Monday, July 30, 2012

Hate, Anger and Regret will consume you.

I was thinking about anger, hate and regrets the other day and how those three things are the formula for revenge.  Revenge is all about getting back at someone for hurting you, or having done something to you. The pitfalls of revenge can be found in literary classics like "Moby Dick" and other such important works.  The end results are usually the same, a person becomes embroiled and totally consumed by the intense drive and need to execute their revenge.  Revenge is pointless, you cannot change the past, and in most cases more hurt is inflicted upon yourself then the person you target.  In my blog entry entitled "So What, Who Cares, Get Over it and Move on" I talk about grudges, and revenge is a grudge that has grown out of control and has become an obsession.

It is impossible for anyone to tell you how to change your course, all we can do is try to warn you of the danger you are in. When you blame someone else for something that has happened to you and you forget that it took two of you to be involved in the situation, and that both of you are to blame for what happened. How can you ever get past it?  The important thing is to accept responsibility for your role in the situation, come to terms with the fact that both of you made terrible choices, and the end result is that you got hurt.  Plot, planning, devising ways to embarrass, punish and victimize the person that hurt you makes you know better than that person.  Possibly it makes you worse, because you have taken the time to plan it out, worked hard to execute the plan, and probably tried to get others to side with you against the other person in the process.

I warn you that if you take this path you are going to have to deal with, and live with the consequences of your choices and your actions.  Remember that karma is a harsh mistress and she gives back what you dish out, and when she does it is 10 times worse than what you gave to the other person.  When you become obsessed with hurting another person and become so intent on exacting your revenge, you are going to destroy your credibility with others, you are going to put all of your friendships and relationships in jeopardy.  In the end you are going to end up alone and full of despair.  After all is said and done and your revenge has taken place there is going to be nothing left inside of you, you have used up all your hatred and anger and an empty hole remains where there once was pain.  Pain is good like I have said before, it lets you know you are alive, and it teaches us how to react in situations and protects us from making the same or similar choices over again.

If you feel nothing but emptiness, what do you think is going to fill the void?  Do you think it is going to be love? Understanding?  No, it is going to be an all consuming and overwhelming sense of despair, guilt and depression.  Then when you look back at all the energy and time that you have wasted, and trust me you are going to see that it was a total waste.  You are going to see that it was fruitless, and the joy that you thought you were going to feel watching the other person pay and squirm is going to feel so unrewarding, and by then it is too late.  Nothing you can do will take back the actions you have taken.  Once you are on that path, how could you possibly feel anything whatsoever?

In most cases the hurt that you experienced at another's hands was probably accidental, not even planned.  Even if the pain was because they were talking about you behind your back and lying to everyone around you, accusing you of things you hadn't done.  You really need to look at your past actions and see if what they are reacting to, isn't somehow a direct result of something you might have done or said, and what they were doing was to get back at you.  See revenge is a nasty two edge sword, and no matter if you started it or reacted to it, it still wounds both you and the person it was intended for.  What if once you have searched within yourself and it wasn't brought about by something you have done, take into consideration who it was that was talking about you, maybe you will find that they are jealous of you, or envy you for some reason, or maybe they are just a bitter lonely person who can't stand to see you happy because they aren't.

Understand that I am not saying what they did wasn't wrong, and that your feelings of hurt and betrayal aren't justified, but take it in stride and with a grain of salt.  Remember, who said it or did it and if you can't figure out why they did it, I suggest you confront them privately and try to find out. More than likely they are going to deny that they did it, and if that happens you have to determine if they are actually telling the truth and if you can really trust the source from which your information came from.  Because often times we get caught up in the "He Said, She Said" bull crap, and eventually find out that we have been played from the start.  It is always best to go to the source and confront them and figure out what actually happened or was said.  You may find out that they are innocent, or you may find out that they did do it, and what got back to you was taken out of context and made to hurt you, and when you find out what was really said or done, you could find out that it was all a big misunderstanding.

Now, if something has happened and it is immensely damaging and hurtful, you must evaluate the person, their motives, and intentions.  Try to figure out what their agenda is.  Because I promise you that there are so many people out there that are claiming to be your friends and saying that they care about you, and behind your back they are tearing you apart, undermining everything you are trying to accomplish, and talking about you like you are a dog.  These are the types of people that I call "Frienemies", they are all around us, they are opportunist, and they are just trying to get you for whatever they can, and it doesn't matter to them how badly you get hurt.  To them you are just an end to the means.  If you don't get rid of them from your life they are going to continue to use you till there is nothing left and continue to hurt you.

It is easier to give into the pain and hatred, let the anger build and go after these people, but trust me when I tell you revenge and vengeance isn't any good.  Have faith that they are going to get what is coming to them, and they are going to be hurt far worse than you could ever do to them, by their own actions.  They are going to find out that they have no real friends and everyone is going to eventually find out what type of person they are and before you know it they are going to be hurting and you didn't have to lift a figure to do anything because they have done it to themselves.

Have pity on them that have hurt you and used you, that have spoken about you and lied on you, because they are so unhappy with their lives, and so insecure with there own standing that they try destroy yours.  But, guess what you are better than them.  You are going to be stronger then them, and you are going to be blessed far greater than them.  So please learn to forgive them for what they have done, understand the type of person they truly are, and let them go.  They are not worth you feeling guilty and miserable over.  Always keep in the front of your mind how they treated you and what they did to you, so you don't let them do it to you again, also by keeping that fresh in your mind you are going to be aware and ready for the next person that tries to play you and run game on you.  Because you know what how they act and operate.  So as the saying goes, "Forgive but never forget what they have done".  

While you are soul searching to find out why they did what they did, and all that.  Honestly take a good hard look at how you judge a person's character, because you may find out just like I did that you are a bad judge of character and your choice of friends leaves a lot to be desired. Learn to be observant, and as I have suggested before come at each encounter with a new person as an open book, be honest with them, don't hide behind your masks, develop a true friendship, test it if you have too, and when you figure out that they are just a player and are trying to run game on you drop them. Because in the long run they are just going to walk all over you, get as much out of you as they can and leave. It is just that simple, they honestly don't care, and because of that they have the most power in your relationship, because you are the one that cares you are the one that is going to get hurt.  My friend once sent me a picture that I wanted to post on here that summed up nicely what I was trying to say but I couldn't find it.  So I am going to do my best to tell you from my memory.  The picture said something like this "When someone in your life is taking more withdrawals then deposits, you will soon find that your account is out of balance, and you are negative, know when to close the account."  Like I was saying above, if someone is taking from you more than they are giving your, they are using you, they are not a true friend. Any type of friendship/relationship is supposed to be a partnership a 50/50 breakdown, the two of you should be benefiting each other in some way.  Because if that isn't happening then it really isn't a friendship at all.  If you continue to let it happen to you, I can guarantee that hard feelings and animosity are going to build up.  There is a very thin line between like and dislike and before you know it you are going to be in dislike.  I don't use the word hate, because I don't think I have ever found anyone that I disliked so much that I actually hated them.  But there are quite a few people out there that have played me and hurt me and I dislike what they did.  Now, I cannot fault them entirely because I know that I had my own part to play in the situation, but taking advantage of someone that is trying to help you is wrong no matter how you look at it.  It maybe a bit late and after the fact but those people will never get to play me again, because I now know about their agenda, and no matter how hard they will try to convince me otherwise, I know that they don't care about me.

Be wise as you pick your friends, try and hone your skills at being a good judge of character, protect yourself against the players and haters in the world.  Make sure you put your interest and goals in front of everyone else's because they aren't going to put yours first.  Above all else let go of the hate, anger and regret you feel, don't let it consume you and put you on the path of revenge.  Continue to be true to yourself and love everyone like you do.  Forgive them that have hurt you and move on, cutting them from your life and letting them figure out how they are going to work someone else because you are through.  Keep in mind my motto "So What, Who Cares, Get Over It and Move On" because in the grand scheme of life, they are just a little bump in the road, and when all is said and done they aren't going to be answering for you at Judgement, it is just going to be you alone.

As always my hopes and dreams are with you,

Uncle B

Sunday, July 29, 2012

You need to adjust and lower your expectations

The last four entries have been dealing with relationships and dealing with the problems that might come up in them. Which I included families and how they form the basis of a support network. I want to round out the series with discussing expectations.  For it seems to me that rigidity and flawed expectations seem to be a cause of our own inability to adjust to what life and relationships throw at us.  I have stressed that in order for relationships to be successful and long lasting it needs to be based on  trust, communication, friendship, open mindedness and the flexibility to adjust to change.  Keep in mind that when two people come together, they have their own ideas, habits and customs that they are used to.  By adjusting and lowering your expectations can make living with another person so much easier.

What I am trying to say here is that if you have preset or preconceived notions about how a relationship should be like, there is nothing but disappointment and pain in your future.  You may find someone that you care about but how long will it last when you are constantly fighting, criticizing, and nitpicking your partner.  Another thing you need to think about is your happiness and that of your partner. If you both set your goals so high that they are unattainable and have expectations that are unreasonable, I don't see how you two are possibly going to get anywhere and you are going to start to have regrets and before you know it you are going to be going at each other trying to assign whose to blame for failing to reach your common goals.

