life " later.


Friday, December 6, 2013

Celebrities coming out....

Today I read an article about 13 celebrities rumored to be gay that afterwards came out.

As I read the article in the Huffington Post and the comments accompanying it, I was thinking of the what had happened earlier that day.

My Department had had a Team Builder and then, instead of going back to work, I stopped at a local bookstore close to the restaurant we had had lunch at.

I love looking at books especially literature and especially gay literature so I went searching for the gay section and, when I finally found it, spotted a young man, probably a teenager, nervously looking around while scanning what I assumed to be a gay book.

I changed direction.  I figured it had probably taken that kid a lot to work up the courage to do what he was doing and I didn't want my presence unnerving him.

That kid was on my mind while I read about the 13 celebrities rumored to be gay that came out afterwards.

And I had mixed feelings.  On one hand, I was glad that gay kids today get to read about celebrities coming out because, when I was a kid, I didn't know a single out gay person; celebrity or non-celebrity.  On the other hand, it saddens me that gay kids still have to work up the courage to take that first step.  That first step that usually often involves something so simple as opening a gay book at a local bookstore but carries so much emotion because it is so life changing.

I thought about Tom Cruise and Queen Latifah and all the other still rumored ones.  But what about the rest of us - the non-celebrities?  If we all came out, wouldn't the hinges be blown right off the closet door?  And wouldn't this latest generation be the last to have to muster up the courage to step out of the darkness that is the closet.

I feel that we aren't doing enough.  I know it will get better for them if they make it through those first tough years but I want it to get better for gay teens now.

We should have a Team Builder to make this a better world for gay kids.  What can we do?

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sitting here waiting to get laid off....

My company recently announced that 8% of the workforce would be laid off.

That was shortly followed by my department announcing a 5% reduction in force.

This is about my sixth round of layoffs with this company.

But for some reason this time it is different.  This time I feel my luck has finally run out.

I have no way of knowing but something in my gut tells me I will be sent packing.

It's been two weeks since the announcements and the pink slips will probably be going out soon.

Understandably these last two weeks I have been dealing with a lot of emotions and I find myself for once not wanting to talk about how I feel.

But still in the midst of all the fear there is also excitement.

If I get laid off, will I harness that excitement to search for a job that I really want?

Something I have been wanting for a long time.  Something totally different from what I do today.

Or will the fear of being "60 and unemployed" paralyze me? 

Will I tell myself that a new career at my age is just a joke and to be realistic; that at my age I will be lucky to just get another job in the field I am already in?

This waiting is torture...

Monday, November 12, 2012

Ironies of ironies...

When I was in seventh grade, I used to hang out with a bunch of nerds.

I was a nerd.

Back then we weren't called nerds, this was before the Fonz and Happy Days, we were just the uncool kids.

During recess my nerd friends and I would hang out at the library doing our homework instead of hanging out doing whatever it was the cool kids did.

I remember one friend saying something derogatory about Jewish people.  My sister had married a Jewish guy and my four nieces were Jewish so I felt compelled to say something.

I forget what I said but since he look different I raised the question of his own ethnicity.

He proudly said "I am a Hebrew".

I, knowing next to nothing about Judiasm, knew enough that a Hebrew was a Jew and told him so.

He balked but in nerd-style fashion referred to the Webster dictionary.

I watched his face fall as he read the definition of Hebrew and he was very silent after that.

I don't remember this nerd's name but that is who I was thinking of the day of my brother's funeral.

My brother was always different from the rest of us.

I guess I never questioned it because we were all so different but even with all our diversity he was an outlier.

Unlike my younger brothers, he didn't have freckles or green eyes or wavy hair or tan lines.

Unlike my sister, he was not white.

Unlike me, his hair was nappy, his skin very dark.

I remember sitting at the funeral home, my brother's ashes in an urn sitting on what appeared to be an altar and my brothers' wife and son and granddaughters eulogizing him.

But what I remember most was my brother's wife asking later that afternoon when we were alone if he was a Negro.

I remember saying "I don't know" and leaving it at that.

In that instance I remembered all the unkind things I had said to him over the years about black people and being glad that I had kept my unkind thoughts to a minimum.

But most of all I remember thinking about that nerd guy in seventh grade reading the Webster dictionary and realizing for the first time that his own unkind words could be used against him.

And I was silent for a very long time.

How could I have not known?

My brother was a half brother.  And the whiteness of my half sister blinded me to the darkness of my brother.

After all how could he be black if they were full siblings and she was so white.

But then she does have what she calls crazy hair.

I had seen pictures of their father.

There was no denying that they were his.

It was also undeniable that their father was white.

And my mother was white so where does that leave us?

This is were it gets really complicated.

You see I am Puerto Rican and there are a lot of white Puerto Ricans that if you look one or two generations back you realize are not so white.

They look white but aren't.

What I am trying to say is that my brother's father was white but my brother's mother, my mother,  was not so white.

I know this because I met my mother's father, my grandfather, and he was not so white.

I guess after a generation or two, it is easy to forget the grandmother or grandfather that was not so white.

It's what happens when you focus on the white side while ignoring the black.

And after a couple of generations that can be done without anyone being the wiser.

My sister has two grandsons, my grandnephews, with red hair and blue eyes.

My grandnephews are Mormon and Republican and listen to Beck and think Beck is a God (egads!).

They hate, hate Obama.

They have no idea.

Ironic, isn't it?

My brother always seemed so guarded. Was this why?

Maybe some day I will ask their grandmother; my sister with the crazy hair.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Cereal bars

The last couple of weeks I have been measuring my frustration by the number of cereal bars I eat.

I usually eat a cereal bar every morning before heading out to the gym.
But lately I have been going through an entire week's supply in a couple of days.

Sometimes I wonder if my wife is happy only when I am not being true to myself.

She says things like "you are a gay man but you are married."

She use to say things like "you are either gay or married."

Which is to say that in some 30 years she has gone from gay is a choice to being married for a gay man should be no different than it is for a straight man.

I don't know if she believes this out of ignorance or because she is in denial or because she has to believe this or lose all hope.

I wish the drip, drip, drip of frustration was not eroding my soul like it does.

Which leads to where I am at now - I am tired.  I would like a day without frustration.

I am also out of patience and when I get impatient I start feeling sorry for myself.

So now I am mixing pity with frustration which leads to even more cereal bars.

And at a $1 a bar this is getting expensive.


P.S.  Clif bars were my favorite for a long while but recently Luna Bars have beene making a comeback.  Yum.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Dealing with someone else's depression

Recently an acquaintance has been suffering from a severe bout of depression.

I kept trying to think of what to say or do but I could never figure out anything.

One day he was having a particularly rough time so I gave him a hug.

It caught both of us by surprise and was probably not a smart thing to do since we really don't know each other that well but I gave him a hug because I was missing the 'old' him.

Yesterday he told me that that hug was the best thing I could have done because it reassured him that I was not considering abandoning our friendship.

I had no idea he was worried about our friendship; much less thinking the friendship might end.

I now realize that was the depression talking and that by giving him a hug I addressed one of his fears in the affirmative without even realizing it.

I think what helps the most with severe depression is just letting the person know that you are not going anywhere and avoiding giving advise because the advise just comes across as crticism of the person for feeling the way he does or pressure to get over it.

Sounds lame I know but I am trying to see it from the depressed person's point of view and, if I were depressed, that's what I would want done.