After A While

After a while you learn
the subtle difference between
holding a hand and chaining a soul
and you learn
that love doesn’t mean leaning
and company doesn’t always mean security.
And you begin to learn
that kisses aren’t contracts
and presents aren’t promises
and you begin to accept your defeats
with your head up and your eyes ahead
with the grace of woman,
not the grief of a child
and you learn
to build all your roads on today
because tomorrow’s ground is
too uncertain for plans
and futures have a way of falling down
in mid-flight.
After a while you learn
that even sunshine burns
if you get too much
so you plant your own garden
and decorate your own soul
instead of waiting for someone
to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure
you really are strong
you really do have worth
and you learn
and you learn
with every goodbye, you learn…

- Veronica A. Shoffstall

I’m Super…Thanks For Asking

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Today I began a self-imposed get-back-into-normal-life-as-much-as-possible, gain-no-more-weight therapy.

I got up with Jeffrey, saw him off to work, showered and dressed, had my coffee while sitting with the dogs, then headed out for my morning walk. I decided to sport the Captain America T-Shirt you see on me, above, to inspire me to be my own hero, get off my ass, and get moving.

To make my walk more productive, I drove to the nearby downtown Troy, (we actually live in Speigletown, but Troy is only 5 minutes away,) parked, and went on a walking exploration, listing all the restaurant and shops I discovered on my walk, on my iPhone for future reference. I did discover one or two small places that I was not aware of before, but mostly knew about the rest. Still, it was fun and interesting to go out exploring on foot, and I got my hour walk in with no problem.

After my walk, I headed to the grocery store to pick up a few items, then headed home, put on laundry, threw together a small salad for lunch, and got caught up on texts, e-mails and Facebook.

I know that probably sounds like a pretty ho-hum kind of day for some of you but, for me, being able to shower, get dressed and get out and around all by myself, is a pretty big deal. I’m still wearing my man-girdle, and I am still unable to bend or lift anything, for the most part; otherwise, I feel pretty darn close to normal again after a 6.5 week hiatus from life.

The open wound on my abdomen (from the coughing fit a few weeks ago that split open my incision) has healed from a cavernous hole we (Jeffrey) had to pack with saturated gauze every day, to a relatively minor sore spot that I simply have to cover with a new bandage myself each morning after showering. It has actually been pretty amazing watching this thing heal and get better day in and day out, as opposed to just removing bandages after several weeks and seeing it already healed.  I may be back to work as early as July 31st – just 10 days away – if I get the green light from my surgeon when I go for my check-up on June 30th.

In preparation for returning to normalcy, Jeffrey and I have begun making tentative plans for the fall, to a few drivable get aways, as well as a possible, long overdue, trip to Arizona next April.

As much as I’m not excited about returning to my cubicle and the hour drive to and fro every day, It’ll be good for me to get back to work. I’ll need the distraction. Jim is leaving for India for a couple weeks, for work, and then will be on vacation, so I won’t see him for a month or so and that’s gonna suck. I’ve gotten spoiled seeing so much of him during my recovery. He’s such a big part of my life, it won’t be the same without him here for so long. In this case, however, I have no doubt that the adage “absence makes the heart grow fonder” will hold true. At least for me. He’ll probably be relieved to get away from all of my health issues and unhealthy dog attachment issues for awhile (ha ha).

Now to get back off my arse and find something productive to do.

The New Normal

I had the closest thing to a normal weekend so far, thanks to these two guys:

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Jim and I had dinner and spent the night in Lennox, MA last night. Today, we explored nearby Lee and Lenox Center, two cute little towns, where we had lunch and shopped a bit.

When I got home, Jeffrey and I caught up on our last evenings, then headed out to pick up my comics and meet our friend, Mark, for cocktails and dinner (and some more light shopping) at a local restaurant and mall.

Despite being a little sore and very tired, it was wonderful to be out of the house and spending time with the men in my life.

I’m a lucky fellow indeed.

Who’s the captain of your relation ships?

