Monday, April 14, 2014

The Address

I'm doing a little free promotion for the new Ken Burns film that's being premiered tomorrow night (Tuesday, April 15 at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time) on the Public Broadcasting System (PBS).

I've been seeing the promo ad for the past couple of weeks and when I heard "...kids with ADHD, learning disabilities, and autism...", it caught my attention.

The film is a 90-minute feature length documentary by Ken Burns, telling the story of a small school in Vermont where children with various forms of learning difficulties, such as autism, ADHD, and dyslexia, are empowered to achieve academic success.

They are apparently focusing on how helping the kids memorize and recite Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address not only unlocks the meaning of Lincoln's words, but also helps the students discover their strengths in achieving this.

That last phrase is really key. I know from my own experience as a student with ADHD, my teachers were always challenged to discover my strengths and learning style so I could succeed academically. Sitting still for long periods of time was always a challenge. Focusing and concentrating was also a challenge when there were so many distractions competing for my attention.

So, I'll be watching this documentary on Tuesday night. If you're interested in more information, here are some links:

PBS site introducing "The Address"

Information about the Greenwood School.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sundays with Sam: Coming out

Hi every body! It's Sam-I-Am again. Hope every one is having a nice day.

I'm going to keep this post a little short today because I have been spending so much time with Rick (my BOYFRIEND). I am writing this post on Saturday morning and I am sending it over to Brad so he can get it ready for Sunday morning. If you remember from what I wrote last Sunday, I told you about how Rick is having a talk today (Saturday) in which he is going to come out to them.

This has been on my mind (and Rick's) all week long, so I didn't have time to sit down and write out a post where I could share all any wisdom this week! LOL! And since I am writing this on Saturday morning, I have no idea how Rick's talk with his parents will go later today, so I promise to tell you about it next Sunday.

I love the sign I am using today. I really hope there will be a day when coming out will not even be needed, or at least it will not be a big deal. Wouldn't that be cool? Yeah, let's keep our hope alive that some day all that will matter is getting to love the person you care about and be open about it and no body batting an eye, except to say, "Oh look at those two people holding hands. They must be in love."

Have a good week, and I'll see you next Sunday!

Love and hugs, Sam-I-Am-Proud-Of-My-BOYFRIEND

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Random thoughts that run through my head

My counseling continues to go really well and I thought I'd share this project my therapist has me doing now. 

He calls it "homework," but I apparently made a weird face when he used that word. He said I scrunched my face! I said it reminded me too much of school, so he said I could pick another word. I went with "project." He smiled at that.

So my project is to periodically jot down random thoughts I have during the day. He said most people have random thoughts but we sometimes discount them because we think they're not "mature," or "right," or "too random to have any meaning." 

I think I had this really cool insight the other day with one of my random thoughts and wanted to share it with you:

I'm afraid of my own inner strength. I get anxious thinking about how unfamiliar my life will be if I start acting on it...... but,

Being afraid of my inner strength means I'm afraid of Me. Do I want to remain safe in my "Pretend Self," or take the time to gradually get acquainted with my "Authentic Self"?

This doesn't mean I'm living a "pretend life." I don't think that's even close to the truth. What it means to me is that sometimes I'm afraid to claim my inner strength because I know it will then lead to changes (even if they're positive) and I'm afraid I might not even recognize myself or know how to use that strength.

But, I guess the key is to stay open and gradually get acquainted with my strength and not put all this pressure on myself to make myself grow faster than I'm ready.

Examples of my "Authentic Self" include:

-- Wearing whatever makeup I want, and as much as I want, whenever I want, and where ever I want. With my head held high.

-- Deciding whether, when, where, and what I need, when my dad wants to talk about our relationship. I'm an adult who is capable of speaking my truth and staying true to myself.

Well, those are just two I came up with off the top of my head. There are many other examples, but like I said above, I need to take the time to gradually get acquainted with them.

Maybe I should tell my counselor I want to go back to calling this a "homework" assignment. I'm going to ask him if he thinks I get a .

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Thank you, Timmy

Made by Timmy,
"Inspired by a post I read
by Brad to Matt"

Sometimes life is hard, you learn to always be on guard.

Just waking up can be a chore, knowing you must make it out that door.

You go through things no person should, as it you wouldn't change it if you could.

You are constantly beaten down, by yourself, by life, and all those around.

And when it gets to be too much, and you crave just that one person's touch.

You go home to find that person on your mind.

The one who will make it all right, just because he is with you in life.

You know you are lucky to have him, because with him your life is not grim.

He gives you hope, and he helps you cope.

He makes your life whole, and helps you meet your goals.

In return for all he gives you, your love for him will always remain true.


Some of you may be familiar with the author, Cody Kennedy, who writes fiction for gay young adults. A few months ago, a 12-year-old boy named Timmy read Cody's book, Omorphi, and wrote a review of it. Cody shared the review on Facebook and that's how many of us who follow Cody learned about this incredibly brave and inspiring young man.

