Wednesday, November 21, 2012

My Testimony (Why I am So Very Thankful)

As I look back over the past year I am amazed at what I have been through and have endured.  But I didn't do it all on my own, and on this evening before Thanksgiving, I want to give you my testimony, share with you the incredible journey that I have found myself on this entire year.  I am sure that each of you will be inspired and amazed at what we can endure, what we can learn, and most importantly what drives us on in the face of tremendous odds.  This blog has been an extension of who I am at this phase of my life, I hold nothing back and reveal my entire personal life here.  It has been a blessing for me to share those things with you.  Be patient with me, some of this stuff might be something you have heard before, if you have been reading the blog religiously.  However, as with all my writing new things are always revealed.  There are always lessons to be learned, heard and found in everything I write.

I am going to start with today and work my way backward in time towards the beginning of the year.  This morning I woke up at 5:30 am which is highly unusual for me.  I am normally not a morning person at all, but for some reason I have woken up early for the past three days.  I have to tell you that in the morning I am usually non functional, it takes me sometime to get myself together and motivated to start the day, however for the past three days I have popped up wide awake, and filled with the most amazing joy and believe it or not a song in my heart.  This morning I got up and immediately started listening to my new favorite song "Restless", I actually played it three times singing with it each time, and as I sang my heart and spirit just soared.  Before I knew it I looked up and it was 10:30 in the morning.  I had done my traditional Facebook good morning and greetings to my friends and associates on Facebook and had planned to just sit on the new couch and chill for a little bit.  I had decided that since it was the day before the holiday that I was just going to relax and wasn't going to worry about the open enrollment for medicare today. That I would take care of it next week.  To my utter amazement I got on my laptop in the living room and before I knew it I was looking at medicare plans in my area.  I actually clicked on a link and it took me to a page that compared all the different plans in my area.  I looked over the information and got an idea of what I was looking at, was sort of undecided when my cellphone rang and it was a lady from the company who hosted the website, my information was routed to her and so she called me.  We talked for a few minutes and I explained what I was looking for, and she started pulling up stuff on her end and talking to me about all the different plans.  Now during our conversation a lot of information came out about my various medical conditions and concerns that I had that needed to be addressed by whatever new plan that I got.  The woman's name was Marcia, and she stopped me and told me that she just needed to tell me that I sounded so upbeat and positive despite everything I was going through and proceeded to tell me what a pleasure it was to talk to me.  How, just by speaking with me and hearing the positive attitude and happiness in my voice had made her week and was going to make her Thanksgiving that much memorable.  This actually touched me in a very deep way.

See we never know where any casual conversation we have with someone else is going to take us, how our words, confidence and happiness can be heard through the phone line, and how that is going to affect or influence another person.  How just being yourself and having a smile on your face can carry through your voice and be delivered to the person on the other end of the line.  See we never know who might be looking at us, watching us, and finding inspiration from us.  Eyes and ears are all around you, and we may never know how many lives are touched and influenced just by our passing by them.  Which is why I tell you to live as you believe, let your light shine around you, and let your joy and happiness wash out into the world.  Remember that even though you might not see them, they can see you.   As I have told you this has been a long year, full of difficulties, encounters, connections, crossings and even a couple of brushes with death.  It  has taught me that there is so much in the world that I don't understand yet, and so much to learn, but on the opposite side of that coin there is so much to teach, talk about and put out to others.  I have learned that nothing is ever truly what it seems and that miracles do exist and happen in our daily lives, and if we are too busy to notice they may just pass us by unnoticed.  There is beauty and majesty in everything around us, there is wonder and adventure in every encounter we have, again we might have to look for it, but it is there. Every new day brings lessons and understanding if we are open and receptive to hear them.  Nothing you do is transparent, you aren't as invisible as you might wish you were.  People see you, interact with you, listen to you and might be inspired by you. You just never know!

I learned the trouble of misconceptions and preconceived notions about others, I learned that some people can be biased and judgmental and never give you a chance, because they think they know you, and you might do the same to them.  I learned how if you are not paying attention to those around you, how easily it can be to miss the hand of love and acceptance they are extending to you.  I also learned that if you don't listen carefully to what someone is saying to you, and really hear the words they are speaking you might make the wrong assumptions.  You might be surprised at something someone says to you, and be even amazed and full of awe at the love they have for you and it was there right before your eyes the entire time.  I also learned that if you aren't careful with your feeling you might misplace them in the wrong person, and how during a simple conversation the truth will be revealed if you are listening with both your heart and your ears. The heart is hard to fool, trust me it can hear the words that are spoken and translate them into honest feelings if you let it.  Let me explain this too you and maybe you can understand what I am saying by this.  I met someone last fall and I really cared about that person and for most of the year I thought that me and this person were going to be together, get to know one another, and build a relationship together.  I moved from Atlanta to Ormond Beach in February and was talking to this person and trying to get him to come down with me.  But, every month there was another excuse, and a reason why he couldn't or wouldn't come.  He knew what I was going through and told me that he wished he could be here with me to help me go through my surgeries and illnesses but never came.  We hadn't talked in several months due to circumstances beyond both of our control, however during our first conversation when we reconnected recently, he asked about my surgery and when I explained that it didn't work out as was expected and that I would never be made whole again like I had hoped. He said isn't there something like a bionic colon or something else that they can try?  I grew quiet, he didn't ask me if I was alright with it, didn't tell me he was sorry to hear that it didn't go right, nor did he say anything like it's okay, don't worry we will make it through this together, nothing like that.

Now, let me talk to you about the other person in my life, my ex, when he found out how sick I was, which I sent him an email in March, the same time that the first person said he was going to come and then didn't, my ex called me immediately and this is what he said to me.  Oh my god Bryan and I am sorry to hear about what you are going through. I don't want you to go through this alone, let me find out what I can do to get there.  I will call you on Friday and see if I can't be there that afternoon.  Mind you this is Wednesday afternoon when I got the call.   When he called on Friday I explained to him that I appreciated that he wanted to come and help me but that I was staying with my father and that there just wasn't room.  We stayed in touch since that day. Mind you I kept talking to the first person up until July when it wasn't possible any more, and my ex both during this time.  However the more my ex and I talked the more he revealed to me that he loved me and wanted me in his life.  He said to me that with all of the stuff medically that we had been through and how close both of us came to dying this past year, that he realized that he wanted to spend whatever remaining time we had left together whether it be a week or 20 years.  That we owed it too each other to be happy and that I truly understood him and made him happy.  Then in June when they tried to operate and the procedure failed and it became evident that I was going to be physically impaired for the rest of my life, he told me look it is okay, that he loved me anyway, he didn't care about all of that other stuff and that we would work through it together and not to worry.  Now keep in mind that I have been hurt in love before and I wanted to be sure.  Honestly, when he told me that he loved me I thought it was in a friendship sort of way, I actually  thought he was interested in someone else.  It took him several months of talking to me to convince me that I was the one that he wanted.  His words didn't sink in, we had both inadvertently hurt each other last year in Atlanta and when we separated I didn't ever think we would get back together much less talk.  However, when he reminded me of the events of the last day that we spent together, and what had happened and what was said and done that honestly convinced me that he wasn't bullshitting that he really did love me and cares for me.

I would say that I was conflicted and confused because I was interested and having feelings for both of them.  In a way I still do, however, my eyes have been opened to the difference between the two, and I know in my heart that I have love for both of them, I also know that there is only one that I am "In Love With".  It is through this revelation that I learned just how great the human heart is, and I am amazed at the abundance of love that it can have for others.  I have learned that everything we go through and endure makes us stronger and more able to deal with other things as they come up.  See, I moved back to Florida for several reasons, first, I had lost my apartment in Atlanta because of bad choices I had made, the drugs I was doing and the company I was keeping, and as a result of those decisions not only was my apartment lost, but my car was stolen, I ended up loosing all of my clothes, jewelry and possessions and my two beautiful dogs were taken from me and put to sleep.  I was devastated and living on the streets and if that wasn't enough I developed kidney stones and ended up spending a lot of time in the hospital.  Where it was revealed to me that I had renal disease, my kidneys were totally impaired by my HIV Drug regimen, and that if my condition didn't change I was going to need dialysis.  Second, was when I told my dad about my medical condition and all that was wrong with me he asked me point blank did that mean that I was dying.  At that point all the doctors and evidence pointed toward that as fact.  I had been told that I probably wouldn't make it to see next year.  So my dad and step-mom told me I could come and stay with them until I got on my feet.  Literally I left with just the clothing on my back and nothing else.