 

 

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Relationships have been the source of both the greatest pain and the greatest pleasure in my life.
When I was younger, some of my family relationships were nurturing, loving and supportive. Some were harmful, abusive and dangerous. The relationship I was told to have with a god always felt artificial and forced. The relationship I had with my peers were almost always adversarial (they hated me, I feared them.) Although I was a good student, there were some teachers that teased me and disliked me, as well as some that liked me and praised me. For the first 18 years of my life, I was told what relationships to have, with whom to have them, and how to have them. When I finally realized I could make different choices and develop relationships with the people I wanted, the way I wanted, I discovered a whole new world of happiness, support, friendship and love. I fell in like/love easy, my attractions were all over the place, and I desperately wanted to befriend everyone. I tried to make ever relationship work and last, and I became a people pleaser, doing, saying and being what other people wanted, to please them and “make” them like me. I got by doing this for awhile, but the relationships were often one sided, rarely nurturing, and often ended leaving me feeling hurt, abandoned and self deprecating. And I was still being barraged by messages that who I was attracted to was wrong, and that I did not have a right to a sincere sexual and emotional relationship.

When I finally met a man I was actually my real self with, and we decided to make a life together, we declared our love out loud and fought for our right to commit to one another the way we wanted. This battle caused us to re-think all the limitations, expectations and rules placed on us, our relationship and our choices by our families, peers and society. We were still being told, even within our community, how to behave, how to love and how to live. When we began making choices based on what we wanted for ourselves, our life together and our relationship, our choices cost us some more relationships, as people judged us and our choices based on their beliefs of what relationships should be.

As the years went by, we developed – and lost – various friendships, social circles and groups, for a variety of reasons. I learned that many people still wanted to dictate to me what they required in a relationship, and had no interest in what I wanted or needed. As long as I offered my home, resources, time and attention to entertain them or give them attention, all was well. Any time I expressed my wants, needs, limitations or expectations, I was labeled “toxic”, “needy”, “selfish” and “delusional.” Once again, I learned quickly that one sided relationships were unstable and destined to end, sooner or later.

As I grew older, I learned more about myself, my emotions, my attractions, my wants, needs, desires and relationship potential. I stopped believing I was wrong for how I felt and what I wanted; the problem was, I was trying to build my kind of relationships with the wrong kind of people. I embraced my self-liberation and no longer denied myself that which I wanted. I learned that not everyone I met was comfortable with the attachments I could and wanted to make or the communities I wanted to be part of and or cultivate. My choices were scrutinized, criticized and ridiculed as improper, foolish and unhealthy. But this was nothing new. My sexuality, my liberalism, my atheism, my activism, my behavior, my choices, and my general non-conformity had all been met with resistance and disdain, and I realized every choice I made, every relationship I developed, everything I believed, had a detractor somewhere. It sounds like such an obvious truth, but I finally figured it out: when I stopped trying to make everyone else happy, and I just started doing what made me happy, I would, in fact, be happier. And that’s what I did.

I do not lead a conventional life. I do not have conventional relationships and I don’t have conventional beliefs. But I am also not alone in the things I think and feel and believe. And I have been fortunate to find people who love those things about me, stick by and support me, and happily share their friendship, community, love and/or lives with me. Through my exploration, I have opened my eyes and heart to a world of relationship structures I never even considered before, and have seen people build the most beautiful homes and families and communities based on mutual love, respect, support and nurturing. Some more traditional, some not so much. But they all work in their own ways.

I hope I continue to meet new people and experience and build new relationships and attachments, in ways I know, and in ways I haven’t yet. I hope I continue to look at other people and their relationships through their experience, and not my own. I hope I never project on to other people my own personal wants and needs, but let them tell me who they are, what they want and need, and how they wish to develop their relationships, without the confines of societally approved ideas of gender, sexuality, ability, numbers, roles, dynamics, economic status, location, family status or behavior. I hope I continue to build on the love I have found, and nurture the relationships I have, without restraint or apology or explanation. And I hope all those I know, and those reading this, allow themselves the freedom to develop the relationships they want, the way they want, with the people they want. And if anyone else tries to steer you down a different course…kick them off your ship.

Fantastic Foursome?