Timmy has read some of our blog posts and cited some by Matty when he wrote about his ADHD, and one by me when I wrote recently about how incredibly proud I was of Matty when he decided he was worthy of the best treatment for his ADHD and decided to change his medication to a better one. You can find my post to Matty here, in case you missed it: My Inspiration.

It means the world to Matty and I that we sometimes write things that inspire others. Timmy was inspired to write his incredible poem and dedicated it to us.

Matty was chatting with Timmy on Facebook recently and Timmy said he was inspired by our love. Matty wrote him back and said: "I hope you know you are one of my inspirations."

Timmy reply was such a gift to us: "That's kinda cool Matt. We can inspire each other and others!" 

Timmy got it exactly right! He's twelve years old and is already wise beyond his years. One of our major purposes for this blog is to inspire others, and to be inspired by those of you who share your support of us, including bits of your own struggles and triumphs. 

We have been recently highlighting some of the special gifts people have been making for us. There was Thorny's "Matt's Fire Tree" and Kari's "Matt on Fire" graphic. And so far there is one more piece of art we'll be sharing soon.

So, thank you to everyone who is on this journey with us. And thank you, Timmy, for sharing your very beautiful and inspiring poem with us. And yes, we hope we can continue to inspire you and you continue to inspire us. After all, that's the way it's suppose to work. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Happy news

Thanks to Kari for my
"Matt on Fire"
Thanks to Kari for another addition to the "Matt on Fire" theme that seems to be emerging lately! She sent this to me via Facebook as part of the writing I've been doing about how worried I was to change my medication. The new medication has been working really well and so far I haven't lost the good "fire" in my brain, meaning, I think this new med has not taken away my "essential self." I'm still Matt, but without all the ups and downs my old med was making me have.

Anyway.... Just wanted to fill you guys in on another reason to celebrate. I met with my boss at work Monday to review my job performance and I'm gonna brag for a brief moment. He said he's been very pleased with my work and even had a difficult time coming up with areas for improvement! Can you believe that?

Well, he did come up with three recommendations/expectations, and they are very reasonable and doable, so I'm good with that. Plus... I GOT A RAISE! Not a huge one, but the largest I qualified for at this point!

So, yes, MATT IS ON FIRE!! I'm so happy. Can you tell?

Plus, that's not all. He wants to start training me on another aspect of the business. I'm going to go with him occasionally to learn aspects of how to bid on new jobs! This is almost blowing me away, because it means they see a future for me there, and they are making this investment in me!

Anyway, not only am I valuing my worth more and more, but they are valuing my contribution to the business. So! Yeah! I'm psyched. And on fire!! Just wanted to share that!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sundays with Sam: Difficult roads

Hi every one. Sam-I-Am here. I've had a pretty busy week, so I think I am going to keep this week's post short.

I did want to give you an update. Rick, MY BOYFRIEND, and I are doing great! He is planning to have the Coming Out Talk with his parents next Saturday. He has been spending a lot of time with me talking about what he wants to say and how to deal with any positive or negative reactions. He's pretty sure things will go well, but we both have been reading that parents have to have their time to take all this in.

Even the most accepting parents in the world still need time to adjust how they see their child. See, parents always have some idea of what their child's future will be like. They may not know the details, but there is always some picture they have of their child being happy, which might include getting married, having kids, having a successful job, and so forth. When you tell your parents you are gay, then they need time to adjust thinking about how your future will involve another man, instead of a woman.

See? This is stuff I have been reading and sharing with Rick. Oh, and also, the child has been thinking about being gay for years and years and years, so they are already use to the idea and what their future might be like. The parents may not have even considered you being gay, so they need time to adjust. When you come out to them, they are probably not going to jump up and down with joy. They need some time to soak in all this new information. All you can say to them is, "I want you to be happy for me, and if you have questions or want to talk about this some more, I'd really like that."

Like I said a few weeks ago, I'm going to be at Brad and Matty's house while he is having The Talk with his parents. When he finishes, he's going to call me and come over there so he can tell me how it went and so I can give him all kinds of love and support. Brad and Matty are going to leave before he gets there, so Rick and I can have some alone time. Then we will call Brad and Matty and they will return and all four of us can talk some more.

I think it's a pretty good plan. For me, it has made me feel extra special to Rick because he trusts me enough to include me in this really, really big step. I know from reading and from talking to him that Coming Out is a difficult road. But like the sign up there says, it can lead to beautiful destinations.

Hope every one has a a great week.

Love, Sam-I-Am

Thursday, April 3, 2014

My "Fire Tree"

"Matt's Fire Tree"
by Thorny Sterling

I wanted to share a gift I received the other day from an awesome friend. Wait, let me change one word in that sentence. I forgot to capitalize "friend." This is a gift I received the other day from an awesome Friend. There, that's better.

This is a digital painting my friend Thorny did for me. And in just a minute I'll explain it's significance to what I'm also writing about today. After dedicating the painting to me, Thorny gave it a title: "Matt's Fire Tree."