I believe that each relationship has to have reachable and realistic goals in order for contentment and happiness to be attained and maintained.  I also maintain that if you have inflexible and rigid expectations you are never going to be satisfied with anything that you have or will gain, it is further going to push your goals into the realm of unreachable.  It is important to understand that your expectations on a situation, affect the way you plan and reach for your goals.  Often you have a preconceived notion that you base your feelings on and when a person doesn't live up to those expectations, you come down hard on that person. Your expectations are how you perceive something, it is the mental guide on which you judge everything.  When your expectations are set so high, and you have an idea of how things should go, and they don't go that way, your reaction is going to be one of disappointment and anger.

We all go into a relationship with a preconceived notion of how it should be.  When things don't live up to those expectation, the disappointment grows, and if your partner continues to fail to live up to your expectation, you start building resentments, and before you know it every little thing starts to irritate you.  Your relationship becomes unstable and forward movement toward your mutual goals grinds to a halt.  If you don't address it quickly and efficiently the everyday becomes routine and mundane, lethargy sets in and depression.  The next thing you know you two are fighting all the time and the relationship crashes in a bitter and dreadful manner with feelings getting hurt on both sides.

In the entry I wrote about handling problems I stressed over and over again that you need to keep an open mind about things, you need to be flexible, adaptable and willing to change.  You must be adventurous and willing to explore new options.  It is important that your expectations be realistic so that you can set reasonable and achievable goals.  I guess in a way I am trying to say that your goals and expectations must be aligned inside the relationship and without. You need to work together and accept each other for who you are.  How can you say that you love someone in one breathe and then in the next try to change them, into what you think they should be.  Because if you think about it, if the person does end up changing then they are not the person you were in love with any longer and in all actuality everything will have to change.  Expectations can be brutal things that can tear a relationship apart.

Have you ever felt that for every one step forward, you take five steps back?  If so that means that your expectations and goals are unrealistic and might actually be impossible to attain. You must adjust them accordingly before you finally give in to depression and throw in the towel.  If you are a person that continually compares where you are at and who you are with to your past you are going to find that neither the place or the person live up to what you think they should. Memories are things that we polish up and idolize, and nobody can compete with a memory, so you constantly find yourself disappointed.  No relationship can possibly withstand constant comparison to the past, further no goal can be reached if you keep living in the past and not moving forward.

I believe you that you need to take each person that you have a relationship with on their own merits. I do realize how hard it is to keep from comparing them to your exes, but if you continue to do it, your current partner is going to get the impression that you aren't over your ex and start to feel insecure, and if that happens there is no way possible for them to live up to the ideal that you have in your mind of the perfect companion.  I think you may also find after several failed relationships that what you had once thought of as the ideal relationship doesn't actually exist at all.  That you have been fooling yourself, and pushing people away from you because of your constant comparisons to your past, and because you are so set in your ways that you can't share your life with another person.  I also think that your current partner is going to begin to feel a certain way about themselves and you. They are going to begin to feel that nothing they do is good enough for you, and that you just want more and more.  They begin to feel stress and anxiety about this because they are doing their best and apparently in your eyes it is not enough.

Any goal that you are trying to reach is going to be always just out of reach because you haven't learned how to appreciate what you have. If you don't learn how to be content with where you are at in life and appreciate what you have achieved then how can you truly be happy, and if you aren't happy with yourself how can you be happy with anyone else.  All because of your preconceived notions and expectations you are going to drive yourself and others crazy, and before you know it you are going to be all alone wondering what you did.

I hope you understand that all I am trying to tell you that we each have certain expectations and ideas about how things should be done, and if we don't adjust our way of thinking we are going to continue to drive others away from us.  Any goal we might possibly achieve is going to be disappointing and we are never going to be happy with what we have accomplished because in our minds we haven't ever achieved the place or thing that we truly wanted.  You must let go of the past to move on to the future, you cannot have a successful relationship if you continually compare them to your ex, and you are never going to be able to keep anyone with you if your expectations are so high that they couldn't possibly live up to them.

I hope you can understand how I have been trying to relate how expectations and goals are tied together, and how one can damage the other, and how when not dealt with together can result in constant disappointment and loneliness.

As always my hopes and dreams are with you,

Uncle B

Family can get a little confusing but learn to love and accept them they will be there for you when you need them

Despite how confusing and dysfunctional your family may seem to you, be assured that there are other families out there that make yours look like a walk in the park.  It doesn't matter if your parents are still together or if they have divorced and remarried or whatever.  Anyone in your family is just that family. They will be there for you when you are going through things, they are a support network. The only people that are going to be there for you when the chips are down and your back is to the wall.  I am writing this because so often in life we distance ourselves from our families, loose touch, aren't as open and communicative as we can be.  I want you to understand that no matter what your family has your back they are going to be there for you when everyone else has taken advantage of you and abandoned you.  Sure they may be harsh, condescending and stubborn, they may be an argumentative bunch, seem to be indifferent, but let me tell you when something happens to you, they rally around you and are there for you in whatever way they can.  That is what families do.  As I have pointed out in several blog entries, you cannot depend on anyone else out there in the world to have your best interests at heart and have your back, with the exception of family.  Now this is the first time I have brought up the subject of family, so I am going to describe to you my family and how it is a normal every day dysfunctional family unit, but how we pull together and help those that are in trouble.

My parents have been married to each other and divorced three times.  At first my family consisted of my brother and myself, and about 3 years ago my father met a very nice woman and they are living together, now even though they are not married, my brother and I have been accepted into her family.  Which adds a whole new mix of relatives into the fray.  Which is fine because I haven't met any of her family that hasn't been kind, warm and generous and accepted us with open arms into the family.   As most of you are aware back in March my colon ruptured in 2 places and I was put into the hospital for almost a month, and 19 days of that time I was in intensive care because my blood pressure wouldn't stabilize.  Now I can tell you that the recovery process has been long and involved.  Nancy and my dad were right there lending their support, and help when and where I needed.  Nancy's family has been also part of the support network, and that sure beats having to try and doing it all on my own.  I am guessing if I had to try and recover on my own from what happened I wouldn't have made it.  There were a lot of problems and complications and I needed help giving iv antibiotics, changing dressings and bandages, the whole nine yards.

With the addition of a sister and brother to the family, it also brought their children as well. So now there are new nieces and nephews in the fray as well. I look at these as people I can get to know and hang out with and do things with.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with opening up and trying to get to know the new extended family because as I have said they are going to be there for you when you need them most.

Now, whether you have multiple sets of grandparents, parents, brother, sisters, cousins or nephews, etc you should count yourself lucky.  Often times we find ourselves alone and lonely.  With family around you will always have something to do. Places to go and unfortunately work to do as well.  But embrace the fact that you are blessed and be happy that your parents have finally met others that make them happy.  Do everything you can to fit in and be patient.  Take the time to get to know them.  You know that you will be glad that you did and feel like it was all worth the effort.  The only thing I caution you is to keep your beliefs and preferences to yourself. Don't force someone to believe or think the way you do, don't push your lifestyle or choices off on them.  Just enjoy their company and the time spent with them.

Like I always stress be honest with them, talk to them about yourself. They may not have grown up with you, or live with you currently.  But don't try to hide anything from them either because it is eventually going to come back on you.  Trust me when I say you cannot have to much family standing behind you. Celebrate and rejoice the fact that they are in your life and cherish the time that you have together, even if you don't agree on each and everything. Learn to compromise and be understanding of their choices and preferences.  If you have a certain preference and they don't share it don't try to force it on them. Because it will back fire.  An example of this my nephew was on talking with some girls and these two guys on their kept hitting on him, and he made a statement to me that he was putting that he was only interested in girls on his profile, he didn't want me to think badly of him because I was gay, and apparently he didn't want me to think that he was putting up there because of me.

I told him it was alright for him to do that. Because I don't think it was right for those guys to push themselves at him and try to coerce him into doing something that he wasn't comfortable with.  I don't believe that anyone person should push what they believe or do on anyone period.  I also took it as a little heads up that because he knew that I was gay he was trying to tell me subtly that he wasn't interested in me because he was only interested in woman. Now to be honest with you I until he had brought it up by making his statement, I hadn't even considered him in a sexual way, and I actually still don't.  I pointed out that I was old enough to be his father, and though I don't mind hanging and chilling with him, I wasn't looking for a child to raise.  I wanted someone more my age and style.  He did point out that him and I have a lot of common interests, and I think that is great and I think that a strong friendship will come out of it.

Plus, another benefit for anyone that has been reading my blog since the beginning. You all know that there are times when I feel lonely and alone, because I have no one to do things with or hang out with. I look at this as an opportunity to have some fun with someone else, a good friend who wouldn't mind doing some of the same things I am interested in. My father and step mother don't like the same kind of movies I like so it will be good to have someone who does to go with me to see them.  In my opinion it is a great thing. I am kind of happy he moved down from Ohio, because up until this point I pretty much hangout in my bedroom and occasionally  hangout with my parents but normally I am by myself.

The whole point I am trying to make here, is that parents aren't perfect, relationship's aren't always perfect and there isn't a really decent handbook out there that addresses every conceivable type of situation that a relationship might face and have to overcome.  So when a new family comes in with a new relationship, embrace it, accept it, and above all explore everything about it. Get to know one another and before you know it you are going to have a strong and lasting support network, no matter what happens to you in your life.