This my friends is just the beginning of the amazing journey and adventure that I was about to embark upon this year.  I wasn't here in Florida a week when I started urinating blood and running a fever, made several trips to the emergency room, and in March, keep in mind that I got off the bus from Atlanta in Daytona Beach on February 3, 2012, I ended up in the hospital and my colon ruptured in two places, and I was rushed into emergency surgery, kept in ICU for 9 days and wasn't released for 20 more days after that. I learned during that time that there was so much of my life that I needed to share with others, that I had been given so many lessons and that there was work for me to do yet.  I was delivered by God from death, and inspired to continue my work helping others, but this time from a safer distance and through a talent that had laid dormant long enough. I started my blog in April and have been writing ever since. I have met some very interesting characters, friends and acquaintances on this journey. Plus my time on the streets of Atlanta had taught me some very important lessons and survivor skills that I was lacking. My friends and family encouraged me to write my experiences, my lessons learned, and thoughts as well as the wisdom I had picked up during my life.  I had never imagined that it would take off like it has, I am read by over 400 readers a day, and my blog is translated and read in 27 countries around the world.  On top of that I get emails, phone calls, comments on my blog and on Facebook daily about how my life has been an inspiration too so many, that my words speak directly to some, and how easy it is to understand and comprehend what I write about.  But my friends there is still more, I am just beginning to understand life a little better with each passing day.  I comprehend more and see more now that my eyes have been opened toward the world and those around me.  I now understand that there is so much more to be seen and learned that lies just beyond the surface.  That new lessons are presented to me each day, new challenges that I have to rise too, and that nothing or no one can make me feel anything other than what I want to feel, if they do, then I have given them power over me and that isn't always a good thing.

Never in my life have I ever truly been on my own, I have always been in relationships or had others living with me.  This is the first time since I have moved out of my parents house at the age of 17 to join the Navy that I have truly lived and been on my own.  Now, I mean physically alone, I know that I am never truly alone that God and the Angels are watching over me and are always with me.  But, I have never had to entertain myself or lived without someone sharing the place with me.  This is new and it is interesting.  As I have learned more about myself and the lessons of life, I have begun to see the world and others differently.  I have begun to see just how different I am from others, that my positive attitude and sense of humor affect and infect others and how just being confident in myself and strong in my desire to help others has moved me into a whole new world.  After my failed operation in June I joined the Positive Champions Speakers Bureau and the Partnership for Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Planning. I have met some great individuals with the same background as I have.  We stand united against the fears and stigmas of HIV/AIDS, we strive to educate and inform the public of the misconceptions and myths surrounding the disease, and we speak out in public and support the LGBT community and Positive people everywhere no matter of their sexual orientation.  Despite my illness and constant visits to the hospital they have welcomed me and made me apart of their group and family.

But most importantly I have learned that there is life after being diagnosed with terminal illness, that their are ways of compensating for limited faculties and disabling conditions of illness and disease.  That no matter what the doctor's predict about your mortality and time left, that it is just a prediction.  That with a positive attitude and outlook your whole condition and sense of being can be transformed.  In spite of all the illnesses I have, which at current date I have 6 terminal illness all serious with no cure, nothing and no one gets me down for long. That my attitude and outlook are helping countless people and inspiring others to do things they never thought they would be capable of doing.  I live my life as an example, so that others might take hope and benefit from those things I have gone through.  Even though I live with constant pain, I can still give joy and laughter to others, that I can help bring some light into an otherwise darkened world and show people that hope and love still exists.  Since I have gotten sick and became outspoken and vocal about my illnesses I have seen a host of different reactions, some pity, others fear, others revulsion, others awe and wonder.  But, through all of this not one of them has turned away from me and left me.  When I asked a person who told me they were revolted by the fact that I was HIV Poz why they just didn't walk away and stay away, he told me because he soon discovered he was wrong, that he had made some assumptions about me and that the more he learned about me the more he couldn't deny the enthusiasm and joy that I had, and when he heard my story how everything he thought shattered in the face of truth.

As I told you earlier there are people out there that have these notions they think they know you, they think that they have you figured out and when the truth hits them, their whole image of you shatters and they are forced to accept the real you at face value or move on.  In his case when he found out that I had inadvertently infected myself with HIV by using a dirty needle that my one lover had used to shoot up his drugs and put back in my box for my vitamin shots.  His perception of me was changed.  See he thought that I was promiscuous and had slept around and that I had contracted the disease from having sex.  You just never know do you!  Looks can be deceiving and you have to give others the benefit of the doubt. No one can tell just by looking at you that you are ill, or might be dying.  It is through this young man's confession to me that my outlook about others changed as well, and I realized that even I was guilty of looking at others and pre-judging them.  So I stopped doing that literally, I simply now take everyone I meet at face value and I embrace the challenge of getting to know them, and understanding their story.  Because behind every mask, and we all wear one, is a story that is just waiting to be heard, everyone longs to be understood and accepted for themselves on their terms and loved unconditionally.  God has chosen to keep me around a little bit longer and for that I am eternally grateful, he has brought into my life once again a man that I love very dearly, who through every turn and every opportunity has displayed grace, love and acceptance, who always knows exactly what I am feeling and exactly the right words to encourage me, or inspire me.  He has taught me about myself too, he has given me hope and something to live for.  He has proven to me that he wants to spend whatever time we have left together, he turned away from his old life and old ways just because I showed him a different way to be.  He inspires me to be more than I am and encourages me to reach higher than I ever thought I could.  When I talk with him there is nothing I can't do or accomplish, and he accepts all of me, my strengths, weakness, my anxieties, my fears, and my limitations.

Lastly my readers and friends I want to say thank you to you.  For your devotion to reading my blog, for sending me the letters of encouragement, for using your voice on Facebook and other mediums to tell others about me.  I thank you for your prayers, and your wishes for my continued health.  I have never thought I would ever find the sort of acceptance that I have discovered this year.  Everyone I have met and continue to meet constantly tells me that I am such an inspiration.  But it is because of all of you that I am.  It is because of you telling others about me that my popularity has grown.  It is because of you that I have the strength and the ability to continue writing.  It is because of all of you, and the support and love that you have shown me that I am truly grateful, and because of you I don't feel alone.  You have heard my voice both the literal one and my written one and the message that it gives you of hope and inspirations is what drives me forward with compassion and passion to help make the world a better place for all of us to live in.  I am here for you, feel free to write to me, tell me what is going on in your life.  Don't be scared, don't live in the dark, if you don't want to talk to me talk to someone about what is going on.  Trust me when you do the weight and the pressure you are feeling will be lessened and you might find some unexpected advice and help when you least expect it.

Thank you for being my friends, readers, listeners and support network, it is through you and with you that my message of love, acceptance, and friendship is truly being spread.

As always my hopes and dreams are with you,

Uncle B

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Fools Rush In While the Wise Take Their Time.

I have been thinking a lot about relationships lately.  How they are formed and how they stand the test of time, distance, and endure in the face of adversity, jealousy, and envy.  I have also been considering why they might fail, and what is it that makes one relationship stronger than the other?  How can we protect ourselves from getting hurt?  I am sure you will be pretty surprised at what I have come up with on this.  See I have some friends that jump from relationship to relationship, they leap before they look, and sometimes that isn't always a bad thing. But the problem with leaping and not looking is you never actually know what you are going to get.  A question came out in my many phone conversations over the weekend that needs to be explored and answered, and I thought that there was no better place than on Uncle B's Corner. There are a lot of you who come here for advice, inspiration, guidance and support and I think that the question is one that is truly worthy of looking at in detail.   The question was when are you and I going to be number one, why are we always second best?  Why aren't we someone's first choice? Why do we have to wait and settle for what comes our way?

I am going to attempt to answer all of these question in this entry because I think they all tie together and if I weave my tapestry just right the story that unfolds might illuminate the darkness and dispel some of the common mistakes we make when we enter into a relationship.  The first thing I want to talk to you about is the standard age old question how do you make a relationship work.  The easiest thing to remember is that a relationship is a partnership, it is a two-way street, and both partners have to be willing to give and take, and it has to be an equal share, if one member is giving more than the other, it just isn't going to work.  Now, we have discussed relationships before and what you can do to make them last.  There are several key ingredients that needed to ensuring that your relationship is on a solid foundation, those are things like open communication, you have to be able to feel comfortable enough with your partner that you can discuss anything and everything with them.  There can be no secrets, remember that secrets have a price, not only now but in the future as well.  Secrets lead to feelings of betrayal, and open yourself up to lying and deception.  So there has to be absolute honesty, you have to be able to be honest with yourself first and foremost, then honest with your partner. You can't lie to yourself and then try to be honest with your partner, and further if you are sneaking around and hiding secrets from your partner are you being upfront and honest with them?  I don't actually think it is possible.  Lastly you have to open and receptive, you have to willing to compromise, adapt and bend, you cannot be so stuck and rigid in your ways, if you are how can anyone feel comfortable around you and in your environment.  Along with this concept of being open and receptive, is the willingness to try new things, accept the challenges of discovery, both within yourself and in your partner, you have to be open to experimentation and willing to discuss how you feel with them at every new venture.

