Spit it Out!

Learning to Express Yourself is a Key to Success.

Many people can’t ask for what they want because they don’t know how to express it. I was one of them. Now look at the word ‘express-ing’, it means fast, speedy and direct. As a kid I had a stammer from god knows when till a teenager and dreaded queues in shops and ticket offices. By the time I was asked what I wanted nothing came out but splutter, shame, public humiliation and deep embarrassment, everything except fast, speedy and direct.

davidparker_keepcalm_sept13On top of this I had a nervous squint. I contracted meningitis on the spine when I was 6 months old and over the next 12 years was a frequent visitor to brain damage tests with a final conclusion that I will ‘grow out of it’. Well I did when I discovered alcohol & drugs. This masterful brew gave me confidence, a clear speedy voice, though often sharp and bitchy. In future therapy sessions, I was told it was an act of survival, an old pattern, thinking I could not be heard. Oh and I was ‘a red’, a ginger, an outsider and gay, way before fetish sites put red as a hot topic of sexual attraction. All in all, a teenage nightmare. No wonder I embraced getting ‘out of it’.

We had no knowledge about addictions, codependency or ‘finding yourself’ in self help books in the 70’s, it was all about sexual liberation, learning to express yourself through your body, so I soon got the hang of that. Less talking, less stammering, less nervousness, more action.

This inadvertently led to many years of sexual addiction until a virus took hold of my priorities, being forced to learn how to express myself ‘to serve myself first’, not heed to the demands of others. This aspect of codependency is rife in the gay community and often leads to unsafe sex as people-pleasing leading the way to a man’s zipper, but the desire to be connected, to belong, to seek approval as an act of expression, can leave you short-changed when it comes to emotional satisfaction. Clearing up the mess of others as fixer, or being entangled in a relationship with someone who cannot express themselves via depression, past abuses, alcohol dependency does not bode well in the healthy relationship stakes.

fear-is-in-your-head1Assisting or understanding a partner with these issues, while detaching, in order not to get sucked in, is extremely difficult, but essential in order to manage your own sanity. Learning to say NO more often and ridding yourself of the belief that ‘when you get YOUR needs met, others lose’ is the key to emotional recovery. This may appear selfish in print, and to some unloving, but in reality the biggest aspect of relationship breakdown is ‘ not getting needs met’, because often those needs have failed to be expressed because of ‘harming’ the other person. Not wanting to rock the boat by telling the truth faster creates suppressed anger, game playing, dishonesty and fear. The opposite to love.

When I started a recovery process from active addiction over 30 years ago, I shockingly discovered I was shy. Quite the opposite from the persona I had created. Then I had to learn to communicate verbally & sexually without chemical support, and the stammer came back along with the nervous squint and it felt like I was back at square one, which I was. Back to being the emotional wreck of a teenager with the luggage of 17 years of using.

With self help groups and counselling I managed to explore the reasons, and the lessons of coping with and managing demons like ‘Not being good enough”, “feeling damaged” “not a real man” etc and turn these negative lies into positive statements of truth. In 1984 I began spending every night, for the next 3 years, going to sleep with Louise Hay affirmative tapes on a loop in order to find the real me buried beneath the shames. Then with yogic rebirthing breath work started to express my subconscious emotional fields, until I healed my body and released chronic active hep B from my body in 1996 without medication. That’s a whole story in itself.

davidparker_expressyourself_sept13Eventually the stammer and squint left me, confidence was acquired and I learn’t to ‘tell the truth faster’. For the past 10 years I have travelled the globe every 2 months leading seminars on personal development, holding a room of 30 -50 people for 3 days without a manual or script, just focussing on ‘the NOW’, and allowing things to occur organically. So perseverance paid off. The only way I could express myself in my using days was by being workaholic, by constantly thinking I needed to be in control, while my life was totally out of control. Today I am still clean, sober and Hep B free, long may it continue, a day at a time.

safe_image.phpThis was my monthly piece in HIM-MAGAZINE : http://www.him-magazine.com/2013/09/01/spit-it-out/

Moving in, moving on, moving out.

small-studio-apartments-cool-interior-design-ideasI keep getting asked what the secret to a great relationship is, and instead of the usual platitudes, I say £2000. ‘What?’ and a mystifying brow is the usual response. Let me explain.