As always my hopes and dreams are with you,

Uncle B

Word Wounds May Never Fully Heal

A friend of mine called me tonight and we talked for quite awhile and during the conversation something was said about my ex saying something about me to his ex.  Now you know how things go, especially in the gay community with the "He said, She said bullshit" and I should probably blow this off.  However, what was said touched a raw nerve in me and the words cut into me very deeply.  Now, I have been trying to work things out between my ex and I , and I know that this thing that was said was done while we were not together, but it totally wasn't true, and if my ex really cared about me and knew my history he would never have made such a statement.  Cher said it best "Words are like weapons they wound sometimes!" and that is a true statement.

When you are wounded by words, your faith is shaken, your trust in people is warped and you feel altogether vulnerable.  Even if you defend yourself against what was said there are going to be some people that are going to give credence to what has been said about you because of your objections.  See, I learned from a really smart woman that if you disagree, you give credence to the allocations against you.  In her last interview Jacqueline Kennedy Onasis was asked about all the biographies that have been written about her, and the apparent discrepancies about her life.  Her reply was this "Why should I defend myself, I was there and only I know what truly happened, and if I voiced out and disagreed with them, some of the people would think that I had something to hide and defend upon, but if I keep quiet only those who were with me and I alone will know the truth and that is enough for me."

Very wise words from a very wise woman, see given her experiences and suffering that she went through she realized that by denying and putting up a defense against what was leveled at her and her life would just make people have a doubt about her.  But, by keeping quiet she took her secrets to her grave and the truth of her life unvarnished in the eyes of the public.  It is my hope that I can be as strong and wise as her.  Because you see words can cut, slice, shred and tear at ones heart and soul, and even time and distance only causes the hurt to scab over.  At sometime in the future a word or series of words will bust that wound wide open again.

Some of the time words that are said are said as weapons, filled with anger and hurt themselves and I think that is what gives them the power.  At other times, even a casual word between two friends can be taken the wrong way and cause pain.  Yet, another way is when something is told to another person behind your back and it was never intended to get back to you.  Either the person making the statement never thought you would hear it or they were trying to impress someone else at your expense, or worse yet, they were using you to manipulate a certain situation to gain favor.  Whatever the case may be the truth of the matter is that words do hurt and wound not only the heart, but the mind, body and soul as well.  Word can be cruel and bitter, they can do a great deal of damage, but the reverse is also true, a well timed kind word can build another person up and make them feel so good about themselves.

Please think about the words you carelessly throw out, because words have power and can be used to destroy or fortify a person depending on the way they are used. Take into account the source of the where they are coming from, and whether they are said out of anger or of love.  As I pointed out earlier if the words are full of anger and hurt, they are going to wound you deepest, but you must remember that they were said in the heat of the moment, and when things calm down they may be quickly taken back by the person who said them.  However, you must keep in mind that you may have said some things in return that were just as spiteful and hurtful as they said to you, and "I'm Sorry" only goes so far, and if used too many times, has no power at all.

If we repeatedly endure the same types of words, filled with anger, hate, and spite, telling someone you are sorry afterward, the person is going to stop accepting them, stop believing them, and become immune to them.  If you are truly sorry after everything has been said and done, and you have learned something about yourself and truly are sorry and seeking forgiveness, you are going to have to show them you are sorry, you are going to have to prove to them that you have changed and that you aren't going to abuse them with your words anymore.  This is a long, long process, and as I said before may never fully heal.  Now everyone fights, and gets angry, they lash out and say things they don't mean in the heat of a fight or argument, and that was what I was talking about when I said that you have to take into account where those words are stemming from, you have to remember the situation, because both of you may both regret the things that were said and the healing process will be that much quicker and smoother if that is the case.  But, no matter if what you are not the only victim here, in a battle of words and wit neither of you are the winner, you are both the looser's, and the victims, because both of you have said things and done things to hurt one another. The only way to reconcile is if you both are sorry and regretful of what was said.

Don't casually throw the word I am sorry around, because the more you use it the harder it is to convince others of their sincerity.  You may end up causing more damage with a half-hearted apology, and might never be able to reconcile things with them again.  When you care about someone and you have heard that they are talking about you behind your back, spreading lies, rumors or whatever the case maybe, again I ask you to consider the source, and if that person is reliable, you should go directly  to the person that supposedly said the things about you, confront them, but come at them in a caring and concerned manner.  Don't come in hostile and upset because you are only going to isolate and alienate them and automatically they are going to be on the defensive.  Take the time to cool down, let the hurt subside a little and bring it up in casual conversation at some later date, when you know your temper isn't going to flare.  If you come across this way you most likely will avoid causing a fight and making the situation worse.  No one ever likes to hear that someone has been talking about them, and that they things being said are totally untrue and fabricated.  They hurt, and you are wounded and you want to find out right away why they have said what they have, but trust me if you take the time to think about what was said and divorce your emotions from it, you can come at it without causing a fight and hurting each other more.

I started writing this because I heard from my friend that my Ex-boyfriend told his boyfriend that I had intentionally tried to give them Hepatitis C. Now, I had called my ex, to tell him that I was diagnosed with the virus because we had been having sex for several months together and I was concerned I might have passed it on to him.  Now, I haven't been sleeping with my friend or his ex so there was no way I could have given it to them.  So what could have possibly made my ex tell his ex that stuff, and then it dawned on me that either he thought that I may have given him a tainted needle or shared one with them, or worse yet, that my ex had been sleeping with his ex and that could have passed it on.  However, after starting to write this entry, I started thinking about the situation more closely and I figured out what the problem was and which of the two scenarios mentioned above it could have possibly have been.  Now, mind you I had tried to call my ex and talk to him, and sent him an email asking him to contact me because I was told something that needed to be cleared up.  But, now that I have been writing this and my emotions over the situation are gone and I know why what was said was.  It all makes sense and I am going to spell it out for you here. I have no shame and nothing to hide, so forgive me as I tell what I do know and why I was slandered in the way that I was.  Sometimes a person will say something to someone else in an attempt to save face, and cast blame on another person to throw off suspicion.  I honestly believe this is what was attempted here.

Mark which is my friend Gavin's ex, and Bobby which is my ex have been partying together, and apparently have had sex.  Even though both Greg and I have been told that it never happened, but the stories don't add up, and at this point it doesn't matter because we were all single at the time, however both Greg and I were trying to get back together with Mark and Bobby, so I am not sure how this revelation is going to affect Gavin and Mark, but I am going to let this go.  I love Bobby and I want to spend my time with him and I want to get to know the real Bobby, so in order to do that I am going to have to chalk this little rumor up to the game and then rest it. Because it isn't worth me getting worked up about or ruining any chance I may have of working things out with Bobby.  See anyone who knows me at all would know that I would never intentionally give anyone anything, because that is one of my biggest fears and concerns.  Further, I would never intentionally share a syringe with anyone trying to make them ill. I would sterilize it and clean it if there were no other options, as I have always done, I used to clean and sterilize my own before use because of what happened too me.

So now, that I opened the can of worms I am going to explain to you how I know what I know and figured out this little situation. First, let me continue with my story, in the July of 2006 I had a birthday party for a friend and it was the first time I had ever slammed.  Which means shoot up meth.  I had always been against trying it because I was afraid of needles, but once I experienced it, and the difference in the high and the length of time it lasted, it quickly became the preferred way for me to do the drug.  However in that first time was the mistake, because the syringes used between me and partner at the time were switched and I was given HIV, and it was done intentionally by another person.  So you see me doing that to someone else would be out of the question.  Anyhow, after Gavin and I got off the phone last night I realized that just a couple of months ago, shortly after the time I found out that I had Hep C and had told Bobby that I had it, he confided in me that he had syphilis, and recently I found out that Mark had given Gavin syphilis around the same time period, and I was on the phone with Bobby when he was going over to hang with Mark and party, they were supposed to call me back but I didn't hear from Bobby for a couple of days.  Putting the time line together after talking with Gavin made me realize that Bobby and Mark had been having sex and that is how Bobby got syphilis.  It also dawned on me that Bobby might have been afraid of giving Mark Hep C so told him that I may have given them tainted needles.  Now I am sure Mark doesn't think that because Mark knows my history and my fears about that, he also lived with me and knows how meticulous I am with syringes and how they have to be cleaned and bleached even when I am just throwing them away, and how they have to be put in a container so no one can get stuck accidentally and so forth.  But, for it to come to Gavin like that really hurt me.

Now I have told you that I am going to let this go and that I am not going to pursue this any further then this blog entry, and I intend to stick with that.  But, I hope you can see how casually throwing around words can hurt someone, and if what Bobby had said was to anyone else, who didn't know my history, wasn't my friend, you can see how differently this could have gone and how dangerous the words were.  I was hurting last night, and like I said feeling betrayed and devastated, but now that I have had time to think about things and figure out some of the lies that have been told to me.  I realize that a secret was trying to be buried at my expense.  I am not sure if Bobby and I will ever get back together there are other circumstances that are standing in the way, if it doesn't happen it will not be for the lack of me trying and won't be because of this questionable act.