If you can say and be honest with yourself, look over what I just wrote above, and you can honestly say that you have those attributes between yourself and your partner, I think you have a firm foundation that is going to be necessary to build a lasting long term relationship, and you will be able to weather the storms and obstacles that life and others are going to throw your way.  But remember this is the foundation and the beginning, this is what is necessary to build upon, and trust me when I tell you that a relationship is a work in progress, it is every changing, and you will have to be open to the challenge of growing and adapting with it.  If you are not! And are stuck in your own set rigidity, it will be easy for your partner to outgrow you and move on with someone else that is adaptable and willing to change and grow with the relationship and them.  Now that being said, it is also important to understand that because a relationship is a two-ways street, there has to be some areas of compromise, acceptance and unconditional surrender.  It is impossible to be in a relationship that is solely based on I versus We.  You have to understand that you are no longer thinking and planning for one, you are now a unit and what you do and decide is going to affect you and the entire relationship.  Along those same lines is the fact that both parties in the relationship are not stationary, you have not completed your own path of enlightenment, your journey of self discovery and awareness, you aren't the final product of who you will be or who you are.  Neither has your partner, therefore you have to build in safeguards and plans, you have to have common relationship goals that are in alignment and further your own personal goals.  Remember I told you in another earlier entry that the couples that have both common friends and individual friends as well as common relationship goals and separate personal goals are the ones that are most likely to endure.

Unconditional acceptance and surrender is a mandatory factor in long lasting relationships, because you have to have the heart to accept those things that you cannot change, and surrender yourself to your partner daily and they to you.  By surrender I mean you have to be able to have total trust and belief in your partner, they are who has your back and will be there to protect and uplift you at all times, and you them.  But lets talk a little bit about trust.  Trust is something that is earned over time, it is not something that is automatic, it has to be proven in words and deeds, and it is reinforced by repeated demonstration.  Once trust is established you have to nurture it and protect it, because as I have told you before it is a fragile thing that can be bruised and hurt very easily if betrayed by the person who it has been gifted too.  But it is this fragile and gentle thing called trust that is what will build the bond between you and your partner that no one can break.  It protects you against the jealousy, adversity and envy that others will try to throw at you, they will try to drive a wedge between you and separate you.  I believe that it was Sun Su once said that it is easier to win if you divide and conquer.  You cannot let another's words or deeds separate you from your partner, if you do then you are lost, and the relationship might not be able to survive. Trust is also what will allow your relationship to withstand time and distance, because you have learned to accept and trust your partner and know that they are not going to do anything that will hurt you, that you can count on them and rely on them at all times and in all things.

It is also possible to protect yourself and your heart from getting hurt by taking the time to really get to know the person that you are going out with.  Build a friendship, a relationship that fosters trust, explore each others personal goals, and explore their interest, hobbies, likes and dislikes.  I mean really get to know them, understand them see if their philosophy is similar to your own.  There is definitely nothing wrong with taking it slow.  Remember that everyone of us wears a mask that protects who we are from the world around us, take time to get to know and see the person behind their mask, you will be glad that you did.  Keep in mind that the person that you think they are when you started dating isn't the person that you are going to end up with, because after the honeymoon period and that mask is off, if you haven't taken the opportunity and time to get to know them you might be surprised to find you don't like the person or have anything at all in common with them. Which is why at the beginning of this I told you that those the rush into relationships end up not knowing what they are actually getting.

They say that we should learn from our past, and in the past courtships were usually longer in duration then they are today.  It is a proven fact that people who have a bond of friendship and  a deep respect and love for one another, who fall in love have a more successful and healthy relationship.  I know a lot of you think that if you get too close with a friend that it might ruin the relationship you have with them.  Honestly, guys that is a load of crap.  If you are friends already it will only make that friendship stronger, because a true friend is someone that already accepts you unconditionally, and if something were to happen with the relationship the friendship would still remain and both of you would get past the failed attempt. Remember that the human heart has the greatest capacity to love and forgive. How many times have you had fights and arguments with a friend and didn't talk to them for a while, but sooner or later both of you will come back together and make up.  Friendship can endure through anything, and the same is true for relationships based on true love.  Honestly, how can you love someone if you don't know them? How can you meet someone and three days later think you know everything about them, and be in love?  The answer my friend to both of these questions is that you can't.  If you really are honest with yourself, you know that you have confused attraction and lust and combined it with the feeling of being wanted and needed and called it love.  Love takes time to grow, it is a seed that is planted, nurtured, and then blooms, and when it does it is the sweetest thing you can ever know.

As far as the question of always being a runner up, never anyone's first choice that is a perception thing.  See if you are confident about yourself and know what you want, you end up settling for whatever comes your way, you jump at the first person that shows you attention, and again you confuse the emotions of being needed and wanted with your lust and attraction and think that it is love.  Honestly your mind has tricked you into thinking that lust was actually love, and you thought that the person's mask was the real person, you never gave each other the chance to meet the real people hiding behind the mask waiting to be revealed.  Therefore, everything you thought was actually a lie that you have told yourself, and no matter what you do the brain cannot ever trick the heart.  The heart will try to it's best to accept the other person but soon little things that they do and say will begin to bother you.  Once that starts happening that annoyance  will grow to animosity and eventually to dislike and the relationship will fall apart.  After this happens to you several times you start to doubt yourself, and your ability to actually find love.   Thus making yourself the perfect bridesmaid but never the bride.

Just remember my friend, if you are truly in the market for love, take the time to properly invest in it.  Love and relationships take work and effort, they are not spur of the moment things, and in my mind love at first sight rarely if ever actually happens.  The longer you take and the more that you know about each other will go a long way in building that foundation I was talking about, and once that foundation is laid, nothing in this world will ever be able to dislodge that which is built upon it.  I can tell you from my own personal experience that building a relationship that has a solid foundation of friendship, common experiences and unending trust is worth all the effort, energy and time you put into it.  What an amazing feeling it is to wake up in the morning thinking about someone and know that they are thinking about you.  That you have no doubt in your mind about that person or their intentions, and that they would do nothing intentionally to hurt you.  You know in your mind that they are your light and inspiration and when you go to sleep at night they are the last person that you think about before you fall asleep.  I have to admit, that even though me and my man are miles apart and have been separated for over a year, our relationship has grown so much stronger.  Let me tell you I used to get jealous when people flirted with him and he flirted back, but here is a lesson I learned, I should have taken it as a compliment that others think my man is sexy as hell and is attractive, because it is a great compliment not only to him but to me as well.  See, my man chased me down, he wanted me, and made that perfectly clear, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he could have had anyone he wanted, but it is me that he chose, and it is me that he wants, and at the end of the day I am the one he comes too, tells everything too, and above all else, I am the one he is thinking about.  When we are together I feel like I am home and content just being near him.  Talking to him on the phone puts a smile on my face and joy in my heart.  I know he is the only one for me.  Especially now after everything we have been through, because we have been apart for over a year, and all we have had is talking to one another, and Facebook and emails.  It forced us to actually talk to one another, to explore each other and learn all about each other all over again.  What I have learned and what he has shown me through all of this has been priceless, and no one can ever compete with our memories, and experiences.  No one could ever pry us apart or drive a wedge in between us, because we know each other so well now.

I hope that you take my words and use them, build the foundation, earn the trust needed, invest the time and energy necessary into really getting to know one another and find out exactly what I am talking about.  Again, life is too short to be alone and feeling unfulfilled.  Let me tell you when you find your true love, you will know in your heart, the heart cannot be fooled.

As always my hopes and dreams are with you,

Uncle B

Monday, November 19, 2012

What To Do If You Find Yourself Limited

There are many things that can happen to you that limit your ability to do certain things or activities.  No one ever wants to admit that they are getting old.  That they physically are unable to do the things that they once were able to do.  It can even happen to a younger person due to illness, disease or an accident.  Hell we have people that fought in Vietnam, Korea or even in the recent and past Gulf conflicts that were injured, may have lost a limb, or been injured and now are physically impaired.  So what happens if something that you love and are use too has been taken away from you? That there is no way that you can ever be able to do that activity or function again.

Here let me digress a minute and fill you in on some rather personal information, some of you may already know, but here goes anyway, my big dark secret and a fear that I have been carrying around since June.  On June 13th I went in to the hospital to have another bowel resection, they were supposed to remove the colostomy that is acting as a mucus fistula and try and eliminate the ileostomy at the same time.  Now, this would have been wonderful and a dream come true.  But the reality of the situation is that there has been too many surgeries, too much inflammation, scar tissue and adhesions that have built up because of those surgeries, not to mention all the damage done to the tissue and the pelvic cavity from the radiation treatments.  What was discovered is that as soon as the scalpel starts cutting the abdominal wall, my blood pressure drops to dangerous levels, my breathing becomes erratic and my heart rate declines and my body starts to flat line.  Meaning that if they were to continue the surgery I would have died without any chance of revival.  This was the end of my dream and hope of finally being a whole and normal person.  I have been told recently that neither of the surgeons that have handled my situation in the past were willing to open me back up under any circumstance.  That it would take a skilled team of professionals to handle any further surgery that I may have.  Unfortunately in October it was discovered that the stricture that developed when they fused the two sections of colon back together has grown closed and that I would have to have another surgery.  This surgery is going to be extremely risky and may actually end my life. However, it has to be done, the mucus fistula is not working like they thought it would and fluid continues to build up on my pelvis.