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This is our current Family at Breen Acres: Jeffrey, Harvey and Me. The picture was taken this past Sunday, by our friend (and our houseguest for the weekend), Andre. It is a happy little threesome.

We have managed to carve out a niche in our own corner of the Universe, where we eat, drink, sleep, and play in relative harmony with one another. Despite our excursions into the outside world, and the number of times we have and will invite others into our sanctum sanctorum, we love, above all else, our time home alone with each other.

Building a home and relationship with another person is not as easy as Disney and Harlequin Romances would have us believe. It takes a level of work, commitment, understanding and respect to navigate the same space for years with another person without bloodshed or lawsuits.

And adding a four legged friend into the mix adds a new dimension to it all.
Despite the vast difference in our life between not having a dog and having one (again), Harvey has managed to fit right in. Although he has added a new level of activity and responsibility to our home and life, it is impossible to imagine life without him already. We love him as much as we can love a dog; as much as we loved Clyde, I dare say.

As part of a larger plan, we hope to adopt another family member to add to our home: an older sister for Harvey. We are heeding a lot of professional and personal advice to wait a while before introducing dog number two into our ménage a troi so, while we wait, we discuss the pros and cons of having a second dog and what that will entail. We worry about finding dog sitters or affording kennels for two dogs, as opposed to one, should we want or need to go away. We realize the financial burden of caring and providing for two dogs will be greater than one, and that we will have to make room in our home and life for the next four legged child that takes up residence at Breen Acres. There is also the concern as to whether we will luck out a third time, as we have the first two times: finding a dog that “fits” so well into our lives and meshes with our personalities, as Clyde once did and Harvey now does. More importantly, will we find a dog that meshes well with Harvey, one that will play with him and keep him company and share our home with him without too much friction or animosity between the two. After all, the greatest impetus for adding a second dog to our home is for Harvey’s benefit. We want him to have the companionship of another dog; something that I think will benefit us all. And I won’t lie: I’ve always wanted more than one dog and love the idea of rescuing another dog and giving her a home she might not otherwise have. But I’m trying not to romanticize this too much and be very honest and practical about what it will mean and require, adopting pet number two, so that I/we walk into this with eyes wide open.

Adding anyone new to an established relationship, two legged or four legged, alters the dynamics and can make for positive and negative changes in the status quo. It’s not to be entered lightly, so we discuss and debate, consider and caution, and then move forward with the best choices, for us, that we stand to benefit most from.
So, despite the probability that this will take more work, effort, and patience as we all adjust to a new family member, I think and feel, ultimately, it’s the right thing to do.

So there will eventually be a few more dog hairs, perhaps more chew marks and a lot more frustration if/when they both decided to act up, refuse to sleep, make messes, and require medical attention. But for all the added stress or work another dog may bring into our home, I can’t help going back to the same thought over and over: twice the dogs means twice the unconditional love and affection.

And who wouldn’t want more of that in their life if they could get it?

A little drop of rain can hardly hurt me now


I hurt someone today.

It wasn’t physical, and it wasn’t intentional. It was one of those quiet, catch you off guard kind of moments where suddenly you realize your actions or words have hurt someone. I live my life in fear. Fear of being gay bashed. Fear of not being liked. Fear of not being able to pay my bills. Fear of some new health problem. Fear of being alone. Fear of making the wrong choices. Fear of humiliation. But perhaps my biggest greatest fear is hurting someone I care about, especially when I don’t mean to.

Now, I have hurt many people, some intentionally (of which I’m not proud) and some accidentally (of which I cannot always take responsibility for) but sometimes you go down a road you probably know, deep down, is not going to lead to good things and you find yourself caught up in it and can’t seem to stop yourself from getting to that inevitable point where someone’s going to get hurt no matter what you do. And the worst part about it is that you could have prevented it if you had just been more responsible, more aware, more understanding and a little less self-indulgent. Physical wounds heal, financial wounds can be fixed, but emotional wounds are the hardest and most painful because often the most effective treatment is time, and even that doesn’t always work.

Somewhere out there is someone hurting because of my actions, and I will not sleep well because of it. I am truly sorry.