Thorny had mentioned on Facebook recently he was looking for unique pictures of trees he could paint. I've always loved trees since I was a little kid and have a pretty big collection of pictures I've found over the years of ones that caught my eye, so I posted a few. He took one I posted and painted the one you see above and dedicated it to me and even gave it a name -- a name that he didn't even know at the time had some significance to me. More about that in a sec.

So I've been telling you guys about my recent decision to change my ADHD meds. I've only been on one med my whole life and it's one that is fast-acting -- gets in quickly... does it's thing... then exits quickly, so I have to take three doses throughout the day to keep things level in my system.

It's been problematic because sometimes I would forget to take a dose and it would throw my brain into all kinds of spinning, which always gets me in trouble. My doctor has been trying to get me to take one of the slow-releasing meds you take once a day and keeps things level all day long. But I don't like change all that much, so I've resisted it.

Well, finally I decided the time had come to start feeling I was worthy of taking better care of myself and get on med that would keeps things level for me so I could study better and concentrate at work better. Plus, when my levels are going up and down, it makes me moody and irritable and sometimes hard to be around. It's also very difficult for me to think rationally when my brain is spinning.

Long story short, I'm now on week two of my new med and it's working way better than I even imagined it would. I feel more grounded during the day, I'm more settled in my thinking process, I feel capable of managing things that require multi-tasking, my moods are more level, I feel more grounded.

BUT... I was very worried I might lose some things about ADHD that I value. I've always loved my intensity and my high energy level. I know you don't have to have ADHD to have intensity and high energy, but I had heard stories about how some people were so toned down on their meds, I wanted none of that. I didn't want to lose the "Core Me," those things that made me "uniquely Matt." 
I'm very happy to say I think I am still "uniquely Matt." My brain doesn't go through the extremes of getting to a "level" place, only to fall back into revving up again, followed by taking another dose to get it back to "level," and on and on throughout the day. Now I feel no more ups and downs and can get on with life.

I'm also happy to report that I haven't lost my energy level. Yeah, that's what the "H" in ADHD refers to.

But there's a negative and positive to that dreaded word, hyperactive. 

The negative is: "Matthew, what's wrong with you? SIT DOWN! QUIT SQUIRMING!" I got that so much as a kid.

The positive word for my energy level now, and the one I prefer is, "bouncy," or "full of life," or "energetic." And by God I haven't lost that. It's all my positive energy, like "Matt's Fire Tree" that Thorny made for me.

But I was really, really worried I might lose something I treasure about my brain. And I even found a new term recently to describe this quality. I was on an ADHD site recently reading some comments parents were making about their ADHD kids, and one person was talking about how delightful it was to see their son being "on fire" when he was bouncing around, all full of joy and imagination and playfulness.

And I am happy to report that I have not lost my fire! I love how my brain can travel down so many different paths, exploring all the different angles of some idea, totally enjoying all the passion that's getting stirred up inside my heart, seeing so many possibilities of the magic that happens when I can play a tiny role in bringing a smile to someone's face, getting a group of people to interact with each other when there's been some misunderstanding so healing can take place. 

So thank you, Thorny, for creating my very own "Fire Tree." You and I hadn't even talked about my ADHD recently, so you had no idea what I would read into your painting, or what it would mean to me. But it reminds me that I still have my Fire! And if all of you look at the painting in the upper center section, I see a heart. 

And thanks to all of you for being so encouraging and supportive of me as I finally got to a place where I felt worthy of having the best treatment for my ADHD.

Only now I have a new name for this thing: ADHD, With Fire! 
And my very own Fire Tree totem to remind me. Emoji

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sundays with Sam: What friends are for

Hello to every one. It's Sam-I-Am once more.

I have been reading some of Matty's posts about his adhd and also the post Brad wrote about how Matty should see that he is worthy instead of seeing himself as broken. It just breaks my hear that Matty or any body would see them selves as broken. And this is coming from some one who has even written here that I have seen my self as broken. So I guess it is ironical that I'm even saying this.

But, I have learned some thing really important about my self because Matty and Brad are so open about their feelings. I have learned that I am all kinds of rough with my self when it's me talking about me. But when somebody else talks down on them selves, especially some one I care about, it really breaks my heart.

And this leads me to the next thing I have learned. Why is it easier for me to rough my self up but I will come to the defense of other people who rough them selves up? It makes no sense and I need to stop being hard on my self.

Matty is like one of the best persons I have ever met. And there is no way I can leave Brad out, because he has been my best friend since middle school. They both mean the world to me and I would do any thing for either of them.

Matty is like my big brother, and some times he's even a little bit like a dad-figure to me -- except he's the good dad I have never had. But most of all, he is like my Friend. He always seems happy to see me when I come to visit them and I love how he jokes around with me. And to be honest, it kind of catches me off guard when I walk in the door and he smiles his big smile and says, "Oh man. Let the party begin. Sam is here! How you doing, man?" And it always comes out like he is genuinely happy to see me.