Now, the reason why am telling you all of this is because of the simple fact that the colon has grown totally closed where it was fused is what is causing the fluid to build up. It also precludes me from having any type of anal penetration.  Further, the surgery during the emergency surgery that was performed in March, I was cut open from my breast bone down to my groin. Now I am talking all the way down to the penis, because of how deeply I was cut and the way that the muscles grew back together an inch or more of my penis is now indented. Which means that the length of it is now noticeably shorter.  This for the most part will preclude me from having sex with most gay men, due to the scarring and the length.  So overall in my mind I would have to say that sex for me is now completely finished, over and never to be had again. Seriously, this is a daunting proposition for me, because as people from my past can attest I love sex, it was an activity that I actually was pretty good at and have had some considerable practice at.  No I wasn't promiscuous or anything like that, but there was a time and a place where sex was something that I literally breathed.  This is just one example out of many others that I can throw at you. My mother had a friend named Jeanette, who lived to be 91 years old.  Up until she was 89 she was very active and vigorous in her daily activities and in doing yard work.  She got sick in her 90th year her, she suffered terribly from arthritis and COPD and various other factors that took her mobility and energy away.  However, she still demanded to take care of herself, lived by herself and up until her death held a license and owned a car, though like I said when she turned 90 she really couldn't drive anymore because of macular degeneration of her eyes.

In her case she missed doing the physical things, she was used to taking care of herself and her house. She prided herself on her ability to do those things and the weaker she got the more frustrated she would get. I actually moved home to help my mother take care of her that last year that she was alive, I drove everywhere and cooked and did as many things as I could for her so that she didn't have too.  I enjoyed helping her, but one day in January of 2010 she looked at me and asked me if she was a burden, how she wished that she could just die because she felt like she had to rely on others to do the most basic things and it was hard for her to admit that she was just not able to do everything by herself. My answer surprised her, I didn't think she was a burden at all, and I actually enjoyed the time I got to spend with her.  I learned things about my life and why I cared about people so much.  In a way, my limitations brought me to the realization that I may not be able to do all the things that a normal male of 40 can do, but there are other things, and that I have found someone that accepts and understands my limitations and loves me anyway makes all the difference to me in the world.  I have channeled my energy and passion of sex into caring and helping others. It has pushed me out there into the world to talk to others about my illnesses, limitations, expectations and how I handle them.  I have begun volunteering and helping others in a way that is rewarding and fulfilling.  However, I have found that being candid with others about my illnesses, and limitations has made it easier for me to accept and move past them.

What I have done is found another outlet for my pent up anxiety and frustration.  I remember Jeanette telling me that it is the simple things in life that brought her pleasure, and she would needle point or crochet for hours.  Since she couldn't carry or lift things anymore, or push the mower or plant a full garden, she took joy in the things she could still do, instead of planting a full garden she planted herb gardens in her window.  Planted strawberry plants in planters by her front door, she would crochet or needle point to keep her hands busy and her mind working on what she was doing. She occupied her time by things that she could still do that made her happy.  The concept I am trying to bring forth to you, is it is possible to turn and find alternative activities to do to compensate for those abilities and things you can no longer do.  I have a great mind and a terrific imagination, and I have figured out ways to compensate for my physical ability with activities and things that I can do.  This helps me rid myself of the anxiety I felt, it also lessened my feelings of inadequacy and by talking about it to others, and writing in my blog has made it something that I can almost accept totally and move on. I still have feelings of anguish over my crushed dream of being made whole, but I think in time those too will pass and vanish.  It also helps that I have found someone that cares enough about me to tell me that it doesn't matter to him, that we will face it together and will work out a solution.  Up until today, I had been keeping it from him, but when I told him my fears, he said the right things, and that it didn't matter that it was me he wanted, that it was me that has inspired him and made him a better person, but you wanna know the truth of the matter, maybe it is that we inspired each other and have given each other hope for a better life, and a happier one then we have known before.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have looked death in the eye several times this year, and it scared me, but somehow, I knew it wasn't my time to go yet.  But it brought into sharp focus my limitations and abilities, it also made me intensely aware of the fear I had hiding within myself. Just like Jeanette, I had begun to feel like I was a relic, no longer useful or productive and that I wasn't going to be wanted and desired by anyone.  Now, with that being said, those that truly know me can attest that nothing gets me down for long so I have bounced back and I have shifted my focus to what I can do, what makes me happy, what am I passionate about that I can pour my energy and my life into.  I have come to understand that having a terminal illness doesn't mean that you are going to die right away necessarily and that there is life after being diagnosed.  As I said at the beginning of this entry, there are just circumstances and events that are beyond our scope of control that can severely impact our lives and limit our abilities.  When that happens, we can't let the anguish and depression hold us back, we have to face those limitations without fear, using our mind and creativity and imagination to find ways to compensate or even supplement the loss.

Now I am fully aware that there is going to be a period of time when your mind and emotions are not going to deal with this rationally.  You are definitely going to go through the 5 stages of grief and remorse and will have to weather that storm, but eventually after you have passed through that you will find other activities and things that will help you take your mind off the limiting ability.  I have found that humor helps me deal with my situation and allows me to be perfectly frank and candid about my situation.  When I am talking to others, or filling out applications, and it comes to the question of sex, I say well I am a plant, I am neither male of female, I am asexual how would you like me to answer this question.  Or if they ask it another way, I say no not right now I am too sore, but maybe when I heal up we could attempt.  Levity and humor make the situation tolerable, and opens the door for me to talk to others about my illness and how it has actually affected me.  You never know where personal encounters are going to take you, or who else might be dealing with a similar situation and have been harboring the guilt and anxiety within themselves and has had no one that they can talk to or even laugh about it with.  My friends let me tell you that life is too short to stay quiet, get out there tell your story, embrace life and living and trust me you will be rewarded. Both emotionally, physically and spiritually.  I find the greatest joy in meeting new people and experiencing life through their eyes. Because as I have told you before we each feel, experience and see things differently, and if you take the chance to walk in someone else's shoes, guess what you might get blisters or sore toes, but you are also going to have a greater understanding of who that person really is.

My advice to you my friend is don't give in to despair, anguish, anxiety, guilt or any of the other hundreds of emotions that you might be feeling, don't wallow in self-despair and pity, change the variables, change the game, and like I told you yesterday you can change the way you think and react to things.  Find something new and different to do, find a new outlet, hobby or release that you are comfortable with, enjoy and make the change. Again, I will tell you if I can do it so can you.

As always my hopes and dreams are with you,

Uncle B

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Remorse and Regret Can Be Overcome By Helping Others!

Do you feel remorse and regret for an situation or action that occurred but there is no way you can go back and make it up to the person that was hurt?  Do you suffer from guilt and anxiety over not being able to make it up to the person that was hurt?  If you do, then I want you to try something, now this is not an original idea I got it from the movie "Pay It Forward" but I think it is an excellent way to help you deal with those feelings and maybe in some small way get the closure you need to let those emotions go finally.  Because trust me when I tell you, if there is nothing you can do, and you can't actually find or get in touch with the person who you have wronged or hurt, then those emotions are useless and are only holding you back and hurting you.  With that in mind if there is a way that you can get in touch with the other person, then I think you should contact them and tell them that you are sorry, give them a heartfelt apology and let those feeling finally move on.  Don't try to reopen the wounds by giving a halfhearted apology with excuses and rationalizations attached, because that is just going to make the situation much worse.  You would have been better off just living with the guilt, remorse, regret and anxiety. 

Each of us searches for closure for all painful things in our lives.  Sometimes it is because a relationship went horribly wrong, and both of you got hurt, or if there was some kind of altercation in your life and you parted friends with someone and ugly hateful words were said, or heaven forbid some sort of accident occurred and someone was seriously injured or hurt. Maybe a parent or loved one died and you had a fight and never got the chance to make up or they died suddenly and you never got the chance to say goodbye, whatever the reason, it is true there are times when we need closure but can't find it or get it for whatever the reason. When this happens feelings of regret and remorse can overwhelm us, followed closely by guilt and anxiety, which if left untreated, can lead to severe depression.

Closure is a way of moving past those old hurts and pains and move forward, either with the person or without. Sometimes closure brings answers to unanswered questions or provides explanations for why certain things happened as they did.  However, as I have said earlier sometimes closure isn't possible for one reason or another.  Sometimes closure can occur over time, however the questions still remain.  One thing is for sure that if you cannot find or talk to the other person closure may or may not be possible.  Sometimes asking for forgiveness or apologizing brings closure and sometimes it doesn't.  But, I want you to keep in mind that forgiveness is for you and you alone, even if someone does say that they forgive you, it doesn't really help them out.  It is for you. You are the one that is going to feel better in the end.  However, just like with closure and moving on, forgiveness may not be able to be had.

