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Loving Yourself

The price of hating other human beings is loving one's self less.” - anon.

What do you call love, hate, charity, revenge, humanity, magnanimity, forgiveness? Different results of the one master impulse: the necessity of securing one's self-approval.” - Mark Twain

To love one's self is the beginning of a life-long romance.” - Oscar Wilde

Words of caution: This is a fairly introspective and personal entry that I'm choosing to put "out there". If you're not interested or not in the mood for that, then buh-bye! See you tomorrow. I feel emboldened today though; still scared and unsure certainly, but a bit more determined than ever before. One bit at a time.

I've been doing a lot of thinking today. I've been thinking about things like love, and self-image and circumstance and friendship and relationship and all that inter-personal stuff. Actually, I dwell on that kind of thing much more than is healthy, I realize that now. I didn't understand that until fairly recently. I had convinced myself that my life had passed me by. I have lived behind so many masks I have trouble keeping them straight myself. I'm like the little boy sitting all alone on the curb watching the parade go by, and being scared by the clowns.

I related to those of you who have been reading my blog regularly for some time now how I lost what I thought were fairly deep friendships (over 15 years) as a result of me having hypomanic episodes with the bipolarism. They told me they were 'uncomfortable' around me now, because sometimes when I talked I didn't make sense anymore. For me, that was the time I needed friends the most. I tried to revive it, but to no avail. After I got over my initial surprise and shock at their reason, I'm not that saddened anymore---clearly they were never friends in the first place, at least not by my understanding of the concept.

So why is today so much more of an empowering day than others? Because of an individual I don't know and never will. Well, more because of who he is, and what he says about it and how he says it. Before I get to him, though, I have one other thing to say (pardon the tears I'm having right now as I type, but they are tears of joy, not sorrow).

For the greater part of my adolescent and adult life I have consciously, subconsciously, automatically, autonomically and every other -ly way there is lived my life to satisfy the opinions and expectations of others. I have never been able to handle criticism, opposition, or conflict of any kind. The deep and sad irony of that is that I have turned into not only my own worst critic, I have become a person who criticizes others too easily and often without merit. It's as if it was a defence mechanism or something.

Well, no more. I know, I know. Easier said than done. It certainly is. But you know what? The more I say it, the easier it becomes. And that's why I'm emboldened today. I read a blog entry by Dirk Mancuso (Too Disgusting To Contemplate....the link is in my side bar) that really hit home with me. In my humble opinion (and that of a lot of other folks too) Dirk consistently writes one of the wittiest and funniest blogs I've tripped across (well, his and Red's). He is openly gay to the point that it is not even a trivial issue with him. He doesn't wear it as a badge either. Some people are tall, some are fat, some have warts, some are gay. Simple as that.

Today, Dirk was doing his "mailbag Monday" schtick where he answers letters from his loyal flock. I want to include one of the Q&A's here, (hoping that he's ok with me using it...I have given him full credit, right? Well, right??) Anyway, here it is:

Dawgie wants to know:

"Are you one of those gay gays with the poodle and the lisp?"

A poodle, Dawgie? That is sooo 1970s. Gurl, maltese are the new poodle and the exaggerated eye roll is the new lisp. Seriously dude...I get the very strong impression the sign in your town is STEREOTYPE-VILLE - POPULATION: DAWGIE. For the record, no, I do not have a lisp or a limp wrist or a poodle. Nor do I run around in huge sunglasses, thick robes and turbans like some fey Gloria Swanson wannabe. I do not call everyone "Mary," "Sister," "Gurl," or "Girlfriend." And even if I did, so what? People are people, Dawgie. There are femme straight guys and femme gay guys, butch straight girls and butch lesbians. This is not a goddamn cookie cutter universe -- sorry to disappoint. So fucking deal already. But if it will help you sleep at night, I will tell you that I am a jeans and tee sort of guy who holds down a job, pays his taxes, hopes to find someone to spend his life with, and tries every day to do the right thing by everybody. If that makes me gay, then I am the biggest queen this side of the Atlantic. And the other side too.