I know that words hurt, they have power, and now you should too.  Be careful what you say, how you say it, and mind the tone and manner in which it is said.  All of these variable make a kind word into a damaging one.  Remember the pain a word can cause is as real as a knife wound, and they may never actually heal properly, but they can be gotten past.  Don't let your hurt and pride make you lash out on someone, divorce your feelings from the situation and come at it from a different angle so that it is non-threatening.  Above all else be mindful of how and how often you use the words "I am Sorry" because as I have said they become meaningless the more they are used.  Learn how to forgive, never forget, and move on. You will be that much happier in the long run when you can do that.

As always my hopes and dreams are with you,

Uncle B

Saturday, July 28, 2012

There is no right or wrong way to deal with a problem or situation

Last night we were talking about relationships and the secrets to making them long lasting and workable.  Yet, here is another insight that you need to consider when dealing with issues that arise in a relationship, and trust me they can be as many and varied as any other types of problems or issues.  The secret here is that there is no predefined way to deal with them, the solutions are as varied as the issues themselves.  Be flexible and think, because if you really try you will find that there are so many options and choices to deal with the issue.  Don't always settle for the first thing that comes to mind, because you might end up regretting it later.  Take the time to think outside of the box and look at the problem from all sides and angles.  The best thing to do is divorce yourself from the problem and tackle it from a logical standpoint.  You will be able to address the situation more effectively and efficiently if you come at it from a standpoint where your emotions are not involved.  Take the time to distance yourself from the problem, search for the root cause and deal with that issue and then tackle the symptoms and ramifications afterward.

A line from one of my favorite movies is "A problem is not as permanent as the solution." For a long time I didn't understand what that meant, and took the easy way, or the path of least resistance and work to deal with the current issue not the underlying cause of the issue. So by ignoring the original problem and just putting out the fires that the issue caused, I was in effect treating the symptoms and not the root cause.  This would be like a doctor throwing a bunch of antibiotics in your system to deal with an infection and not first finding out what type of infection it was and taking the time to find the right antibiotic to deal with the infection, just hoping to get lucky with the barrage of antibiotics hoping that at least one of them would do the trick.  In the above example the doctor might get lucky and one will help, reduce the symptoms and might alleviate the problem for a little while, but if it wasn't the right one, and the root infection wasn't treated correctly or properly the chances are that once you stop taking them or run out of the antibiotics, the infection will come back stronger than ever.  This type of hit and miss treatment is not good for your body, and you can start to build up a tolerance to the many different types of antibiotics.  The same happens to you when you try to handle situations and problems the same way, you become immune to the solutions and the problems come back with a vengeance.

As I have told you there are as many ways to deal with a problem, issue or challenge as there are types of problems.  You must use your head, separate yourself from the feelings associated with the issue, look at the situation from every possible angle, talk about the problem, get feedback from your partner and come up with a workable solution that not only addresses the symptoms but the actual root cause itself. Remember that two heads are better than one and brainstorm together, reach a compromise solution together, don't be afraid to try some unconventional solutions, be creative and inventive, and keep the level of communication open.  The worst thing you can do is alienate your partner by trying to assign blame.  Be adult enough to realize that the issue, situation and problem is affecting both of you, that no matter who is at fault it is going to take both of you working together to get yourself out of the messy situation.  Keep in mind that what's done is done and cannot be undone.  Assigning blame cannot benefit anyone and will actually probably cause more issues in the long run. If you work together peacefully and logically versus emotionally you might be surprised at how easy it was to deal with the issue.

The biggest issue that relationships face these days is the one dealing with money.  There is never enough money to go around or the bills are coming in faster than the money to pay them, or some other type of variation. There are ways to deal with situations like this that will keep harmony in the house.  Communication is key to dealing with this issue. You have to come at these types of situations analytically, removing the emotional feelings that are associated with it. You must keep from assigning blame, and work together to come up with a solution.  One thing you might think about is setting aside specific credit cards or accounts for personal use, that each party is personally responsible for. Or some other compromising solution, it is okay to think abstractly and try many different types of solutions, work together to come up with a budget that you both can accept and continue to work at it.  Remember that the problem didn't occur overnight that it took time to build up to become an issue or problem so it might take just awhile to resolve as well. Trust me when you take the time to handle things and deal with them permanently the better off you will be.  Working together to deal with the issue is going to make your relationship that much stronger, both of you are going to feel an equal partnership and it is going to be rewarding that you have effectively dealt with it.

As I said when I started this entry there are no hard and fast rules that apply to handling situations that might crop up or occur, you have to deal with them individually, and you must take into account all the variables and aspects of the issue.  Communication between you and your partner is vital, and working together to come up with a solution that is both attainable and agreeable is paramount.  Making sure that assigning blame doesn't become an issue and make the situation worse is also key to ending up with favorable results.  Money matters are always going to be a problem and they don't get easier, but you must maintain a strict discipline when dealing with them, acknowledge that both of you are at fault and work together to come up with the answer.  As I said a solution is more permanent then the problem, try as many options as you can think of, work backward if you have too. Be patient and understand that it may take time and hard work to achieve the desired result, but in the end you will be glad you did.

If you read the earlier blog entry on making relationships work, I stress over and over again that you have to be flexible willing to change, adapt to new and arising situations, you have to talk to one another and come at the problem together, maybe even try coming at it from two different sides, whatever it takes to make the problem finally and totally disappear.  Don't be afraid to compromise and think outside the box, be willing to take a risk and see if it won't pay off.  Don't alienate yourself from your partner, and include them in the decision making process, make it  both of your problems and both of you take total ownership for it and responsibility, because when you do both of you feel like you are invested and have some degree of control over it the happier you both will be.

I think you will find that when you work together, great things happen. When you talk about the issues and are genuine and matter of fact about both of your involvement, assigning blame becomes harder and almost impossible. You both will feel better, the stress will be less in your relationship and you will feel a sense of accomplishment that you haven't felt before.  Don't hold grudges or use guilt as a weapon, and because you have separated your emotions and feelings from the situation you will find that it has become that much easier to talk about, tempers won't flair and things that are discussed and thought about in a calm relaxed way will have a greater tendency to work out faster and better than before.

As always my hopes and dreams are with you,

Uncle B

Friday, July 27, 2012

What it takes to make any type of relationship work

The divorce rate in the United State is steadily climbing, there doesn't seem to be a social stigma associated with divorce these days, and the trend to leave the problem versus trying to find a acceptable solution seems to have become the standard.  Trust me when I tell you that this concept has come from years of trial and error, mistake upon mistake, and really the answer was right in front of my face the entire time.  The term relationship is being used in the broadest term here to include every type of relationship whether sexual, friendship, companion, acquaintance and so forth.  Relationships are fragile things at first, full of awkward moments and situations. It takes time and patience to cultivate long standing relationships.  I know you have all heard people saying that if you are in a relationship you have to learn to compromise.  Unfortunately, this is only a part of the equation when it comes to making a long lasting relationship.

There is a way to make permanent and lasting relationships, but it is going to take work and effort on your part.  I know you have been told in the past that the secret to a successful relationship was compromise, and it is a key ingredient, but I think along with compromise you have to be totally open minded. You have to be willing to accept new things and make changes to accommodate the relationship.  This is more than just being willing to compromise. You have to be willing to look at things differently, you are going to have to work at accepting the other persons inputs and suggestions, and it is learning how to keep your opinions to yourself and not let the little things bother you.  I realize that many of you have habits and certain ways of doing things, this is what helps make you who you are.  But, by being open to the other persons suggestions, criticisms and the way they do things you might realize that some of the things that you do could be done differently and more easily.  Honestly, the big thing here is communication and understanding.  Not trying to make your friend or partner conform to your ideal way of doing things, relaxing your control.

Control is a major issue and something that you have got to learn to give up, you have to have trust and faith that the other person is doing what they can to help you and make the situation better.  Control is a thing that can make or break a relationship, when you relax your control and expectations you will find that talking about issues and coming up with workable solutions becomes much easier.  Further, you are going to be able to share everything, your possession, you time, your life and money and there is going to be a lot less friction. It is hard to release control, it is hard to surrender to someone else, but if you honestly trust that person you will get there.  I will be honest this was the hardest thing for me. I never wanted to share things, what was mine was mine and if you wanted to use something you had to ask.  This is not a conducive behavior to make for a lasting sexual relationship, it may be okay for friendships but a true partner is the joining of two individuals into one.

So here we are talking about relationships and issues, but what I want to talk about is how to make them work and last the test of time.  I have friends that I met in high school that I am still friends with today. One of them is my best friend John, we have been friends forever. He may disagree with me on the exact number of years but it has to be getting close to 15 or more years by now. Because I lived in Atlanta for 13 years and we knew each other before I ever went to Atlanta.  He also came up there and we went to school together.  So it has been a long time.  But the secret to this is that we have been there for each other, we each have given time and support to each other and we continue to do so to this day.  But, how does it all begin? How do you approach a friendship or relationship in a manner that is conducive to cultivating a life long result?  Well, honestly it helps if you have common goals and interests, likes, and can spend time with one another, you get to know the person and you are open and honest with them and let them get to really know you.  You share everything, your hopes, dreams, secrets, loves, interests, desires, truly everything...holding nothing back.  This is the best way to really develop the type of relationship that I am talking about.