But there might be a way for you to use the emotions of regret, remorse, guilt and anxiety to help someone else out.  In other words "paying it forward", doing something to help others might actually get your mind off the issue that you are seeking closure for.  Now it will not answer the questions you might have or assuage all of your feelings that you are experiencing, but it will bring you some relief.  You may not be able to make it right with the person you have wronged but you can make it up to someone, and by doing that you are paying it forward, and if everyone did that the world would be a kinder and lighter place.  There would be less fighting and more understanding and friendships.  I for one have friends that I have known my whole life, and I take those friendships very seriously.  Now I can't say that there haven't been arguments and misunderstandings. That we haven't fought and stopped talking at times for awhile, but what I can say is that no matter what the issue or the problem we eventually always come back together and work it out.  If everyone did that, don't you think there would be less pain and animosity in the world.

Every time I meet a new person I enter into that relationship and cultivate it for longevity. I am not interested in just meeting you and making your acquaintance, I am interested in being a life long friend. Someone you can count on and trust. But I am also hoping to make the world a better place, and I think that by cultivating friendships and understanding how people are will go a long way toward making the world a brighter and safer and better place.  My definition of friend is that I accept you as you are.  I take you at face value, and I truly embrace your uniqueness and your differences and accept all of you. I can't like you and not accept you I am just not built that way.  I know that the human heart has the greatest capacity for unconditional love and acceptance.  It also has the greatest capacity to forgive, but once wounded it doesn't forget the pain.  It can move on get past it and work through the issue, but it doesn't forget the pain or the hurt that has been done to it.  As a matter of fact I was discussing this with a new friend just last night. See, I know that the human heart has the greatest capacity to love, and when it loves it loves hard, it is possible to love countless people. You love and care about your parents, your siblings and others that you have had relationships with in the past.  The love you have for your family is unconditional love, no matter what they do, they are your family and you care about them and will try your best to put them first, it goes the same with your friends.  Unconditional means total and uncompromising acceptance, willingness to overlook or accept and embrace their flaws as well as their virtues.  

The reason why I am bringing this up is that it is the heart that allows us to move on and find closure in actions, words and deeds.  They don't necessarily have to be from the person that hurt you or you were hurt by.  The heart is amazing in it's ability to forgive, move on, and find closure. It also finds inspiration in the smallest things and can make you happy even in the midst of your darkest hour.  With that in mind I honestly believe that by helping others that are in need might be just what you need to assuage your feelings of remorse and regret, as long as you are of pure intention and not looking for anything back in return.  Trust me when I tell you the feelings of joy and satisfaction will overpower and replace the feelings of regret and remorse you were feeling.  You can take a sense of pride that you are in a small way doing your part in making the world a better and safer place to live in. That you are creating an atmosphere of love, tolerance and acceptance that will continue to perpetuate through the many lives that you touch.  I have told you over and over again that the you never know where a casual encounter will take you, how your reaching out you hand in friendship and caring to another, might take them.  How a simple act of kindness may be all that is standing between a person and suicide.  Life has a funny way of taking our efforts and making them so much more than what they started out as.  Think of your act of kindness as a pebble falling into a lake, the ripples that is caused by that pebble start out small and expand the further out it travels.  One simple act can affect so many more people than you ever realize.  

Just remember the advice that my grandfather gave me.  A man doesn't leave his mark on the world by how many possessions he has or how much money he makes, but by how many lives he touches and how many people remember him after he is gone.  It is my hope that out of the thousands of people who I have helped and lives I have touched will remember me for the kindness and love that I have for them, and remember that someone once helped them when they needed it and will do the same for someone else.  I have been told by several people recently that they find inspiration in me just by the way I live and how I handle dealing with all the issues and problems that I have.  That statement alone proves to me that even the least deed that we do can have far reaching affects, we never know who is watching us and getting inspiration from our daily life. How many others are changed and helped by the example that demonstrate in your daily life.

As always my hopes and dreams are with you,

Uncle B

Saturday, November 17, 2012

You Know It Is Possible To Reinvent Yourself

No matter what you are going through, or have been through, doesn't have to define you. You do have the ability to reinvent yourself.  If something isn't working for you, change it.  As I have told you before, life doesn't come with a remote control, so if isn't to your liking get off your butt and change it. You maybe wondering what I am talking about here, because you know that I don't honestly think a person can change their core being, that they are essentially going to be the same.  Now, let me try to explain a little further what I mean here. See it is important for you to get this.  See, if you are a kind and caring, compassionate person, and have a huge heart.  Nothing that you ever do or change about yourself is ever going to change that.  All the exterior trappings, masks and changes that you display to the world is ever going to make a bit of difference. You are essentially going to remain that same kind, loving compassionate individual.  So when I am talking about reinventing yourself, I guess the proper description would be that you can change your persona or image that others have of you.  You have the ability to make the world around you see you differently. If you can change your modus operandi, the trappings that you have cloaked yourself in you entire life, it is possible to create a new persona or image that you will be identified with by your family and friends.

You are probably shaking your head at this point and wondering what the hell I am talking about.  You might even thinking that I am talking to you in Greek, but I am not.  I have a lot of friends in the entertainment industry people that are actors, actresses, singers, song writers, composers, and of course stage and theater performers that are constantly reinventing themselves and changing the way people see them.  See each of them has an image that the world sees and recognizes them as.  Look at Madonna, she has continually reinvented herself and her style year after year.  This is what I am talking about.  You too can reinvent how the world sees and views you.  Let me break it down a little further for you.  Many of you know me from my days running and selling drugs.  Others know me before that, like from high school and the Navy.  Each of these groups of friends have different views and ideas about me and the person I am.  The people that were my friends from high school probably remember a geeky little guy, who had an extremely big heart, and a way of touching people so that they all remembered him.  He was also funny, caring and made sure that he knew everyone and what was important in their lives.  The folks from my past drug days, will probably have a different idea of who and what I am.  But they will also tell you this, he is a guy with an extremely big heart, that cares about everyone, and helps anyone that he can.  But he is a good business man, and makes money selling his stuff.  For those people that remember me from when I worked for the State of Georgia, they will tell you that I am extremely smart, but I had a lot of drama that followed me and my life.   One thing that they will also say is that I knew what I was about, confident and had very important people relying on my advice and suggestions as far as my job went.

Now, what does all of this mean, see at each phase of my life, I adapted the persona to fit the situation, but my core personality always show through.  I am who I am  and that is all I can be is a saying that I am very fond of, but that is my heart, my soul and my spirit.  Who the world sees when I wake up in the morning is someone different.  Perceptions play a very big role in our lives.  As I have told you before we all wear masks. The outward face that the world sees, and this is what I am talking about when I am telling you that you can reinvent yourself.  I went from a nerd to a preppy, to a business man, to a drug addict, to an educated writer and speaker that writes a blog and helps people all over the place.  These are incarnations of who I am and the phases that I have been through and continuing in.  You might even think of these as my way stops or resting places along the road of life.  These are the phases or careers, or paths that I have taken.  They aren't who I am, because I am still growing, maturing and adapting to life, so I am far from being complete and whole.  For each new path, passage or road that I take I have to reinvent myself, or explore and define who and what I am.  The world will identify with that persona.  I might dress like my thug boyfriend and be considered white chocolate, you never know, it could happen.  It is probably not very likely but stranger things have happened in my life.

Let me put this another way, the other day I was talking to you about patterns of behavior, and how we can break out of them.  These patterns of behavior, are the actions and reactions that we most often take under certain situations.  A persona, is similar to a pattern.  A persona is the way we react and interact with others in a professional and sometimes in a social setting.  Whereas a pattern of behavior is our typical reaction to stress, and emotional catalysts.  Now, if you can understand this it shouldn't be too much harder to grasp the concept of reinvention.  There are times when each of us reaches a point in our life where we feel like we are stagnate, stale and not enjoying life anymore. Or you might have a reputation of being a thief or a liar, a drug addict or something else unflattering.  This might bring you to a point where you don't want to be identified like that anymore, or if you have a child and you want to be more responsible and respectable for their benefit. These are good reasons for reinventing yourself. No matter what your reason for wanting to change be reassured that you have the ability to change it, make a difference, and correct the misconceptions that others have of you.

Actors and stars do this all the time, they change their look, their sound or key identifiers that people use to associate with them.  You and I may never get to the point in our life when we are a household name and everyone is going to know us, but it is possible to change the way your friends and family look at you and see you.  Basically in a nutshell reinvention is making a change in your image or reputation. If you do that then you have changed your persona or have reinvented yourself.  Simple as that.

As always my hopes and dreams are with you,

Uncle B

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Don't be a victim any more!

I posted a blog several minutes ago that is totally based on personal experience.  How I have found myself confronted with friends and acquaintances that continually hit me up asking for help both financially and emotionally.  What I have realized is that I am the one that has set up myself for failure in my dealings with others.  Last year when I was in Atlanta, I found out that I am stuck in a pattern of behavior, a destructive spiral that has been repeating in my life for years. But each time I get hurt I am still surprised. My case manager at AID Atlanta pointed out to me that everything I have ever done is set myself up to be a victim.  I started seeking professional help.  Apparently my personal interrelationship skills have been severely warped because of trauma experienced in my previous long term relationship.  Now, trust me when I tell you that there was some trauma, mental and physical abuse that I endured for twelve years, but I don't believe that my behavior is a product of that relationship alone.  As I am very fond of telling you, we are the product of everything we have ever been through, all the people we have ever known and the decisions and choices we have made. With that being said, let me tell you that I believe some of my behavior problems come from the way my parents interacted with each other while I was growing up.