And then he some times shows me a new wood carving he is doing and explains different things about it and I get really interested in it because you would think there is some kind of magic in what he carved and he's showing me some thing really personal about him self. I know that is probably not the clearest way to explain it, but it's like by showing me the carving, he is sharing some thing that means a lot to him. And it's like he's saying, "You matter to me." And I end up feeling like I'm some kind of special to him. And it means a lot to me.

So, I just want to use my post this Sunday to tell him this:

Matty, see that sign I picked out up there? I thought about you when I saw it. I know you are a very strong person. But I can tell by those things you wrote about when you mention having adhd that you some times don't feel strong inside. And I guess it's okay to feel what ever you feel, at least that's what I'm learning in my counseling, but I want you to know it is ALWAYS okay to reach out to Brad or me or anybody who truly cares about you so we can hold your hand and remind you that you are an incredible person who gives so much to others.

And thank you for being there for me. You share your strength with me all the time, maybe in some ways you don't even know about, but you do. And I am a stronger person because you are in my life.

So when you don't feel strong, I hope you know you can call me and I will be there for you. I don't know how much I can help, but maybe I can listen and sort of hold your hand and maybe that will help.

Remember last week when I was leaving after visiting you guys and you followed me to the door and gave me a hug? It was the first time you ever said you loved me. That meant the world to me. I didn't quite make it to my car before I stated crying because I felt so cared for. But this is what I want to tell you: I was not crying because I felt weak. I was crying because it felt like you somehow gave me some of your strength when you said that. And this is the second thing I want to tell you: It's a week later and I still have that strength inside me. And you gave me that.

Now it's my turn to give you back some of my strength. I love you. I hope you feel it because it comes from my heart.

Friday, March 28, 2014

The best feeling

I met Brad for the first time at my 18th birthday party. He was 17 at the time. 

My best friend, Tyler, and I always celebrate our birthday together and have been tight friends since we were just little kids. Brad and Tyler were working together at a grocery store at the time and Tyler invited Brad to our party.

When Brad showed up and I saw him from across the room, I couldn't stop staring at him. He literally was the most beautiful boy I had ever seen. I couldn't even concentrate on anything else going on around me at the time because I was watching him make his way around the room.

When I first noticed him, he looked right at me and I remember he slightly tilted his head, as if he was acknowledging me.

I haven't been able to keep my eyes off him ever since. Even now we'll be sitting in the living room together and I'll look over at him and sometimes he'll already be looking at me.

It's always the best feeling ever when this happens. 

Maybe because he's been the best thing that's ever happened to me.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

My inspiration

Matty and I have been talking a lot over the past few months about whether he wanted to change his ADHD medication. He's been ambivalent about making the change and he kept worrying he was burdening me with his ambivalence. 

It hasn't been an easy decision for him. He sometimes has a tendency to hold things like this inside because he thinks his ambivalence is some kind of defect. So let me share with all of you some of the things I've been telling him.

I am incredibly proud of him for deciding he is worth the very best treatment possible. It always makes me so sad when I'm aware he's been going through some self-doubt about his worthiness. So, Matty, let me be clear once more when I say this: You Are Worthy. Period. You are a very beautiful man on the outside, and you are an incredibly beautiful spirit on the inside. 

And, no, you are not broken. None of us is perfect. I have my faults and you have yours. And that ADHD you have? It's one of the things that make you, you. 

I love all the energy you have. 

I love how many different roads your thoughts can travel down. 

I love how in touch with your emotions you are. 

I love your passion and your compassion. 

I love your endless sense of humor. 

I love watching you bounce around from one project to the other and how excited you get when a new idea hits you. 

And I love how you treasure me. Yes, how you treasure me with your secrets, your doubts, your enthusiasm, your drive, your love. To put it simply, You mean the world to me. All of you.


And just remember this: 

And what I see happening literally takes my breath away. I love you. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Believing I'm worth it

Thanks to Madison Parker for
sending this to me.
Well, guess what? After a really long period of agonizing over what to do about my meds, I finally decided to realize that I am indeed worth having the best treatment possible for my ADHD. 

I had an appointment with my doctor this past Friday and he again reviewed all the various options and spent a really long time with me going over the pros and cons, and benefits and drawbacks, for each option.

In my last post a few days ago, I wrote about how I go through bad periods where I hate having ADHD and how it complicates my life in so many ways. It recently got to the breaking point because I've had trouble remembering to take all three doses throughout the day and my levels go up and down and believe me it creates havoc in terms of how my brain processes too much stimuli and information, and ends up throwing my emotional life into a volatile mess.

This has affected my relationships with people I care about, interferes with work, interferes with my education, and does serious damage to my feelings of self-worth -- so much so that I have ended up bullying myself, making fun of myself, and beating myself up, all because I turn my anger inward because I sometimes hate the way my brain works, or fails to work.