I don't know about you, but that sure resonated with me, not only in the generic message, but in my case the specific one too. Now, normally I just lurk on his site because he has a very large following of regular commenters, but today I chose to leave this comment in response:

You are a hoot as usual, but the answer I appreciated the most in this posting was your response to Dawgie. Props to ya for that my friend! I hope it inspires more of us to have the same strength and conviction when confronted, because too often we (the hidden) let people like you fight our 'ignorance' battles for us, while the assholes of the world like Dawgie spread the stereotypical crap. Well done!

It's great to see your serious side occasionally too.


Now, please don't get me wrong folks. I enjoy a good faggot joke as much as the next guy --- when it's a joke. We've managed to get so twisted in our knickers with PC that no one can say or do anything anymore without someone somehow somewhere getting offended and making an issue of it. I think it's about time we fought back against PC, but that's a topic for another day. Probaly 95% of racist, sexual, religious and sexist jokes are just that ---- jokes. It's the other 5% that is unacceptable.

I am ashamed now to admit that I have always been one of those people who has sat by in the coffee room and chuckled at the loud mouths who spew this rhetoric and mean it in a vile sense. Hell, I've even told some myself just to cover my tracks and throw the scent off. You see, I've not had the courage to stand up and say what I really want to. I've never given any consideration, as Mark Twain points out in the quote at the beginning, to the concept of self-love. I've always felt there has been no reason for it.

I've been interacting with several of you on a fairly consistent basis since earlier this year. While I've only met one of you in the flesh, and only briefly at that, I truly feel like I've known a lot of you for eons. You've replaced the gap created by pseudo friends, and I've grown from that too. From MarMar, I've learned about the personal strength it takes to fight back from the edge of having a life almost ruined by drug addiction, from Mackey I've learned about family love, from Becky going back to school while she balances raising a family and deals with bipolarity, I've learned about setting goals and always living your dreams, from Red I've learned decency and respect, from Shane I've learned that love can be so strong that it's sometimes worth the chance of uprooting yourself to find out how real it is, from Gordon I've learned the strength of dealing with physical hardships all his life. The list goes on, and please don't feel slighted if I've left you out!!

I think what I've learned the most from all of you, though, is the worthiness of each of us. I suspect a lot of my self putdowns have really simply been attention-getting devices. If I keep saying what a fuck-up I am, then people will tell me "No, you're not", and I'll have the positive strokes I'm seeking. In other words, I've never matured emotionally until recently.

I'll be totally straight with you. It is very difficult for me to type this in spite of the message, and it will be even more difficult to hit the "publish Post" button. But I'm going to. Because of Dirk's inspiration, but mostly for my own self-worth.

I AM GAY.
I AM NOT ASHAMED OF MYSELF.

Deal with it if you need to.

(Mind you, most people already know. It's my lisp and limp wrist that gives me away every flippin' time! Apparently the Doberman doesn't make any difference.)

PEACE.



Being gay is only part of who you are, R, but then again, you already knew that didn't you.

I'm exceedingly happy that you are beginning to realize your worth. Its something that can never be measured, I hope you know that!

I don't pick my friends by their sexual preference.
You are a sweet man that i have had the pleasure of meeting in person & that is what matters to me.

It's so much better that you want to live your life for you, rather than conform to what you perceive as what others want to see from you. If they don't like it, f*ck 'em! They can just be on their idiot way and those of us that respect you for who you are, every inch of that person you are, will always be here for you... any time.

I know it's going to be hard, but you are taking great steps in a perfect direction.

It's amazing to think we can affect someone without knowing it. But in all honesty, I think any inspiration you might have found in my post was really already in you.

Your writing is, as always, intelligent and honest. And brave. And congrats on realizing your self worth isn't based on who you love, but how you live.

Big hug,

Dirk

I've always hated stereotypes, and lumping people together in one big group makes no sense to me. Every individual person is made up of SO many different unique characteristics, it's impossible to judge anyone without getting to know them. I don't care if someone is gay, straight, Christian, Muslim, conservative, liberal, black, white, purple with yellow polka dots, whatever -- it's the PERSON I look at to decide whether or not they're someone I'd like to get to know better.