My parents were married and divorced from each other 4 times.  They had terrible fights and never got along.  All together my parents were together for 36 years, but I am not sure they ever knew what true love was.  This pattern of behavior between my parents had affected my ability to find and nurture a successful relationship.  Plus, the experiences I have had with my own long term relationships have affected my self-esteem and self-worth.  Sometimes I wonder if that alone might the biggest factor in how I enter into relationships and how I react when I meet other people. See when my 12 1/2 year relationship finally came to an end, I had forgotten who I was. I somehow lost myself in the relationship, my sense of identity and fundamentally my drive and direction in life.  I had also been told over and over again for 12 long years that I was fat, ugly, untalented and undesirable. I had heard it so much, that I began to believe it.  Now, even though I weigh a hundred and thirty pounds I still see the fat person staring back at me from the mirror.

In order to keep myself from getting hurt, I met and dated people that I felt needed me, people who I thought I could help or rescue from themselves or the situations that they were in.  I guess in some sort of way it made me feel good helping other people, that I was like a hero coming to their rescue, was helping them to better themselves. It made me feel useful and needed, and somewhere during our conversations, I would explain how others in my past had stolen from me or done me wrong.  Thus giving them the ammunition and the information they needed to do exactly the same thing to me that others had done.  What I did was sabotage myself and the relationship right from the beginning.  Instead of protecting myself, I ended up giving away my weaknesses and vulnerability.  Then I would wonder why I was hurt and used and left all over again, and why it seemed to keep happening to me.  I used to think that men would see my kindness for weakness, but what was actually happening was I myself was giving others the ability to use me and take from me repeatedly.

What I am trying to tell you is that each of us follows our own pattern of behavior, and if you look hard enough and are honest with yourself you can discover yours. Once you discover the pattern and understand why you have fallen into it, you can then change it. You can break out of it and create a new pattern.  My pattern started because I had the need to feel wanted, the need to be needed and useful in someone else's life. What started out as a desire to help others, to make their lives easier, to help them overcome their obstacles and work through their issues and crisis's, would end up with me getting involved with them. Some might even call that a Florence Nightengale syndrome.  You want to help and be a rescuer, you get a sense of joy and fulfillment out of helping others, it makes you feel like you are useful and worthy.  You then start to identify those feelings with intimacy, and you start falling for those you are trying to help.  Or at least that is what I did.  I would then further talk to them explain to them how hurt I have been in the past, what I was afraid of, how people had stolen from me, taken from me and used me.  By doing that and confiding in these individuals, I gave them all the information and ammunition they needed to do the same thing to me.  Therefore, I ended up perpetuating this behavior over and over again.  So I would be a savior, hero, protector, basically Captain-Save-A-Ho. Then I would get closer to the person I was trying to help, become intimate, reveal my entire life history to them, and open myself up to be a victim, then once it happened I would then become a martyr.  This was a never ending cycle.

Being a drug addict didn't help the situation at all. As a matter of fact it opened me up to scores of people that always seemed to need help.  I was in a financial situation where I could help them, get them drugs and help them get off the street.  I didn't realize the destructiveness of my behavior.  Nor while I was on the drugs could I see what was plain to everyone around me. That my relationship building skills were severely damaged.  Once I realized that I was stuck in a destructive type of behavior, I started to change my pattern, got off the drugs, got a job, reevaluated my goals and moved away from my old group of friends.  On top of that I enrolled in school to better myself and start a new chapter in my life.  I also started writing my blog, to help others and put some distance between myself and others.  I don't want to again confuse my need to help others with intimacy.  I am more guarded with my life and who and what I allow in.  I stay away from the drugs and those that do them and I am much happier that way.

Honestly, if you are not happy with your life, you have to do something to change it yourself, it doesn't come with a remote control.   What this means is that you have to get up off your butt and make the changes because there isn't a little box that is going to make the changes for you.  You have to put some effort into making the change or it just isn't going to happen.  Change takes effort, time and energy!  But trust me if I can do it you can too.  Don't let others intimidate you or make you feel that you owe them something. Because you know what the only person you owe anything too is yourself.  You owe it to yourself to protect yourself from hurt, pain or people that want to use and abuse you.  You have to put yourself first and everyone else after that. Just like in my earlier blog, you can want to help someone, but if they aren't doing something to change themselves, and they are not demonstrating that they want to change, walk away. Because you can't force someone to change themselves. They have to want it. They have to make the effort, you cannot do that for them.  Also if someone is demonstrating that they are continuing in their same pattern behavior and not trying to better themselves. Move on, they are stuck on Repeat and are going to stay there till they hit rock bottom.  Once they hit rock bottom they are likely to want to make the necessary changes to move on with their life.

I have a lot of friends and acquaintances that are still out there waking up every morning turning to their dealer and asking for a wake up, then in the afternoon calling back looking for a pick me up.  They go from place to place, party to party, friend to friend looking for their next hit or fix.  These are the people that are stuck on repeat.  Not making any effort to change their behavior or situation.  The friend I was talking about in my last entry who asked me to help him out, is living on the street. Staying in hotels for a couple nights at a time before going back on to the street.  He hustles, sells himself to make a buck and get his drugs.  I was attracted to him, wanted to help him and get him off the street.  I offered to buy him a bus ticket and bring him down to stay with me.  At first he wanted to stay in Atlanta to spend time with his family for his birthday. He was supposed to get back with me on dates that he would be able to come.  He never did, and then last night got mad at me when he asked me for help and I told him that I didn't have the money.  He also threw it in my face that I hadn't bought the bus ticket yet, therefore I was a bullshitter.

The truth of the matter is that it was him and his inconsistency that caused me not to buy the ticket to come to Florida.  Further, after our conversation last night I realized that what I had done, how I had confused my desire of wanting to help him and better his situation with feelings of caring.  He used that against me by telling me that he cared about me and missed me. But his words and actions tell me otherwise. This is how I came to realize that it wasn't me that he wanted.  He wanted what he thought that I could do for him. To him it didn't matter who it was, he cared about what others can do for him. Further, the more we talked the more it became evident that everything that he ever told me about how he cared for me and even told me that he loved me was a lie.  He doesn't want to change his life or his situation, he wants to hustle others to get what he needs.  He has no problem telling them what he thinks they want to hear.  This is what he did to me, and when I offered to help him get off the streets all he wanted was for me to send him money.  He even tried to tell me things about the person I am dating thinking that this would separate us and make it easier for him to get what he wanted out of me. Even now as I am writing this I am once again bemoaning what has happened to me.  The difference this time, I have come to realize the pattern and now I am exposing it to the world and purging it from my system by writing this.  I don't want you to think that I am making myself out to be a martyr, see I know what I have done, and realize it.  I am explaining it to you so that you don't get caught up like I did.

Be wary of your patterns, learn them and if they are detrimental to yourself or others change them anyway you can. Just by making a minor deviation, you can totally change your pattern altogether. I hope that you take my experience and learn from it.  If you find yourself in a similar situation you need to let them go, walk away and cut your losses.

As always my hopes and dreams are with you,

Uncle B

What Have I Done? Captain-Save-a-Ho is Gone

A couple of weeks ago I talked to you about when is it going to be my turn. When am I going to find someone that puts me first, puts my needs and wants before their own, and when am I going to have someone that I can depend on?  For the answer to that my friends it has become evident that I am going to have to change something about myself. Do something about who and what others think and perceive me to be.  As sad as this might sound, I think I am the one that has caused others to see me as a person they can rely on, they can depend on me, and I am always going to be there to bail them out of every situation that they get themselves into.  I must have really done a number on myself and these individuals over time to have them, honestly think that I can always at the drop of a hat, reach out my hand and lift them back out of the situations they have gotten themselves into.

What prompted me in the first place to explore this situation is, it seems like every single person that I consider a friend has always come to me and asked me to bail them out, help them with this bill, or that bill, can I buy them a ticket to come see me, etc. Can I buy them a cell phone, or pay their cell phone bill, help them with cigarette money, or pocket cash. Whatever the case maybe there are numerous people that I know that hit me up for money all the time.  The problem with that is I don't have the funds or the resources to help these individuals anymore.  I am out on my own for the first time in 25 years, and I am alone, I am not with someone that is covering half of the bills. This is Bryan and Bryan alone in this world trying to make ends meet just like everyone else today, in an economy that is pretty heavily messed up. There are hundreds of unemployed people in the world, money is tight all over, and there are more and more people on the streets. I wish that there was something I could.  A magic wand I could wave and rescue these people from themselves and the financial crisis they find themselves in.  But the honest truth is, my hands are tied. I don't have the liquid cash like I used to have, I don't have a partner with me who makes as much money as I do footing half of the bills like I had for the last quarter of a century. It is just me folks. I wish I still had the job making a 100k or more a year and had excess that I could help you every time you need me. But the truth is, I make less that 25k now a year and I am struggling to make ends meet myself.