Remember that when two people come together it is usually for the benefit of each ones need to complete something or reach a common goal.  In a sexual relationship this might be ending your loneliness and building a life and home together...or whatever.  But remember this partnership is just like a corporate partnership. Each one has to do their part and give their support when and where it is needed in order for it to succeed. As you get to know the other person and them you, and you are honest and open with them and show them your real self, a deep form of trust is developed and that is the foundation on which you are going to build from.  It is so important to be truly open and honest with the other person, to really let your walls down and let them get to know the real you.  Let them know the good parts as well as the bad parts. Equally they have to do the same with you in order for this to work.  Trust me as time goes by you are going to see that they have accepted you for who you are, they enjoy being around you sincerely, they understand you and accept your strengths and your weaknesses, they tolerate your flaws, and guess what they know you well enough that they can speak their mind and truly let you know how they feel.  You can accept there comments and criticism knowing that they are not trying to hurt you that they are trying to keep you from getting hurt or walking into danger. These are the people that would take a bullet for you just because they love you and don't want to see you hurt.  They are there for your when your world is crashing down around your ears and they are the ones that are with you when you start to pick up the pieces and rebuild your life again.

How did you get that way?  I will tell you! You came to accept them totally and fully for who they are, you understand them, and you know what they are thinking and how they are going to react to different situations.  You realize that over the time you have spent together that you and they react the same and feel the same in just about all situations. You are kindred spirits, partners, and somehow they have become your best friend. It won't be long till you realize that you don't want to live with out them, and that you probably couldn't.  When entering into a sexual relationship you really need to take the time and make them a friend and build and grow from there.  Let me be totally frank with you, if you take it slow and enter every contact with a person the same way, with the intention of making a life-long friendship you might be surprised to find that your relationships are going to be more solid and last a lot longer.  I know this because up until a couple of years ago that is how I handled my life and situations and I was in two 7 year relationships, a 5 year relationship then a 12 year relationship.  So, it can work just like I said.  The problem was for me that somehow I lost myself and got wrapped up in the 12 year relationship that I didn't follow the right process.

The funny thing about relationships, is that they all can vary in nature, and have a very delicate balance within them.  If something happens that is unexpected and you and your partner are not ready for the change, everything can turn upside down immediately and if your aren't of the same mind you will never be able to get it right again.  For example in my 12 year relationship, I was the one that made the least amount of money, I was the one that sort of relied and depended on the other person for support and guidance, and when I went to school and got my masters degree, and the money situation changed and I was the one make the most money and wanted to control the direction of things, everything went out of balance, and neither one of us were prepared for the change, and one of us wanted to be in control and the other one was used to being in control..things just never worked out or got better.  The problems was we forgot how to communicate, held in what was bothering us, our goals and dreams had seemed to change, but honestly that was an illusion.  We both still wanted the same things but couldn't navigate the changing structure and nature of the relationship and fighting and discord became common place.  We ended up throwing it all away.

The simple fact that the person that has the least interest in the relationship has the most control over the relationship, and when the balance is compromised if you both don't come together to hammer out the issues and address them quickly you will find yourself in a similar situation like the one that I described above.  Within a very short time, if you don't work together, and don't find a workable compromise and solution to the issues that are threatening your relationship you could end up loosing it all, and most importantly the person that you cared about.

So what do we know? We know that a relationship is the partnership of two individuals that have decided for whatever reason that they are going to help each other achieve the next level of life together.  We know that there has to be a mutual interest and plenty of compromise to fit these two individuals together, so that they mesh well. That they have similar likes and dislikes, dreams and goals and that are striving to build something lasting together.  That they trust each other, and have taken the necessary steps to work on building that trust.  That they are open and communicative with one another.  That they are willing to work on their issues rather than walk away and have to start all over again.  We know that they are both open minded and willing to try new things together, they aren't afraid to take risks and grow together as one person.  We know that when threatened they pull together and defend one another.  That they are willing to show how much they care for the other person and that they want to be partners.  That they are willing to share and support each other, because they know that they can face any problem united and come out victorious because two heads are always better than one.

It is important to understand that you have to let down your barriers, the walls that you have built up over your lifetime and let them inside.  You cannot hold someone at bay, or at arms length and expect them to hang around.  You have to live in the present, let go of the past.  Why would you want to cling to it anyway?  It is over and done that is why they call it the past, and there is nothing you can do to change it anyway.  If you don't know how check out some of my other blog entries like "If these walls could talk...what would they say" and "Holding in emotion and pain is not good for anybody" then finally check out this last one because it may help you understand a bit about perspectives and how two people can live through the same situation and see totally different things, it is called "How two people can live through the same things and have totally different stories".  Relationships are tough and require work and regular maintenance just like a car does.  But remember you can work through any situation if you really open up and talk about what is going on and how you feel.  Keep in mind that they are not you and see things from a totally different perspective so talk about it, get to know what they see and think and feel.  This will make your relationship and understanding of them so much stronger.  Be willing to work hard, show a lot of affection and be spontaneous and crazy, life is short and you need to have fun.

Keep in mind that there are minimally two sides to every situation and each of you has a different way of looking at things, comprehending them and defining them. If you don't talk about it and communicate you may one day wake up and realize that you are upset and fighting over something that frankly is just a misunderstanding.  One thing I am famous for is arguing over something so fervently and not realizing that me and my partner were saying the same things, actually agreeing but he said it in a slightly different way and I missed his point, and therefore the argument was bogus, and had I been more open and receptive to his ideas, and had we communicated effectively there wouldn't have been any argument in the first place. I don't believe in giving up and walking away. I try to stay and fight and hold on even when it is hopeless.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't but trust me there is no real handbook on how relationships are supposed to go, there isn't some recipe on how to get over every single situation you will encounter. You have to be strong and work them through together. Remember with both of you working on it how can you fail.

As I wrap this up I hope that you come away with a better understanding of what it takes to make a relationship work.  What relationship practices help make it stronger, and what can tear it apart.  I know that it seems like I have been all over the place once again.  But seriously, the best way to approach a relationship is to work from friendship, build up the trust, always keep and open mind, be willing to do things to change yourself, compromise when necessary, pull together and talk about everything. Don't keep secrets, be yourself and let them get to really know and understand you. Leave the past behind, don't make comparisons, and be brutally honest with each other at all times.  When things get rough and they will put your heads together and find a workable solution and an answer that is going to benefit you both. Learn how to share, don't be obstinate, and learn when to keep your mouth shut, go the extra mile and be spontaneous.  Life is too short and you really care about one another or you wouldn't be with each other.

The final thing that I want to leave you with is this, don't ever settle for the answer I can't be with you because you are my friend and I don't want to do anything to ruin that friendship.  This is a cop out and totally bogus. Because let me tell you something there is no way that you are ever going to ruin a true friendship.  When you come together either you are going to make something greater than what you have or you are going to remain the same.  There are going to be fights, there are going to be times when you stop speaking to one another, but they are going to be short lived and you are going to find that you can't stay mad or angry at the person forever, that even if they hurt you that you can forgive it and get over it.  The secret to understanding all of this is that every relationship is going to end in someone getting hurt at some point or another.  Because no matter how perfect it is sooner or later one of you is going to have to leave it. Either by dying or some other cause. Nothing last forever, except the love that you share. That will endure everything else and as long as you are willing to talk and compromise and be open minded you will survive.

As always my hopes and dreams are with you,

Uncle B

A problem with organized religion and what the church has missed

I have been thinking a lot about the state of the world today and the role that the church plays in it.  To my dismay it has become evident that the whole christian church has missed the boat, their philosophy is their own and not that of Jesus.  Honestly, the church calls themselves christian, which means that they believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  The teach that the New Testament is the teachings and life of Jesus, so why don't they demonstrate in their preaching and lifestyle that they are believers.  How did they miss the boat, and why do they continue to teach hate and intolerance.  Each minister, pastor, priest, preacher and teacher has to go through extensive training via seminary to become ordained, yet they continue to focus primarily on the Old Testament.

This is a major dilemma for the church, because they are in the wrong. How did they miss the message that was sent and shown to them at Calvary, when Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world?  How is it 2000 years later they still haven't figured it out.  Don't they know that if Jesus came back today that the modern church would be just as condemned as the church was 2000 years ago. That the religious leaders haven't changed, they are still doing the same things that Jesus told them was wrong way back then.  See, the problem is God gave 2 Covenants to the faithful, the first is discussed at great lengths in the Old Testament, it was governed and presided over by the Priests, the church was a tent that God had given exacting specifications on, there was a section in which God himself resided. This was called the Holy of Holies and only the High Priest was allowed to enter.  Sacrifices and atonement was made by the priests on behalf of the people and the law of the ten commandments was the governing laws of the time.