It's really helped to write about all this here, and believe me, the comments you left me last week were a major factor in getting me motivated to take better care of myself. My doctor has long thought there were some better options for my ADHD, but I've been stubborn, mainly because I have been on this particular medication since I was first diagnosed, and I know exactly how it works. 

Since this is the only medication I've ever been on, there has always been something comforting about it always being there. I know the ins and out of how it works and have gotten use to it over the years.

However, I sometimes forget the late afternoon dose, so my levels plummet. Plus, this is one of those "fast acting" meds, which means it also leaves my system after a very short time. Thus, I have to take three doses throughout the day to keep things level -- if I remember to take that last dose.

Plus, my doctor has long felt I was probably on too low a dose for the severity of all this neurological malfunctioning.

So, when I saw him on Friday, I made the decision to switch to the long-acting version of this med. I now only have to take ONE dose in morning and it keeps my levels steady for 10 to 12 hours! A big plus.

He started me out on the lowest dose since he could tell I was a little ambivalent at first. The plan I agreed to is to take this low dose for 7 days and then go up to the next level for week two. He thinks that may be the level I'll probably stay at, but if not, he can go up a little higher if needed.

I'm completely on board with this plan and began on Saturday. I had a few minor side effects, like a mild headache and some minor "spaciness," but it seemed like it was working because I felt things were a lot more level throughout the day. I felt calm and grounded and didn't experience any of the "peaks" and "valleys" I had with the old med.

I first want to thank the Love of my Life, my always reliable and sweet Bradley. The attentiveness and pampering you gave me on Saturday made me feel really loved and cared for. I didn't have to go through this all alone. You are truly my Rock

I also want to thank Mary Grzesik for staying in contact with me during the day to keep me occupied and entertained. You were are great hand-holder and you made the anxiety I was feeling a lot more bearable. Plus, I learned way more than I even needed to about Boston Butt! LOL!!

And to Madison Parker who sent me several encouraging quotes. I especially loved the one at the top of this post, in addition to this one: 

Again, please accept my heart-felt thanks to everyone who left me comments on my post last week. They really tipped the scale in helping me make a decision to take better care of myself. You helped me remember that I am worth treating myself better. Thank you.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sundays with Sam: Never in a million billion years

Hi every body! It's Sunday so that must mean it's time for Sam! Sam-I-Am! Hope every body is having a good day.

My BOYFRIEND, Rick, found that image I posted above. He told me I deserve to think about myself as being stronger than I give my self credit for. I don't think I would go as far as saying I was a Super Hero by a long stretch of the imagination, but I guess I am learning to see what some of my strengths are.

It's funny because we were talking one night this week and I felt like I was so weak. This is what happened: His aunt and uncle are away for a week and he's been going over there to feed their cats and give them some company while they are away. I went over there with him one afternoon and he was showing me around and I just stood there with my mouth wide open when we got to one room because one entire wall was filled with books. It was like being in a library and I love going to libraries because they are quiet and I love being around books.

And then I almost fainted on the spot because on the bottom shelf over in the corner were all these children's books written by Dr. Seuss. If you remember from something I wrote a while back, I LOVE Dr. Seuss. I use to spend a lot of time with my grandma when I was a little kid and I still remember sitting in her lap with her arms around me while she read me his books. That is even how I got my nick-name, Sam-I-Am, because that is what she started calling me.

Brad said he would put a link to the post when I wrote about her if you care to read it: Click here.

So while Rick in the kitchen taking care of the cats, I sat down on the floor and started looking at the Dr. Seuss books and when Rick came back in the room, he sat down beside me and put his arm around me and sort of cradled me. Well, I started crying. I use to be embarrassed when that kind of think would happen, but for some reason I don't even mind it one bit if Rick is the only one around.

I had already told him some about grandma and he knew what was going on with me and I didn't even have to explain it. When he cradled me I closed the book and put it in my lap and leaned up against his chest and he started rubbing my hair, which always relaxes me.

After a few moments he just whispered very softly, "Tell me some more about your grandma." After I got my tears under control, I told him some memories of how I would be in the kitchen with her when I was little and I could even remember some of the things she would cook. He asked me if I had any pictures of her, which I do, and he said he would like to look through my albums some time. So I said, What about tomorrow night (which would be Friday)?

So on Friday night I was showing him the pictures of her and he said I had her eyes and her smile. Well, you know what happened next, right? I started crying again. I'm turning into a regular water faucet but I don't even care about that any more because I feel like I can be my total self around Rick. I don't even have to hide what I'm feeling because he told me once, "Every thing you think or feel is important to me." Can you even believe some body actually said some thing like that to me? I have never had any body say some thing like that to me before. But I trust he means it because I feel the same way about him.

So guess what we did next? He went over to the book shelf (we were back at his aunt's and uncle's house) and took some of the Dr. Seuss books and led me over to the sofa. He sat down first and then I sat down and leaned up against him and he asked me if it would be okay if he read to me. I'm not even going to ask you this question: "Do you think I started crying again?" because by this time you probably know I did.