You will hold your own estimate in local currency, but for those outside the UK, £2000 ($2980) is becoming the figure for one person of one months rent, deposit and moving in costs to another apartment or flat share in London. It doesn’t sound romantic I know, but nor does being trapped in a relationship that no longer works and you can’t move out.

In the early stages of a relationship spending more time in one partners place than the other is not unusual. Maybe a larger flatshare that one partner has is better than a sprawling student house for those romantic sleepovers and breakfast in bed. Sometimes the distance to get to work is an issue for one, hardly ever staying over at the others. In any major city bags are stuffed with plans ahead : the gym bag, the toilet bag and the relationship bag that’s never big enough to cart from pillar to post, 3 times a week. In the end the routine gets weary and things become ‘left over’ in one bedroom more than the other, thus beginning the game of moving in and stage 2 of coupling : romantic tyranny.

men_kissingRomance has a place, but as I’ve often said, it’s not at the beginning of dating, it’s about 18 months in, when partners start being less attentive. What looks and feels like romance when you first meet is an illusion, not reality. Moving in together too quickly (to often save rental expense) is not such an epidemic as it once was, due to rental contracts putting the brake on things, but people still do it. Retaining your own space in a relationship really IS the secret key to a healthy relationship. It can also be about holding different friends that the partner rarely meets, or opposite social activities, anything really that brings air into the relationship rather than breeding one based on conditional love, or entrapment due to financial disparity, control & power games.

I know many successful relationships who prefer to live apart, to keep that air circulating, to maintain romantic notions not illusions. A romantic illusion is often based on fear of loneliness, while a romantic notion is based on the healing reality of aloneness to freshen up any relationship. It takes time to develop trust, respect and inner security, so learn to give time time. That chemical component we call love can be confused with chemically induced expectations that substances deliver but quickly fade.

During current austerity, many relationships living together are forced to endure staying put in something that no longer works because of no EXIT door to escape. What was once a romantic cosy, small love nest in the early days of romantic rush is now a cauldron of discontent & entrapment as they can’t afford to move out. This is happening a lot to relationships who got on the mortgaged housing ladder with a studio or one bedroom flat stuck in negative equity, while lovers who sign a yearly contract for rental have at least a short while to wait before termination. At least in a rental you can always fill the room to maintain the contract, but if you have not harboured that £2000 or equivalent, as the EXIT bond then trouble awaits.

Though it sounds unromantic, the most successful relationships are based on money matters, honesty, practicality, support and mutual respect, not red roses. Being in the red, having regular debt, moving in together to save rent money is not always the best option for emotional balance. Having money behind you is the most caring, romantic thing to gift yourself, and I know that people think that love conquers everything, and that money destroys relationships, but relationships are often destroyed because of lack of money not an abundance of it, and trust me there is nothing romantic about paying your partners debts.

121204065401-gay-piggy-bank-monsterHigher esteem comes with financial responsibility, honest communication and maintaining a life outside of a relationship, while romance is vital in continuing tenderness, affection and sexual intimacy within it. Breeding air into a living space and knowing you can afford to leave at any time actually improves a relationship because no one holds the trump card.  A relationship like any startup business, needs money behind it in order to prosper, and prepare for contingencies. Money can’t buy you love, but when love EXITS, at least the door is open to leave. So if you need any advice as to what makes a great, sustaining, pressure-free relationship I suggest you get a piggy bank and start saving up.

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This blog first appeared on July 10th 2013 in my weekly RELATIONSHIP GUYD on guyspy.com.

http://www.guyspy.com/moving-in-moving-on-moving-out/

‘Fun & Flirty!’