Problem is that Covenant ended when Christ chose to die at Calvary. His blood is the bridge that crosses the gap of original sin.  No longer did we need the priest to intercede on our behalf, we now have a direct link through Christ. He became the ultimate sacrifice, and through him we are saved and granted Salvation.  The old covenant between God and Abraham ended when as Jesus died the temple veil tore in two.  A person can now only be saved through Jesus, as He said "I am the way the truth and the life, no one can come to the Father accept through Me."  The new covenant that God gave to us through Jesus was much simpler, and gentler than the old covenant.  No longer did the Ten Commandments hold sway, because Jesus gave new commandments.  He gave a new direction and mission to the church.  The problem is the church by the time of Christ had grown into a bureaucracy and as with any large body is resistant to change.  Here we are 2000 years later and the church is still teaching out of the Old Testament, shoring up their fences with hatred, fear, intolerance and unfortunately they are terribly mistaken.

Being saved by Grace which is what the New Covenant is called, is all about love, patience, acceptance, and good will.  We are commanded to go out and be fishers of men, to give our testimony and lead others to Christ for salvation.  We were given just a few commandments to follow, Love one another as you love yourself, Children obey your parents so that your days may be many, go out and be fishers of men are the commandments that show that the face of God had changed, had become more tolerant and forgiving.  In this day and age the commandments have been integrated into our law system and protect all people. These are the guiding principles that we all strive to live by.  However, each denomination still denies anyone who doesn't believe exactly like they do, still cling to the old testament with was called being saved under the Law.  Law being Deuteronomy and Leviticus and the Ten Commandments.

There are so many things that they modern church preaches against that stem directly from the old testament and are repealed by the teachings of Jesus.  One of the things I a talking about is Homosexuality, in the Old Testament it was considered an abomination and punishable by death.  But in the New Testament there is something said that is totally different and keeps being over looked and not comprehended by hundreds of theologians and that is troubling that these scholars don't even believe what they claim as the gospel.  In Romans same sex interaction is again addressed, but this time you should read the passages very carefully because there is something hidden in them that is very enlightening and important for everyone to understand.  See it starts out something like this, bear with me I am doing this totally from memory.  When a man burns for lust for another and a woman yearns for another working that which is unseemly, those that do not keep God in their mind and heart will be turned over to a reprobate mind, and they become hater, backbiters, etc. the punishment of their ways are death.  However, further reading reveals that those that keep God in their hearts and mind receive the recompense of their ways is meet.  This is very important because it means that those of us that are gay and believe in God, are not forsaken, we are not an abomination, that we receive here on earth the recompense or payment for the error of their ways is meet, meaning we shall receive our punishment if you want to think of it that way here (meet).

So those that teach and think that you cannot be gay and christian aren't really christian either.  For they have missed the boat, they are clinging to the old testament like it is a life line and all it is, is an example to live a good life by. The old testament was created to control the large crowd of refugees that were liberated from the pharaoh by Moses, and led into the wilderness of the desert. Maintaining order and discipline would have been a nightmare and almost impossible if not for the ten commandments.  These laws and rules were put in place to ensure that compliance was mandatory, and the punishments for breaking them was swift and vicious, to ensure that they were obeyed.   But in  when Jesus came into the world the wandering in the desert was over, society and a nation were born and being ruled.  There were no longer any need for them or the punishments described in exodus and leviticus.  The old way wasn't working any longer and the church was taking advantage of the people and doing things that angered Jesus.  So He set out to show them by example how to live a life of purity and faith, He gave examples and extolled virtues in His sermons, He encouraged acceptance of everyone, no matter who or what they were.  He commanded that we love one another, to harm no one, to be obedient, to forgive, resist retribution and to bring His message of love and forgiveness to the world.

He condemned those who judged, He protected the weak and the lowly, and he walked with the common people.  He loved everyone equally.  We were to learn by his example, and to preach that God was a benevolent and forgiving God that loved us and cared for us because He had made us.  The message Jesus brought was of hope and love, kindness and understanding.  So why has the church missed this, why do they splinter and fracture over idiosyncratic beliefs.  Why are there so many different denominations all proclaiming that they are right and if you don't believe like them then you are truly not saved and unworthy of their help or support.  Why are we still hell bent on persecuting those that are different then us, judging them and casting aspersions upon them.  It isn't our place to judge anyone, because none of us are blameless, we were all born into original sin and separated forever from the love of God until we come to accept and are saved by Jesus.  How hard is it to see and understand?  When are they going to get it?  When will the church stop misleading people and embrace the truth the Jesus is the Son of God, and become real christian's and faithful to His teachings?

It is so  important for us to understand that no one has the right to judge us, tell us what we believe is right or wrong, and further we have a shining example of how we are supposed to live our life's and how we are supposed to act and react.  It isn't hard and Jesus is patient, and if you truly believe and are a christian you will understand that the church is wrong, and Jesus even made a provision for those of us who would eventually come to realize that the church is off track and heading for a big surprise when He comes again.  See Jesus told his followers about the church, warned them actually and gave the following provision to keep us safe from the wiles and pitfalls of the church..He said "When to or three are gathered there, I shall be also."  Amazing isn't it that Jesus had enough foresight to see that the church wasn't going to be the body to save the people that they were going to have to come directly to him and they didn't need to be in a huge congregation to do it.  They only had to have faith and worship him, with just two or three the Lord would be there.

Jesus's message is quite simple really Love each other and everything, be kind and gentle, practice forgiveness, extend understanding to everyone, and don't judge because what is right for you may not be right for someone else.  The easiest way to be a real christian is to ask yourself at each juncture "What would Jesus do", or WWJD.  Without a doubt something each of us should learn how to ask.  So, if you are not accepted by your church because you are different, or gay or just don't believe exactly along the same lines as them, be assured that you are not wrong, because God loves you and created you just as you are.  We are all flawed and imperfect and that is what makes us unique and totally human.  Love yourself and your fellow man, be helpful, kind, caring and compassionate and you cannot go wrong.

As always my hopes and dreams are with you,

Uncle B

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Tragedy in 3 acts makes for an inspirational person

I have been told that my life has been full of blessings and that I am a true inspiration.  I agree that I live a very blessed life, but it is because there are hundreds of people keeping me in their thoughts and prayers.  I have been approached recently to write a book about my story, and since you are my friends and family, I thought I would share with you what it is going to be about.  Now, keep in mind that this is just a taste of what the book is going to contain, so be patient and understanding that you are getting a condensed version and be honored you are getting the first peak.

The title of this entry says it all I have broken my life down into 3 acts or parts, it is from each of these tragedies and triumphs that have shaped and molded me and my outlook on things.  It is important I guess to start at the beginning and work my way through each portion of my life and key events that make up the story and the act. So without any more delay we shall begin.

I was born on December 1, 1968 I was a month earlier so I have been told, my mother never made it to the maternity ward before I decided enough was enough and came bursting forth.  The delivery started in the elevator on the way to the delivery room.  I had started to come fast so they rushed my mom into delivery choosing not to have me drop out on the elevator floor.  Unfortunately, the doctor used forceps to deliver me, even though earlier in the year they had been banned as delivery tools.  As I said I was in a hurry to go no where, the forceps were used and my skull was fractured.  I made no sound when I came into the world and I was blue from head to toe.  I am told that my mother never got to see me, I was taken directly to an incubator, and was deemed in critical condition.  I was never meant to leave that hospital, but God had other plans.  Plans that are still unfolding in my life today.

My parents were told that I was under weight and with the fractured skull I was going to be a vegetable and if by some miracle I wasn't I was going to have severe brain damage and would never be a normal kid.  Surprise surprise, God had other plans, because here I a 43 years later writing to you.  I shouldn't be able to walk or talk, let alone write and communicate like I do.  But God works in mysterious ways and I am here to tell you my story.  By the age of five it had become evident that there were no impairments and that I was highly intelligent if a little hyperactive.  End of act one!

The second tragedy came when I was 14 years old, I was experiencing severe headaches, blurred vision and having trouble focusing on objects.  The doctors told my parents that the muscles that surround the lenses of my eyes were weak and that was causing the vision issues I was having.  But that wasn't the end of it.  While I was at school playing with some friends I got poked in the eye with a tree branch.  Again the doctors were full of doom and gloom and by the age of 18 I was supposed to be totally blind.  They covered my right eye with a patch to protect it put me in bifocal glasses and told my parents to hope for the best.  Blood filled the injured eye and started showing around the socket of the left eye.  So for a period of 4 months I was patched on both eyes and wasn't able to see anything.  A neat thing about the body is that it compensates for stuff like that and my hearing became very sensitive and acute I can here a whisper all away across the house.  I also learned how to sit in a crowd and listen to everyone's conversations and never move and could identify just by sound who was talking and somehow my mind has developed the ability to process each conversation and follow along all in real time.  By the time I was 16 a miracle of miracles happened, my headaches started to subside and it was discovered that the cause of them was never my eye site which improved after the injury to the point I no longer had to wear bifocals just regular glasses.  Yet somehow my hearing never returned to normal. I still can hear the lightest sounds.  It turns out that the headaches were a direct result of the fractured skull and when the barometric pressure changes the headaches begin.  Unfortunately, I still suffer from that today.  But I got super hearing out of the deal.  End of act two!

