Him-Magazine JULY ‘HEROES’ Issue : We Can Be Heroes, Just For One Day

davidbowie_lifestyle_jul13London, England, is lucky enough this summer to be privy to a major retrospective of Bowie: David Bowie is… the biggest sell-out show in the Victoria & Albert (V&A) Museum’s history! It sold out online for the whole four month run, with Five-Star reviews from the media critics. Tickets were only available in limited slots if you visited the museum on the day, so I was lucky to view my own personal history walking around, remembering coming out, broken relationships, pills and clubbing to Bowie’s tracks. His major anthem always was, and still is for me… Heroes… “We can be Heroes, Just for one day.”

The beginning of the exhibition features a collage of influences surrounding teenage David Jones (later Bowie), including the impact of Yuri Gagarin’s first human journey into Outer Space and the Russian Sputnik floating above the ether. Gagarin must have been a hero to a 14 year-old David as much as anyone else, especially as he wrote “Space Oddity” at age 22 in 1969, creating the fictional “Major Tom” spaceman character that became his signature, his vision and legacy. During the same year, Neil Armstrong was the first human to walk on the moon, while fierce gays and trannies at the Stonewall Inn bar refused to be walked all over by police raid brutality, sowing seeds of the Gay Liberation Movement. Heroes, all of them. Checking out the music, costumes and memorabilia dragged me back to a gay life pre-AIDS, when open hard sexuality was the drug of choice. Clones, tartan shirts, bathhouses and above all — hirsute chunks of men – became as ubiquitous as the Marlboro man.


When it came to therapy work in the 80’s, everything was new; addictions, treatment centers, codependency and empowerment became buzzwords, but you only entered these portals of personal development if you had AIDS or were mentally unbalanced. Looking inward was deemed unnecessary in the UK; that was for Americans and their “shrinks” and “Celebrity Rehab” hadn’t started and we had no idea that the worst was yet to come. Before burn-out, I spent two years on an HIV project working with people holding CD4 counts under 50, mostly under 20, who were just preparing to die.

When you think of the media version of a hero it’s easy to recall a man diving into a pond to rescue a drowning puppy, yet the real heroes of those years were those affected by HIV/AIDS who taught the value of everything, including hope, gratitude, true friendship and dignity. A true gift for those left behind in the darkest of times.

supermanbatman_lifestyle_jul13For many gay men, the most heroic stance is to come out. Therapists refer to the “inner child” as a recovery tool, and the discovery of toxic shame connected to a differing sexuality, family of origin and the impact on adult inter-personal relationships, but I always encourage people to find their own ‘inner hero’ because it’s very easy to pass over, ignore or overlook the courage it took to come out. Heroes Gagarin and Armstrong were trained to float around outer space, yet few teenagers are trained to come out, so it is truly heroic when they do.

The “inner hero” decides inside, awaiting an opportunity to reveal itself, all those occasions when you thought you would’t make it, but you did. When you made changes and took risks, you ultimately won out. Coming to terms with your self and a differing sexuality is as brave as Superman flying across the skies, and not all gay men get off the ground. This is where therapy can assist you to teach the bird to fly.

Bravery is also required when leaving an abusive relationship; when the odds are against you. It takes courage to rescue yourself, instead of waiting for someone to come and rescue you; to be scooped up in Superman’s arms and held safe. Many men wait to be chosen, rather than choosing themselves, awaiting rescue “by a great dark man” as Quentin Crisp put it; either online or in real spaces. This tale of a damsel in distress is an epidemic in the lives of gay men. One plays the victim, the other the fixer.

The victim who has less feels held and safe but inadequate, and fixer gets off on the  control they have due to the codependent nature of the relationship. Eventually, a stalemate is reached and couples counselling is suggested and taken up. It’s at this stage with a counselor as the intervener, that truth begins to unravel, failings honored, observed and owned. Not many couples are brave enough to take this adult route to save themselves. It may look like the therapist is acting as rescuer, but a good one will not be trained to fix clients, but allow clients to fix themselves. When this occurs the “inner hero” unleashes, boundaries begin to be respected and esteem is raised, even if the outcome is not to one partners agenda, but honesty and acceptance is far more heroic than rescuing a puppy.


You can read my monthly article here in original form here : http://www.him-magazine.com/2013/07/01/we-can-be-heroes-just-for-one-day/