Attitude, the UK gay magazine sold in the nation’s newsagents and supermarkets, recently celebrated their summer issue last year with a poll of the sexiest men by it’s readers, which caused a bit of feather fluffing in the mainstream media. The cause of it was Britain’s 19 year old Olympic poster boy Tom Daley beating ding-dong-daddy David Beckham and the blue-blooded ginger haired Prince Harry to the crown. Anyone that has had the fortune of being one of Daley’s 2.6 million fans on Facebook will know that just 30 seconds after putting up a dripping wet Tom in skimpy speedos, the Facebook “Likes” rack up faster than a junkie finding a vein.

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Twitter and FB during the 2012 London Olympics, were alive whenever he came out of the water after a dive, debatably mincing, but certainly posing and pouting under the shower knowing EXACTLY what he was doing. The epitome of ‘fun & flirty’.

For some reason his Facebook fan base consists only of pubescent teenage girls and wet mouthed gay men who leave lascivious messages on his wall. Tom totally ignores them and puts up another Instagram of him holding a kitten. This was some sort of ‘code’ to indicate his ‘sensitivity’ but I have to say these constant kitten pics are destroying my sexual fantasies of a man with a perfect taut tanned body, dark hairy legs and a happy trail. The kitten won him over, the bitch, and it knows it. Anyways he’s OUT now and wonderfully so. Unlike much older celebrity gayers who wait till their career dives down, Daley threw caution to the wind in early golden career.

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But the real surge of fantasy is the sexual menagerie of Daley with Beckham & Prince Harry together. Who will top? Now that would be FUN to watch! So is it a twink, an inked daddy or an aristocrat that sends you sexting?

Way before social media, smartphone technology and dating sites like grindr, flirting was an acquired art face to face, full of bravado or embarrassment, whereas online dirty flirty sexting allows you to go the extra inch without fearing rejection, but for some the problem arises when they actually turn up and the projection of rejection rises to full hilt.

Since the advent of online dating, people have got out of the habit of flirting face to face, understanding body chemistry and seeing the whole package, so to speak. Now we are used to seeing David Beckham’s package in his pants and Toms tiny speedos but if some doppelgängers walked down the street, would you feel good enough to bat above your average and flirt, or would you feel not good enough?

Low esteem, chem use, not fitting in and maybe living without employment, are the core seeds of the gay malady that ‘dare not speak it’s name: social phobia. Looking at all those circuit party boys, buffed or bearlike, the perception is that everyone is having a fabulous time except you. This is not so.

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Many are cruising around with sub-conscious thoughts like “I am unworthy, ugly, stupid, not good enough, big enough, smart enough, whatever.” Chemical and alcohol use can help to hide these subconscious wanderings, but when the balloons get popped you’re pooped, back into a shell. But flirting with chems as a companion is fun and allows you to take emotional risks, bypassing those nasty negative mantras in your head, but in the end, you have to face the music (or the date) emotionally naked, and that’s the real fear.

Because the world is now performance and target led, it’s easy to forget that shyness, whether connected to social phobia or not, is seen as charming, sexy and a big selling point, to those cruising you. Not everyone needs or wants a confident date, but what they do seek is an authentic one, and this is where flirting online can create impossible illusions, a bit like Daley, Beckham and Harry in a circle jerk. It’s just not going to happen. So don’t big up the flirting too much, unless you can deliver. Just be yourself and you will find that authenticity is the hottest drug to neck.

Recovery, in the broadest sense, means doing everything that is unfamiliar to you, in order to achieve emotional balance, so if you are hogging the flirting limelight online, log out and go walkabout on the streets, in clubs, bars or social groups. This will get you into the habit of interacting with authenticity again and your natural instincts that being online can hide. The kind of things that can excite at first glance in real life, like hair trapped under a wristwatch, a raspy voice, dry humour, smooth arms or an unexpected tattoo gaping from a sleeve. Everything online profiles don’t pick up. Older gay men will remember anonymous street cruising, turn back glances, flirting with the fruit stall boy, or a smile on a bus from afar. These things can make a heart beat and although they may not create instant results, at least you have turned up and delivered. Not many can say that online.