I was diagnosed with leukemia and large cell lymphoma when I turned 24 ('92), they found a metastasized tumor in my colon 8" long x 5" wide. It had serrated edges and had ulcerated in the middle.  I underwent 2 years of chemotherapy and radiation and the tumor was eradicated.  However, during my last round of radiation, the bowel wall perforated and waste and radiation poured into my pelvic area.  I got really sick with toxaplasmosis and stayed in the hospital for almost 9 months trying to get better.  It wasn't until 13 years later ('05) that I would find out what that radiation was doing to my body.  Apparently large sections of my colon died from radiation disease and poisoning and there were several small sections of the small intestine affected as well.  In 2005, I was given a colostomy, a bag that helps me to take a dump, sorry for being so graphic.  I have had 9 major surgeries since then, found out that my kidney's were failing, that I had contracted HIV an HEP C, that my gallbladder, bladder, pancreas and stomach were all affected by the radiation and that they are slowly giving out.  Then on March 5th of this year my colon ruptured in 2 places and I almost died again.  When this happened I couldn't get anyone to listen to me, they kept telling me that the pain I was feeling was from the procedure I had done in the morning. Now in my life I have had a million colonoscopy's if I have had one.  So I knew that they were wrong in what they were saying.  Finally a nurse that no one seems to know who has never worked on that floor and has never been seen again, intervened with the doctor and got a cat scan of my abdomen and the ruptures were discovered.  I have tried to find this woman again, I wanted to nominate her for the angel service award they give at the hospital and no one knows who she was.

I believe that God has walked with me through all this, he has carried me when I was too weak to move, and He delivered me from the hands of death just when it looked like I was going to die.  After everything that I have been through and there is so much more that I haven't told you.  I hope you can begin to see why I don't let the small things get to me, and I always try to look at the bright side of things.  Because life is too short, we are not promised a new tomorrow and we need to be thankful for each day that we can draw another breathe.  I don't think I am all that inspirational, but I have been told that my strength and faith that keep me fighting are remarkable and inspire others to have hope and faith that they too can make it through the tough, hard and tragic times of their own lives.

I hope that maybe I have inspired just one person, have given hope to one person, and always can live my life as an example that you can overcome illness.  That there is life after, HIV and cancer and you can still be a productive and supportive person and help others.

Let me know what you think.  This is my real story, and I would love to know if you think that I should take up the offer to write a book about my experiences and if you think anyone will benefit from it.

As always my hopes and dreams are with you,

Uncle B

Coming out a tale of fear...

Something has been telling me that this is a topic I need to talk about.  One of the things I pride myself on is the ability to take complex concepts and write about them in such a way that anyone who reads about it can understand the topics.  I try hard to break down these topics to make sure that the most people can benefit by what I write about.  For the LGBT community the largest fear is often the fear of being found out about their sexual preference by friends and family.  Coming out is probably a young gay persons biggest nightmare and fear that they have to face. The art of deception is practiced and they become experts at hiding their true selves from family, friends, co-workers and peers.

In most cases these young men and women perfect their ruse so convincingly that they often times can start to believe if for themselves, most develop the idea that they are bisexual and often have sex with anyone and everyone.  In all honesty this is probably not a bad thing.  It helps them to figure out which group they feel more comfortable around and identify with.  Generally through this period of experimentation they figure out which group they develop stronger attachments too and where their attractions really gravitate towards. Unfortunately, because of their upbringing and feelings of difference as well as guilt drive these young individuals to hide who they are and fear discovery of their inclinations so they do everything they can to hide what they are feeling.

It seems that feelings of guilt as well as fear of discovery paralyzes young people and keeps them from truly feeling comfortable with themselves.  Another fear is that of letting parents down and living up to expectations that have been thrust upon them.  They feel miserable about having to live a dual life and some cannot seem to get past these feelings.  Young men and women of color have more concerns to deal with because they have different concepts about masculinity and have a belief within their culture that being gay or different automatically makes then effeminate. This is not necessarily true, but within their culture a different divide exist from that of caucasians.  It seems that culture and society paints the picture of gay men to be girlish, effeminate, and gives the impression that a gay person cannot be masculine what I term unclockable, which just means that other people would never suspect them of being gay.  As someone who has dated a lot of men of color I can tell you that most of them don't consider themselves to be totally gay at all, they would rather label themselves as bisexual.  Though in most cases they refer to themselves as heterosexual even though they are fooling around with a gay or bisexual.  Hence the evolution of the Down Low phenomena.

Hell to almost everyone I have ever encountered the tale of coming out has always been one of great fear and dread.  Everyone fears the reprisal of those they know and how they will react to the knowledge of their true sexual preference. Often times this fear is a motivator for a person to keep potential partners at an arms length and give others the impression that they don't know what they want and that they are searching for something.  At one point I used to call this phase a persons slut phase.  Where experimentation and the changing of partners seems almost like a weekly event.  When I was growing up we jokingly referred to those we were dating as the flavor of the week.  At some points in my life I changed my boyfriends almost as fast as I changed my hair color and I can tell you that was often, because I grew up in the 80's and was very much into the club and bar scene even though I was often underage. 

I am here to tell you that every gay man and women goes through the terror of coming out.  There is nothing that I know of that is going to alleviate the feeling of exposure and the terror you are not going to be accepted and that you are going to be rejected by family and friends.  The fear is so powerful and gripping that you will do anything to keep from being exposed. But I can tell you that no matter what you think, it is much easier than you imagine, and another thing is this no matter what you think after the initial reaction people are going to come around.  You are going to find that once you have come out the stress of living a double life and keeping all those lies in place that a sense of completion and wholeness will envelope over you.  You are going to find others that know what you are going through and can and will sympathize with you.  Remember, we have all been through it and we have survived.  I am not saying that it is going to be easy, but trust me you are going to find that you want to out yourself before someone else inadvertently does it for you.  I also have to tell you that your mother knows already, and though she may be hurt, angry and react badly at first, she is going to be the first to come around and accept you for who you are.  There is a biological connection with your mother, that you don't readily have with your father, and trust me telling your father is probably the hardest thing you will do.

Here is the reason for the reaction you experience, I can tell you that any type of bad news, injury, illness triggers the same response in everyone.  These are the 4 stages of grief and as with everything else in life people have to deal with them in their time and way.  But trust me everyone goes through them and guess what it doesn't matter what age or what the situation turns out to be.  The first response is going to be denial.  For some reason they cannot believe that it is true, and they will not talk  about it or address the situation, in the hopes that it will go away. Further, they may even suggest that there is something wrong with you, that you are going through a phase and that it will pass. But, for them it is actually a form of wishful thinking and away to avoid the feeling of guilt.  The second phase is Anger,  now this anger may seem directed at you, but in truth it is turned inward.  Parents automatically assume that they are responsible, that they did something wrong, or that something forced you to this situation.  Trust me this is probably the hardest stage of the process you are going to have to endure.  The third stage is depression, and guess what both of you are going to experience this.  Unfortunately, the guilt of their anger and denial are going to force you to second guess yourself and try to once again hide who you really are. This of course is a natural response, yet it is difficult to endure and sometimes climb out of.  But, you know who you are and what makes you happy, and you need to remain true to yourself and not let their concerns weigh you down.   The final stages are acceptance and hope. Now, I am going to tell you that even when you get to these stages there are so many thoughts and concerns that are running through your parents and friends heads, and there is going to be a fair amount of worry that goes along with it.  But you will see that everyone that loves you and cares about you is going to come around, it takes time and patience on your part and understanding of what a person goes through.  Remember even as others are going through these phases you yourself are going to experience them as well.

You might wonder if it is worth all the pain and hurt that you are going to go through, but believe me it definitely is.  Because once you have come out, you are going to feel a heavy weight lifted from you, you are going to feel complete, you are going to feel relief that you no longer have to hide who you are.  Now, when most people get to this stage they really let their hair down and go wild and crazy.  I guess it is part of the process itself because you act outrageous, get bold and daring and try things you have never done before because you are released from the fear that has been griping you.  Again, as I have pointed out this is a natural thing to do. But, a word of caution here, your parents and friends have every right to be concerned for you, and your safety.  Even though times have changed quite a bit since the time I came out, the world is still a violent place, and there are still bigots and haters in the world that are going to try and steal your joy and hurt you.  Plus, relationships all end in pain of some kind no matter how long they last.  Further, there are terrible illnesses out there that you can be exposed to.  When I came out there was no real knowledge or understanding about AIDS and HIV, and I lost a lot of good friends to the disease in the 80's and early 90's.  Now, I don't want this to frighten you and discourage you from being yourself and discovering who you are and what you can be in the world.  Today, HIV is no longer a death sentence like it used to be, with proper care and treatment you can live 30 to 40 years of a normal life, and new treatments are being developed every day.  I believe that in your lifetime a cure might actually be found and the disease eradicated once and for all.

I want you to be courageous and adventurous, explore your sexuality and have fun doing it.  Find others like yourself that have similar interests and be yourself and honest about what you are feeling.  Take the time to really explore your feelings and be sure that you express them often.  Make sure that you don't hold them in and hide them, because you are going to have problems later on in life if you don't figure out how to express yourself and communicate how you feel to others as well as yourself. I am not going to tell you that being in the LGBT community and lifestyle is going to be easy, or that you aren't going to experience hardships. Because let me be totally honest, same sex relationships are much more difficult then other relationships. The reason for this is because you have all the normal problems and pressures of relationships you also have the sensor of societal norms, which is just a way of saying that everyone expects you to be "straight".  As I have said there have been great strides since I came out in the early 80's till now, but there are still the religious bigots and others that are going to tell you that you are wrong, that what you feel is wrong, there are going to be others that criticize you and tell you that you are sick.  Then on top of those you have other considerations and persecutions to rise above.  Especially if you are like me and get involved in a interracial relationship.