Post Pride Balance

Gay rights activists hold a rainbow flag during a rally to support same-sex marriage in central SydneyWelcome to post PRIDE recovery. The great parties, parades and gatherings have passed, now it’s time to put PRIDE into your life with balance, inner spirit and meditative observations. But where to find time for that?
” There’s just too much – too much to learn, to see, too much information, technology and techniques, too many ways to pleasure, too many ways to pain. Too much! How can we be expected to take it all in and deal with it? Perhaps we don’t have to take it all in OR deal with it. What a relief to know that we can go deeper and deeper into whatever we wish, and through that exploration come to understand the everything. Since all of creation is a whole and the oneness of all creation is a reality, our world is indeed a holo-movement or hologram. In exploring the depths of one thing, we gain wisdom about others. Our task, then, is to see what calls to us, what piques our imagination, what stimulates our being and asks us to delve deeper and deeper into it. When we follow this calling, we will find balance. “
838032f589b0baac501416bab1b00dc3_previewThese wise words of codependency recovery guru Anne Wilson Schaef remind me that my current intuition has value. When I was bang at it, using chems & alcohol  regularly, I thought that spontaneous thinking and acting out was intuition. What I discovered with personal development was that I was addicted to imbalance and that this spontaneous ‘acting out’ was unhealthy, unfounded in wisdom and detrimental to my health. Basically I couldn’t trust myself and conned myself that I could. Most gay men come into therapy, recovery or personal growth to find balance, but the moment we start searching the net, self help books or lists of therapies to consult, it’s easy to become unbalanced with too many choices. Best if we leave it another day then.
Most of us choose have chosen at some point a stimulant to balance us ; alcohol, coke, hash, club drugs, nicotine or a person for example, at first it works then it starts to get out of hand, it gets too much and then we are hooked into being taken hostage, kidnapped until we set ourselves free.
Recognising that we are not the most important person on the planet is a beginning in unfurling the freedom flag. Freedom comes from standing back and making informed choices rather than letting the ego run amok. It’s easy to think we are missing something if we don’t join in. Many people don’t possess a mobile phone, an ipod or have access to a computer. They more than survive. Many have learnt that it takes courage to be with yourself, to sometimes dispense with the demands of the modern age. This is why we crave a day by the sea, a walk in nature or wear sloppy clothes for a week or two. No performance needed.
12840957931FnH9uWhat most of us find in personal development is that we are quite amusingly mad. When we get clearer about our own insane thinking we see that the world is madder than first thought. No wonder Antony Newley sang ” Stop the World – I want to get off “. But the result of any therapy is to decide which world we want to live in, so ask yourself that question, take stock and seek balance. What perception of the world ” out there ” do you have “. Does it deliver? It is only a mirror image of your inner world view. Think sanely in balance and the world will change around you.
Take stock, by checking out the past few weeks, or the last weekend. Write down what caused you to feel PROUD, then write what could be improved, what needs addressing, what needs to be thrown out. The lighter you are balance is achieved.
This blog of mine first appeared on July 2 2013 on http://www.guyspy.com/post-pride-balance-2/ in my RELATIONSHIP GUYD column.

Rejecting Rehab

amy-winehouse-pic-rex-features-596537980-1I’m sure you will agree that we all need a rest at some point from chems, trashing it and messy mishaps. The pages of laundromat magazines are full of celebrity rehab casualties caught out by the tabloids for doing coke and pushed into rehab for PR purposes. Liz Taylor was one of the first celebrities to visit The Betty Ford Center in 1982 when it opened, and spent most of her lifetime going in and out, a classic case of helping everyone else but sadly couldn’t help herself.

Gay men are much more likely to have used marijuana, pills, cocaine, ecstasy, ketamine, crystal meth, GHB, mephedrone, as examples, than men in the general population. We all know this. Not everyone gets into trouble with party drugs and a healthy debate abounds right now on harm reduction, but the addict, be it sex, dope, booze or gambling, needs to go for themselves, not to keep the peace or keep out of jail.

lindsay-lohan-drunk-22When Amy Winehouse sang ‘I don’t wanna go to Rehab’ we thought it was amusing until she was found dead on an alcohol overdose. Lindsay Lohan has recently been forced into Rehab by yet another judge. A CEO of a prominent treatment centre made an interesting point in an interview last month “The celebrities that so many people ask about, the ones who go to rehab without getting better, often have ‘treatment resistant’ addiction . . . Celebrities who have been classified as such have come to believe that they are in every way SPECIAL, and as such, the rules of life and recovery do not apply to them”.

I have equally witnessed gay men who think they are ‘special and different’, who think because of looks perhaps, they are untouched by addiction. They work out, party hard and hold down a job. So does LiLo and look at the state she’s in. Flicking through cheap laundromat mags, recounting celebrity mishaps, using them as benchmarks for your own behaviour can make one feel superior, but you know what they say “superior on the outside, inferior on the inside”.

Being defensive about secret behaviours leads to a path of denial, and when a friend, partner or sex buddy suggests looking at your escape routes it’s easy to become Amy or LiLo and act out ‘treatment resistant’. Not that rehab is the only answer for gay men with heavy drug or alcohol use, who are ‘walking through treacle getting nowhere fast’, not even to the point of addiction. Hovering between social use, heavy use and ‘must have’ use, is a very uncomfortable place to be. I’ve been there, and equally refused to listen.

I opted for total abstinence in the end, and have remained so ever since, as the evidence landed me in courts and institutions, but checking out your own relationship with all forms of drug use, and recognising how these habits affect all your other relationships is a task worth taking. You may need to give yourself a good talking too, but in the end it’s ‘action’ that holds the highest value.

The current Californian food diet to ravage the globe is the 5.2 diet, where you ‘fast’ for 2 days a week. It may be worth instigating this model into ‘habit fasting days’ if you think using drugs, alcohol, food or anger is becoming a habit or causing relationship problems. Your partner may be nagging you into submission (it rarely works-so stop it) if most of the time you prefer unconsciousness, playing the role of LiLo’s judge will only offer kick back. Forcing someone into counselling, therapy, support groups or rehab to save a relationship, a job or themselves is counter productive for until that person lets go of ‘special & different’, you are wasting breath. Change only works long term when they want it, as LiLo’s judge may discover.