So he started reading to me and then he would change his voice from character to character and it was so enjoyable and funny. And then after about the third book, we would take turns being different characters and we started cracking up like we were high on drugs or some thing!!

I would never have imagined in a million, billion years that I would ever be sitting on a sofa with another GUY, reading Dr. Seuss books and giggling and laughing and enjoying the heck out of my self! OMG. But I really, really was having the best time! Let me say that again, because I need to hear it my self: I was having the BEST time sitting on a sofa with ANOTHER GUY reading books by Dr. Seuss and laughing and enjoying the heck out my self! Oh, and one more thing: It was the most natural thing in the world to be doing!! 

I guess this means I am getting stronger and accepting that I am okay just like I am. Sure, I am not perfect. Not be a long shot. But I have spent most of my life pretending to be some one I am not. Pretending to be straight. Pretending to feel strong when I really felt weak inside. Pretending like I would be happy some day when all I felt was there was no hope.

Well, I am feeling more real now. Maybe not 100% yet, but I am getting there. And so far, I like what I'm discovering.

Thanks for spending a little time with me this Sunday. Hope every one has a really nice day and a nice week. See you next Sunday.

Love, Sam-I-Am (with my grandma's eyes and her smile)


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Believing I'm worth it


I sometimes worry that Brad and I are not going to make it. Not because we might fall out of love... not because one or both of us might give up on the other... not because someone might interfere in our relationship and try to cause problems...

You see, I have a brain that doesn't work efficiently. My brain has no clue about how to organize an overload of stimuli and information and emotion so I can navigate through everything that happens throughout the day and night.

I go through periods when I HATE having ADHD. Cody Kennedy wrote a post the other day on being a writer who has A.D.D. If you missed it and are interested in his perspective on how our brain works, I highly recommend it. Here's a link to his post: Writing and A.D.D. 

I'd like to quote part of a paragraph that hit me like a ton of bricks because he captured my own experience so perfectly:

Time collapses. It becomes a black hole. It feels as if everything is  happening all at once. Perspective and the ability to prioritize are lost. It creates inner turmoil and sometimes dread, fears, and panic. You're on the go, trying to keep your mind from caving in while spilling over, drumming your fingers, shaking your knee, and on and on and on and on...."

"Time collapses." I'd never heard it put quite that way before, but that's exactly it. So much is spinning around in your head and it's all disorganized. And then everything gets even more complicated when you're having all kinds of intense emotions thrown into the mix. Believe me, it's not a pretty picture. 

If I'm upset about someone at work yelling at me because I'm taking too long to finish a project... 

...or if I'm chatting with a friend and they say something that for whatever reason hits me the wrong way... 

...or if I'm trying to settle myself down after having a flashback nightmare about the time I was attacked... 

...or if I'm trying to figure out what I might have done wrong to make a friend withdraw from me... 

...or if Brad has a tone of frustration in his voice because he's asked me for the umpteenth time to please take out the trash... 

AND if this starts crashing in on me all at once, then I start feeling like I'm being sucked into this dark vortex and there's nothing I can do to stop it.

All this can start spinning around in my head at warp speed and it feels like there's not one single thing I can do to slow things down so I can organize things in my head. It's an awful feeling to be so overloaded with too much stimuli coming at you from all directions and then to have every single emotion magnified times 100.

Yes, I take medication for my ADHD. It's been a life-saver. My doctor thinks I'll be better suited on one of the longer-acting meds... one that slowly releases throughout the day and keeps my levels steady without the fluctuations of my current med. And there are fewer doses to remember.

I've also learned all kinds of strategies to compensate for what the meds don't do. I try to remember to slow myself down when I start spinning. I try to avoid situations I know might trigger my brain into spinning. I try not to have serious and complicated discussions with people when I know intense emotions might get stirred up. 

And I worry constantly about losing friends because I can be be too intense. I can also start feeling overloaded when I feel like I'm being misunderstood and that just leads to me intensifying what I'm saying to make my point.

When things go badly, I sometimes resort to bullying myself. Calling myself all kinds of horrible names where I make fun of myself and beat myself up. On a few rare occasions, I even decide to punish myself by deliberately refusing to take my meds the next day because I feel like I'm not even worthy enough to have a brain that works right. I don't go to classes that day because it would be useless. And I always get sent home from work because I work with power tools and hammers and nails, and I'm an accident waiting to happen.

I have my next appointment with my doctor this Friday to talk about the meds. I'm determined to do everything I can to help my brain work efficiently and in an organized manner. Brad is too important to me and I don't want to bring all this extra stress into our relationship. And my friends are too important to me and I don't want to jeopardize what we have. 

But maybe, just maybe, I need to BELIEVE that I am important and worthy enough to take care of myself. That's the foundation for everything else to work, right? I have to believe I'm worth it.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sundays with Sam: Coming out and starting real life

Hello every one! You're back in Samland today and I will be your smiling host! So just pull up a chair and have a cup of coffee or tea or soda or water or what ever you like, and sit back and let me entertain you for a little bit!!