Some of you who have known me for years know that I have always been there to help everyone I could.  I came running anytime I had a friend in need. Guess what those days are over!  Captain Save-a-Ho is gone. He is dead and buried along with my old life and old career.  I am not rich anymore, I am just like everyone else today. What is even more sad is that I thought some of you cared about me, that we were friends and that we had each other's backs, but the truth of the matter is the only time you think about me or call me or want to be around me is when you think I am going to be able to help you out.  Well, sorry to disappoint but helping out is a two-way street.  How many of you are there when I need a helping hand?  How many of you are there when my car is in the shop? How many of you were there when I was living on the streets and needed a place to stay?  Not many I will tell you that. Those of you that were are expecting something back in return and now that there isn't any drugs or money to be had you don't want nothing to do with me. Then there are others that think because we helped each other out of situations in the past that you are owed something, and maybe you are right, but guess what the time isn't right and neither are the funds.

My mother used to have a poster up at her desk at work that used to say "Lack of planning on your part, doesn't constitute an emergency on my part".  This is the honest to God truth, you have been making without me, been doing alright for yourself too I guess, because I haven't heard from you till now.  Then all of a sudden you hit me up telling me that you think I need to send you some money because you need help paying for your room and stuff, yet you are playing on the computer, doing other things with your life, like getting high and wasting all of your money on extras, now you expect me to come and pick you up.  You haven't even asked what is going on in my life, you just turn to me and want.  You are offering nothing back in return. You say you miss me and that you care about me, but the only time I hear from you is when you need or want something and you want me to provide it for you and make it happen.  Like I don't have expenses and bills of my own, that I am struggling, that I may not have food enough to eat, or I am not sitting around wondering how I am going to pay the electric bill to keep my power on, or get my car out of the shop.

See the problem is you are still in that world of drugs and alcohol, you are only thinking about yourself and your next move, and your own habits and needs. You don't ever think about the other person that you are talking too. You say you care, but what you are actually saying is you care about yourself and what you think I can do for you.  You miss me being around so that you have someone to help you and you can rely on. It isn't me the person who you really care about, because honestly it could be anyone that has the resources you need.  It isn't about me at all it is always about you. That is not what I need or want in my life. It should be about us, and what we can do for each other.  I was in your world once, there for a long time and I understand about running game and playing people.  I see where you head is at, and I am sorry but I am not there anymore, I have outgrown that life and I have moved on.  I guess that also means I have outgrown you.  See I was the fool because I lied to myself and believed that you cared about me. I fooled myself thinking that I was important to you, and in a small way I was. I was someone who you could use to get what you wanted or needed at the moment, I had the connections, the transportation, and I had the means.  But guess what I don't want to be in that world any more.  I have become so much more than I was. I have learned things about myself that have made me stronger.  They have given me the strength I need to see this for what it truly is.  The light that I have received has opened my eyes to you and your situation. I understand now that you are where you at because you choose to be there.  You don't have to stay there, but you want to be there.  Because of this I can't help you anymore. I now see that you have no interest in me, you have an interest in what you think I might be able to do for you.

I have set myself up for failure with you, I told you everything you needed to know to victimize me. I thought I was helping you, that you needed me and here what I did was give myself a false sense of intimacy, a feeling that I was needed by you. Which in turn enabled you to use me.  I made myself into a hero swooping in the last minute to always rescue you, and fooled myself into thinking I was needed by you and wanted by you.  In the end you took me for granted and you used me for whatever you could. I stayed in that situation till it hurt or you bled me dry. But see my eyes are open, I am sober and you are not, you feign that I have slighted you and cheated you, and my sense of morality makes me feel guilty when I tell you I can't help you. You get angry and swear at me and treat me like you treat others without respect or dignity.  Guess what my friend you truly aren't a friend of mine at all. I know I have allowed myself to be seen by you as something that I am not. More than I want to be, and I guess it is time for you to finally face reality, I am not the one who is going to reach out and rescue you once again. Our time is over my friend I have done for you all that I intend too.  Besides, I can't honestly help you when I can't even help myself at this point in my own life.

I am doing something that you would never consider, I am working on making myself a better person, changing my life because if I don't I am destined to keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again.  So say farewell to Captain-Save-a-Ho he is gone and never to return.  If you want to be my friend you have to show me that you care about me. You have to be willing to work with me and not against me. You have to be able to show me that you have changed and that you want to be around me. You call me during the good times and the bad, that you aren't always asking me for handouts, and you are there for me when I need help. You offer assistance even before it is needed. Because believe me that is what friendship is all about.  If I only hear from you when you need something, trust me I am now always going to answer NO, I cannot help you. It is my turn to live, it is my turn to repair my own life, and I can't do that if I am helping you fix your immediate problem or situation.  You are taking too much from me and giving nothing back in return. You are not a friend at all. The feelings you have professed to me are nothing more than a pipe dream.

Prove to me that you have changed. Show to me that I am the number one priority in your life, and then maybe we can talk. I have someone, and you did your best to try and break me apart from him, and guess what you failed. Your true colors keep coming back around. The mood swings and the angry messages.  You again, didn't even wait to see what was going on in my life, you just immediately assumed that I would have the resources to help you. You of course were high and probably don't even remember what you said. But I do, and I am sorry but again this is goodbye.

Take care my friend you will not be hearing from me again, but I am sure you will try and contact me.  Wishing and hoping I will still be there for you. Once you did have my heart, but you proved over and over again how all you ever want or need is money out of me.  I am so much more than you can see.  I wish you would take off that drug induced haze and see who I really am, because I am so much more than you give me credit for.  We could have helped one another, been something to each other, but you threw it away.  You almost had me convinced that I was in love with the wrong man. You tried to tell me things to make me like him less and you more. But what you failed to realize I was always there and I know both of you and what you do and did. I am smarter now, and I am not some stupid kid.  You are in your 20's and I am in my 40's.  I played those games with others when I was your age, they haven't actually changed much. But see I have.  If I were still doing the drugs you attempts might have worked, but see I know you T and I also know K, and I have been with K for a long time, I know him better than he knows himself and we have given up that stuff that you are smoking and doing.

I truly wish I could help you, but I am sorry what you said last night just throw me over the edge. You really think I don't know what K used to be?  Over five years I have known that man, was with him and W, and watched how that turned out.  I know he isn't going to do those things to me, been there, seen it, wrote the book, and I am still here.  I am the one that stuck with him through it all, and if you think that is weakness than you are a bigger fool than I thought. Tricks, lies and games are all you have, I should have known it from the start. But see I was tempted by that old life, I am so glad I walked away from.

Take care T, I am gone.  Captain-Save-A-Ho is no more!

As always my hopes and dreams are with you,

Uncle B

Related entry :

Monday, November 12, 2012

Not Knowing Might Just Be a Good Thing!

I was talking with a friend today, telling him about how confusing life can be and how I don't know which direction I want to take my life in.  It was then when I was talking to him that I realized it might not be a bad thing not knowing where I am going.  I have tried the college thing, and sitting in an office thing. I have had many careers in my life, and each and everyone of them I didn't actually enjoy.  There were some that I like more than others, there were some that definitely paid more than the one before.  But, where was my happiness, enjoyment, fulfillment and passion?  It wasn't too be had in any of the things I have done.  Since I started writing again, I  have found a peace and contentment that I haven't felt before. I feel a connection to each and everyone of my readers, and a sense of fulfillment I have never felt before.

This year I learned what passion is about, it is about doing the things that we love, what makes us feel content and happy doing. I love people, all kinds of people, I love talking, and I love helping out where and when I can.  This is why I write my blog, it brings me a joy and a peace that I can only describe to you.  So what new direction do I see myself going in? Is the path that I am on going to lead me to the right place?  I don't know the answers to those things, but here is what I do know. I know that I love talking to people, doing things for them, and being around them.  I am happiest in a crowd and yet alone.  I don't know if that makes any sense to you, but it does to me.  I feed off the energy of those around me, their excitement, their passions, and their needs.

Some of you are aware that I am going back to school to learn cosmetology, something that I am pretty sure I will be good out, I seem to have a real artistic flair not only with writing, but drawing as well. I have found that I am very good with my hands, and have pretty good dexterity which will come in handy trying to style and cut peoples hair.  I also have a mind that is constantly full of ideas and designs, so maybe I will take my career further and become a hair designer, or start doing hair shows and competitions. I guess it just depends on what happens.  I leave so much of my life up for grabs, because when I try to plan out things and work toward those plans, everything falls apart. I am more of a fly by the seat of my pants kind of guy.  It has worked for me pretty much so far, and I can't complain about the things I have done or the accomplishments I have made.