Happy Gay Pride!Having said all that, PRIDE and vacation time is a chance to party more than usual, so don’t take the coming weekends as a benchmark. Trashed and messy is part of ‘letting go’, feeling part of collective bonding and community.

It’s more to do with ‘when & how’ the rest of the year and how you feel when you ‘fast’, whether your habits dominate your schedule and the kind of guys you hang out and collude with. They are the ones likely to enable you into thinking everything is OK. Taking a monthly check on lost phones, chaos living, money spent, manipulations lashed out, depression, moods or stinking thinking will serve you well. For without checking a bank statement you will never know how much money you have. Checking up on your lifestyle, before it costs you more than money, creates higher esteem, satisfaction and above all PRIDE.

This blog first appeared on June 25 2013 as my weekly post on guyspy.com https://www.guyspy.com/rejecting-rehab/

‘Empowerment’ June 2013 Edition of HIM-Magazine

A prolific London DJ, the infamous, multi-talented Stewart Who? once said of me in QX Magazine” If he was assassinated on Old Compton Street they couldn’t get a Police Station big enough to hold the usual suspects, because for well over a decade he has held the secrets of DJs, Club Promoters, Bar Owners, Escorts, Musicians, Lawyers & City Boys as well as counseling those affected by HIV/AIDS since 1984.

He was there at the beginning of AIDS “


When I read it in print, in stark hard copy, the thing that stuck out was the fact that “He was there at the beginning of AIDS “. It was such a fact that I ignored the impact of it. Yes I was, and sadly HIV/AIDS is still with us, but I’m still here. Prior to the arrival of GRID ( Gay Related Immune Deficiency – the given virus name before HIV in 1984 ) I was diagnosed in 1981 with incurable chronic active hepatitis B virus and cirrhosis of the liver, and was told surprisingly, that alcohol was not the cause, but early death was inevitable as no cure was available.  

At the same time a mysterious virus was hitting New York, San Francisco & Miami and as the Royal Free Hospital in London was a major teaching & research hospital, doctors came from those American cities to test people on the trial, because early USA cases were also chronic Hep B too. They sampled from us hair, blood, saliva & semen to take back to the US, but none of us seemed to have GRID. Within a year or so the Doctors at the Royal Free Liver Unit became HIV/AIDS pioneers opening up units in all London hospitals. In 1982 I was one of 10 guinea pigs on the first human Interferon drug trial in a famous London teaching hospital, which failed to find the cure to halt chronic active Hep B virus. Everyone died on the trial – except me.

766932-binge-drinking1But the real adventure began on October 26 1982 when I awoke from my last drug & alcohol binge weekend, washed up, rinsed, debt ridden and done in. Thus began my true journey.

The 80′s were tough. I was able along the way to own my sex addiction, and deal with the financial wreckage of the past by declaring voluntary bankruptcy in 1984, with no credit for 5 years, the consequences of addictive behaviour. As HIV/AIDS came along, I started counselling addicts, alcoholics and those dying of AIDS, and by 1990 I had lost over 50 friends, past lovers and clients to the virus, while I was in and out of hospital myself with liver failure.

How I survived I have no idea, but the promise of death is a motivator to beat it. In 1991, after a 3 year training I became an LRT (Loving Relationship Training) Relationship Coach & Rebirther and in 2010 was made an Honorary Member of The Australian Academy of Rebirthing & Breathwork, accredited to the Australian Government, for my work and service over 2 decades as a Breathworker, Addiction Specialist, Life Coach & Trainer. I have also led residentials, seminars and workshops in the UK, Australia, South America, Canada, Sweden, Italy, Austria, Estonia, Spain, Morocco and Goa in India. 

So yes, things did get better, and I am still alcohol, drug and nicotine free since 1982, plus I recovered from Hep B without using medications, and sero-converted my Hep B status using Yogic Breathwork. It took 11 years of constant attention, affirmations, therapies, friendships and hope. In the end I wanted to release Hep so bad, that the universe delivered and I never gave up. So be the lesson.

MediaAssetsComing to terms with an addiction is not easy, but for gay men the task can be harder. Walking away from a hedonistic social life in order to recover is challenging, and the addictions bring secondary issues, like debt, denial and emotional deceptions. Having used for 17 years and being clean & sober for over 30 years, it’s been a journey that reflects gay and personal liberations from struggle, debt and dysfunction. Off course I didn’t have the challenges that young gay men have today, in health or choices.

In 1967 when I came out, London had less than half a dozen gay bars & meeting places, now we have over 500 plus internet hook-ups, so it was very different scene. I came out 6 months before homosexuality was decriminalised, and offered electric shock aversion therapy, but declined it, and went on prescribed medication instead, then my drinking and drugging increased till I crashed into a space of awareness.

The first 15 years of my recovery were, I now see, the backbone to the next 15 years. Times of crisis, confusion or ill health are there to act out the art of growing up, building trust, reducing expectation & demands on self and others, and relinquishing all forms of codependent patterning.