Well, let's see if I can tell you a joke to get things started off right. So, what did the mayonnaise say when someone opened the fridge? "Close the door! I'm dressing." Get it? HA HA! Oh man, I kill myself sometimes with these kind of jokes.

Matty always loves these kind of jokes and keeps me in stitches with how corny some of them are. Oh, that reminds me of a Real corny joke he told me recently. What did the baby corn say to the mama corn? "Where's pop corn?" LOL. Hey. Don't blame me. That was Matty's joke!! HA HA!

Okay, now that every one has a smile on their face let me share with you some thing I have been thinking about a lot lately. Remember how I told you a while back that Rick is planning to come out to this family some time this Spring? Well, he's thinking he might sit down with his parents some time next month and have that talk with them.

He is pretty sure it will go okay but he said getting ready for this is one of the most stressful things he's ever done. So I have been trying to be there for him and help him out any way I can. I told him some of the things I've learned from my counseling group because the topic of coming out is some thing that comes up a lot. And the thing about coming out is that it seems to be different for every single person.

Some people in my group came out at a very early age and some people (like me) have only come out to a few people. But one thing every one in the group says is that it is always stressful. I mean, even if you already know ahead of time the person is probably going to be okay with it, the thing that makes it stressful is that some thing happens inside you when you tell another person. Yeah, they can say, "It makes me happy you trusted me enough to tell me. It doesn't change how I feel about you", but what they don't realize is that it does change something. Yeah, they may have no problem with it because they are open minded and accepting, which is cool, but now you start seeing your self in a new light.

What I mean by that is you start seeing your self as a braver person and a freer person. And probably a whole lot more things, too. And that means you don't see yourself as some one who is living a secret life any more. You stop thinking there is some thing wrong or bad about you as a person because there is really nothing to be ashamed of any more. And that changes every thing. You start living your life in a different way, not like you all of a sudden become a brand new person, but like you start having more confidence and start feeling more hope about your future, and that is how you change as a person.

Well, at least that is what I'm learning in that group I'm in. I don't know this from my own personal experience (yet), but it makes me feel that I might have a better life than I have had so far, and that makes me happy.

Another thing that is suppose to change is how you probably want to be more "out" in the world. And believe me, that scares me a lot. At least now it does. Rick (my BOYFRIEND) and I have been talking about how cool it would be to stop hiding who we are when we are in public, and with our friends. We went to a party together not too long ago and they were all Rick's friends, and nobody knows he is gay, so the two of us couldn't just be out. But now we are talking about whether we are ready to come out to that extent. And that makes both of us anxious. Because even if nobody rejects us or mistreats us and totally accepts us, then it changes how we are seen and it changes how we see our selves inside. I am beginning to think it may even be a harder thing for the person coming out than it is for the people you come out to.

I'm sorta jumping all around here and I guess I need to remember that you just have to take one step at a time and deal with what is in front of you and don't need to figure every thing out all at once. But it is definitely a lot to think about when you dwell on it.

I have been finding some articles for Rick to read about coming out to your parents. There is an organization called PFLAG that is for parents and families and friends and allies of the LGBTQ community, and they have some good things for people to read. They also have something for gay youth to read and the link is here.

So this is how we're planning the day when Rick sits down with his parents for his talk with them. He said after he has the talk, he wants to spend the rest of the day with me so he can go over every thing that happened, like what they said and how they reacted and how he felt about it all. And that makes me feel VERY SPECIAL!

So Brad and Matty have already said I can be at their house while Rick is talking to his parents and then when Rick is finished, he will call and say he's on the way over. Brad said he and Matty could leave for a while so just the two of us can be together. And then when we are ready for the guys to come back, I will just text them and they can return. Rick likes this plan a lot because it starts off with just me and him being together and then he likes the idea of telling Brad and Matty how it went and getting their feedback and support, too.

The other BIG thing about coming out is that it feels like you are starting a new phase of your life, where you leave behind a lot of things that have been holding you back, and you start seeing yourself in a more positive light. All that sounds very positive, right? Well, it seems that way. But on the other hand, it is also very scary, you know? And from every thing I'm learning in my group and by talking to Rick and Brad and Matty, you just take little steps at first and then see what it feels like. And you can stop for a while and just get use to it before you take the next step.

You don't even have to come out to every single person on the planet. You can pick and choose. But then you have to remember that once you come out to some one, you can't "take it back." And you have no control over whether some one tells some one else. They can promise not to do that, but you don't have any control over it. Man, it's a lot to consider and take in. See? It's a HUGE thing for the person coming out. There's a lot of angles and things to decide on. And there's a lot of emotions you have to deal with, whether people react positively or negatively!