And in the short time I've "known" you, you've proven that you're an interesting, intelligent, kind, thoughtful person. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us -- I've enjoyed getting to know you better! :)

The Blogosphere seems to tear down so many walls that are otherwise built so high.
My sister is gay & didn't even come to terms with it until about 4 years ago. She'll be 58 next week. She's still not at peace with who shes is & thinks her behavior is an abomination to God. All I want for her is serenity.
I hope this doesn't come across as condescending, but...I'm proud of you for having the balls to be yourself.

I absolutely appreciate and am strengthened by all of you and your comments. I'm thinking that perhaps you missed the point I was trying to make, though! It's not so much being gay (well, yeah it's that too, bigtime) but I was trying to focus on the emerging understanding I'm getting that I have to love myself first for who and what I am, warts and all...and I have never never done that. I've never felt worthy. Bluntly, because of the environment and times I grew up in, I learned to be an entrenched homophobe, so when I peel back the first fragile mask I wear, I have always found myslf to be a disgusting and unworthy person, given what a hypocrite I've been. For me to give up that thinking is to reject my blood family, the epitome of thedefinition of 'conservative' if anyone is! Don't misunderstand. They're not mean or vile about it. It's just that it's a sin, apparently. How do you debate with god, eh?

Obviously, I've always found that impossible to do.

Some things aren't solved with reason and logic. If Mar and Beck can go back to school, I probably could start loving myself a bit, doncha think?!

If you'll allow me to make a special note to Dirk, since after all, he's 'responsible' for this post! LOL! (Geez, I always feel dumb using that LOL thing --- I don't know why).

Anyways Dirk, I was fascinated by your first observation that you never know what you say or do that may influence others. I had lots of occasions during my teaching career when I'd run into a grad a few years later downtown or wherever, and they'd start off the converstaion with something like: "You know, Rick, I will never forget that one class you had when you said blah blah blah whatever. That was the best advice I've ever heard, " or somethingsimilar. And the neat part is that I would have absolutely no idea or recollection of what they were talking about. That always faascinated me. I'm not meaning to toot my horn here (well, yeah, actually I am! I'm damned proud of the job I did when I was teaching!).

The other thing that intimidates me a tad is when you said "Your writing is, as always, intelligent and honest. And brave." To me, that implies that you've been by here occasionally. I'm humbled and appreciate it, certainly, but dammit all man...you're a published (or soon to be published) author! How do I tilt with that??!!

Again, thanks and ((hugs)) back at ch'all. I feels mucho better for some reason today!!! (I'm inventing a nu language 2, didncha no?)

Jane: your note got posted while I was writing this one. I wanted to thank you for your thoughts. Interestingly, I turned 58 just 2 months ago. It must have been something in the water back then! I don't see myself so much an abomination in god's eyes as in my family's eyes. I didn't know if I'd lose them, but for the longest time (most of my life, in fact) I didn't have what it took to take the chance and find out. (I've given up on what I call the 'business religions', but I still have a deep personal sense of spirit).

I guess the deepest hole in my heart is the fear that I'll never know the simple pleasures of making love with someone who loves me back. That's sad, and very very painful.

P.S. word verification: tidoy

The last sentence re: the deep hole in your heart made me feel great sadness.
It makes me regret the times that I bitch about my husband when I know I should be grateful to have the person that I love with all of my heart, by my side.
I wish much love & happiness for you Rick. Don't ever give up.

And we love you, see, so being gay is just a part of who you are, just like being bipolar, or for me, being a mother, being a bit odd. Now if you had come out and said you like to hump turtles, well I might have said, hmmmmmm. But nothing can change what people who truly care about you think. It's the ones who have a problem dealing with your traits, that probly need to have a look at there own. Anyhow, I love you, and I hope you feel "freed" so to speak. Be who you are, and be proud of who you are! Because YOU are a wonderful person.

Ks: Who the hell told you about the turtles?!! That was supposed to be kept secret.

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  • I'm Evydense
  • From Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • And I'm tired of living in the shadow of narrow-mindedness and ignorance. So here's the fax, Jack! "The Bible contains six admonishments to homosexuals and three hundred and sixty-two admonishments to heterosexuals. That doesn't mean that God doesn't love heterosexuals. It's just that they need more supervision." - Lynne Lavner*** I'm confused; curious; satisfied; realistically resigned to being a frustrated idealist; usually at peace with myself, but not always. Amazed at how little I know, and wondering how much I need to understand.
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