The only attachment that matters to me now is queer spirit and the joy of not knowing what the world will bring. It’s ironic that I spent 17 years getting out of control, thinking I was in control, only to discover that being in control of your life is the biggest drug con of all. The most spiritual thought I hold is ‘I know nothing’. I have no idea why I recovered from an incurable disease, or why I needed to watch people dying of AIDS to be taught more about living, but If I can recover from this level of experience, then anyone can. It just takes diligence, practice and experienced support.


This blog of mine first appeared in the online JUNE 2013 Edition of HIM-MAGAZINE “For the Man Who Invests In Himself!”



Celebrate the Daddies

Image26You have to love social media. An inked twink put up on facebook last weekend ‘Happy Father’s Day to all the Leather Daddies’. It was Father’s Day in the USA, Canada and the UK, (other countries celebrate at different times of year) and aside from the commercial opportunity, it’s time to celebrate the value and wisdom of our gay mentors.

The fathers who, held us together when our relationship went pear-shaped, when our own birth fathers didn’t know we were gay, or when they had booted us out, or knew we were gay but the silence going back home was deafening. No-one mentioned it. Those daddies that started as a street, club or sauna pick up, then became our home tutors in the art of relationship kick-back. I remember very clearly those middle aged men who assisted me in wiping tears when the current boyfriend walked out, never rang back or cheated. Who else could I run to in emotional crisis as a twink barely out of teenage years?

Action-man-001Memories from my gay youth still affect me today. As well as the 2 week relationships that went sour, the germs of codependency, abuse of drink, drugs and credit cards, I also recall the kindness of Brian Eyles who showed me, in a very grand, restaurant, without embarrassing me, how to fillet a Dover Sole in three strokes.

This older gent also paid the bill, never suggested sex, and taught me to make the most tongue quenching champagne cocktails, that I can no longer quench, but praise must be given. The Eighties, sadly, brought about his demise with AIDS, like many that held me to their hearts. I also thank Pav ( known as Peggy, as he had a thing for spring clothes pegs on his nips ) who stood by me at the latter stages of alcoholism, when I ran out of money and despair, feeding and watering me until I got well. Ted Gatty, in his fifties, who in Kent , England WAS the gay scene in the 70’s, holding underground parties in his house basement, for queers to meet, dance and shack up a relationship.

It was here that I met Pat, camp as a coot who travelled hundreds of miles to get to Mum Gatty’s parties and always arrived in the same way. People would say “Is Pat here yet?”. Soon after Pat would arrive with the world’s worst hair-peice crown topper weave EVER. It looked like a yachting cap on his head. He then did a full cartwheel into the hall, to prove it never came off. Pat was 75 and had regular sex with his bisexual postmen. This was my entry into gaylife. No wonder I stayed, such fun, such a family, such a homecoming.

AMmodFuzzHead1Ivor Powell, mid-forties, who guided me as a friend through not only the difficult years, but never laid a hand on me ( with me not knowing he had a fetish for red hair ), who introduced me to all manner of characters, who spellbound me with wartime tales of sucking off US GI’s in tunnels, of antiquarian booksellers who taught me aspects of the classics, and titled baronets who were still ordering rent boys at the age of 75. I am blessed to have embraced these pillars of wisdom into my heart and life experience, these daddies who suffered suppression, even prison for being gay, and not being able to be out to their families.

I was lucky, my Dad accepted me being ‘a homo’, along with my Mum, who said “it’s because David is in Art” as I worked in advertising as a commercial artist. They came to gay parties and gay bars, met my friends and Dad didn’t blink an eyelid. Quite unlike the horror stories we know of, and read about, tales of rejection, distaste and abandonment.

The gift he gave me was one of acceptance, laughter and being ‘matter of fact’. Not that much difference really from the way I work at things today, so he is always with me. He died in 1992, in a bar in Spain, while I was in the UK. Rarely a drinker, he only drank shandy ( lager & lemonade ) and cherry brandy for special occasions. He asked for a cherry brandy in the bar, the barman said “we don’t have it’, Dad promptly fell off his bar stool, had a heart attack and died immediately. What a way to go.

4186434316_bb828b76f8On reflection, even in death he was funny, my Dad. Take one moment to remember the relationship you hold with your own Father, dead, unknown or alive. Do you echo his traits, weaknesses or strong points? Until you get clearer on this, interpersonal relationships with men will resonate with what is uncleared on the resentment front.

Perhaps sadness that he was emotionally unavailable to deal with sexuality, bondship and presence. Think of those gay daddies also, that held you in their arms in silence, teaching you the things they never knew: freedom, respect, & shameless esteem. Think of the Daddies that AIDS swept away in a tsunami almost overnight, and the gay seniors, the grandfathers who lost their lovers, friends and acquaintances, who now stumble in the wilderness of loss without people to talk to in the winter of their years, their friends gone by. Do befriend them. You will learn so much.

The new generation of bears and daddies have much history to teach, about HIV prevention, virus living and healthier communications, as inter-generational relationships, of all kinds are more visible now. Maybe now is the time to ask : “Who is mentoring ME now?”. What is my birth father relationship like, does it need attention? Have all resentments been resolved? Have you told him you love him, hugged him or sent a letter into the ether if he has passed over or untraceable? One day you will look in the mirror and see his face, for better or worse.