But---- All I have to deal with right now is helping Rick in any way I can, and then being there for him after he talks to his parents. And believe me, that right there is A LOT! I feel up to the task and Brad and Matty say I am doing a good job. And I talked about this in my group and they think I am doing a good job. And Rick and I seem to have gotten even closer to each other because of all this.

Know what Rick said to me last week? He said he always figured he would come out to this family at some point, but he said he didn't think it would be until some time in his twenties. "You are making a big difference in my life, baby. And since we have been together, I feel like I'm just starting my real life."

I love Rick, and he loves me. And you know what? We can do this thing. I'm sure of it.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

I am who I am. Accept it or leave me alone.

FAIR WARNING: This is going to start out as a rant, then it's going to move into a Thank You, and end on a note of personal celebration. Ready for the ride? Okay, let's go!

First the Rant. I recently wrote a post where I shared my excitement about going outside my personal comfort zone and making a new friend. Like I said then, I am basically a very shy person and I normally try to minimize risk that involves any possibility of rejection.

But I've been trying really hard to overcome some of my reluctance and put myself out there a little more boldly. So it was a HUGE deal for me to make the effort to befriend a new server at the restaurant where I work. She had made a comment about how she liked the nail polish I was wearing that day, and I really wanted to get to know her a little better.

I shared this excitement with you guys because I knew you would understand this was HUGE for me and I'm trying to be more aware of things in my life I can feel positive about. I didn't share it to make myself a target for judgmental criticism.

It was extremely upsetting for me to come home after working the late shift the other night and find someone had left a comment targeting me with their judgment that something was wrong with me for being a guy who wore nail polish. 

I responded to their comment in a way I was really proud of. But this whole episode still has me simmering and I'm hopeful that by writing about it, I'll be able to take back control of how I'm feeling, instead of letting their judgment of me make me feel something is wrong with me.

So let me be clear: 

Yes, I am a guy. Yes, I sometimes love wearing nail polish. Yes, I sometimes love wearing eye liner. 

And YES, I AM SO PROUD OF MYSELF (albeit it a little anxious) FOR EXPLORING THIS SIDE OF ME AND SEEING WHERE IT MIGHT LEAD.

And NO, THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH ME FOR TRYING TO BETTER UNDERSTAND MYSELF AND BE TRUE TO WHO I AM.

You are entitled to whatever judgments you might have about me, BUT LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE AND DON'T TRY TO DEVALUE ME, BECAUSE I AM NOT A TARGET FOR YOUR IGNORANCE OR BIAS.

I have spent most of my life trying to live up to other people's biases and judgments about who I am and how I should express myself and live my life. 

Up until recently my dad has done a really good job of beating me down in his efforts to shame me into pretending to be someone I'm not. And until recently, I've done a good job of trying be true to who other people think I should be. 

And you know what? I'M SICK OF IT. It's taken a real toll on me and I'm sick of being quiet about it and not standing up for myself. So if you think there's something WRONG with me because I'm a guy who likes to wear nail polish and eyeliner, then you are not welcome in my life -- whether it's my Real Life or my Online Life. Get the fuck away from me and leave me alone.

I don't mind explaining why I sometimes like things that are not in the norm of gender roles for men, but I'm sick of feeling like I have to hide my true self. And I'm sick of having to defend myself because someone (for whatever reason -- ignorance or just plain bias) -- has decided to make me a target of their judgment.

I usually just keep quiet about how I feel about this, but I'm sick of doing that. If you have a problem with someone who does something outside the norm of culturally established gender roles, fine. That's your right. I wish you well. But when you come into my space -- whether it's here on this blog, or in my personal life -- I expect you to show some respect for me and who I am. And if you can't do that? Fine. Then move on. I'm not going to be a target for you any more.

Next, A Thank You. To those of you who came to my defense before I even had a chance to post a comment, THANK YOU SO MUCH! The personal emails you sent me expressing your outrage meant the world to me. And the comments you posted even before I could get there meant the world to me.

One of the really nice things about Matty and I keeping this blog is we've met so many wonderful, caring, thoughtful, supportive, and genuinely nice people. I honestly feel I am a better human being because of how you reach out and support both of us when we're down, or when we're up, or when we're confused, or when we have something to celebrate, or when we're just having some fun.

Without YOU (and yes, I'm looking squarely at YOU), this blog would not be what it is today. And Matty and I would not be who we are today without YOU. So please accept our heart-felt Thanks for being here.

Lastly, a Personal Celebration. I'll just make this section short and to the point because it's still hard for me to give myself too much credit for anything, but I'm busting through that barrier right now: 

I AM SO PROUD OF MYSELF FOR BEING OPEN TO LEARNING AS MUCH ABOUT MYSELF AS I CAN ----- AND THEN BEING AS TRUE TO MYSELF AS I CAN IN HOW I LIVE MY LIFE.

And, yes, I personally think it's cause for celebration that I SOMETIMES WEAR NAIL POLISH AND EYE LINER AND.... well, who knows what's coming next. And I'm damn excited to see where this is going. 

Thanks for listening.