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This post of mine was first published in the August issue of HIM Magazine 2013 – for the Man who invests in Himself http://www.him-magazine.com/2013/08/01/sexting-sexy-men/

Cory Monteith post ‘Glee’

Cory-Monteith-Died-Glee-620x350There is always a back story. The sudden death of ‘Glee’ actor Cory Monteith, brings home the disease of addiction to the breakfast table. While you munch on muesli, someone is overdosing in an ambulance or comatose on meth, or in rehab truly believing they really have consumed their last drug. They haven’t. It’s a bit like a road accident, it always happens to someone else, until it happens to you. Not only do we think we are exempt from such precarious scenarios, but we expect rich, famous, talented people to be exempt too, after all money and fame solve everything don’t they?

Addiction has been referred to as ‘the disease that tells you, you haven’t got it’, and even being aware you have it, is no insurance. Born in 1982, the year Betty Ford opened her celebrity clinic, 31 years old Cory has now peacefully passed away from the accolades, the internal struggles and the sheer pain of not being able to stop using. In March this year he voluntarily entered rehab for substance addiction yet again, to delve through his back story, not a new exercise for Cory as his first rehab stint was age 19.

Leaving school at 16, the teenager with obvious drink and drug problems escalating at speed, coupled with kleptomania, compulsively stealing from family and friends until a family intervention occurred, to face his malaise. Stealing and getting away with it, has the same high as the compulsive gambler at the tables or city lawyers hoovering lines in a toilet at work, in order to cope with work pressures. Thinking no one knows or that you have got away with it is a buzz, but addiction is not choosy who it holds hostage, any age or social strata, as many will testify. Cory famously said in an interview, ” I was done fighting myself – I finally said, “I’m gonna start looking at my life and figure out why I’m doing this”.

MediaAssetsHands in the air, how many times have you heard someone say that? How many times have you sighed in frustration, like those close to Cory, the patient girlfriend, the family, the co-workers, the friends? WHEN will he get it? . . . perhaps, when will YOU get it? Maybe he did get it, maybe he had abstained for a period and relapsed his illness. We don’t know the back story.

Drugs and alcohol are not addictive, despite what governments tell us, multi millions consume daily without the need for attention, but those with an addictive personality need an alarm clock. WAKE UP! No point in explaining who they are, the risk-takers, boundary breakers, the chaos living clones who crash and burn, the secret silent users, and those who continue to act out compulsively with sex, workaholicism or food.

This is the illness of addiction, when self harm defies reason. They just can’t help themselves and push away anyone that judges. When I was bang at it I was oblivious to the harm I was causing. There was always an unspoken ‘incident’, another drama, or a repetitive pattern of low esteem with fix and rescue me escapades in motion. It becomes tedious to witness harm that people around addicts face daily, feeling helpless.

defusable-alarm-clockMany gay men remain heavy users of recreational drugs, including alcohol, but thankfully most never reach chronic addiction, they WAKE UP! and redress behaviours en route to avoid crisis. I didn’t. I worked the drug of denial until 1982, the year Cory was born, surrendering my addictions in that year, after my eighth relapse, on the cusp of death.

Then I got it : I could never safely use drugs & alcohol again, though I humbly acknowledge that it’s not been an easy road, but it was essential to begin the process of living a gay life without drink and drugs, or die a junkie. I’ve been miraculously clean for the whole of Cory’s lifetime, and seen hundreds of addicts die, it comes with the territory. I have not done it alone, and nor should you, but still remain vigilant, blessed and hopeful that recovery continues, for staying clean is not a given. Many addicts relapse after a clean period and overdose as the body can’t handle the new intake. My friend Tim, 26 years old, came out of treatment, got 4 months clean and did heroin. He was found by his brother slumped over the breakfast table dead after one hit. He took the gamble and lost, maybe Cory did the same?

My heartfelt thoughts go out to Cory’s partner, family, friends and inner circle while they absorb the shock. To value life, our friends, our GLEE and our inner strengths to carry this through, it’s wise to check your back story. Take stock often. Make changes. Seek help.

This blog of mine first appeared on GuySpy.com on July 15th 2013, 2 days after Cory’s death : http://www.guyspy.com/cory-monteith-post-glee/

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.

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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.

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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.
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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/