Take this as a starting point of discovery.


This blog of mine first appeared on GuySpy.com on June 18 2013 – http://www.guyspy.com/celebrate-the-daddies/

Cashpoint Concussion

386401_10151539251554966_2034719386_nWilliam Blake, the English 18th Century painter, poet and visionary, famously wrote ” The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom”. Clearly he never possessed a credit card.

Relationships aren’t just about people, your relationship with money is paramount, as money is often a major component of relationship breakdown, including financial disparity between partners, mentioned in previous blogs. There is a lot of new age waffle in many self help books, without practical support, but the concept of abundance and it’s reverse, scarcity consciousness, is a valuable study to partake.  Despite stereotype, every gay man doesn’t go to the gym, have natural decorating skills or have disposable income.

On trips to India, for example, I have met high-end gays in Mumbai, owning apartment blocks, to young gay men living at home in third world conditions, who can’t afford a coke let alone do a line of it. The jury is out on who is happier, money can provide security of sorts, but like that line, it’s temporary and can fuel the need for more, more and still not enough.

It’s not a straw poll, but I found those guys down the financial scale in India, knee deep in gratitude and simplicity, whereas it was great to be shown around silent streets of Mumbai at midnight in a swish car, but the gay guy driving only spoke of excess without wisdom of perspective. First world gays are not always a vision of functionality when it comes to role models or examples to follow.

121204065401-gay-piggy-bank-monsterCashpoint concussion is when you go to the cashpoint and no money comes out, because unconsciousness has become the master, and resentment it’s sidekick.

Credit card concussion occurs in a more public shaming situation, a shop, petrol station or restaurant when your CC is refused because you are over limit. Both these avenues of financial support, support consciousness in operation, not unconsciousness in application.

Best if you learn to know at ‘any one time’ HOW MUCH YOU HOLD in your bank account or CC card, avoiding future self flagellation or guilt. Trust me, living within means doesn’t sound a barrel of laughs but then nor does court judgements or scarpering into ‘not known at this address’ escape routes. Peer pressure and competitiveness occur whatever your financial strata, but an Indian gay guy in Goa only knows what he has in his pocket and stays within limits, he has no other choice, but it pays off in terms of inner peace.

First world gays demand more in the palace of excess, not wisdom. I learnt the hard way myself, going bankrupt for 5 years with no credit. After years of reckless behaviour I cleaned up my drug use and faced the demons of 15 credit cards and 5 overdrawn bank accounts. Like my using I never did things by halves, but that was over 25 years ago, If a hopeless junkie like me can do this – so can you, with less weight above your belt. It just takes courage, awareness and practical application. I learnt my lesson of excess, bouncing into a world of wisdom based on current consciousness and coming out of the coma of delusion.

111-9The palace of wisdom only occurs if you wake up and learn from past experience. It doesn’t come from a self help book, though they are useful in forming a foundation to whether you reside in scarcity or prosperity, and I don’t mean money, the wealthiest people are often poor. Living in emotional and financial balance is essential in maintaining harmony. One is well aware in the West, particularly, that retail shopping consumption has become an epidemic, if not the only hobby for many. It’s just another quick fix drug of choice.

Take time out to look at your bank statements, your credit card bills and your debts to observe the reality of chaos living or living in harmony. Which is it? Maybe your drug use, including alcohol is a better friend than what is before you in the shape of monthly demands on paper. Consider a financial diet by ‘fasting” once a week, skimming what you usually spend if funds are dire. Maybe spend a bit more on yourself if flush.

Hoarding money as a drug is equally counter-productive when living in a mindset of ‘never enough’ and often comes from a family base of scarcity and make do. Years ago, it was published in the 80’s ( but still available ) is a little pocket tome of discovery called MONEY IS MY FRIEND and has been my trusted companion in and out of financial disarray. It’s a bit New Age but I forgive. It’s a precursor of the current ‘Laws of Prosperity’ movement running through Amazon at this time of world authority. I take the bits that gel with me and ignore the bits that don’t. Easy.

akksealovinPeople think that double income two-car gays don’t do debt. They do, and many end up like I did, losing everything, so avoid being deceived by appearance. Debtors Anonymous hold online meetings and it’s an avenue to explore, if these things trouble you. As I said in my last blog, support is out there – best if you use it. 

If shame is a governing factor, try sharing with someone you trust first, don’t maintain the secret, it leads to all manner of destruction. Depression, chems, bar bills and hiding bills in drawers are common warning signs, so learn to respect money not trash it, for in the end you trash yourself. Making a friend of money creates conscious thoughtful spending, saving more and a decent balance sheet. So start that weekly meeting with yourself and THINK before you spend unconsciously. Inner prosperity is the result.


This blog of mine first appeared on GuySpy.com June 11 2013 http://www.guyspy.com/spend-spend-spend/

Selective memory

man-computer-628Using the web, on computer or smartphone, to find love, approval, instant sex or another partner is unwise before you begin to consider repairing past relationships. That old adage ‘insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result’ certainly rings true. Time for a check-in surely on past and present behaviour, after all, when you drive a car without lessons you often end up in Accident & Emergency. What makes you think that driving a relationship without help is wise? Look at your track record.