But, while talking to my friend I realized that having goals and dreams are but resting points along the way of life's journey.  Because once we reach those goals and get them behind us we have to make new ones or grow stagnant.  The important thing is not the goals, but how we got there, the obstacles we have overcome the hurtles we have jumped and the accomplishments we have made along the way.  Another thought jumped in my head as I was talking about this. There have been times in my life where I have set goals, or milestones and never reached them.  I looked back from where I was at resting, and was disappointed because I had other plans, other goals, and other aspirations that just didn't get fulfilled.  But, when I looked closely at where I was at, I discovered something. God had brought me to the exact place, in the exact moment that I needed to be there, so that I could learn a lesson, endure a hardship or receive a reward.  So, in the long run, I hadn't failed, I just hadn't quite got to my destination yet.  I needed training and instruction along the way, which is exactly what I got. Because the lessons I learned at each point in my life were important and something that I carried forward and still use today.

I also understand why some people now have trouble making up their mind and sticking to a decision.  See there is a thing called fear, that will stop us in our tracks, it will paralyze us and keep us from trying.  It is something that can be detrimental to our journey if we let it.  Sometimes, our own past, and our rationale stop us from trying. We over analyze our situation, we try to comprehend and make everything make perfect sense, and when we can't we are held in a single spot.  How can you ever get anywhere if you have to understand it perfectly, you can't.  Don't let your own mind or fear hold you back from trying and experiencing something new.  Sometimes you got put yourself out there and take a leap of faith, either it is going to be worth it or it isn't.  If it turns out to not be what your expecting or if your aren't 100 percent comfortable, it might be time for regrouping, reevaluating and moving on.  You have to do for you.  No one else is going to be able to do it for you.  Remember that happiness and contentment are found within yourself, not outside of yourself.

While I was talking to my friend I started explaining to him how I make my choices.  I explained to him that I do a risk assessment of each situation. Believe it or not it is something I learned in business school and it is something that I apply to my daily life and living each and every day. Who said that you can't learn something practical and useful in the business world?  Anyhow, I talk about this extensively in my blog entry on Mitigating your Risks, but I want to go back over it briefly here.  Because I think it is important for you to understand, that if you weigh the benefits and the risks, and you find the benefits outweigh the risks than that is the option I would take.  But before I go off on that I do risk mitigation, which is an important part for setting yourself up for success.  See you look at each of the risks that you have identified and you see what you can do to lessen them or eliminate them totally.  When you do that you have a sound game plan that is ready for execution, and your investment of time, energy, money and emotions should get a strong return.

So what am I actually trying to tell you?  I am trying to tell you that sometimes you just have to step out there and just do something, that you don't necessarily have to know the direction or path to take, you just have to trust that you can take care of yourself and that you can make it.  Let me try and give you an example of what I mean.  I have a friend that is trying to decide where he wants to relocate to.  He has several choices and options that are open to him.  He can come to Florida, go to Atlanta, he can stay where he is, or he can go to New York or other places.  Everyday he over analyzes and thinks about the situation, and every day it is a different choice, he is stuck in a state of confusion and indecision.  He needs to honestly think about it very topically, see where his best options lie and go for where the best return of his efforts are going to get him.  Or he can step out and accept the hand of friendship and take a leap of faith, start over fresh.  If that doesn't work out for him he can then change his options and try something new or different.  See, in his case he is so intent on the analysis of the risks and benefits, that he can't get past it, he can't comprehend all of the risks involved because he is over analyzing and making the decision harder.  He is also holding back because he is afraid, he was hurt the last time he made a decision and it didn't turn out well, now he is afraid that will happen all over again. This my friends is what fear does, it paralyzes you and won't give your brain time or energy to actually view the problem logically and come up with a proper solution.  Also that fear is keeping him from truly understanding all the risks involved in the decision making process.

You have to let go of the past, accept the mistakes that were made in it, in order to move on. You have to let go of the fear that is holding you back and you have to make a decision. As long as you have a support network and a fall back plan what is it going to hurt you to just make a move.  Remember that no matter what you are moving again on the path, you can always change directions, gears or plans, but if you are standing still not moving you are not really living.

Let me know if this helps any of you.  I know that I know now that no matter what I decide or the direction I take that I am assured that I will be at the right place, at just the right time, and I will continue to learn the lessons that I am meant to learn. I may have to adjust my goals, priorities and desires, but guess what it will all be worth it in the end.

As always my hopes and dreams are with you,

Uncle B

To Be A Better Man

You aren't sure of what you want to do! Or where you want to go! Your mind is constantly changing and your thoughts keep jumping.  How can you sum up yourself when you are still growing, learning and experiencing things?  Indecision is a constant in your life.  Making up your mind is not yet an option, there is still too much to find.  Life is an adventure that can take you from one coast to the other, it can shower you with money or drag you through the gutter.  Every choice is fraught with peril and questions, which way to go? Which way to turn?  You have been high and you have been low, you have been successful and you have been without.  Your life is full of experiences yet you still can't figure out what you want to know.  You have met many people, made some your friends, but in the end it was you and you alone.  You have known love and loss, and still are searching again. Take heart my friend this the beginning not an end.

This is but a way point on a journey without end.  You have more to go, and even more to endure. Life is going to teach you things you never even knew you didn't know.  Everyday you will pick up more that you didn't understand, and learn something about yourself and your fellow man.  There will be challenges, and hurtles you must overcome, but have faith my friend this is a beginning and not an end.   No one is perfect and life is not easily had, you have to fight and scratch just to get ahead.  Everything you learn you'll need it soon enough, because this journey sure can get tough.

Keep your fears in check they will hold you back, step out in faith my friend you sure will be glad you had.  Nothing comes from nothing, nothing ever can, but everything you gain you'll learn and cherish most in hand. Be wary and be careful there are those along your way that would love to see you fall and those that will take what you have.  No one said this was easy, but it sure is grand.  Excitement, adventure and drama certainly close at hand. You'll have no want for entertainment, just look around and laugh, because there are clowns around to kick you in the ass.  If your searching for happiness it surely won't be found, because you looking on the outside and that's not where it is bound.  Deep within your soul it is hiding for you to find, you have to find contentment and happiness inside.

Cherish the joy and laughter, it will keep give you ground.  Find the good in things and see what God has made. Look out with the eyes of a child and see the world of wonder, it is that spark of life you see that God is hiding under.  He is in everything the sky, the sea and thunder.  He has made this world for us to explore and wonder why?  It is our lot in life to learn and grow and mature.  If you aren't then you aren't living at all. There is good in everything you just got to learn how to see it.  Don't be afraid to let your awe and wonder at life be hidden.  Reach out and seek what you have been given.

There is so much you still need to do and understand, before you can take a stand, so learn it while you can. I hope you understand, that this is your test to make you a woman or a man. There is nothing that can't be had or given as long as you stay driven.  It is when you give in and start to dwell on the pain and fear you know so well that you start to fall.  Keep your eyes upon the goals you have set and mind the journey for it's where you will learn.  The path is ever winding, it seems to never end. Where you stop really doesn't matter it is how you got there that means the most. But most of all I want you to remember that you are human and just a man.

We all have flaws that is for sure.   We are who we are, and what we will become, treat everyone with kindness, love and compassion, grant them the respect and trust of a friend.  You will find that they will help you in the end.  God gave you a heart which has the greatest capacity for love, look for the good in people and you know what you will find? God my friend, He is in each and every human.  The world doesn't expect you to know or even understand, but what I know is that if you love, and love hard it shall be returned.  Honesty and truth will guide your way, your heart will open eyes and doors for you.  There will be those that laugh and chide you, but it is the light they see inside of you that they fear.  For you are never alone in this great big adventure God is with you, inside and out of you.

We each seek perfection, but it too we shall never find, because to be perfect would be to be Divine.  Our lessons that we are taught, and the road that we travel bring us ever closer toward a greater understanding of who and what we are, but it is through Grace that God opens our eyes to the hidden world that underlies all else. This is enlightenment my dearest friend, and once you have seen the way, your eyes never will see the same things in the same way.  The truth is revealed as if from a shadow, and what was once thought to be real will now be known to be false.  Our world is a world of illusion, we live in the darkness trying to comprehend, God is the light that shows us what is true and right.  Once your sight has been restored and you see what is real, how can you go back to living in the darkness? You can't so further and onward you go. My suggestion is to strive for perfection one day at a time and you will find that anything is truly possible in this world.

Love your fellow man, honor them and treat them with respect, judge not what they do, live what you say, and prove yourself to be true.  Treat everyone you meet with kindness, compassion and love, this is the way that will make the world a better place.  Acceptance and tolerance should be your watch words, they should be the actions you follow.  Choose to lead by example, don't shout or proclaim, for those who have eyes will see the difference you have made.  Lead from the side, don't try to be a Master, because it won't help you reach Heaven any faster.  Cherish one another, enjoy the time you have. Seek out the beauty and majesty in the world around you.  Take time to explore that which you do not know, try to seek out that which you don't understand.  Learn what you are afraid of, make those fears go away. Be about your passion, and the money will follow, don't get mired down and stuck in something that you don't know or love. Do these things and be a better man.

As always my hopes and dreams are with you,

Uncle B