I will talk more about relationships and interracial relationship in greater detail in another blog entry.  This one entry is an attempt to expose the fears and lies that are keeping you in hiding, denying yourself the way you truly feel. It is my hope that those who read this can understand what is going to happen when they come out and that it will make it easier for them to make the transition.  I mentioned earlier the topic of bisexuality, and that is another blog topic that I am going to explore in the future.  It is important for you to come to terms with your own feelings and desires, and to be honest to yourself and those that care about you and you them.  I am not saying that it is going to be easy, that you are not going to feel pain making this transition, or that you aren't going to run into opposition.  What I want you to understand in the long run, when all is said and done, you are going to feel so much better, and feel a sense of relief that is so profound and comforting.

Please keep in mind that at first you may lose some friends, there are going to be a few that will never be able to wrap their mind around your sexuality, they are going to think that you made a choice, or that something outside of your life cause you to act that way.  In most cases the ones that are truly your friend are going to come to terms with it and come back into your life.  The ones that don't and ridicule and make fun of you, cut them loose, they are not truly friends and they honestly aren't looking out for you or even really care about you, they are around you for some other type of reason or hidden agenda.  So if they leave you haven't lost much at all anyway.  Once you have come out a whole new world opens up for you, and you are going to learn and experience things you never dreamed of.  Trust me you are going to develop an extended family, there are going to people you are going to grow to call your Gay Dad, Gay Mom, you are going to have gay brothers and sisters, even nephews and so forth.  Your life is going to become very interesting and rewarding.

I need to warn you though about drama, it is very prevalent in the gay community and at times you are going to run into those that live for drama and love to stir it up.  These end up being trouble makers and usually are very unhappy and lonely, the strive to make everyone around them as unhappy as they are.  They hate to see you having fun and enjoying yourself, they try and sabotage every friendship and relationship that might threaten what they perceive as their place and standing in your life.  Trust me when I tell you are going to get to a point in your life when you are not going to want to have these types of people in your life and the stress that they bring and keep fluent in your life. Eventually, you are going to want to live in a drama free zone.  But when and how that comes about is as different as the individuals that are involved.  Trust me it may be fun and entertaining at first, but it quickly will become a drain and full of stress, that you can avoid and do without in your daily life.

Let me fill you in on my story, give you some idea of how things could go and how it all turned out.  It is amazing how perceptive some people can be, and the ones that love and care about you the most are most likely the first to know your secret.  I know this to be true because honestly my dad's mom knew before everyone else.  Now, I was very open about my sexuality my senior year in high school to everyone except my parents.  Like I described above I was totally terrified about coming out to my parents.  Now, I will be honest my parents had to know, but they were deep in denial, my parents were going through a lot of their own issues and fighting and if you ask my family were really abusive to me and my brother.  However, in my sophomore year me and a couple of neighbor kids were caught by one of their fathers and my parents were told, of course trying to preserve my secret I lied about everything and I assumed that they bought the lie.  I know for a fact that the other two lied to their parents as well.  How I know this one of them became my boyfriend and we were together off and on through high school and six years of my navy life.  I guess to be really honest we fooled around for several years after I got out of the Navy.

For a year I was stationed at the Naval shipyard in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and I would spend as much time with my grandmother's as I could.  Shortly before my dad's mother died she told me that I was a special and loving person and that I needed to live my life to the fullest and make myself happy, that she knew how special I was and that she loved me all the more for it.  Never to let anyone tell me that my feelings were not normal or that I was different because I wasn't and that above all things she loved me and accepted me for the person I was and who I would become.  Now, this was very emotional and moving for me because I had never confided in her or told her about my preferences before this.  I am so thankful that I had a couple more months to spend with her before she died.  It was her wisdom and insight that kept me going when things turned bad, and when I finally told my parents and how their reaction went.  My mother screamed at me, pulled an earring out of my ear, and told me that her father told her but she never believed him.  My father, wouldn't talk to me and for the entire time I was home on leave, which thank God was only two weeks, life at home was unbearable. Every time my mother would get mad at me she would swear and through stuff up in my face, at one point she even told me "How can you defend that person against me I am your family and the only relation to you is your blood on their dick."  Now this was vile and offensive too me because I wasn't actually taking anyone's side in the fight, but this is how my mother lashed out at me, she used words and guilt as weapons and waged war pretty unfairly.  She has since come around and believe it or not is my best friend and number 1 fan.

Honestly gay life is not for the faint of heart, or someone who is not strong. You are going to face challenges and situations that are going to test you, but like the old saying goes "that which doesn't kill you makes you stronger", believe me it is true.  Some of us are not cut out for the gay life and they live in denial and fear, they even get married to hide their attraction to same sex partners, some can live with it, others can't and step out on the sly behind their families back.  Some get the courage later in life to come clean and end up hurting others, mainly their wives and children.  My first serious relationship that I had was in the Navy.  Beside the guy that I was fooling around off and on through high school because in his mind he wasn't like me and couldn't love me and be with me in the open. However when I was in the navy, I met someone shortly after I graduated boot camp, he was in the same barracks and A school that I was in in Great Lakes.  His name was Karl Kevala, and I fell hard for him, we dated for quite a while when we were in the Chicago area. He took me home to Maryland and I met his family, including his sister who I stayed friends with for years.  He graduated from school before I did and was sent to his ship and we lost touch for a little while, but he stumbled back into my life a couple of years later and though at first he was with someone else, we eventually got back together, and because of this I applied to go to the same C school as him.  We dated the entire time he was there and we even went back to visit with his family.  But once again he was sent to the fleet, unfortunately when that happened my dad's mother died and I was devastated and before I knew it I was diagnosed with cancer and discharged.  Now the plan was that Karl and I were going to go to Italy together and be stationed with one another this never happened. We lost touch, and I believe it wasn't till February of 2007 that I was able to get in touch with him again.

I am a little fuzzy on the year but I remember that he called me back on February 14th, which was Valentine's day, only to tell me that he had gotten married two years before to a woman, that knew his past and accepted him.  He then asked me if I was sure I was gay, that he never really felt comfortable being identified as gay.  He did clarify and tell me that he did not regret the time we were together and that he cared for me, but his wife wouldn't understand if he stayed in contact with someone he was involved with in the past.  He asked me not to contact him anymore and for the most part I have respected those wishes and have left him alone.  To the point when I was letting everyone one know about my health condition and was preparing for the major surgeries that were so dangerous and there was a great chance that I wasn't going to make it, I didn't call him and let him know what was going on. I figured he had his life now and he didn't care if I was going to die, so I left him in peace. I am sure if something would have happened to me, my mother would have contacted him to let him know. Because he was a big part of my life, and my first true love.   When I got out of the Navy in 1992 I met a man named Michael and we were together till he died in 1996, he accepted me and gave me the moral support that I needed till my parents came around.  It didn't hurt that he was rich and owned one of the biggest gay bars in Orlando, and he loved me.

Fear is a powerful motivator, and it can paralyze you and keep you from acting.  But it can drive you to  be secretive, deceitful and lie to yourself and everyone around you. Coming out is never easy, but honestly it isn't as hard as you might think, and you can do it.  When you finally do you are going to be amazed at how scared you were for absolutely no reason whatsoever.  As I am fond of telling you time and distance heals all wounds, and perceived hurts.  I am not a big fan of the DL culture, I have met so many young black men that are fooling themselves, claiming to be straight and yet are what I call gay for pay. Trust me if you have an act of same sex sex, you are either bisexual or gay.  Time will help you decide, and you need to be absolutely honest with yourself and your partners.  Talk to them, tell them what you like and what you don't.  If you prefer not to label yourself till you know exactly what your feelings and emotions are telling you is absolutely acceptable, however it is important that you search inside of you and be honest about what attracts you, what you like and go from there.

No matter where you are at in the process remember everyone of us, your friends and peers has come through the same situation as you are going through. Find someone you are comfortable with and talk to them, listen to their experiences and what happened when they came out.  Surround yourself with people that you are comfortable with and build a support network, confide in them your fears and your thoughts, you will be surprised to find that many of the fears you have they have had in the past and have confronted them, and have won.  

It is important to confront your fears head on and do what you feel in your heart is right and feels good to you.  Remember no one can tell you if what you are doing, feeling or thinking is right or wrong, because every situation is as unique as the individuals involved.  But lean on your network and draw the strength you need to make the right move.  Nothing is ever really set in stone and if you like Karl change your mind years later so be it.  There is someone out there for everyone. A person that completes you and makes you whole. If you let fear keep you from exploring and finding that person you are going to miss so much, and probably end up making yourself feel very miserable in the process.  Coming out is a liberating process which can only serve to help you grow and mature, and feel more comfortable with yourself.

As always my hopes and dreams are with you,

Uncle B