When you scour over the past like an anthropologist scraping away with a trowel, to find the jewel to make all the emotional pain worthwhile, memory can be selective. The most heard quote in relationship repair coaching is likely to be ‘the sex was really good’, followed by ‘after a row’.

Some partners need a row, to feel the fear of loss, before the sexual act brings bonding, capture, safety and security back to the fore. If a relationship lasts, and many do, it does not mean its functional, for without support, education and confrontation, all you get is what you think a relationship is : a laboratory of battle, let down and discontent. Resentments you thought you had drowned eventually learn to swim. Unconditional love defies battle but in order to achieve this level of bliss, battle needs to leave the heart.

9781439117699_p0_v2_s260x420When you are knee deep in self-help books, in recovery or therapy it takes a while to dig deep, to find the innocent perfection that occurred before life became scarred, disappointing or laden with guilt. 
One thing is sure – doing it alone is difficult – many read books or attend group but few do the exercises as a path to emotional progress. Sharing pain, fears and selective memories in the beginning of any therapeutic process is like having a romance with the mind . .  it’s light, new and inspiring. After a while the concentration wavers, remembrance becomes painful and fight or flight turns up with a smirk to test your nerve. In her latest book THE NEW CODEPENDENCY, the Queen of Coda Recovery, Melody Beattie writes, in the chapter called : Healing what hurts, the following :
” As codependency hit the mainstream, people not in recovery talked about ideas such as self-care and limits. We recognised that if a problem or illness – from Alzheimer’s Disease to a spinal cord injury – affects one family member, it affects the whole family too. What affects one part affects the whole. Support groups for caregivers spread like wildfire. Caregivers need care, too. Internet groups and chat rooms have been added to the list of resources. ( There wasn’t a self-help section when Codependent No More first came out ). Groups, therapists, treatment centres, support and information saturated society – from OPRAH to the news-stands. Less self-help? There’s never been more. ”
But having this level of support available does not mean it will be picked up. Most pick up information in a crisis, while self-care really involves prevention to avoid crisis. The first point of reference in self-care is to ask for help and stay the distance, so journey on and avoid selective memory. It’s easy to use selective memory to convince that it ” wasn’t that bad ” looking back over past and present relationships in appraisal. 
Many air brush over truth, romanticise the pain and people please, rather than re-experience or even own the battle within. This is what I call ” can’t leave/can’t stay ” bungie jump relationships, because when partners hit the wall of denial and fear, they bounce back to a space of familiarity, even one saturated in low esteem and fear of abandonment. The easiest way to begin healing the hurts, in my experience, is to find another person in therapy, recovery or in groupwork. It’s harder to be in denial when you hear someone else telling your story.Then it’s more likely that the light bulbs will come on, when you realise and accept, the patterns of pain you can’t let go of.
sex-addictionHealthy relationships avoid babysitting, parenting and distorted truths.There is no point clearing the wreckage of the past, only to create another archaeological dig decades later. So it makes sense to tell the truth faster, to find your voice, emotional equality and create a union worthy of remembrance.
Today’s ‘New Codependencies’ and attachments in the internet age are as plentiful as the self help groups available to help and heal, so it makes sense to combat one with the other. Many LGBT groups exist online if your locality offers no support, as well as telephone Helplines, so reach out. In the early 80’s I was Art Editor of a Computer Management magazine, way before home computers were de rigueur. At the interview I said ‘but I don’t know anything about computers’, their reply was concise ‘ You don’t need to, be creative, all you need to know is that computers solve one problem and create another!’ Who would have thought that smartphone, sexting, gaming and porn would become some of those problems over the past decade, in maintaining a relationship?
Owning your own part in relationship breakdown is halfway to ending a destructive cycle like ‘blaming the partner’. That rarely works. Nor does blaming yourself, so eradicate blame, it only breeds resentment and we know where that leads. Living a healthy emotional life means letting go of  negativity and  working on emotional clean-up as you go along. Selective memory serves only a codependent mind, for truth precedes peace, clarity precedes serenity and unconditional love is the result.

Liberace & the chauffeur, lover, companion and captive.

164935_10151923609314966_142645734_nFollowing on from last weeks blog post ‘Who works who, in a relationship?’, the new Liberace film  ‘Behind The Candelabra’ on TV HBO, and selected cinema release in the UK from June 14th, is a true story of puppet and puppet master. Rave reviews, like shiny sequins, not only from Cannes Film Festival, but 4 or 5 star UK newspaper reviews, have propelled interest to Las Vegas heights with many stating it’s Douglas’s finest performance to date, while Damon exceeds all expectations in this glittery tale of control & dysfunction.

Scott Thorson had already had a relationship with a Hollywood mogul before Liberace found him at 17, then making him his personal assistant, chauffeur, lover, companion and captive. Liberace saw Scott as the son he never had, and foster-cared Thorson jumped at the chance of stability, attention and a vision of love. Scott says he is not gay, and although a physical relationship developed within the relationship, it took a while. He said on ‘The Larry King Show’ in 2002, that “I pleased him. He once told me, he said, “Scott,” he says, “you have the most important job in my organization,” he says, “and that is to keep me happy and please me.” OK? Remember, Larry, I was a child. I was in foster homes. And then all of a sudden, boom, all this wealth, all this fame, you know. So I did whatever I had to do”.

movies_behind-the-candleabraThis spectacle of codependent need, greed & manipulations on both sides, echoes a thread within some male same sex relationships, that of social and financial disparity. It can also affect heterosexual couplings but lesser so, as heterosexuals are much more ring fenced when it comes to friends and relationships. For starters, a huge amount of relationships are conceived in the workplace, not much chance of that happening if you favour men. Gay men are much more led by physical attraction, ask questions later, and have a higher propensity to batter down class, social and financial barriers, in seeking friends, lovers and sexual companionship. In fact one of joys of being gay is wallowing in different backgrounds, educations and multi-cultaral diversity with ease and ample opportunity.

The film illustrates the complexity of this ‘can’t leave, can’t stay’ relationship model, so you can imagine perhaps, how Thorson hustled and pleased Lee ( Lee Liberace, Mr Showmanship and other names he used ) without taking responsibility for the fact he stayed. In fact he had got used to the perks.

A friend once suggested that the gay scene is like a wedding cake tier. We start at the bottom, with little sense of personal style and esteem. Then we realise the value of our own currency, discovering that youth like cash, is king. Or queen in this case. Like Thorson, partying, pouting and pleasing, we love the adoration, fawning and a new sense of self, meeting and using new allies on our journey. Perhaps at some point, a well educated middle class male hook-up, probably older, takes the role of guiding father and lifts us up 2 or 3 tiers, in one swoop, to a new social circle, where drugs are offered instead of After Eight mints after dinner.

Then invitations arrive to holiday, to accept gifts, to revel in the new illuminating lifestyle. It’s easy to get used to the clubs, the drugs, the bashed out credit cards to keep up and then suddenly you’re dropped. Not only are you left with the CC bills, but since all those friends on the Class A tier are ‘his’ friends, you also discover what an illusion it all is, and drop down 2 tiers to where you started, blighted and sore. Not every relationship forms this model but many big urban city boys will nod in agreement, passed around like pass the parcel at a party, looking for the next rescuer, dealer, lover. Thorson sadly, ended up a junkie, at least you don’t have to.

liberace3The solution in avoiding this guest list lifestyle, or to make it work better for you, is to speed bump. Not a drug cocktail that gathers speed, but more like the ridge in the road allowing you to slow down. It is this quest of stopping, checking, learning and saying NO more often that creates emotional balance in the individual and a relationship.

When you can’t afford something, a restaurant meal or a cocktail bar round on your salary, say so. Many couplings with financial disparity do work because they are worked on, with frequent honesty, emotional checkin and less emotional blackmail. Relationships can get lazy when things are offered beyond your personal reach, like exotic holidays, high fashion spends and bling. Like a Dad spending loads of time at work and buying his children gifts, what the kids really want is something that costs little – time & communication – the recipe of love.

Go see the film, see what, how and where it resonates in your memory bank. Look for the similarities not the differences. When youth fades what do you trade? Are you the controller or victim? The Puppet master or puppet, and how many times have you flipped roles? Interesting.

Who controls who in a relationship?

lead18Finding your own voice is an acquired art, it takes practice and tenacity to avoid codependent patterning. Most of us feel controlled by someone or some thing, at any one time, but how you respond to these situations, especially in an emotional partnership, determines which side of the functional / dysfunctional fence you sit on. Is your voice just an echo of a parent, partner or co-worker?

Maybe it’s been lost down the mineshaft of memory, as you’ve learn’t not to rock the boat? Do you speak up and get shouted down, or still remain silent just to keep the peace? Perhaps, as a controller, you drown out others needs by demanding your own get dealt with first? In short, who has their hand up you, organising your life? It could be a companion called fear.

Those who complain they are controlled by a person, place, or thing, often fear finding a voice and action to administer change, while those who indeed control others and try to control aspects of life, fear losing ‘being in command’ and appearing weak. Both suffer from the same malady : fear of change and being out of control. When in fact the feared experience of being out of control, when acted out, actually transforms the sluggish status quo.

Both of these types, the controller and the controlled, (often called a victim), fit together like a dovetail joint, that can only be pulled apart sideways. Trying pulling the joint out any other way and it remains locked. Many relationships stay like this for years, one controlling the voice of the other. The majority refer to it as love. It’s isn’t. As the writer Chuck Spezzano put it ‘If it hurts, it isn’t love’. It’s all about control.

Vicious-GQ_29Apr13_ITV_bt_250x250As a relationship becomes lazy, these seeds of domestic abuse in gay relationships, verbalised put downs, financial inequality and scarce sexual intimacy, breeds a dialogue as unfunny as the current new ‘gay sitcom’ VICIOUS on UK TV. Two high grade knighted actors, who happen to be gay themselves, Sir Ian McKellen & Sir Derek Jacobi, play low grade stereotypical queers in a 40+ year codependant relationship.

Love and respect appears in short supply, while oneupmanship is a competitive olympic sport between them. Reviews have been mixed to say the least, with the gay community most vitriolic toward it’s outdated execution and positioning of current male gay relationships. Yes, people have noted, we know old queens that bicker like that, with framed theatrical posters everywhere and lights dimmed, but what they don’t mention is that many of these relationships, just like longtime heterosexual ones, are often held together with the glue of entrapment, emotional survival and fear of change, with low esteem the price paid for security on all fronts.

UnknownWith the benefit of viewing these kind of relationships, plus maybe our parents too, we witness what we no longer wish to follow, so some good can come out of these observations. Controlling relationships serve no one in the end, even to those who observe them, as after a while it becomes tedious to watch.

Younger 21st century gay men, with the advent of therapy and personal development, not available to older gay men growing up except to ‘change their sexuality’, can create healthier options in relationships, like finding a voice and sticking with it. If a partner appears controlling and abusive while dating, leave him, don’t wait around for ‘love’ to solve it. It doesn’t. What takes it’s place is an illusion of love called ‘codependent fear-base bonding’, those ‘can’t leave, can’t stay relationships’ where voices get raised and no one listens.

Like Lady Di said in that famous interview ” There are three of us in this marriage’. Fear can be a third party in any social or emotional interaction, including gay marriage, so avoid inviting this emotion into your liaisons by being clear from the very start, state your needs, avoid ‘people pleasing’ to keep the man, avoid remaining silent because ‘that’s what I always do’. Learn to vent your feelings appropriately and if they get trodden on, move on yourself. Healthier dating and relationships are out there, it’s just a question of tenacity of search and loving yourself enough to say NO more often to the type you usually attract, that no longer works for you. Just like ventriloquism, it’s just a question of continued practice of putting your hand up more often. Easy.

Dive away from social anxiety.

148073551ST00266_Olympics_DA major gripe I keep hearing is that online dates don’t turn up for face-to-face dates, as if the thrust of the flirty dirty chase is enough, the reality of actually meeting breaks the illusion. One aspect of ‘love & sex addiction’ is the romantic, trail of seduction, that is more important than the capture or physical orgasm, it’s a bit like chinese plate spinning – will the plate fall? The tension keeping that plate spinning is like an immediate amyl high, or a diver about to jump, but another reason for not turning up on the doorstep has nothing to do with ‘love & sex addiction’, but more to do with social phobia.

article-2305396-0143CD5C00000514-204_634x471Social phobia is the hidden topic people are too shy to talk about. The tight topped media image of the tweeting generation gay male can offer the impression that confidence is as big as our pecs, when in reality many have discovered never to grab a gym bunny by the love handles, it’s a no-go area. It’s easy to shrug off a few stone compared to a life times history of bullying, emotional editing and fear of rejection, but the stain remains. This is because many who go to the gym, first went to the gym to feel ‘good enough’, they didn’t arrive with class A social skills or a divers waist like Tom Daley, some were the fat shy gay at school, and the memory lingers.

It’s a generalisation, but if truth be told, a mixture of body dysphoria coupled with shyness is rammed into the gym bag for quite a while until results materialise. In my own case I was very short in height, smaller than Harry Potter, with bright ginger hair at school, so aside from the hidden desire to see cocks in the showers I always knew I wasn’t ‘one of the lads’, the one that fitted in. Yup, a ginger homo was an easy target in my teenage years, oh and I stammered as well, plus a nervous squint to boot, so I used humour and a pretend thick skin in order to survive. No wonder I turned into a drunk. So you can imagine what it’s like if you act out or look like the contra-image of men in gay media. Having said that, even the handsomest of men stumble when it comes to social interaction.

9c2a852f-512c-4d59-b654-2607e516beb4img100Social anxiety or social phobia is not a one size fits all condition, it stretches from butterflies in the stomach to agoraphobia, with all manner of hesitations and emotional paralysis in between. It’s amazing how many people have negative unconscious thoughts like ‘It’s not safe to be seen’ ‘I prefer to be backstage, invisible’ or ‘ I am already imperfect, don’t judge me’. With Cognitive Behaviorial Therapy, many escape from this trap but sadly, often leave this condition for years thinking ‘It’s just the way I am’.

It’s not, it’s a cover-up. Becoming a champion diver takes discipline and getting back into the water after a belly flop is the key in attaining a goal. When you naturally take to the water, granted it’s easier, but those who dive with hesitation just need to try harder and more often, and so it is with social phobic solutions. Susan Jeffers book ‘Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway’ published in 1987 still holds court as one of the best self help books for those with social anxiety, in her book she says ‘ You might already have been asking yourself, “Why should I put myself through all the discomfort that comes with taking risks? Why don’t I just go on living my life the way I’ve been living it?. You may find my answer surprising. It is : Pushing through fear is less frightening than living with the underlying circumstances that come from a feeling of helplessness “. She also adds wisely “the bigger your life, the smaller the fear”.

Expanding your life, means expanding social opportunities, so in reality ‘getting out more’ is the way forward, regardless of how you feel. Experience always develops with ACTION, not theory. Perfection in a craft, as Tom will tell you, is not a given, it’s a hard task master, but ironically once you drop the idea of ‘imperfection’ the results deliver perfection because progress, not expection & projection is the ideal, and progression from helplessness is mastery in itself. So next time you set yourself up for a date, then set yourself up as ‘not good enough’, ignore the voices in your head, turn up and dive in.

You never know, the likes of Mr Daley might be on the other end.